Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
Button happy to win McLaren battle in 2011
|Massa under pressure|
- Sauber says Raikkonen needs 'top car' for F1 return
- 2007 enemies in 'unholy alliance' against Vettel
- Vettel's pitwall contribution 'enlightening' - Marko
- Ferrari says Red Bull also fluttered in Abu Dhabi
- Villadelprat says Ferrari wrong to stick with Massa
- Renault set to begin 2012 season without Kubica
- Irvine races into court over Milan brawl
- Ecclestone comments endanger 2012 US GP funding
- Williams tests top-exit exhaust system
Button happy to win McLaren battle in 2011
(GMM) Jenson Button has admitted he is happy to have won the inter-team battle at McLaren in 2011.
After his critics said he was entering the "lion's den" at the British team by pairing with Lewis Hamilton last year, Button has become the only driver in his teammate's F1 career to beat him in the end-of-season points standings.
"It's great to get more points than a teammate who is so competitive," he admitted after sealing the achievement in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, despite Hamilton winning.
"You have to win races, you've got to get more points than your teammate, consistently do a good job on race weekends," he added.
The duo are now tied on wins in 2011 with three apiece, and one race remaining in Brazil next weekend.
"I know them both well enough that they will want to be the driver who comes out of the year with four wins," said their team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
But for the second time in recent days, Hamilton disagreed with his boss.
"That's not the case," he insisted. "We both want to win, but it doesn't matter whether he gets it or I get it. We still end up on a high. That's my view."
And as for the inter-team battle, Hamilton added: "For me it's irrelevant if he (Button) has finished ahead of me because we want to win the championship."
Instead, he hopes to bounce back from his personal problems in 2012, by reinstalling a comfort "bubble" around him at grands prix in the form of his mother and brother.
"It was great having my mum in Abu Dhabi," said Hamilton. "It is difficult with my brother because he is racing all the time, but I would like to have him here more often."
Former McLaren driver and lead BBC commentator Martin Brundle admits he is not sure why that is so important to Hamilton.
"Frankly, I don't understand this concept that family and friends can or should make a difference to your on track performance," he said, "but I'm from a different generation and I never experienced the spotlight and pressure that the likes of Hamilton do."
Sauber says Raikkonen needs 'top car' for F1 return
(GMM) If Kimi Raikkonen returns in 2012, the Finn's first formula one boss Peter Sauber hopes he has a fast Williams to drive.
Many paddock observers recall the 32-year-old's last F1 season in 2009, when he struggled with the uncompetitive Ferrari and at the end of the year turned down opportunities with other teams in favor of a rallying foray.
Now, some believe he wants to come back to the sport in 2012 because he faces the prospect of being paid to drive for the first time since leaving F1.
"Obviously, anyone worth his salt in any business will argue about the price of things," smiled Sir Frank Williams in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, "so there is an argument going on, which of course is quite normal."
Sauber, who gave Raikkonen his debut in 2001, told Blick newspaper he welcomes the news the Finn is thinking about coming back.
"But he needs to be motivated," said the Swiss, "and Kimi will only be motivated if he's in a top car."
Williams has had a dire 2011 season, but for next season the team will be counting on former McLaren designer Mike Coughlan and Renault engines.
Asked if the new pieces to the puzzle will solve Williams' problems over the winter, chairman Adam Parr announced confidently: "Yes.
"I feel very energized about where we are at the moment because the people here are just stunning, without exception."
2007 enemies in 'unholy alliance' against Vettel
(GMM) Self-interest may have motivated the new friendship between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
In 2007, the pair clashed spectacularly as McLaren teammates, and in the intervening years they have maintained a healthy distance.
At the penultimate grand prix of 2011 in Abu Dhabi, however, the pair spent the days leading up to the event praising one another's talents.
Then, when they finished first and second in the race, they shared an unusually warm hug.
Hamilton explained to Italian broadcaster Rai: "I loved the fight with Fernando, I think he's the strongest driver."
With Sebastian Vettel out of the race with a rare retirement but having started from pole as per usual in his meteoric back-to-back championship season, the correspondent for La Stampa newspaper smells a rat.
With the 2012 season now looming and Red Bull's dominance to possibly continue, journalist Stefano Mancini calls the new friendship between Hamilton and Alonso an "unholy alliance against Vettel".
Vettel's pitwall contribution 'enlightening' - Marko
(GMM) Even whilst suffering his first retirement of 2011, back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel could not resist working hard.
Whilst drivers normally retire to their quarters, the 24-year-old German mounted the Red Bull pitwall and remained there for the entire Abu Dhabi race.
He is quoted by Kurier newspaper as admitting he had "learned something" from the experience, and even taken an active role in the race strategy deployed for his teammate Mark Webber.
"At first I only wanted to stay for five laps," he revealed.
Dr Helmut Marko was asked if Vettel might enjoy a post-racing future on the pitwall.
"That is still far away," the team consultant smiled, "but what he had to contribute was very enlightening."
In reality, the entire F1 paddock - Vettel included - is now eagerly awaiting the checkered flag in Brazil and then the 2012 season, when a world championship is once again at stake.
Vettel is quoted by AS newspaper as predicting a tough contest involving his teammate Webber, Fernando Alonso, the McLaren drivers and possibly a Mercedes.
He added: "Winning this year proved that 2010 was not just bad luck for the others and good luck for me."
Ferrari says Red Bull also fluttered in Abu Dhabi
(GMM) After a second consecutive race weekend marked by front wing "fluttering", Ferrari insists it is at least now in good company.
Experimenting with a new design ahead of the 2012 season, the Italian team said before Abu Dhabi that it had fixed the alarming problem seen on Felipe Massa's car a fortnight earlier in India.
But the problem resurfaced at Yas Marina and Brazilian Massa had to race with an older wing.
Asked about it after the race, Stefano Domenicali told Italian broadcaster Rai: "I think this time we were not the only ones."
He is referring to Red Bull, the pioneers of the wing concept that is somehow able to pass the aerodynamic load tests yet still visibly flex downwards at speed.
Villadelprat says Ferrari wrong to stick with Massa
(GMM) Pressure is once again mounting on Ferrari to reconsider its driver lineup for 2012.
The Maranello team said before Abu Dhabi that, contrary to recent speculation, Felipe Massa's contract for next season will definitely be honored.
"Massa? I think the car is not the best," said team co-owner and founder Enzo Ferrari's son Piero Ferrari in Abu Dhabi, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"With a car as good as he had in 2008 he will have success again. He has given a lot to Ferrari and we should continue with him," he added.
In his new column for El Pais newspaper, veteran engineer Joan Villadelprat does not agree with his former team's choice.
"Alonso is the lead Ferrari driver and although that is incontestable, it is because he has earned it," he wrote.
"Looking at Massa's last races, where while Alonso seems to be stronger with the pressure, Massa just deflates.
"At this point he is not even the second Ferrari driver; he is not even close to that.
"In my view, Ferrari is wrong strategically to keep him as Alonso's teammate, as while it is comfortable because the Spaniard is not threatened, any driver always does well to have someone beside to push him.
"That's what you see with Button and Hamilton, and it's true to say that in their struggles last year, Sebastian Vettel came out much stronger because Mark Webber demanded so much from him."
Agreed Rome newspaper Il Tempo: "The truth is that Massa is just too slow to be a Ferrari driver."
Renault set to begin 2012 season without Kubica
(GMM) It is more and more likely that Renault, to be called Lotus next year, will kick off the 2012 season without Robert Kubica.
Team boss Eric Boullier admitted in Abu Dhabi that he is concerned that some weeks after the initial October deadline, the communication from the injured Pole's camp has been poor.
The obvious implication is that Renault fears he is not ready to return to formula one.
"I am patient because I am committed morally to him, he was very important to us," Frenchman Boullier is quoted by autohebdo.fr.
"If we find ourselves in a situation for him to come back, even in the middle of the year, I will try to bring him back but I can do no more," he said.
"If he speaks to no one then what can I say?" he added. "October was a key moment for him but unfortunately I don't think he is ready yet."
Renault's contract with Kubica, 26, expires after Christmas.
"What we know already is that Robert cannot commit to a deadline, so we must keep an ongoing communication plan," Boullier is quoted as saying by Spain's AS newspaper.
"Obviously we want him back, so it may be during the (2012) season, why not?"
Irvine races into court over Milan brawl
(GMM) Former Ferrari and Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine is set to race into court.
La Repubblica reports that the case surrounds a 2008 brawl in a Milan nightclub between the Ulsterman and Gabriele Moratti, the son of the Italian city's former mayor.
Their respective lawyers announced in court this week that negotiations for a settlement had collapsed and so the first witnesses will be called on 30 January.
Irvine, 46, claims he was punched in the head during the fight over a girlfriend, while Moratti says he was glassed in the face.
Ecclestone comments endanger 2012 US GP funding
(GMM) The fate of the 2012 US grand prix project has continued its downward spiral this week.
Bernie Ecclestone intensified the speculation about the Austin event by saying in Abu Dhabi that he would not bet money it will take place.
His references to disagreements within the organizing bodies is now causing alarm in the Texas comptroller's office.
The Circuit of the Americas was deemed eligible for millions in annual funding under the Major Events Fund, but comptroller Susan Combs has now revealed her concern.
"I am concerned with reports that have come out over the weekend regarding possible problems with the Texas race even taking place," she said in a statement published by local YNN News.
"If and when an application is received, we will do an extensive review of the application to ensure taxpayers are protected, and also to determine if this will have a positive economic impact for the taxpayers of Texas," added Combs.
Williams tests top-exit exhaust system
Williams has become the first team to experiment with a 2012-specification top exit exhaust during the young driver test in Abu Dhabi.
Valtteri Bottas has been running with the exhaust since the start of the day as the team attempts to gather data to aid work on its 2012 machine.
Chief operations engineer Mark Gillan confirmed during the Abu Dhabi race weekend that the team will be trying out a number of new components during the test.
"Any track time at the moment is very important because we're learning," he told AUTOSPORT. "We're continuously dealing with the issues that we've had over the season.
"For the test, we have got a set of items looking at the influence of next year's tires and we're looking at different components both for this year and next year."
Next year's regulations mandate that the exhausts must exit from the top of the car as part of a set of rule changes conceived to outlaw the exhaust blown diffuser.