Where’s Bernie??

 

Nurburgring 'not annoyed' by Ecclestone snub

Nurburgring officials might be forgiven for feeling “annoyed” after being stood up at the weekend by Bernie Ecclestone.

Bernie Ecclestone  Image by RyanBayona via Flickr

Despite the Nurburgring entering an insolvency process, bosses Jorg Lindner and Kai Richter took the time and expense to travel to Hockenheim, specifically to meet with Ecclestone and discuss their circuit's crisis.

“They waited and waited, but Bernie did not come,” revealed the Suddeutschenewspaper.

Media reports speculated that the F1 chief executive stayed away for fear German prosecutors would order his arrest as they push forward with a bribery investigation.

“We are not annoyed,” a spokesman for the Nurburgring told DPA news agency.

“We are in contact in other ways (with Ecclestone) regarding formula one at the Nurburgring in 2013.”

Already convicted and jailed for receiving Ecclestone's bribes is the former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, whose lawyer Daniel Amelung says 81-year-old Briton Ecclestone cannot hide forever.

“I wonder how in the future he can fulfil his duties in Germany, in Europe, indeed in the entire world if the prosecutor should apply for an international arrest warrant,” he told Bild newspaper.

Ecclestone has been unavailable for comment.

(GMM)

Halfway Through the 2012 F1 Season That Has Never Failed to Thrill

By BRAD SPURGEON via IHT, nytimes.com

F1 Drivers Parade: Fernando Alonso in an Austin Healey Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

HOCKENHEIM, Germany — We have now arrived at the halfway point of the longest Formula One season in history — 20 races, ending at the end of November — and I think it is safe to say that there has not yet been a boring race.

Formula One
Formula One

A view from the paddock with Brad Spurgeon.

The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on Sunday began looking as if it might end up a boring affair as Fernando Alonso scored pole position during a superb qualifying in treacherous, wet conditions and the Spaniard in the Ferrari looked set to hold onto the lead to the end. But with 25 laps left in the 67-lap race, a sudden teasing game began when Jenson Button in a McLaren managed to pass Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull and take second position after starting sixth.

Button looked like he would capitalize on Alonso’s Ferrari’s frequent weakness: its tires’ performance at the end of races. As the British driver — who has not won since the first race of the season in Australia in March — pressured Alonso, at about a second behind him for many laps, the race became a scenario of suspense and guessing.

But guessing that this time it would be the McLaren that wore out its tires seemed unthinkable. Yet, suddenly, it was Button who became the prey to the rapidly attacking Vettel, who passed Button with less than three laps left and finished second.

Then, two hours after the race, there was more excitement as it was announced that Vettel had illegally passed Button by driving off the edge of the track at the hairpin to get past the McLaren driver, gaining an unfair advantage. Vettel was penalized, with 20 seconds added to his race time. He dropped to fifth in the race classification, which raised Kimi Raikkonen of the Lotus team to third place, and Button to second.

None of this changed the winner: Alonso claimed his third victory of the season — the only driver who can make that boast — proving once that again that he can capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself. He extended his lead in the series to 154 points. Mark Webber, in the other Red Bull, has only 120 points, while Vettel has 110.

But the race had the added benefit of showing what happens when the series’ five German drivers compete in their home race. Vettel, who has never won a race in July — and therefore never won his home Grand Prix — once again failed, with victory looking like it was teasing him, so close yet so far.

Michael Schumacher started third on the grid and finished seventh in a strong race which had the German driver outperforming his teammate — Nico Rosberg, another German, who finished 10th — for the third race in a row. And Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India, finished ninth.

The only German driver who did not finish in the top 10 was Timo Glock, in the inferior Marussia car that has not scored a point so far in its two and a half seasons in the series.

In the end, there was plenty to watch and dream about here, just as there has been at every race so far this year, and as the tight season no doubt promises for the next 10 races.

 

Ecclestone – no fear of Hockenheim arrest

 

Bernie Ecclestone has denied suggestions he will not risk travelling to Germany next month.

Bernie Ecclestone inspecting the Paddock Club Image by Nick J Webb via Flickr

Bild newspaper indicated recently the F1 chief executive might skip the race after this weekend's British grand prix for risk of arrest.

Speculation is ramping up that Ecclestone, 81, will be charged for bribery, after former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was convicted and jailed last week for receiving the payments from the Briton.

“The only thing I did wrong is that I personally paid him ten million pounds”, Ecclestone told the German newsmagazine Focus, explaining the money was paid because Gribkowsky was threatening to cause trouble with his British tax affairs.

But what about the risk of arrest in Germany?

“Of course I'm going to Hockenheim,” Ecclestone insisted.

Time will tell what the next step will be, given the Munich court's depiction last week of Ecclestone as the “driving force” of Gribkowsky's corruption.

“The prosecutors' attitude has been quite aggressive in the last couple of days,” an unnamed person close to Ecclestone told the Financial Times.

Are charges likely?

“No idea,” Briton Ecclestone insisted.

The publication suggested Ecclestone may be suspended as F1's chief executive by owners CVC if he is charged.

“What we ought to do is wait and see, shouldn't we?” Ecclestone said.

CVC declined to comment.

(GMM)