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Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Ecclestone: I told you FOTA was useless months ago
    FOTA unity was always doomed - Ecclestone
  • Button warns top teams to 'watch out for Mercedes'
  • Kovalainen unsure of Trulli's involvement for 2012
  • Grosjean to test BMW's DTM car this week
  • Vettel's true quality 'yet to be seen' - Alonso
  • Hakkinen predicts 'very difficult' return for Raikkonen
  • No Friday outings on street tracks for Bottas
  • Vettel wants quieter coronation after 2011 title
  • Mercedes tweaks name for 2012 season

FOTA unity was always doomed - Ecclestone
(GMM)  FOTA is failing due to the competitiveness of the formula one teams, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

The teams' alliance is reeling from the high profile loss of top teams Red Bull and Ferrari, due mainly to the disagreement about the cost-cutting resource restriction agreement.

The death of unity is music to F1 chief executive Ecclestone's ears, ahead of his crucial negotiations over the next income-distribution Concorde Agreement.

"I think (Ferrari and Red Bull) believed (FOTA) didn't quite do what it was intended to do," he is quoted by the Financial Times.

"It is very very difficult for all these people who are competing with each other to agree anything that's going to stop their ability to win."

The 81-year-old said the FOTA split has almost certainly ended the teams' cost-cutting agreement.

"I think it was probably dead before it started," said Ecclestone.

"It's pretty difficult (for a team) to ever be able to say 'this is what we've done'.  You get all that nonsense, 'oh, they're cheating, because they've spent more than they should have'."

Ecclestone denied he has already made separate post-2012 Concorde deals with Red Bull or Ferrari, and would not rule out negotiating collectively with all the teams.

But Autosprint believes the FOTA split will definitely "benefit the more important teams".

And the story will continue to run, with Auto Motor und Sport predicting that FOTA could take Red Bull to court for quitting the resource restriction agreement after team boss Christian Horner signed the new deal in Singapore.

The German report said Red Bull is claiming Horner was not authorized to sign it.

Button warns top teams to 'watch out for Mercedes'
(GMM)  Jenson Button has tipped his former team to be an outside chance for ultimate glory in 2012.

Just before the Brackley based team became Mercedes for the start of 2010, Button won the world championship at the wheel of his 'Brawn GP' car.

That team is still fronted by Ross Brawn, with Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg now in the drivers' seats for a third consecutive season next year.

"Usually it's the three very strong teams at the front, which is Red Bull, Ferrari and us," said Button, who in his McLaren finished the 2011 season as runner-up to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

"But we have to watch out for Mercedes," he told the German news agency SID.  "They have been preparing for 2012 for half of this season -- as they did before I became world champion."

Schumacher, however, is more cautious, despite admitting that members of the German team "all hope" Button is right.

"More likely is that we will improve in the coming year so that we can fight with our own power for the podium places," the seven time world champion, who turns 43 in January, is quoted by Sport Bild.

McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa agrees, although he hopes Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes can all pose a challenge to Red Bull next year "for the sake of the championship".

But he acknowledged that it is wrong to predict a close fight solely on the basis that Red Bull's ultra-successful exhaust blowing solution will be outlawed.

"I take the more humble view by accepting that the exhaust blowing was just one example of the quality and the creativity of the Red Bull team," he is quoted by Marca sports newspaper.

"Without it in 2012, I have little doubt that Red Bull will surprise us again with something ingenious."

Kovalainen unsure of Trulli's involvement for 2012
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has revealed he has been closely involved in the development of next year's Caterham car.

Despite his continuing contract, the Finn has been linked with a shock switch to Lotus, but he scotched those rumors by revealing the extent of his input into the green and yellow car he will be driving in 2012.

"I want to create the best possible conditions so that I can make something of it," said Kovalainen, referring to his so far multiple year commitment to the Caterham team having previously driven for McLaren and Renault.

"I am very involved in the design of the car for next year," he told the Dutch magazine Formule 1.  "I come often to the factory, I know all the department heads, from aerodynamics to electronics.

"They ask for my opinion and listen to what I have to say, and I listen to their ideas.  The team knows what kind of car I want in 2012, and together we will try to build exactly that."

Much more uncertain is the future of Caterham's other driver Jarno Trulli.

Referring to the input the Italian veteran has had into the 2012 car, Kovalainen replied: "I don't know, we've never talked about it."

Grosjean to test BMW's DTM car this week
(GMM)  DTM is apparently at the top of the list should Romain Grosjean's bid to return to formula one in 2012 not work out.

The Swiss born Frenchman and new GP2 champion is hoping to move up from the reserve and occasional 'Friday' role to become Kimi Raikkonen's race teammate at Lotus in 2012.

But it has emerged that, alongside German youngster Marco Wittmann, Grosjean will test BMW's new M3 car for the German touring car series this week at Monteblanco, in the south of Spain.

"Both (Grosjean and F3 driver Wittmann) have shown what they are capable of on numerous occasions in their racing series.  We are looking forward to seeing how they handle the BMW M3 DTM," said BMW motor sport director Jens Marquardt.

Vettel's true quality 'yet to be seen' - Alonso
(GMM)  The jury is out as to whether F1's reigning back to back world champion is as good as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

That is the suggestion of Ferrari driver Alonso, who said the final test for dominant Red Bull driver Vettel, 24, is to prove he can regularly haul a less-than-perfect car to the top of the podium.

The Spaniard was asked by the Diario Sport newspaper if he agrees with Pedro de la Rosa's recent assessment that only Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel are able to win races in something other than the best car in the field.

"We have seen two do it, for the third it is yet to be seen," said Alonso.

"We will see when he has a car good enough to be sixth and he gets it to be second, third or fourth.  Until now we have only seen him in a car that can win the championship with five grands prix to go.

"So we have to wait," added the Ferrari driver.

As for Ferrari, Alonso said the Italian team has been learning over the past year how to develop a car as rapidly as his 2007 employer, McLaren.

"McLaren is a good example," he admitted, "of a team that can start a year with any problem and resolve it in a couple of races.

"Pat Fry has brought new ideas, new methods and I have not the slightest doubt that Ferrari is much better today than it was a year ago," added Alonso.

Hopeful quartet awaits news from Lotus camp
(GMM)  Bruno Senna is in the running among at least another trio of rivals to become Kimi Raikkonen's race teammate at Lotus in 2012.

One of them is Adrian Sutil, who thinks that after his best ever season with Force India, it is "absurd" that he has not already been offered a new contract.

"Yes, I totally agree," he told F1's official website, adding that he would happily switch to Renault and have 2007 world champion Raikkonen as his new teammate.

"Kimi would be a great and very strong teammate," he said.

Previously thought the strongest contender for a Lotus seat next year, the Genii-managed GP2 champion Romain Grosjean will test BMW's new DTM car in Spain this week.

"I dream of returning to racing in F1," the Frenchman is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat, "and especially with Kimi it could be something really special in terms of my career."

Another contender is Vitaly Petrov, who actually has a valid contract for 2012.  But the Russian and his manager Oksana Kosachenko have admitted that paperwork is not everything in the world of formula one.

"Of course I was surprised and of course I'm disappointed," he is quoted by Germany's Sport1, referring to the fact that the Raikkonen signing triggered speculation about his own future.

Petrov told the Race of Champions website he is hoping for news in "a few days".

"Next year I would do another step and, together with Kimi in one team, it would be good fun," he said.

"He is experienced and I want very much to be part of this team."

According to the words of team owner Gerard Lopez, however, a change of approach for 2012 sounds the most likely route for Lotus.

"We've given some drivers the chance to shine.  I think they have done ok, but have not all lived up to expectations, but it's difficult because it's formula one," he said.

Hakkinen predicts 'very difficult' return for Raikkonen
(GMM)  Formerly his strongest supporter, Mika Hakkinen is now questioning how quickly his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen can get back up to speed in formula one.

When he retired a decade ago, Hakkinen recommended rookie Raikkonen to then McLaren team boss Ron Dennis by saying: "If you want to win, get the Finn."

Now, a 32-year-old Raikkonen is reportedly busy losing the four kilograms he put on during his forays in world rallying and NASCAR.

Hakkinen tells Bild am Sonntag: "The return will be very difficult for Kimi.  He will have almost no time to test the new car -- five or six days, that's it.

"If you lose a day with a problem you don't get it back, while in the past we used to sit in the cockpit from morning to night, because you get faster and faster the more time you have to get into the rhythm," he said.

That is why, to help Raikkonen readjust after his two-year sabbatical, Lotus already has plans to circumvent the current testing restrictions by preparing the 32-year-old a 2009-spec Renault equipped with GP2 tires.

According to Hakkinen, Raikkonen will still find it difficult.

"It doesn't matter whether you are a world champion or not.  In formula one the competition has never been tougher.

"The fitness of the drivers, their technical understanding, it just gets better and better.  These drivers, they work brutally hard!

"It will all make Kimi's return much more difficult even than five years ago."

Giancarlo Fisichella, whose last few grands prix were alongside Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2009, agrees: "Formula one is unforgiving, especially if you've been away for a couple of years."

More optimistic for Raikkonen is 2009 world champion Jenson Button.

"This is a very good thing for the sport; he's such a competitive driver," the McLaren driver is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr.

"The guys at McLaren have told me that he is very good at setting up a car."

Raikkonen travelled to Lotus' Enstone base on Saturday and met with team owner Gerard Lopez, who sensed the former McLaren and Ferrari driver is highly motivated.

And "the more people that question it (his motivation) the better, because it's only going to motivate him further," said Lopez.

No Friday outings on street tracks for Bottas
(GMM)  Williams' new reserve driver Valtteri Bottas will not start his Friday practice duties until after the 2012 season opener in Australia.

The Finn will only start appearing in the Renault-powered FW34 in Malaysia, a week after the first race, Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper revealed.

The newspaper also said Finn Bottas, 22 and fresh out of the junior GP3 class, will probably not split his 2012 program with a race seat in another category.

"It might be better to invest 110 per cent in formula one," he is quoted as saying.

It had been said that the Renault World Series is an option.

"Nothing is decided yet, but I don't think I'm going there," said Bottas.

Instead, his 2012 program will be busy, comprising 15 Friday morning practices, perhaps some race outings and - according to Turun Sanomat - a day of pre-season testing and also a run during the mid-season test at Mugello.

As for his Fridays, Bottas said: "The intention is to do all of them (the grands prix) except for the street races."

Excluded from his program are Melbourne, Monaco, Canada, Valencia and Singapore.

Vettel wants quieter coronation after 2011 title
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has revealed he wants to enjoy a quieter coronation one year after becoming world champion for the first time in 2010.

On the sidelines of the Race of Champions event in Dusseldorf, a reporter for the German news agency SID heard the Red Bull driver admit he was too busy with media and sponsor commitments after winning his first title a year ago.

"The first days and weeks (after winning a title) are very busy," said the 24-year-old.

"But we have learned from last year, when it was all very stressful, and try to do it better this time," added Vettel.

The German said although there is still "a lot to do" in his immediate future, the period around Christmas will be "quiet".

And there are no plans even for a holiday.

"I actually have no desire to get on a plane," he said, a week after the final event on the 19-race 2011 calendar.

"I have been flying all year long so I'll probably recharge my batteries by staying at home," revealed Vettel, who lives in Switzerland.

Mercedes tweaks name for 2012 season
Brackley-based Mercedes GP will race under a modified name next season, with performance brand AMG being added to the team’s official title. Now to be known as the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, company Vice President Norbert Haug says the move further attaches the subsidiary to the Silver Arrows squad.

"Our new team name fuses the proud traditions of AMG and the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows at the pinnacle of motorsport," Haug said on Monday. "These three letters are synonymous with high technology, sporting performance and excitement and this step is a further strong sign of the strategic commitment Mercedes-Benz has made to Formula 1.

"16 of the 24 drivers on the grid at the season's final Grand Prix in Brazil have, or have had, a connection to Mercedes-Benz. In addition to the role of a works team, our commitment to Formula 1 comprises the customer engine program and supply of the official Safety and Medical Cars."

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