F1: Prosecutors Allege Ecclestone Bribed Banker Photo:
Mike Stevens | Jul, 21 2011 | 0 Comments

German prosecutors have formally named 'Bernard E' as the alleged source of an almost $50 million bribe paid to jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

The development comes just hours before F1's 80-year-old chief executive Bernie Ecclestone had scheduled to travel to the country for round ten of the world championship at the fabled Nurburgring.

Although the Briton has not yet been charged, charges of breach of trust, tax evasion and receipt of corrupt payments have now been laid against Gribkowsky, according to London's Times newspaper.

The charges also allege that Ecclestone received millions in commissions from the BayernLB bank after paying its then chief risk officer Gribkowsky the bribe.

It is speculated that Ecclestone may ultimately be charged with aiding and abetting Gribkowsky.

Prosecution spokeswoman Barbara Stockinger confirmed in a news release that the reference to 'Bernard E' is to the "Formula one CEO", and identified his companies known as Bambino.

The prosecutors also confirmed to the Financial Times that Ecclestone, who was not available for comment to publications, remains under investigation.

Formula One Mangement did not return a phone call, Bloomberg said.



Vettel: an 'honest' teammate and mutual respect the key

Sebastian Vettel has commented that he has little interest in who his team-mate is, as long as they're honest and that they can respect each other.

The reigning world champion was asked the question during an interview with the German news agency DPA, less than two weeks after a team orders row re-emerged at the Red Bull team.

Vettel's current teammate, Mark Webber, had admitted to ignoring the order to ease his attack on the world championship leader in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix.

The 23-year-old told Germany's motorsport-magazin.com at Silverstone: "I think the most important thing is that when I go home tonight, I can look in the mirror and feel fine about myself."

The incident triggered speculation that Vettel would prefer a new teammate for 2012, even though Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has indicated that Australian Webber will be retained.

"In the end it doesn't interest me who my teammate is, as long as he or she is honest and we respect one another," German Vettel told DPA ahead of his home race at the Nurburgring.

"Many people have misunderstood the relationship between Mark and myself. Even if we aren't best friends, we do respect each other."

Amid talk that Lewis Hamilton might replace Webber, team boss Christian Horner recently ruled out the 2008 world champion on the basis that it might disturb the "harmony" at Red Bull.

"It is talked about a lot," Vettel admitted, "because definitely team harmony is very important. But you also need two drivers who push each other to constantly explore the limit."

Meanwhile, Vettel refused to comment on Bernie Ecclestone's recent claim that he has embarked on a new era of Michael Schumacher-like dominance.

"Firstly I am not happy to talk about myself, I'd rather others did that," he insisted.

"Of course to hear that (from Ecclestone) is an honour, but I don't compare myself with Michael.

"He has won seven titles and I've just won my first, even if of course I want to keep the trophy I got last year for as long as I possibly can," added Vettel.



2011 rules have doubled F1 overtaking - Mercedes GP

The 2011 regulations have more than doubled the prevalence of overtaking in F1.

An analysis by Mercedes GP shows there have been 623 passing moves so far after nine of the scheduled 19 Grands Prix this year.

That is already more than the entire tally of 547 passes in 2010, according to the AFP news agency.

Mercedes' figures show that 225 of the overtakes so far in 2011 were 'normal', with 180 assisted by the new overtaking rear wing system 'DRS'.

That suggests that the heavily degrading Pirelli tyres are the bigger contributing factor to overtaking this year.

DRS was reportedly less influential than earlier this season at the most recent races at Valencia and Silverstone, with only 44 and 29 overtaking moves recorded at those rounds respectively.

And Ferrari's Pat Fry is also not expecting DRS to be overly influential this weekend at the Nurburgring.

"The DRS zone (in Germany) involves following someone closely through the high speed corner onto the back straight which will be a little bit of a challenge," he said.

Asked this week by F1's official website what further innovations Michael Schumacher would like to see in the sport, he answered: "Even more overtaking."



Renault plans tests to precede Kubica return

A return to F1 by Robert Kubica would be proceeded by a series of private track tests, according to F1news.ru.

The report quoted Renault team boss Eric Boullier as saying the tests could take place as soon as "the end of the summer", after Pole Kubica hinted last week that he might be fit to race at the Brazil season finale.

"I like to have a goal when it's a reasonable one," he said. "We'll see how the next few months go in terms of the rehabilitation process evolution and then we'll take a decision in due time."

And Boullier is quoted as saying: "We often talk with Robert. He feels good, but the recovery from damaged nerves always takes time.

"I think at the end of the summer the final phase of recovery will begin. Then it will become clearer when he can return."

As for the private track tests, the Frenchman added: "We have something planned for the fall."



Ferrari to push for stability after exhaust farce

Luca di Montezemolo has slammed F1's constantly changing rules.

The Ferrari president was referring to the recent British Grand Prix, at which the saga surrounding the evolving blown exhaust regulations was denounced as the "biggest farce ever" by outspoken Niki Lauda.

"Unfortunately we have to deal with a carousel of changes to the regulations, which does not help us," Montezemolo told Sky Italia this week as he insisted the famous Maranello team will push ahead with its 2011 car project.

"Once, the rules were changed after every year, then it was every six months, now they change within a weekend," he added.

Montezemolo said Ferrari contributed to the solution of the blown exhaust saga at Silverstone even though it disadvantaged the famous team.

"The situation was paradoxical," he is quoted by La Stampa, "but sometimes you have to put aside your personal interests. We want what is good for Formula One."

But he is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper: "This must definitely end. Rules should be made to last. Ferrari will definitely take up this issue with the rule makers."

Meanwhile, Montezemolo confirmed once again that Felipe Massa's 2012 contract will be honoured.

"Are the rumours about Felipe false? Absolutely. This is the period for these stories but the (Ferrari) drivers will be the same next year," he said.



Sutil crashes supercar at Nordschleife

Adrian Sutil has got his home Grand Prix off to a bad start this week by crashing at the Nurburgring's fabled Nordschleife circuit.

Ahead of the German Grand Prix at the adjacent modern circuit, the 28-year-old was turning laps of the notorious 28 kilometre north loop at the wheel of a Gumpert Apollo.

German Sutil was photographed walking away from the black carbon fibre supercar, which apparently suffered mainly superficial damage.


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