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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Ferrari appears happy to keep backmarker Massa instead of hiring Michael Schumacher, who they had so much success with, for a farewell tour
    Massa's results and mentality have improved - Montezemolo
  • Alguersuari to skip 2012 races to regain fitness
  • Renault 'definitely' staying in F1 - CEO Ghosn
  • Pic 'not afraid' of becoming next Marussia refugee
  • FIA confirms optional 'stepped nose' covers for 2013
  • Lauda to join Mercedes in advisory role
  • Schumacher's Formula 1 future in doubt
  • Hamilton is taking a big risk
  • Mercedes signs Hamilton, Concorde, Lauda, not Schumacher

Massa's results and mentality have improved - Montezemolo
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo has hinted Felipe Massa has done enough to stay at Ferrari in 2013.

Reports on Thursday quoted the Ferrari president as saying it will take "a few more days" until the identity of Fernando Alonso's next teammate is decided.

Other reports have said Brazilian Massa will secure an eighth consecutive season with the famous Maranello based team, with an announcement possibly imminent.

When asked about Massa, Montezemolo said at the Paris motor show: "I hope that the progress we have seen since Spa, on the results side but also psychologically, are confirmed in Japan."

The Japanese grand prix at Suzuka will be held next weekend.

On Spaniard and championship leader Alonso, Montezemolo said the 31-year-old is the "strongest driver I have ever seen".

"He also impresses me for three reasons; the interpretation of the race and especially the tire wear, his great motivational influence on the team, and his (regular) presence at Maranello," he added.

Alguersuari to skip 2012 races to regain fitness
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has given another clear sign that he is set to return to competitive formula one action next year.

After losing his Toro Rosso seat at the end of last year, the 22-year-old Spaniard has been Pirelli's main tire tester.

Alguersuari has also been coming to all the grands prix as a co-commentator for British radio, but he has announced that he will not be at the next four races in Japan, Korea, India and Abu Dhabi.

"It (the absences) had been planned for some time," he told the BBC.

"It's better for me to prepare for next year, to keep my training up, as I'm sure I will be back driving in F1."

Alguersuari said he will return to the commentary booth for the final two races of the season, in Austin and Brazil.

Apparently having found some sponsors, he is linked with a return next year with Sauber or Force India.

Renault 'definitely' staying in F1 - CEO Ghosn
(GMM)  Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault, said he does not regret keeping the Paris-based carmaker in formula one.

Renault no longer owns and runs its own team, but amid the manufacturer exodus of a few years ago, the marque chose to stay on the grid as an engine supplier.

"We are involved and we want to stay, definitely," Ghosn said at the Paris motor show.

"We made the right decision around 2008-2009, when many others like Toyota, Honda and BMW left completely.

"We stayed," he is quoted by the Russian website f1news.ru.  "We supply engines to a team (Red Bull) that has already won two titles and still leads this constructors' championship."

Renault Sport F1 also supplies customer engines to Lotus, Williams and Caterham, and is actively developing a V6 unit for the new rules in 2014.

"We will stay in formula one -- we have a lot of obligations," said Ghosn.

Meanwhile, Ghosn said he "understands" the French government's decision to refuse financial support to grand prix projects proposed by Paul Ricard and Magny Cours.

"In the current situation it is necessary to use the budget for primary needs," he said.

Pic 'not afraid' of becoming next Marussia refugee
(GMM)  Charles Pic insists he is "not afraid" about following his Marussia predecessors through F1's exit.

Before the well-backed Frenchman made his debut this year, the team ran Jerome d'Ambrosio (2011) and Lucas di Grassi (2010, as Virgin) as the experienced German Timo Glock's teammate.

Belgian d'Ambrosio left to become Lotus' reserve driver after one season, while Brazilian di Grassi subsequently spent time as a Pirelli test driver but is now moving to touring cars.

"I'm not afraid about (experiencing) a scenario like that of Lucas di Grassi and Jerome d'Ambrosio," 22-year-old Pic said in an interview with the Dutch magazine Formule 1.

"All I can do is work as hard as possible and do my best.  I'll wait and see what happens at the end of the year."

According to strong paddock speculation, Pic is tipped to take the solid funding of his family's business - leading European transport company Groupe Charles Andre - to Caterham in 2013.

He likely successor is the similarly well-funded British GP2 driver Max Chilton, whose father is the vice-chairman of the major insurance multinational Aon.

But Pic is not ruling out staying at Marussia.

"Compared to some other teams it is obviously smaller, but I'm getting to develop very well and it's nice to work on growing up together," he said.

FIA confirms optional 'stepped nose' covers for 2013
(GMM)  Teams will be able to cover the unseemly 'stepped noses' on their 2013 cars, it has emerged.

We quoted the FIA's Charlie Whiting as saying in July that the governing body "is aware of the dissatisfaction of the fans in relation to the appearance of this year's cars".

A rule tweak for 2012 caused the conspicuous height discrepancy between the top of the monocoque and the nose cone, resulting in the 'step' on most of this year's car designs.

Also in July, we reported that teams were discussing a rule tweak for 2013 that would allow the step to be covered by a "structurally irrelevant" laminate.

That rule tweak has now been enshrined in the technical regulations for 2013, F1's official website reports.

"The fairings will not affect the car's aerodynamics or impact-protection properties," the report said.

The regulations refer to the step nose cover as "an optional, single piece, non-structural fairing of prescribed laminate".

The 2013 rules have also banned the so-called double-DRS that has appeared on the Mercedes this year, although it is understood the new regulation will not apply to Lotus' interpretation.

Meanwhile, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the teams have written a letter to the FIA, pleading with the governing body to refrain from dramatically increasing the entry fees for 2013.

The FIA reportedly wants to scrap the current flat EUR 309,000 entry fee in order to charge EUR 500,000 plus 7,000 per championship point.

If the regime was already in place, Red Bull would have paid more than EUR 5 million simply to enter the 2012 world championship.

Lauda to join Mercedes in advisory role
Three-time Formula 1 World Champion will join Mercedes as an advisor in the near future, taking on the role of Non-Executive Chairman of the team’s Board of Directors.

The Austrian, who is working as a pundit on Germany's RTL channel, will give advice on a range of topics in a bid to improve the structure of the Brackley-based team.

Lauda previously held a similar role at Ferrari, the team with whom he won two of his titles (1975 and 1977). His last Drivers' crown was earned with McLaren in 1984.

Schumacher's Formula 1 future in doubt
Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 future is currently in doubt, with Lewis Hamilton being confirmed as his replacement at Mercedes for the 2013 season. The German, who has endured a challenging return to the sport, will now assess his options.

"I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we all would have wanted on the sporting side," said Schumacher. "I wish Lewis well and for the team to achieve the success we worked so hard for in the build-up.

"I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitment. I will now concentrate on the next races."

Schumacher's career has not necessarily been ended by Mercedes' decision to replace him, but if he wishes to remain in the sport he will face a fight to find a seat.

Hamilton is taking a big risk
The future of the 2008 world champion was uncertain for most of this season until it was announced on Thursday the British driver will be joining Mercedes for the 2013 campaign.

Sky Sports F1 HD commentator Croft believes it is a bold move for Hamilton, who has been with McLaren since the age of 13, but says the fresh start could lead to another world title for the 27-year-old.

"This is a massive gamble taken by Lewis Hamilton," he told Sky Sports.

"You could argue Mercedes - as Brawn in 2009 - have won a title more recently than McLaren, but McLaren have a massive history in F1, they've won 181 races in the sport.

"This is a massive risk to gamble on whether Mercedes can win you races and win you world championships. History and logic would dictate Hamilton's got a better chance of winning another world championship by staying at McLaren.

"However, Mercedes have prioritized 2013; they've devoted wind tunnel time to 2013 in the hope they'll have a head start next year. They've also got title winning expertise in the background, including Ross Brawn who, with Michael Schumacher, dominated the sport for so many years in the early part of the century.

"Lewis has been exceptional at McLaren but you could argue he's not won as many world championships as he should have done.

"As well as the financial grounds there are also sporting grounds for this move - he is aligning himself with an engine manufacturer ahead of the drastic engine regulation changes in 2014 - and there are grounds for this move in terms of his own happiness, too."

Croft said he expects McLaren to be surprised by Hamilton's decision but pointed out things haven't gone smoothly for the British driver this year. Hamilton has failed to finish three of the last five Grand Prix races and those retirements have left him 52 points behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the World Championship.

"I think McLaren will feel surprised that this has come to fruition," said Crofty. "We got the vibe from inside McLaren last week at Singapore that they were expecting Hamilton to stay with them.

"Certainly in the earlier part of the season he was driving well but things were going against him with things such as pit stops, and he's had car unreliability recently as well.

"I think he's after a new challenge at this time of his life, and also securing a financial deal that is acceptable to him when he's at the peak of his powers. He's a man who would be first on any team principal's list of drivers they'd want driving for them.

"I think when negotiations first started and Ron Dennis made it clear Lewis was an employee and McLaren had the upper hand when it came to how much money they paid him, that wasn't the sort of thing he wanted to hear, considering his stature.

"When I spoke to Lewis Hamilton in the press conference in Italy and asked whether, when he was looking at his future, it was all about the money, he replied 'no, it's all about winning'. So I don't think it's about money, but it's a massive gamble." Sky Sports

Mercedes signs Hamilton, Concorde, Lauda, not Schumacher
(GMM)  Mercedes finally ended the 'Lewis Hamilton saga' on Friday by announcing the 2008 world champion has signed a three-year deal to race for the German carmaker's F1 team.

The media statement also confirmed that Mercedes has signed the new 2013-2020 Concorde Agreement, that Hamilton is replacing Michael Schumacher, and that Niki Lauda is set to join as non-executive chairman.

27-year-old Briton Hamilton's teammate next year will be Nico Rosberg.

"It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter," he said Hamilton, who has raced for McLaren since entering F1 in 2007.

Mercedes' media statement did not say if seven time world champion Schumacher, who has been linked with a move to team management or perhaps even Sauber, is returning to retirement.

"I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we all would have wanted on the sporting side," said the great German.

"I will now concentrate on the next races."

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