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DATE News (chronologically)
03/27/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

03/27/12
  • Perez being touted as future champion
    Perez a 'future champion' after Sepang
  • Red Bull to discuss ignored team orders with Vettel
  • Ferrari should explain Massa's 'test driver' role
  • Hamilton could act in Lauda movie 'Rush'
  • Button to inflict punishment after Malaysian mess
  • Amid Concorde talks, Parr exit 'not coincidental'
  • No 'pecking order' as tires dominate 2012
  • Horner: Consistency is key New
  • Sutil admits Sauber 'nice place' for F1 comeback New

Perez a 'future champion' after Sepang
(GMM)  Those who watched Sunday's Malaysian grand prix witnessed "the blossoming of a future champion".

That is the view of Patrick Tambay, a French F1 driver of the 80s who raced with Ferrari.

Sergio Perez currently drives for Sauber, but he is the cream of Ferrari's development program and Tambay told RMC he thinks the Mexican is now definitely set for a future with the famous Italian team.

Perez's current boss Peter Sauber, however, insists that is not going to happen, at least for now.

"If there are teams like Ferrari that are interested in Perez, that's a compliment for us," the Swiss told the Blick newspaper upon arrival at Zurich airport this week.

Ferrari is Sauber's engine supplier and traditional political ally.

"But Sergio has a contract for 2012, which was agreed last year, and this is respected," added Sauber.  "There are no talks with Ferrari."

Sauber, 68, also alluded to the fact that this year's red car is not exactly a world-beater at present.

"It would be the wrong time for him to go to Ferrari now," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Sauber also repeated his denial that Perez was ordered to ensure he finished behind Fernando Alonso on Sunday in deference to the team's big cousin Ferrari.

"I'm not saying that's what happened," former engineer Joan Villadelprat told Spanish TV3 television, "but it wouldn't be the first time Ferrari have done that."

Sauber however defended the instruction to Perez that, whilst chasing down Alonso, he should "be careful".

"If anything had happened during the attack on Alonso," he insisted, "we would have zero points instead.

"And then you have nothing at all."

Red Bull to discuss ignored team orders with Vettel
(GMM)  Red Bull will sit with Sebastian Vettel following reports the German deliberately ignored the team's race instructions in Malaysia.

The team was heard on the radio instructing the reigning back-to-back world champion to retire his car, ostensibly because of dangerously high brake temperatures.

So often were the calls unheeded that Vettel's engineer Guillaume 'Rocky' Rocquelin ultimately declared it an "emergency".

A late-race retirement, with Vettel definitely out of the points following his clash with Narain Karthikeyan, would have allowed Red Bull to install a new gearbox in his car for the forthcoming event in China.

Red Bull explained that Vettel did not hear the instructions due to a broken radio.

But photographs have emerged that show those instructions were also reflected in Vettel's end-of-lap pit boards.

And the 24-year-old let slip immediately after the race: "Of course you can save the car, but I wanted to see the checkered flag.

"I think that's how it should be."

Bild newspaper surmises that Vettel "ignored his bosses' orders".

Team boss Christian Horner commented: "We'll talk about it."

The German newspaper said Vettel is due at the team's Milton Keynes headquarters at the end of this week, for time on the Red Bull driver simulator prior to Shanghai.

Italy's La Repubblica newspaper said 2012 has been "a nightmare" for Vettel so far, as the once-dominant driver "has become just one of the other drivers".

Ferrari should explain Massa's 'test driver' role
(GMM)  A Brazilian correspondent has leapt to the defense of Felipe Massa.

"Ferrari is making a huge mistake," wrote Livio Oricchio in his O Estado de S.Paulo blog.

Massa is currently the subject of widespread criticism and vociferous calls for his dismissal, after failing to get close to Fernando Alonso's pace in the difficult new F2012 car.

The Italian team is publicly denying it is seriously considering replacing Massa with Sauber's Sergio Perez, but rumors to the contrary indicate the opposite is true.

The loudest voices are being heard in the Italian press, with a La Stampa headline saying Ferrari "has done everything it can to support him (Massa), but everything is meaningless.

"You would have to find him a new team with a weaker teammate.  That would be the only way to save him."

A Ferrari insider told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "Since Jean Todt left Ferrari, they are once again listening to the press."

Oricchio contends that Ferrari is not giving Massa a fair go.

"At times, Massa has become a test driver -- with (private) testing forbidden, he is the one experimenting with new components at the two races so far.

"And in some of this testing there was so little downforce on the car that it explains fully his difficulties," the Brazilian added.

"But they (Ferrari) are not making this clear so it only confirms the already deeply eroded image of Massa becoming almost unsustainable in the face of public opinion."

Hamilton could act in Lauda movie 'Rush'
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton could land an acting role in the Hollywood film 'Rush'.

The movie, directed by The Da Vinci Code and Apollo 13's Ron Howard, is about the epic 1976 battle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

Britain's Sun newspaper reports that McLaren driver Hamilton has been working on the project as a consultant.

"I don't know if he would go for it.  There should be a role for him, if he wanted it," Howard is quoted as saying.

Button to inflict punishment after Malaysian mess
(GMM)  Jenson Button has revealed he will inflict his own personal punishment after losing his championship lead in Malaysia last weekend.

The McLaren driver also uncharacteristically collided with a rival car at Sepang - backmarker HRT's Narain Karthikeyan - and accepted all the blame.

"It shows fantastic maturity (to apologize)," 1992 world champion and fellow Briton Nigel Mansell told UK radio Talksport.

But his maturity won't stop him from "hurting" himself this weekend in Hawaii, when he competes in the Lavaman triathlon.

"I'm going to hurt myself because I deserve the pain after (Malaysia)," he is quoted by the Telegraph newspaper.

"I will make sure I hurt myself extra for such a bad day."

For Button and for McLaren in general, however, Sunday's bad result was what team boss Martin Whitmarsh described as a 'get-out-of-jail-free card'.

"Sebastian (Vettel) not coming away with any points and a few of the other contenders not getting any points, it could have been a lot worse," he said.

Amid Concorde talks, Parr exit 'not coincidental'
(GMM)  As ever in the complex and political world of formula one, the media reacted with cynicism to the news Adam Parr is leaving Williams.

After all, it had emerged in Malaysia that the famous British team was one of only a few yet to agree terms with Bernie Ecclestone over the 2013 Concorde Agreement.

And Chairman Parr - who was Williams' de-facto team principal at races in Sir Frank Williams' regular absence - had never seen eye-to-eye with F1's indomitable chief executive.

Moreover, as Tom Cary wrote in the Telegraph, there had been "no indication" of Parr's stepping down: indeed, quite the opposite was true.

Parr said this month that he "could not imagine doing anything else", while Williams earlier this month described the former Rio Tinto man as his "natural successor".

Telegraph correspondent Cary said "sources suggest he was the victim of a power play", adding that Parr's new absence and the Concorde talks seem "far from coincidental".

"Ecclestone had little time" for Parr, the journalist added, continuing that he was "one of the few within the sport who dared to criticize him".

Ecclestone, moreover, last month criticized Williams' recent restructuring, including the departure of Sam Michael and arrival of Mike Coughlan.

"I don't think they've done it the right way," said the F1 supremo.  "The changes should have come from above, not from below.

"I think people like (shareholder) Toto Wolff should get more control," he added.

The Independent newspaper this week agreed that the timing of Parr's exit "seems a bit strange".

And the Guardian acknowledged that he had had "an edgy relationship" with Ecclestone.

No 'pecking order' as tires dominate 2012
(GMM)  Even two races into the 2012 season, it is pointless to draw up a 'pecking order'.

Indeed, the picture in the media is muddled.

With Ferrari in deep trouble until the Sepang downpour, Fernando Alonso's surprise win was therefore a "maximization of misery" for the famous Italian team, according to Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

After Australia, and another qualifying lock-out in Malaysia, some elements of the media were already referring to McLaren as the "dominant" team.

But Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button struggled in Sunday's race, as did the back-to-back reigning champions Red Bull, and the good qualifying performers, Mercedes.

"There is no such superiority as in the past year, or the past two years," agreed Malaysia winner Alonso.

"Everything seems to be much more open."

Now, the keywords are not Adrian Newey or Vettel or blown exhausts, but how individual teams and drivers use the 2012 generation of Pirelli's tires.

"This is probably the most important area at the moment," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agreed, according to DPA news agency.

"Different cars are fast at different times," he said, after Sauber's Sergio Perez almost won the Malaysian grand prix.

Horner is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: "If you are not in 'the window', you're nowhere.  And that's different from tire (compound) to tire, and from driver to driver.

"I think the only good thing is that it will be a really good year for the fans," he smiled.

McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh agrees.

"No one is able to say with confidence how this year is going to pan out," he is quoted by Germany's Focus.

"And that's as it should be."

Horner: Consistency is key
McLaren's Jenson Button took the season opener in Australia but Fernando Alonso delivered a surprise as he took the checkered flag in Malaysia despite the Prancing Horse's ongoing struggles with the F2012.

The shock of the week, however, came from Sauber's Sergio Perez as he finished second to Alonso in a rain-interrupted race and Horner believes the results prove the 2012 season will be unpredictable.

"Looking at Sunday's performance, one would have to say that Sergio Perez is currently the hot favorite!" he joked.

"But hats off to him. He drove a great race, and I don't think anyone would have predicted a Ferrari victory.

"I think the only good thing is that the fans are in for a good year. The pace has moved around an awful lot, and here was quite peculiar because, if you look at it, Sergio was the quickest man on track.

"He was catching a Ferrari and pulling away from a McLaren, so it is difficult to draw too much out of the first couple of races. We know we have got things that we can improve on, and that is what we will be focused on for China. But it is fairly unpredictable at the moment."

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel struggled with his tires over the course of the weekend in Sepang and Horner accepts that Red Bull need to get a better understanding of Pirelli's tires if they are to improve in future races.

"Consistency will be important all the way through," explained Horner. "We are just going to be focused on our own performance, and stick to our own plan. We have an additional week before China, rather than the usual two-week period, and it will be about consistency and understanding the tires.

"The tires seem to be the biggest variant. They seem to have changed the most from last year and, as you can see, different cars at different points are quick. Suddenly Kimi [Raikkonen] came alive at the end of the race and started setting purple sectors, so the tires appear to be a key factor."

Sutil admits Sauber 'nice place' for F1 comeback
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil has admitted he would relish the opportunity to return to formula one with Sauber.

Strong rumors in recent days - particularly in the wake of his podium in Malaysia - have linked Sergio Perez with Felipe Massa's race seat at Ferrari.

That would create a vacancy at Sauber.

Sutil, the Force India refugee who is sitting on the sidelines at the moment in the wake of his criminal assault conviction, hopes he would be near the top of the Swiss team's shortlist.

"I want to go back -- hopefully very soon," he is quoted on Tuesday by Bayerisches Fernsehen.

"You have to look around at where the opportunities are.

"I've always thought very, very well of Sauber, and this year they are doing a great job," said the 29-year-old.  "They are one of the strongest private teams.

"Definitely that would be a nice place," added Sutil.

Some media engagements aside, the German has left his 2012 calendar completely open in the event an opportunity to return to F1 arises.

"I'm keeping in top shape and I'm very motivated," he explained.

"I had wonderful years with Force India, but now I'm really looking forward to a new challenge.  I'm really ready -- at any time.

"Right now I won't race somewhere else (other than F1) because I see great opportunities to be back soon."

Sutil said he is happy that Eric Lux has publicly forgiven him for their Shanghai altercation of a year ago, but the German driver admitted a "bitter aftertaste" remains.

"I hope it's really all finished quickly -- that it would go on for this long, I never would have expected.

"I'm glad it's over but most of the damage is already done," said Sutil.

It would be on the way to being mended, however, if he was reunited with the F1 grid.

"In sport, people forget very quickly -- especially in formula one, where you're only ever as good as your last race," he concluded.

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