Formula One's Latest Rumours and Talk: Alonso Positive, Button Focused and More
With many teams having already unveiled their 2014 challengers and the rest set to do so during the first pre-season test at Jerez this week, the buzz of excitement for the new Formula One season is well and truly back.
It’s not all there is to talk about in the world of F1, though. Amongst this week’s early talking points, we look at how Bernie Ecclestone could pay his way out of a long jail sentence for bribery and how Ron Dennis restored Jenson Button’s enthusiasm for the new season.
Alonso Sees Reasons for Optimism After Ferrari Launch
Fernando Alonso says that Ferrari have reason to be optimistic about the forthcoming Formula One season following the launch of their 2014 challenger on Saturday.
Ferrari unveiled the F14 T over the weekend, a design that features a flatter nose concept to many of its rivals. Despite the odd-looking nature of the car, Alonso is confident the team has interpreted the new regulations to the best of its ability, as quoted on Autosport.
We are in a changeable time now. We have some new things coming in Formula 1 with some big regulation changes, but we are quite well prepared for that.
The team has been working for a good time now on the new car. We have the technology, we have the people and we have the facilities to create and be ready to challenge that new Formula 1. That is my reason to be optimistic.
Alonso added that the great expectations that always surround the Ferrari team does not act as a burden, but rather motivation to get back to championship-winning form.
We are Ferrari. We are in a team that is only competing for winning. We saw in the last couple of years that finishing second is like a disaster because in this team everyone is expecting a lot. But these expectations and this motivation that everyone has at Ferrari makes me very optimistic.
Ecclestone Could Pay to Settle Bribery-Charge Case
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone could pay his way out of a possible 10-year jail sentence for bribery.
Prosecutors in Munich announced just over a week ago that they are to launch criminal proceedings against Ecclestone over the $44 million (£27 million) bribe that was paid to the German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky during the sale of Formula One in 2005.
But according to the Daily Mail on Sunday, Ecclestone could use £240 million of his personal fortune during the trial to avoid a custodial sentence, as confirmed by court spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel.
According to German legal procedure, there is the possibility during the trial to stop the proceedings in return for payment of an agreed sum of money to a charitable institution or the treasury, if the accused, the public prosecutors and also the court agrees with it.
Ecclestone’s lawyer, Sven Thomas, agreed that such a settlement could be reached when the trial begins.
"I don’t think that we can achieve a settlement before the trial starts," Thomas said. "During trials settlements are always possible but not before."
Weight an Issue for Sutil
Adrian Sutil has admitted that he has been working hard in the gym to adapt to the new minimum weight limits imposed on F1 teams this season.
With the new engine regulations incorporating a heavy ERS and turbo unit, lighter drivers are at a premium as teams aim to get as close to the minimum 690-kilogram limit as possible.
And as one of the taller drivers on the F1 grid, Sutil falls into the category of one of the heavier drivers. But following the launch of the Sauber C33 on Sunday, the German said he has been working hard to address the issue, as reported by Autosport.
Training is going on as usual but with more focus on losing weight. I'm a tall driver and I was always on the limit with the weight. But now I have to reduce the last few kilos. I'm on it already. I didn't eat too much over Christmas and New Year.
You need time to adapt yourself, but I think this year it's completely new for everyone. So to change teams right now is not a bad thing to do because you don't have a disadvantage to other drivers. Everyone is at the same point right now.
Words of Dennis Key to Button Carrying on
Jenson Button considered walking away from the sport after the sudden and tragic loss of his father due to a suspected heart attack.
The 2009 world champion was brave enough and professional enough to put his personal grievances aside to attend the launch of the new McLaren MP4-29 on Friday.
As reported by The Independent on Friday, it was the words of returning CEO Ron Dennis that helped Button to recover his zest for the season ahead.
I have spoken with him [Dennis] a lot in the last few days, we’ve had some good chats but about other things, not many about his expectations for the team. Everything goes through your mind, that’s all I have to say on it.
He is very excited about his new role and very hungry, so hungry to succeed. That’s great for the team and, hopefully, it will get back to its winning ways. I’m looking forward to a year in which I’m going to put everything into the sport and leave nothing on the table.
Todt Returns to Schumacher’s Bedside
Michael Schumacher’s former Ferrari boss and current FIA president Jean Todt has returned to the bedside of his friend at the hospital in Grenoble.
Schumacher has been stricken in a coma for almost a month following a skiing accident in late December, and there are serious doubts he will ever make a complete recovery.
According to Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper via inautonews.com, Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm is quoted as saying that Schumacher’s wife Corrina only wants his closest friends around him, one of which is Todt.