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Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Ecclestone and Lattuneddu
    Ecclestone to pay budget cap whistle-blowers
  • Vettel ahead because Red Bull so superior - Hamilton
  • With new form and contract, Massa 'relieved'
  • Contenders line up for Force India seat
  • Ferrari asked FIA question about Red Bull's car
  • Formula 1 teams told trick brake systems are illegal
  • Red Bull's ‘genius’ engineer Adrian Newey happy to shun fame
  • How the new F1 entry fee will work
  • Ferrari breaks curfew for second time New
  • Ferrari reverts to off-track weapons for Red Bull battle New

Ecclestone to pay budget cap whistle-blowers
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has an innovative idea to police his F1 budget cap.

Some top teams are not keen on the proposal to cap their total annual spend to US $250 million, but the sport's chief executive is nonetheless confident it could work.

Ecclestone, 82, told the Express newspaper that the most effective way to police the cap would be to pay whistle-blowers.

"People within teams know if something is going on," he said.

"An incentive of $500,000 might encourage people to speak out.

"I also want team principals and team owners to sign a contract which would hold them personally responsible for cheating and they would have to pay the fines themselves," added the Briton.

The smaller teams, however, are not sure the $250m cap would be overly helpful to them.

Told the figure Ecclestone has proposed, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost responded: "Ha -- we are far away from that".

Vettel ahead because Red Bull so superior - Hamilton
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel is only on the cusp of securing an ultra-rare on-the-trot hat-trick of F1 titles because of his superior Red Bulls.

That is the claim of Lewis Hamilton, who hinted he rates the talents of the German's 2012 championship rival Fernando Alonso more highly.

"For me, Fernando is more accurate," McLaren driver Hamilton is quoted by British newspapers in Abu Dhabi.

"He (Alonso) hits all the apexes.  He (Vettel) goes off and he still goes quickest.  And I think holy sh*t, I couldn't do that lap even if I was on the limit.

"His car is just that far ahead of everyone else's," said Hamilton.

Indeed, the big step forwards made by Red Bull recently has many figures in the F1 paddock scratching their heads.

"They've done something," Hamilton insisted.  "The car doesn't look any different but all of a sudden there's a gap.

"I have my own opinion and I know how it is but that just confirms it when you miss all those corners.  But you still have to do a job with it and he does."

Without specifically naming Red Bull, McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh hinted that the energy drink owned team is happier than some other top teams to skirt close to the legal limits.

"It's the old Benetton effect, isn't it?" he is quoted by the Guardian.

"I'm trying to avoid (mentioning) the obvious one today, (but) Benetton was a brand that enjoyed controversy for their particular consumer," said Whitmarsh.

"There are teams that appear to have racier interpretations on regulations and resource restrictions."

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi admitted he expects Vettel to cruise to the 2012 title now.

"When you see it from inside the car, it's unbelievable," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"If it continues like this, I think Sebastian will win easily," said the Japanese.

With new form and contract, Massa 'relieved'
(GMM)  With better form and a new contract in his pocket, Felipe Massa has revealed he is now "relieved" and much happier.

F1's media has spent much of 2012 speculating about the Brazilian's likely successor, as the 31-year-old struggled massively with flagging form.

Now, his speed back on track and all signed up for another season, Massa admitted to Spain's AS newspaper: "Yes, I'm relieved.

"Calm, happy, yes.

"It is clear that the second half of the season has been very different for me from the first, and now I think the continuation (of his Ferrari career) was fair."

In the same vein, he admitted that - earlier - his was not always the happiest face in F1.

"Yes, sometimes I would be in my room, thinking What's wrong with me?  I have one of the best jobs in the world, a job envied and loved by everyone and yet I didn't know what wasn't right.

"Now I am 100 per cent happy, everything has changed and I cannot explain why," added Massa.

Contenders line up for Force India seat
(GMM)  The contenders are lining at the door to fill Force India's vacancy for 2013.

With Nico Hulkenberg switching to Sauber, there are plenty of suitors for the seat alongside Paul di Resta.

Spain's Marca sports daily said Pirelli tester Jaime Alguersuari has been offered a drive by BMW to race in the DTM touring car series next year.

"But he is exhausting his options to get into a F1 car next year before considering the proposal," read the report.

Another contender is Force India's current reserve driver, Jules Bianchi, who practiced in the team's 2012 car during Friday practice in Abu Dhabi.

"This was the first time that I was so close to him," the Nicolas Todt-managed driver, referring to Hulkenberg in the sister car, said after Friday's running.

"It is positive and a good time to get a good result.

"I know there are many other drivers who want to be in the team, but I think they (Force India) are happy with me and we'll see what they decide," he is quoted by L'Equipe.

Also linked with the 2013 drive have been Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Buemi.

With a bigger hatful of sponsors, however, is Bruno Senna, and according to Finland's Turun Sanomat, Williams last week allowed the option on his current contract to lapse.

Yet another contender is Brazilian GP2 driver Luiz Razia, who is also sponsored.

"If I had no sponsors, I would pack my bags and go home now," he told Radio Globo.

"To debut on a good team like Force India would really accelerate the process of coming to a really good team in two or three years."

Ferrari asked FIA question about Red Bull's car
(GMM)  Ferrari this week asked a question to the FIA about championship contender Red Bull's car, according to the Spanish sports daily AS.

The report said Ferrari, whose Fernando Alonso is pushing to catch runaway title leader Sebastian Vettel, asked the governing body if Red Bull is allowed to use a system whereby it changes the fluid levels of two tanks between qualifying and the race.

"It seems that this is one of the tricks (Adrian) Newey has used to improve the car," read the media report.

The FIA reportedly replied that the fluid levels could be changed in the event of an imminent failure, but if not, the car would theoretically need to start the race from the pitlane.

AS said Ferrari neither confirmed nor denied the story, instead insisting that it is common for teams to ask the FIA for clarifications.

Formula 1 teams told trick brake systems are illegal
Formula 1's teams have been told by the FIA that they cannot run trick brake systems that react to temperature to improve cooling during races, following a complaint by Red Bull.

AUTOSPORT reports that Red Bull wrote to motor racing's governing body ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to seek clarification on the use of thermal energy devices within the air duct of the brake system.

The team contended that attempts to use either a bimetallic strip - which would change shape to open and close off cooling ducts depending on the temperature of the brake friction material - or a thermal actuator was a breach of the regulations.

In the letter Autosport obtained Red Bull argued: "Use of such technology via either of the examples offered or similar devices will change the brake system, thus including the air duct, and are not reacting to the driver's direct physical input and are not under his complete control at all times as required by Article 11.1.4 [of the F1 technical regulations].

"RBR therefore contend such systems are in breach of the 2012 F1 Technical Regulations and seek your opinion on the matter."

Article 11.1.4 of the regulations states: "Any change to, or modulation of, the brake system whilst the car is moving must be made by the driver's direct physical input, may not be pre-set and must be under his complete control at all times."

In a letter that was forwarded to all teams and seen by AUTOSPORT, the FIA's Charlie Whiting said: "In our view movement of a bimetallic strip and thermal actuator within the air duct as you describe would not be made by the driver's direct physical input, hence we believe such a system would contravene Article 11.1.4 of the F1 Technical Regulations." Autosport

Red Bull's ‘genius’ engineer Adrian Newey happy to shun fame
The hottest property in Formula One right now would probably go unrecognized in his own local. Yet faced with the prospect of losing either the 53-year-old engineer or Sebastian Vettel – the double world champion close to his third-straight drivers’ title – there is no doubt who Red Bull would choose to keep.

If the car is 90 per cent responsible for success in Formula One, and the driver 10 per cent, as David Coulthard once observed, then Newey is worth his weight in gold, though he is more of a carbon-fiber man.

“Publicity and fame, whatever you want to call it, is certainly not why I do it,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “I’m quite fortunate in that outside of the immediate vicinity of the racetrack, say, I can go to the pub and the shops and no one recognizes me, which suits me just fine.”

If there is one man deserving of recognition, though, it is Newey. His cars have now won well over 100 grands prix, eight constructors’ and seven drivers’ championships for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull. And with three races of this season remaining, he looks certain to add to that tally.

Every time his rivals try to handicap him Newey finds another way of beating them. It took him until Singapore to find a way around the blown diffuser ban this season, but since then Red Bull have been unstoppable, with Vettel, 25, claiming four wins out of four. Telegraph

How the new F1 entry fee will work
The much discussed entry fee hike for F1 teams was confirmed this week, as the 2013 Sporting Regulations were published by the FIA.

Under the new rules for 2013, the team that wins the constructors’ championship will pay a basic fee of US$500,000 and then $6000 US for every point scored. The other teams will pay the same basic fee plus US$5000 per point.

So, for example, if Red Bull continues scoring points in the three final races at the same rate as they have scored in the last three races then they will end up with around 520 points, which will equate to $3.1 million on top of the $500,000 basic fee, a total of $3.6 million.

This is because the FIA wants a greater share of the approximately $1.5 billion turnover the sport generates each season, as FIA president Jean Todt told the Financial Times,

“FIA is a non-profit organization but we need to run our organization,” he said. “We need to encourage development of the sport, we need to encourage development of action for road safety. We cannot be a federation without having any revenue. So, where do we find our revenues?”

Ferrari breaks curfew for second time
Ferrari have broken the FIA curfew for the second time this weekend. Leaving the Maranello team with two curfew breakages for the remaining of the season, the squad is working on car upgrades in a frantic bid to outdo Red Bull for the championship.

Ahead of practice on Friday, team members who are directly connected with the operation of the cars entered the circuit well before the designated time. This is perfectly allowed, as each outfit is able to do so on four occasions throughout the campaign. In practice, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa tested numerous new components including revised front wings. This morning, paddock rumors state that one team member broke the curfew accidentally by entering the venue too early.

“I think there is still a long night for our engineers to set up the car properly,” Massimo Rivola, Ferrari Sporting Director, said at Yas Marina on Friday. “Not everything was right because, when you start doing some changes on the car and you test something new, you need to spend more time aero testing, rather than proper setup. We are confident of closing the gap on Saturday and I am very confident for the race.”

After Friday, Chassis Director Pat Fry admitted that the red cars are still not quick enough to challenge for pole position. Any improvements will be revealed in qualifying.

Ferrari reverts to off-track weapons for Red Bull battle
(GMM)  Ferrari's frantic push for the 2012 title has spilled into the world of paperwork, media reports from the scene of the Abu Dhabi grand prix have proved.

First, the Italian team has managed to convince the FIA that it is playing by the rules despite using two of its 'curfew' wild cards in a single race weekend at Yas Marina.

The rules say mechanics and engineers are not allowed to work on the cars within certain timeframes at the grands prix, but Ferrari has already used two of its four exceptions for the season in Abu Dhabi.

Previously, it was understood teams could only use a maximum of one exception per weekend.

Meanwhile, it emerged earlier on Saturday that Ferrari wrote to the FIA to ask about an oil system aboard Sebastian Vettel's ever-dominant RB8 car.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport now has the details.

The publication said the FIA has told Ferrari that Red Bull's system is legal, even though the Italian team suspected its rival was using fluid levels in an oil tank for weight distribution purposes.

Auto Motor und Sport said Ferrari earlier this week also asked the FIA about an apparently ingenious brake cooling system on the RB8.

Technical boss Pat Fry reportedly wanted to know if two different metal materials, with different thermal expansion creating a 'column' for cooling, can be used.

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