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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE
At by far the oldest driver in F1, of course Schumacher is not as fast as he once was
Updates shown in red below.

  • Schumacher not 'the reference' at Mercedes - Vettel
  • Glock counts himself out of 2013 'silly season'
  • Austin announces race weekend concert
  • Q&A with Luis Perez - Sala
  • Mercedes engines wearing out Pirelli tires New
  • Whitmarsh to step down as FOTA president New

Schumacher not 'the reference' at Mercedes - Vettel
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has undoubtedly had the measure of Michael Schumacher since the seven time world champion returned to the sport in 2010.

That is the reluctant view of Sebastian Vettel, the reigning world champion who is so close to Schumacher that the German press still often refers to him as 'Baby Schumi'.

Throughout most of Schumacher's initial 16-year formula one career, the great German utterly dominated the sport, becoming its most successful driver ever and always standing tall over those at the wheel of sister cars.

But since returning with Mercedes in 2010, it is teammate Nico Rosberg who has shown the brightest in the silver cars, with Germany's Sport1 pointing out that the younger German has beaten Schumacher in qualifying 36:13.

And in the races, the Rosberg-to-Schumacher points ratio is 308:177, the 27-year-old scoring 5 podiums to Schumacher's single top-three finish, while Rosberg has a pole and win.

Vettel has to admit that his friend and mentor has been outshone.

"On the one hand you can say that Michael has forgotten nothing and is clearly not struggling, which he has proved very often," the Red Bull driver is quoted as saying.

"But Nico has done an awfully good job and has usually been the reference (at Mercedes)," Vettel acknowledged.

"There's no way of talking around it," he admitted.

Nevertheless, it is strongly rumored that 43-year-old Schumacher will sign on to remain alongside Rosberg beyond his 2012 contract.

Mercedes chief Norbert Haug recently said he doubts "there will be an announcement at Spa" next month, which was widely interpreted as a clear sign that an announcement of a new deal will be made eventually.

Team Ross Brawn is hinting similarly, telling F1's official website this week that Mercedes' current driver lineup is working well.

He said Schumacher and Rosberg are "very professional, very committed, good attitude, speed, work very well in the team, work well together as a pairing - which is not always easy with drivers - and I believe both are more than capable of winning races if we provide the equipment."

So why the delay in signing off Schumacher's 2013 contract?

"I think this is a very important decision for all the people involved," said Brawn.  "We won't be rushed on the decision and when the time is appropriate we will announce what we are going to do.

"I don't want to increase speculation by commenting on where we are."

Glock counts himself out of 2013 'silly season'
(GMM)  Timo Glock has counted himself out of this year's driver 'silly season'.

Theoretically, there are 2013 race seats up for grabs at teams including grandees Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes.

But Timo Glock, whose career has floundered at the back of the grid since Toyota pulled out of the sport three years ago, suggested to German website motorsport-total.com that he remains committed to Marussia.

When asked if he is watching the 2013 driver market very carefully, the 30-year-old answered in the negative, because "I know how my future looks".

Asked specifically if that means he is already under contract to his current team for a fourth consecutive season in 2013, Glock answered: "Yes, correct."

As for whether he would answer his phone if the boss of another team tried to call him, he admitted: "No matter who it is, I always politely answer the phone!"

The German might however be forgiven for regretting his decision to turn down an offer from the then Renault team at the end of 2009.

Although the Enstone based squad - now Lotus - is fielding one of the very best cars in 2012, the team's future was very clouded three years ago.

So Glock instead signed with Virgin, now Marussia.

"No.  In the same situation, I would do the same now," he insisted when asked about his Renault snub.

But has he ever wondered how his career might have panned out differently, had he taken a punt and signed with Renault/Lotus?

"No, never.  If I make a decision, and I know why I made the decision, then there's no point whining or wondering 'what if' afterwards.

"Only I know the situation as it was then, no one else (does).  So what I decided was absolutely correct," insisted Glock.

Austin announces race weekend concert
Organizers for the returning United States Grand Prix have announced that a music concert will be taking place on the November weekend. The race is likely to be vital in the 2012 championship, hosting the penultimate meeting of the season before Brazil.

Tickets for the concert went on sale on Wednesday. It will kick off the race weekend at The Moody Theatre on Thursday 15 November. Artists taking part will include Willie Nelson, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Pat Green and Jerry Jeff Walker.

“We wanted to show visitors to Austin what the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ means,” says Andy Fish, President of Formula Austin, the production company hosting the event. “Together with Ray Benson, we have assembled a stellar line-up of Texas performers, representing 19 Grammy Awards and more Grammy nominations than can be counted.

Concert tickets can be purchased from the Formula Austin website.

Q&A with Luis Perez - Sala
With two seasons behind his back as a Formula 1 driver in 1988 and 1989, and a permanent link with motorsport, Luis Perez-Sala wasn’t entering an unknown world when he was named Team Principal of HRT Formula 1 Team at the end of last year. Perez-Sala has been at the fore of a project that has experienced a deep transformation in 2012 and, having reached the halfway stage of the season, he assesses what these eight months at the head of the team have been like.

We’re at the halfway point of the season, what assessment do you make of these first months?

My assessment couldn’t be more positive. Our start to the season was complicated. As we’ve already said on multiple occasions, we’ve almost changed the entire team, we’ve moved to a new headquarters where we’ve been based since early April, and all of this whilst we built a new car. It was a very ambitious challenge, a priori it was impossible to accomplish, but we’ve made it with very limited resources. Once we settled in, from April and May onwards, we started to get a race rhythm going. It’s safe to say we’ve encountered some very intense months where the team has given its all, because we’ve been able to carry out everything we set out to do.

What has surprised you most? And what has been most rewarding?

In truth, nothing has surprised me too much, because I came with an open mind and ready to tackle anything that was thrown at me. What I would say is that the most rewarding thing has been to see the commitment of everyone implicated in this project. These people have been united in very difficult moments and have shown bravery, honor and responsibility to continue supporting this project in the toughest moments. It’s not easy to work and perform to the best of your ability having not slept much, being away from home for weeks or going through uncomfortable journeys, but the members of this team have done it, and that’s something to be thankful for. And that work and commitment is giving its rewards meaning that, not only us but everyone can start to feel proud and a part of this project.

Would you say that the set targets for this first half of the season have been accomplished?

Yes, we have accomplished the targets we set ourselves, which were none other than to carry out the great structural change which we’ve done and start to have the necessary stability to be able to grow. This is a target that seems modest but it has implied a radical change. Towards the end of 2011 the decision was made to move the headquarters to Spain, create a new car and have an initial standard that would enable us to be within the 107% comfortably, to then grow from there. And we have achieved all of that, so we can say that we’ve accomplished our objectives. Now we must set ourselves new ones.

And what’s the most complicated challenge that the team has to face?

From here the most important and complicated challenge is to continue growing in the right direction, optimizing our resources, and getting the car to perform better. This is the hardest thing because, whilst other teams have a consolidated structure, we’re still in a transition period. In that sense they’ve also got an advantage over us. But especially because we have limited human and economic resources and that means that the upgrade plan has to be very clear and whatever we introduce will result in an important difference. It really has to represent a step forwards. The most complicated thing now is to not be dropped off by the other teams whilst we finish defining our own team and evolve and prepare the future.

The F112 is a new car completely, what do you make of it? Do you think its maximum potential has been extracted?

I think that, overall, the F112 is a car that has given quite a good result, keeping in mind how it started. In winter I had a lot of doubts, because the car was handed to us and we didn’t have enough time to review it. The proceedings and deadlines weren’t the usual ones and that forced us to go quicker to make up for lost time and organize the different parties implicated in the project to make it on time. But even with all these obstacles, the car has given good results. It has a good base and that’s its biggest strength. It’s a reliable car with good mechanical resistance and it offers a lot of possibilities for its development. I’d say we’re at 50% of its potential and we can still extract another 50%, mainly in aerodynamics.

Will there be any upgrades after the summer break?

Yes, we have some upgrades prepared for the Singapore Grand Prix. As a small team we can’t afford small upgrades every two or three races because the cost of an upgrade or creating a new piece for a small upgrade is very high. Besides the aerodynamic study, you have to produce the parts and that also implies a lot of time. So we have to make the most of any changes and have a very clear idea of the direction we want to take for those upgrades to be productive.

We’ve been able to see how much of an influence the weather has on various races this season. How much can it affect a team’s decision making and what challenges does it present during a race?

We’re also learning in this aspect. We’re not in the fight for points and the fact that we get lapped means that our strategy is always conditioned. But it serves us to accumulate experience and, hopefully not in too long, when we’re a part of the battle for points or a fight for better positions, we will be much better prepared to make the right decisions. In any case you’ve never got everything perfectly under control because legendary teams still occasionally make mistakes, so there’s always something to learn.

The combination of Pedro and Narain as official drivers, Dani as reserve driver and Ma in the development program is proving to be very positive. What would you highlight about each one?

I’d highlight everything about Pedro. He’s an extraordinary person and an excellent driver. Apart from his experience he’s got a lot of common sense and he acts as the leader of the team. There’s no doubt that he’s the cornerstone of this project. From Narain I’d emphasize his experience, safety and speed, besides the stability he contributes to the team. Dani is a young driver, with strength and ambition and he’s adapted phenomenally well to the team in a position which isn’t easy, which is that of the reserve driver. Ma is a driver who will surprise us all because he has great potential. We saw it when he tested the F112 in Silverstone, where he showed his quality. He’s a hard worker and he has also adapted perfectly. I’m very proud and satisfied with the structure of drivers that we have and each one plays their role perfectly.

What needs to happen for you to consider this a successful season once the championship is over?

For me it would be a success to maintain the reliability we have and improve our performance a little bit more. To achieve this I hope that the aero package that we will introduce after the summer will help us to take the next step. The objective is to stay between the 104 and 105% and have the project for 2013 prepared. If we achieve all of this I’d be satisfied. Besides I hope that the team is fully functioning, with the design and aerodynamics department working at the Caja Magica, although to achieve this we need a bit more time.

Formula 1 is going through a period of changes with the renegotiation of the Concorde Agreement or the new engines for 2014. What’s the team’s view on each of these very important issues for the future?

HRT Formula 1 Team’s standpoint is open for now. As for the new ruling on engines, we’re waiting to have all the possible information, especially with everything related to the costs that this change implies. We still don’t know all the details, but for us it is of vital importance to know them to see where we stand and what decision we make because this takes up between 15 and 20% of the team’s budget. This is a change that needs important planning that must be done well. As for the Concorde Agreement, I don’t think there will be any problems because, although we’re a small team, we feel that we’re taken into consideration and supported.

After some months of heavy work, what plans do you have for the holidays?

I’m staying with my family in Spain and we’re going to spend some days by the beach and others in the mountains. I’m really looking forward to spending some time with them and to disconnect to gain some strength because we’ve got a great end to the season ahead.

Mercedes engines wearing out Pirelli tires
(GMM)  McLaren, Mercedes and Force India are all struggling with excessive tire wear this year.

And according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, the likely culprit is the trio's common engine supplier.

"Lotus, Red Bull and Ferrari can make a set of tires last longer than we can," said McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Auto Motor und Sport said one theory doing the rounds is that the superior mid-range power of Mercedes' V8 engine is wearing the rear Pirelli tires too much.

"On the way out of corners, we are able to keep up," said Sauber's Sergio Perez.  "But then there comes a phase when the Force India can pull away, so long as their tires are fresh."

Mercedes' team boss Ross Brawn acknowledged that the "characteristic of the engine has a large influence on the degradation of the tires".

Auto Motor und Sport said Mercedes has "recognized the problem" and is working at full speed to improve its engine torque maps.

Whitmarsh to step down as FOTA president
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh has flagged his intention to step down as president of the teams association FOTA.

The union was created in the heat of the Max Mosley political war in 2008, with McLaren team boss Whitmarsh then taking over from FOTA's first chairman, Luca di Montezemolo, at the end of 2009.

Since then, the group has fractured, with Ferrari, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Sauber and HRT all no longer listed as members on the official FOTA website.

And in a report by Dieter Rencken and Mario Fritzsche on the German website motorsport-total.com, Whitmarsh announced it "would be good if, after three years, someone else takes over the role" now.

He said it will be up to the FOTA members to elect a new chairman.  The FOTA website lists Lotus' Eric Boullier as the current vice-chairman.

And the media report said Ross Brawn is another candidate.

"I would support either," said Whitmarsh.

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