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GP Week : Issue 155
BRIEFLY » Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen had hoped to take part in the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship later this year, but has been denied the possibility by his F1 bosses. “I sat down with Kimi earlier today and we talked about it,” Lotus team principal Eric Boullier told Autosport in Monaco. “His contract does not allow him to go rallying and, after what happened with Robert [Kubica], this team could not let him do it. He fully understands the situation, so the matter is closed now.” Kubica was supposed to be Renault’s lead driver in 2011, but was seriously injured during the pre-season Ronde di Andora rally and has not competed in top-level motorsport since. » As the Formula One press corps partied on Thursday evening, reports began to circulate of a bomb scare in the paddock – the second successive bomb scare at the Monaco Grand Prix. A white box filled with cables and unidentified electronics was found at the entrance to the media centre, and a bomb disposal expert was called in to identify the package. Following his inspection, the decision was made to blow up the box in a controlled explosion. No one was injured, although access to the paddock and media centre was restricted until the Monegasque police could guarantee the safety of F1 personnel. » Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus, was this week suspended from his job with the Norfolk- based car manufacturer following a complaint into his conduct made by the controlling shareholders of parent company Proton, DRB-HICOM. Few details of the suspension have been released, although Proton have released a brief statement. “As a result of a number of media inquiries, Group Lotus plc (‘Lotus’) can today confirm that, following an operational review, chief executive Dany Bahar has been temporarily suspended from his role to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct made by Lotus’ penultimate parent company, DRB-HICOM Berhad,” the statement read. Strange as it might seem, the global financial crisis has hit Monaco. Ticket sales in the major grandstands were down on previous years, while the principality’s restauranteurs have spoken of a general fall in business. Like Monaco, Formula One is not immune. It may have taken a few years for the impact of the 2008 banking collapse to hit the paddock’s richer teams, but now four years on sponsorship contracts are coming to an end and everyone in the sport is feeling the pinch. On Thursday morning in Monaco, a meeting of the Sporting Working Group discussed cost-cutting measures in Formula One. Asked to explain progress made in the sport’s financial discussions, Brawn made no reference to the SWG meeting, but spoke generally about the efforts being made: “I think there’s been some good progress in the last few months,” the Mercedes team principal said. “The FIA are now becoming more and more involved in cost-cutting initiatives for the future. I think ultimately that’s who we have to rely on to police the measures we need to take to control costs, because as the costs have become let’s say more swingeing, as they’ve become harder to meet, then it’s important that we all have the confidence that every team is complying to the cost restraint regulations, the resource restraint regulations and everyone’s applying the criteria in the same way and they are all following the same rules.” The Formula One Teams Association was divided over the issue of cost- cutting last year, and accusations that some teams were not playing by the rules led to the high-profile departures of Red Bull, Ferrari, Sauber, and Toro Rosso, all of whom were opposed to the way cost-cutting measures were being implemented. “I think the situation with FOTA where some of the teams left FOTA was unfortunate because I think that was one of the main initiatives of FOTA,” Brawn said. “It’s very frustrating if you believe – even incorrectly – that somebody is not following the rules. Within the system we had, it was very difficult to have the right level of confidence. “I think the FIA have now, at the request of the teams, have become involved and there’s a meeting next week which I think will be a very important meeting to set the objectives and agree the methodologies and philosophies that we want to control costs in the future. But it is an absolutely essential part for Formula One for the future.” COST-CUTTING BACK ON F1 AGENDA BRAWN: 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS