Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
Renault/Lotus team signs Raikkonen for F1 return
|Raikkonen, who last drove for Ferrari in F1, is back with Lotus Renault|
- HRT should have signed younger driver - Herbert
- First signs of construction at New York site
- Brundle move ends Coulthard commentary combo
- Massa most disappointing driver of 2011 - Coulthard
- Kovalainen insists 'sticking with Caterham' in 2012
- Virgin refugee d'Ambrosio aiming for 2012 race seat
- Ricciardo to know '2012 program' before Christmas
- 'Innovation' set Red Bull apart in 2011 - Gene
- Press mocks Vettel's 'phantom' gearbox problem
- Barrichello happy to settle for small retainer
- New McLaren contract 'likely' admits Hamilton
- Season finale win good news for Webber - Horner
- Head 'won't wear Williams shirt' in 2012
- Hulkenberg admits F1 return chances 'high'
- South Africa needs F1, says Van der Merwe
///Renault/Lotus team signs Raikkonen for F1 return
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen will return to formula one in 2012, the Lotus Renault GP team announced on Tuesday.
The former McLaren driver, 2007 world champion and winner of 18 grands prix, who left F1 after the 2009 season with Ferrari, has "signed a two-year agreement", a media statement read.
"My time in the world rally championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can't deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming," the 32-year-old Finn is quoted as saying.
Lotus Renault GP is pleased to announce that Kimi Raikkonen will race for the team next season. The 2007 World Champion, who left Formula 1 at the end of 2009 to pursue a career in rallying, has decided to make a comeback at the pinnacle of single-seater racing. He has now signed a two-year agreement with Lotus Renault GP.
Kimi’s F1 roll of honor includes 18 wins, 62 podiums and 16 pole positions. This experience and success is sure to help the team make a step forward next year. The 32-year-old Finn’s commitment indeed makes for a vote of confidence in Lotus Renault GP, demonstrating the team’s determination and new philosophy for the seasons ahead.
Kimi Raikkonen: “I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity. My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming. It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.”
Gérard Lopez, Genii Capital, Chairman: “All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage we’ve been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level. Kimi’s decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future. Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1.”
///HRT should have signed younger driver - Herbert
(GMM) Johnny Herbert has expressed his surprise at HRT's decision to sign Pedro de la Rosa for the next two seasons.
Having made his grand prix debut in 1999, racing with Arrows, Jaguar and Sauber and serving as McLaren's long-term main test driver, the Spaniard de la Rosa is hugely experienced.
But, while his experience and nationality suits HRT, he is also forty years old and yet signed amid a flooded driver market.
"While he will bring experience to the team, I think that could have been used in different areas," Briton Herbert, whose 165 grand prix-career spanned 11 seasons, wrote in his column for The National.
"I personally would have preferred to see them getting a young, hard charger in, someone with something to prove and who will be hungry to impress and show what he can do."
///First signs of construction at New York site
(GMM) With Austin's 2012 US GP project all but dead, the first signs of construction at F1's New York round for 2013 have emerged.
The car weblog Jalopnik published a photo by a New Jersey local: "It might just be the paddock/parking garage, located in exceedingly glamorous Weehawken, but it's a start," the report read.
But after Indianapolis left the calendar and the Texas bid hit the dust, obvious cynicism was evident in the report's title 'Construction has begun at America's next failed F1 circuit'.
Indeed, the Texas project has little more than a single day remaining to sort out its contractual dispute with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
According to the Associated Press, the 81-year-old "has set a Wednesday deadline" for the organizers "to guarantee (the race's) long-term financial backing".
///Brundle move ends Coulthard commentary combo
(GMM) Former McLaren drivers Martin Brundle and David Coulthard will no longer share a commentary box in 2012.
Brundle, who is also Coulthard's former manager, has accepted an offer to switch from the BBC to Britain's new dedicated F1 channel run by Sky.
The job undoubtedly involves more money, but - referring to the split BBC/Sky coverage - he insisted in his Sunday Times column: "I need to commentate on every race live.
"Recorded and delayed sports television doesn't give me the adrenalin fix I crave."
Some BBC viewers lashed out at the move, writing on Brundle's Twitter page that he is a "sell out" and a "traitor".
"After 15 years of F1 commentary I've made a career choice," the 52-year-old hit back. "(I) don't recall any promises or obligations to anyone."
With Coulthard announcing he is staying with the BBC, it means the effective combination shared their last race call at Interlagos on Sunday.
"I'm sure I'll continue to be criticized for my inability to pronounce 'Vettel' correctly -- thank god Nick Heidfeld left midseason as the abuse was getting ridiculous!" Scot Coulthard wrote in his Telegraph column.
"(But) I remain as passionate as ever and hope that my insight adds something for race fans."
///Massa most disappointing driver of 2011 - Coulthard
(GMM) David Coulthard has singled out Felipe Massa as the most "disappointing driver" of the 2011 season.
Brazilian Massa remains under contract to Ferrari for one more season but the Italian team has warned him that, next year, he will be racing to rescue his 2013 seat.
"I don't want to say (Massa was the) 'worst' driver of the year because clearly no one driving in F1 is a bad driver," veteran Coulthard, the former McLaren and Red Bull driver and now British commentator, wrote in his Telegraph column.
"But undoubtedly a few drivers punched well below their weight, notably Ferrari's Felipe Massa, McLaren's Hamilton and Red Bull's Webber.
"I'd probably give the (disappointing driver) award to Felipe for no better reason than he didn't win a race. In fact, he never finished higher than fifth.
"He's on thin ice at Maranello," presumed Coulthard.
When the season ended in his native Brazil at the weekend, 30-year-old Massa acknowledged he is looking forward to returning to top form in 2012.
"It's been a difficult year for me and the team and now we can turn the page," he said.
"We must work on improving the car and I will do all I can never to have such a disappointing season again."
///Kovalainen insists 'sticking with Caterham' in 2012
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has added his denial to rumors he might return to the Renault (now Lotus) team in 2012.
Albeit under former boss Flavio Briatore's management, the Finn made his debut for the Enstone based team in 2007, before switching first to McLaren and more recently to Team Lotus/Caterham.
He remains under contract to Caterham for next year, but speculation at Interlagos nonetheless linked him with a switch to Renault after it emerged injured team leader Robert Kubica is not yet ready to return.
"The list is long," Renault team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Spain's Marca sports newspaper when asked about the driver candidates for 2012.
"There are also some drivers with other teams who have some provisions for breaking their contracts," the Frenchman revealed. "So the list is quite long."
But German reports quote Kovalainen as insisting: "I am bound to Lotus for next year. I'm sticking with Caterham."
It is believed Boullier's push for a clear team leader - and not just an interim solution - could be related to speculation that when Kubica does return to F1, it will not be with Renault.
"I need to understand if he (Kubica) is coming back and with a commitment of the medium term," said Boullier.
"I will not put aside a car for him to test if he has signed an option to be elsewhere in 2013."
Boullier's counterpart Stefano Domenicali played down the Kubica/Ferrari link.
"We've been speaking about drivers for Ferrari since February last year," the Italian insisted. "Maybe next year we'll come back to (talking about) Valentino Rossi."
///Virgin refugee d'Ambrosio aiming for 2012 race seat
(GMM) Despite losing his Virgin race seat, Jerome d'Ambrosio sounds confident about his future.
The Belgian will be replaced at the newly-renamed Marussia team for 2012 by the French GP2 driver Charles Pic.
It means Interlagos was 25-year-old d'Ambrosio's last race for now.
"I finished on a high note with a great weekend; probably my best of the season," he is quoted by French website toilef1.com.
He said he was told the bad news by his bosses when he arrived at the track on Thursday.
"I will not be with the team next year but the team was happy with my season," said d'Ambrosio. "The new goal of course is to be here (in F1) next year."
He is managed by the Gravity group, which is headed by Renault/Lotus boss Eric Boullier.
"Without saying any names, we have discussed various options," said d'Ambrosio.
"My situation is the same as last year, except that I have done a very good season and I have not gone unnoticed in the paddock. So I have more credibility than before.
"I think a lot of things can still happen on the driver transfer market, so we'll see what happens."
///Ricciardo to know '2012 program' before Christmas
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo can expect to learn about his future in formula one before Christmas.
That is the claim of Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner.
In 2011, Australian rookie Ricciardo began the season as junior team Toro Rosso's Friday driver before - still with Red Bull's backing - moving into the HRT race seat.
For next season, he is tipped to race at Toro Rosso, or alternatively the Red Bull driver deal might switch from HRT to the Caterham team.
"Daniel has done a good job this year and now we need to look at the opportunities available," Horner is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr.
"He has learned from the races, albeit in difficult circumstances with a car that was far from the pace. But still he gained some experience and fought against a talented teammate.
"I am confident that his program for next year will be decided before Christmas," added the Briton.
///'Innovation' set Red Bull apart in 2011 - Gene
(GMM) One word has set Red Bull apart from its rivals McLaren and Ferrari this season: "Innovation."
That is the claim of Marc Gene, a test driver for Ferrari.
"I have no doubt," he wrote in his column for El Mundo newspaper. "It was they who came up with the blown diffuser and then hid the innovation from the other teams.
"I can assure you that the difference between running with or without the exhaust is huge.
"Aerodynamic innovations like this have dominated F1 in recent years, like the F-duct as well, and so I hope everything is more equal next season," added Gene.
The Spaniard is referring to the FIA's clampdown for 2012.
"The fact that we (Ferrari) won at Silverstone when the blown exhausts were not there makes me think that our car was not so bad," he explained.
Back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel, however, is not worried.
"No," he is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo, "because I trust that our engineering group will respond with a series of interesting solutions.
"They are quite clever," the German smiled.
///Press mocks Vettel's 'phantom' gearbox problem
(GMM) The international press suspects Red Bull imposed team orders during the season ending Brazilian grand prix.
The team has already strongly denied the claims, but publications like Spain's Marca suspect Sebastian Vettel pulled over for Mark Webber because of a "phantom problem" with his gearbox.
"Webber gets the loyalty prize," said Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Agreed Corriere della Sera: "Vettel gave Webber the gift of the last crumbs after a huge feast and saved him a trip to the psychologist."
Spain's Diario Sport added: "Nobody believes Vettel really had a problem with the gearbox."
Austria's Der Standard said the team order "made sense", given Webber's mathematical chance of finishing the drivers' championship in second place.
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted as joking to La Stampa: "Maybe they forget that team orders can now be issued freely."
Agreed Fernando Alonso: "I don't care, except to say that they were bothered with certain behaviors when we did them."
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, reported that Vettel personally watched when his gearbox was taken apart after the race and confirmed that "there was almost no oil left in it".
///Barrichello happy to settle for small retainer
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello has revealed he is unlikely to race out of formula one over an argument about money.
It is believed Kimi Raikkonen's talks with Williams ended suddenly because the parties could not agree on the size of the Finn's retainer.
"I don't need a big contract," 39-year-old Barrichello is quoted by Brazil's Globo, with the report claiming the veteran had ruled out settling for a seat at HRT, Virgin or Caterham.
"All I need is to drive something next year that is competitive."
It is possible Interlagos was Barrichello's last ever grand prix, and so the cameras duly captured him waving to his countrymen on the slowing down lap.
"The only thing is that the fans might have thought I was saying goodbye, but I was just waving. I know I'll be back and I feel almost like I deserve to," he said.
"In F1, many people come and go because the pressure is so big, which is a situation unlike in F3 or GP2.
"Several fast drivers quit because they didn't feel happy. When Montoya left all he said was that F1 sucks, but I love it," said Barrichello.
Another Brazilian fighting to stay on the grid next year is Bruno Senna.
"I know I made some mistakes," said the 28-year-old, who was drafted in by Renault mid-season to replace Nick Heidfeld.
"I did not score 10 out of 10 but I think it was not bad. I hope that the people deciding the places for next year also think so. I was very rusty," added Senna.
///New McLaren contract 'likely' admits Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has admitted he may soon be ready to sit down with his boss and sign a new contract beyond 2012.
The 2008 world champion has had a tumultuous season on and off the track, while his teammate Jenson Button finished behind Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship and inked a new long-term deal.
But British newspapers insist McLaren is keen to extend Hamilton's contract as well, even though the 26-year-old said he is in "no rush".
"I don't think there is any real pressure about my commitment to the team so there is no rush to have to do anything," he said.
"Martin (Whitmarsh) has spoken to me about re-signing already. I know it is there. At some stage, when we have time, we will sit down and discuss it," said Hamilton.
The Mirror said his new contract will be worth about $23 million a year.
"It is more than likely I'll stay," he is quoted by the Sun.
///Season finale win good news for Webber - Horner
(GMM) Mark Webber's Brazil win is good news for the Australian heading into the winter, according to his boss.
Until Sunday, the 35-year-old struggled all season to match up to his teammate Sebastian Vettel, failing to win a single race compared to the sister Red Bull driver's eleven.
"I think it would have been very tough for him to have gone into the winter with Seb having won 11 races and Mark not one," Christian Horner is quoted by AFP news agency.
"So for him, one of the best races to win is the last race -- it sets him up very nicely for next year."
Writing in the Sydney newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Webber admitted the win was a "relief" even though Vettel struggled behind him with a gearbox problem.
"We'll come back stronger in 2012!" he promised.
"I had a little bit of the rub of the green," Webber admitted to reporters after the season finale, "but it's a win that I'll take, for sure, because I've had enough bad luck.
"It's a nice little tonic for me to finish the year because the RB7 hasn't had an amazing amount of memories for me."
///Head 'won't wear Williams shirt' in 2012
(GMM) Interlagos was team co-founder Patrick Head's last grand prix in a Williams shirt.
The 65-year-old veteran handed over as technical director some years ago for a lead engineering role, and earlier this year cashed in millions of his team shareholding for the Frankfurt stock floatation.
He was wearing a team shirt at the weekend's Brazilian grand prix, but admitted that if he attends races in the future, he will be less conspicuous.
"Well, we've got new senior technical staff," said Head, referring to figures including former McLaren designer Mike Coughlan, who has succeeded Sam Michael as technical boss.
"When it came to the beginning of this year and found ourselves in pretty much the same position (as before) we had no alternative than to make some senior position changes," he explained.
"When I looked at it, I'm very confident in the new people and didn't really think there was a position I could seriously contribute.
"I'm going on to other things," he added, referring to Williams' KERS arm Hybrid Power.
Head told the BBC: "If I turn up to grands prix next year, I probably won't be wearing a Williams shirt."
///Hulkenberg admits F1 return chances 'high'
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg did not look like a driver with an uncertain future as the 2011 season closed at Interlagos.
When asked by BBC commentator David Coulthard to put a figure on the likelihood he will return to the grid in 2012 after a year as Force India's Friday reserve, the young German grinned widely.
"It's a high percentage. Two digits, a high percentage," he said.
It is believed Hulkenberg will replace long-time team driver Adrian Sutil, who is hoping to rescue his career by signing with Williams or Renault.
In Brazil, he sounded frustrated.
"I think I've done my job," said Sutil. "I can not do better and if people can't see it then I can't do anything about it," added the German, who ended the season with 15 more points than his 2011 teammate Paul di Resta, who is tipped to stay.
Asked how much longer he will have to wait to find out, Sutil replied: "Hopefully not very long."
"We will see what Force India says, and then we'll see what some others say. I feel fairly safe."
SID news agency quoted his manager Manfred Zimmermann as saying clarity awaits within the next 10 days.
That ties in with the confident Hulkenberg's news.
"We've just got to be patient for another one or two weeks," he said.
///South Africa needs F1, says Van der Merwe
Former racing driver Alan van der Merwe is hopeful that a Formula 1 race in native South Africa will be possible in the near future, with the nation’s last Grand Prix event having taken place at Kyalami in 1993. Despite a range of failed attempts to return to the circuit, the 31-year-old is hopeful that new plans can one day become a reality.
"I’d love to see it happen," Van der Merwe told GPUpdate.net. "I wish it would have happened whilst I was on my way up to F1,that would have changed a lot for me. In the last ten years there has always been one or more projects going to try and get an F1 GP going in South Africa.
"I think following on from their other big international events, South Africa is in a better situation than it would have been, but it’s not going to be easy. It has to be done in a socially responsible way and so the government has to be involved I think. So I don’t know, it’s difficult. I think there could be a lot of other countries that could have a GP before South Africa does.
Van der Merwe, who is now the current driver of F1's Medical Car, also believes there is ‘more relevance’ for a race in South Africa at present.
"It’s a shame that we don’t have a race on the African continent," he added. "I do think that’s there more and more relevance now to have a high profile motorsport event in South Africa, because when I used to live there in the 80’s and 90’s road traffic was virtually non-existent, whereas now it’s completely different.
"With road safety and all of the messages that Formula 1 helps to bring across, I think they have more relevance than they ever had before. I hope it happens while I’m in the Medical Car, that’s for sure."