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F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Kamui Kobayashi fan
    Hamilton slams teammate Button on Twitter
  • Korea GP organizers insist F1 'worthwhile' despite loss
  • Webber confronted Grosjean after 'nutcase' jibe
  • Vettel races into title hot seat with Red Bull 'double DRS'
  • Pirelli has offered Schumacher a job as F1 tire tester
  • Red Bull downplay double-DRS impact
  • Sauber F1 Team - Interview with Kamui Kobayashi
  • Pundits unsure of Grosjean solution

Hamilton slams teammate Button on Twitter
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton accused his McLaren teammate Jenson Button of lacking respect in the hours after Sunday's Japanese grand prix.

Earlier media reports - indicating that the pair's relationship was breaking down ahead of Hamilton's switch to Mercedes - revealed that Button had 'unfollowed' the 2008 world champion on Twitter.

"After three years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn't," Hamilton told his 1.1 million Twitter followers.

"Funny thing is, we are STILL teammates!"

Less than an hour later, the 27-year-old realized his mistake.

"My bad, just found out Jenson never followed me.  Don't blame him!"

Hamilton also criticized his McLaren successor, Sergio Perez, after the Mexican spun behind him at Suzuka.

"He didn't drive very well," Hamilton told reporters, describing the current Sauber driver's Japan antics as "crazy".

"He went off on turn one, then he kept going off all over the place and then he crashed.  It was ... interesting."

Before the driver criticized McLaren's current and future drivers, team boss Martin Whitmarsh said Hamilton would be welcome to return to the great British team in the future.

"I don't think Lewis' intention is to hop from team to team on an annual basis and I am sure that is not Ross (Brawn's) intention either, but never say never, as they say, and let's see what happens in the future," he said.

Korea GP organizers insist F1 'worthwhile' despite loss
(GMM)  South Korea has indicated it could keep organizing an annual grand prix.

Despite the Yeongam race only joining the F1 schedule in 2010 and having a contract through 2016, recent speculation suggested organizers are baulking at the financial losses.

But organizer Park Jong-moon has been quoted by the Korea Times as saying losses from "big sports events" are "inevitable".

"Even the 1988 Seoul Olympics was a money-losing event, (but) it is worthwhile, considering other effects that were far greater than profit," he said.

Park also said Bernie Ecclestone has agreed not to charge the usual 10 per cent fee increase for the 2012 race, which is taking place this weekend.

But the Korea Times report said two main sponsors of the grand prix have pulled out.

"After reviewing our corporate image and alternatives, we decided not to take the main sponsor deal this year," an official for POSCO, a Korean steel company, said.

Webber confronted Grosjean after 'nutcase' jibe
(GMM)  Mark Webber has admitted to confronting Romain Grosjean after Sunday's Japanese grand prix.

The Australian was furious with the Lotus driver at Suzuka, describing the Frenchman as a "nutcase" after their first corner tangle.

It is Grosjean's ninth similar offence since returning to F1 as GP2 champion this year, causing many in the paddock to call on the FIA to give the 26-year-old yet another race ban.

Grosjean admitted after the race that Webber was "obviously not happy" when they had a word in the Suzuka paddock.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport added that Webber had said to Grosjean, "Look me in the eye, Romain" as he gave the Frenchman a serious dressing-down.

"If you go on like this, you won't be here long," the Red Bull driver reportedly added.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda described Grosjean as "insane", the SID news agency reports.

The great Austrian added: "If he cannot learn, he must be banned again, and this time for more than just one race."

At Suzuka, the stewards gave Grosjean a ten second stop and go penalty -- the harshest that can be applied during a race.

"The punishment is not adequate," said Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, "especially after his history."

McLaren's Jenson Button added: "Is it formula one's responsibility to do something about it?  Or should he just take a good look at himself and sort his sh*t out, because that's what he needs to do."

Grosjean's boss Eric Boullier told RMC Sport that there is "no excuse" for the repeat offenses, insisting it is "he alone who must learn to control his emotions and the pressure".

But Boullier also said: "We could see in Singapore, when Romain was back on track (after the Monza ban), that the other drivers were putting some pressure on him at the start."

Vettel races into title hot seat with Red Bull 'double DRS'
(GMM)  The final five races of the 2012 season will likely stage a head-to-head contest between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, with the protagonists each pushing to add a prestigious third crown to their tallies.

Mathematically, however, there are plenty of contenders still in the running, including Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and even the beleaguered Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa.

But Bild newspaper confidently predicts German Vettel "will be world champion" after he won so dominantly from pole at Suzuka, with Alonso's Ferrari stranded in the first-corner dirt trap.

Until very recently, Spaniard Alonso was the overwhelming title favorite, causing Austria's Kleine Zeitung to muse after Japan that Suzuka was "The great turning point" in the 2012 battle.

Some think it is not Alonso's bad luck that is the major factor, but Red Bull's latest - and until now low-profile - Adrian Newey-penned aerodynamic development.

The new 'double DRS' has undoubtedly been a factor as Vettel overcame McLaren's recent dominance with wins in Singapore and now Japan.

So will Ferrari and McLaren have to rush out copies now?

"You don't develop something like that overnight," Germany's Auto Motor und Sport quotes Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali as saying.

McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh adds: "It's not a good idea to panic."

But the Briton admitted McLaren has a double-DRS "project" on the back-burner.

Former F1 engineer and manager Joan Villadelprat wrote in Spain's El Pais newspaper: "Less than a month ago nobody would have bet on Red Bull in this championship.

"But Ferrari cannot give up because they have the means to develop until the very last race, despite the problems they're having in the wind tunnel.

"And they have an extraordinary driver in Fernando Alonso, who even after two retirements is still able to aspire for the title with only five races to go."

Alonso, however, is clearly frustrated that a title he once seemed destined to secure is now dwindling.

"For six races," he told Spanish reporters after retiring in Suzuka, "we have had the same car, without a single new piece.

"Felipe (Massa) did a perfect race, driving well, but I see his second place as a little coincidental.  There were people with much faster cars, making mistakes and going off the track one after another."

Domenicali is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo: "I can fully understand his frustration right now.

"But you all can be assured that we are working hard to give Fernando a car with which he can express his talent."

But German commentator Christian Danner said: "Red Bull has made such a big jump, and now have such an incredibly good car, that I can hardly imagine Ferrari challenging them now."

Pirelli has offered Schumacher a job as F1 tire tester
(GMM) Pirelli has offered Michael Schumacher a job as F1 tire tester. After losing his Mercedes seat to Lewis Hamilton, the seven time world champion announced on Thursday that he is returning to retirement in 2013.

The news has piqued Pirelli chief Paul Hembery's interest, with the Briton describing the 43-year-old as the sport's "most experienced tire tester". "If he gets bored in the Swiss mountains, then we will find a job for him," he laughed, according to Germany's motorsport-total.com. "We can't offer him 20 million, so he would have to do it for the love," grinned Hembery.

Pirelli conducts private F1 tire testing with a 2010-specification Renault R30.

Red Bull downplay double-DRS impact
Christian Horner insists Red Bull's upturn in form is down to several factors and not just the introduction of their own double-DRS.

The reigning World Champions introduced the device at the Singapore GP where Sebastian Vettel clinched his second victory of the season.

Running it for a second time in Japan, the German was in fine form, claiming a dominant win to move within four points of Fernando Alonso's lead in the Drivers' Championship.

However, Horner has downplayed the impact the double-DRS has had on Red Bull's form.

"As with all these things there is never a silver bullet, and I think it would be very difficult to say that the car's performance here is down to a rear wing," Horner told Autosport.

"I think we have made progress in all areas and it is about chipping away at the detail.

"We had the fastest pitstop in Japan for example, so it would be wrong to say our upturn in performance is about finding a few kilometers on the straight."

He added: "I think the car has worked well here in all conditions, low fuel, high fuel, and on long runs on the two compounds of tire that we have been presented this weekend. I think the nature of this circuit suits the car."

The Red Bull team boss also urged his outfit to continue working hard as there are still five races to be run as look to secure a third successive Drivers' crown for Vettel.

"We have seen how performance moves around, so there is absolutely no predictions that we can take out of this event, other than we need to keep pushing," he said.

"We need to keep bringing performance to the car and the Championship now is effectively a battle of five races between Fernando and Seb.

"You can't rule out the others, but whoever does the best job over the next five races will ultimately prevail." Planet F1

Sauber F1 Team - Interview with Kamui Kobayashi
There was hardly anyone in the Formula One paddock in Suzuka who could resist smiling at the sight of an elated Kamui Kobayashi after his third place finish in front of a home crowd at the Japanese Grand Prix. A day later, the Sauber F1 Team driver talks about the first podium in his Formula One career.

Kamui, has yesterday’s achievement sunk in yet?

Kamui Kobayashi
: “To be honest I don’t really know because I’ve been busy since the race was over. Last night there was a party with fans in Suzuka, and this morning I went straight back to Suzuka circuit because there was another event organized with more than 5,000 fans. In every respect it was a very intense weekend. I had a lot of confidence before we came to Japan, but then on Friday we were slower than expected, which was a bit worrying. Then qualifying went well, except I lost time due to a yellow flag, and the race was close until the very end.”

What does the first podium finish mean for you personally?

“I’ve always felt that if you ever want to look back and regard yourself as a Formula One driver, you have to have been on the podium at least once. Without such a photo it’s a bit as if you had never been there. So it means a lot to me.”

You frequently said in public before the race that you wanted to finish on the podium. That was quite a bold statement. What made you so confident?

“Firstly, I had great faith in our team; secondly, I knew we had a fast car; and thirdly, it was clear to me that Suzuka is the perfect track for it. Despite becoming a bit uncertain during Friday, I was very positive again on Saturday and after the formation lap I really had the feeling it would all go well this time. I had a couple of chances earlier in the season but missed them due to bad luck. I knew that the potential was there and this time it all went smoothly.”

What were your thoughts and feelings when you crossed the line?

: “I instantly relaxed when all the pressure came off. Without doubt it was a very important race for me in my career. And I felt: yes, now we will be having more strong races and really go for 5th place in the constructors’ championship.”

And how was it being on the podium, facing the huge grandstand with all your fellow countrymen cheering you?

: “This I cannot put into words. It was a fantastic feeling to see all the people in my home country so emotional and happy. It gave me such a lot and I will never forget that moment. I want to thank the Japanese fans for the great support they gave to the Sauber F1 Team and to myself.”

Pundits unsure of Grosjean solution
Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle fears there may be no solution to Romain Grosjean's much-criticized driving in the wake of the Frenchman's seventh first-lap collision of the season at the start of the Japanese GP.

The Lotus driver was once again found to be on the receiving end of a barrage of criticism after running into the back of the front row-starting Red Bull of Mark Webber at the second corner, spinning the Australian round and in effect wrecking his race.

In interviews with Sky Sports F1 in the immediate aftermath of the race, Webber called Grosjean a "nutcase" and called for a repeat of the ban the 26-year-old received last month while his team boss Christian Horner described the Frenchman's first-lap move as "crazy". McLaren's Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, meanwhile, labeled the incident as "classic Grosjean".

Discussing Grosjean's driving during Sky Sports F1's post-race analysis, Brundle suspected that while Webber, and the two cars ahead of him, were navigating the second corner fairly cautiously, Grosjean had been too distracted by Sergio Perez trying to overtake him round the outside and simply took his eye off the Red Bull.

However, Martin also added that the sheer number of similar incidents Grosjean has been involved in this year suggested that the Frenchman may be fundamentally flawed in such situations, making any road to redemption difficult to determine.

"Mark was quite slow in turn two but he was keeping the pace of the two cars in front of him. Grosjean's full attention clearly went to stopping the Sauber coming past him and forgot about the car in front," Martin said.

"But these things don't happen by coincidence, his judgment is clearly wrong in close combat and I don't know what he can do about it because it's such an instinctive thing down there [in racing situations].

"You can't consciously start making decisions. And then when you start getting tense about that, it's all the more likely to happen."

After causing the first-corner pile-up at Spa last month which removed four cars - including championship leader Fernando Alonso - from the race, paddock observers had hoped that suspending Grosjean for the Italian GP would serve to teach the Frenchman a lesson and make him adopt a more measured approach at the start of races.
But with the latest incident already leading to accusations that the former GP2 Champion still hasn't changed his ways, Sky F1's Anthony Davidson and Johnny Herbert believe it is now up to Grosjean's fellow drivers to speak up in order to educate him.

"I don't know what can be done," Anthony said. "A one-race ban wasn't enough so I think it's up to the drivers and the GPDA and his team as well, because you don't want that happening all the time when he's one of your drivers." 

Johnny concurred, saying: "I don't think there is anything he can do because he just keeps on repeating it. What partly annoys me it seems to always go to the FIA and they all leave it to them to decide, but to me the drivers now, the GPDA, should sit him down and absolutely have a right go at this guy."

For his part, Grosjean appeared contrite after the race and stressed that he has been trying to stay out of trouble at the start of races.

"After the ban I'm very careful at the start. I kept my line trying to avoid any contact with Perez who was on my left and didn't see the delta speed with Mark," Romain told Natalie Pinkham.

"[I did] nothing special. Just trying to avoid any contact was my main objective and, yeah, it didn't work. It was a stupid clash." Sky Sports

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