Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
Wickens to replace d'Ambrosio in Abu Dhabi practice
- 2012 US GP 'silence' worries Jackie Stewart
- Force India invests to safeguard $9m in F1 income
- Coulthard tells Webber to try 'new approach'
- Bourdais predicts era of dominance for Vettel
- Ferrari chiefs say Massa staying in 2012
- Lola wants FIA to re-open 13th team bidding
- Life after F1 might be better - Barrichello
- Alguersuari keeping Red Bull dream alive
- Brundle pleased about Virgin team name change
- Two DRS zones could transform Abu Dhabi spectacle
Wickens to replace d'Ambrosio in Abu Dhabi practice
(GMM) Robert Wickens will replace Virgin regular Jerome d'Ambrosio in initial practice ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi grand prix.
The Canadian, already a reserve driver for the team that is set to become Marussia next year, has been linked with Belgian d'Ambrosio's race seat for 2012.
Wickens raced in Virgin and Marussia colors as he secured this year's Renault World Series championship.
The F1 team said his driving role in Abu Dhabi this weekend is "a reward for winning" the series, with the Russian supercar backer Marussia deciding that "his success (is) deserving of the opportunity".
"This year just keeps getting better and better and I can't thank Marussia enough for their continued support," said the 22-year-old driver.
2012 US GP 'silence' worries Jackie Stewart
(GMM) Sir Jackie Stewart has questioned the health of the 2012 US grand prix project.
A site east of the Texan capital Austin is scheduled to host formula one's return to America next November.
But there were reports of internal ructions within the organizing body and circuit construction delays long before another US round, a street race amid the New York skyline, was announced for 2013.
Circuit designer Hermann Tilke, however, insists that Austin is on track for 2012, and the F1 Commission last Thursday re-confirmed the 2012 calendar as it was published by the FIA.
But the digital magazine Houston Culturemap quoted triple world champion Stewart as saying in India recently: "I am a little bit confused; there seems to be a sudden silence about Austin.
"I haven't heard a word about Austin for months now," he added. "I am assuming that it is still very much on, but you would have thought with only 12 months to go there would be something going on."
Force India invests to safeguard $9m in F1 income
(GMM) Force India is not giving up on the 2011 season.
With two races to go, the Silverstone based team is placed sixth in the constructors' championship, ten points ahead of Sauber and Toro Rosso, and more than 20 behind Renault.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, the Vijay Mallya-led team will continue to defend its sixth place, as dropping behind Sauber and Toro Rosso would cost Force India $9 million in official Concorde Agreement income.
"Sixth is extremely important for us," confirmed team manager Otmar Szafnauer.
"That's why we have scheduled another four wind tunnel sessions with the current car," he revealed.
"A few hundred thousand euros would be invested well if it comes back to you twenty-fold."
Force India needs to be most worried about the ever-improving Toro Rosso team, who are poised to speed past Sauber for seventh in the points standings.
"From a performance point of view, the car will not be changed any more," Auto Motor und Sport quotes a Sauber official as saying.
"The two remaining circuits are likely to be quite good for us, but unfortunately they will also be good for the others," he added.
Coulthard tells Webber to try 'new approach'
(GMM) It is possible last year's defeat to teammate Sebastian Vettel damaged Mark Webber psychologically, according to the Australian driver's former Red Bull teammate David Coulthard.
Coulthard, now a British television pundit, is referring to last year's Abu Dhabi finale, where Vettel emerged as the underdog to beat favorites Webber and Fernando Alonso to the title.
"Mark was just about to win the world championship," recalled Coulthard, speaking on Austrian Servus TV.
"Since then Sebastian did everything right, which may have impaired Mark's performance," he said.
"It's a bit like with Hamilton or Massa; if you have such a strong teammate, then psychologically it becomes even more difficult.
"The brain controls the body, not the other way around," added Coulthard.
He said Webber, 35, has a lot of thinking to do over the forthcoming winter period.
"Is it how he works with the engineers? Is it something else?
"It's not in the gym because they are both very fit. For Mark it makes sense to try a new approach for next year."
Bourdais predicts era of dominance for Vettel
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel's first regular teammate is predicting an era of dominance for the new back to back world champion.
It is often forgotten that amid Sebastien Bourdais' ill-fated switch to F1 from superiority in American open wheel racing three years ago, he was paired with the then rookie Vettel at Toro Rosso.
"People groan about the days of Schumacher's dominance," the Frenchman told Germany's Auto Bild, "but I say that the Vettel era could be worse."
32-year-old Bourdais, now an Indy and sports car driver, recalled of 2008: "In the first third of the season we were equally strong.
"Then we got the new car and Toro Rosso did not have the capacity to develop it specifically for one driver.
"But what Sebastian can do, even with an extremely fast car that is difficult to control, is simply drive around problems.
"His car control is exceptional, and it really stands out if the car or the conditions are difficult."
Bourdais said Vettel, then 21, stood out in another area.
"We both had problems with our crew, with the mechanics speaking little English. For me it was worse because I had a family at home and couldn't spend my little bit of spare time learning Italian.
"Sebastian invested more time and energy and therefore could communicate better with the team," added Bourdais.
Ferrari chiefs say Massa staying in 2012
(GMM) Ferrari bosses have dismissed reports Felipe Massa could lose his Ferrari seat after the forthcoming season finale at Interlagos.
At the weekend, Nico Rosberg said suggestions he could switch from Mercedes to be Fernando Alonso's 2012 teammate, and that he recently visited Maranello, were "nonsense".
Indeed, Brazilian Massa has a binding contract for next season.
But British commentator David Coulthard insisted that "in formula one, anything's possible. I've learned that in my 17 years (in the sport)."
At Ferrari's end-of-season event at Mugello at the weekend, however, Ferrari chiefs Stefano Domenicali and president Luca di Montezemolo re-confirmed Massa and Alonso for 2012.
Team boss Domenicali said it will be an important season for Massa.
"I am counting heavily on Felipe's will to fight back as he knows next year will be a key one in which, and I'm convinced of it, he will be able to show his true worth," he said.
Montezemolo smiled: "I feel for you (reporters), but next year there will be no change to our drivers (lineup)."
Lola wants FIA to re-open 13th team bidding
(GMM) The British racing car marque Lola has flagged a possible attempt to enter formula one in 2014.
In 1997, the company entered a team but pulled out after appearing dramatically off the pace at the season opener.
Lola Cars tried again in 2010 when the USF1 project collapsed.
Autoweek's Quentin Spurring reports that Lola is now calling on the FIA to re-open bidding for the grid's vacant thirteenth team slot.
"We're ready and waiting," said managing director Robin Brundle, whose older brother is the former McLaren driver and lead BBC commentator Martin.
"Motor sport is a third of our business, and we're happy to expand in any direction. We're on schedule to hit a turnover of ($40 million) this year, and within five years, we expect to top ($77 million).
"But a formula one program will take us up by tens of millions," he added. "We've retained the capability.
"We can do everything in one building, and we're hopeful that, if the FIA bring back the 13th license, we can bid for it."
Life after F1 might be better - Barrichello
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello has no fear about life after formula one.
With Pastor Maldonado's race seat considered secure for 2012, Williams co-owner Toto Wolff has revealed "serious" talks with Kimi Raikkonen and admitted the team is also "interested" in Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi.
For F1's longest-serving driver Barrichello, 39, bad news could therefore be around the corner.
He wants to hear an answer by the end of the month, and hopefully before his home race at Interlagos, the 2011 season finale.
"Emotionally, it would be nice to know for Interlagos," he admitted to Totalrace, "even if I don't believe Brazil will be my last race in formula one.
"During the weekend in India, I got a better understanding of the situation and I understand a bit why it is taking so long. Unfortunately, I still have to wait.
"I want to race in formula one, 100 per cent. If not, then I have other options," Barrichello insisted. "People like Luciano Burti and Olivier Panis tell me that life after formula one can even be better.
"When the time comes, I will have the farewell party; I have too many relationships established to disappear from the sport in one moment.
"What will be, will be, but god willing I will be on the grid next year," he added.
Alguersuari keeping Red Bull dream alive
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari's Red Bull dream is still alive, even though he might lose his Toro Rosso seat after the looming 2011 finale.
The 2012 lineup of the energy drink company's secondary team remains completely open, with Alguersuari, his current teammate Sebastien Buemi, and also Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne all in the running.
At the very least, however, Spaniard Alguersuari has had less time to develop than has his more experienced teammate Buemi, and 11 more points in the bag so far this season.
And he also sounds confident.
"My goal is to stay with Red Bull," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace. "I want to stay with them and give them victories.
"I came to F1 without any miles but I have progressed, as has the team. The team goes nowhere without the driver, nor the driver without the team."
Alguersuari's hope for 2012, therefore, is that "Toro Rosso confirms me as the driver".
Beyond that, he is targeting the world championship, but to do that "I need the car and I hope Red Bull give it to me some day".
For now, he is putting his eggs in the Toro Rosso basket, calling the Faenza based team one "of the future" that is able to "fight for the top (places) in three or four years".
Brundle pleased about Virgin team name change
(GMM) Martin Brundle is relieved he will no longer have to use the word 'Virgin' whilst calling formula one races.
The BBC's lead commentator is referring to Sir Richard Branson's well-known brand, which has had naming rights at the new-in-2010 British team for the past two seasons.
For 2012, however, with Virgin remaining a sponsor, the team has been granted permission by the F1 Commission to revert to the name of its Russian supercar partner Marussia.
The news, including the Renault/Lotus and Lotus/Caterham name changes, has also been rubber-stamped by the governing FIA.
Regarding Virgin, former McLaren driver Brundle wrote on Twitter: "As (a) F1 commentator I'm so pleased Virgin are changing name next year.
"I have a mental red alert every time I mention their car in close action", he added.
Two DRS zones could transform Abu Dhabi spectacle
(GMM) As in India recently, there will be two separate DRS zones in use this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Throughout most of 2011, the first season of DRS deployment in F1 history, the FIA has installed only single detection and activation points for rear wing-assisted overtaking.
But at Monza and India there were two distinct DRS areas, and the same approach will be seen in Abu Dhabi this weekend, it has emerged.
That is particularly good news for Yas Marina, as the otherwise spectacular venue is notoriously difficult to overtake on.
Last year, for example, the layout was blamed for not allowing Fernando Alonso, the championship favorite, to overtake the slower Vitaly Petrov.
McLaren's Jenson Button said: "It's usually been quite difficult to overtake in Abu Dhabi, especially last year, but I think that DRS will change all that.
"It would be great to see the new rules turn this circuit into a place where overtaking is more common and more exciting," he added.