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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Schumacher took too long to decide and was axed
    Merc axe after 'long reflection' for Schumacher - Haug
  • Two electrocuted at Toro Rosso factory - report
  • Japan weather clear after Typhoon Jelawat
  • F1 team boss Mallya grounds Indian airline
  • DRS zone shortened at Suzuka
  • Warwick to serve as steward in Japan
  • Resurfacing and new drainage at Suzuka

Merc axe after 'long reflection' for Schumacher - Haug
(GMM)  Responding to criticism in the German press, Norbert Haug says Mercedes decided to oust Michael Schumacher after the seven time world champion's "long period of reflection".

The German marque has poached Lewis Hamilton from McLaren, teaming him with Nico Rosberg for 2013 and beyond.

Former driver and German-language television pundit Christian Danner told DAPD news agency Schumacher was "dumped ice-cold", even though he has some sympathy for Mercedes on the basis that the highly rated Hamilton was on the market.

But German motor racing federation chief Hans-Joachim Stuck told Spox he was "shocked" when he heard Mercedes had dropped Schumacher.

"Hamilton is definitely one of the fastest formula one drivers, but for me he lacks the consistency.

"I don't think Mercedes has done itself a favor," he added.

Another former German driver, Jochen Mass, told Auto Presse that the way Schumacher was dumped via press release was "below the belt".

But Mercedes' Haug explained: "Michael has had a long period of reflection and was not definitively sure whether he wanted to go on or not."

When asked about reports the 43-year-old was only Mercedes' 'plan C' for 2013, Haug answered evasively: "Michael was informed that the team had to develop its alternatives, he was always informed and he accepted that," he is quoted by Welt.

Mercedes/Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche is also on the defensive, insisting the Hamilton signing is "not a reproach" of the seven time world champion's performance since 2010.

But he did admit to Bild newspaper that, "given the name of Michael Schumacher, expectations were probably too high" for his comeback.

"But I called Michael on the day the decision was announced to speak with him.  It was a very good discussion," insisted Zetsche.

It is clear, however, that Schumacher's next discussions are with teams that might want to take him on board for 2013.

Sauber, Williams, Lotus and even Ferrari have been mentioned, but the latter is almost certainly not in the frame.

Swiss commentator Marc Surer told Servus TV that Sauber is a "romantic" option given Schumacher's pre-F1 sports car past, but thinks the financial aspect will spoil the deal.

"They would need a sponsor to pay Schumacher.  So I believe that's why this opportunity will fail," he said.

Danner, however, said Schumacher should push for Sauber if he still wants to have "fun" at grands prix.

But if Sauber is Schumacher's only option, Gerhard Berger insists: "It's time for him to stop.

"Schumacher is for Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren or Mercedes.  Everything else cannot be an alternative," the Austrian great told Auto Motor und Sport.

Berger does not scold Mercedes for moving on.

"You have to congratulate them," he said, "as with Hamilton and Rosberg they have a great driver pairing -- probably the best.

"If you have the chance to get Hamilton, you really have to try," Berger insisted.

He also understands why Briton Hamilton needed a new challenge after six years with McLaren.

"Most drivers need a change of scenery after three or four years," said Berger, who in his career drove for teams including Benetton, McLaren and Ferrari.

"It brings you new motivation," he explained.  "Of course the McLaren is the better car, but the appeal for him now is to make his Mercedes the best one."

Two electrocuted at Toro Rosso factory - report
(GMM)  Two team members were electrocuted at Toro Rosso's Faenza headquarters on Tuesday morning, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reports.

The report said the accident occurred at about 10.30.

One team member, 58, is now recovering in a local hospital, while a 23-year-old is reportedly in a serious condition.

Reportedly based on interviews conducted by police and medical crews, the shock occurred when a forklift was being operated to move a large piece of metal.

The vehicle reportedly touched electrical wires, with the subsequent shock strong enough to leave a mark on the floor.

Japan weather clear after Typhoon Jelawat
(GMM)  A good weekend of weather awaits in Japan this weekend, mere days after the country was ravaged by Typhoon Jelawat.

The gale-force winds, strong enough to overturn cars and injure hundreds of people, have eased early this week.

The German-language Speed Week said the forecast for Suzuka this weekend is for sunshine and harmless clouds, with temperatures between 20 and 24 C.

And good weather should also greet F1 in South Korea, a few days after the Japanese grand prix.

F1 team boss Mallya grounds Indian airline
(GMM)  Vijay Mallya is enduring a troubled run into this weekend's Japanese grand prix.

International media reports say the Force India chief has temporarily grounded the entire fleet of his Indian airline Kingfisher, with staff revolting after not being paid since April.

Kingfisher confirmed it had locked out staff because some had instigated "unabated incidents of violence, criminal intimidation, assault" against some employees who were still trying to work.

"It's sad they are putting the blame on employees," Indian airline advisor Harsh Vardhan told Bloomberg, "because nowhere in the world anyone would accept this kind of situation."

DRS zone shortened at Suzuka
The DRS zone at this weekend's Japanese GP has been shortened by 20 meters in an attempt to ensure overtaking remains challenging through turns one and two.

Sixteen of the 61 overtakes during last year's race were made using DRS, with some easily completed on the pit-straight before turn one, giving the leading driver no chance to defend the move.

Thus, for this weekend, the zone has been shortened to make overtaking more about late braking through the long turn one at Suzuka.

The detection point remains 50 meters before the final chicane at turn 16, with the activation point on the exit of turn 18.

Warwick to serve as steward in Japan
Derek Warwick is the FIA driver representative steward for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. The Englishman, who now owns a Honda car dealership on Jersey, was the World Sportscar Champion of 1992.

Warwick, who has already taken up the steward role on several occasions, last raced in Formula 1 for Footwork in 1993. Prior to that, he achieved four podium finishes for Renault in 1984 – with two pairs of third and second places.

Following his time in F1, Warwick went on to race in the British Touring Car Championship in 1995, 1997 and 1998 and founded Triple Eight Race Engineering which has since won numerous Teams’ Championships.

Resurfacing and new drainage at Suzuka
Ahead of this year’s Japanese Grand Prix, there has been much work at Suzuka in order to improve the circuit and avoid flooding situations of the past.

In 2010, qualifying was delayed and eventually cancelled as heavy rain lashed the circuit continuously, resulting in rivers which even the Safety Car struggled to cope with when on sighting laps. Eventually, the session took place on Sunday morning.

For this season’s race, the track has been resurfaced from Dunlop Curve (Turn 7, the long left-hander leading to Degner) all the way to the exit of the Casio Triangle chicane at the end of the lap.

In the resurfaced zones, new storm water drainage systems have been installed in order to cope better with the rain.

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