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DATE News (chronologically)
03/26/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Massa says he is not worried, but he should be
    Sauber denies team order to help Ferrari
  • Massa not worried as Perez rumors gain speed
  • F1 figures back Sepang red flag
  • Schumacher admits Mercedes not winning car yet
  • Vettel loses cool as Red Bull loses edge in 2012
  • FIA also involved in Concorde talks - report
  • Millions at stake in F1 'mini spy saga'
  • Raikkonen gifts ice-cream to press corps
  • Chairman Parr to leave Williams

Sauber denies team order to help Ferrari
(GMM)  The conspiracy theorists had a field day at Sepang when Sergio Perez's strong push for victory went awry.

At about the same time as the young Mexican was told on the radio by his Sauber engineer that "we need the position", his charge to catch Ferrari's Fernando Alonso ended with a minor mistake.

Ferrari is the small Swiss team Sauber's engine supplier, and the two teams also often align on political matters.

"No I don't think Perez's mistake was intentional," former driver and British commentator Martin Brundle wrote on Sky.

But Perez is also the cream of Ferrari's development driver program, and linked at present with the struggling Felipe Massa's race seat.

So he was told to fall in line behind Alonso?

"No," boss Peter Sauber said emphatically.  "100 per cent no, 100pc nothing."

Massa not worried as Perez rumors gain speed
(GMM)  Paddock cynics wondered aloud on Sunday when Sergio Perez was caught chatting with Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali.

Is the impressive young Mexican being lined up to imminently oust the struggling Felipe Massa?

"I only congratulated him, as a team they did a great job," Perez insisted.

"My full commitment is with my team, with the Sauber team.  Obviously it's only rumors but no, I will stay with Sauber for the whole season."

But not everyone in F1 believes that, including McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

"I imagine he has put a bit of pressure on Mr. Massa," he is quoted as saying by the Telegraph, after watching Perez sensationally finish second in his Ferrari-powered Sauber behind Fernando Alonso.

"I don't know what the odds are on him switching teams before China, but there must be consideration," added Whitmarsh.

Alonso, however, is not expecting to have a new teammate any time soon.

"At the moment, as Sergio said, he is concentrated on Sauber," said the Spaniard, acknowledging however the Mexican's "big talent".

"At the moment with Felipe we are a very strong team, a very united team."

It is the big talking point in F1 circles at present, but Brazilian Massa insists he is not worried.

"I'm happy for him (Perez) and his team, but (my) worry?  Zero," he is quoted by Brazil's Globo.  "I never worry about whether a good performance of someone else could be a problem for me or not."

And boss Domenicali, admitting that Perez "confirmed his great talent" in Malaysia, backed his current driver.

"This is a particularly difficult time for him (Massa) because he cannot get the most out of a car that objectively is very difficult to drive," said the Italian.

"So we need to be close to him, which is how it should be in a team that is close together," he insisted.

But things always change quickly in formula one.  Former Toro Rosso Jaime Alguersuari was asked by AS newspaper if he thinks Ferrari should replace Massa.

"I should not answer that because I am a friend of Massa and also with Checo."

However, he added: "Vettel is better than Webber and Fernando is better than Felipe.  Each team has to make its decisions and I will not do it for them."

Peter Sauber has a solid contract with Perez for 2012, but even he is expecting to see the Mexican move on.

"At some point we will lose him to another team," the Swiss told Blick newspaper.

Domenicali continued: "Sergio drove a good race.  But at this difficult time we must stand with Felipe.

"He took a step in the right direction in qualifying here and he needs to regain his confidence."

If Perez does move to Ferrari, a seat will open up at Sauber.

Force India refugee Adrian Sutil hopes he is at the front of the queue.

"All I can say is: I'm ready, I'm very motivated and training hard and want to be back in formula one as quickly as possible," he told German television Sky.

F1 figures back Sepang red flag
(GMM)  Two formula one figures have backed the decision to red flag Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.

A handful of laps into the Sepang race, FIA race director Charlie Whiting instructed the event be halted due to the torrential track conditions.

The race did not restart for approaching an hour.

"Did you enjoy the race," former driver and British commentator Martin Brundle asked his followers on Twitter, "or did the 50 minute red flag spoil it for you?"

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg backed Whiting's decision.

"I was screaming into the radio that I couldn't drive anymore.  And (teammate) Paul (di Resta) did the same," he is quoted by German's Auto Motor und Sport.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali agrees.

"There were small streams and lakes all over the track and also the lack of visibility was a major topic.  It was just too dangerous," said the Italian.

Schumacher locks right front under braking in Sepang
Schumacher admits Mercedes not winning car yet
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher is looking on the bright side, even though the best qualifying effort of his F1 comeback washed away on Sunday.

The seven time world champion qualified his Mercedes in the top three at Sepang, but the tire-eating W03 could deliver him only a single point.

"On no other car does the rubber dissolve so quickly," read a report in Germany's Bild newspaper.

Schumacher, however, is upbeat.

"We are a second behind.  Last year it was two (seconds)," he is quoted as saying.

"Clearly we have made progress but at the moment we can't be expected to fight for victory."

It would also be premature to draw up the 2012 pecking-order based on Malaysia, after the heavy rain left Ferrari and Sauber drivers as the unlikely occupants of the podium's top steps.

"Today was quite peculiar," Red Bull's Christian Horner told AFP news agency, "because if you look at it Sergio Perez was the quickest car on track.

"He was catching a Ferrari -- and pulling away from a McLaren," he exclaimed.  "It's difficult to draw too much out of the first couple of races."

Former veteran engineer Joan Villadelprat agrees that Sunday at Sepang was not a representative result, particularly for the otherwise struggling winner Ferrari.

"Fernando Alonso won with a car that is really below the pace of McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and probably - as we saw at the end - Sauber as well," he wrote in El Pais newspaper.

Vettel was not smiling in Malaysia
Vettel loses cool as Red Bull loses edge in 2012
(GMM)  After the near-perfection of 2011, reigning back-to-back world champion Sebastian Vettel lost his cool in Malaysia.

Red Bull's dominance since late 2009 has finally ended, and that fact was fully demonstrated at Sepang when German Vettel could not hang on even to fourth place.

He collided with backmarker Narain Karthikeyan and lost his temper with the Indian, showing him a middle-finger salute no less than twice.

Vettel, 24, then described Karthikeyan as a "gherkin" on German television.

And his description got worse in front of the British audience, when he branded his Madras-born rival an "idiot".

Germany's Bild newspaper quotes him saying: "I think some people get overwhelmed by the situation and don't see where their car is.

"You have to wonder whether driving a car is the right job for them."

There are also those who believe Vettel deliberately ignored Red Bull's multiple radio messages about retiring his car - ostensibly because of high brake temperatures - at the end of the race so that he can have a fresh gearbox for China.

He argues that his radio didn't work, but also told Welt newspaper: "I guess I should have come in, but I think that if you can, you should go to the end of the race.

"Of course you can save the car, but I wanted to see the checkered flag," added Vettel.

Ultimately, he scored no points in Malaysia and lies a mere sixth in the drivers' points standings.

Team boss Christian Horner is not too worried.

"McLaren lost more than us here," he said.  "At the moment they have the fastest package yet they only got three points more than us.

"Ferrari's victory and Sauber's second place, we can get over," added the Briton.

Nonetheless, the situation for Vettel is starkly different to last year.

"Statistically he is already among the best ever in formula one," wrote Livio Oricchio in O Estado de S.Paulo.  "But this (race) was an example of him lacking effectiveness when he is down the field and has to gain positions.

"He is a great driver but he still has to improve in this regard.  Karthikeyan was punished but my own reading is that Vettel could have avoided it."

Jaime Alguersuari, meanwhile, thinks the only factor is Red Bull's loss of superiority.

"The end of the blown exhausts has cost Red Bull its magic," the former Toro Rosso driver is quoted by Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

"Vettel was almost literally walking the races (last year) but now the aerodynamic solutions in the field are very even.

"Many called what he (Vettel) did a miracle, that he had divine talents, while others knew it was due to his (car's) technological superiority," said the Spaniard.

FIA also involved in Concorde talks - report
(GMM)  There are more laps to run in the 2013 Concorde Agreement story, according to a respected analyst.

French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet said that amid reports Bernie Ecclestone has done commercial deals with most teams, one important element has been left out of the tale.

"The FIA and Jean Todt have replied that it (the agreement) is still under discussion and that the FIA is taking part," he wrote in his Auto Plus column.

"And as these things are very complex, it is best not to speculate."

There has, however, been plenty of speculation, including the apparent detail that CVC wants to float some of its shares on the stock market.

But some team bosses sounded reluctant in Sepang at the weekend, including McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh who said floatations "aren't done for the benefit of a sport".

"I think until we know more about it, it's silly to be against it," Caterham owner and boss Tony Fernandes responded to AFP news agency.

Millions at stake in F1 'mini spy saga'
(GMM)  Force India has accused rivals Caterham of saving millions and then reaping even more millions by stealing their secret technical data.

A British court last week awarded Vijay Mallya's team EUR 25,000 when Caterham and wind tunnel company Aerolab were found to have based models of the 2010 Team Lotus car on computer files owned by former Aerolab client Force India.

The French news agency AFP reports that, as well as referring the case to the FIA, the team is appealing the decision.

Force India deputy team boss Bob Fernley said Caterham had managed to speed ahead of Marussia and HRT in the past two years, earning millions in F1 prize money.

"To get to the level that is needed, formula one is a huge amount of investment and time," he said.

"Caterham took the Force India aero platform to get to a certain level which took them above HRT and Marussia.

"First of all it saves you millions of pounds and secondly it puts you straight into position.

"But even three years on they've not progressed that (position)."

F1's governing body has yet to comment, but famously in 2007 McLaren was fined $100 million for espionage involving Ferrari.

Fernley wonders that if president Jean Todt has no reaction now, "could McLaren claim their $100 million back?"

Raikkonen gifts ice-cream to press corps
(GMM)  'Iceman' Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday proved he is not without a sense of humor.

The last time he was at Sepang, in 2009, the Ferrari driver caused raucous laughter in the F1 media centre when the global television feed showed him enjoying a chocolate ice-cream and can of coke.

The rest of the field was damply awaiting the race's re-start on the sodden grid.

There were similar conditions looming in Malaysia on Sunday, and so the Lotus team delivered a present from Raikkonen to each member of the travelling press corps just before the 2012 race.

Along with the chocolate treat, a note from Raikkonen read: "Please enjoy this ice cream".

AFP Asia sports editor Talek Harris said his was delicious.

Chairman Parr to leave Williams
(GMM)  Williams chairman Adam Parr is leaving the famous British team.

The Oxfordshire based outfit announced on Monday that he has resigned and will step down on Friday.

A media statement said Sir Frank Williams "will continue to oversee the company with the support of" fellow shareholder Toto Wolff, chief executive Alex Burns and new chairman Nick Rose.

Parr joined Williams five years ago.

"Adam leaves us on good terms to pursue a better balance in his life for which I wish him and his family well," said Williams.

The news is a big surprise, given 69-year-old Williams' recent comments that he sees Parr as his natural successor.

However, it was rumored in Malaysia at the weekend that Parr was a sticking point in the team's so far unsuccessful negotiations for the 2013 Concorde Agreement.

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