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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Felipe Massa
    Massa 'one of best ever teammates' - Alonso
  • Grosjean 'now ready' for F1 return - Boullier
  • Perez admits Monaco crash was big setback
  • Webber pass too risky and 'stupid' - Berger
  • Ralf S. and wife to split, Button opens restaurant
  • Briatore to blame, not Schumacher - Herbert

Massa 'one of best ever teammates' - Alonso
(GMM)  After defending the talents of world champion Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso now insists his teammate Felipe Massa is also a top driver.

Brazilian Massa has appeared to struggle alongside Ferrari's highly rated lead driver in the last two seasons, but Spaniard Alonso insists the 30-year-old is on the pace.

"I do not have things easy with him (Massa), we are very close to each other," Auto Bild Motorsport quotes him as saying.

"There is often only one tenth in it," added Alonso.  "He is one of the best teammates I have had.  We work well together even though we have quite different styles of driving."

Alonso also defended Michael Schumacher, and the seven time world champion's decision to keep racing in formula one beyond his forthcoming 43rd birthday.

"For me he is and remains the best driver in F1 history and deserves respect.  His records will probably never be matched.

"He still loves to drive and I understand that -- those who criticize him do not.  I enjoy racing against him and I'm sure that if he had a competitive car he would be able to win races," said Alonso.

Former McLaren and Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger, however, does not rank Schumacher among F1's top three of the moment, and indicated that he would leave Alonso out of his ideal team lineup.

"I would love to have Lewis (Hamilton) as number 1 in my team if I had one," Berger, the former Toro Rosso co-owner, is quoted by The Sun newspaper.

"(Hamilton) together with Sebastian Vettel.  Although maybe not, because that would not work, (it would) cause havoc!

"In my view, Seb, Alonso and Hamilton are the three best drivers out there.  Vettel performs perfectly.  Alonso suffers from minor mistakes, but he has not got a car on par with Seb's.

"Lewis is the best at overtaking, but with a huge amount of risk.  It's usually 50-50 if it works or if he collides," added Austrian Berger.

Grosjean 'now ready' for F1 return - Boullier
(GMM)  GP2's newly crowned champion is ready to return to formula one, according to his manager Eric Boullier.

Frenchman Boullier, in charge of the Gravity management company, doubles as Renault team principal, where countryman Romain Grosjean is regarded as a possible teammate for Russian Vitaly Petrov next year.

The team is however hoping that Robert Kubica will be fit to return in 2012, and so there are reportedly also talks between Gravity and a couple of alternative F1 employers for Grosjean.

The 25-year-old's abortive grand prix debut in 2009, amid the crashgate scandal and Nelson Piquet's sacking as the teammate for Fernando Alonso, was shaky.

Boullier thinks the French driver is now ready for his second chance after wrapping up the GP2 title at Spa.

"Everybody is talking about him in the paddock now.  "He became the new GP2 champion three races before the end, which is impressive," he said.

"He's done a good job in that discipline and I think he's now ready to step back into formula one," added Boullier.

Grosjean has now become Renault's official reserve for the remainder of 2011, after Bruno Senna stepped up to replace Nick Heidfeld in Belgium and beyond.

Brazilian Senna qualified an impressive seventh at Spa but was criticized for his first corner crash.

"It's difficult to draw too much from one race alone, whether that's in terms of who is in the race seat or the effect of the upgrade package.

"Monza should give us a clearer indication as to how things are going," he added.

Perez admits Monaco crash was big setback
(GMM)  Sergio Perez has admitted his Monaco crash was a hefty setback in his debut formula one season.

The 21-year-old Mexican, who will stay with the Sauber team in 2012, crashed heavily during qualifying for the prestigious race in May.

He sat out Sunday's race and then tried to return in Canada two weeks later, ultimately giving up his seat to Pedro de la Rosa after not feeling well during practice.

Races in Valencia, Silverstone, Germany and Hungary then apparently signaled a full return to health.

But just before the recent Belgian grand prix, Perez was quoted as saying the August break "was good for me to fully recover" from his crash three months earlier.

"The accident threw me back quite a lot," he revealed to Germany's spox.com this week.

"I lost my momentum and so it took me a long time to get back my normal level of performance."

Perez has just 8 points so far compared with teammate Kamui Kobayashi's 27, and he thinks that if Monaco had proceeded normally "I definitely would have more (points) compared to him" by now.

But Perez, backed not only by the billionaire Carlos Slim's companies but also Ferrari, insists he never feared for his career.

"No, I was not worried, except that for a couple of races I had to recover.

"Sauber is a really good team for a rookie.  The support I have is great."

Sauber has already signed Perez for 2012, but at the end of the season the young driver will test a works Ferrari.

His likely career trajectory has therefore been compared with Felipe Massa's, who drove at Ferrari-powered Sauber before moving to Maranello.

"Well, first of all I have to prove that I can do my job well.

"Of course I want to have a lot of success in formula one and be world champion, but how and when I will move in that direction, at the moment I have no idea," said Perez.

Webber pass too risky and 'stupid' - Berger
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has criticized Mark Webber for taking too big a risk in his battle with Fernando Alonso at Spa two weeks ago.

Red Bull's Australian driver has confirmed there was light contact with the Ferrari as he passed his Spanish friend on the outside through the fearsome and fabled Eau Rouge corner at close to top speed.

"I tell you what ... that boy must have some balls to do that," exclaimed team boss Christian Horner, who has signed up the 35-year-old for 2012.

Alonso described it as a "nice duel", while David Coulthard confided in Webber that - whilst commentating for British television - he actually stepped back "because I thought you were going to come through the screen!"

"Whichever way you look at it," Coulthard's BBC colleague Martin Brundle said, "that pass was spectacularly impressive, skilful, and brave.

"Webber may not have won a race for more than a year but he won my eternal respect for that one."

Not everyone, however, was impressed.

Gerhard Berger told Austrian television Servus TV that the duel reminded him of 1985, when Stefan Bellof was killed after a duel in Eau Rouge with Jacky Ickx during a sports car race.

"Mark is getting a lot of praise but I think it was stupid," Berger, a ten-time grand prix winner, said.

"If you think of the Bellof crash ... he (Webber) would have passed Alonso on the next straight anyway.  It was totally unnecessary, at one of the most dangerous places out there.

"If you take off there, you're dead," added Berger.

Webber, however, insists the pass was "particularly enjoyable", made possible only because of the respect shared with Alonso.

"There are a few guys on the grid you can enjoy something like that with.  You can really take each other to the limit," he said.

Ralf S. and wife to split, Button opens restaurant
(GMM)  Former grand prix winner Ralf Schumacher and his wife Cora are set to separate, according to unconfirmed reports in the Italian press.

The news follows the publication of photos in the German daily Bild depicting Cora being passionately kissed the German rapper Marteria on a hotel balcony in Berlin.

The report said that, at the time, former Williams and Toyota driver Schumacher, 36, was away for a race of the German touring car series DTM.

Bild said it believes the marriage had already broken down but that Ralf and Cora were staying together for the sake of their ten-year-old son David.

Meanwhile, Schumacher's former Williams teammate Jenson Button - who now drives for McLaren - has opened a restaurant in Harrogate, UK.

The Independent said the menu at Victus "was apparently selected based on" the 2009 world champion's "interests in different cuisines cultivated while globetrotting on the F1 circuit".

Briatore to blame, not Schumacher - Herbert
(GMM)  Johnny Herbert has absolved his former teammate Michael Schumacher of blame for his difficult tenure at Benetton in the mid 90s.

Although he won two races alongside the great German in 1995, the Briton moved to Sauber the following season and spent the rest of his career in the midfield -- albeit winning the remarkable wet/dry Nurburgring race in 1999.

But Herbert, now 47 and set to reprise his role as a F1 steward in India next month, refuses to point the finger at Schumacher despite being relegated to number two status at Benetton 16 years ago.

"My problem wasn't Michael," he told the Hindustan Times newspaper.  "It was Flavio (Briatore)."

Herbert said it was Briatore, the former Benetton and Renault team boss banned from F1 in 2009 for involvement in the crashgate scandal, who orchestrated Schumacher's preferential treatment.

"Whenever Michael asked Flavio if he could have a couple of extra days of testing, Flavio wouldn't have a problem," he explained.  "If it was me (asking), he would just say that it wasn't possible."

Herbert conceded that with extensive testing allowed in the 90s, it was much easier than at present to break through and impress bosses at the start of a career.

He cites the examples of Karun Chandhok, who replaced Jarno Trulli for a race at the Nurburgring, and another Indian Narain Karthikeyan, who will return to the cockpit of an HRT for the inaugural Delhi event next month.

"They don't get any track time and then they're expected to get in the car and be fast," said Herbert.  "It doesn't work like that."

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