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DATE News (chronologically)
10/07/12
f1
F1 news in brief - Sunday  
  • No longer McLaren's favorite son, Hamilton's chances to win the 2012 F1 title are over.  His teammate Button buried him at Suzuka
    Hamilton not expecting to win races in 2013
  • McLaren relationship heading downhill for Hamilton
  • Alonso pushes for title although 'eight tenths' too slow
  • Vettel 'very surprised' by Hamilton's McLaren exit
  • Vettel backs Massa amid di Resta-to-Ferrari rumors
  • Van der Garde hopes for Caterham race seat
  • Schu had lost winning 'philosophy' - Alesi
  • Weber criticizes Merc over Schu retirement
  • Pirelli to decide on F1 future next June
  • Grosjean should be banned again - Webber
  • Non-members attend FOTA meeting at Suzuka

Hamilton not expecting to win races in 2013
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has admitted he is not expecting to win next year's world championship.

"Absolutely not," he told British reporters in Japan, six races before he leaves McLaren in order to join Mercedes for 2013 and beyond.

"And I don't even expect to win races," the 2008 world champion said, referring to his impending first season in a new shade of silver.

Hamilton insists he has already accepted that winning with Mercedes is a long-term project that will mean he might not see the top step of the podium for some time.

"That was one of the things I had to get my head around very early on when I was considering whether to join Mercedes," he said.

"I'm looking at the long term.  It's 2014-15 when I anticipate we will have most success."

Hamilton said 'setting the bar' at a low point initially will mean the pressure on him is also lower.

"It (the pressure) is not going to be high on me, that's for sure," said the 27-year-old.

A common interpretation in the F1 paddock at present is that Hamilton sees Mercedes as a good bet for the future due to the radical engine rules change for 2014.

He is reportedly hoping that the fact Mercedes is producing its own turbo V6 will be an advantage when, in 2014, McLaren will only receive the engine as a customer.

"We have a one team policy, a one team principle," Mercedes' Ross Brawn admitted at Suzuka.

"Our staff at Brixworth (engine) and Brackley (car) work together as one entity and that does bring them closer than can be achieved with a customer, but McLaren are an extremely professional customer," he said.

"Our ambition is to have the best engine in 2014 and McLaren will have that engine as well."

McLaren relationship heading downhill for Hamilton
(GMM)  There are signs Lewis Hamilton's relationship with McLaren is now breaking down.

The Independent newspaper has already claimed that the 2008 world champion is taking a "newfound interest" in the technical details of his current car.

Boss Martin Whitmarsh played down his fears Hamilton is collating McLaren secrets to take to Mercedes, but teammate Jenson Button revealed that his departing teammate is now being locked out of "meetings" about the 2013 project.

Button insisted: "What Lewis has seen (already) is not a concern.

"This year we will share everything about the car but if there's a chat about next year's car, then no."

And McLaren is also sticking to the letter of Hamilton's expiring contract, refusing the driver permission to visit the Mercedes factory.

"I won't be going to the Mercedes factory at Brackley.  I am contractually bound," Hamilton confirmed.

"I don't come out of contract here until the end of December.  It's a little bit late but that is how it is."

Hamilton has been walking around the Suzuka paddock this weekend with a black armband around his bicep.

He is not mourning a loved one, but instead covering a new tattoo -- presumably at McLaren's behest.

And his relationship with teammate Button may also be failing, as it emerged the 32-year-old has 'un-followed' Hamilton on Twitter, with Button signing up instead to follow his 2013 teammate Sergio Perez.

Button also made clear that if he moves aside for Hamilton in the last races of 2013, it is only to help "the team" win the titles.

"I said that I'd do anything to help the team win the championship," said the Briton, emphasizing the word 'team'.

Alonso pushes for title although 'eight tenths' too slow
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has repeated his insistence that Ferrari must up its game as the 2012 chase enters the final stretch.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton both have clearly faster cars.

Alonso, who spun into retirement at the first corner at Suzuka, has described his continuing lead as a "miracle".

"In 2010, they (Red Bull) were over a second faster than us and still we led the championship until Abu Dhabi," he said.

Crucially, however, Alonso lost that battle.

"Now they are eight tenths faster than us and we're leading the championship again.  You could say we're used to this situation," he is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

With a diminishing championship lead, Alonso said he wants a faster Ferrari for the final battles.

"I believe that in the next races we are able to improve the car significantly.  We have not improved too much in the last two or three races, but we have good plans for the next ones," he said.

Alonso is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial as acknowledging that expecting poles and wins when the F2012 is "eight tenths" too slow is "not normal".

"And little by little, the (championship) advantage disappears," he said.  "The advantage we have is because of reliability, because someone retired or because we did well when it was wet or the circumstances were difficult."

Team boss Stefano Domenicali admitted on Friday that one of Ferrari's problems is that its wind tunnel has not been producing reliably better new parts.

"I think for sure our structure is not the best one in that respect, it is quite old, so for sure we're trying to improve the quality of the tools that we have," he said.

Alonso said he will fight as hard as he can with what is at his disposal.

"For five years I have had a lower car and I have always fought for the world championship," he is quoted by El Pais newspaper.

German Vettel, Alonso's closest title challenger, said the 2005 and 2006 is a formidable opponent.

"After the (summer) vacation, McLaren came to have the most competitive car but Ferrari's strength was being consistent even if the track is dry or wet, or if the temperature is high or low.

"My task is to get more points than him," said the Red Bull driver.  "It will be hard because of Alonso and Ferrari -- despite not having a car to win, he always manages to get a lot of points," said Vettel.

Vettel 'very surprised' by Hamilton's McLaren exit
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has admitted he was "very surprised" when he heard Lewis Hamilton had signed up with Mercedes for 2013.

Asked what he thought when he heard the news about the 2008 world champion's impending McLaren exit, the world champion admitted: "I was very surprised, but he knows why he has done it.

"It's difficult to judge from the outside," the German is quoted by Spain's El Pais newspaper.

Asked if Hamilton might be just as 'dangerous' in his new silver car in 2013, the Red Bull driver answered: "We'll see what happens.

"Lewis is going to a good team, so it will be a good combination, so I wouldn't say he won't be in the battle for the title," said Vettel.

The German, however, plainly blames Mercedes for friend Michael Schumacher's failure to shine during his three-year comeback.

"He is a great loss to F1," said Vettel, "but for me the problem was that Mercedes was not among the fastest.

"If you put him in a good car, it's hard to believe he would be anything other than competitive."

Vettel backs Massa amid di Resta-to-Ferrari rumors
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has responded to the latest rumors about Ferrari by backing under-fire Felipe Massa.

Italian newspaper La Stampa's F1 correspondent Stefano Mancini claims the great Maranello based team is poised to dump Brazilian Massa in order to sign Force India's Scottish driver Paul di Resta.

When asked specifically about the di Resta rumors, reigning world champion Vettel told Mancini: "I respect Massa as a person and as a driver.

"I don't know why he has struggled for a few seasons, but I remember how he stood up as a teammate to Schumacher and Raikkonen, and how he lost a world championship by one point.

"Unfortunately, people forget that in 2008 he (Massa) was considered to be one of the best," added Vettel, who drives for Red Bull.

There remain plenty of paddock pundits who believe Fernando Alonso's 2013 teammate will have only a one-year contract, in order to prepare the ground for Vettel to arrive in 2014.

Van der Garde hopes for Caterham race seat
(GMM)  Giedo van der Garde has admitted he is hoping to make his formula one debut with Caterham in 2013.

The Dutchman, who practiced in Heikki Kovalainen's green and gold car at Suzuka on Friday, is now regarded as a favorite to replace the sponsor-depleted Vitaly Petrov in 2013.

With his GP2 campaign for this season now over, it is believed van der Garde - whose manager as well as his father have links to his Dutch fashion brand and sponsor McGregor - will also return to the Caterham to practice in Korea and beyond.

"I'm ready for formula one, physically and mentally," he told ad.nl.

"I have another option, but Caterham is the best one," van der Garde, 27, admitted.

"We are busy with that.  Hopefully we can sort it out quickly and then start preparing for next year.

"I definitely feel like I have a chance with Caterham.  Here (in Japan) the team was very happy with how I did everything in the practice.  Everything I had to do, I did.

"The rookie team in Abu Dhabi is very important for my future," he added.

Schu had lost winning 'philosophy' - Alesi
(GMM)  Jean Alesi thinks Michael Schumacher had to retire because he is no longer as committed to winning.

"He came to have fun," said the former Ferrari and Sauber driver, "but he no longer had the same philosophy as the young ones who want to win absolutely.

"When you come back to racing such a machine, you have to make every sacrifice to be on the top," Frenchman Alesi told RMC Sport.

"If the car is not working as well, I think at a certain age this attitude has more of an importance."

Meanwhile, Jean Todt has offered a fascinating insight into Schumacher's decision to retire.

The great German announced his decision on Thursday, and Mercedes chiefs Norbert Haug and Ross Brawn admitted Schumacher only told them what he was going to say "five minutes" earlier.

But Todt, Schumacher's former Ferrari boss, a close friend and now the FIA president, said he knew all about it "a few days" earlier.

"I was told about Michael's decision a few days ago," he said.  "We had the opportunity to speak, so I was prepared when he made it public and understood his reasons."

Todt, however, said he doesn't know what his friend is going to do next.

"I don't know, but he will be very busy, that's for sure," said the FIA president.

Weber criticizes Merc over Schu retirement
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's former manager has criticized the way in which Mercedes has handled the great German's return to retirement.

The seven time world champion announced his decision on Thursday, mere days after Mercedes said it had signed McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to be Nico Rosberg's teammate in 2013 and beyond.

Schumacher's former manager Weber said: "I would have preferred that he had been able to announce his departure first, not after the commitment of his successor Hamilton."

Weber told SID news agency that Mercedes was unable to guarantee that "the car would be better next year".

"And sometimes even the reputation of a seven time world champion is at risk," he added.

Weber also said he doubts Schumacher's next move will be to Mercedes team management.

Pirelli to decide on F1 future next June
(GMM)  Pirelli will decide next June whether or not to stay in formula one.

The Italian marque's three-year contract to be the sport's sole tire supplier expires at the end of next season.

Motor sport boss Paul Hembery has said it is likely Pirelli will seek to stay.

He is quoted by Brazi's O Estado de S.Paulo: "The decision to renew the contract will be taken in June (2013).

"In principle we will proceed with the project, because we have achieved the goals we set technically and in terms of marketing, and I think for the public too.

"But we do need to understand better the formula one (regulations) of 2014," Hembery admitted.

Asked if Pirelli would still be interested in F1 if the FIA opens up the rules to another tire maker, he answered: "Why not, as it may be good for formula one.

"But first we would need to know the details of the regulations."

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone indicated he is happy if Pirelli stays on.

"It (the tires) is a very important variable.  And they are doing a good job -- don't you think the races are exciting?" he said.

Grosjean should be banned again - Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber was furious with Romain Grosjean on Sunday at Suzuka.

The Australian referred to his French rival as "the first lap nutcase Grosjean", after yet another first-corner crash.

After a spate of incidents this year, Grosjean was banned at Monza for the Spa first-corner crash.

Stewards gave him a ten-second stop and go penalty for Sunday's Webber crash.

"Maybe he needs another holiday (ban)," Webber told the British broadcaster Sky.

"How many times can you make the same error?"

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was also affected, telling reporters the cause was "Grosjean again".

"Romain, Romain, what are you doing?" BBC commentator David Coulthard said.  "So many first-corner incidents."

Another former F1 driver, Johnny Herbert, called on Lotus to sack the reigning GP2 champion.

"I don't see what he's adding to the team," he said on Sky television.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said Sunday's incident was "classic Grosjean".

Grosjean admitted to Sky that Sunday's was a "stupid crash" and said he had yet to speak to his Lotus bosses about their reaction.

Non-members attend FOTA meeting at Suzuka
(GMM)  Political allies Ferrari and Sauber returned to a FOTA meeting on Sunday, despite no longer being official members of the F1 teams association.

With the notable exception of Red Bull and the similarly-owned Toro Rosso, all the F1 teams met in the Lotus hospitality area at Suzuka to talk about a budget cap, proposed higher entry fees, and a forthcoming meeting with FIA president Jean Todt in Paris.

"Only Red Bull remains isolated," a report in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said, explaining that - at the 23 October meeting - Bernie Ecclestone is expected to present the final Concorde Agreement.

But a big point of discussion on Sunday was the FIA's plan to dramatically increase official entry fees for 2013.

"Should we just swallow what is put before us by Ecclestone and Todt, or should we be able to have an influence?" Williams' Toto Wolff is quoted as saying rhetorically.

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