Ex-F1 manager Weber blames ‘decline’ on leaders, current drivers

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Michael Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber has said that the self-interest of the leaders within Formula 1 and the current generation of drivers are the reasons behind the sport’s apparent decline.

In 2014, there has been a great deal of focus on ‘improving the show’ in Formula 1 after the global television audience fell by 50m. Figures such as Luca di Montezemolo and Bernie Ecclestone have been critical of the sport’s new formula, but Weber feels that the sport is not moving with the times.

“There are many reasons for the decline of the Formula 1,” he explained to Bild. “First, the fish rots at the head. Bernie Ecclestone is much too old to embrace the age of new media. FIA president Jean Todt lacks the power to enforce.

“These men think only of their own interests.”

Weber also feels that the characters within F1 are not what they used to be, calling them “wimps” with reference to Sebastian Vettel’s moaning during the British Grand Prix during his tussle with Fernando Alonso out on track.

“Who wants to see the wimps of today crying on the radio?” Weber asked. “There are no more characters like Ayrton Senna, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher were.

“They would not complain on the radio but give their answer on the track.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has called for a summit to discuss the ‘wrong turn’ that has been taken, after labelling the sport as taxi cab racing over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Rather aptly, the drivers did give their answer on track by producing a sensational race under the lights.

And that is the way it has been all season long. 2014 is shaping up to be a classic year despite the off-track sagas concerning the sport’s direction – what better way to prove that F1 is in good health?

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.