Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
Ferrari 'approached' Webber for 2013 drive
|Mark Webber was on Ferrari's radar|
- F1 to finally use HD on-board cameras - Sylt
- Hamilton denies Mercedes 'regrets'
- HRT drivers deny car unsafe for last races
- Alonso 'will fight to last breath' - Lauda
- 'No pressure' on sponsor-less Kobayashi - Sauber
- No 'Ferrari World' in Valencia
- Talks for new Canada GP deal 'going well'
- Kovalainen admits F1 exit possible
- Sensitive fans should stop watching F1 - Vettel
- Practice and qualifying ban for DRS in 2013
- Schumacher buys horse ranch in Texas
- Hellmund now pushing to revive Mexican GP
- F1 Teams to face tougher front wing tests
- F1 aims to drop 'force majeure' rule
- FIA to restrict DRS use next year
- F1 drivers hail “spectacular” Circuit of The Americas
- Button 'excited' about 2013 prospects
Ferrari 'approached' Webber for 2013 drive
(GMM) Mark Webber has revealed Ferrari was interested in signing him for 2013.
Ultimately, the Australian decided to stay at Red Bull, despite confirming suggestions the team's driver manager Dr Helmut Marko is keener on Sebastian Vettel.
"Everyone can see where Helmut's allegiance lies," Webber told CNN.
"But there are two cars and I have the opportunity to drive one of them."
Previously, Webber and Ferrari have played down their reported links earlier this year, but the 36-year-old is now more willing to reveal the extent of the talks.
"Ferrari approached us first," he said.
"We made the decision just before Silverstone when both teams seemed pretty interested. I'm happy with that decision."
F1 to finally use HD on-board cameras - Sylt
(GMM) F1 may finally feature high-definition on board cameras in the near future, according to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.
A few days ago, Sylt - having seen a copy of the F1 floatation prospectus - revealed that Bernie Ecclestone is considering a GP2-GP3 series for the American market.
"It (the prospectus) also says that some of the TV innovations which are being developed include an HD on-board camera, a multi-channel format with different views of the track and an interactive 3D replay function," Sylt told us.
He said HD on-board cameras for F1 is "interesting and long-overdue" news.
Hamilton denies Mercedes 'regrets'
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has rejected Martin Whitmarsh's claim he is already regretting his decision to switch to Mercedes next year.
Lamenting the end of their partnership after six years together in F1, McLaren chief Whitmarsh insisted Hamilton has probably "on occasions" wondered if moving to Mercedes for 2013 is the right choice.
"Yeah, I was a little bit surprised to hear that," Hamilton said on Thursday in Austin, the scene of his penultimate race for McLaren.
"It's clearly absolutely not the case. But I'm sure everyone has emotions within the team.
"Of course it's quite emotional for me too but I'm very, very happy with the decision I've made," he added.
HRT drivers deny car unsafe for last races
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa on Thursday denied there are fears his HRT car is unsafe.
Amid the struggling Spanish team's push for survival, it was reported in Spain this week that engineers fear a lack of resources has contributed to worrying technical failures at recent races.
"All I can say is that we might be modest, we are small and we are what we are, but we are a professional formula one team and for sure when we start running it's because the car is safe," veteran driver de la Rosa said in Austin.
"I would never jump into an unsafe car because of parts being too old. So no, the answer is the car is slow but it's safe," he insisted.
Spanish media sources, however, continue to insist that staff are being laid off and the entire workforce will be dismissed on December 2 if urgent investment is not found.
Narain Karthikeyan, de la Rosa's teammate, admits he is worried.
"Everything has turned on its head in the last 24-48 hours as you can imagine," he told the Times of India.
"I may be forced to look beyond F1 now so looks like it is going to be a very busy off-season," added Karthikeyan.
He caused a big accident involving Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi recently when, in the middle of a fast corner, he braked when his steering suddenly failed.
"Everyone knows that motor sport is risky business and you sign up for that the moment you take up racing as a career," said Karthikeyan.
"But that doesn't mean I am looking for any extra risks in that respect.
"The fact is, if it is apparent that there is an issue and something isn't right then I will be the first one to put my hand up and say that I can't go ahead with this.
"But as of now things look ok and hopefully we'll complete the remaining two races without any unpleasant surprises," he added.
Alonso 'will fight to last breath' - Lauda
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso each deserve to win the 2012 title.
A debate has simmered in the F1 paddock lately about who is the more deserving triple world champion: Ferrari's 'samurai'-style Spaniard Alonso, or the back-to-back title winner Vettel, at the wheel of the faster Red Bull.
"They are both giants and I congratulate them both," F1 legend Niki Lauda is quoted by Spain's EFE news agency.
"But Red Bull is half a second faster and that's the key.
"For me, in terms of overtaking ability and strategy, they are evenly matched. Alonso has the advantage of more experience.
"I think Vettel will win the championship but Alonso will not make it easy and will fight to the last breath," added the great Austrian.
But there are rumblings in the paddock that, although acknowledging Vettel's advantage, most people in F1 would prefer if Alonso triumphs.
"I don't think so," Force India's Nico Hulkenberg told Sport1. "Sebastian is very popular.
"I think it's just the psychological games that are always there in a championship fight. Red Bull is a good team with a good driver and a good crew."
'No pressure' on sponsor-less Kobayashi - Sauber
(GMM) Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn has played down suggestions Kamui Kobayashi's future with the Swiss team depends solely on his efforts to find a sponsor.
It is believed the Hinwil based squad is - to please its major backer Telmex - on the brink of signing its Mexican reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez to partner Nico Hulkenberg in 2013.
Japanese Kobayashi, who has been with Sauber since 2010, admitted recently he needs to urgently find some financial backing.
Kaltenborn, however, said the team signed Kobayashi in its moment of need just after the BMW withdrawal, but still didn't ask him to bring any sponsors.
So when asked if Kobayashi needs a sponsor now, she insisted: "No.
"I don't think it's right to now suddenly make it an issue, and there is no pressure on him. It's about what he does on the track," Kaltenborn told PA Sport.
No 'Ferrari World' in Valencia
(GMM) Negotiations to bring an Abu Dhabi-style Ferrari theme park to Valencia in Spain have reportedly broken down.
EFE news agency reports that the Valencian government was unable to receive a guarantee that the privately-backed 'Ferrari World' would not require state money either now or in the future.
"It's a good investment, a very interesting investment, but what we will not do is have it as a cost for the Valencian government or community," said regional vice president Jose Ciscar.
"We are uncompromising on what must be the basis of the negotiations, which is that it must not cost Valencia a single euro," he added.
Talks for new Canada GP deal 'going well'
(GMM) Montreal is confident it will secure a new ten-year deal to keep hosting the Canadian grand prix.
La Presse reports that negotiations between the Quebec government and formula one officials are proceeding well.
"Nothing is settled," tourism minister Pascal Berube said, "but it is going well and we trust that we can sign for ten years."
It was reported earlier this year that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone was threatening to axe the race if the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not upgraded.
Kovalainen admits F1 exit possible
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has admitted it is possible he will walk away from formula one at the end of the season.
Although highly rated, the Finn could be dropped by Caterham for 2013, due to the team dropping outside the lucrative top ten places in the constructors' championship.
It is believed the Tony Fernandes-led team is considering replacing him with the sponsored Dutch driver, Giedo van der Garde.
Kovalainen, 31, ruled out keeping his F1 dream alive by turning to a test driver position.
"If I am not a racing driver, I will do something totally different," he is quoted by rtl.nl.
"I have a few ideas but I haven't really thought about it," admitted Kovalainen.
"Apart from formula one, there is little that interests me, not even sports cars.
"DTM? No. America? No. Rally is really the only thing that interests me, but we have seen how difficult that is," he said.
Rtl.nl claims that if Kovalainen finishes outside the top ten in both Austin and Brazil, he will beat Italian Piercarlo Ghinzani's record for the most consecutive grands prix without scoring a point.
"Of course I would prefer the record for the most number of points consecutively, but it is what it is," said Kovalainen.
Sensitive fans should stop watching F1 - Vettel
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has advised sensitive formula one fans to switch over to children's programming.
Last week, the reigning world champion apologized for using the 'F'-word during his podium interview with David Coulthard recently in Abu Dhabi.
The apology followed the FIA's letter to teams, warning that the use of foul language should not be tolerated.
"I think," German Vettel said in Austin on Thursday, "if you're sensitive you should watch - I don't know - some kids program.
"You have the remote control in your hand, so you can chose.
"I think it's a bit unnecessary to create such a big fuss but anyway, if I said some things that weren't appropriate then I apologize but I think there's not a lot I have to do differently to succeed in that regard," the Red Bull driver added.
Vettel's powerful friend Bernie Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, insisted he is also not too concerned about drivers' language, even though Kimi Raikkonen also swore on the Abu Dhabi podium.
"The language drivers use is passive compared to what you hear on TV or in general," he told the Associated Press.
Practice and qualifying ban for DRS in 2013
(GMM) The use of the moveable rear wing innovation 'DRS' will be banned in practice and qualifying in 2013, it has emerged.
The ban follows complaints from the drivers themselves, who argued that the innovation - to make overtaking easier during races - had also made driving more dangerous.
"The request to Charlie (Whiting) was practically unanimous," Australian driver Mark Webber told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
Webber said that in the quest for faster lap times, drivers were often opening their rear wings in the middle of very fast corners.
"We believe there have been a number of incidents and drivers have told me it is becoming increasingly prevalent," Whiting is quoted by the BBC.
Whiting said the FIA had only ever allowed the use of DRS in practice and qualifying because he feared drivers would otherwise sacrifice the DRS' overtaking benefits when setting up the cars.
"But we see that they (the teams) have taken a different approach," Whiting is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
"So we are going to change the rule for 2013."
The use of DRS in the specific overtaking zones will still be allowed during practice and qualifying in 2013, he added.
Schumacher buys horse ranch in Texas
(GMM) Michael Schumacher has bought a 200-hectare ranch in Texas, according to the German newspaper Bild.
The report said the seven time world champion's equestrian-loving wife Corinna has already started breeding riding horses at the property, where they have been staying in the past few days.
The ranch has stables for 36 horses, Bild added, but quoted Schumacher as insisting: "No, no, we're going to keep living in Switzerland.
"But we will also be here and plan to spend more time here," said the Mercedes driver in Austin, Texas, ahead of the US grand prix.
Schumacher, 43, is returning to retirement after next weekend's Brazilian grand prix.
Hellmund now pushing to revive Mexican GP
(GMM) The former mastermind of this weekend's US grand prix in Austin, Tavo Hellmund, now has his sights fixed on returning formula one to Mexico.
Hellmund fell out spectacularly with the eventual Circuit of the Americas management, but he will be at the track this weekend and has some key meetings planned.
"The sky is the limit," he told the Austin American Statesman newspaper. "It could potentially break every grand prix attendance record."
Hellmund is talking about Mexico, even though his friend Bernie Ecclestone recently ruled out the old grand prix circuit in Mexico City.
"That's the problem," said the F1 chief executive. "It's the old one. It just needs sorting out a bit."
Hellmund plans to raise between $60-75 million for the upgrade job.
"The track needs a facelift, but so many of the right components are in place," he said.
"I think it's totally the right time," Hellmund said. "No one wants to waste the opportunity of having these (Mexican F1) drivers."
Indeed, Mexican Sergio Perez is set to switch to the high-profile F1 grandee McLaren, while countryman Esteban Gutierrez is tipped to replace him at Sauber.
Perez said on Thursday: "If he comes (to Sauber), it will be good to have two Mexican drivers after so much time without a driver. Now we are finally going to have two on the grid."
F1 Teams to face tougher front wing tests
Formula 1 teams will face tougher front wing tests next year, with the FIA keen to clamp down on team's exploiting the flexible bodywork rules.
Although the governing body tightened up the wing flexibility tests for this year - with a 1000N force applied 790mm ahead of the front wheel centre line – that has not stopped suggestions that some teams are still trying to get around the rules.
At the Japanese Grand Prix this year the FIA trialed a different location for the tests, and it has decided that tests will be done differently for 2013.
Speaking at the United States Grand Prix, F1 race director Charlie Whiting said that four independent tests will now be used on front wings next year.
"I think rigidity, or lack of it, on some front wings has been the subject of a lot of discussion," he explained. "We've attempted to introduce some new tests, which not only tests its vertical deflection but also torsional stiffness of the front wing as well. And we're going to take a step further next year as well.
"It will be a matter of applying the load. At the moment we apply the load at 790mm forward of the front axle. We are going to move that forward 15cm and back 15cm – so we will do two tests [in those areas]."
Whiting also said he had no concerns about the visible flexibility of the nose tip of the Red Bull car - which was highlighted in video of it during a pit stop at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – as all cars feature lighter than normal bodywork in that area.
"What you saw on the Red Bull at the last race was extreme, as they had cameras on that part and the guy was actually twisting those cameras to try and get the nose off," he said.
"I think if other cars had cameras mounted in those places and they did the same thing to get the nose off then they would do something very similar.
"We are satisfied that the Red Bull car is no more flexible than anybody else in that area so it was a rather strange phenomenon – which I don't think anyone was expecting to see – but there was a perfectly logical explanation for it." Yahoo Eurosport
F1 aims to drop 'force majeure' rule
Formula 1 chiefs are considering revising the qualifying rules for next season to remove ambiguity over what is a justifiable reason for cars not completing their in-laps.
At the moment, drivers have to make their way back to the pits under their own power unless there is a case of 'force majeure' that stops them.
In Abu Dhabi, Red Bull successfully argued that the fear of an engine failure caused by Sebastian Vettel potentially running out of fuel was a case of 'force majeure' - even though it was subsequently found that not enough petrol had gone into the car.
Earlier this year, Lewis Hamilton was thrown to the back of the grid at the Spanish Grand Prix after McLaren failed to put enough fuel in his car – and their pleas that it was 'force majeure' were not accepted.
The two situations prompted the matter to be talked about by teams at a meeting of the FIA's Technical Working Group last week – and it is likely the rules will be changed for 2013.
F1 race director Charlie Whiting said: "I think that episode has brought up a number of questions that have been addressed.
"We discussed it last week in the TWG and the consensus of opinion is to remove the term 'force majeure' and make it clear what is allowed and is not allowed.
"I think we will probably end up with a rule that doesn't mention force majeure and simply says that if you stop on the circuit you have to have enough fuel in the car.
"The FIA will calculate how much you would have used if you had completed the lap and, if it does not add up to 1.42 liters or whatever it is, that is that. That is a logical way of going about it, I think." Yahoo Eurosport
FIA to restrict DRS use next year
The FIA is to restrict the use of DRS anywhere on the circuit except in the allocated zones during practice and qualifying on grand prix weekends next year.
Since the system was introduced at the start of the 2011 season, drivers have been free to use the DRS as they want during practice and qualifying with the activation zone applying only in the race.
But FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting recently informed the teams that he is no longer happy with this for safety reasons amid concerns about drivers risking deploying the DRS early at the exit of corners.
"We are going to prohibit the use of the DRS during practice and qualifying except in the places where it's going to be used in the race," said Whiting.
"It's something that we told the teams about the other day, that we are doing it for safety reasons.
"There have been a number of incidents and drivers have told me that it's becoming increasingly prevalent [for the early deployment of DRS to cause problems].
"One could argue that the early deployment of the DRS is not much different to early deployment of the throttle, but the DRS is an on/off switch whereas the throttle can be modulated."
Whiting is confident that the change will not reduce the effectiveness of the DRS is creating overtaking.
The FIA conducts in-depth analysis of the DRS based on data from every race weekend and this suggests that teams will continue to set the cars up to capitalize on using it in the activation zone or zones during qualifying and the race.
"The whole point of the DRS was to improve overtaking opportunities in the race," said Whiting.
"We didn't really want to have it used in qualifying and practice before but we were worried that we may not have effective DRS systems.
"Now I believe [based on] all the information we have, we should not see any reduction in the power of the DRS.
"Teams will still use it because even though they're allowed to use it in perhaps two places on the circuit, the benefit will still be there.
"I'm sure that it will work just as it does now."
F1 drivers hail “spectacular” Circuit of The Americas
Superlatives were the order of the day when six Formula 1 drivers faced the first official press conference of the first FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas Thursday.
Among them was Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari star who is gunning for his third drivers’ world title this weekend with Ferrari. “The track seems spectacular, very, very nice, it will be challenging for us drivers and for the engineers as well,” said the 31-year-old Spaniard.
Like most of the 24-driver field, Alonso, a three-time winner in 2012, already ‘knows’ the circuit thanks to technology. “We did some simulator programs after Singapore,” explained Alonso, “then we started getting a little bit more intense this week.”
Alonso also resorted to a less sophisticated method: “We also did two laps on the bicycle and hope to do some more this afternoon,” he added. “I think it will be a good show for everybody and hopefully some good overtaking opportunities around the track so it can be a really good weekend.”
Another F1 world champion, Lewis Hamilton, agreed: “It’s quite difficult to learn initially but it looks fantastic to drive,” said the Englishman who is going into his second to last race with the McLaren Mercedes team. “I really started to enjoy it once I got used to it – it took perhaps a little bit longer than some other circuits to learn, but it’s going to be very interesting this weekend.”
Alonso’s title rival, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, was a little more circumspect: “We have to wait until we get out [on track] until we have a judgment on how the circuit feels,” said the reigning champion. “It looks quite interesting but it’s the feeling inside the car which I think is most important so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Veteran Pedro de la Rosa of the HRT team acknowledged the challenge that lies ahead on the 3.4-mile Texas track.
“It looks like a very difficult track with very big gradient changes and most of the corners are blind,” said De la Rosa, whose team’s future is in some doubt with the news this week that it is up for sale. “It’s going to be difficult and challenging.
Kimi Raikkonen, winner of the last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi for Lotus, just got into Austin and couldn’t offer an opinion, but Sergio Perez summed it up neatly: “I walked the track and it’s amazing,” said the 22-year-old Mexican. “It will be very enjoyable for all the drivers.”
Button 'excited' about 2013 prospects
McLaren driver Jenson Button believes 2013 will be better for him after expressing confidence that the outfit’s new design “will suit him more” than this year’s car.
The British driver, who is close to completing his third campaign with the Woking-based team, has been struggling for performance in comparison with team-mate Lewis Hamilton and has endured his least successful year since his Championship-winning 2009 season with Brawn GP.
While Button acknowledged the qualities of this year’s MP4-27, in which he won the season opener in Australia and the Belgian Grand Prix, he pinned the reason of his unsatisfactory results to a failure to extract the car’s potential on a regular basis.
"For me this year has been more difficult than the last two years,” said the 32-year-old talking to Sky Sports.
“The car is quick, we've proved that on many occasions. But for consistency, for me it's been a little bit more difficult to get the results. The car next year should suit me a bit more, which I'm very excited about.”
This weekend’s race at the Circuit of the Americas might have no meaning for Button’s – or his team’s – Championship fight, but the McLaren man feels he can still compete for a good result.
“Probably we're the ones that know [the track] the best because probably our simulator is the best on the grid,” said the Briton, who went on to analyze the new venue – the first to host Formula 1 in the United States since Indianapolis in 2007.
“We have a good feeling for the circuit. It's very tough on the cars and the tires - especially the first sector. Turn 1 to Turn 9 is very fast and it's just changes of direction all the way through. Our car seems to work well in that environment, and then you've got a lot of slow corners towards the end of the lap.”
Bullish as he may feel about his own prospects, Button believes the usual names will also be in contention for major spoils under the baking Texas sun.
“We should be competitive here but I'm sure Red Bull will be, I'm sure Ferrari will be and Lotus,” he added. “So it will be a competitive race and that's what we want as well - we don't want one person to go away [at the front] and win this Grand Prix.”