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Ecclestone confirms Greece in frame for F1 event

Greek F1 Track Plan

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that he’s still considering a street race in Greece, despite the troubled economic state of the country.

The proposed race, which would be backed by private funding and run by promoter Dielpis, has been in the planning stages for some time – as far back as 2009 – although little has been heard recently. It might be given the Mediterranean GP name, which has been trademarked by FOM.

“The Greeks are keen,” Ecclestone told CNN. “They want me to go and see the Prime Minister or the mayor. We will have to find out if they have got any money.”

The venue is the Keratsini-Drapetsona municipality, some six miles to the west of Athens. Track architect Athanasios Papatheodorou said: “The Prime Minister himself has supported fully the initiative for organising F1 races and is looking forward to the instruction from the relevant international federations to realise the Dielpis F1 project.

“The greatest benefit for our country would be giving to the world the opportunity to see the most historical port of the Mediterranean sea. And our experience at organising big events, such as the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, is a big credential for us.”

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Verstappen has first F1 run in RB7 at Rockingham

Max Verstappen has had his first F1 outing today at Rockingham – still some 35 days short of his 17th birthday.

The Dutchman drove the Red Bull RB7 demo car, with which he will make his first public appearance at the Rotterdam street event this weekend. The car will be in Toro Rosso rather than Red Bull livery in Holland, and today’s run was mainly to get him familiar with the controls.

Verstappen has to complete 300kms of proper F1 running in order to get a superlicence that will allow him to do FP1 sessions in the current car at the end of the season.

 

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Mercedes has to tread a narrow line, says Alonso

Fernando Alonso is sympathetic towards the plight of Mercedes as the team tries to juggle the interests of both drivers while trying to allow them to put on a show for the public.

The Spaniard agreed that it was difficult for a team to get it right all the time.

“I don’t know exactly the situation, so it’s difficult to talk for another team,” said Alonso. “They’ve been racing fantastically well all through the season and we’ve been saying how good they were fighting and how good the team was letting them fight, Bahrain for example was a fantastic fight and fantastic race that everyone enjoyed.

“Now it’s true that maybe they touched a little bit today and there will be some talks about this. It’s difficult, if one team lets the drivers fight, until they don’t touch, it’s fantastic, when they touch that team are not any more good. It’s a very narrow line to try to make everyone happy. They’re leading the championships, both championships, with big margins, so they are doing something good. Apart from the problems they can have, they are dominating everything. As I said from outside it’s difficult to judge any other team.”

Meanwhile Alonso doesn’t believe that Daniel Ricciardo is potentially in the title fight, despite his run of good results: “I don’t think so. Obviously he’s doing an amazing job, he’s surprising everyone, but the Mercedes advantage – yesterday 2s in front of everybody else, before or later when they finish the race they will keep increasing their advantage. If one of the rest can do [anything], at the moment it’s only Ricciardo. So we’ll see.”

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VIDEO – First onboard lap of Sochi with Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel drove an Infiniti road car around Sochi today, and here is a video of his lap.

The German clearly likes the venue, judging by his smile: “It is great to be back in Sochi and the venue has been transformed since I was last here when it was really just a construction site. Having driven the full circuit for the first time in the Infiniti Q50 today, it’s an interesting layout with a good mix of high speed corners and technical sections. It’s going to be a huge challenge in a Formula One car for sure and I’m really looking forward to coming back in October.”

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VIDEO – Nico Rosberg responds: “I prefer to just keep it internal…”

Nico Rosberg has responded via his video blog to the comments of Lewis Hamilton – by not responding.

“Definitely one of the more difficult video blogs today, the Spa race,” he said. “I’ve been told what Lewis said in the press, and the way he has stated his version of the events. All I can say is my view of the events are very different. But the thing is it’s just better that I don’t know give all the details of my opinion and things like that. I hope you respect that. I prefer to just keep it internal, you know.

“We had a very good discussion, an important discussion. When such things occur we must sit down and review them, and that’s what we did, and everybody gave his opinion, and now we need to move forward. There will be another discussion, for sure, because we need to see if we need to change our approach in the future, as we did in Hungary, and we will do that. The good thing is that we really have a great leadership in the team with Paddy and Toto, with the help of Niki, and that really is important in such situations. Therefore I’m confident that as always, we’re going to find back to our way, and then keep on fighting in Monza. On we go.”

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Nico Rosberg: “For me it wasn’t a risky situation…”

Nico Rosberg is adamant the collision with Lewis Hamilton at Spa was a racing incident, and says that he didn’t believe he was taking any risks.

Speaking at exactly the same time that Hamilton told British journalists about the post-race Mercedes team meeting, Rosberg himself declined to elaborate on what had happened behind closed doors.

“We had a discussion, as is important after such circumstances, because obviously what happened cost the team a lot of points,” he said. “And that is the main focus and the biggest issue with such a happening as today. And so yes we have of course discussed. Unfortunately I don’t want to go into any details, that wouldn’t be the right thing to do.”

Asked if it was an emotional meeting he added: “It’s important for us in the more difficult times to really discuss and reason, and I think as a team we’re always managing to do that, because we have a really strong leadership with Toto and Paddy foremost, and then with Niki who’s helping out. That is the big advantage that we have, this strong leadership.”

Regarding the collision, he said: “It was a racing incident, that’s the best way to describe that, and that is also the way that the stewards saw it.

“I was quicker at the time and there was an opportunity, and so I gave it a go around the outside, because the inside was blocked.

“I didn’t see any risk in overtaking or trying to overtake, and I tried. The opportunity was there, without DRS, because I was so much quicker, so I gave it a go. The inside was not possible, so IO tried round the outside. Should I have waited is very hypothetical, because who knows what happens afterwards? The opportunity was there, and for me it wasn’t a risky situation.”

Asked if he had a way of avoiding the collision he said: “There is always the way out of going off the track.”

On the podium Rosberg was booed by the crowd.

“In such an incident it’s natural for there to be varying opinions. That’s completely normal, I suppose, and I understand that the British people more often than not tend to be on the side of Lewis, and the Germans will be on my side more often than not, that’s the nature of the thing. To be honest I respect every opinion as long as it is made with proper preparation.”

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Toto Wolff downplays Rosberg’s admission: “It wasn’t deliberately crashing…”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has moved to clarify Lewis Hamilton’s comments on what Nico Rosberg said in the team meeting after the Belgian GP.

Mercedes has not denied that Rosberg said that he could have avoided the collision, and was out to prove a point, but Wolff said that wasn’t the same as admitting to causing an accident.

“Nico felt he needed to hold his line,” he told PA Sport. “He needed to make a point, and for Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico. He didn’t give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space, and that Lewis didn’t leave him space.

“So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst ourselves, but it wasn’t deliberately crashing. That is nonsense. It was deliberately taking into account that if Lewis moves or would open then it could end up in a crash.

“It doesn’t change the scenario at all because the incident, as I see it, is not acceptable for us. What we saw there was that Nico was not prepared to take the exit, and that caused the collision. That is not something we want to happen.

“I thought with the two of them, with the way they have previously driven against one another, that it wouldn’t come to this point. But we are at that point and it needs to be managed going forward.”

Earlier, and before Hamilton’s revelations, Wolff had made it clear that Rosberg was in the doghouse.

“Racing accidents can happen, racing accidents between team-mates shouldn’t happen. Racing accidents between team-mates in lap number two of a 44-lap race with a dominant car should be a no-no-no.

“For us, we’ve lost a win – we’ve lost another win. We’ve lost a 1-2. We have a lot of controversy about the drivers, about the team, and we’re at the point we hoped we would never reach.

“I need to look from the team’s perspective right now. Nico is 29 points ahead but it’s one thing to look at the championship situation and say ‘What does that mean for Lewis?’ The other side is to look at how that incident interferes with the principle and the philosophy of management we’re trying to have in the company. And it has functioned until now.”

Wolff said it was too early to decide whether team orders could be implemented.

“We haven’t decided that yet. I think it would be wrong 45 minutes after the end of the race to say ‘this is what we’re going to do’. I’m extremely upset about what’s happened today – not about the fact that two cars have crashed into each other, I’m very upset because we’ve defined rules all together and we’ve broken those rules. And I feel let down. Whoever it would have been, Lewis or Nico, I feel let down and the team has been let down. This is why we real have to analyse properly how we can do it better.

“Obviously we have the tools to… interfere. But this is not the right way. We have to sit them down, and for them to be part of the discussion about how to avoid this happening again.”

Told that Hamilton didn’t expect Rosberg to be receive a strong sanction, he said: “Well if Lewis has said that it’s going to be a slap on the wrist, and that there’s going to be no consequence, then he’s not aware of what consequences we can implement.”

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