TMR Team | Jun 28, 2012
  • Mercedes could quit F1 over bribery scandal
  • Prosecutors say Ecclestone corruption 'accomplice'
  • FIA inspected Red Bull suspension after Valencia
  • F1 split over customer car proposal
  • Button not writing off title chances yet
  • Red Bull calls for 'DRS under yellows' clarification
  • F1 success 'just didn't happen for me' - Piquet
 

Mercedes could quit F1 over bribery scandal

F1's bribery scandal could cost the sport the involvement of German carmaker Mercedes.

Mercedes, with its own Brackley-based works team and also a major engine supplier, has watched the Gerhard Gribkowsky affair with particular attention, according to the business newspaper Handelsblatt.

The report said the bribery scandal, and particularly the implication of F1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, would have "serious consequences" with regards to Mercedes' involvement in the sport.

Senior Daimler officials are reportedly very concerned that, with banker Gerhard Gribkowsky having on Wednesday (Europe-time) been sentenced to jail for bribery corruption by a Munich court, Mercedes' continuing involvement would be disallowed due to the Stuttgart marque's strict anti-corruption statutes.

Namely, Daimler "does not tolerate the immoral or corrupt practices of its employees or its business partners", the statutes read.

Laurenz Schmitt, a corporate lawyer for Linklaters in Munich, confirmed that "Ecclestone's bribery payments would fall under this company guideline".

Another legal expert agrees that "if Ecclestone is charged with bribery, Daimler would have to withdraw from F1".

A Mercedes spokesperson told Bild newspaper: "We welcome the evaluation of the recent allegations in Formula One and now await the clarification of the authorities."

The guilty verdict for Gribkowsky could have serious personal implications for F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who admits to paying millions to the former BayernLB banker.

Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight and-a-half years' jail for crimes including bribery, for the $44million received from Ecclestone.

In closing arguments, the German prosecutors described Ecclestone as an "accomplice", not a victim of extortion as claimed by the 81-year-old Briton.

(GMM)

 

Prosecutors say Ecclestone corruption 'accomplice'

Further to the above, German prosecutors appear likely to press ahead with a corruption case against Bernie Ecclestone.

Until now, the F1 chief executive has been implicated in the Gerhard Gribkowsky scandal but only as the subject of an investigation into the money he paid to the jailed banker.

Ecclestone, 81, has also appeared as a witness in the trial to give evidence protected by immunity, but on Wednesday it sounded likely he will be separately charged and pursued by the Munich prosecutors.

As prosecutor Christoph Rodler wrapped up Gribkowsky's trial on Wednesday, he described Ecclestone as an "accomplice".

He said the diminutive Briton's explanation of the $44 million payments to Gribkowsky was a "nebulous story", arguing Ecclestone was "not the victim of an extortion but the accomplice in an act of bribery".

According to the Financial Times, Rodler said Ecclestone had an "existential interest" in paying the money to Gribkowsky because his "life's work" was at risk.

Ecclestone has not yet been charged.

(GMM)

 

FIA inspected Red Bull suspension after Valencia

The legality of Red Bull's RB8 could come under the spotlight yet again.

Italy's Autosprint is reporting that Mark Webber's car only narrowly passed post-race scrutineering at Valencia after officials "examined carefully" the new rear suspension layout.

Allied with the innovative 'double floor' which was also debuted last weekend, the developments helped Sebastian Vettel to set pole and dominate the Spanish street race until his retirement.

When asked about his new dominance, the German driver admitted: "That was surprising even for us. We did not expect to pull out 20 seconds over 20 laps.

"Until the safety car I had an extra pitstop in my pocket, which this year is extremely unusual given how close together the field has been," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"It certainly would have been a good result."

Vettel admitted the latest developments were a big step forward for the RB8 at Valencia.

"Yes and not only in a certain area, we simply have found more grip everywhere and have found a positive impact for the wear of the tyres," he said.

(GMM)

 

F1 split over customer car proposal

Formula one is split over a new proposal to allow 'customer cars' on the grid.

The idea is being powered chiefly by Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone, and marketed as a way to cut costs by opening a new revenue stream for the big teams and reducing the design and manufacturing burden for struggling minnows.

Mercedes, however, does not sound keen on the idea of selling a year-old chassis to its smaller rivals.

"If you ran this year with last year's car then just guess what happens," said the marque's Norbert Haug.

Lotus' Eric Boullier, however, sounds keener.

"If we have to go to customer cars to serve formula one and be the formula one of the future, why not? I think the discussion is open now," he said.

Currently, all teams must design and build their own car, but the existing Concorde Agreement expires at the end of the season.

Caterham, initially Team Lotus, entered F1 in 2010 and is yet to score a point.

"An idea is an idea," said Caterham chief executive Riad Asmat when asked about customer cars.

"We are proud of where we are, what we've built -- we came in as a constructor and we hope to stay that way for now."

Joan Villadelprat, a former F1 engineer and manager, told AS newspaper: "This idea undermines the spirit of F1. We need to reduce costs in another way."

(GMM)

 

Button not writing off title chances yet

Jenson Button is refusing to write off his chances of winning the 2012 title.

Since becoming the first race winner of the season, the McLaren driver entered a performance slump that has stranded him 62 points off Fernando Alonso's points lead.

"The gap to Fernando is more points than I've got," Button, whose performance took a step forward at Valencia last weekend, said.

Notwithstanding the gap, he is staying positive.

"It (the gap)'s still not a lot, though," the 32-year-old insisted. "We've still got 12 races."

He thinks his MP4-27 will be strong next time out, for the Woking based team and its drivers' home race.

"Silverstone is a high speed circuit, where our strength is," said Button. "Our weakness is low speed. It's a circuit where we should be strong."

He said winning the championship is still possible, even though he is lagging in the points standings not only to Alonso but also the Red Bull and Lotus drivers, teammate Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

"At least I've another 12 races, so although I'm a long way behind, it is still possible," said Button.

"But I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about going to my home race and driving a fast, flowing circuit which hopefully our car should work well on."

(GMM)

 

Red Bull calls for 'DRS under yellows' clarification

Red Bull has called for a clarification about how the DRS overtaking system can be used whilst yellow flags are being waved.

The stewards conducted a three-hour investigation after Mark Webber spotted Mercedes' Michael Schumacher using his 'DRS' inside a yellow flag zone at Valencia late last Sunday.

Ultimately, the officials let Schumacher keep his first podium for more than 2000 days, Charlie Whiting arguing that "the decisive element" is not whether the DRS flap is open but "whether the driver has slowed or not".

The FIA race director added that there is "no rule" specifically forbidding the use of DRS under yellows.

But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Austrian Servus TV: "There was a meeting where it was said that DRS and KERS may not be used under yellow flags.

"For this reason we told Mark not to enable DRS and so I was surprised that Michael did."

Peter Sauber admitted: "From past experience we know that the FIA applies different standards from time to time."

The Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper wondered if the fact it was Schumacher's first podium of his comeback, and in the presence of his friend and FIA president Jean Todt, that influenced the stewards' ruling.

Mika Salo, one of the stewards at Valencia, said: "I am not allowed to talk about our decision."

Horner said: "I think it is important for the teams that we clarify the situation for Silverstone."

(GMM)

 

F1 success 'just didn't happen for me' - Piquet

Having left F1 in shame three years ago, Nelson Piquet jr hopes his time has finally arrived.

As the son of a triple world champion, the Brazilian entered formula one with high hopes: managed by Flavio Briatore and at Renault's title-winning works team.

But he got caught up in Renault and Briatore's demise, right at the centre of the 'crashgate' affair.

Since 2010, Piquet has been rebuilding his name in the lower tiers of American Nascar racing.

Last weekend, he finally broke through with victory in the second-tier Nationwide category, ensuring the Brazilian's name is back in the headlines for the right reasons.

In the wake of his Road America win, reporters asked the now 26-year-old to reflect on his disastrous F1 career, and the idea of what might have been.

"What could have happened (in F1)?" Piquet said. "I don't know. Anything could have happened.

"It's just timing, being in the right place at the right time. There is a lot of drivers that are there right now that have won races and championships that I raced with before that I've won championships on before.

"But it's just being the right place at the right time and it didn't happen for me, but maybe it's happening now (in Nascar)," Piquet added.

(GMM)