Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
F1 briefs: Kubica, McLaren-Mercedes and Austin
|McLaren stays w/MB |
- Slim 'quite sure' Gutierrez to race Sauber in 2013
- Red Bull 'not involved' in qualifying fuel debacle
- New flexi saga questions 'rubber Red Bull'
- Boss Abiteboul, racer van der Garde tipped for Caterham
- Leaving Ferrari was 'a relief' - Raikkonen
- Whitmarsh: Perez doesn’t understand McLaren pressure New
- Cyril Abiteboul Promoted by Caterham F1 Team New
- Senna won't let uncertainty get to him New
F1 briefs: Kubica, McLaren-Mercedes and Austin
(GMM) Robert Kubica will continue his push for racing fitness by stepping up to the wheel of a full world rally-spec Citroen C4 for two forthcoming minor rallies (Rally di Coma and Rallye du Var). "I can't wait to drive a car that is as quick and has been as successful as the C4 WRC," said the former BMW and Renault driver, who was seriously injured in a rally crash in February 2011.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh has once again fended off speculation McLaren could be set to switch engine suppliers, amid rumors the British marque is eyeing a collaboration with Honda. "It is going to be McLaren-Mercedes for quite a few years to come," he told the Daily Mail. Whitmarsh played down reports the Woking based team is looking at its options because it will now have to pay for a 'customer' supply of Mercedes power. "I think we have got a very good deal with them, but I think more importantly than that is we have got a good partnership," he insisted.
The first of F1's six cargo 747s has touched down in Austin, Texas, ahead of the Circuit of the Americas' first US grand prix next weekend. Local broadcaster KVUE said the 'Cargolux' flight touched down at Austin-Bergstrom international airport on Wednesday afternoon. "A lot of that (flight's cargo) is supplies for the paddock area," track president Steve Sexton said. The Circuit of the Americas is an all-new facility, and Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali told La Stampa his team's analysis is that it is a "copy and paste" of other well-known grand prix layouts.
Slim 'quite sure' Gutierrez to race Sauber in 2013
(GMM) If Sauber's biggest sponsor has its way, Esteban Gutierrez will next year line up on the grid alongside confirmed 2013 driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Gutierrez's fellow Mexican Sergio Perez, who is heading to McLaren, was until now the cream of Sauber backer Telmex's F1 program for the last two years.
But waiting in the wings all the time has been the one-year-younger Mexican reserve driver Gutierrez, who is this week testing Sauber's C31 in Abu Dhabi, as is another 2013 candidate, the highly-rated Robin Frijns.
Telmex chief and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, however, could have a substantial influence on the final decision.
"We are talking with Sauber for next season," he told the Mexican newspaper Reforma, "and we intend to continue together.
"Obviously that will be with the participation of a Mexican driver, which is Esteban Gutierrez," Slim Domit insisted.
Gutierrez, 21, got his first taste of official F1 action recently in India, when Perez was suffering from a heavy cold and sat out a practice session.
"It would not be that the team gives him a practice event in formula one if they have no long-term plan for him," Slim continued.
"And for us, we would not have our participation in formula one without a Mexican driver, so I think it is quite sure that for the first time next year, we will have two Mexican drivers in formula one for a full season," he added.
Red Bull 'not involved' in qualifying fuel debacle
(GMM) Red Bull has distanced itself from the blame, following Sebastian Vettel's disastrous qualifying session in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
Disqualified from the session after scrutineers could not extract the necessary liter of fuel for sampling, the championship leader had been asked to stop the car urgently following advice from engine supplier Renault.
It emerges that Renault feared damage to the engine and other systems if Vettel's RB8 had been left to run completely out of fuel.
"We saw some numbers going down," said Vettel, "and in order to save the engine, save the pumps in between etcetera, we decided to stop the car, convinced that we had enough fuel in the car to provide a sample."
So why wasn't enough fuel put in the car for the decisive qualifying session?
"It's difficult," team boss Christian Horner is quoted by Germany's RTL, "because Renault was sure there was enough fuel in the car.
"What happens is the engineers for the engine side calculate the amount of fuel to be put into the car. As a team, we (Red Bull) are not involved in it," he insisted.
New flexi saga questions 'rubber Red Bull'
(GMM) The seemingly never-ending saga about bendy formula one cars is back in the media spotlight, and as ever championship leader Red Bull is right in the middle.
Multiple videos depicting the front nose of the world champions' 2012 RB8 car have emerged in the wake of last weekend's Abu Dhabi grand prix, showing the extreme tip of the front nose section to be apparently made of some sort of 'rubbery' material.
The best videos of the 'rubber' Red Bull can be seen at:
"Is this legal?" wondered a report by Italian magazine Autosprint, with Tuttosport adding: "Should it (the nose) not be a rigid part?"
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport journalist Tobias Gruner, however, thinks the controversy is a "false alarm", because the front 150mm of the nose extremities are "always made a little softer" for the purposes of the FIA's mandatory crash tests.
But Gruner also acknowledged that engineers from rival teams are similarly analyzing the images, with "at least one team" thought to have already contacted the governing body.
As ever, right at the heart of the latest technical controversy is Red Bull's designer Adrian Newey, who was recently labeled a "genius" by McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton.
"His cars are veritable works of art," agreed British broadcaster Damon Hill, who in 1996 won the championship at the wheel of a Newey-penned Williams.
"I don't want to go too far, but he is the Michelangelo of formula one," he added.
Boss Abiteboul, racer van der Garde tipped for Caterham
(GMM) Caterham's latest recruit, Cyril Abiteboul, is tipped to succeed founder Tony Fernandes' as the team's new principal.
Having announced a major new sports car venture with Renault, Malaysian entrepreneur Fernandes this week confirmed reports he is stepping down as Caterham's F1 boss.
Initial rumors suggested his successor could be Jean-Francois Caubet, whose last race as engine supplier Renault's F1 chief was in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
But another prominent Renault member also left the French engine supplier recently: Cyril Abiteboul.
Indeed, Renault's former deputy managing director was in September signed up as Caterham F1's new chief executive.
Asked recently if Abiteboul will soon be Caterham principal, Fernandes answered: "Not at the moment, no. Eventually, maybe."
The Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat on Wednesday reported that Abiteboul will indeed take over Fernandes' role.
The report also tipped Caterham to announce Dutchman Giedo van der Garde as part of the team's 2013 race lineup, amid suggestions the other seat will be filled by the similarly well-backed Frenchman Charles Pic, who would move from Marussia.
That would leave the highly rated - but unsponsored - Heikki Kovalainen out in the cold for 2013.
Van der Garde is this week testing the green CT01 in Abu Dhabi, but he will not be reprising his recent Friday driving duties next weekend in Austin.
"It's a new track and so the race drivers need the maximum time in the car," he is quoted by De Telegraaf newspaper.
The report said van der Garde will, however, be practicing on the Friday before the 2012 finale, in Brazil.
Leaving Ferrari was 'a relief' - Raikkonen
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has admitted it was a "relief" when his lucrative deal with Ferrari ended in 2009.
The premature termination of the Finn's contract, making room for the arrival of Fernando Alonso and major sponsor Santander, pushed Raikkonen out of F1 completely and off to a two-year foray in world rallying and Nascar.
But the now 33-year-old returned to the grid this year with Lotus, performing impressively to now sit a comfortable third in the drivers' standings, and having notched up his 19th career grand prix last weekend in Abu Dhabi.
He is also signed up for 2013.
Asked by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca to recall his memories of racing for F1's most famous team Ferrari, Raikkonen answered: "Neither good nor bad.
"I won a title with them and had some good times. I am satisfied with the three years I spent there.
"I don't miss anyone," he admitted. "To me, leaving there was a relief.
"The situation could have been better, but it's the past and what is done cannot be reversed," said Raikkonen.
"Things don't last long if you're working somewhere and the relations are not good."
He explained that, in contrast, he enjoys working with Lotus.
"I felt good from the start," said Raikkonen. "People work hard and calmly, but they want to win and the sport and the technical sides come before the politics."
Whitmarsh: Perez doesn’t understand McLaren pressure
Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that Sergio Perez will face a newfound strain when he switches to McLaren from Sauber for 2013. Since signing with the Woking team, the Mexican has failed to score a point for the Hinwil-based outfit.
“He is going to find a different world at McLaren,” the Team Principal told The Daily Mail. “He will turn up in Australia next year with so much more pressure on his shoulders and that is something he has to be groomed to deal with.
“If you turn up and we're not on the first two rows and not competing for the win, then ourselves and Ferrari get that pressure in the way that no other F1 team does. When Red Bull weren't competitive no-one was piling into them, so there is an added pressure to being a McLaren driver. He might think he understands it, but he doesn't.”
Since taking over the Team Principal mantle from Ron Dennis ahead of the 2009 Formula 1 campaign, Whitmarsh had to date signed only Jenson Button.
“We are an international brand,” he continues. “We happen to have two great British drivers at the moment. Looking forward, we had two British drivers because they were the two best I could hire - and we've got a British and a Mexican because they are the best two I could hire for the upcoming season and that is where we are at.”
Perez – GP2 runner-up to Pastor Maldonado in 2010 – has impressed this year, scoring podium finishes in the Malaysian, Canadian and Italian Grands Prix.
Cyril Abiteboul Promoted by Caterham F1 Team
Caterham F1 Team has today confirmed that Cyril Abiteboul has been promoted to the role of Team Principal with immediate effect. He will combine that role with his current responsibilities as CEO, a post he took up in September 2012.
Tony Fernandes, Caterham Group Chairman: “Having launched our partnership with Renault in Paris on Monday the plan Kamarudin and I formed over three years ago for our automotive interests has come to fruition. The strategy for the establishment and growth of Caterham Group has now reached the stage where we can step back from the day to day running of the F1 team in favor of Cyril who will be able to dedicate himself full time to the role and work closely with Riad to help take our automotive interests into the next stage of their growth.
“Cyril is going to be an excellent Team Principal. He has extensive experience in F1, he is extremely well respected and he shares our vision for what we want our team to achieve. He takes over during a season when we have not yet fulfilled our potential, but at a time when we have everything in place to help us do so. One day we will earn our seat at the top table of Formula 1 and he is the right person to take us there.
“This decision allows Kamarudin and I to focus on AirAsia and gives Riad the structure he needs to allow the various Caterham Group businesses to flourish under his leadership. Kamarudin and I will continue as Co-Chairman of Caterham Group and we now have the best possible team in place to take our dream into its next phase. Kamarudin and I will still have an active interest in our various Caterham companies, but we have now reached the point in the growth of the business where it makes most sense to step back.
“We have taken Caterham Group from nothing just three years ago to today, where Caterham Cars has the platform with Renault to take it from a niche brand into an innovative participant in the global automotive market. Caterham Technology is also integrally involved in the Renault partnership, working with Renault on the design and development of our road cars, as well as currently working with a number of other blue-chip companies including Airbus, and they are fast being recognized as a leading player in the technology and innovation fields. Caterham Composites is also in rude health, working with CTI on the Airbus project in addition to a variety of other cutting-edge programs that will soon see the light of day. In summary, Riad is now leading a group of businesses that put the Caterham name at the forefront of the technological and innovation fields across a wide range of industries.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal Caterham F1 Team: “I am honored to take over as Team Principal, now combining that role with the CEO post I took up in September 2012, and I would like to thank Tony and Kamarudin for the chance to lead this team into the next phase of its growth. We have big challenges ahead of us but the shareholders are committed and behind us to help us take significant steps forward over the coming years, and one day challenge for the highest honors in F1. We have an incredible spirit within the team and that has been created by Tony and Kamarudin. This spirit, allied to a strategic vision that gives us a clear path to success, is what will keep driving us forwards and we all look forward to the day we can make the dreams our shareholders had several years ago come true.”
Senna won't let uncertainty get to him
Bruno Senna is refusing to let uncertainty over his future affect his on-track performances.
With test driver Valtteri Bottas believed to be taking one of the team's two race-seats for next season, either Senna or team-mate Pastor Maldonado could be getting the boot.
However, given that Maldonado not only brings with him hefty sponsorship from oil company PDVSA but also claimed the team's only victory of 2012, it appears as if Senna will be the one making way.
The Brazilian, though, is refusing to let the rumors get to him and claimed only his second back-to-back points-finish of the campaign when he brought his car home in eighth place in Abu Dhabi.
"You do not think about it," he told Globo Esporte. Planet F1