Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
Whitmarsh admits mirror problem for Hamilton
|Whitmarsh eats his words|
- Whitmarsh agrees to repeal Vettel's 'crash kid' jibe
- Webber up to speed with Vettel in races - Gene
- Vettel targets 'sleep' for week after title
- F1 to suffer 'drop of interest' in season finale
- Button now targeting second world title
- Wickens: I’m ready for F1, but no money
Whitmarsh admits mirror problem for Hamilton
(GMM) McLaren may have to alter the design of its car's mirrors in order to help Lewis Hamilton, team boss Martin Whitmarsh has admitted.
The 2008 world champion has had multiple on-track incidents in 2011, and after the latest - yet another collision with Felipe Massa - he acknowledged that one problem could be the MP4-26's rear view side mirrors.
"Sadly, they (Hamilton and Massa) do seem to be magnetized don't they?" Whitmarsh is quoted by AFP news agency. "Lewis did not see him (at Suzuka).
"You could say 'well he should have done', but are the mirrors big enough, good enough? Maybe not, but it was one of those things," he added.
Some commentators are not sure visibility is not Hamilton's biggest problem at present, pointing instead at a lack of trackside support since his managerial split with his father, or a lack of focus.
"I don't think so," the 26-year-old told British reporters this week. "You are all trying to come up with solutions as to why I am not doing well. There is no solution.
"There is no answer to it so I'd appreciate it if you didn't just jump to conclusions," added Hamilton.
But there is no doubt one strong theory is that his teammate and Suzuka winner Jenson Button's surge in recent form has rattled Hamilton.
"Jenson is proving to be a formidable teammate," agreed Whitmarsh.
"Bear in mind he is five years ahead of Lewis in his professional development. We have these massive expectations, and Lewis has massive expectations on very young shoulders."
Whitmarsh agrees to repeal Vettel's 'crash kid' jibe
(GMM) With Sebastian Vettel now among F1's great back-to-back world champions, the 'crash kid' label of 2010 should be formally repealed.
That is the view of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, referring to the label coined last year by his McLaren counterpart Martin Whitmarsh after a spate of incidents for Vettel.
A year on, it is 24-year-old Vettel's consistency that is winning the praise of the F1 world, while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton - who is two years older than his German rival - who might now be referred to as a 'crash kid'.
"I think he'll have to eat his words, don't you think?" AS newspaper quotes Horner as saying.
Asked by British reporters if he will be eating his words about Vettel, Whitmarsh smiled according to the Mirror newspaper: "I'll eat them.
"Sebastian has driven fantastically this year."
But Whitmarsh also has high praise for Adrian Newey, the brilliant designer of Red Bull's single seaters.
He told Spain's AS: "I think Sebastian has driven flawlessly a car that was designed very well by Adrian Newey. At all times it was evident that he was driving a car that should easily win the title."
And as for the unkind 'crash kid' label of 2010, he explained: "I think it was taken out a context. We were talking about a particular moment in which Jenson was wronged."
Webber up to speed with Vettel in races - Gene
(GMM) Poor starts and qualifying explains Mark Webber's struggle to keep up with new back-to-back world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2011.
That is the claim of Ferrari's Spanish test driver Marc Gene, who admitted in El Mundo newspaper that he is a "big fan" of Vettel's Australian teammate at Red Bull.
Vettel, 24, has won nine races so far in 2011 and wrapped up the championship with four races to spare, while 35-year-old Webber is 130 points adrift in the sister car that is yet to record a single victory.
"I think the big difference has been in qualifying and then the (race) starts," said Gene. "He hasn't been as good in those areas and that has been the source of the points difference between the two (drivers).
"In the races their pace is very similar and in Suzuka the team even had to stop him (Webber) having a battle with Vettel."
Meanwhile, Gene doubts that Vettel and Red Bull will run away with another easy title in 2012.
"I think not," he wrote. "The other teams have learned a lot this year in their impossible fight with Red Bull and it makes me think it will be a big fight next year."
Vettel targets 'sleep' for week after title
(GMM) A good night's sleep was among one of Sebastian Vettel's priorities after becoming the youngest ever double world champion.
Following a paddock party and then another involving karaoke until 5am on Monday morning, the Red Bull driver headed straight to Yokohama for a sponsor and media engagement.
It was there that, according to Abendblatt newspaper, the 24-year-old said: "My voice is a bit ruined now!
"After a long night I want to let the whole thing sink in a bit, get some sleep and then be ready for Korea."
Indeed, any plans for more than a single night of partying has had to wait for now, with Vettel scheduled to practice in Korea in less than three days.
"We have celebrated a little," he is quoted by rds.ca, "but not too much because this week we are in Korea."
Vettel denied Bild newspaper's claim that he seemed "almost sad" as he came to realize his achievements in the Suzuka paddock late on Sunday.
"I was not sad," he insists. "I can be just as satisfied with a second or a fourth place but it's clear that we did not have a perfect race. That's what we strive for.
"It is also difficult for me to switch from the extreme tension of a race to realize straight away that you are world champion.
"Now it's time for some rest, particularly some sleep, and then to understand it all. Sounds spectacular, I know."
And the next goal will be to repeat it all in 2012.
"We want to keep going. It's addictive. Nothing else in my life gives me as much satisfaction," said Vettel.
F1 to suffer 'drop of interest' in season finale
(GMM) Interest in the 2011 season will decline now that Sebastian Vettel has wrapped up the world championship.
The world's media are busy hailing the 24-year-old German's latest achievement rather than building up as per normal for the next race, to take place in just a few days in South Korea.
McLaren and FOTA chief Martin Whitmarsh admits that, from the public's point of view, the early championship conclusion has taken the shine off the forthcoming races also in India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil.
"Inevitably, there will be a drop of interest -- the tension and excitement that we've been fortunate to encounter in recent years is never a given," he told the Times of India, referring to recent season finales.
On the other hand, Whitmarsh said that any consequences of a championship contest, such as team orders or racing with an eye on the points mathematics, will now dissipate.
"I actually think you'll really see the gloves come off and we'll get to see some truly incredible racing by the greatest drivers in the world," he insisted.
There is also the issue of driver motivation, with Fernando Alonso for example buoyed that his car was at least competitive at Suzuka even though Ferrari has ceased its development.
"That gives us some extra motivation for the remaining races knowing that it is going to be tough as the updates on the car will be minimal," said the Spaniard.
"But in some races, some circuits, we are still competitive, so why not fight for victory in one of the remaining races."
Button now targeting second world title
Jenson Button has admitted that his recent improved form has provided good reason to hope for a second Formula 1 world title. Since picking up the crown in 2009, the Englishman has been philosophical about a second championship, although Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix marked his first dry weather victory for McLaren.
Having joined McLaren at the start of 2010, Button’s first four race wins for the Woking team had all come in races of mixed weather – last year’s Australian and Chinese Grands Prix plus the Canadian and Hungarian events of this season. The all-dry Suzuka success has now boosted confidence levels.
“One of the key things for us this year is that we are getting the car working at a circuit like Suzuka and Spa - places where, basically, you should paint Red Bull all over the circuit,” Frome’s Button is quoted as saying by Reuters.
“It’s a Red Bull circuit; they’re so fast here, with the high-speed corners and changes of direction. But we have improved our car so much that we can take the fight to them at a place like this - that is a massive step forward for us.”
When asked if a second title could be on the cards in future seasons, Button replied:
“Definitely. That is one of the reasons why I moved to this team.”
Wickens: I’m ready for F1, but no money
Virgin Racing reserve driver Robert Wickens has reiterated his desires to race in Formula 1 but admits that the future is out of his hands. The Canadian, 22, clinched the World Series by Renault title for Carlin in Barcelona on Sunday.
“I have loved the experience from Virgin and doing an aero test was great,” Toronto-born Wickens told GPUpdate.net.
“I definitely want to be in Formula 1 more now than ever before...but at the end of the day it’s not my decision. I’m a race car driver, I want to race and I want to race in Formula 1. From my side I feel like I’m ready for Formula 1 and maybe we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
When asked if any plans for 2012 are already in place, Wickens replied:
“I have absolutely nothing. Hopefully now I’ll have a bit of fighting power for next year! We’ll just have to see where it goes. It’s not really up to me, I don’t have personal money to go anywhere; it’s up to the sponsors and to Marussia about what they want to do and hopefully I can maybe gather a bit more myself.” Robert Wickens was talking to GPUpdate.net’s Gregory Haines