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

  • Kimi Raikkonen
    Raikkonen to complete comeback with perfect record
  • Alonso would be champion in 2012 Sauber - Piquet Jr
  • Williams race deal won't change my life - Bottas
  • F1 to see 'the real Grosjean' in 2013 - boss
  • F1 heads to Brazil amid Sao Paulo crime wave
  • Another big loss for Korean GP
  • Mallya to pump $80m extra into Force India
  • Ferrari Is F1's Most-Valuable Team at $1.15B
  • Technical challenges for the Brazilian GP
  • Q&A with Force India’s Vijay Mallya New 
  • Red Bull call on Renault to fix alternator problem threatening Vettel's title bid New
  • Sauber to announce new driver in Brazil New

Raikkonen to complete comeback with perfect record
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen looks set to be the first driver since Nick Heidfeld in 2008 (BMW) to finish every race in a complete formula one season.

The Finn's rare feat, delivering him an almost certain third in the drivers' points standings, has coincided with his return to the sport with Lotus after a two-year rallying hiatus.

"Our record shows that the team can build a reliable car and that I know how to drive it," said Raikkonen.

Meanwhile, the former McLaren and Ferrari driver gave the same three-word answer - "Never give up" - to three separate questions in an interview for F1's official website.

The questions were: "What's been your most valuable life lesson?", "If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be?", and "What's the best advice you have been given?"

Alonso would be champion in 2012 Sauber - Piquet Jr
(GMM) Fernando Alonso's former teammate thinks the Spaniard could have been this year's world champion at the wheel of a Sauber.

Nelson Piquet Jr, who was Alonso's teammate at Renault in 2008 and 2009, thinks the 2012 Ferrari has been outclassed by the likes of Lotus and Sauber this season.

"The Ferrari is worse than those two, but sometimes a miracle is done because of Alonso.

"I think if he was in a Sauber or Lotus he would be world champion easily," the Brazilian, who switched to Nascar after the 2009 'crashgate' scandal, told Jovem Pan radio.

"I see those cars (Lotus and Sauber) in the front sometimes, but there is always the question: is it the car or the driver?" added Piquet, now 27.

The Brazilian looks back at his F1 career with some sadness, but insisted: "Alonso was not guilty of anything. It was great to have a teammate of his level.

"Before, when I was testing with Fisichella and Kovalainen, I could go at the same pace, but when I started to be with Alonso, I was suddenly half a second slower.

"Alonso made me work like crazy to find that there was more in me."

Of F1's next generation after him, Piquet said: "The two at Force India look good, and those at Toro Rosso seem better than Buemi and Alguersuari."

Commenting on some others on today's grid, he continued: "Maldonado has always been fast but makes many mistakes.

"Perez has done a few good races, but we don't know if that's just because of the car. I think Button will be better than him at McLaren."

Williams race deal won't change my life - Bottas
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas insists securing a contract to race a Williams in 2013 would not change his life.

The young Finn, who this year has been testing on Fridays for the famous British team, is waiting to know if he will debut as expected alongside Pastor Maldonado next year.

"I don't think it would change anything," Bottas told Finland's Turun Sanomat, when asked how a race contract would change his life.

"I would race just as I have done in other classes. Of course, I would then be racing against the very best in the world's fastest cars, but on the other hand, nothing else changes," he insisted.

"This year has been good in the sense that I know now what to expect through a season. I've been all over the place.

"Of course, it takes more energy to do more driving, and perhaps even more media work as well as more with the sponsors even in the breaks."

As for his likely 2013 teammate, Bottas said he has a "good relationship" with Venezuelan Maldonado, and thinks the pair would enjoy a competitive 2013 car.

"The rules are staying the same and so I think the balance of power will be pretty much the same as now," he said.

"Some though will make small improvements. At Williams we have been developing the car for a long time and we believe that it will certainly be better than this year."

F1 to see 'the real Grosjean' in 2013 - boss
(GMM) Eric Boullier has once again played down speculation Romain Grosjean's place at Lotus is in doubt for 2013.

At the end of a tumultuous season for Frenchman Grosjean, the 26-year-old admitted this week that he is yet to sign a new deal for next season.

But team boss Boullier told French-language f1i.com: "We believe in him.

"For us he is a long-term project and we consider him to be similar to (what McLaren did with) Lewis Hamilton.

"He has shown he is able to do superb racing, but then of course there were some errors that sometimes cost him very dearly.

"More recently he has been a bit more cautious and has been building up again, but I am sure that in 2013 we will see the real Romain," he added.

F1 heads to Brazil amid Sao Paulo crime wave
(GMM) A nervous F1 circus has travelled to Sao Paulo for F1's 2012 finale, amid reports of more than 1000 murders in the Brazilian city this year.

Britain's Guardian said the worse-than-usual bloodshed is due to drug-linked organized crime.

"We are not staying in gangland, though the track is near there," a team boss is quoted as saying. "But we don't go out in team colors."

Jenson Button, who two years ago was the victim of an attempted armed attack in Sao Paulo, admitted this week: "We are having armored vehicles and a police escort."

According to the Times newspaper, the US state department is describing the Sao Paulo violence as "critical" and has warned against gangs targeting foreigners.

Gangs aside, the F1 world - and title protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in particular - have their eyes on the weather forecast.

The leading Brazilian authority Climatempo is predicting "intense rain" for qualifying and the race.

With Ferrari's Alonso hoping desperately for rain in order to pull back the dominance of Vettel's Red Bull, Dr Helmut Marko insisted: "Sebastian is also an excellent rain driver."

McLaren's Button commented: "There is a massive chance that it could be chucking it down. It (the title) is definitely not done."

Another big loss for Korean GP
(GMM) There are worrying signs for the future of the new Korean grand prix, with organizers admitting yet another big financial loss for the October race.

The 2012 edition of the Yeongam event was the third since 2010, and all of them have recorded big losses.

The latest loss is $36 million, according to the Yonhap news agency.

"Just because the loss was reduced, I am not sure we can call this year's race a success," said South Jeolla council member Seo Dong-wook.

"We will need to take some fundamental steps to change it."

Mallya to pump $80m extra into Force India
(GMM) Vijay Mallya is pumping an extra $80 million into his formula one team.

The news comes amid the well-documented financial struggles of his other business, the Indian airline Kingfisher.

Mallya said this week: "We had a board meeting in India after the Abu Dhabi grand prix and the board has approved a $80 million capital investment program for the team.

"We are going to invest heavily in new technology and give more tools to our design team to try and move further up the grid."

Because of the Kingfisher crisis, it had been rumored that Force India might also find itself in financial trouble.

But Mallya told F1's official website: "As far as Force India is concerned, we are alright.

"In fact both (co-owner) Sahara Sri Subrata Roy and myself went to see Bernie Ecclestone in Delhi during the grand prix and showed him that Force India was stable and financially safe."

The next item on Mallya's agenda is a 2013 teammate for Paul di Resta, with Nico Hulkenberg set to switch to Sauber after this weekend's Interlagos finale.

"We are thinking about it, but we are in no immediate hurry because there does not seem to be the kind of quality we need to replace Nico available, either in the current grid or in GP2," he said.

Mallya suggested Adrian Sutil, Force India's long-time driver until 2011, is the leading candidate.

"Adrian was always a very quick driver -- yes, he was out of formula one for one year, but I don't think that this would be a major handicap," he said.

Ferrari Is F1's Most-Valuable Team at $1.15B
One of F1’s "best stories" is Red Bull Racing, which "clinched its third constructors’ championship in three years," according to Chris Smith of FORBES. Red Bull "debuted just seven years ago, built from the ground up by an energy drink company, not an ownership group with the customary background in motorsports."

The team is now F1’s "most competitive and shows no signs of slowing." Just Marketing International CEO Zak Brown said that Red Bull’s "meteoric rise and uncontested success should not be that surprising." Brown said, "Red Bull knows how to run a big, global operation very well." Zzzz

Red Bull Racing "is now worth $400M," up 67% since Forbes' last valuation project in '10, "easily the largest growth of any F1 team." Despite all of Red Bull Racing’s recent success, the bull-branded team "is still far from the top." Ferrari, the sport’s oldest and most-storied team, "holds the No. 1 spot" on the list with a valuation of $1.15B, "good for the 15th-most valuable sports team in the world."

That value "is driven by $384M in revenue, generated mostly from sponsorship deals with companies like Shell, Santander and Marlboro." McLaren takes runner-up in Forbes' valuations, just as it has in the last two F1 seasons.

Now worth $800M, McLaren is the only team on the list "to decline in value since '10, though the slide is barely perceptible (down less than 1% from $805M)."

Red Bull ranks third and Mercedes takes a close fourth place "with an estimated value of $390M."

F1's Most-Valuable Teams

Rank Team Value Major Sponsors
1. Ferrari $1.15B Marlboro, Santander, Shell
2. McLaren $800M Vodafone, Johnnie Walker, Hugo Boss
3. Red Bull $400M Casio, Infiniti, Pepe Jeans
4. Mercedes $390M Petronas, MIG Bank, Allianz
5. Williams $290M PDVSA, Randstad, Head & Shoulders
6. Lotus $270M Lotus, Unilever, Embratel
7. Force India $225M Sahara, United Breweries Group (Kingfisher, Whyte & Mackay, Royal Challenge)
8. Sauber $155M Telmex, Claro, Chelsea FC
9. Toro Rosso $135M CEPSA, Falcon Private Bank
10. Caterham $105M General Electric, EADS, Sibur
11. Marussia $75M Virgin, Armin Strom
12. HRT $50M TATA Motors, KH-7


Technical challenges for the Brazilian GP
The season finale this year is set to be a thriller, with the driver's championship still open and the weather possibly intervening with a straightforward race. However, that doesn't mean the technical challenges are present, so here is what Interlagos looks like to the engineers.

Interlagos has the highest altitude of the year, an average of 800m above sea level. As the altitude increases the air pressure drops and the air is thinner with a lower oxygen content. With less oxygen available for the fuel to burn, power output drops. For every 100m the engine loses around 1% of its potential power output, meaning the engines will produce around 8% less power than at a sea-level race such as Korea.

In addition to the high altitude, the rise and fall of the local topography gives a total elevation change of 150ft over the course of a lap. Correspondingly the local ambient pressure varies by approximately 5 mbar so the engine will require approximately 0.5% less fuel at the peak of the circuit than at the lowest point.

Interlagos has however one of the lowest fuel consumption rates per kilometer due to the high altitude and lower air density so a lower fuel level may also be used to achieve the optimum air-to-fuel ratio.

The weather over the weekend is scheduled to be wet, which will affect the power settings available to drivers as the high water content in the air will again reduce the amount of oxygen available to burn. To combat any further loss of power, engineers may use richer engine and fuel mixes. There are fewer risks involved in doing this at Interlagos than normal since the lower ambient pressure gives the internals of the engine an easier life.

There have already been several off camber corners this season where the lubricants are ‘squashed’ to one side, but there are no more obvious examples of this phenomenon than the first corner of Interlagos, the Senna S. This off camber left hander drops sharply downhill, putting the cars an angle of approx 30°. Higher fuel and lubricant levels may be used to safeguard against any momentary stall as the fluids drop suddenly to one side of the tank, and fuel collectors are often designed with this corner in mind as it is the most severe of the season.

Interlagos is the bumpiest permanent track of the year due to the intense weather conditions, relative lack of use and location. The large bumps can make the car temporarily ‘take off’. Even if it’s just for a second, with no load running through the wheels the engine suddenly hits the rev limiter, which puts the internal parts under huge stress.

Good to know:
- From the last 10 races at Interlagos, 6 saw at least one safety car deployments
- In the last 10 races, only twice did the polesitter win the race (2006, 2008)
- Fuel consumption and fuel effect are relatively low, compared to the majority of the season
- Curbs are not a problem
- The Brazilian GP is a hard race for the drivers with many compressions and a long time spent dealing with lateral loads which applied on the opposite side to most circuits
- Top speed can be reached in T1 or T4 depending on wind condition
- First gear is not used on the track
- Maximizing traction is usually the main balance issue
Of the 7 braking zones on the circuit, none create any particular difficulty for the braking system, which is able to cool adequately in spite of the fact that the driver presses the brake pedal for about 13% of the time

Circuit length: 4.309km
Race laps: 71
Race distance: 305.909 km
Lap record: 1:11.473 (JP Montoya, 2004)

Track data:
Number of corners: 15 (10 left & 5 right)
Maximum speed (no DRS): 310 km/h
Minimum speed: 85 km/h
Corners below 100 km/h (race): 2
Corners above 250 km/h (race): 2
Average lap speed (race): 205 km/h
Distance to from pole to apex of T1: 315 m
Braking events: 6, 3 heavy
Pit-lane length under speed-limit control: 361 m
Pit-lane time at 60 km/h: 21.7s
Pit-lane time at 100 km/h: 13.0s

Full throttle per lap (% lap distance): 70%
Full throttle per lap (% lap time): 58%
Longest period at full throttle: 16s
Average gear changes per race lap: 42 (2982/race)
Tire energy: Average
Braking energy: Average
Highest G corner: T6 (3.5G)

Q&A with Force India’s Vijay Mallya
Force India have delivered a strong 2012 campaign, even if their dream of rising to P6 in the constructors’ standings has ultimately eluded them. But with a true racer as team principal in Vijay Mallya, the chances of getting there in 2013 are very much alive. Mallya discusses the departure of top points scorer Nico Hulkenberg, the chances of Adrian Sutil replacing him, and Force India’s - and India’s - Formula One future…

Q: Vijay, Force India have had a really good season - even if you haven’t really got the results you deserved. Why is that?
Vijay Mallya:
Well, I mean everything is relative: what is a good season and what is a not so good season? If you compare our performance over the last five years you will see that we are climbing up the ladder very surely and very, very steadily. It is not as if it is up one year and down the next year and up again the third. Compared to last year we have scored many more points this year: we are up to 99 points before the last race. These are probably more points than this team has ever scored in its history. I would have liked to be ahead of Sauber, but the only disappointment as of today is that we are behind Sauber. Otherwise very clearly we are meeting our target objectives. Luck does play a role in life - and certainly in Formula One as well. I think we had a couple of chances to be on the podium, which we missed as we came fourth. Our immediate rival teams Sauber and Williams were lucky to have had podium finishes, but that is not the cause of any regret. We just know that we have to work harder. If you look at the qualifying times from the Austin race, if I am not mistaken three positions were separated only by six one-hundredths of a second. On one hand we are working harder and harder to improve and enhance the performance every year. On the other hand Formula One itself is getting so competitive each year - particularly in the midfield. I would say that I am satisfied with the progress that we are making. Of course I would have hoped that we would have been one step higher in the constructors’ standings, but otherwise I also have to realize that miracles cannot happen overnight. (laughs)

Q: Both of your drivers are only in their second season. Are you satisfied with their development - and consequently the results they have delivered?
Yes, two young drivers - and I would say the two young drivers with the most talent that I could see as future world champions. So yes, I am very happy with their performance.

Q: Nico Hulkenberg is leaving after this weekend’s race - do you already have a replacement for him in mind?
We are thinking about it, but we are in no immediate hurry because there does not seem to be the kind of quality we need to replace Nico available, either in the current grid or in GP2. We have to think a little bit beyond that, which we are doing now.

Q: When do you think you will be ready for a decision - and on what basis will you make it?
We need a driver who is clearly talented, a driver who is clearly quick. What we have found amongst our team drivers is that if they push one another it brings out the best in both of them, so it is very important for us to have somebody who is able to push Paul (di Resta. So I am looking at options such as even bringing Adrian Sutil back. Adrian was always a very quick driver - yes, he was out of Formula One for one year, but I don’t think that this would be a major handicap. So yes, I am looking and evaluating very carefully. The driver is very important for the team as a whole and we want to make the right call.

Q: You are one of the only entrepreneurs left running a Formula One team. That suggests you are still crazy about F1 racing. Is that so?
Oh yes, I have always been crazy about Formula One. In fact, when the historic Formula One cars went out in Austin I was squirrelly like a little child watching them and I was saying to myself that I will bring the two Ensign Formula One cars that I used to race in the late seventies and early eighties to Austin next year and race myself… (laughs)

Q: Four weeks ago we saw the second Indian Grand Prix. Would you say that Formula One racing is now a well-established brand in your home country?
In India it is established all right, but I think it has not reached even one tenth of its potential. India is a vast country with a huge population - even if you take the middle class we are speaking about three hundred million of them who are potential formula One fans. The race in India has done a lot of good to the sport in India. I think the Airtel Formula One Grand Prix in India was a very well-organized and well-run event by our race promoters. The inaugural race last year was a spectacular success and I think they outdid themselves this year and put on an even better show. Formula One is established in India, yes, and it will grow exponentially from here.

Q: One could also see that Force India have a huge following in India - that was very visible in the race when the fans on the grandstands cheered every time a Force India car passed by. Do you feel that?
Of course I do. That was also one of the reasons I named the team Force India - to give all the Indian fans a home for their aspirations - and their force! And it is building up. Indians have a lot of national pride and they are getting behind us with every year. Think, only five years ago it was only a dream that India would ever have a Formula One team on the grid - and now that dream has become true and the support is exceptional.

Q: Enthusiasm and being crazy about Formula One racing is one thing, but coping with its financial realities - especially for the smaller teams - is quite another. Do you see anything on the horizon for the next one to two years to help these teams?
At the end of the day I firmly believe that you cannot have Formula One dominated by the big teams, the car manufacturers. You need to have independent teams and they need some sort of a level playing field as well. The resource restriction that the commercial rights’ holder as well as the FIA has been talking about is something that needs to be implemented. That will give everybody a level of comfort and more of a level playing field. As far as Sahara Force India is concerned, we are alright. In fact both Sahara Sri Subrata Roy and myself went to see Bernie Ecclestone in Delhi during the Grand Prix and showed him that Force India was stable and financially safe.

Q: Force India are unlikely to go any higher in the standings this year, so the focus must be on next season. What’s the plan for new power and new energy?
Ha, the power will be the same: a Mercedes engine! And the energy is definitely there. When speaking to our technical team we expect an even better car for 2013. We have shown that every year we get better, so we expect nothing less next season. But it is also time for us to look at capital investment [the board has recently approved a £50 million capital investment program for the team]. In order to go up the ladder even further we need to have the tools and the facilities, so we are looking at some investments which will start paying out rich dividends in the future.

Q: And personally, are you still taking pride in being Force India’s team principal?
Absolutely. I think that the more passion, the better the performance. I think you could call me a true racer - I wouldn’t be here otherwise. (laughs). Formula1.com

Red Bull call on Renault to fix alternator problem threatening Vettel's title bid
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has expressed his concern about the reliability fears which threaten to cost Sebastian Vettel a third successive drivers' championship.

Twice this season - first at Valencia in June when he was leading the European GP and then more recently at September's Italian GP - Vettel has been forced to retire from a race due to an alternator failure. It's a problem that reoccurred earlier this week when Mark Webber's RB8 ground to a halt from third place during Sunday's U.S. GP.

"For sure, the alternator is a concern," Horner told The Guardian. 

"It is the third failure we have had this year. It is something [engine supplier] Renault need to get on top of this week. They have run different solutions on different cars and hopefully they have enough data now to make sure we have a reliable version. It is not ideal at the moment."

Sky Sports F1 understands that the alternator which failed Webber was an older specification than the one which broke on Vettel's car in Valencia and Monza. It's believed that the team will be using the newer version on both cars this weekend. Sky Sports

Sauber to announce new driver in Brazil
After weeks of speculation about who will join Nico Hulkenberg for next season, the outfit is set to end the long wait for main contenders Esteban Gutierrez and Kamui Kobayashi over who has got the nod.

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn refused to elaborate on the identity of the driver, or indeed when the announcement will be made.

"We have always said it will be 'in the season'," she told AUTOSPORT. "So it will be before Brazil, in Brazil or a few hours after the race."

Gutierrez has been favorite for the seat for several weeks, thanks to his close links with team sponsor Telmex, but Kobayashi has been more confident in recent days about his prospects for next year.

Speaking in Austin last weekend he said: "I'm confident. There's no change but I think it will be OK.

"I think the situation is better than before...money-wise and everything, I think it's getting better. But we'll see."

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