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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Perez at Ferrari this week
    F1 engines to fire again on Tuesday
  • McLaren 'Plan B' shaping up amid Hamilton saga
  • Sergio Perez at Ferrari this week
  • Vettel hopes for more speed at slower tracks
  • Williams reveals 'one-off' Ecclestone payment
  • 'Stealthy' Raikkonen keeps title tilt at full speed

F1 engines to fire again on Tuesday
(GMM)  The Spa-Monza double header may now be over, but the sound of formula one engines will soar again on Tuesday.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India are set to begin their three days of 'young driver' testing at the former French grand prix venue Magny Cours.

Jules Bianchi, Luiz Razia and Rodolfo Gonzalez will be driving for Force India, Sam Bird for Mercedes, and Frenchman Bianchi and Davide Rigon for Ferrari.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso said after finishing third at Monza that Ferrari has "a lot of new things" in the pipeline for the forthcoming Singapore grand prix.

"One of the priorities of the (Magny Cours) test," said team boss Stefano Domenicali, "will be to fine-tune the correlation between the simulator and the track".

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes is also preparing a major development package and a "completely new rear" for its struggling W03 car.

"It (the new package) includes the so-called Coanda exhaust and new side pods," said the specialist publication.

The report added that the new package is the first real fruits of Mercedes' recent wind tunnel upgrade from 50 to 60 per cent.

McLaren 'Plan B' shaping up amid Hamilton saga
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh left Monza insisting McLaren has "no plan B" in the event Lewis Hamilton jumps ship for 2013.

But that's not according to the latest media speculation, which is mentioning Force India's Paul di Resta and former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen as potential candidates to replace the 2008 world champion and Monza winner.

Plan A, however, is undoubtedly re-signing Hamilton.

"I can imagine we'll have some conversations before Singapore," team boss Whitmarsh said.

But he also admitted it is not too late to slot in a new driver alongside Jenson Button for 2013, and also played down the knowledge about McLaren's next car that Hamilton might take to a rival team.

"Developing next year's car is the work of technologists, engineers and designers," Whitmarsh insisted.

"The drivers, apart from when they sit in it, are not that intimately involved in the process."

Publicly, Whitmarsh is not worried about the situation, describing Eddie Jordan's claims that Hamilton is definitely switching to Mercedes to replace Michael Schumacher as "fantasy".

"It's a small paddock and they (Hamilton's management) have to be seen to do their due diligence, as you can imagine, so I'm not surprised," he said.

Under the surface, though, the situation inside McLaren has changed.  One hint is that Button is now point-blank refusing to fall in line behind Hamilton by obeying any 'team orders'.

"I'm not going to go out and pedal round and sit behind my teammate," he said.

Whitmarsh agrees.

"At the moment, the dynamics are right within the team and it will be some time before we change our approach," he said.

Should Hamilton leave, Scot di Resta looks the favorite to replace him.  He would ensure McLaren keeps its 'all-British' lineup, and his career is already handled by Button's manager Richard Goddard.

Asked if McLaren has targeted di Resta as a potential driver, Button told the Telegraph: "That is not for me to say, that is for his management to say."

The Daily Mail has mentioned 2008 and 2009 McLaren driver Kovalainen as another candidate, while the wilder rumor-mongers have named another Finn.

But Finnish commentator for MTV3, Oskari Saari, thinks the speculation about Williams' reserve driver Valtteri Bottas is wide of the mark.

On the other hand, "Williams knows that if they do not take Valtteri (in 2013), there will be takers for him from other teams", he warned.

Sergio Perez at Ferrari this week
(GMM)  After his second place at Monza, all eyes are on Sergio Perez's next move.

So the rumor-mongers will have a field day to learn that Sauber's Mexican will be at Maranello this week.

However, Ferrari insisted that Perez - Ferrari's leading driver 'academy' member - has been scheduled to visit the team in mid September "for months".

And Felipe Massa will also be at the team's headquarters later this week, to drive the simulator.

The Brazilian is struggling to hold onto his race seat for 2013, but a surge in form lately moved the influential La Gazzetta dello Sport to observe that Massa has "extended his claws", including a solid run to fourth at Monza.

Vettel hopes for more speed at slower tracks
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel is expecting to get back in the game next time out in Singapore.

The reigning world champion is now 39 points behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso after the Spa-Monza double header, where Red Bull's RB8 struggled on the high speed straights.

"Our biggest problem is a lack of speed on the straights," he is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo, after seeing the gap blow out by a factor of 15 points at Monza.

"We were always among the slowest.

"Fortunately the tracks for the next races have less long straights, which should allow us to fight for victories," added Vettel.

But some members of the international press are now saying Vettel is little more than an outside chance to defend his two consecutive titles this season.

Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz told Salzburger Nachrichten: "As long as we have a mathematical chance, we continue to believe."

A pragmatic Dr Helmut Marko added: "It is going to be difficult.

"Alonso has to be our model," he is quoted by Bild newspaper, "scoring podiums or at least points in every race.  It's still possible."

The immediate hurdle, however, is to solve the alternator problems that left Vettel at the side of the track both in practice and also the race at Monza.

The Renault/Magneti Marelli units are failing in higher ambient temperatures, and the conditions in Singapore this week are already in the low-30s.

Renault's Remi Taffin ruled out Vettel as a cause of the failures.

"It's nothing to do with him," he insisted.

Williams reveals 'one-off' Ecclestone payment
(GMM)  Williams has provided an interesting insight into the sport's Concorde Agreement negotiations so far.

Most teams have now signed up with Bernie Ecclestone for 2013 and beyond; the exceptions being Mercedes, Marussia and HRT.

Because Williams is listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, it must publicly publish its financial results.

The Oxfordshire based team's latest figures show a 57 per cent turnover increase, with net profit up several million pounds.

"The notable increases ... are largely due to our diversification strategy as well as the recent receipt of a one-off payment following a new commercial agreement for our continued commitment to formula one," Williams said in a statement.

'Stealthy' Raikkonen keeps title tilt at full speed
(GMM)  Stefano Domenicali has identified former Ferrari champion Kimi Raikkonen as a real threat for the 2012 title.

It is Ferrari's new number 1, Fernando Alonso, who is comfortably leading the drivers' standings by 37 points after Monza.

The Spaniard has been on the podium 7 times this year so far, including 3 wins.

But, despite no wins at the wheel of his black and gold Lotus, Finn Raikkonen has had 6 podiums in the same period, and is now third in the standings behind Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

He was disappointed to finish just fifth at Monza, but also pragmatic.

"Every time you lose points to Alonso it hurts the championship fight," Raikkonen is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"But before the race we had hoped for sixth and we went one better, so in that respect we got the maximum performance."

Sections of the international media are saying Raikkonen is the "silent" threat for the 2012 title; Reuters describing his campaign so far as "stealthy".

Actually, the points gap to Alonso blew out by 5 points at Monza, now standing at 38 -- the very same gap between Raikkonen and Alonso as seen at Valencia in June.

"Kimi will probably not win the championship," triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart said.  "But if at the end he is still in the top three, it will be a fantastic result.

"He has done a great job and always takes the points."

Lotus boss Eric Boullier predicts the E20 will look better at the next races.

"We knew Monza would be difficult for us, but the next tracks should suit our car once again.

"Kimi still has the chance for the title, even though it will be really difficult," added the Frenchman.

Boullier's Ferrari counterpart, Domenicali, agrees.

"We need to pay attention to Hamilton and also not underestimate Raikkonen," he is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper.

El Pais also quotes him as saying: "I respect each of our opponents, but I've always said that Kimi is a very dangerous rival."

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