Mike Stevens | Aug 19, 2011

Bernie Ecclestone has admitted it is "sad" to see F1 great Michael Schumacher battling for minor points at grands prix.

The F1 chief executive was a great supporter of 42-year-old Schumacher's return to the sport last year, but he has now told La Gazzetta dello Sport that the seven time world champion as well as Mercedes can do more.

"Michael is a true superman so it's sad to see him have to fight for such low places," Ecclestone said.

"He is still a competitive guy and when he has so much experience, he should lead Mercedes more in the right direction.

"(And) Mercedes should build a car more to Schumacher's driving style," Finland's Turun Sanomat quotes 80-year-old Ecclestone as adding.

Schumacher told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that his biggest problem at present is qualifying.

"You're right, the race always looks better for me than qualifying," said the seven time world champion.

"There are many reasons that would be very complicated to explain, also some technical problems, but Nico (Rosberg) is really one of the best qualifiers in the field, his performance is really impressive," he added.

Schumacher denied that another problem is his new relaxed attitude, which has surprised some observers of the German's first career that spanned a record 91 wins.

He said the fact he is often smiling after a difficult qualifying session is "just a snapshot, with nothing to do with the whole".

"It doesn't mean I am not disappointed with setbacks and failures and it doesn't stop me continuing to work for our goal.

"I am firmly convinced that Mercedes will be once again a victory and world championship contender," said Schumacher.

(GMM)

 

Alonso has fond memories of Hamilton pairing

Fernando Alonso has some fond memories of his single season alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

The duo's championship scrap at McLaren was billed as a highly tumultuous one, but Spaniard Alonso - now at Ferrari - insists that his only argument was with the British team's then management led by Ron Dennis.

"If we were teammates at another team it would be a much cleaner struggle, and a real one," said Alonso, who finished the season equal with Hamilton and a single point shy of Kimi Raikkonen's title.

Recalling 2007, he explained to Spanish sports newspaper Marca: "You always learn lessons in tough times.

"That year was good overall, both Lewis and I learned many things. When you share a team with a top driver you learn to grow together.

"You improve in terms of preparing for a race and even from his driving style, because you share telemetry, so it was a great experience," added Alonso.

As for 2011, Ferrari is now switching its focus to 2012, with Alonso admitting chasing down Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel will be almost impossible.

"Ferrari can not go to races not thinking about winning, but we are realists and know how difficult it is. We need Vettel to have failures," he said.

The Spaniard is therefore much more confident about 2012.

"Of course we can catch them (Red Bull)," insisted Alonso. "The rules have changed, the blown diffusers will be forbidden, so the philosophy in the development and in the wind tunnel has to change."

He said Ferrari's recent structural changes have already made a difference.

"I have noticed more desire and general optimism, more speed in decision-making, more courage in the development. Yes, we have improved the structure and how we work."

(GMM)

 

Ecclestone watches female driver de Villota test F1 car

A female driver conducted a secret formula one test with Renault two weeks ago, according to international publications.

Spain's Marca and Italy's Italiaracing report that 31-year-old Spaniard Maria de Villota, the daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, was at the wheel of a two-year old Renault R29.

The test took place at the Bernie Ecclestone-linked Paul Ricard circuit, and was reportedly attended by formula one's 80-year-old chief executive.

De Villota currently races in the open wheel category Superleague, but she has also contested the Euroseries 3000, Spanish GT and F3, and World Touring Cars.

The test took place before Renault's mandatory two-week August factory shutdown commenced, and in line with F1 test ban guidelines that allow some limited running with dated F1 cars.

Italiaracing said Ecclestone was "probably the instigator of the operation", in line with his desire to "bring a woman into F1".

De Villota was early last year linked with a seat at HRT, when the Spanish team was known as Hispania and headed by Adrian Campos.

(GMM)

 

Chandhok denies ruling out Indian GP race seat

Karun Chandhok has denied saying he definitely will not contest India's inaugural formula one race in October.

The Team Lotus reserve driver stepped in for Jarno Trulli at the Nurburgring recently and has consistently refused to rule out getting another one-off chance to race this season in his native India.

On Twitter, however, the 27-year-old described a quote attributed to him by a website as "fake ... I didn't say that", insisted Chandhok.

It is believed he was referring to a quote that originally appeared in India's Financial Chronicle.

Chandhok reportedly said: "It is embarrassing when you don't drive for your country when your country is hosting the grand prix."

(GMM)

 

Former F1 owners sue Ecclestone for $100m

The Gerhard Gribkowsky saga has gone from bad to worse for F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Already under investigation by German prosecutors, the 80-year-old now faces a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by the sport's former 50 per cent shareholder Constantin Medien.

The German company, formerly known as EM.TV, has filed legal action in London's High Court, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.

Also being sued is Ecclestone's holding company Bambino, business partner Stephen Mullens and the jailed Gribkowsky, who is accused of receiving millions from the F1 chief executive surrounding the sale of the rights to current owner CVC.

Constantin claims the manipulation of the sale to CVC cost it more than $100 million in missing profit proceeds.

Constantin, Ecclestone and CVC all declined to comment.

(GMM)

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