Ferrari has travelled to India with some improvements for its 2012 car, test driver Marc Gene has revealed.
Despite admitting its wind tunnel has not always been up to scratch this year, the Italian team remains determined to fight back after Fernando Alonso lost his long-standing championship lead to Red Bull’s on-form Sebastian Vettel two weeks ago in Korea.
Spaniard Gene is quoted by the EFE news agency as admitting Ferrari has brought “a number of improvements” to India, the fourth-last stop on the 2012 calendar, but insisted it does not add up to a “great revolution”. Photo credit: Ferrari S.p.A.
“But we do hope they help,” he said.
“All the time there are less and less races, so we are doing everything to end the championship with even a single point more than second place,” added Gene.
Spain’s Marca newspaper said the changes to the F2012 are in the area of the exhaust, the wings and the diffuser, amounting to “between 0.2 and 0.4 seconds” per lap.
Chief designer Nicholas Tombazis confirmed Ferrari tried the improvements during a straightline track test last week, after finding that parts tested only in the wind tunnel ahead of recent grands prix brought “unpleasant surprises”.
“We ran control tests on these updates to really understand what the problem was. We got some very interesting answers which we believe will allow us to recover from those problems,” he said.
F1 legend Niki Lauda, however, warned that it might already be too late for Ferrari, particularly as he has heard that Red Bull has also travelled to India with some car developments.
“If that goes well (for Red Bull), then it becomes very difficult for Alonso,” he told the broadcaster RTL.
With team founder Vijay Mallya under pressure to sell off Kingfisher Airlines and rumours that none of its drivers had been paid a salary in 2012, Force India could do without further financial worries, but they keep on coming.
New co-owner Sahara is facing a court order to repay more than $3bn raised from small investors.
According to Reuters, India’s top court has instructed the company, which also backs India’s national cricket and hockey teams, to pay back the sum as its fundraising practices involving two smaller companies which raised $3.18bn over four years did not comply with securities regulations.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India has already ordered the refund – complete with 15 per cent interest – but an appeal, based on Sahara’s claim that it had been a private placement, sent the matter to the courts, who upheld the original decision and instructed the company to repay the full amount within three months. Sahara, founded by Subrata Roy Sahara, bought into the Force India team during the 2011 F1 season, after Mallya ran into trouble with a couple of his own companies, including Kingfisher Airlines, which he has come under pressure to sell off.
Meanwhile, Hulkenberg’s manager, Timo Gans, has shrugged off the claims that his client had not been paid for his services this season. “These are rumours,” he told Germany’s Sport1, “I really wonder where this information comes from — maybe people know more than we do.” Hulkenberg and di Resta are both being touted as potential replacements for Felipe Massa at Ferrari next season.
Force India’s drivers may have gone without pay so far in 2012, according to rumours.Paul di Resta, Sahara Force India F1 Paul di Resta, Sahara Force India F1. Austria’s Sportwoche reports speculation that Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta are the latest victims of team owner Vijay Mallya’s struggling Indian airline Kingfisher.
As the 2011 season kicked off, German Hulkenberg said the airline’s high profile financial problems have “nothing to do with us”.
“This is formula one, not an airline,” he insisted. Business Book GP 2012 estimates Hulkenberg and his Scottish teammate di Resta’s salaries this year at EUR 500,000 and 200,000 respectively. But Sportwoche cited more than one paddock source in suggesting that the duo have not been paid anything yet. The magazine said only the payments from title partner Sahara are keeping the Silverstone based team afloat.