Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
|Melanie Fiona and Sebastien Vettel|
- Vettel must qualify better for 2012 title - Marko
- Danner thinks Schumacher has agreed new deal
- No testing means 'no bright stars' in F1 - Domenicali
- 'Kicked by Piquet' Salazar to be Spa steward
- Sebastian Vettel stars alongside Melanie Fiona in 'Watch me Work' New
- Wet start in Belgium New
Vettel must qualify better for 2012 title - Marko
(GMM) Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is sure reigning back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel is still in the hunt for the 2012 title.
No longer with the season's dominant package, the 25-year-old German is 42 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso, and he even trails his own teammate Mark Webber by a couple of points.
"The title is still entirely feasible for us," Austrian Marko, who is team boss Dietrich Mateschitz's right-hand man on motor racing matters, told Bild newspaper.
"But Vettel needs to do better in qualifying."
Indeed, after scooping 15 of the possible 19 pole positions as he cruised to last year's title, Vettel has started from the front row of the grid only 4 times so far in 2012.
His sole win so far was in Bahrain, while Fernando Alonso (3), Lewis Hamilton (2) and even Webber in the sister Red Bull (2) have all been multiple winners this year.
But the real problem is Spaniard Alonso's metronomic consistency. In fact, the Ferrari driver can match Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 24 consecutive points finishes this weekend in Belgium.
Marko said: "Vettel doesn't need five wins, but he can't have any more failures. Alonso's run is going to end sometime soon, and when it does we have to be there."
Marko also insisted Vettel, despite being two points behind Webber, will not receive preferential treatment as the 2012 title chase heats up.
"With us, both drivers may be world champion. So Webber can go for the title too," he said.
Danner thinks Schumacher has agreed new deal
(GMM) Christian Danner, a former grand prix driver and now German television pundit, is sure Michael Schumacher will still be on the grid in 2013.
Seven time champion Schumacher, now 43, signed a three-year contract when he agreed to return to formula one in 2010 with Mercedes.
The two sides are yet to agree an extension for 2013 and beyond.
But Norbert Haug, Mercedes' motor racing vice-president, ramped up speculation recently when he responded to a question about a new deal for Schumacher: "I doubt there will be an announcement at Spa."
Rumors indicate the great German could ink a new two-year contract, which would mean he is still pushing for championships at the age of 45.
Asked about the age factor, Schumacher told DPA news agency this week: "Age has nothing to do with it.
"Anyway, at the moment it (the title) is not a topic as - unfortunately - we are no longer fighting for the championship. We'll see what the future brings," he added.
Danner, who contested grands prix in the mid 80s and now travels to the races for German RTL television, said: "I'm quite sure the decision has been taken now."
No testing means 'no bright stars' in F1 - Domenicali
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali has blamed the lack of private testing in formula one for the sport's failure to produce bright new star drivers in recent times.
With the sport moving to reduce its exorbitant costs, expensive track testing has become almost a thing of the past.
Now, the few pre-season tests are used exclusively for car development and the race drivers, and even the new mid-season test - held at Mugello this year - has been scrapped for 2013.
That leaves just the 'young drivers' test, but that concept has been a shambles in 2012, with the twelve teams splitting their running throughout the season between Silverstone, Magny Cours and Abu Dhabi.
So with Ferrari now essentially unable to use its vast resources or private venues including Fiorano for extensive track testing, team boss Domenicali insists a bad side-effect is that uncovering bright new talent is now harder.
"I don't want to speak badly about the drivers (of today)," he is quoted by Russia's f1news.ru, "but in my view it is clear that in recent years we have not seen many bright new stars.
"If we do not increase the level of testing, the problem will just get worse and worse. Testing is not just for technical innovations, but also to give young drivers the chance to learn something and make themselves known.
"Without testing, formula one puts itself at risk.
"In the current situation, we are not able to find the new stars because you would be having to put young drivers immediately in the races, without the necessary experience behind them, and that is not good for anyone," added Domenicali.
'Kicked by Piquet' Salazar to be Spa steward
(GMM) The official FIA preview of this weekend's Belgian grand prix overlooked arguably the most famous moment of Eliseo Salazar's career.
Chilean Salazar, who will make his debut as the driver steward at Spa Francorchamps, contested races for minor F1 teams between 1981 and 1983, and also tasted action at the Indy 500, Le Mans, Daytona, Dakar and world rally.
But the now 57-year-old is probably most famous for colliding with Nelson Piquet at Hockenheim in 1982, and then getting caught up in the great Brazilian's barrage of angry punches and kicks.
Sebastian Vettel stars alongside Melanie Fiona in 'Watch me Work'
Double Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel has taken on a driving job with a difference - starring in a music video with Double Grammy-winning US R&B star and protege of Jay-Z, Melanie Fiona.
The Red Bull Racing driver and Infiniti Global Ambassador plays a central part in the official global music video for Fiona’s track ‘Watch Me Work’, from her album ‘The MF Life’ on Universal Records. The high-energy piece, set in downtown New York, sees Vettel play a modern day James Dean character searching to find an underground location for Fiona and her band to perform. Vettel emerges driving a red Infiniti G37 convertible to an enormous warehouse space, powering up the lights and the sound system, and taking control of the volume. Happy with his work, Vettel’s character departs the scene and is seen driving into the Manhattan sunrise.
The video is the latest in the ‘Infiniti Inspired Performers’ series, which sees Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber collaborating with other top performers in different disciplines. It was shot on location in New Jersey in June when Vettel drove the proposed New Jersey F1 Circuit. The 25 year-old German driver also took the opportunity to take the R&B star on a high-speed lap of the circuit, where she got a taste of his high performance world.
It’s the first time that Canadian-born Melanie Fiona has featured a sports star in one of her videos. She is no stranger to collaborations though, having worked with Jay-Z, co-written songs with Rihanna and toured with Kanye West amongst others. She is also no stranger to Inspired Performance – her family have owned Infiniti cars for years meaning Melanie has grown up with the brand.
Commenting on the video, Sebastian Vettel said: “It was a great experience to shoot a music video, and certainly very different to what I’m used to. But music is without question an inspiration to many and I’m very proud to have been part of this. I think the lyrics are quite fitting to what we can all do if we put our mind to it”
Melanie Fiona added: “It’s not often you get the chance to be driven by an F1 World Champion and when the opportunity came up to have Seb driving me in the video I was like, yes please! This is one of my favorite songs and one that I’ve been wanting to put out for a while so to have him involved was great.”
Wet start in Belgium
F1 can expect a wet start to the Belgian GP with heavy rain forecast for Friday while Sunday's race will take place on a dry track.
According to the meteorologists, the drivers can expect a deluge at the start of Friday's first practice with 'heavy rain showers'. The rain, though, will lessen as the day continues although it will stay wet for the day's second session.
The conditions are expected to improve on Saturday with partly cloudy conditions throughout the day. It will, however, remain cool with a maximum of just 15'C.
More of the same is forecast for Sunday with the sun expected to peak out of the clouds in the afternoon where a maximum of 16'C has been forecast for the start of the grand prix.
However, this is Spa where the weather conditions are known to changing in a heartbeat.