Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
'Hamilton saga' dominates in Singapore
- Lotus tells Grosjean to say 'no' to demands
- Dumping Magneti Marelli should be an option - Vettel
- Indy another option as Zanardi takes next step
- Barrichello tips Alonso to beat Hamilton in 2012
- Schumacher tips Alonso to 'protect' points lead
- Ferrari-linked drivers make Alonso 'laugh'
- Cyril Abiteboul Joins Caterham F1 Team as CEO
'Hamilton saga' dominates in Singapore
(GMM) Jenson Button has admitted to enjoying the 'Lewis Hamilton saga'.
Rarely in formula one does even a key driver's next move attract so much attention or string out for so long, but Briton Hamilton's future has been the buzz of the F1 paddocks for many months.
"I think it's great," McLaren's Button said in Singapore.
Hamilton is strongly linked with a big-money move to Mercedes, while Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta are reportedly at the front of the queue to become Button's new teammate.
"Every day I read the papers and the websites, because we all do -- even if we say we don't," Button grinned.
Scot Paul di Resta is regarded as one of the favorites to succeed Hamilton at McLaren, and his manager Richard Goddard also looks after Button.
The pair are also friends, living and often cycling together in Monaco.
"I am letting Richard do his thing," di Resta said in Singapore.
The 26-year-old said being friends with Button is irrelevant.
"We are all here to race. We are not here for the social side of it," he said on Thursday.
Told that Button would welcome him to McLaren, di Resta added: "I'd still drive over the top of him at the last corner."
Sauber's Sergio Perez is the other name strongly linked with McLaren, but the Mexican issued a clear "No" on Thursday when asked if he has been in talks already.
Some other candidates appear now to be walking away from the saga.
Former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen revealed he is going to kick off talks about a new Caterham deal "this weekend".
"There are lots of different rumors but they're just that, rumors," he told the London Evening Standard.
The Finn, also linked with Sauber, hinted that Hamilton's decision has little to do with his own future.
"At the end, I doubt he (Hamilton) will have much influence on what I'll do but I've not spoken to him and I don't know if he has made any sort of decision or not," said Kovalainen.
Nico Rosberg has also effectively ruled himself out of the action, insisting he has a Mercedes contract for 2014.
The German scoffed at claims he and Hamilton could swap places, insisting that "would make no sense at all".
"As to whether Michael (Schumacher) or Lewis will be my teammate in 2013, I have no more information than all the others in the paddock," said Rosberg.
Indeed, the Mercedes situation is much simpler, with the seat next to Rosberg to either be filled by Schumacher or Hamilton.
"There is nothing new," said the seven time world champion on Thursday, echoing Hamilton's similar silence.
But Germany's Bild newspaper reports that, if Hamilton says 'yes' to the Brackley based team, Mercedes will farewell Schumacher 'with a heavy heart'.
Hamilton and Schumacher are saying very little for now.
Asked by Bild if he is looking forward to Mercedes' 2013 car, Schumacher answered: "We will see. Sorry."
Lotus tells Grosjean to say 'no' to demands
(GMM) In the wake of his Monza ban, Romain Grosjean has revealed he will take a more cautious approach -- off the track.
The Frenchman, who became the first driver since 1994 to receive a FIA race ban following the first corner crash at Spa, arrived in Singapore this week with a new coach in his luggage.
And he told RMC Sport: "I'm changed some of my preparations for the weekends."
The report said Lotus has instructed Grosjean, 26, to learn how to say 'no' to the ever-persistent demands of those around him, such as the media and sponsors.
"I'm going to isolate myself a bit more," he revealed.
Grosjean insists he has not let the criticism of his impressive but often aggressive and messy driving so far in 2012 get to him.
"I have not followed what has been said. I just appreciated the welcome I got from the drivers at Monza, especially (Fernando) Alonso," he said.
And he baulked at claims Singapore is a new start.
"This is not a new beginning -- I've been on the podium three times this season," said Grosjean. "We have made some important changes, but, in the end, it is only me who can make the decisions in the car."
Dumping Magneti Marelli should be an option - Vettel
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel agrees that dumping Red Bull's alternator supplier should be an option.
As the team's engine partner Renault grapples to solve the failing alternator problem with its supplier Magneti Marelli, team boss Dietrich Mateschitz revealed last week that Red Bull is pushing the option of simply reverting to a new supplier.
After German Vettel broke down with the same problem in Valencia and again recently at Monza, Renault has had to admit that it is yet to get to the bottom of why the failures are occurring.
The French marque is, however, getting closer, especially after the alternator in Jerome d'Ambrosio's Lotus almost failed at Monza.
"We are quite sure now what fails first, but we still do not know why," Renault's Remi Taffin is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"But at least we know now what we have to work on."
The report said a modified version of the alternator will be tested in Singapore practice.
Taffin also played down the recent failure on Pirelli's 2010 Renault test car.
"The (Pirelli) part had done about 6000 kilometers, where the failures in Valencia and Monza were from mileage of between 500 and 1000km," he said.
Still, world champion Vettel said Renault should not rule out simply dumping Magneti Marelli, even though the Italian company has a good reputation among its many other clients on the grid.
"Switching suppliers overnight is not so easy," said Vettel, "but if all else fails, you have to think about it."
Taffin said that is not really an option, given Renault's excellent "long term partnership" with its current supplier.
"One thing I can promise," he said, "is that we will solve this problem."
Indy another option as Zanardi takes next step
(GMM) IndyCar could be another option as Alex Zanardi prepares to take his next step.
The former F1 driver recently won double Paralympics gold in hand-cycling, revealing afterwards that he is now considering a return to his sport of choice.
After losing his legs in a 2001 CART crash, the now 45-year-old Italian has tested hand-controlled Champ Car and F1 single seaters and won races in a BMW touring car.
It emerged earlier this week that a DTM foray with BMW next year could be an option, and now his former Indy boss Chip Ganassi has revealed talks with Zanardi.
"We are talking to him but we'll have to see; talk is cheap," Ganassi, who is also involved in sports car and Nascar racing, is quoted by the Telegraph.
"But it would be a dream come true to bring him back; it would be as big as it gets.
"I'd sure like to do it and I wouldn't want him returning with anybody else," added Ganassi.
Barrichello tips Alonso to beat Hamilton in 2012
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello has tipped Fernando Alonso to hang onto his championship lead all the way to the 2012 finale.
Asked by O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper to pick this year's title winner, the most experienced driver in F1 history answered: "I think Alonso."
After a record-setting career spanning 326 grands prix, 40-year-old Brazilian Barrichello switched to Indycars this year when he lost his Williams race seat.
Explaining his reason for choosing Alonso as the likely 2012 champion, he added: "Hamilton is the guy in F1 with the most natural speed, but Alonso is the most complete.
"That's why it's so difficult for Felipe (Massa), because he's always comparing to the strongest of all."
Barrichello, however, said his countryman Massa could have a chance to keep his Ferrari seat in 2013, because he has been "very close to Alonso in recent races".
Meanwhile, Barrichello suggested that he was considered by Lotus to replace the banned Romain Grosjean at Monza recently.
"In the end they had the pressure to use their third driver," he said, referring to Belgian Jerome d'Ambrosio.
He still regrets Williams' decision to overlook him for a 2012 race seat.
"I'm not saying I would do better than the guys (Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna) who are there," said Barrichello.
"Just that with a good car, it is natural to expect a more experienced driver to get more points," he added.
Barrichello admits he misses F1.
"You do not date someone for 19 years and then forget about them the next day. It hurt my son Eduardo to watch the first race in Melbourne on TV," he said.
He hinted he will attend November's 2012 season finale in his native Sao Paulo.
"I have many friends in formula one and I want to see them," said Barrichello.
Schumacher tips Alonso to 'protect' points lead
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is the clear favorite to win the 2012 title.
That is the view of the man who has won more formula one championships than any other in history -- Michael Schumacher.
Spaniard Alonso, who finally ended Schumacher's run of titles in 2005, is currently 37 points ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with seven races to go.
"The gap is still quite big," German Schumacher, who drives for Mercedes, is quoted in Singapore by the SID news agency.
"Lewis and Sebastian (Vettel) need to go on full attack while Fernando can focus on protecting his points," said the 43-year-old.
"We saw that most recently in Monza, where he drove very cautiously and carefully," said Schumacher.
It is clear, however, that Ferrari is still on the attack.
"After the last two or three races, we can say that McLaren is also the favorite here," said Alonso, a two-time Singapore grand prix winner, "but our goal is to fight for pole position and win the race."
Some reports say the F2012 has been heavily revised for Singapore, after a less competitive performance on the similarly high-downforce Hungaroring in late July.
"There is nothing big. Just some details," a Ferrari spokesman told the Marca newspaper.
But another Ferrari source insisted: "We have a very good car for this track and for Japan."
At the recent Magny Cours young drivers test, Ferrari's Jules Bianchi and Davide Rigon tested a new front wing, and developments at the rear of the car.
Italy's Autosprint said a new diffuser is arriving from Maranello on Friday.
"If it is true that in Hungary we were not very competitive," Alonso is quoted as saying in Singapore, "is a different matter here."
The Mercedes is also sporting some significant updates in Singapore, the main one being a 'Coanda' exhaust.
"We suffered recently because the others had developments," Michael Schumacher. "Now we're getting some new things."
Ferrari-linked drivers make Alonso 'laugh'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has admitted to having a "laugh" when he read the names of certain supposed candidates to be his Ferrari teammate in 2013.
Officially, the Italian team quoted its Spanish 'number 1' as saying in Singapore: "Looking at all the names that the media have been putting forward as a replacement, I'm not sure if you realize quite how much Felipe (Massa) has achieved in formula one".
But according to Italy's Autosprint, that is not all the former two-time world champion had to say on the speculation surrounding Brazilian Massa's suture.
"When I read certain names in the papers, I have to laugh," Alonso reportedly said.
"I don't know if they're true or not, but - even in the minor formulas - what have these drivers done better than Felipe?" he asked rhetorically.
Drivers including Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil have been linked with Massa's seat for 2013.
Once the favorite, Mexican Perez appears to be racing out of contention now, after Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said the Sauber driver is too inexperienced.
"I fully respect his opinion," Perez, who is now linked with McLaren, said on Thursday.
Alonso also backs his president's view.
"I have nothing to add to Montezemolo's words," said Alonso.
"The fact is that if Kobayashi and Maldonado succeed with a different strategy in the next race and get on the podium, then we're suddenly talking about them.
"That's always the case, in every race, because Ferrari is an attractive place for any driver."
Cyril Abiteboul Joins Caterham F1 Team as CEO
Caterham F1 Team has today confirmed that Cyril Abiteboul will join the team as CEO, responsible for all the team’s on and off-track operations and reporting to Caterham Group CEO Riad Asmat and Chairman Tony Fernandes. Until January 2013 Cyril, currently Deputy Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, will split his duties between Caterham F1 Team and Renault Sport F1 to finalize ongoing projects.
Riad Asmat: “I am delighted that Cyril has accepted our offer to join us as CEO of Caterham F1 Team and I am sure his appointment will have an immediate positive effect on our continuing development and growth as a force in Formula One. We have been looking for the right person to lead the F1 team for a considerable period and Cyril fits all the criteria we set out in identifying the right CEO for our team. He is a key part of our long-term development and will help us to build on the foundations we have created since we first entered the sport in September 2009.”
Tony Fernandes: “Cyril’s appointment is more good news for our Formula One team. As CEO he will lead our F1 operation and will work closely with Riad, who can now turn his full attention to the continuing growth of the wider Caterham Group which is already active in the automotive, aerospace and marine industries. Cyril will also strengthen the excellent relationship that we have with Renault, particularly as we work towards the introduction of the new engine regulations in 2014 when engines will play an even greater role in overall car performance. ”
Cyril Abiteboul: “I am obviously really happy to join this team that is still only in its third year and I would like to thank Tony, Kamarudin and Riad for this fantastic opportunity. The vision, enthusiasm and appetite of the shareholders and the whole team will be very precious strengths to help us tackle the many challenges we have ahead as we continue to develop the F1 platform and hopefully make our way up through the grid. The multi-cultural character of the group of people in the team, together with the business and industrial project that the F1 activity serves under the Caterham Group umbrella made it an obvious choice for me after 11 great years with Renault to whom I can never be thankful enough for all I have been able to learn and experience throughout my time with them.”
Jean-François Caubet, managing director of Renault Sport F1, added: “While we are sad to see Cyril leave Renault Sport F1, we are delighted that he has such a fantastic career opportunity. Additionally we are always eager to see our partner teams progress and – knowing the full extent of Cyril’s capabilities – he will perform excellently in his new role to aid Caterham F1 Team achieve their aims. Meanwhile Cyril will conclude ongoing projects in the remainder of his time with us to ensure a smooth transition process.”