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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • When the BMW F1 team launched in 2007 Vettel (top left) was part of the team as Friday driver
    Vettel's talent not obvious at BMW - Heidfeld
  • Senna still unsure as Kubica continues recovery
  • Hamilton 'sure' Massa fans to make Brazil 'tough'
  • Lotus not risking prize money for Razia debut
  • Two drivers not using safer visors after Massa injury
  • Softer 2012 tires to benefit Ferrari - Hembery
  • 'Liegate' scandal's Dave Ryan returns to F1
  • Brazilian GP Growing chance of rain on race day 

Vettel's talent not obvious at BMW - Heidfeld
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has admitted that Sebastian Vettel's forthcoming dominance was not obvious when the back-to-back world champion's F1 career began four years ago.

In 2007, a then teenage and boy-like Vettel was BMW's Friday driver, supporting racers Heidfeld and Robert Kubica.

"That Sebastian would dominate formula one was not foreseeable at the time," Vettel's German countryman Heidfeld, who earlier this season lost his Renault seat, told the German language Auto Bild.

In 2006 and 2007, before his race career began, Vettel often topped the Friday practice times but he was usually testing with fresher engines and tires than Heidfeld and Kubica.

"With empty (fuel) tanks he had good times but compared to Robert and I he was too slow," insisted Heidfeld.

"Sebastian did a decent job on the Fridays but his potential was not easy to see.  He performed solidly but the car was good for more."

The comments could explain why BMW so helpfully released Vettel into Red Bull's hands for his Toro Rosso debut, with Heidfeld conceding that since then, the now 24-year-old has been "simply unstoppable".

Senna still unsure as Kubica continues recovery
(GMM)  With Robert Kubica now out of the picture for early 2012, Bruno Senna insists the driver situation at Renault remains far from clear.

"For me, the announcement (about Kubica on Wednesday) does not change anything," Senna, the current occupant of the seat originally reserved for the injured Pole this season, said in his native Portuguese in Sao Paulo.

"I am working to convince the team that I should stay but the competition is great," he conceded.

Senna, 28, admitted that due to the "great" competition, "it is important" to be backed by ample sponsorship.

Even Vitaly Petrov, with a signed 2012 contract in his pocket, has hinted that Renault could pick a better-funded driver to replace him.

"It's hard to comment, I haven't read Petrov's contract," Senna insisted.  "I have no information.

"I'm not worried about the seat next to me.  (Romain) Grosjean is the third driver but everyone who is also on the market is an enemy -- Rubens (Barrichello) has a huge amount of experience," he added, also mentioning the name of likely Force India refugee Adrian Sutil.

"We will have to see what the team decides.  We have had encouraging conversations with sponsors and with the team," said Senna.

"The team is happy with me but they want more consistency.  I have had ups and downs and I need my first whole season since 2008 (in GP2) to improve more."

Hamilton 'sure' Massa fans to make Brazil 'tough'
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is "sure" he will be treated badly by some Felipe Massa fans during this weekend's Brazilian grand prix.

In 2008, Briton Hamilton gutted the excitable and highly partisan Interlagos crowd by pipping Brazilian Massa to the world championship.

And throughout this season the pair have been at odds with a series of on and off-track incidents.

"I have no idea what the reaction will be," said the McLaren driver before arriving in Sao Paulo for the season finale.  "I just know that I have had great support every time I have been to Brazil.

"I am sure there will be a few Felipe fans who will be less happy," he acknowledged.

"It was tough when I was racing with Felipe for the championship but I think I will be fine.  If not, then it will be interesting," added Hamilton.

Lotus not risking prize money for Razia debut
(GMM)  Luiz Razia has admitted Team Lotus' failure to score a point in 2011 is the reason he is not making his grand prix debut at home in Brazil this weekend.

Throughout 2011, it has been rumored that Brazilian Razia, a 22-year-old team test driver, will replace either Jarno Trulli or Heikki Kovalainen for the entire Interlagos race weekend.

Instead, Razia will simply be driving in Friday morning practice.

A report by Brazil's Globo claims it is Team Lotus' nervousness about losing the coveted tenth place in the constructors' standings - worth millions in the provisions of the Concorde Agreement - that thwarted Razia's debut.

Lotus has again been the strongest of the three teams vying for the lucrative tenth place in 2011, but like HRT and Virgin the team nonetheless failed to score a single point.

"I'm not racing just because of that," claimed Razia.  "Just because of an accident or something a team can end up finishing 12th.

"The tenth place is worth millions and I can't take that from the team.  They have to make decisions and unfortunately they can't afford to lose the tenth place.

"Tony Fernandes has spoken openly about it.  I paid the price for them having not scored points.  For them it's a lot of money," he said in Sao Paulo.

Razia, however, remains hopeful he could make his breakthrough next year.

"It's not ruled out.  Today, contracts can be easily broken," he said.

"As we have seen, Heidfeld went out in the middle of the season, and Ferrari fired Raikkonen, so I am not discounting any possibility for 2012."

Two drivers not using safer visors after Massa injury
(GMM)  At least two F1 drivers are still refusing to update their helmets with the new feature designed in the wake of Felipe Massa's 2009 head injury.

Last month at Suzuka, it was believed all the race drivers were wearing helmets fitted with a bulletproof Zylon strip across the top of their visors.

But because the strips add 50 grams of weight to the helmet, and affect the visor tint coatings and also the tear-off strips, it ultimately emerged that some drivers remained unwilling.

Indeed, Turun Sanomat reports that the zylon visor is not yet mandatory, despite most drivers now using it because it is safer.

"(Michael) Schumacher and (Lewis) Hamilton don't use it because it saves them an extra 50 grams," said Japanese helmet manufacturer Arai's Peter Burger.

"Perhaps with the g-forces it adds up to a bit more (than 50 grams)," he conceded.

He said world champion Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, does use the zylon strip.

"I had to carefully explain to him why to use something that is not actually compulsory," said Burger.

"It was supposed to become mandatory in Japan but the FIA only sent a letter to each driver strongly recommending that they use it."

Softer 2012 tires to benefit Ferrari - Hembery
(GMM)  Ferrari will be happy with the move towards even softer tire compounds for 2012, Pirelli's F1 chief Paul Hembery has admitted.

The famous Italian team has struggled on the harder compounds offered this year by the sport's new tire supplier.

Next year the compounds will be generally softer, Hembery said during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They will all benefit, but yes in particular Ferrari will," he is quoted as saying.

"The principle is that the current medium will be next year's hard, so the compounds are (all) softer," added Hembery.

He said the intention is also to increase the number of pitstops for the beginning of next season, after the spectacle waned in recent races as the teams and drivers adjusted to the fast-wearing tires.

"At the start of the season we saw an average of 3-4 stops per driver, but by the end it has fallen to about two.

"Next year we are working on an average of three," added Hembery.

He said dominant world champion Sebastian Vettel was "clearly" the best performer with Pirelli's 2011 tire.

"But also Jenson Button was very good, and then comes the two Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez," said Hembery.

'Liegate' scandal's Dave Ryan returns to F1
(GMM)  Dave Ryan, best remembered for being at the centre of the 2009 'liegate' scandal, is back in the F1 paddock.

McLaren's long-time sporting director was sacked more than two years ago for lying during a stewards enquiry involving Lewis Hamilton.

Former McLaren driver and lead British television commentator Martin Brundle told his Twitter followers on Thursday that Ryan is "in Sao Paulo to advise Renault team".

"Great guy Von, very tough to work under, missed in paddock", added Brundle.

Ryan earned the nickname 'Von' at McLaren in the mid 70s, based on the film Von Ryan's Express.

He said earlier this year he had moved on since the scandal that cost him his F1 career.

"People who carry grudges are akin to having a ball and chain around their ankle holding them back from getting on with their lives," he said.

"I get on with all the McLaren people and what happened, happened.  It's history now."

Brazilian GP Growing chance of rain on race day
This weekend’s race was originally expected to be dry. But revised forecasts indicate a chance of rain.

Heavy storms are a regular feature in the area. They are often unpredictable, but the early indication is rain could affect the final race of the season.

Wet weather has been a feature of several recent events here, including the dramatic 2008 title-decider and the rain-hit qualifying session in 2009.

The Brazilian Grand Prix is being held three weeks later than last year, but the weather is expected to follow its usual pattern.

Temperatures will be in the mid-20s in the days prior to the race, but a slight fall in temperature is expected on Sunday.

The forecast is likely to change in the run-up to Sunday so make sure to join us on F1 Fanatic live during every session for updates.

If you’re in the area and can supply any further information on the weather, please do so in the comments.

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