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Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
  • Eric Boullier
    Raikkonen on list of 2012 candidates admits Boullier
  • Tost admits driver clean-sweep possible for Toro Rosso
  • Cheeky Vettel celebrates record with Mansell moustache
  • Barrichello juggling five phones to extend F1 career
  • Kolles delighted with HRT's qualifying pace
  • Rain can still be a factor in today's GP finale
  • Red Bull memorabilia auctioned off for charity
  • Team Lotus not officially Caterham F1
  • Randstad Increases Commitment to AT&T Williams

Raikkonen on list of 2012 candidates admits Boullier
(GMM)  Boss Eric Boullier has refused to rule out signing Kimi Raikkonen to race for the team to be known as Lotus in 2012.

Earlier, the 2007 world champion was linked to Williams but it is believed the famous British team turned down his multi-million euro demands.

Now, in the Interlagos paddock, attention has turned to Renault team boss Boullier's claim last week that he has been in contact with Raikkonen's management team headed by Steve and David Robertson.

"Kimi was - or better said, is - one possible scenario," Germany's Sport1 quotes Boullier as saying, after the recovering Robert Kubica was ruled out for the start of the 2012 season.

Actually, the list is long and complicated, with the seat currently occupied by Vitaly Petrov also in doubt and Romain Grosjean considered first in line for any vacancy.

"I think the speed was there," said Boullier when asked about the new GP2 champion Grosjean's recent Friday outings, "the feedback was very good, the team enjoyed working with him.  I cannot say more than this.

"It's part of the assessment we decided to go through, he did it positively and now it will be reported to the board and then we will see."

Bruno Senna is also anxiously waiting to know Renault's decision, which is now expected in the coming days.

"Hopefully I will have a relaxing Christmas," he told Portuguese language reporters after qualifying at Interlagos.

But German reports say Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen is even an option, with the Finn said to have an exit clause in the event that a bigger team offers a seat.

Likely Force India refugee Adrian Sutil is yet another candidate, with his Medion backing reportedly speaking louder than his legal trouble with Genii executive Eric Lux.

Tost admits driver clean-sweep possible for Toro Rosso
(GMM)  Even Toro Rosso's team boss insists he doesn't know who will be in the race cockpits next year.

He told Marca sports newspaper that the decision will be referred to team owner Red Bull's Salzburg headquarters.

"Right now nothing is decided," he said, amid rumors Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari might be ousted to make way to newcomers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

"When this race is finished it will go to Salzburg for a detailed analysis of what the drivers have done.  They will decide what is best for the team," said Tost in Brazil.

The Austrian however said he has been satisfied overall with Buemi and Alguersuari in 2011.

"When the car was good, they have had a good performance.  Yes, in that way we're happy," said Tost.

Swiss Buemi, however, is the more experienced of the pair but he has scored fewer points, even though he has had the lion's share of the technical problems recently.

"Jaime has had two or three really good races, really good," said Tost.

But he refused to estimate the chances that he might be working with a new driver in 2012, or possibly Australian Ricciardo as well as Frenchman Vergne.

"There is always the possibility," said Tost.  "Nothing is ruled out at this time."

Cheeky Vettel celebrates record with Mansell moustache
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel celebrated breaking a nearly two-decade-old record with a cheeky dig at its previous holder.

Although the back to back world champion took a couple of races longer to achieve it, Vettel on Saturday raced past Nigel Mansell's 1992 record of 14 poles in a single F1 season.

The 24-year-old admitted beating "the master" - who 19 years ago set the record in an Adrian Newey-inked Williams - was "very special".

But he later stuck on a giant orange moustache whilst celebrating with his mechanics; a cheeky nod to Briton Mansell's 90s look.

Vettel's Interlagos pole was less than two tenths faster than the Q3 time set by his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.

"Unfortunately I could not look after old Nigel today," the Australian joked, "I tried to help him but it didn't work out, so a good lap for Seb."

Another consolation prize for Webber this weekend was receiving the DHL Fastest Lap award, with his six fastest laps of the race to be unbeaten by any rival in 2011.

"It's a lot better than a lot of the trophies we get on the podium; a lot of them are quite boring but it is quite a nice trophy and also a beautiful Rolex," he said.

Barrichello juggling five phones to extend F1 career
(GMM)  In his quest to hang on to his unprecedentedly-long F1 career, Rubens Barrichello has revealed that he is waiting for calls on five mobile phones this weekend at Interlagos.

There is a sense of sadness at the 2011 season finale that it could be the last for the 39-year-old Brazilian, whose long career spans an astonishing 37 per cent of F1's entire world championship history since 1950.

In what was potentially his last ever qualifying effort in an uncompetitive Williams, Barrichello was just two tenths shy of scraping into the top ten, while his teammate Pastor Maldonado failed to make it out of Q1.

"I have shown that I still have the speed, the experience and the motivation," Auto Motor und Sport quotes him as saying.

"I think that with Williams changing a lot for next season - new people, a new engine - at least the drivers should be consistent," he added.

As he juggles multiple mobile phones amid his firebombing of potential sponsors for 2011, it sounded like a sad plea, but Barrichello insists he is coping better than at the end of 2008, when Honda pulled out suddenly.

"This time it won't be so long (to wait) because I'm been through it before; in the next few weeks I'll be relaxed," the Paulista insisted.

"I'll just take my five phones everywhere and wait for the call.  Everyone who is interested in me can reach me at any time."

Earlier this week, his countryman Felipe Massa called on Barrichello to quit now, arguing the dishonor of a former grand prix winner having to become a 'pay-driver' in order to stay in F1.

"I know Felipe means well," said Barrichello, "but I see nothing dishonorable in trying to find the money, and actually nobody has asked if I bring money or not.  I don't think it is the decisive factor."

Kolles delighted with HRT's qualifying pace
The HRT cars will line up on the penultimate row of the grid for this afternoon’s Brazilian Grand Prix, having out-qualified both Marussia Virgin Racing cars at Interlagos. The result came as a welcome sight to Team Principal Colin Kolles.

“Both drivers did a very good job today in qualifying,” Kolles commented. “It has been our best qualifying session this season. I think we could have done even better if the cars would have been released in the right time frame in order to avoid traffic and to give the drivers the maximum laps.

“We are ahead of both Virgins and closer than ever to Lotus, which is very positive and this reflects the improved performance of the car in the last races. It seems that the chances of rain for tomorrow's race are quite high, so we have to be ready for that too and try to finish the season on a good note.”

Rain could still be a factor in today's GP finale
The only real hope the other drivers have of beating Sebastian Vettel today is rain at Interlagos.  The forecast in Sao Paulo, Brazil is overcast in the morning, then partly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. High of 75°F. Winds from the ESE at 5 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

Felipe Massa starts his home race from seventh on the grid, a circuit on which he enjoyed three consecutive pole positions between 2006 and 2008. However, the Paulista is fully aware that inclement weather is likely to play its part on Sunday.

“I was expecting more from this final qualifying of the year and I definitely cannot be happy with this seventh place,” he said after the Saturday session.

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to find the right balance throughout the weekend. In some corners I was locking up the front and in the slower ones I suffered with understeer…in others I lacked traction.

“All in all, the car was rather difficult to drive. On top of that, it was a rather complicated day. I had to use two sets of Softs in Q2 and I paid for that in Q3, as I could only do one run. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so the situation could change.

“It’s difficult to make predictions on the relative strengths; in the wet this year, we have seen a very strong Red Bull but other times McLaren have been very quick, but it’s also true that anything can happen in these conditions. The important thing is to be prepared for all situations.”

Red Bull memorabilia auctioned off for charity
A selection of Red Bull Racing items, including a helmet of Mark Webber from the 2011 Formula 1 season, are to be auctioned off at Bonhams. All proceeds will go to charity Wings for Life, which is striving to finding a cure for spinal cord injury.

An assortment of pieces will be available, not least the race suit used by double World Champion Sebastian Vettel – costing around four to five thousand pounds - en route to victory at the European Grand Prix in Valencia. Also available will be a pair of Prada sunglasses (estimated at £100-150) worn by Mark Webber at Silverstone.

“Whether it’s my racing boots from Australia, or signed podium watch from Turkey, there are so many memories from every piece in this auction,” Vettel comments. “I’m happy to be able to help such a good cause. So please place your bids and support Wings for Life.”

Team Lotus now officially Caterham F1
Caterham Group has today officially been confirmed as the parent company name for the range of automotive, motor racing, technology and innovation companies that sit within a single group business under the stewardship of Caterham Group CEO Riad Asmat.

Caterham Group Chairman Tony Fernandes gives his overview of the organizational structure in an exclusive first look at how the future Caterham Group strategy is being activated: “We have been talking for some time now about our plans for Caterham in all its guises, from the road car company to Formula 1 and GP2, and in the technology, design and innovation fields. Now, with the announcement we made last week about the rebranding in Formula One to Caterham F1 Team for 2012 and beyond, we are in a position to give a much more in-depth explanation of how the Caterham Group is taking shape.

“Under Riad’s guidance, there are currently four main areas of the business, and we will be adding more in the future. I will go into more detail about each arm of the Group, but in simple terms we have Caterham Cars, Caterham F1 Team and other motor racing investments including our GP2 team Caterham Racing, Caterham Technology and Innovation (CTI) and Caterham Composites. The range of businesses interests we have gives us a very strong foothold in a number of growth sectors, staffed with teams of people with a strong mix of experience, youth, creativity and passion. In short, we have all the right ingredients in place to do some incredibly exciting things in markets that are ripe for innovation and new ideas.

“I will start with Caterham Cars, under which all our road car interests sit with Ansar Ali as CEO. This has been such a busy year that it feels like we made the announcement we had purchased the car company a long time ago, but in fact it was only a few months back, and since then the team in Dartford and in Surrey have been very hard at work maintaining the growth of the existing line-up and working on an ambitious new product range that will see the first car launched in 2014. Alongside that they have also been focusing on establishing new markets for Caterham Cars, and the recent announcement about Caterham Cars India is the first fruit of that project. They are now looking at similar ventures in the Middle-East and across Asia and the level of interest they are generating bodes extremely well for that area of our business.

“Caterham F1 Team is the new and permanent incarnation of our Formula One investment. On and off track we continue to invest in people, infrastructure and technology and 2012 is a critical year in our development. Underneath the F1 team sits Caterham Racing, the new name for our GP2 team, and then we have our driver development program that encompasses various motor racing formulae from karting, GP3, World Series by Renault and right up to F1 – a staircase of talent that gives opportunities for drivers, engineers, mechanics and all the associated skill-sets across the motorsport industry the chance to learn, develop and reach the top. This is also complimented by the various Caterham Cars racing series, currently with approximately 700 cars competing in series around the world and now given a new impetus by the direct links to the F1 team and all our associated motor racing interests.

“Then we have CTI - Caterham Technology and Innovation. We launched CTI in September and they are working closely with Caterham Cars on the development of a completely new line of accessible and affordable sportscars inspired by the lightweight, minimalist philosophy of the Seven, as well as drawing on the advanced technologies and materials from the Group's Formula One and Caterham  Racing GP2 motorsport operations. In addition to the next generation of Caterham Cars, CTI will undertake advanced projects for external companies operating within the automotive and aerospace sectors, including a current project looking at a radical new in-flight entertainment system.”

“Completing the Group is the newly formed business Caterham Composites. Mike Gascoyne will combine his role as CTO of Caterham F1 Team with that of CEO of Caterham Composites and will head up a company specializing in the composites industry. They are already working on projects across the aerospace, nautical, motorsport and road car industries and will work closely with all our associated companies to provide their market-leading experience in the composites field to complete the Group’s interests.

“With those four arms in place, and more to be announced in due course, we have a dynamic group of businesses already working together that gives a clear vision of what our long-term strategy is in their respective fields, and as one entity under Caterham Group. The group will be based across a number of centers of excellence – Caterham Cars, Caterham F1 Team and our motorsport interests will be based in one location that we are close to announcing, and our technology and composites interests will be based in Norfolk. With those plans now complete we have the foundations in place for long-term growth and success, and now we are in complete control of our own destiny. We have a very exciting future ahead of us and are all looking forward to seeing the rewards of our hard work pay off for many years to come.” 

Randstad Increases Commitment to AT&T Williams
Williams F1 (“Williams” or the “Group,” Ticker: WGF1) is pleased to announce an extended and upgraded sponsorship agreement between the team and longstanding partner, Randstad Holding N.V. ahead of the 2012 season.

Founded in 1960 and headquartered in the Netherlands, Randstad provides flexible recruitment and human resources services, placing more than half a million people each day in employment. Following its acquisition of Vedior in 2008, Randstad is now the second largest HR provider in the world representing more than 90% of the global human resources market. Randstad operates in over 40 countries with a network of more than 4,000 offices worldwide. Their mission is to take the lead in shaping the world of work by developing the true value of human capital, a philosophy and commitment to people shared with the AT&T Williams team.

Today’s announcement takes Randstad into its seventh year supporting the team following five extensions and upgrades since 2006. The agreement will see a significant increase in Randstad’s presence on the cars and throughout the team which will be revealed with the 2012 livery launch.

On the new agreement, Frank Williams, Team Principal of AT&T Williams said, “I am thrilled that Randstad are continuing their support of the team. They have been an important and valued partner throughout our business over the past six years and I am looking forward to an even stronger partnership next year. This announcement highlights the team‘s success in delivering a strong return on investment and Randstad’s commitment to us despite a difficult year on the racetrack. I’d like to thank them for their support which we will look to repay as we work our way back up the grid.”

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