F1 news: Bernie Ecclestone sticks up for Lewis Hamilton

The Sport Review brings you a round-up of all of the latest news from the world of Formula 1

By Gareth Llewellyn
lewis hamilton
Jenson Button won the Canadian GP Photo: Hoch Zwei, courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

lewis hamilton

Ferrari have extended their title sponsorship deal with the Philip Morris tobacco company, worth a reported $480m (£296.5m).

Philip Morris have sponsored the Italian team through its Marlboro brand since 1997, despite a ban on tobacco advertising which means its name cannot be displayed on the team’s cars. The new deal is set to run until 2015.

Peter Sauber has defended his decision not to call up reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez to replace Sergio Perez for last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, and admitted he would not use him if the Mexican had to sit out another race.

Instead of calling up Gutierrez, who was in Mexico when Perez withdrew from proceedings through illness after Friday practice, Sauber swiftly recruited McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa, who was sacked by Sauber with five races remaining last season.

“People have been wrong to rubbish Lewis. What we want is people racing, and all the people who watch it want that”
Bernie Ecclestone defends Lewis Hamilton

Sauber expect Perez to return for next weekend’s European Grand Prix in Valencia, but Sauber insists Gutierrez would be overlooked again should their rookie driver be unable to take part.

“We are responsible for him [Gutierrez], and have had a contract with him for a couple of years. It is very important to bring him slowly into F1,” he said.

“It would be completely wrong to put him in the car [in Canada] if there was the possibility it makes absolutely no sense. It is important that he can concentrate on GP2, which is not easy, and to make progress there.”

De La Rosa is expected to be on standby again in Valencia if Perez cannot race.

Hispania Racing will soon switch their attention to next season’s car – despite the season being just seven races old.

After a difficult start to the season, which saw the team fail to qualify both cars for the Australian Grand Prix after the F111 missed all of the winter tests, the Spanish outfit are keen to avoid a repeat rush job to be ready for 2012.

Despite a relatively small operating budget, Hispania have agreed a deal with Mercedes to use one of their wind tunnels in Brackley, and team principal Colin Kolles expects work to begin next month on the new car.

F1 tyre manufacturer Pirelli have returned to testing with their 2009 Toyota as Lucas di Grassi took part in a two-day test on Thursday and Friday at Jerez.

The Brazilian completed more than 150 laps on the first day with the track temperature reaching 50C as the Italian company continue to develop tyres for the current season, as well as 2012.

The FIA has confirmed that the blown-diffuser ban will come into effect from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next month after initially being delayed indefinitely following objections on grounds of cost and performance gain from some teams.

F1’s governing body referred the matter to the Technical Working Group, but following a meeting in London on Thursday the FIA saw no reason to further delay the ban.

And finally…

Bernie Ecclestone has come out in support of McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton after he was criticised by a number of F1 pundits for his aggressive racing style this year, after a number of collisions and visits to the stewards’ room.

Hamilton received harsh criticism from three times world champion Niki Lauda after the Canadian Grand Prix, who said the McLaren driver should be stopped “before he kills someone”.

The F1 supremo said: “People have been wrong to rubbish Lewis. What we want is people racing, and all the people who watch it want that.

“If you analyse what’s been happening and how other drivers have been performing, Lewis shows up very well, and so do Sebastian [Vettel] and Jenson [Button]. So let him race.

“That’s what people like him do. I was very, very good friends with [Ayrton] Senna, and if you look at what he did, he was a racer too, and people had to move over for him.

“Perhaps Lewis has made one or two questionable moves, but so have many of the others, and nobody bothers to look what’s happening further down the field. It’s always been like this. We saw a lot of people racing in Canada and Jenson did a super job. That’s what the fans want to see.”

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