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PIRELLI TO PRESENT FINDINGS OF VETTEL SPA BLOWOUT AT MONZA

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Pirelli have concluded the investigation into the cause of the blow out suffered by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel during the Belgian Grand Prix.
Ahead of the Italian tyre manufacturer’s home race Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director revealed, “We have finalised the investigation into Sebastian Vettel’s tyre at Spa. Detailed conclusions from the technical analysis will be presented at Monza.”
Ferrari tried a bold one stop strategy at Spa whereby they would need to do 30 laps on the medium tyres, but 27 laps into the strategy Vettel suffered a blowout, after he exited Eau Rouge flat-out, on the Kemmel straight.
The German raged at Pirelli for apparently misleading the team into believing the tyre could go the distance, and since then a cold war has erupted between the two camps.
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Another season ahead, will it be better than the last? I'm certainly hoping there will be less politics involved but that's just wishful thinking! Perhaps I will post less on such issues moving forwa

Bernie's really damaging the sport. He's so far behind the times it's impossible to listen to anything he has to say. Just looking at the way other sports leagues have grown over the past 20 years com

I disagree Massa only had one line to of the pits Hulkenburg saw him and could have avoided the contact and still passed Massa as he was on cold tyres. Good race though

PIRELLI PREVIEW THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX

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Pirelli comes home to Monza this weekend; the ‘temple of speed’ that features some of the fastest straights on the F1 calendar, prompting the cars to run a specific low-drag aerodynamic set-up.
The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres have been chosen for the Italian Grand Prix, which are versatile compounds that are able to balance the unique demands of performance and durability that Monza always requires.
With high-energy loads of up to 4.5g going through the tyres and some big impacts with the famous kerbs, the tyre compound and structure is challenged throughout the whole lap.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Monza is always one of the highlights of our season, with an incredible history and atmosphere. We have the medium and soft compounds, a step softer than our nomination last year, which should be well suited to Monza and the emphasis on speed that this circuit always places.”
“We’re expecting a fair degree of wear and degradation, so as always the work done during free practice will be very important when it comes to calculating the optimal strategy. With the two compounds potentially quite closely matched in terms of pace, this opens up a few options.”
“The cars run low downforce at Monza and that actually increases the work for the tyres considerably under acceleration and braking, because with less force pushing down on top of the car, it’s the tyres that are providing all the mechanical grip. Allied to the kerbs at Monza, this provides our tyres with a wide-ranging all-round challenge, requiring consistent durability and performance.”
“We have finalised the investigation into Sebastian Vettel’s tyre at Spa. Detailed conclusions from the technical analysis will be presented at Monza.”
The biggest challenges for the tyres: A fast circuit like Monza tends to be more demanding on tyres than a slow circuit, as all the forces at work encourage heat build-up, particularly on the shoulder of the tyre. There are significant lateral energy demands at Monza, due to long corners such as Parabolica, as well as big longitudinal demands, because of all the traction and braking.
With a low downforce set-up as is used at Monza, the drivers need to take care of the rear tyres in particular, in order not to provoke wheelspin under acceleration. However, the other side to this is increased maximum speed, in the region of 360kph.
Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: Lewis Hamilton used a one-stop strategy for the 53-lap race, with the hard and medium compounds nominated last year. The Mercedes driver started on the medium tyre and then switched to the hard on lap 25.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.8 – 1.0 seconds per lap.
The Pirelli team choose their race numbers: #8, Fabrizio Tanfani, chef: “It’s a number that means a lot to me: I was born on 8 July and when I was playing football as a kid, back home in Piombino, I played with the number 8. There are 8 years of difference between me and my girlfriend, and 8 is the symbol of infinity as well.”
Who we’re following on Twitter this week: It’s @MotorSportRetro this week. For anyone who loves the old days, this Twitter account, linked to the website of the same name, will eat up hours of your day with amazing interviews, photos and videos.
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WEBBER BACKS VETTEL IN PIRELLI BLOWOUT CONTROVERSY

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Mark Webber has backed his former teammate and rival Sebastian Vettel’s expletive-filled rant about the quality of the tyres supplied in F1 by Pirelli.
The pair rarely saw eye-to-eye when fighting for titles at Red Bull, but when it comes to Vettel’s blowout at Spa-Francorchamps, Webber said: “Seb is 100 per cent right.
“A blowout must not be the penalty for using a tyre for too long,” the outspoken Australian, now racing a Porsche at Le Mans, told Auto Motor und Sport.
“You should be slow, fair enough, but as a driver you need to be confident that the tyre is going to hold together.”
Webber thinks the ball is now in the governing body’s court to ensure driver safety, “Definitely. Safety is the number one thing for the FIA – you have the cockpit extraction tests, HANS, the crash tests. So you can’t turn a blind eye to something as fundamental as the tyres.”
Webber also refused to back Pirelli’s argument that Ferrari went too far in opting for a one-stop in Belgium.
“Imagine if Seb had done the remaining kilometres and finished third. Then Pirelli would have been saying: Look how great our tyres are,” he argued.
“If it’s true that Pirelli set a limit of 40 laps for a set, then they can’t burst after 28 laps. That’s a difference of 12 laps. Pirelli has been really lucky so far,” said Webber.
Blick reports that, in the wake of Vettel’s outburst and also Nico Rosberg’s blowout in Belgium, Pirelli will meet with all team bosses ahead of the Italian grand prix.
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ROSBERG BECOMES FATHER TO BABY GIRL

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Nico Rosberg is speeding into the Italian grand prix as Formula 1’s newest father after he announced on Twitter that his and wife Viviane’s first child was born at the Princesse Grace hospital in Monaco on Sunday.
“Our full moon baby girl was born yesterday afternoon. We are overwhelmed and totally in love,” the Mercedes driver wrote.
In Belgium recently, another young father Romain Grosjean told Rosberg that parenthood is unlikely to slow F1 drivers down.
“Once the helmet is on, visor closed, going flat out through Eau Rouge, if you think about your family, you’re not going to stay flat out,” he said.
“We’re racing drivers, we love doing what we do. We know it’s dangerous — we had a good example recently. But it certainly changes your life.
“And, to be fair, I’ve never been a world champion, never won a grand prix but the feeling and the emotion I had on the birth of my two sons has been far better than everything else I’ve known in the world. I wish Nico the same thing,” added Grosjean.
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SAUBER PREVIEW THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX

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The Italian Grand Prix is like a home race for the Sauber F1 Team as the Monza track is not far away from the Swiss border.
The race on the “Autodromo Nazionale” will be the last round of the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship in Europe. The track, which is known for the highest speed on any straights in the season, should suit the Sauber C34-Ferrari.
Marcus Ericsson: “The race weekend in Monza is always a very special event due to the popularity of Formula 1 and the tifosi. There is always a thrilling atmosphere, and the Italians are really passionate about motorsport. The circuit is the fastest on the calendar, and I am curious about the top speed on the straights with the modified engine. It is important to have a high straight-line speed, and to be fast through the chicanes. We need to find a compromise with the downforce level giving us a high straight-line speed, but also finding the right set-up for a stable car.”
Felipe Nasr: “Monza is an historic track. I know the circuit well from every series I have come through. It reminds me a lot of the time when I moved to Italy in 2009. Back then I lived just 40 minutes away from Monza. It is a unique circuit for me. The flow is really nice, with Parabolica being my favorite corner. I am looking forward to driving the circuit again, and it will be my first time there in a Formula One car. The high-speed track should suit our car well. We need to find an efficient balance for being fast on the straights and not losing too much time in the corners. A good braking stability, as well as traction for coming out of the chicanes, is important.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering: “The Monza circuit is known worldwide for the impressive speeds the cars reach on the straights, which are the highest of the season. At the same time, this historic facility features challenging corners of every kind, from low-speed chicanes to flowing bends, such as Lesmo and Parabolica. The set-up has to take into account downforce levels more than anywhere else, so the engineers will target maximum mechanical grip with an accent on braking, traction and kerb riding. As for the tyre allocation, the medium and the soft are a way more sensible choice than the medium and hard we have had for years. They will open up new scenarios and the show will benefit from such a choice.”
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FORCE INDIA PREVIEW THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX

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Force India preview the Italian Grand Prix, Round 12 of the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship, at Monza.
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, looks forward to the final European race of the 2015 season: “The high-speed challenge of historic Monza is always one of the highlights of the year. It’s the final race of the European season and it’s important that we score strongly to regain the initiative in our fight for fifth place in the standings. The last race in Belgium showed that the updates we’ve brought to the VJM08 are working as intended. We’ve taken some big steps forward over the last couple of months and with more developments in the pipeline I think we can keep up this momentum. Of course, the result in Spa was bittersweet as we could only compete with one car, but we’ve shown that the VJM08 is capable of qualifying and racing well inside the top ten. At the same time, Spa reminded us that we cannot take our progress for granted and we must continue to work hard to remain at the front of the midfield battle. Monza is a track where we expect to be competitive. We go there aiming to get both our cars in Q3 on Saturday and in the points on Sunday – that must be our target for all the races to come.”
Sergio Perez looks to the Italian Grand Prix with optimism, following his best result of the season in Spa: “The race in Belgium was good fun: it’s always nice to battle at the front and, even though we didn’t manage to get onto the podium, it was good to come away with our best result of the season so far. Our performance is improving and we are taking the opportunities when they arise. We have seen that we can now fight with nearly everyone and it’s important we keep aiming for the podium. Monza is a place with lots of memories for me. I had one of my best races in Formula One there in 2012, finishing second after a clever race managing tyres. The circuit is probably one of the most beautiful in the calendar: there’s history wherever you look and you can feel it’s a unique place from the very moment you arrive at the track. The Italian fans are amazing – they remind me of Mexicans, in a way, and it’s a good warm-up ahead of the race in Mexico City! Monza is a true power track and so we go there confident of being competitive. It’s never easy to overtake and the strategy options are quite limited, and so getting the job done in qualifying is especially important. In the race it’s a case of being flat out all the way and being accurate with your braking points. My feeling with the updated car is very good now. Spa was the most comfortable I’ve been this season and it showed in the results. We need to go to Monza and deliver a similar performance.”
Nico Hülkenberg aims to bounce back from a disappointing weekend in Belgium as he returns to Monza: “When you have a frustrating weekend like the one in Spa, the best cure is to get back behind the wheel and go racing again. I know we could have been very competitive in Belgium without the technical issues on race day and we missed an opportunity to score good points. Monza is special. It’s a high-speed track that pushes the car to the limit: it may look easy but the margin for error when braking for the chicanes is very small and you end up paying heavily for every mistake. It’s a fun and challenging circuit to drive and the atmosphere makes it even better. The fans are very passionate and knowledgeable: the town lives for the race and you have a feeling that you’re in one of the temples of Formula One. The layout of the track should allow us to be competitive and it’s an opportunity for us to score important points. I had a very exciting race there in 2013 and I wouldn’t mind a repeat performance. We have seen what the VJM08 is capable of in the last few events and I think we will have the chance to compete in the top ten.”
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TURKEY F1 TRACK BECOMES USED CAR DEALERSHIP

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Turkey’s chances of returning to the Formula 1 calendar any time soon now appear dead.
Istanbul Park hosted grands prix between 2005 and 2011, with the Hermann Tilke-penned circuit famous for its challenging turn 8.
But the event collapsed for financial reasons and a lack of local interest.
Now, the track that reportedly cost almost $300 million to build is to become a used car dealership, the Turkish daily Sozcu reports.
A car rental company has reportedly signed a 10-year lease and plans to sell 25,000 cars per year from the facility, to be called Istanbul Park Auto Market.
MIKA: That's what all Tilke tracks are good for IMO
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Lotus can 'deliver' great results

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Federico Gastaldi was not surprised to see Romain Grosjean on the podium at Spa as he always knew Lotus had the pace and package for podium results.
After a strong pre-season much was expected of Lotus and their Mercedes-powered E23.
But it wasn't until last Sunday's Belgian GP that the team finally delivered as Grosjean crossed the line in third place.
The Frenchman's 15 points pushed Lotus up to fifth place in the Constructors' Championship while he is ninth.
Speaking about the Spa result, Gastaldi, Lotus' deputy team principal, said: "I was very, very happy for the team but not amazed because I know that the team has the ability to always deliver such great results.
"We have great drivers and fantastic people here at Enstone. For me we are the best people in the paddock so I'm not surprised by the result and even though we currently face some challenges, we can still deliver strong cars.
"It was a great job by Romain and a great job by all at Enstone."
Gastaldi added that despite Lotus' current situation and their uncertain future, the team will continue to fight more results.
"We are facing challenges but we are a united team," he added. "We have shown many times that we are fighters and that we punch above our weight.
"We are now fifth in the Constructors' Championship and that makes me proud of everyone at Enstone. We want to continue to show our worth and fight on each and every lap these coming races."
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Stevens 'sure results will turn round'

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Will Stevens is convinced he can get back on top in his intra-team battle with Manor team-mate Roberto Merhi.
Although the Brit held the advantage at the start of this season, their first in Formula 1, it is the Spaniard who has come good of late.
Canada was the last time that Stevens finished ahead of Mehri as the latter retired from the grand prix.
Since then it has been all Merhi, who even secured Manor's best result of this season as he brought his MR03 home in 12th place at Silverstone.
Stevens, though, is confident he can beat his team-mate in their personal battle.
"Overall it's positive," the 24-year-old Brit told F1i.com.
"The things that have happened in the last few races are just racing, those things are going to happen, it's just happened in two or three consecutive races for us.
"But you can see the pace is there, every session we're quicker and even in the race my lap was faster. Every single time it's on outright pace we're always quicker, which is encouraging."
He added: "The racing side of things, sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't.
"At the moment I'm learning, the last two races have been mixed conditions, and you've got to make good calls. In those scenarios he's come out better but the hardest thing is to have good pace and at the moment for sure we’ve got that.
"I'd prefer to have it that way round and then when things fall right in the races like they did at the start of the year then I'm sure the results will turn round. But overall I think it was a really positive weekend [at Spa]."
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Kvyat: Something special at every corner

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Daniil Kvyat is relishing Formula 1's return to Monza as he rates the track as his "favourite" even if it is more forgiving than in years gone by.
Kvyat, who lived in Italy after leaving Russia, has a long and successful history at the circuit.
Not only did he claim a victory at the track in Renault 2.0 but he also won the GP3 feature race in 2013 having started from pole position.
And although he failed to score in his first F1 grand prix at the track in 2014, Kvyat still rates it as one of the best.
"Monza is my favourite track," he said.
"Every corner just gives you the feeling that you are doing something special. Lesmo I and II, Ascari... every corner.
"Well, they unfortunately changed Parabolica a little bit. The changes there do make a difference. It isn't quite the same experience anymore.
"You still have to push a lot and it still requires a lot of technique, but the problem is that even if you make a mistake you get forgiven. It's not the same."
The Russian racer, added: "Overall the track is still amazing. An important circuit for me in the past and I love it."
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Our engine is more powerful than Renault's - Honda

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Yasuhisa Arai, Honda’s motorsport chief, believes that the Japanese car manufacturer’s Formula 1 engine is outperforming rival Renault by 25-horse power.
Arai’s comments come after a difficult weekend for their sole customer McLaren in Belgium, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finishing 13th and 14th respectively.
Button branded his team’s performance in Spa an "embarrassment" after the race, adding: "I was just driving round, the last eight laps were interesting, the guys that were lapping me I was able to have a grandstand view of their race which was the only bit that was fun."
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Despite this, Arai believes that Honda are now better than Renault in terms of power but still languishing behind both Ferrari and the dominant Mercedes.
When asked by Autosport whether Honda had made any ground on the other engine manufacturers, Arai replied: "40-50[hp] behind Mercedes but about 25 ahead of Renault.
"Our engine is a little bit behind Ferrari but much better than the Renault team. Mercedes are still so far away.
"But I have confidence that the second half of the season, we will try hard to catch the top two teams.
"It may be that it will be difficult to catch the top teams as they have good reliability and good combustion characteristics.
"But I want to be close to the top teams by the end of the season."
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Pirelli’s Monza tyre choice ‘good for the show’

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Pirelli has been praised for selecting a softer mix of tyres for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Formula One’s official tyre supplier has previously opted for the hardest available compounds for Monza, the track which sees the highest top speeds of the year. However for this year it will bring the soft tyre instead of the hard, in addition to the medium as usual.
Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara approves of the change. “the medium and the soft are a way more sensible choice than the medium and hard we have had for years,” he said.
“They will open up new scenarios and the show will benefit from such a choice.”
Teams have normally opted for one-stop tyre strategies at Monza, where making a pit stop carries a greater time penalty than at other, slower circuits.
However Pirelli also experienced two high-speed tyre failures during the previous race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, where the soft and medium tyres were also used.
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Old Ferrari regime to thank for F1 form, claims ex-designer

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Ferrari's return to form in 2015 is the result of the efforts and investment of its old regime, not its new bosses, claims former chief designer Nikolas Tombazis.

The Greek designer was sacked by Ferrari at the end of last year as new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene made sweeping changes to the organisation after a troubled 2014 campaign.
But although Arrivabene has overseen Ferrari take two victories so far this season, Tombazis believes much of the progress comes from work done by himself and other staff last year – and especially the fact Ferrari was able to make use of an upgraded windtunnel.
In a revealing interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Tombazis said: “I didn't expect to be fired. First of all I do not reject my responsibilities, but I worked less on the 2014 car than the other cars before it.
“Second, the car of 2015 car was the first one, since that of 2008, on which I was able to work with a lot of time on my hands.
"It was also the first to exploit an up-to-date windtunnel. We wouldn't have matched Mercedes this season, but we would have improved. But by view was not shared by those who came to Maranello."
He added: “Ferrari could have fired me at other times. But to do it now was illogical. I would have expected some different treatment. I felt sorry for [stefano] Domenicali and [Luca] di Montezemolo also.
“They always gave me a lot of confidence and their exit from Ferrari was a shock. Everyone has made mistakes, but the 2015 rebirth was started with old staff."
Facing pressure
Tombazis suggests that much of Ferrari's struggles in recent years was because its windtunnel has fallen behind what was needed to be successful in F1.
That much was proved by the fact Red Bull, with huge investment in its facilities, was able to pull off four consecutive world championship doubles under the guidance of Adrian Newey.
Tombazis said: “Since 2010, Red Bull was always ahead, but Fernando [Alonso] was close to beating them. Would the title have helped us? Psychologically, yes. However, since 2009 we never had the strongest single-seater on the grid.”
He added: “Newey is a genius, but Red Bull has not the same pressure we had in Ferrari. The environment in the team was bad. It was like having a gun behind our back, and our problems started with the windtunnel in 2009.”
Alonso regret
Tombazis insists he is not bitter about being dropped by Ferrari, and says his biggest regret is not delivering the world title for Alonso.
“We never had a winning car for Fernando, which is bad,” he said. “He was the best driver out there, and maybe he will be again. Ferrari should have kept him...and me.”
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Analysis: Why we should never watch F1 the same way again

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The Formula 1 media landscape is in a period of transition, and it will soon be much different.

It is no secret that the past decade has seen a rapid evolution of the ways in which the general public consumes its broadcast media.
Where our grandparents got their news from the radio or wireless, and our parents saw the evolution from black and white to colour television, this generation has lived through the rise of the internet and the introduction of the smartphone.
Television unit sales have been in decline for years. In the United States, there was a nine percent drop in sales figures between 2013 and 2014, but globally the past five years has seen dramatic drops in unit sales in developed and developing nations.
In 2011, 255.2 million televisions were sold worldwide. In 2012, that number dropped to 238.2 million, while in 2013 the global five percent drop in unit sales saw 226.7 million television sets sold across the world.
As television sales have been on the decline, smartphone sales have been on the rise. An estimated 75 percent of the world's population now has a cell phone, while only 69.2 percent have access to a television.
By 2020, smartphone penetration is expected to reach 70 per cent globally, while in developed nations around 80 percent of the population already use smartphones.
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A changing landscape
The media landscape is currently in a period of transition, with the older broadcast models altering their approach to market to increase profitability in the face of a growing tide of free (both legal and illegal) options for media consumption.
Much ink has been spilled bemoaning Formula 1's move from free-to-air to subscription model, but the change is not unique to F1, nor to sport in general.
By the end of 2013, more than half of the world's televisions were within reach of a digital signal - 55 percent, up from 30 percent in 2008. Across the same period, the world's TV watchers moved from FTA to paid television in droves.
At the end of 2012, there were 728 million TV subscribers across the world. The year before, the number of TV users with subscription access tipped over the 50 percent mark for the first time. Between 2008 and 2012, subscription TV adoption increased at a rate of 32 percent.
Online, the growth of subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime has also changed the way in which we consume our media.
Not only have the services normalised the notion of paying for content in a way that would have been inconceivable in the first decade of the new millennium (the golden age of internet piracy), but the paid model has also allowed users to escape the litany of advertising that accompanies the traditional TV broadcast model both paid and free.
In the face of this changing model, F1 has been forced to adapt. The move to subscription-only access has not proved popular with fans accustomed to enjoying their sport for free on terrestrial television, but it has been a necessary evil in a number of markets.
The shared broadcast model, as seen on Sky and the BBC in the UK, or on Sky and RTL in Germany, has proved to be an acceptable compromise.
Delayed highlights of grands prix are not ideal from the user's perspective, but it does allow for a modicum of access without any outlay on the part of the viewer. And for the moment, that model is the best we can hope for.
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New contracts
Over the course of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend in Spa, RTL announced that it had extended their contract with FOM for two more years, and that the deal covered "exclusive German free-TV rights to all the elements of each Formula 1 race weekend".
Much was made of the retention of FTA broadcasting in Germany, an undoubtedly positive step. Little attention was paid to the length of the contract extension, which was for a scant two years.
When the contract was announced, programme director Frank Hoffmann conceded that the deal had been done against a backdrop of falling viewing figures across the network.
"The [F1] figures are still good. They are not as good as they used to be – 2001 was the peak when we had 10 million average viewership, and now it is down to 4.5 million. But if you compare it to let's say blockbuster movies on German television – a blockbuster had 7.6 million and now in these years it is down to 3.5 million. So the market has changed rapidly and dramatically.
"If we compare the ratings of F1 to our main opponent in the private sector, the ratings of F1 outperforms every other type of broadcasting, so we are happy about the ratings."
Germany is not alone in seeing a decline in F1 viewership. Much has been written about the 5.6 percent drop in global viewing figures over the course of the 2014 season, and there were significant falls in both Spain and China.
But the first half of the 2015 season has seen the BBC's FTA coverage increase its viewing figures by around 12 percent. In the same period, Sky's TV figures (online viewing figures are not recorded) are reported to have seen a record decline, although the network declines to make its figures public.
Despite this, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone declared himself satisfied with the UK's model.
"We're interested in entertaining the public and doing a service," he told reporters in Spa. "That's what we are there for. The continuation of the Sky/BBC deal would be good. It works at the moment, so there is no reason why we should change. Sky has done a super job. They have lifted the level, and they have lifted the BBC."
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The future challenge
The challenge F1 now faces in all of its markets is to find a way to make the changing media landscape work for the sport - capitalising on emerging technologies and broadcast models to deliver a level of service to subscribers which far outstrips that which has come before.
In its early days, the sport was able to use the spread of television across the world as a means of growth, of income, and of opportunity.
The next step for the sport is to work with leaders in information and broadcast technologies to carry on pushing the envelope.
Joe Brown, a long-term F1 fan and well-connected US editor of tech bible Wired would be the perfect consultant.
Brown has already spoken extensively about improving fan engagement and interest though the use of emerging technologies, and through his work he has access to those men and women whose current work will shape the future of media consumption around the world.
F1 made its money in television, but the sport has rested on its laurels for far too long.
If grand prix racing is to remain successful, it must become a market leader in new broadcasting tech, a trailblazer in user-tailored content.
With declining TV ratings now the norm in most entertainment categories, this futuristic sport must end its reliance on 20th century technology.
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'Next year things will look completely different' - Fernando Alonso

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Fernando Alonso is confident McLaren will not be struggling for points again in 2016 and expects the fruits of his team's labour to start to show from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards.

Alonso scored McLaren's best result of the year at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but the weaknesses of the car and its Honda power unit were once again laid bareat the Belgian Grand Prix a week ago. Nevertheless, Alonso is confident the McLaren-Honda package is not fundamentally flawed and says it is in the process of maturing towards its full potential.
"There are some difficulties that we are going through now, but we are going through them together," he said. "We have the right experience in all the departments to make [this period] as short as possible and I'm happy with the progress.
"The starting point was maybe too low and not mature enough, but I think we are getting there and Spa and probably Monza will not show much of the progress, but Hungary showed we were more or less in the top ten in all the sessions and hopefully we can see more of the same in Singapore and the next races.
"For future races and next year things will look completely different."
McLaren arrived at the Belgian Grand Prix with an updated Honda engine but the improvements were not immediately obvious on track. Asked if the team is becoming frustrated with Honda's performance, racing director Eric Boullier said: "No. Because as we've said many times, we are happy to have Honda as a partner and Honda is happy, I guess, with McLaren so far.
"It's just a project that does not have enough maturity to perform as much as we were expecting, but clearly we are working very hard as a works team and it is very important for us to be a works team."
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F1 Italian Grand Prix: Ricciardo: You have to be switched on...

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While speed is king at the Autodromo Nazionale, Daniel Ricciardo insists that how you slow is key to being successful there.
The Australian is looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix for many reasons, both on- and off-track, but admits that concentration plays a bigger part in the race than at many venues, ironically because the layout appears more simple than the likes of Spa, Monaco and Silverstone.
“[Monza] is less physical because, if you need a breather, there's plenty of long straights where you can take one, but that can be a bit of a problem because it really isn't a circuit where you want to lose focus,” he explained, “You're coming into very heavy braking zones at very high speed and you can't afford to lock-up or lose time by braking too early. You have to be very switched on.
“Braking is the big factor in finding a good lap time since they've made the chicane kerbs too high to ride in an F1 car. Since then, braking has become the biggest thing at Monza and it's very tricky to get that right.
“You're coming down to the first chicane at your highest speed of the year and braking for what is almost the tightest corner in F1, with the least amount of downforce. The car starts to slide around and becomes quite tricky, so getting the braking right is key. It's really good too...”
The Australian's natural enthusiasm – which he recently explained remains undimmed by a difficult season in the Renault-powered RB11 – continues beyond driving the circuit and, having recommended Spa for the real racing enthusiast, is similarly ebullient about the trip to Italy.
“I recommend Monza for the real racing enthusiast!” he said with his trademark grin, “As grands prix go, it tends to have more atmosphere than the average...
“The drivers' parade is special - they'll all be there with their shirts off, yelling 'Forza Ferrari' – and it's the only circuit where you expect to be driving through flares! We had that on the warm-up last year, with a massive cloud of red smoke at the second Lesmo!
“It's pretty different – but I like that. The Italian fans are passionate – some might say crazy – and you'll really get your fill of atmosphere. It's a laugh!”
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F1 Italian Grand Prix: Maldonado knows possibilities ahead of Monza

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Pastor Maldonado admits that he hopes he can emulate team-mate Romain Grosjean's strong Belgian Grand Prix performance when F1 heads to one of his favourite circuits next weekend.
Although Maldonado, like many of his rivals, reveres Spa-Francorchamps, he always looks forward to the annual pilgrimage to Monza, where he admits speed is the key requirement.
“The track is all about how fast you can go on the start/finish straight and then also on the back straight too,” he explained, “We are reaching the highest speeds of the season on these stretches.
“One of the critical points is the Parabolica corner. You have to get this right at the end of your lap to ensure a good time and, if you get it wrong, it also compromises you for the next lap. It's difficult to do this as the car is set up for low downforce on the straights, so it's more difficult to drive on the corners – especially a long corner like Parabolica.
“I am really looking forward to Monza this year, because we've shown our car to be pretty good through the speed traps. Coming off the back of our performance in Spa, it's going to be really interesting to see how we go - but I have a good feeling.”
Having begun his European racing career in Italy and won races at Monza, the parkland circuit holds good memories for Maldonado, but the Venezuelan has extra reason for hoping for a good result next weekend after posting his seventh DNF in eleven races after an off at Eau Rouge damaged his clutch at Spa.
“Of course, it's frustrating not to finish any grand prix, but it was particularly so in Belgium as we really had potential to go well,” he reflected, “Romain did a great job to finish on the podium and I started my race ahead of him on the grid.
“We've gone through the data and we think we know what we need to do to avoid a similar situation again. Spa's a pretty unique place so it's unlikely we'll see the same set of circumstances again."
With Renault's mooted return to Enstone a potential threat to Maldonado's future - as the regie's relationship with Total would not sit well with the Venezuelan's PDVSA backing - the former GP2 champion is in need of strong showings as the 2015 season heads into its final third.
“It was good to watch the team get a good result, but it would have been better to have been part of a strong result for both cars on track," he admitted, "We know what is possible and our car should go well in Monza. I would love to score a very strong result in Italy as I have so many fans there.”
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Wolff only eyeing young talent long-term

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Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff admits that, while he is excited by the up-and-coming talent on the marque's roster, there is not plan to rush them into F1.
Having finished 1-2 in last year's world championship, and looking likely to do so again in 2015, Wolff insists that he could not want for a better line-up than reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg, but he acknowledges that Mercedes would be well-served should anything happen in future.
DTM star Pascal Wehrlein has already shown what he can do behind the wheel of an F1 car, having shown well in testing with both the W06 and Force India's VJM08, while Esteban Ocon – who has also tested with Force India and was picked up by the Three Pointed Star when he was released by Lotus – has shown his ability on the F1 support package this season.
“We are very happy with Nico and Lewis and the car - this is our line-up and I wouldn't want to change anything on that particular topic,” the Austrian claimed, “But you need to look into the future and Pascal and Esteban are definitely two of the young drivers who have shown great skill.
“Pascal we obviously know much better because he has been with us for a long while in F3 and DTM and as our third driver with Force India. They were very impressed.”
Wolff admitted that carry too much young talent could be a burden, however, and conceded that Ocon's position on the depth chart was not as secure as Wehrlein's.
“With Esteban, it's not clear how it's going to continue,” he explained, “We have an option on him which we're going to decide whether we will exercise towards the end of the season. It depends on how he continues to perform in GP3, but this is actually not a short-term - nor medium-term - strategy, but only long-term.”
Hamilton and Rosberg are both locked up for at least the 2016 F1 season, and will form part of what looks likely to be a largely unchanged grid, with Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams also expected to retain their current line-ups.
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IS IT BETTER TO BE AN ENGINE CUSTOMER OF MERCEDES OR FERRARI?

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Engines have made Formula 1 headlines ever since the sport introduced V6 turbo power units ahead of the 2014 season.
Since then, only Mercedes has scored pole position and the marque has dominated the series; winning both world titles in 2014 and a repeat result this season appears more than likely.
Red Bull, the team that won eight championships in four seasons between 2010 and 2013, is thought to be trying to engineer a switch to Mercedes engines for 2015 as the team continues to be frustrated with its current power unit supplier Renault.
If Red Bull and Renault do part ways and the Milton Keynes team uses Mercedes power next season, the German manufacturer will have a rival that could regularly challenge it own squad for F1 wins.
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While such a scenario would make life difficult for the Mercedes works team, having a marketing power house like Red Bull adding to its win tally would not be not such a disaster for the Mercedes board.
The alternative would be Ferrari power.
But what is it like to be a customer of these two manufacturers?
Here we take a look at the results enjoyed by Mercedes in F1 history, particularly since 2000 – both as a works team and as just an engine supplier – and compare it to Ferrari.
Total points scored as engine manufacturer:
Mercedes: 6728.14
Ferrari: 7467.27
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Total engine race starts:
Mercedes: 1346
Ferrari: 2739
Total engine wins:
Mercedes: 124
Ferrari: 224
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Engine wins since 2000:
Mercedes: 95
Ferrari: 98
Number of customer teams since 2000:
Mercedes: 5 (McLaren 1995-2014, Force India 2009-present, Brawn 2009, Williams 2014-present, Lotus 2015)
Ferrari: 6 (Sauber 2000-2005 and 2010-present, Red Bull 2006, Toro Rosso 2007-2013, Spyker 2007, Force India 2008, Manor-Marussia 2014-2015)
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Total Customer wins:
Mercedes: 86 (McLaren 78, Brawn, 8)
Ferrari: 1 (Toro Rosso)
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Customer points since 2000:
Mercedes: 3,919(McLaren 2,676, Force India 540, Brawn 172, Williams 481, Lotus 50)
Ferrari: 592 (Sauber 405, Red Bull 16, Toro Rosso 168, Spyker 1, Force India 0, Manor-Marussia 2)
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Some thoughts of Formula 1 and Ingolstadt

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The DTM world is not that exciting for the folk in Formula 1, but in recent days there have been some goings-on that could have some impact in Grand Prix racing. These relate to an incident a month ago when the DTM visited the Red Bull Ring. Mercedes driver Robert Wickens was running in sixth place and was busy blocking Audi’s Timo Scheider, in an effort to allow his own team-mate Pascal Wehrlein to catch up with them. Wickens then engineered a manoeuvre that resulted in Wehrlein being able to sneak through and pass both of them at the same time, leaving Scheider behind the two Mercs. At this point a voice came on Scheider’s radio and said “Schrieb ihn raus!”, which when translated from German means “Take him off!”

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The driver obeyed the order, presumably recognising the voice on the other end of the radio as being someone who should be obeyed. He duly bumped into Wickens and punted him into Wehrlein and the two Mercedes went off, Scheider took the place… However, this was rather an upsetting thing for Mercedes and there were duly complaints and the stewards investigated and it emerged that the words had been spoken by Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich.

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This was not cricket. Ullrich eventually confirmed that he had said the words, but used the unlikely defence that he was unaware that his radio was transmitting to the drivers and that he had said the words in a passionate moment, never for one minute ever dreaming that such a dastardly act would come to pass. It was a pretty lame defence and the stewards recognised this and passed the incident on to the DMSB, Germany’s national sporting authority, asking them to look into the behaviour of those involved. Audi was found guilty of “unsportsmanlike behaviour”, fined €200,000 and has had its manufacturer points from the race taken away.

Scheider was banned from competing in the Moscow DTM race, while Ullrich has been banned from the DTM pitlane for the rest of the season.

So what does all of this have to do with Formula 1?
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Well, on the surface, not a lot. Wehrlein is the blue-eyed boy at Mercedes and there is talk that he will go to a Mercedes-engined team in F1 next year, but this is not the point of interest.
Ullrich was 65 years old last week (and probably had a rotten birthday). Sixty-five is retirement age in lots of countries and the Red Bull Ring incident casts a dark shadow over the achievements during his 21 and a half years in charge of Audi Sport. This has included 13 Le Mans victories. Now, with a rampant Porsche in WEC, a new boss at the top of the Volkswagen Group, Audi’s sporting future is anything but settled. The departure of Ullrich – which would be entirely understandable in the circumstances – would open the way for new ideas and there are more than a few people at Audi who have watched the Mercedes efforts in F1 and think that their company should be in Grand Prix racing, reviving the old rivalry between Mercedes and AutoUnion (Audi’s forefather). If Ullrich is shovelled out of the way as a result of this faux pas in DTM, things could change in Ingolstadt.
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Let us not forget that while all this is going on, Red Bull Racing is whining and griping about having to go on using Renault F1 engines for 2016. There is a contract in place, but it is clear that Red Bull does not think Renault is going to improve much next year and Dietrich Mateschitz is grumbling that F1 is no fun at all when you are not winning. Bernie Ecclestone and the suits who follow in his wake are worried that Red Bull might walk away and so is busy trying to talk Mercedes into giving Red Bull its race-winning engines. In the longer term that makes little sense. Some argue that the people who drink Red Bull will all instantly be convinced that Mercedes is cool and will hang up their skateboards, turn their caps the right way round and go and buy themselves a $75,000 Mercedes. The downside is a little more realistic. If someone sticks a Mercedes engine in a Red Bull, there is a serious worry that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg might get beaten and that would make whoever agreed to the deal look like a real drongo. Whereupon the Great Moustache from Stuttgart will descend, boots flailing, because it will obviously not have been his idea.
The option is for someone to sneak in to Audi and point out the obvious: there is a top-line Formula 1 team begging for engines, who will help finance engine development. Audi might like doing things in-house, but this is a gift horse and you don’t need to be a dentist to see the potential. Later on, when they have found their feet, perhaps they can launch an Audi factory team, but the key thing now would be to gain a foothold. Audi is certainly in a position to handle such a project. They have plenty of hybrid experience and it would be amazing if the company had not played around a little with some of the F1 ideas in recent years. They also have a chap called Stefano Domenicali working at Ingolstadt and he knows a thing or two about making F1 teams work. He has a very useful contact book and could easily manage an Audi F1 engine programme. Could it be done in time for 2017? Possibly… that rather depends on what machinery they have at Ingolstadt. It is the kind of brave move that a man close to retirement would not embark upon, but if the man close to retirement is no longer there and there is a 52-year-old Audi boss who might one day want to run the whole VW empire, one can see that nothing is impossible.
This is all speculation, of course, but someone in Ingolstadt must be thinking along these lines…
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Ferrari’s 900 F1 races in stats

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F1’s longest-running team reached a milestone at the Belgian Grand Prix. Ferrari started their 900th race, but did not come away with any silverware to add to their haul of 223 victories to date.

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Ferrari’s milestone races

100th: 1963 German Grand Prix

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Ferrari’s hundredth race was an especially significant one as it saw John Surtees claim his first victory for the team, ending a two-year drought of championship success. Surtees went on to win the championship with the team the following year.
200th: 1973 Brazilian Grand Prix
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In the early seventies Ferrari were enjoying greater success in sports car racing than in Formula One, where all 15 races were won by their Cosworth-powered rivals. On more than one occasion that year Enzo Ferrari decided not to send the team’s out-classed cars to the latest round (see below). However with the arrival of Niki Lauda the following season and the return to designer Mauro Forghieri, better days lay ahead.
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300th: 1979 Dutch Grand Prix
Zandvoort
One hundred races later, Ferrari had racked up another three constructors’ championship titles, Lauda had taken a pair of drivers’ titles, and the 1979 crowns were also won by Ferrari and its latest champion, Jody Scheckter.
However at the team’s 300th race Scheckter’s team mate Gilles Villeneuve was the centre of attention, famously dragging his three-wheeled car back to the pits after a puncture.
400th: 1986 United States Grand Prix
Detroit
Although Ferrari was quick to respond to the challenge posed by the turbo era – and took another pair of constructors’ titles – the team’s fortunes ebbed rapidly after Michele Alboreto finished runner-up in the 1985 championship. Their 1986 campaign was a win-less affair: Alboreto came fourth in their 400th race at Detroit.
500th: 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix
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The 1992 season was one of Ferrari’s worst. Jean Alesi dropped out of the team’s 500th race when his driveshaft failed 14 laps in. Team mate Ican Capelli took his last points finish in their car, and was cut from the squad before the season’s end. But the real root of the team’s problems was neither Capelli nor the poor F92A chassis, but the management vacuum and political infighting left in the wake of Enzo Ferrari’s death four years earlier.
600: 1998 Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps
Six years later, Ferrari had everything in place to conquer Formula One once more. New team chief Jean Todt had assembled his dream team featuring the talents of Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and, at the wheel, Michael Schumacher.
Even so, things hadn’t come right quite yet, partly due to races like their 600th start at Spa. In a rain-lashed race Schumacher was romping to victory when he clattered into David Coulthard’s McLaren. Ferrari would have to wait one more year for its first championship since 1983.
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700: 2004 Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps
Ironically, Ferrari concluded their next 100-race landmark without a victory despite having won 61 of the intervening races. The result was a string of six consecutive constructors’ championship titles and, for Schumacher, five drivers’ titles in a row.
The last of which Schumacher clinched in the team’s 700th grand prix. Kimi Raikkonen nabbed the win though, and three years later he succeeded Schumacher in the team’s line-up.
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800: 2010 Turkish Grand Prix
Istanbul Park
There wasn’t much for Ferrari to celebrate in their 800th race. Fernando Alonso forced his way past Vitaly Petrov late in the race to salvage eighth place. However when he found himself in the same position at the season finale in Abu Dhabi Alonso was unable to find a way through, and saw his best chance of a Ferrari championship slip away.
900: 2015 Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps
First Red Bull, then Mercedes were the dominating force during Ferrari’s last 100 races. Though Vettel has poached two wins for the Scuderia this year, in their 900th race a tyre blow-out on the penultimate lap cost him a podium finish.
Why did Ferrari miss 27 races?
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Ferrari have started 900 of the 927 F1 races so far. So what explains their occasional absences?
There were no Ferraris on the grid for the first world championship race at Silverstone in 1950 where Alfa Romeo were expected to dominate – and did. However at the same track 12 months later Jose Froilan Gonzalez gave Ferrari the first of their 223 wins to date.
Not until the 1980s were teams required to compete in every round of the world championship, and until then it was not unusual for Ferrari to keep its cars away if they were not expected to be competitive: a decision which was often blamed on ‘industrial action’ or something similar.
In 1961 Ferrari’s Phil Hill won the drivers’ championship in the penultimate round at Monza. But what should have been a joyous occasion was overshadowed by the death of his team mate Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators in an accident early in the race. Ferrari stayed away from the final round of the championship at Watkins Glen.
The team was struck by tragedy again in 1982, when Gilles Villeneuve was killed during qualifying at Zolder, prompting Ferrari to withdraw the sole remaining car of Didier Pironi.
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Ferrari’s most successful drivers
Michael Schumacher’s towering achievement for Ferrari earned him a special place in the hearts of the Scuderia. He won 72 races for them – more than a third of their victories at the time of his last win at Shanghai in 2006.
He is one of 14 world champions and 24 other drivers to win for Ferrari:
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NB. Fangio and Musso shared victory in the 1956 Argentinian Grand Prix.
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MERCEDES BOSSES SLAM VETTEL FOR ATTACK ON PIRELLI

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Mercedes bosses Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff have jumped to the defence of Pirelli, after Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel launched a stinging attack on the F1 tyre supplier following the Belgian grand prix.
Following the high-speed blowout that essentially ended Vettel’s outside shot at the 2015 title, Vettel slammed the quality of Pirelli’s tyres.
It was the second blowout of the weekend for a rear Pirelli tyre at fabled Spa-Francorchamps, following Nico Rosberg’s on Friday.
Vettel launched an attack on Pirelli via the media after the race, but he reportedly also accosted Paul Hembery face-to-face in the paddock.
There are differing accounts of what Vettel told the Briton, but Bild newspaper claims he said to Hembery: “Your tyres are extremely dangerous.”
Pirelli hit back in the form of an official statement, saying teams refused to accept a proposal in 2013 to set a maximum number of laps per tyre set.
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“These conditions, if applied today at Spa, would have limited the maximum number of laps on the medium compound to 22,” the statement read.
And Hembery told the press: “I understand Sebastian’s frustration but Ferrari took a risk and it didn’t come off.”
While admitting Vettel’s one-stop strategy was aggressive, Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene denied that it was unreasonably risky.
“We have an engineer from Pirelli – what do you think he is for? He’s not there to chew gum but to follow all the runs. We had zero warning. I can show you the paper,” added Arrivabene.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, however, hit out at Vettel for pointing the finger so accusatorily at Pirelli.
“It is understandable that Ferrari tried the strategy and that Vettel is sour,” he said, “but I have to defend Pirelli.
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“It was a conscious decision by Ferrari to take a risk. We took measures after our puncture on Friday and even considered a third stop.”
Lauda agreed: “Ferrari should not complain if a risky strategy does not work out. What Vettel said about his tyre partner is not right and I would not accept it from one of our drivers.”
Christian Danner, a former driver turned pundit for German television, added: “Basically, Niki is 100 per cent right. As it is always in motor sport, when you go to the limit, it can go wrong for you.”
Not quite on his bosses’ side, however, is Nico Rosberg, who had the unexplained 300kph blowout on Friday.
After Vettel’s race incident, the Mercedes driver said: “Somehow we need to make it safer. So if they are not able to solve the problem in the two weeks before Monza, which again is very high speed, then we need to have something in place after that.”
Other teams are also concerned. Lotus engineer Alan Permane told Auto Motor und Sport: “If Pirelli tells us that the tyre lasts for 40 laps, then it should not fail after 28.”

God, I fricking hate those smug bastards Wolf and Lauda. They'd be the first crying for a boycott, if it had happened to their team. A blowout is NEVER acceptable. This is a safety issue.

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TURKEY F1 TRACK BECOMES USED CAR DEALERSHIP

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Turkey’s chances of returning to the Formula 1 calendar any time soon now appear dead.
Istanbul Park hosted grands prix between 2005 and 2011, with the Hermann Tilke-penned circuit famous for its challenging turn 8.
But the event collapsed for financial reasons and a lack of local interest.
Now, the track that reportedly cost almost $300 million to build is to become a used car dealership, the Turkish daily Sozcu reports.
A car rental company has reportedly signed a 10-year lease and plans to sell 25,000 cars per year from the facility, to be called Istanbul Park Auto Market.
MIKA: That's what all Tilke tracks are good for IMO

Yeah but I'm really going to miss turn 8.

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HULKENBERG: I WANT TO CONTINUE GROWING WITH FORCE INDIA

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Nico Hulkenberg continues with Sahara Force India for the 2016 and 2017 Formula 1 World Championship seasons.
Sahara Force India have signed a two-year contract extension with Nico Hulkenberg. It means Nico will race in the team’s colours until at least the end of the 2017 season, giving the team valuable stability in the years ahead.
Nico Hulkenberg: “I’m very pleased to finalise and announce my plans for the future. I know this team inside out and I feel at home here so it made perfect sense to make a long-term commitment.”
“The progress the team has shown over the last two years has really impressed me and gives me confidence for the future. It’s a great group of people who are hungry for success and want to keep improving year-on-year.”
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“I think we have the important things in place going forward and I want to continue growing with this team as we move even further up the grid.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “I make no secret of being one of Nico’s biggest fans and so it’s fantastic to confirm him as our driver for the next couple of seasons.”
“He has spent almost four years with us already and in that time we’ve seen him develop into one of the best racing drivers in the world.”
“Nico has the speed, the technical knowledge and the maturity to help us achieve some great results in the years ahead. We will do everything we can to continue delivering a car to match his talent.”
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PIRELLI SET TO BLAME DEBRIS FOR VETTEL BLOWOUT

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After an internal investigation Pirelli are reportedly set to blame debris as the cause of Sebastian Vettel’s tyre blowout at Spa-Francorchamps.
In the incident that sparked an expletive-filled post-race rant, F1’s controversial tyre supplier argued initially that excessive wear caused by Ferrari’s ambitious one-stop strategy was the cause of the failure.
But earlier in the weekend, Pirelli said an external source, such as track debris, was to blame for Nico Rosberg’s high-speed blowout and spin.
Now, the Italian company is preparing to announce the results of an exhaustive investigation into the Vettel blowout.
“The technical investigation into Vettel’s tyre at Spa is now finished,” Pirelli said in a media statement. “The results will be presented at Monza.”
Autosprint speculates that Pirelli may be ready to announce that wear was not the cause of the blowout, but track debris, with up to 60 other tyres showing signs of damage following the Belgian Grand Prix.
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Nevertheless the Italian company are still also likely to be grilled by media with regards to the blowout suffered by Nico Rosberg during practice at Spa, and also questioned about the warping seen on the rear tyre of Vettel’s Ferrari (pictured above) on the Saturday before the race.
That could be why Pirelli has stuck to its earlier decision to bring softer compounds than usual to high-speed Monza this weekend. Sauber engineer Giampaolo Dall’Ara backed the call.
“The medium and the soft are a way more sensible choice than the medium and hard we have had [at Monza] for years,” he said. “They will open up new scenarios and the show will benefit from such a choice.”
However, there are still some who believe Pirelli’s actual tyre construction is flawed.
“I do not believe the tyre damage (at Spa) has something to do with the compound. That would mean you could only use it for five laps at Monaco,” Mark Webber told Auto Motor und Sport.
And Michelin’s Pascal Couasnon told Germany’s Sport Bild: “We know Spa very well, as we have been there every year with the WEC. And we know it is a very demanding circuit for the tyres.”
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