Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday
Alonso plays down press euphoria around Vettel, Hamilton
- Hamilton must adapt to F1's new era - Coulthard
- F1 team Toyota to enter Le Mans in 2012
- Vergne confident of 2012 Toro Rosso debut
- Vettel refers 'mental coach' claim to lawyers
- Massa admits 2012 'crucial' for F1 career
- Vettel gifts China GP helmet to Barrichello
- Lotus must catch established teams admits Gascoyne
- Button working to build McLaren around him
- Rosberg overcame fitness weakness reveals Brawn
- Brawn slams 'favors’ for team name changes
Alonso plays down press euphoria around Vettel, Hamilton
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has played down not only Lewis Hamilton's recent struggles, but also Sebastian Vettel's unprecedented success.
"I think Hamilton is not doing so poorly, or that Vettel is going to win seven titles in a row," the Ferrari driver told EFE news agency in Korea.
Spaniard Alonso, now overtaken by Vettel as F1's youngest ever double world champion, baulked at claims the Red Bull driver's success is "not fair".
"No, no. It's always fair," he smiled.
"What happens is that it is always more and more, whether you succeed or fail. When things go well it becomes easier, and when it goes wrong it gets harder.
"This is a sport with a lot of publicity and a race every 15 days," added Alonso.
"Everyone thought that when I won the two titles I would win a few more in a row but I did not. Then Hamilton came a point within the championship in his first season, he won the second and he looked like he was going to win 10.
"Then it looked like it would be the decade of the Brawn (team) but they won only once, and Red Bull has won two in a row with a phenomenal job but we will see what happens next year," he said.
Hamilton must adapt to F1's new era - Coulthard
(GMM) The current regulations are a reason for Lewis Hamilton's current struggles, according to David Coulthard.
The veteran Scot analyzed the reasons for the 2008 world champion's difficult season, with Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button the leading McLaren at present, in his latest column for the Daily Telegraph.
"There is no doubt that these tire regulations are better suited to drivers who pace themselves; who feel their way through a race rather than go all-out," said Coulthard, a former McLaren and Red Bull driver.
He is referring to the new era of no refueling and heavily degrading Pirelli tires, insisting Hamilton needs to quickly adapt.
"All world-class drivers have been able to adapt to new regulations. Think of Michael Schumacher, who has run the full gamut from 3.5 liter, active ride-height cars to 2.4 liter V8s with slicks," said Coulthard.
"Until he (Hamilton) can adapt fully to these regulations and play a cuter game he is unlikely to be consistently competitive."
F1 team Toyota to enter Le Mans in 2012
(GMM) Toyota's former F1 team will contest Le Mans and "several races" in the new FIA world endurance championship next year.
The Cologne based squad pulled out of formula one at the end of 2009.
It was announced on Friday that Toyota Motorsport GmbH will enter a 'LMP1' class prototype in the sports car series, to be powered by a petrol hybrid engine.
"The exact scope of this participation and its official name will be confirmed in the coming weeks," said the Japanese marque.
Vergne confident of 2012 Toro Rosso debut
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne is confident of securing his formula one debut with Toro Rosso in 2012.
The 21-year-old Frenchman made his debut as the junior Red Bull team's new Friday driver in Korea.
Toro Rosso, currently fielding Sebastien Buemi alongside Jaime Alguersuari, is yet to decide its race driver lineup for next season.
"I see myself in one of the cars next year," the L'Equipe sports daily quotes Vergne as saying. "Then it will be good whoever is next to me.
"I definitely hope to be in the car next year, not just the Friday driving. I still have to do the job properly now, be fast, and Red Bull will do what it takes for me to be in F1."
As well as practicing in Abu Dhabi and Brazil, Vergne will also do the young driver tests with Toro Rosso in Abu Dhabi next month.
Vettel refers 'mental coach' claim to lawyers
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is calling in the lawyers after a 'psychological coach' claimed to be employed by the new back-to-back world champion.
A 31-year-old Austrian woman has in recent days claimed on several articles and interviews to have helped the Red Bull driver to achieve his unprecedented success.
"I don't even know this woman," Vettel told Bild newspaper.
Red Bull's driver manager Helmut Marko revealed: "We have referred the matter to the lawyers."
In fact, the woman might also be the victim of a fraud, after producing a recent email supposedly from Vettel.
Vettel's spokeswoman Britta Roeske insisted: "That letter did not come from Sebastian's email address."
The mental coach said: "Maybe I've been misled by a charlatan."
Massa admits 2012 'crucial' for F1 career
(GMM) Felipe Massa has admitted 2012 will be "crucial" if he wants to retain a top seat in formula one.
Ferrari will honor the Brazilian's contract for next season, but Massa has struggled since his near-fatal crash in 2009 - and the birth of his son Felipinho - to keep up with Fernando Alonso.
In Korea, he was told by a reporter for the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper that 2012 will be crucial.
"I think so too; to do a good year will be very important, crucial for my future of being in a competitive team, no doubt. And so my determination is greater than ever," said the 30-year-old.
He acknowledged the possibility he will have to leave Ferrari for 2013.
Asked what he would do then, Massa answered: "I go to another team! There is no other option; I will continue to race and thinking about the best for my career.
"I am not afraid of anything that can happen as I've always been a guy with his feet on the ground. I know that if I do not have a good 2012, everything can change. Everything follows according to the results."
Massa said he is confident another team would sign him up if Ferrari does not.
"I think so. Regardless of having a good season, I believe I am among the best in formula one."
He denied that his struggles are due to the paddock perception of his 'number 2' status to Alonso.
"The telemetry in the team is 100 per cent open. Without a doubt, 100 per cent, the treatment and the equipment is the same.
"If you have an inferior car you can see it in the numbers, you cannot help it. I have never had any different treatment," added Massa.
Vettel gifts China GP helmet to Barrichello
(GMM) Despite attending his first race as the 2011 champion-elect, it was Sebastian Vettel who doled out a present in Korea.
The Red Bull driver had learned that Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian veteran, is collecting F1 drivers' helmets.
"Great surprise when I received a helmet that was missing in my collection. Thanks Vettel," the Williams driver wrote on Twitter.
German Vettel, 24, signed the helmet with "your friend".
Barrichello revealed that he has the helmets of "many" current drivers in his collection, including Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli.
"Almost everyone on the grid really," added the 39-year-old.
SID news agency said the helmet gifted by Vettel was the one the German wore to second place behind Lewis Hamilton in China this year.
Lotus must catch established teams admits Gascoyne
(GMM) The next challenge for Team Lotus is to catch up with F1's established teams, according to technical boss Mike Gascoyne.
The Tony Fernandes-led squad entered the sport last year as one of the all-new small teams alongside Virgin and HRT.
"We've left the other new teams well behind, which is great," Gascoyne told the Guardian. "But we are not quite racing the team in front and we are not scoring our first points."
Boss and owner Fernandes said last week that Gascoyne is on notice should Team Lotus not take the next step in 2012.
"Clearly if we don't take another step forward next year then we all need to ask ourselves some difficult questions. Am I the right team principal, is Mike the right chief technical officer?" he told F1's official website.
Gascoyne, who has worked with grandee teams Renault and Toyota in the past, said the challenge is a big one.
"You're not going to come in, flick a switch and start beating the established teams," he insisted. "We have to get all the people in place. They (the big teams) have all of that.
"If you don't do all the hard yards you'll never get there. There's no short cut, that's the problem when you come in. We've got to build a team as well as the car."
Button working to build McLaren around him
(GMM) Jenson Button's push to prominence at McLaren has been a deliberate attempt to build the famous team around him.
Many commentators viewed the 2009 world champion's arrival last year to be the highly rated Lewis Hamilton's new teammate as akin to walking into "the lion's den".
But less than two seasons later, Button is poised to beat the beleaguered Hamilton in the drivers' standings and has signed a new multiple year contract.
The 31-year-old has also driven for Williams, Renault and Honda/Brawn, but it is his tenure at McLaren that is arguably attracting the highest plaudits.
Asked what the secret is, Button revealed: "It's a lesson I learned many years ago.
"If you look back at F1 there are certain drivers that would always try and build a team around them and it helped them," he is quoted by The Sun.
"Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost did that, but I suppose Michael Schumacher was the first one of our generation to really do that.
"It was not something I thought about myself when I was younger. But it's one thing I remember about David Richards when he was team principal at BAR.
"He said 'Jenson, you have very good speed, but other drivers out there do a much better job of surrounding themselves with the right people and really working at it with the team'. That definitely did stick with me," he explained.
Rosberg overcame fitness weakness reveals Brawn
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has overcome a chink in his armor, Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn has revealed.
When Brawn GP became Mercedes' works team ahead of 2010, the former Williams driver was signed to be the returning Michael Schumacher's teammate.
Nearly two seasons on, despite an improved turn of form by Schumacher in the last three or four races, it is 26-year-old Rosberg who has been the faster.
But team boss Brawn did spot a weakness.
"I have to be honest, when Nico first arrived from Williams there were times when he was not fit enough," he is quoted by the Telegraph.
Rosberg has since blitzed fellow amateur triathlete Jenson Button's best time at the multi-sport discipline, and regularly posts YouTube videos proving his high fitness.
"I can't criticize him at all on that score now," admitted Brawn. "He goes above and beyond."
Brawn's praise comes amid speculation rival teams have expressed interest in Rosberg beyond his 2012 contract, with Mercedes' Norbert Haug revealing he would like to sign him up for the long term.
Rosberg says he is buoyed by the team's acquisition of well-known technical directors Aldo Costa and Geoff Willis.
"Mercedes are in the background and they are pushing flat out. Whatever it takes," he said, admitting it would be special to succeed with what is effectively a German national team.
"The other thing that is special is I know that this team is betting on me; counting on me to deliver once I have the car to do so. And I'm very confident that I will be able to. I just have to be patient," said Rosberg.
"Michael, of course, isn't getting any younger. So theoretically it is all set up perfectly for me here."
Brawn slams 'favors’ for team name changes
(GMM) Ross Brawn has called upon rival teams to stop asking for "favors" before helping Renault and Team Lotus to change their names for 2012.
Because name changes are generally frowned upon by the sport's officials, the Renault/Lotus issue has been referred to a meeting of the F1 Commission early next month.
But Mercedes team boss Brawn suggested it is not right that rival teams have a say.
The Briton told reporters that one "unfortunate (thing) about formula one" is that motives are not always pure.
"Unfortunately, if it becomes a trading position - and I guarantee those teams that are trying to change their name will have had approaches from other teams who want different favors paid in order to agree to the name change - that's not correct," he said.
As team principal, Brawn negotiated the change of Mercedes' name from Brawn GP after the German carmaker bought his Brackley based team.
"I know that (teams asking for favors) happened to us when we wanted to change our name," he revealed. "People sought to get favors from that decision. (But) it needs to be done in an adult way and not used in a divisive way."
McLaren and FOTA chief Martin Whitmarsh agrees.
"I recall when there was a desire to change the (Brawn) team name to Mercedes, how a number of people conspired against that, which was a ridiculous position to take and very damaging to the sport," he said.
"As Ross said, if (a team comes) up with a clearly silly, divisive name or a name that's damaging to formula one, then we should be able to use good judgment to prevent it.
"But if it's clear that the name change facilitates the funding and the retention of that team, then we shouldn't use the polemics and politics of formula one to prevent it," he added.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed that F1 has to be "a little bit careful" when agreeing to team name changes because the sport needs to be able to consistently market its brands.
But on the other hand, "it doesn't make any sense for a team to be called Renault when it isn't Renault, therefore a name change in a situation like that makes sense", he said.
Similarly, Whitmarsh agrees that "for there to be two Lotus teams doesn't seem very sensible".