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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Lewis Hamilton
    Massa 'could have avoided' Hamilton crash - Herbert
  • 'Question marks' over three races for 2012
  • Schumacher top lap-1 overtaker in 2011 - analysis
  • Alonso not desperate for runner-up title
  • Jean-Eric Vergne to test Red Bull
  • Maldonado takes ten-place grid drop for Abu Dhabi
  • Red Bull confirm Milton Keyes event

Massa 'could have avoided' Hamilton crash - Herbert
(GMM)  Felipe Massa was penalized for the collision with Lewis Hamilton in India because it "could have been avoided".

That is the claim of former grand prix winner Johnny Herbert, who was serving as the fourth FIA steward at the inaugural Delhi race.

Although McLaren's beleaguered Hamilton is usually the one receiving the penalties at grands prix, Herbert said it was the embittered Massa who deserved the blame this time.

"It was clear that Massa knew where Hamilton was before he chose to turn across him," he wrote in his column for The National newspaper, citing evidence that the Brazilian looked into his mirrors.

Another former racer, BBC commentator David Coulthard, does not agree.

"I simply can't understand how Felipe could have been deemed the guilty party," he wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.

"As drivers we are always taught that the car behind is responsible so to my mind the stewards misinterpreted what happened."

Coulthard fears the stewards issued the penalty not objectively, but in the context of Hamilton and Massa's increasingly poisoned feud.

"It was almost as if they felt that - with Lewis receiving so many decisions against him this year - they were trying to redress the balance," he said.

Also critical of the decision is another former F1 driver and German television RTL pundit Christian Danner.

"It was Lewis' attack and it would have worked only if Massa had driven off the track," he said.

Even Hamilton's good friend Adrian Sutil agrees, telling Auto Motor und Sport that he thinks it was a racing incident and therefore an "unnecessary" punishment.

"I cannot quite understand why Felipe got it," he added.

'Question marks' over three races for 2012
(GMM)  Up to three races on the 2012 calendar are endangered, according to a Brazilian media report.

The O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper reports that the events scheduled in Korea, the United States and Bahrain will be discussed during Thursday's F1 Commission meeting in Geneva.

An unprecedented 20 grands prix have been scheduled on the 2012 calendar, but Bernie Ecclestone will tell the teams on Thursday that the Korean organizers are hesitating on paying the sanctioning fee deposit.

"It took us long enough to negotiate with them in the first place," the F1 chief executive told reporters in India last weekend.

"It was strange.  That was a disappointment because it was a big enough effort to get it on in the first place."

Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio also said that, shortly after a New York street race was announced for 2013, there is now a question mark about the 2012 US grand prix scheduled for a new venue near Austin, Texas.

And finally, it is the "political situation" in Bahrain that has triggered the F1 Commission talks about the island Kingdom's 2012 return.

"It is almost certain that the fourth round, on April 22, will not be contested," the Brazilian report reads.

And it seems clear that the teams will not be unhappy if the schedule dips below 20 grands prix next season.

McLaren and FOTA chief Martin Whitmarsh confirmed there are "some question marks" about some of next year's scheduled events.

"I think 20 races and a lot of flyaways is pretty hard on the team and I think we are at tipping point," he said.

"You are getting close to the point where you do need to alternate.  It's the NASCAR approach where you alternate crews."

Straddled with a slow Mercedes, Michael Schumacher is regaining his old form but no one is taking notice.  The 7-time world champion is now beating his highly regarded teammate, Rosberg, on a regular basis and passing more cars on the race track than anyone.
Schumacher top lap-1 overtaker in 2011 - analysis
(GMM)  Near the end of his second season since returning to formula one, Michael Schumacher is finally topping the charts once again.

Germany's Sport1 reports that the seven time world champion ranks first on the list of drivers when it comes to performance on the opening lap of grands prix this year.

The report said the 42-year-old German has recorded no fewer than 42 overtaking moves on lap 1 so far in 2011, which is more than ten passes ahead of F1's second-best, Sebastien Buemi.

Third is the exciting Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, with 23 first-lap moves.

"Schumacher is getting better," said Niki Lauda, "but no one is interested because he doesn't have a competitive car.

"I hope that is different next year.  Then we can watch it again from scratch."

It should be noted, of course, that drivers who qualify exceptionally well are unlikely to feature highly in the first-lap overtaking ranking, like Sebastian Vettel.

The back to back world champion has started from pole an astonishing 13 times out of the 17 races so far, meaning he has only passed two drivers on the first lap all season.

Schumacher's teammate Nico Rosberg insists he has been the better driver in 2011.

"If you look at who has got the most points, that's me, and if you look at who is most often ahead in the race, that's me as well," said the German.

"It is not true that he (Schumacher) is faster in the race.  For sure he is closer in the race than he is in qualifying, but it is not true that he is faster," Rosberg insisted.

The Rosberg-Schumacher tussle aside, veteran engineer Joan Villadelprat insists the bigger picture is much more crucial at Mercedes.

"There are many people who analyze that Ferrari's performance has been unacceptable for a team of its caliber," he wrote in the El Pais newspaper.

"From my point of view there is a more pressing case -- Mercedes.

"2012 will be their third season, they have invested a fortune and the officials are not going to keep injecting millions if the effort does not translate.

"A premium brand such as theirs can only be in the fight for victory, which at the moment is an unrealistic goal.  Mercedes cannot afford to be associated with the grid's middle class," added Villadelprat.

Alonso not desperate for runner-up title
(GMM)  It is billed as one of the remaining points of interest in 2011, but Fernando Alonso insists he is not overly interested in finishing the season as runner-up.

Behind world champion Sebastian Vettel, four drivers are in mathematical contention for second place in the drivers' standings -- Jenson Button, Alonso, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton.

The favorite is McLaren's Button, who said after extending his lead over Alonso in India to 13 points that second place "would mean something".

"It would mean I had beaten a Red Bull and Fernando in a Ferrari.  I will look back and think that most weekends I did the best I possibly could and got the best out of the car," said the Briton.

Slightly less eager is Spaniard Alonso.

"As everybody knows, next year is our main target.  Ok, finishing second is maybe better than finishing fifth," he said, "but it's not a big priority for us.  If I finish second it's ok, if I finish fourth it's ok.

"I will probably remember the win in Silverstone and a couple of nice starts and a couple of nice races, but once you are no longer in the hunt for the championship win, the other positions are less relevant," added Alonso, a two-time world champion.

Jean-Eric Vergne to test Red Bull
Red Bull Junior driver Jean-Eric Vergne will drive the Championship-winning RB7 at the forthcoming Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi, from Tuesday 15 to Thursday 17 November 2011.

Similar to last year’s test driver Daniel Ricciardo in 2010, Jean-Eric was runner up in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 series. He has been with the Red Bull Junior Team since 2007 and in 2010 he won the British Formula Three Championship. This year he completed Friday driving duties for Scuderia Toro Rosso at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Jean-Eric said: “I’m really looking forward to driving the RB7 in Abu Dhabi. I know the track already and have had some track time in a Formula One car this year, which will help. I’m extremely happy that Red Bull Racing has given me this opportunity, it will be a massive experience for me and to be driving the best Formula One car is something quite amazing. I will make the best out of the three days, it will be an important three days and I’m looking forward to it.”

Maldonado takes ten-place grid drop for Abu Dhabi
Pastor Maldonado will take a ten-place grid penalty for next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In India on Sunday, the Venezuelan retired from the race due to a gearbox failure which damaged his engine; he will now exceed the eight-engine-per-season limitation, meaning the penalty will be applied by FIA stewards.

“As Pastor will use a ninth engine in Abu Dhabi, due to damage incurred following the gearbox failure in India, he will incur a subsequent ten-place grid penalty,” explains Mark Gillan, Williams’ Chief Operations Engineer. “Rubens (Barrichello) will use a new eighth engine.”

Red Bull confirm Milton Keyes event
Red Bull Racing is pleased to confirm that World Champion Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey will attend the team’s celebration show run event in Milton Keynes on Saturday 10 December. In collaboration with Milton Keynes Council, Red Bull Racing has organized the event to celebrate their achievements this year and mark their double Championship success for a second successive season.

The show will take place along the full length of Midsummer Boulevard in Milton Keynes, between Centre MK (Saxon Gate) and MK Station (Grafton Gate) and feature two Red Bull Racing Formula One cars, driven by Mark and Sebastian.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Christian Horner commented: “It’s great news to be able to go ahead with this event in Milton Keynes with both drivers and two cars. It’s been home for our factory since Red Bull entered Formula One in 2005 and we get excellent support from the city; it will be fantastic to be able to put on a show and give something back. I think most of the staff will be attending with their families, which I’m extremely pleased about. I’d like to thank the council for all their efforts and I’m looking forward to the event – it will be the first time we’ll have two cars and both of our drivers at a running show car event, so it will be a great way to finish the year.”

Milton Keynes Council Leader Andrew Geary said: “Our warm congratulations go out to the whole team at Tilbrook in Milton Keynes. The city benefits enormously from having Red Bull Racing based here – it shines a massive spotlight on the city, bringing in tourism, investment and providing hundreds of jobs locally, ensuring that MK is firmly on the map. It’s fantastic that both drivers are confirmed for the event.”

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