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

  • Straddled with a slow and unreliable Mercedes, Schumacher was faster than teammate Nico Rosberg many times this year
    Red Bull left Austin without buying Vettel's boots
  • Schumacher had 'no choice' but to retire - Stuck
  • 'First loser' means $10m extra for McLaren
  • Whiting clears Red Bull over 'rubber' nose
  • Alonso toughest possible rival for Vettel - Hill
  • F1 chief will fight $650 million damages claim
  • Button expecting steady McLaren start for Perez
  • McLaren: "We squandered title chance"
  • Schumacher wants to savor farewell
  • Haug doubts Schu wants F1 role in 2013 New
  • Vettel lacks 'charisma' - Ecclestone New
  • Barrichello admits little chance of F1 return New
  • Karthikeyan hits out at Vettel after Austin New

Red Bull left Austin without buying Vettel's boots
(GMM) Reigning world champions Red Bull left Austin without paying a bill.

Germany's Bild newspaper reports that, prior to the US grand prix, the team pre-ordered a pair of customized, Red Bull-branded cowboy boots for Sebastian Vettel.

But Noel Escobar, the Austin-based master boot maker, told the newspaper: "We worked through the night but no one came to pick them up.

"Red Bull owes me $2,150."

Red Bull told Bild it had to cancel the order at short notice, but is happy to pay the bill.

Schumacher had 'no choice' but to retire - Stuck
(GMM) Hans-Joachim Stuck, a former F1 driver and now president of Germany's motor racing federation DMSB, thinks Michael Schumacher is being pushed back into retirement.

After a less-than-shining three year comeback with Mercedes, seven time world champion Schumacher will retire again after his 308th and final career grand prix this weekend in Brazil.

The famous German also 'retired' in Brazil six years ago.

"It will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we (Ferrari) were still fighting for the championship and everything was much more intense," Schumacher said this week.

Schumacher and Mercedes have gone to great lengths to counter the perception that the 43-year-old is being callously ousted to make room for 2013 arrival Lewis Hamilton.

But when asked about Schumacher's impending retirement, Stuck is quoted by spox.com: "He had no choice.

"Mercedes signed Lewis Hamilton and Michael couldn't find another adequate cockpit."

Stuck said he regrets that F1's most successful driver of all time will no longer be on the grid from next year.

"I would like to have kept watching him try to match up to the younger drivers," said the 61-year-old.

'First loser' means $10m extra for McLaren
(GMM) McLaren's battle for the 2012 drivers' and constructors' crowns is over.

But Jenson Button said the Woking based team, whose 'supremo' Ron Dennis once famously declared that second is just "first of the losers", is nonetheless determined to be runner-up.

Red Bull has now secured the constructors' title for this year, but McLaren is just 14 points behind Ferrari for second place, with just this weekend's Brazilian showdown left to run.

Britain's Sun newspaper said the difference between second and third is almost $10 million in Concorde Agreement prize-money.

"The constructors' title does mean a lot to me because it is a lot of money," driver Jenson Button confirmed.

"I think we can do it, but we will need the perfect weekend.

"It is also nice to get one over on Ferrari. We want to finish in front of them.

"We are a competitive team. We cannot beat Red Bull but we can beat Ferrari, which has to be our aim."

Whiting clears Red Bull over 'rubber' nose
(GMM) Charlie Whiting has played down claims Red Bull has pushed the rules further than any rival with its supposedly 'rubber' front nose.

Video footage of a mechanic removing Sebastian Vettel's damaged front nose during a recent pitstop caused alarm in the F1 paddock, as the nose appeared to bend, flex and twist as though it was made of rubber.

Reports suggested the team, famously led technically by the so-called 'genius' Adrian Newey, had pushed the envelope further than ever in the realm of flexible parts.

But subsequent reports claimed Red Bull's nose actually behaved quite normally, given the qualities of the tips of F1 cars' noses for the FIA crash-test requirements.

Indeed, Charlie Whiting, the FIA's technical chief, is quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "What happened with Vettel in Abu Dhabi was an extreme case, because the mechanic grabbed the nose and gave it a twist.

"I am sure that would also happen on any other car," he added.

Alonso toughest possible rival for Vettel - Hill
(GMM) Fernando Alonso still has a significant chance of winning the 2012 world championship this weekend.

That is the view of 1996 title winner Damon Hill, who named the Spaniard as probably the toughest challenger Sebastian Vettel could possibly face for the Interlagos showdown.

"If he had any other opponent, I would say that Sebastian would definitely win with his 13 points advantage," the Briton told the German newspaper Die Welt.

"But you can't write off someone like Fernando Alonso. He is such a clever and tough driver and he always seems to pull off something extraordinary.

"Anything is possible in Brazil."

Nonetheless, the mainly Ferrari-loving readers of Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport concede that Alonso has only a 20 per cent chance to win in Brazil.

"He has an advantage, no question," Hill agreed.

"If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say the odds at 65 per cent in favor of Vettel."

And if German Vettel does add a third consecutive title to his tally on Sunday - a feat not achieved so early in Michael Schumacher's career - Hill thinks the 25-year-old could be on the road to eventually eclipsing Schumacher's record achievements.

"Someday, he certainly could," Hill said. "It's still a long way away of course. But he could certainly venture into that territory.

"If Vettel wins in Brazil, then you can certainly imagine him winning two more championships -- at least."

Karl Wendlinger, a former Sauber driver, told Austrian Servus TV this week that on a dry track and in the absence of reliability problems, Vettel should easily finish ahead of Alonso in Brazil.

So that is where the sport's gaze is centered at the moment: on Red Bull and Renault's last-minute efforts to solve the recurring alternator problem, and on a forecast of almost certain rain for both qualifying and the race in Sao Paulo.

"We want to win the race," said Vettel. "Failing that, we want to be second or third."

The podium, or even a fourth place, would guarantee Vettel the title. Still, Italy is not giving up.

"Believe in yourself, Ferrari," La Gazzetta dello Sport hailed. "Believe in Fernando, the track, and the weather."

F1 chief will fight $650 million damages claim
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said he plans to contest a $650 million damages claim filed in New York, the latest legal case to stem from the sale of the motor racing series in 2005.

Investment firm Bluewaters Communications Holdings filed the lawsuit at New York State Supreme Court last week, naming Formula One commercial head Ecclestone as one of the defendants.

In its claim, Bluewaters said it was prepared to offer more than any other bidder for the sport and alleged that Ecclestone had engineered a sale to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners so they would retain him in his role.

"Ecclestone was motivated by a thirst for power. He wanted desperately to remain "F1 Supremo"," the Bluewaters claim said.

The damages relate to what Bluewaters say would be their share of lost earnings from the sport, which attracts huge television audiences for its series of 20 annual races around the globe.

Its bid was financed by New York private equity firms Apollo Global Management and King Street Capital Management, it said.

Ecclestone told Reuters he was surprised that the case had been brought and said he had not heard of Bluewaters.

"I couldn't have been involved because I had nothing to sell," he told Reuters by telephone from Brazil where the final Formula One grand prix race of the season will take place at the weekend.

Button expecting steady McLaren start for Perez
Jenson Button is unsure whether Sergio Perez will challenge for wins as soon as the 2013 Formula 1 season begins in Melbourne. The Mexican, who will make the jump from Sauber to replace Lewis Hamilton, has said he aims for the title in his debut campaign at Woking.

Next year will see Button commencing his 14th F1 season and Perez will become his ninth team-mate after Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli, Jacques Villeneuve, Takuma Sato, Anthony Davidson, Rubens Barrichello and the aforementioned Hamilton.

“It's going to be a tricky seat for Checo to fill,” Button is quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “Lewis is a guy who has won the World Championship and had so many wins and races with this team. It is a massive ask but what else can you do?

"You need to have someone in the car and he (Perez) is quick. I've heard he's intelligent, too. I don't know if he will be up to it straight away - he is going to be spending a lot of time in the UK at the factory.

“We will see what happens. I have a feeling he will be competitive, but of course he doesn't have the experience. I don't think he will be fighting at the front at the start of next season but we might be surprised at the first race.”

Having debuted with Sauber and impressed immediately in 2011, Perez has gone on to clinch three podium finishes in Malaysia, Canada and Italy this year.

McLaren: "We squandered title chance"
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh believes that Lewis Hamilton would be fighting for the Formula 1 world championship in Brazil this weekend if the team had got the most out of its car this year.
A spate of early-season errors and more recent reliability failures derailed Hamilton's campaign and left him unable to threaten Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso for the title. Whitmarsh thinks the pace of the McLaren in Austin last weekend, where Hamilton hunted down and defeated Vettel, shows the potential the team had this year.

"We have to get better, we have to get stronger, and we have to make fewer mistakes," explained Whitmarsh. "We had a lot potential this year and we haven't really got what we should have got from the potential we had in the team.

"We will learn from that, and come out stronger next year, but at the moment we are focused in a few days' time on the next race in Brazil and trying to win it."

When asked whether he believed the form that Hamilton delivered in Abu Dhabi and the United States shows that he should really have been a title contender still, Whitmarsh replied: "He should have been, but I haven't spent that much time dwelling on it.

"We have underperformed. We haven't done a good enough job in a number of different ways, but we've had a quick car and that is an achievement. We have done some good things but we haven't nailed it in the way I would have liked.

"We have to get better at everything we do and that is what we will aim to do over the winter, and aim to see if we can have an epic season next year." Racer.com

Schumacher wants to savor farewell
After being forced to retire a 2nd time despite getting the best of his younger teammate Nico Rosberg many times this season, Michael Schumacher is keeping a positive attitude.

"Interlagos is the right place to round off my career because so much of the fascination of Formula One is rooted there. I always enjoy the enthusiasm of the fans, and it’s simply a great circuit which has seen many memorable events and always produces spectacular races as the unique layout guarantees plenty of action. For me, it’s also the circuit that brings back my memories of Ayrton.

"My departure from Formula One will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we were still fighting for the championship and everything was much more intense. This time round, I will be able to pay more attention to my farewell and hopefully savor it too.

"I have had fantastic years in Formula One and a lot of support from fans around the world, and I wish to particularly thank them for that. Of course, I would be happiest if I could say goodbye with a strong race, and I am sure we will be doing everything we can to make it happen."

Haug doubts Schu wants F1 role in 2013
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has played down the possibility Michael Schumacher will return to the paddock next year with a prominent F1 role.

The seven time world champion is returning to retirement after a three-year comeback with Mercedes, but had been tipped for a non-driving role at Mercedes.

"There will be talks after the season," Mercedes' motor racing vice-president Haug told SID news agency.

"However, I don't think Michael wants a role in formula one.

"He loves our brand and we would count ourselves very lucky if Michael would work with us further in the international sphere for Mercedes.

"There are few sportsmen who are rated as highly as he is, or loved as much.  And the roots of his professional career were with Mercedes, just as the end of his active career was as well.

"A further cooperation could not be more authentic," added Haug.

Meanwhile, Haug denied suggestions Mercedes is ramping up its formula one budget to coincide with the arrival of Lewis Hamilton in 2013.

"I don't know where these rumors come from," said the German.

"That was never the plan, and we never have nor never will complain about having too little money."

Vettel lacks 'charisma' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel lacks "charisma", his friend Bernie Ecclestone has acknowledged.

But the F1 chief executive, who plays backgammon with the 25-year-old reigning world champion at grands prix, doesn't blame the sport's latest crop of stars.

"He (Vettel) lacks a little charisma," Briton Ecclestone, 82, told Bild newspaper, as Vettel looks set to match the achievement of greats Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher with his third consecutive drivers' crown.

"Guys like Hunt, Rindt, Lauda, Senna were real characters, but they can't be like that anymore because they are protected by the team bosses far too much.  Now the FIA gives them a muzzle," said Ecclestone.

"They're not even allowed to show their emotions," he exclaimed.

Barrichello admits little chance of F1 return
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello has all but ruled out a return to formula one in 2013.

Until now, F1's longest-serving veteran has refused to call time on his grand prix career, despite switching to IndyCar for 2012 after losing his Williams race seat.

The Brazilian, 40, made his first visit to a F1 paddock since retiring last weekend in Austin, sparking rumors he was chasing the cockpit vacancy at Force India.

But he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I don't know whether I'll be driving IndyCar next year.  Certainly not with my old KV team.

"Everybody wants money.  In formula one my chances (of returning) are practically zero."

Karthikeyan hits out at Vettel after Austin 
Narain Karthikeyan has defended himself following another on-track incident with Sebastian Vettel in Austin. The HRT driver was accused of holding up his Red Bull rival in the opening sector, just moments before Lewis Hamilton stole the lead.

However, Karthikeyan says he was simply driving to Race Director Charlie Whiting's instructions, with backmarkers told to move out of the way after Turn 8.

"I cannot listen to this nonsense anymore," Karthikeyan is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport. "In the drivers' briefing, Charlie said we do not have to let anyone past in the twisty section of the first sector. It is simply not possible, because apart from the ideal line it is extremely dirty.

"Charlie told us that we should let the faster drivers pass after Turn 8, the first slow corner after the fast section. So that's what I did. Vettel was also present at the briefing, has he sometimes not been listening? He does this too often and it's too intense. Slowly, I'm starting to get tired of it."

Karthikeyan and Vettel memorably collided during this year's Malaysian Grand Prix, with the two-time Champion coming off worse and picking up a left-rear puncture.

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