Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
|Dr. Helmut Marko|
- Mercedes expects other teams to test 'old' cars
- 'No point' to FOTA as alliance verges on collapse - Marko
- Schumacher records 'too far away' insists Vettel
- Sauber points finger at FIA's 'bizarre' u-turn
- Ricciardo admits 'chance' to oust Trulli at Caterham
- Kovalainen rules out Caterham defection for 2012 New
- Berger admits to 'looking at' GP2 team New
Mercedes expects other teams to test 'old' cars
(GMM) Norbert Haug doubts Mercedes will be alone in taking its 'old' car to the first pre-season test at Jerez in early February.
The German team announced this week that its 2012 challenger, the W03, will not be given its official track debut until the Barcelona test two weeks later.
Mercedes said the extra time can be better spent designing and developing the car.
"We can do a lot in those two weeks," the carmaker's motor racing chief Haug is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
From 2012, new cars must pass all the FIA crash tests before they can be tested. In the past, the FIA tests only had to be completed before the race season began.
Referring to the late track debut, Haug revealed: "I doubt we will be the only ones who will do it that way."
The strategy, however, gives Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg just four days each to try the W03 before it is shipped to Australia for the first race.
"We can now simulate so much at our factory in Brackley," team chief executive Nick Fry said.
Haug, meanwhile, confirmed that there was no opposition to Mercedes' application to add the 'AMG' moniker to its official name for 2012.
"The governing body and FOM have been informed and there were no objections," said the German.
'No point' to FOTA as alliance verges on collapse - Marko
(GMM) Red Bull quit FOTA because the teams association had ceased to have a good purpose, Dr Helmut Marko said this week.
Late last Friday, after many international news editors had already called it a day for the week, the team as well as Ferrari confirmed that they had pulled out of the Geneva-based body.
Formed amid the political war with former FIA president Max Mosley, the alliance gave the teams a strong negotiating position as well as a platform to reduce costs with the gentleman's 'resource restriction agreement' (RRA).
It is the RRA that caused the tension, with Ferrari struggling recently despite having F1's biggest annual budget, and Red Bull accused of breaching the spirit of the cost-cutting rules.
"FOTA fulfilled its purpose in the crisis period," Red Bull F1 consultant Marko said on Austrian Servus TV on Monday, "and so there was a reduction in costs, but as far as achievements there was nothing else."
Agreed team boss Christian Horner: "In the last twelve months it hasn't quite been clear what was the purpose of FOTA."
Added Marko: "If at the meetings we cannot agree even to the lowest common denominator, one wonders what is the point of all the effort."
Some believe the FOTA split gives Red Bull and Ferrari powerful individual positions to negotiate lucrative deals with Bernie Ecclestone under the next Concorde Agreement.
Others worry that F1 teams will now return to the unsustainable financial arms races of the past.
"We have decided at this time to withdraw and now we will see how it develops," said Horner ambiguously.
For the moment, the divide has F1's biggest spenders Red Bull and Ferrari on one side, and powerful competitors including McLaren and Mercedes on the other.
"I think it is absolutely vital that FOTA is existing," carmaker Mercedes' racing chief Norbert Haug told reporters on Monday.
France's autohebdo.fr reports that the remaining FOTA members will meet for talks on Tuesday.
Said the Mercedes team's chief executive Nick Fry: "We've certainly hit a bump in the road but I believe that work will continue in the background to try and resolve this and we will do whatever we can to support that."
Schumacher records 'too far away' insists Vettel
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has played down any suggestion he has set as a career target his friend and mentor Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles and 91 wins.
At the weekend in Dusseldorf, the pair duly won their fifth consecutive 'Nation's Cup' crown at the Race of Champions.
But in the F1 world, although the current and back-to-back world champion, 24-year-old Vettel is still five championships and 70 victories short of even matching Schumacher's all-time title records.
"Sure he can do it," Schumacher, 43 next month, is quoted by the German magazine Sport Bild.
"I've always said that records are there to be broken so why should I think differently about mine?" the Mercedes driver added.
Red Bull driver Vettel, however, said on Austrian television Servus TV on Monday: "What Michael achieved is so far away from what I have done.
"So you can't set it as a goal."
But so dominant was Vettel's 2011 season that, when questioned, he could not recall how he celebrated his victory in Spain six months ago.
He disagreed about the details with his boss Christian Horner, laughing: "What we have here is a luxury problem!"
Another problem was his tendency, four times in 2011, to crash in Friday practice, but his other boss Dr Helmut Marko winked: "I have to say that, afterwards, he always won the race!"
Sauber points finger at FIA's 'bizarre' u-turn
(GMM) Peter Sauber has pointed a finger at F1's governing body as the Swiss team rues the loss of millions in income.
After the season finale in Brazil, Sauber team figures were happy at least to have beaten Toro Rosso to the checkered flag for seventh in the constructors' world championship.
But "for all the joy we have not forgotten that we wanted more," founder and boss Peter Sauber wrote in a column for the Swiss newspaper Blick.
"At mid season we were solidly in position 6, but we soon fell behind Force India.
"The reason is the blown diffuser and the so-called 'off-throttle-blowing'," said Sauber, whose team would have earned considerably more income with sixth in the standings.
He is referring to the mid-season controversy that saw the FIA ban the technology only to promptly re-allow it.
"We stopped this development after the FIA announced the ban," wrote Sauber. "That proved to be a mistake because the FIA went back and bizarrely allowed this technology again.
"It got us badly on the defensive into the second half of the season. Those with the systems optimized their advantage, achieving much more than a second per lap," he said.
The issue has finally been settled for 2012, with a comprehensive ban.
"Other than that, the rule changes (for next season) are moderate," acknowledged Sauber. "Therefore our (2012 car) C31 will not be a revolution but rather a targeted evolution, albeit with numerous changes."
Ricciardo admits 'chance' to oust Trulli at Caterham
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo has admitted Red Bull may have closed the door on his promotion to its secondary team Toro Rosso for 2012.
Speculation throughout the year hinted that the Australian rookie, who mid-season stepped up with Red Bull backing to make his debut with the Spanish team HRT, would replace one of Toro Rosso's current drivers for 2012.
But, referring to Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, 22-year-old Ricciardo is quoted on Tuesday by the West Australian newspaper: "At the moment it seems like Toro Rosso are going to stay with who they've got.
"It wasn't put down 100 per cent, but it was the wording I was making out."
Ricciardo can at least smile at the news his Red Bull contract has been extended for another year, amid reports he might take the backing to Caterham to become Heikki Kovalainen's 2012 teammate.
"There's a good chance if I'm on the grid next year it's going to be with another non-Red Bull outfit," he admitted, "but I guess the good news is I'm still contracted by Red Bull.
"They've agreed to continue with me."
The Caterham link follows rumors Italian veteran Jarno Trulli, despite his 2012 contract, could be ousted.
"I would like to say there's a chance, but at least for me that's probably all it is for now, just a chance," Ricciardo said.
"It would be a step up from this year, so it's not really a bad thing.
"I doubt they'll still be able to fight for points next year. They'll still be towards the further end, but I think they're progressing well.
"If Kovalainen was to be my teammate, it's someone very good to measure up to. He's won a grand prix before and he's smashed Trulli this year," he added.
Kovalainen rules out Caterham defection for 2012
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has dealt a knock-out blow to any lingering speculation he might be set for a shock switch from the Caterham team.
Reports had suggested Lotus/Renault earmarked the Finn to be countryman Kimi Raikkonen's teammate next year, despite Kovalainen's solid Caterham contract.
"I will be at Caterham -- 100 per cent, I'm not going anywhere," he told the Norwich Advertiser newspaper.
"I have a firm contract and this is where I will race next year -– after that we will see," added Kovalainen.
He credits his two years so far at Caterham - formerly Team Lotus - for helping him to rebuild his confidence after a disappointing early F1 career at Renault and then McLaren.
"I'm very happy to work with this team, they have enabled me to get my swing back and I'm certain I'd be able to function in all kinds of teams now to be honest.
"After the second McLaren year, even if they had offered me an extension there was no point to continue there because it wasn't working -- for various reasons.
"There's no need to go too deep into those, but the bottom line was I lost confidence, lost the freedom.
"To find that freedom again I had to go back to the starting point. That is why I joined Team Lotus and not the offers I had from some of the established teams," explained the 30-year-old.
Berger admits to 'looking at' GP2 team
(GMM) Gerhard Berger has played down rumors of a return to the formula one pitwall, but admitted he expressed interest in a GP2 team recently.
The former ten-time grand prix winner, BMW motor sport director and Toro Rosso co-owner has rejected reports he is considering an offer to work with Lotus, amid rumors Eric Boullier's position as team boss is in doubt.
"One should never say never, but right now there is nothing on the horizon," Berger, 52, told Austrian television Servus TV.
However, the former Ferrari and McLaren driver did admit to sniffing around a GP2 team recently.
"It's true, a few weeks ago I looked at a GP2 team," he confirmed. "It was Super Nova."
Berger denies that he is set to become the British team's new boss.
"It was brought to my attention so I did come to look more closely, but in this case I have to say -- clearly no," the Austrian insisted.