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F1 news in brief - Sunday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • No team orders
    Red Bull denies 'team orders' looming in Korea
  • Jordan pays tribute to 'honest boss' Sauber
  • Hamilton insists leaving McLaren 'no risk'
  • Hamilton admits Ferrari talks
  • Mercedes not bad choice for Hamilton - Domenicali
  • McLaren 'pressure' better for Perez - Domenicali
  • Schumacher ready to go 'home' after F1 retirement
  • Massa denies 'good mood' means new contract signed
  • Alonso's title chance just 30pc now - Briatore
  • McLaren chose Button over Hamilton's farewell party
  • 'Piranhas' putting 'trout' Grosjean under pressure
  • Alonso loses championship lead to rival Vettel
  • Red Bull still not imposing team orders on Webber New
  • Force India plays down boss Mallya's problems New
  • Button slams Sauber drivers New
  • Button slams Sauber drivers New

Red Bull denies 'team orders' looming in Korea
(GMM)  A big question ahead of Sunday's Korean grand prix is whether Red Bull will allow Mark Webber to win.

The Australian is a long way behind teammate Sebastian Vettel's chase for the 2012 championship, but he has qualified on pole in Yeongam.

Dr Helmut Marko played down the 'team order' issue, telling Austrian broadcaster ORF that the main thing is that the pair "must not interfere" with each other's races.

"They both know that what is critical in the last five races is to finish the race, and that is by having no crashes, no spins or anything else," he said.

And Marko said Webber can still win the title.

"He is 60 points behind but there are still 125 to get," said the Austrian.

Former F1 driver and now Sky commentator Anthony Davidson, however, admitted he would be "very surprised" if Red Bull didn't order a position swap in the event Webber is leading Vettel late on Sunday.

Team boss Christian Horner denied the charge.

"No.  Both drivers are free to race," he said.

"We ask that they give each other space and the target is for both of them to beat Fernando (Alonso) and score as many points in the constructors' championship."

Webber, meanwhile, is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace: "We'll see tomorrow (Sunday), but I think we should be free to race."

Jordan pays tribute to 'honest boss' Sauber
(GMM)  Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan has revealed he remains good friends with Peter Sauber.

Sauber, who turned 69 on Saturday, has announced that after twenty years at the helm of his Swiss team, he has handed over to F1's first female boss, Monisha Kaltenborn.

He sat down with his old friend Jordan, now a pundit on British television, in the Korea paddock on Saturday.

The Swiss newspaper Blick said Sauber drank a glass or Prosecco and smoked a Havana cigar, while Jordan drank tequila.

"I respect Peter as I did 20 years ago," Jordan is quoted as saying.  "He was always the nice, dear, good-natured, honest boss -- and I was the complete opposite.  A real bastard!

"That's probably why we always got on so well."

Hamilton insists leaving McLaren 'no risk'
(GMM)  Leaving McLaren is not a 'risk' because the British team he grew up with has not been that successful in recent years, Lewis Hamilton has told the Spanish sports daily AS.

"There is no risk," the McLaren protege told the newspaper, when asked about his impending move for 2013 to Mercedes.

"At McLaren we haven't won the championship since 2008 and I haven't won too many races recently," he insisted.

"Every team has its ups and downs, but 2014 will be a pivotal year with the rule changes."

In the end, Hamilton's move might be seen as inevitable.

British newspapers are reporting that McLaren's relationship with Jenson Button is much closer, while the drivers themselves appear also to have fallen out.

Asked which former teammate he respected the most - Button or Fernando Alonso - Hamilton answered: "Um ... it would be politically incorrect to answer that question.

"Both Jenson and Fernando were great teammates, very competitive.

"Fernando is a two-time world champion and when I got to formula one it was a privilege to be with him."

Asked if he learned more from Alonso than he has from Button, Hamilton admitted: "Sure, because he was my teammate in my first season, so I noticed his telemetry, his way of driving.  I learned a lot from him, yes."

Hamilton admits Ferrari talks
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has admitted his manager had talks with Ferrari.

After six years with McLaren, the 2008 world champion went on the driver market for 2013 and has ultimately joined Mercedes.

But an interviewer for the Spanish sports daily AS asked Hamilton if it is true that switching to Ferrari was at some point among the Briton's options.

"Every driver dreams of driving a Ferrari, because it is a very prestigious team, with a great story, very passionate fans and they make competitive cars," Hamilton answered.

"But I am very happy to go to Mercedes and satisfied to have spent some wonderful years at McLaren.

"I think my manager spoke with Ferrari, yes, it's true, but I don't what know kind of conversation they had," added Hamilton.

He admitted he hopes Ferrari's Alonso - his former McLaren teammate - beats Sebastian Vettel to the world championship.

"I still think Fernando is the best driver.  The cleanest, the most sensitive, the most complete," said Hamilton.

"He is always taking points despite not having the fastest car, while Vettel has always had a great car these past years," he added.

But the Briton admitted: "With his (Red Bull) car, he is going to be hard to beat, even for Fernando."

Finally, after years of acrimony from Spanish supporters, the interviewer told Hamilton that Spain now "respects" the 27-year-old.

"Really?" Hamilton responded.  "Are you serious?  You don't know how happy that makes me."

Mercedes not bad choice for Hamilton - Domenicali
(GMM)  Stefano Domenicali has dismissed claims Lewis Hamilton has made a bad choice by electing to move from McLaren to Mercedes.

Told by an interviewer it might not be the wisest choice for the 2008 world champion, Ferrari team boss Domenicali said: "Mercedes has enormous potential.

"It has invested heavily in the past three years and has not achieved the results it expected.  But it is doing everything in its power to win," he told El Pais newspaper.

"Hamilton has seen this potential that has not yet materialized.

"What is clear," added the Italian, "is that McLaren has lost a tremendous asset.

"After Fernando (Alonso), Vettel and him are the fastest ones."

Meanwhile, Domenicali defended Alonso's number 2 teammate Felipe Massa, amid intense speculation in Korea that the 31-year-old will be retained in 2013.

"There is no evidence," he said, "that he is still suffering either medically or mentally from the accident he had three years ago.

"I think what happened is that he suffered more than his teammate with the cars we have designed lately.

"Another element to consider is that it is not easy for anyone to have someone like Fernando as your teammate.  You have to be very mature to accept how good he is.

"That's something we experienced with Schumacher as well -- when we had someone next to him who is able to recognize that Schumacher was faster, everything was perfect.

"When he (the number 2) tries to prove that he is better and he does not, problems appeared," added Domenicali.

McLaren 'pressure' better for Perez - Domenicali
(GMM)  Sergio Perez will be under much less pressure at McLaren than if he was signed by Ferrari.

That is the claim of Stefano Domenicali, defending Ferrari's decision to overlook its leading 'academy' driver while direct rival McLaren snapped up the Mexican for 2013.

Asked by El Pais newspaper if he is worried McLaren will show Ferrari made a grave mistake, Ferrari team boss Domenicali answered: "Clearly 'Checo' has potential.

"But the pressure he will have at McLaren will be much lower than what he would have had to endure if he was signed by Ferrari," he added.

If Ferrari had signed Mexican 22-year-old Perez, he would have replaced Felipe Massa.

But it is believed Ferrari is sticking with the Brazilian for 2013.

Massa was asked by the Marca sports newspaper if any young drivers on the 2012 grid have impressed me.

After a pause, he answered: "No.  There have been good drivers like Perez, who also has had a good car.

"Sauber have been very competitive this year, so although you can't tell who has truly impressed, they (Sauber) have done a great job."

Schumacher ready to go 'home' after F1 retirement
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher is in no hurry to decide what to do next, as he faces returning to retirement in 2013.

The great German claims he turned down the offer of a two-year Mercedes contract extension in order to return "home" to his wife and children in Switzerland.

"For me, there is nothing better than being at home.  For me this means freedom, and I want to enjoy that again soon," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

However, when he first quit F1 after 2006, the seven time world champion was soon back in the paddocks as a consultant for Ferrari.

Now, he is linked with a similar ambassadorial role with Mercedes.

But Schumacher, 43, insists: "The plan is that there is no plan.

"I experienced formula one from a different perspective," he said, contrasting his comeback seasons with his ultra-successful career between 1991 and 2006.

"Now I'm more open and relaxed.  I am going with my head held high."

Schumacher said his latest decision to retire is simply about motivation rather than age or any other factor.

"There were times in the past few months in which I didn't want to deal with formula one or prepare for the next grand prix," he admitted.

Massa denies 'good mood' means new contract signed
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has dismissed claims he has now signed a new deal to stay with Ferrari in 2013.

Intense paddock speculation in Korea suggests the deal is either done or imminently due, and 31-year-old Massa's good mood has added fuel to the fire.

"Well, I'm always in a good mood," the Brazilian smiled to Spanish sports daily Marca.

Ferrari, however, denied claims made on Brazilian television about Massa's 2013 deal.

"Perhaps it might come true, but the thing is that it is not (true) yet," Massa is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"I have not signed anything.  It may be that something different happens next week, and it could be (it does) not," he added, referring to the claim an announcement is scheduled for Tuesday.

Massa says commentators who have announced the impending news are jumping the gun.

"Until you sign a contract, it is not reality to talk about already signing," he said.

"It was the same when they said I had signed with Force India two years ago and then I stayed at Ferrari another two years.

"I think I'll be with Ferrari next year," Massa continued.  "I believe; but it's not signed, so I'm not sure."

However, he admitted his talks with Ferrari are now well advanced.

"Of course we're talking and we're doing it in a very positive way for both sides, but reality is when you sign, shake hands and say 'everything is done'.

"That's what we're working on happening, but it has not happened yet," Massa insisted.

Alonso's title chance just 30pc now - Briatore
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso's title prospects for 2012 have dwindled to just 30 per cent.

That is the claim of former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, who is still involved in the management of the championship leader's career.

Recently, Briatore said the Spaniard has all but wrapped up the drivers' title for Ferrari.

But the flamboyant Italian said at the Genoa boat show: "I think Vettel has a 70 per cent chance of winning the title, while Alonso's chance is 30," Briatore is quoted by the Ansa news agency.

McLaren chose Button over Hamilton's farewell party
(GMM)  McLaren mechanics chose a run with Jenson Button over Lewis Hamilton's farewell party in Japan recently, according to British newspapers.

The reports have revealed that Hamilton booked out a 16-lane bowling alley at Suzuka recently, where he planned to pay tribute to his mechanics before he leaves for Mercedes in 2013.

Asked in Korea when he would get together with his team, Hamilton said: "I don't know.

"I am sure at one stage I will, back at the factory."

The newspapers also said Hamilton is yet to speak with his former mentor Ron Dennis after deciding to leave McLaren.

"There will be people who are happy I am going, some who are unhappy I am going," said the Briton.

He admitted that a farewell bash he planned at Japan recently was cancelled because many McLaren mechanics wanted to do a charity fun-run with Jenson Button on the same night.

"I booked 16 lanes at the bowling alley for Saturday night, but something else came up so the guys weren't able to do it," said Hamilton.

"They were already committed before.  They went for a run with JB or something like that."

'Piranhas' putting 'trout' Grosjean under pressure
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean is expecting his rivals to ramp up the pressure as he vows to get through the first corner in Korea without incident.

The Frenchman's career is on the line following a string of first-lap crashes in 2012 and his Monza race ban, and most recently yet another incident at Suzuka.

After Grosjean's Suzuka crash, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier observed that, after he returned from his Monza ban in Singapore, "the other drivers were putting some pressure on him at the start".

Grosjean is expecting more of the same in Korea: "I think drivers will play with the fact that they know I am in a bit of a difficult situation, that's not a secret."

Spain's El Confidencial observed that the 26-year-old will, in Korea, be a "trout among piranhas".

But it's also true that Lotus, while keen to see Grosjean develop into a top driver, cannot forever back someone who rarely progresses past the first lap of a race.

"He knows the problems and understands them," team owner Gerard Lopez is quoted by Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"It is up to him to avoid them in the future, and that's what I expect from  him.

"Romain is a very talented driver.  I think he will get it under control."

Team boss Boullier said Lotus has not yet announced its 2013 driver lineup.

"We'll talk at the end of the season," the Frenchman said in Korea.

Alonso loses championship lead to rival Vettel
(GMM)  A visibly disappointed Fernando Alonso has in Korea finally lost his long-standing championship lead, as his title rival Sebastian Vettel won a third consecutive grand prix on Sunday.

Red Bull's German, who finished 8 seconds ahead of his teammate and pole sitter Mark Webber, is now 6 points ahead of Spaniard Alonso with just four races still to run.

Given the new dominance of the RB8 car - whose designer Adrian Newey collected the constructors' trophy on Sunday's podium - Vettel must now be considered the favorite to secure a third consecutive drivers' title next month.

"At the moment Red Bull are difficult to beat," Alonso, who finished third ahead of his resurgent teammate Felipe Massa, admitted to podium interviewer Johnny Herbert.

Vettel said: "I'm looking forward to the next couple of races."

Red Bull still not imposing team orders on Webber
(GMM)  Red Bull is still not willing to slot Mark Webber into a supporting role after Sunday's Korean grand prix.

With the Australian on pole but 60 points behind Fernando Alonso's championship lead prior to Sunday's race, the team said it would not be imposing team orders in a bid to boost teammate Sebastian Vettel's title chances.

The situation is now different.  After Korea, Vettel is now the championship leader, while Webber's points gap is even slightly bigger.

But when asked about the need for team orders, team boss Christian Horner said on Sunday: "It's still too early.

"The gap is pretty big but Mark still has a mathematical chance," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.  "So it would be wrong of us to ask Mark to do that (follow team orders)."

Horner said the opening lap in Korea was evidence that Vettel and Webber can fight fairly for position without interference.

"It's always nerve wracking when you see your two cars so close to one another, but they've done it many times before and (on Sunday) they fought perfectly down to turn three," he said.

Meanwhile, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is one point further up the standings than Webber, but the Briton thinks his championship is now over after finishing just tenth on Sunday.

"In terms of winning, I think that's it for us," he said.

"We were still in the fight up until now but it's too far away (now)."

It's also looking grim for Ferrari's Alonso, because even though the points gap to Vettel is only 6 points, it is Red Bull who are enjoying a position of clear dominance.

"Now we need to score seven points more than Sebastian, which will be extremely tough but we believe we can do it," said the Spaniard.

Force India plays down boss Mallya's problems
(GMM)  Bob Fernley has played down his boss Vijay Mallya's latest problems.

Already grappling with his ailing airline Kingfisher, Force India chief Mallya now faces arrest in his native India, two weeks ahead of the team's all-important home race in the country.

The non-bailable arrest warrant was issued by a Hyderabad court last week over bounced checks relating to the cash-strapped and grounded Kingfisher.

But deputy team boss Fernley has played down his boss's problems.

"It will be resolved and I expect Vijay to be in India," he is quoted by the south Asian news agency ANI.

"It's not a big amount of money so he would have no idea a check would have been issued.  For me, there are no issues with the team.

"It is just one thing that has gone wrong and I have to deal with it," he added.

Button slams Sauber drivers
Jenson Button was critical of Sergio Perez after he was forced to take evasive action when the Mexican, his future team-mate, outbraked himself down the inside at Turn 1.

Having done so, however, he was then wiped out two corners later as Kobayashi barreled off Nico Rosberg and into his McLaren.

Button accused the pair of reckless tactics, saying Kobayashi - whom he called an "idiot" on the radio - in particular was guilty of a 'massive' misjudgment.

"It seems both Sauber drivers think the first lap of the race is the only lap," Button said.

"[They] have got a great car underneath them and could score such great points here if they just kept their heads together. I don't know what they were doing.

"I got a really good start and passed Michael [Schumacher] and was alongside Nico [Rosberg at Turn 1] when Perez came from nowhere, chucked it up the inside, outbraked himself and hit the car in front.

"I had to run wide and push Nico off the circuit to stop an incident, so then Nico and I had a drag race down the back straights, Saubers all over the back of us.

"Basically I braked very, very late as I'm sure Nico did, and then suddenly got a big bang on the right hand side and Kamui came flying past. I don't know how he hit two of us, which was pretty special.

"It's very poor driving standards, considering this is the pinnacle of motorsport. It's not just a slight misjudgment, its massive.

"There is so much opportunity here as well with way tires are working and the DRS zone. It's a great circuit for overtaking, which is why it so surprising people are driving like that."

Hamilton: The title chase is over 
Lewis Hamilton has been forced to admit that he can no longer win the world title in 2012. Although it is mathematically still possible after Korea, the 2008 World Champion now sits 62 points off new leader Sebastian Vettel with 100 left on offer.

Statistically, any one of six drivers can still clinch the crown this year. In reality, the battle is fast becoming a two-horse race between Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Hamilton’s own Korean race ended in tenth position, complete with a piece of artificial grass being dragged by the car, following a selection of problems.

“I’m exhausted,” he said. “I was told after the race that my car had suffered a rear anti-roll bar failure a few laps into the second stint. It was safe to drive – and I was trying my best with it, pushing all the way – but it was extremely hard to maintain a good pace. The balance was switching from corner to corner, the car was moving around along the straights and it was eating up the tires.”

Having been forced to make a third stop, McLaren picked up just a single point with Hamilton as Jenson Button had been hit by Kamui Kobayashi on Lap 1.

“I terms of winning, I think that’s it for us,” Hamilton admitted. “So I guess the pressure is off now…there’s so much work to do and it’s just too far away now, but we’ll keep on fighting to get as high as we can for the Constructors’ Championship.”

To make matters worse for McLaren, not only did Red Bull achieve a one-two result on Sunday but the Woking team has now slipped to third, six points behind Ferrari.

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