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DATE News (chronologically)
11/23/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Friday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

11/23/12
  • After screwing Michael Andretti's F1 career Ron Dennis got what he deserved with Lewis Hamilton quitting his team
    Vettel responds to charisma claim by swearing again
  • Angry Dennis absent for Hamilton's McLaren farewell
  • Sauber set to announce Gutierrez for 2013
  • Ferrari clamp down on Alonso's social media
  • Lotus starting to use new driver simulator
  • Interlagos needs 'some plastic surgery' - Ecclestone
  • Caterham hints Pic in team's plans for future
  • Caterham to use 2012 chassis next year - Kovalainen
  • Raikkonen skips Thursday for longer LA holiday
  • Red Bull fly out new upgrades just in time New
  • Mercedes set to ditch Coanda exhaust New
  • Hamilton expecting to face win drought New

Vettel responds to charisma claim by swearing again
(GMM)  Despite the FIA's swearing ban, Sebastian Vettel on Thursday responded to claims he lacks charisma by suggesting Bernie Ecclestone was "taking the piss".

"Sorry," said the reigning world champion after clasping his hand to his mouth.  "Maybe he was just taking the 'mickey' out of the newspaper."

It was just a light-hearted moment ahead of the Brazilian grand prix, but with a championship to be decided on Sunday, it's always more serious in formula one.

For instance, reporters noted that, as German Vettel cracked his customary jokes with the media in the FIA press conference, title challenger Fernando Alonso was the only one not smiling.

With a 13-point deficit and an inferior car, Ferrari's Spaniard is deploying every weapon.

When asked about Ferrari's sabotage of Felipe Massa's gearbox in Austin, Alonso said he was "proud" of the decision.

And he hinted Red Bull was guilty of hypocrisy.

"We don't need to go too far back this year where we have had some doubts about teams and which position they will start from, depending on limits they were finding in the regulations," said Alonso.

Vettel however insisted Red Bull takes a "different approach" to the sort of questionable tactics deployed by Ferrari.

And the German also hit back against claims he has been on a title-collecting cruise since 2010 with a superior Red Bull.

"As far as I can remember," he is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr, "there has never been a particularly successful driver with a very bad car."

Angry Dennis absent for Hamilton's McLaren farewell
(GMM)  Ron Dennis did not attend a farewell party for Lewis Hamilton last week in Austin, and he will not be in Brazil for his former protege's last race for McLaren.

The news adds to the perception that Briton Hamilton - who was nurtured through his formative years by the McLaren supremo and brought into F1 in 2007 - has fallen out badly with Dennis over the 27-year-old's Mercedes switch.

Referring to a farewell party in Austin last weekend, Daily Mail journalist Jonathan McEvoy wrote: "Dennis instead chose to attend what a team spokesman described as 'an important cocktail reception hosted by Exxon Mobil executives at which he was guest of honor'."

But after Hamilton won the US grand prix, Dennis refused to wear McLaren's customary 'rocket-red' victory t-shirt.

And the 65-year-old "has decided not to travel to Sao Paulo for Hamilton's farewell race", McEvoy revealed.

Dennis said in Austin last week: "Obviously the media thinks there's some issue between Lewis and I -- there's absolutely no issue between us.

"Sometimes the circumstances in a relationship don't balance, don't match," he told the British broadcaster Sky.

But there are rumors Hamilton and Dennis fell out very badly over the negotiations for a new driving contract for 2013 and beyond.

"I do know what has happened," an unnamed 'senior figure' told the Daily Mail.

"Everyone makes mistakes and Ron made a mistake.  Everything went pear-shaped and I don't think it would be fair to say any more than that."

A McLaren spokesman responded: "Ron and Lewis plan to get together socially in the near future, as they've both said a number of times recently."

Sauber set to announce Gutierrez for 2013
(GMM)  According to team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber will announce the identity Nico Hulkenberg's 2013 teammate this weekend.

"We have always said it will be announced during the season," she is quoted in Brazil by France's L'Equipe.

It is an open secret that the candidates are incumbent Kamui Kobayashi, who has been frantically trying to find a sponsor, and Mexican youngster Esteban Gutierrez, whose appointment would keep Sauber's major backer Telmex happy.

Japanese Kobayashi is quoted by Brazil's Globo: "This could be my last race, I don't know."

Sergio Perez, the current Telmex-backed Sauber driver who is moving to McLaren for 2013, let the cat out of the bag by revealing the Swiss team's plans to replace him.

"The (2013 Sauber) car will be strong because the rules don't change much, and the team have a good experienced driver in Nico and he will have a strong teammate in Esteban," he said on Thursday.

"We are waiting for the announcement," he added.

Gutierrez, 21, is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace: "God willing it will be announced, but at the moment it is something that depends on the team.

"It's hard for me to talk about it, but I think I'm ready to take the place."

Ferrari clamp down on Alonso's social media
(GMM)  Ferrari has clamped down on Fernando Alonso's activities on social media websites Facebook and Twitter, according to the German magazine Focus.

It is reported the clampdown is the result of several controversial updates by the championship-charging Spaniard, including a photo he posted in Austin of himself and Felipe Massa holding a huge gun, with a caption declaring title war on Sebastian Vettel.

"There are a lot of interesting things I could tell the fans during a race weekend, but of course there is also a press department that keeps an eye on me constantly," Alonso said.

Lotus starting to use new driver simulator
(GMM)  Lotus is finally getting up-and-running with a state of the art driver simulator, the Dutch website formule1.nl reports.

Romain Grosjean said he got his first taste of the new technology whilst preparing recently for Austin's brand new Circuit of the Americas layout.

"I spent half a day in the simulator," said the Frenchman.

"There are still some things to be improved, because we are only now starting to use it, but if it works properly it will be of great value," added Grosjean.

Interlagos needs 'some plastic surgery' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone is pushing organizers of the Brazilian grand prix to improve the ageing facilities at Interlagos.

The circuit is regarded as one of the most outdated on the entire F1 calendar, and Speed Week reports that the sport's chief executive will meet with track officials on Saturday.

Interlagos' existing grand prix contract runs only to 2014.

Brazil's Globo reports that Ecclestone recently travelled to Santa Catarina, a state in southern Brazil, to hear about plans for a proposed new formula one venue designed by Hermann Tilke.

Ecclestone, however, denied he is seriously considering dumping Interlagos.

"We do not have that intention," he said.  "We like Sao Paulo.

"It's an old race track, a bit tired, but with a good update and some plastic surgery, it'll be alright," added Ecclestone.

"I know it will happen soon."

Caterham hints Pic in team's plans for future
(GMM)  Caterham's new boss Cyril Abiteboul has all but confirmed paddock speculation Charles Pic is set to arrive at the team from Marussia for 2013.

And he said that would be part of the Tony Fernandes-owned team's new "three year plan".

On the issue of Frenchman Pic joining Caterham, France's f1i.com quoted Abiteboul as saying: "This is a three year plan that we are working on, and there are still many factors that need to come together so that it is a reality.

"But this project seems interesting for everyone," said the Frenchman.

It appears that highly rated Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen is being pushed out by 'pay drivers' due to Caterham potentially losing lucrative Concorde Agreement income to Marussia.

Kovalainen admitted on Thursday that Brazil could be his last grand prix.

It is believed that the main contender for the seat alongside Pic next year is the sponsored Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde.

"There is at least one more seat open," said Kovalainen in Brazil.  "It is still possible that I will get it.

"From my experience, I only know that when things drag on for this long, it's never a good sign," he admitted.

Caterham to use 2012 chassis next year - Kovalainen
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen claims Caterham is planning to use its current chassis as the basis for the 2013 car.

It is expected the salaried Finn will be pushed out of the team for 2013 by 'pay drivers' Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

Asked by the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat how he expects Caterham to go next season, Kovalainen said: "It's hard to say.

"But when the team has decided to continue with the same chassis for the new car, it may not be a good sign," said the 31-year-old, who as Caterham's lead driver has failed to score a single point since the team's inception in 2010.

Raikkonen skips Thursday for longer LA holiday
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen, undoubtedly F1's most laid back driver, reportedly skipped Thursday's proceedings at Interlagos.

Normally, drivers attend media and sponsor functions, meet with their engineers and walk the circuit at grand prix venues on the day before the official practice action kicks off.

But according to the Finnish MTV3 broadcaster, 2007 world champion Raikkonen was on Thursday still holidaying in Los Angeles, in the wake of last weekend's US grand prix in Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier denied reports the 33-year-old has not been paid all the points bonus money he is contractually entitled to.

"Kimi has got all the money which he has earned so far," the Frenchman insisted.

Red Bull fly out new upgrades just in time
Signaling their determination to win both of this year's World Championships, Red Bull have flown last-minute car updates from their Milton Keynes base to Interlagos ahead of Sunday's season-ending Brazilian GP.

Despite the team boasting race-winning pace in four of the last six events and securing a third successive Constructors' Championship last week in Austin, a suite of upgrades have been delivered in a bid to shore up Sebastian Vettel's title tilt.

"There's plenty of work going on with both Red Bull cars after new parts arrived this morning on a flight from London Heathrow," reported Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz from the paddock. "We believe that there is a new rear-wing and new bodywork as well."

But with the RB8's competiveness not in doubt, it may be more significant that Vettel's car will be armed this weekend with a new-spec alternator. The team have suffered three race retirements this season due to an alternator fault and Christian Horner voiced his anxiety about the issue on Wednesday night.

"For sure, the alternator is a concern," the Red Bull boss acknowledged.

"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."

Mercedes set to ditch Coanda exhaust
Mercedes is set to abandon its Coanda-effect exhaust for the final race of the season in a bid to try and get a better understanding of its tire situation.

After Nico Rosberg reverted to the non-Coanda design in Austin to assist the team's 2013 development program, the team has elected to switch both its drivers to the old version for the final weekend of the season.

Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug explained that the team felt its testing of Pirelli's 2013 rubber, which is being undertaken on Friday, would be aided if the team was running the standard exhausts.

"We are definitely starting without [the Coanda exhausts]," said Haug when asked by AUTOSPORT about the plans for this weekend.

"We want to start the tire tests without any influence. We have proper data that we can compare with what we had at the start of the year, and then we will probably leave it like that."

Haug added that the way the Coanda exhausts were impacting on tire temperatures left the team feeling that it would gain more running without them.

"We think it still has an influence on heating the tires," he said. "There is also a little bit of a lack of aero downforce which we could not improve compared to the others.

"We think we will have a more realistic base to what we had at the beginning of the season and we work from there. But it is very clear that you have to have Coanda next year, because it gives you a benefit."

When asked if there were any plans for the team to switch back to the Coanda exhausts for Saturday, Haug said: "Not currently, no."  Yahoo! Eurosport

Hamilton expecting to face win drought
Lewis Hamilton admits that his final race with McLaren in Brazil this weekend could be his last chance to win a grand prix in a while.

The 2008 Formula 1 world champion will end his career-long association with McLaren after the Interlagos event to join Mercedes next season.

Hamilton was victorious at Austin last weekend, but acknowledges that Mercedes has a lot of ground to make up at present. His 2013 employer has not scored any points since September's Singapore Grand Prix.

"I never know when I'm going to have a car quite as good as this one, so I really hope this weekend I can utilize that," said Hamilton.

"I hope we're competitive enough to fight the Red Bulls."

The Briton said that bowing out of McLaren at Interlagos would be particularly emotional given that he had lost the world title to Kimi Raikkonen there in his rookie season in 2007, and then claimed it a year later in a dramatic last-lap denouement.

"We've got a great history together. We won and we lost the world championship here," said Hamilton.

"We've been through the highest high and the lowest low together, but we always pulled through it."

He conceded it was taking time for his McLaren departure to sink in.

"When it's on my mind a lot, it's very, very surreal. Very, very strange. Very, very sad in many ways," Hamilton said. "I just want to make sure I enjoy every moment."

He added: "It is the end of an era. The end of a great chapter in my life. Hopefully I'll have a good second chapter, or second book almost, to my life.

"But this is a very special one and I really hope I can do it for McLaren [this weekend]." Yahoo! Eurosport

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