Latest F1 news in brief
- Ecclestone hopes Raikkonen returns to McLaren
- Villeneuve defends Clear's Brawn title tussle
- German duo made up after Singapore clash
- Toro Rosso confirms same drivers for 2010
- Rain could feature at Suzuka
- Williams blocking moves for 14th team in 2010
- Alonso hopes to leave F1 after Ferrari tenure
- Glock slams reports of Singapore sacking
- Button relaxed despite championship brink
- Alonso advises Renault to sign Kubica
- Raikkonen to 'maybe' stay in F1 next year
- Alonso sure he can handle team switch
Ecclestone hopes Raikkonen returns to McLaren
(GMM) If Bernie Ecclestone is up to date with inside information, he dropped a couple of big hints in the paddock of the Suzuka circuit on Thursday.
With Fernando Alonso's Ferrari deal now official, the next anticipated news is the 2010 whereabouts of the newly-available Kimi Raikkonen.
"I think we will see Kimi in a good car, it would be good to see him in a McLaren wouldn't it?" F1 chief executive Ecclestone told reporters in Japan.
The Briton was asked why he thought the Finn's Ferrari deal has been ended a year before schedule.
"It's a different culture. He's probably better off with a more English-type team. I hope the old Kimi turns up next season," said Ecclestone.
He also sounded confident that his favorite driver Felipe Massa will be able to handle Alonso, as well as the Spaniard's rumored penchant for special status.
"No way (will Alonso be the number one). He may try but I don't think he'll be successful.
"If he (Massa) handled Kimi, he should be able to handle Fernando, they're the same type of driver really, aren't they? I think he'll be all right," the 78-year-old said.
Addressing another rumor, Ecclestone said he hopes multiple world rally champion Sebastien Loeb does make his F1 debut in Abu Dhabi next month.
"Obviously we would like to see him. He is a well known guy. It is nice to have a change of people, and he is a nice guy as well," he said.
Ecclestone was also happy about the newly-refurbished state of the Suzuka paddock he was standing in.
"Now you can understand why I complain about Silverstone," he said.
"They've (Suzuka) got on with it. That was one of the conditions that we came back here."
Villeneuve defends Clear's Brawn title tussle
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has hit back at rumors his former engineer is involved in an unfair fight to win the 2009 world championship.
The British engineer Jock Clear famously worked with Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, both at Williams and at BAR/Honda, and now engineers for the Brawn title protagonist Rubens Barrichello.
There have been rumblings in the paddock that teammate Jenson Button's side of the garage, run by Andy Shovlin, is unhappy with a lack of cooperation and transparency from the Clear/Barrichello corner.
French Canadian Villeneuve denies that Clear, 46, would be involved in anything unfair, but points out that the outcome of the last races of 2009 will crown the new drivers' champion.
"If you can figure out something better than the other guy why should you tell him? Frankly I see nothing wrong with one engineer withholding information from another engineer," he is quoted as saying by the Mirror.
"It's two racers and two engineers trying to be the best in the world as well."
Team boss Ross Brawn has however promised total transparency and data-sharing as Button and Barrichello tussle for the title.
But Villeneuve, 38, added: "They should be keeping technical information to themselves. You shouldn't go out and openly say 'drive this way, you'll see it's faster'.
"They'll see the data. You can't lie, but you don't have to say what's in your head," he said.
German duo made up after Singapore clash
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil made up over a Bacardi and Coke after colliding during last Sunday's Singapore grand prix.
Heidfeld angrily hit out at his German countryman following the clash, for which Sutil was penalized $20,000 and officially reprimanded by the stewards.
Bild newspaper said they cleared the air at the 'Amber Lounge' after-race party, but 32-year-old Heidfeld nonetheless commented: "Adrian has to learn that things like that don't get him to the finish."
The clash, triggered when Sutil, 26, tried to recover from a spin, put an end to Heidfeld's record-setting run of grand prix finishes.
Toro Rosso confirms same drivers for 2010
(GMM) The Toro Rosso team has confirmed reports that it will field an unchanged driver lineup in 2010.
It was reported earlier this week that while team boss Franz Tost wants to retain both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, his bosses in Salzburg, including Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz, will have the final say.
"In case you didn't know, there's no change in our driver lineup (for 2010), so no story there," read a report on the Faenza based team's official website.
Rain could feature at Suzuka
(GMM) Rain could be a feature of the Japanese grand prix this weekend.
As much of the travelling F1 circus took its first look at the Suzuka circuit on Wednesday, it was a grey and rainy day, but it didn't stop first-timer Sebastien Buemi from donning a rain-coat and jogging a lap.
When he strolled Suzuka's nearly six kilometers with his Toro Rosso engineers on Thursday, it was in much better weather, but the forecast is calling for more rain to fall on Friday and Saturday.
At this point, the longer-range forecasts predict a mainly dry race day.
"There's always the possibility of the forces of nature intervening -- we've already had an earthquake and a close call with a typhoon," said BMW's Nick Heidfeld.
"The weather is always an issue and there's been torrential rain often enough in Suzuka," he added.
Williams blocking moves for 14th team in 2010
(GMM) Williams is opposing the FIA's efforts to expand the maximum 2010 grid from 13 to 14 teams.
BMW-Sauber's new owner Qadbak needs the rule change, which can only be effected by unanimous team consent, in order to secure a guaranteed place on next year's grid.
Williams technical director Sam Michael is quoted as defending the decision to block the 14th team on the basis that it is likely that not all four of the confirmed new teams will actually make it to the Bahrain 2010 grid.
"Therefore the question (of a 14th team) will not arise at all," Michael said.
The German report named USF1 as perhaps the most likely of the four new teams to fail to debut in 2010.
Auto Motor und Sport said the team is yet to install any manufacturing equipment at its Charlotte base, and recently called off a technical meeting with engine supplier Cosworth.
It is also reported that the FIA intends to keep a close eye on the progress of the outfit, whose figurehead is the British journalist Peter Windsor.
Another rumor espoused by the magazine is that Ron Dennis is planning to attend November's Abu Dhabi finale. Fascinatingly, the race will be the first event since 1993 in the wake of his nemesis Max Mosley's 16 year reign as FIA president.
Alonso hopes to leave F1 after Ferrari tenure
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Thursday said he hopes Ferrari will be his last formula one team.
The 28-year-old Spaniard made his debut as a teenager with Minardi in 2001, before racing for six seasons with Renault, winning back to back titles in 2005 and 2006.
In 2007 he completed just one season of an abortive multi-year contract at McLaren.
It was announced on Wednesday that he will switch to Ferrari in 2010 on a guaranteed three year deal, reportedly with contracted options for up to 3 additional seasons.
If he races with the famous Italian team through 2015, he will be 34.
"I really think that Ferrari will be my last team," he told reporters in the Suzuka paddock.
"Leaving Ferrari to change teams is always a step backwards. It has to be a step backwards because Ferrari is more than a team and I want to finish my career with them.
"The contract is three years now, and then with some options to continue. So hopefully I can continue as long as they want and I can finish the career here with a lot of wins," Alonso added.
Glock slams reports of Singapore sacking
(GMM) Timo Glock on Thursday slammed as "bulls**t" reports he was told Toyota was not renewing his contract for 2010 after qualifying for the recent Singapore grand prix.
It has been confirmed that an option on the German's contract has not been taken up by the Japanese team, but Glock strongly denied the claims about how he was reportedly "fired" by boss John Howett.
In a news conference at Suzuka, he said the articles in the German press had been "the funniest I have ever read".
"There were no discussions over the weekend about a contract situation and that is all I can say.
"There were rumors going around, maybe for some it was a bit boring on Saturday and they had to find a story," the 27-year-old added.
Button relaxed despite championship brink
(GMM) Jenson Button was relaxed when he spoke to the press on Thursday, even though he could secure his lifelong dream in Japan by the end of the weekend.
The Briton can mathematically put his only title rivals Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel out of reach for the world championship at Suzuka, but he insisted that simply doing well at this race is his only target for now.
"I don't come into the race thinking I am going to seal the title here," said the Brawn driver. "There are so many things that can happen this weekend. There are three people in the running for the title and I am one of them.
"The most important thing for me to do is to work as hard as I can on Friday and Saturday to get the car right for qualifying and the race," the 29-year-old added.
"I shouldn't be thinking about anything else."
Team chief executive Nick Fry said Button is not nervous.
"I find it very interesting that on an operational basis I have not seen nerves get to him at all," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Star newspaper.
"On the other hand, it would be ridiculous to say anyone in that position is not going to feel the pressure," Fry added.
Alonso advises Renault to sign Kubica
(GMM) The Ferrari-bound Fernando Alonso on Thursday advised his current team Renault to replace him for 2010 with Robert Kubica.
"He is one of my best friends and one of the best drivers," the Spaniard told reporters at Suzuka. "If there is a chance then I would recommend him."
Pole Kubica, 24, is on the market, with his 2010 contract with BMW-Sauber no longer binding because of the withdrawal from F1 of the German carmaker.
Renault on Thursday said Alonso's replacement will be announced next week, and it is believed that Kubica is the favorite to be named.
Asked if the French team's plans fit in with his, Kubica told reporters in Japan: "Yes and no.
"There are some talks but no decision is final at the moment," he added, explaining that he is "95 or 90 per cent" certain he will end up with his preferred choice of employer.
It is said that staying put at Sauber, with its new Qadbak ownership, might be an option for Kubica, but on Thursday he seemed to take a parting shot at the Hinwil team.
Reflecting on his differences with the team's position when he had a chance to push for the 2008 title, he said: "I think and I hope that in the team that I will race for (next year), I will not have to insist to fight for the championship.
"My future team will know what to do, and I hope that there will not be any need to try and convince them," Kubica added.
Raikkonen to 'maybe' stay in F1 next year
(GMM) While Robert Kubica is believed to have now inked a contract to move to Renault next year, the future of another top driver is far less secure.
After agreeing to forgo his 2010 contract with Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen is on the move and widely expected to return to his team of 2002-2006, McLaren.
But when he spoke with reporters at Suzuka on Thursday, he would not even confirm that he will be in formula one next year.
"Maybe I will race, maybe not," he said in Japan.
"I'm not going to go to a small team, my only aim is to have a chance with a team that can fight for the world championship. Otherwise there is no point of staying in F1."
Raikkonen, 30, hinted that an agreement with McLaren is possible, but also alluded to his burgeoning passion for rallying.
"There is a chance, but there is a chance to do formula one. I don't know what will happen. I will decide at some point -- before the start of next year."
Asked about McLaren, he added: "I don't have any bad things to say about them. We always had a good relationship. It's a chance, but so far I have not thought much about these things."
Alonso sure he can handle team switch
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Thursday brushed off suggestions his latest switch to a new formula one team could once again end in disaster.
At the end of 2006, the Spaniard switched to join McLaren, but despite a multi-year contract, he returned after just one season to Renault, having fallen out spectacularly with his colleagues.
But although his pairing alongside Lewis Hamilton was so troubled in 2007, Alonso sounded confident when asked how he expects to get along with Felipe Massa at Ferrari.
Referring to 2007, he said: "It will not happen again. I am more prepared than I was two years ago. And Ferrari is more important than any driver in that car.
"We arrive in a team that is a pleasure and we are proud to drive that car. It doesn't matter if you are quicker or slower than your teammate. The people want to see a Ferrari car in front.
"Felipe is a great driver and also has a very good personality. It will be fine, we will both work for the team to score points for the team," Alonso added.
Alonso and Massa once had a very public row after an on-track clash while waiting to go up to the podium, but the 28-year-old believes he will get on well with the Brazilian as teammates.
"We are both Latin, Brazilian and Spanish!" smiled Alonso.