Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
Vettel vs. Alonso: 2012 title showdown settled on Sunday
|Hamilton wears special helmet for final race with McLaren|
- Button sees Hamilton departure as great title chance
- Alonso or Hamilton could replace Ferrari-bound Vettel - boss
- Lotus yet to take Grosjean 'decision' for 2013 - Lopez
- Interlagos weather update
- Red Bull signs Infiniti as title sponsor New
- Video: The F1 Champions through the years New
- Video: Lap of Life (Senna Tribute) New
Vettel vs. Alonso: 2012 title showdown settled on Sunday
(GMM) All eyes are further down the grid as the 2012 world championship reaches its zenith on race-day Sunday at the Interlagos showdown.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has qualified just fourth, behind teammate Mark Webber.
"It was not a perfect lap," Dr Helmut Marko told German RTL television, "but we don't absolutely have to win this race, we need to look out for Alonso."
Triple world champion Niki Lauda said he senses a "slight nervousness" about Vettel in Brazil.
But Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who needs to finish several places higher than his rival to have any chance of winning the title, qualified just eighth, three places behind his teammate Felipe Massa.
The Spaniard has however moved up to seventh due to Pastor Maldonado's penalty, and it is now rumored Ferrari could pull out its Austin-style gearbox 'trick' to penalize Massa again and promote Alonso to sixth.
"That is not one of our decisions, so there is no need to lose a thought on it," said Vettel.
Massa said it is unlikely.
"We are not only fighting for the drivers' title, we also need to think about McLaren and the constructors' standings," said the Brazilian.
It is however rumored Alonso has gambled on a more rain-oriented car setup, given the weather forecast for Sunday and his hopes for ensuing "chaos" at Interlagos.
"If I am to have any hopes for the title, it's more plausible to count on a retirement for Vettel rather than for him to finish in a position where I can get ahead of him in the classification," Alonso said.
He, and also Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, denied Massa could take team-play to extreme levels by 'taking out' Vettel.
"I've always been an honest person and an honest driver," said Massa. "My limit is the limit of the regulations."
And Vettel said he is not worried about being so close on the grid to Massa.
"Well, there are always other cars around you at the start," said the German. "It would be boring if it was just me on the grid."
Vettel did admit that he is not expecting any help from his teammate Webber.
"We both drive our own races," said the German.
To the dying moments, Alonso is still deploying 'psychological' tactics; the latest is the suggestion that Lewis Hamilton would be a tougher title challenger than Vettel.
"Winning against Hamilton in the same situation would be virtually impossible," the Spaniard told Brazil's Sportv television.
"Not only this year but throughout his career, he has showed that he can win both with a good car and a not-so-good car. But when Vettel is first, Mark Webber is second," he added.
But at the end of the day, Vettel is the overwhelming favorite for Sunday.
"We don't need good luck to win the title," Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz told Salzburger Nachrichten, "we just need to not have bad luck."
Button sees Hamilton departure as great title chance
(GMM) Jenson Button has admitted 2013 will be a perfect chance for him to win the world championship for the second time.
Since arriving from Brawn as the reigning world champion in 2010, the 32-year-old has been paired with the highly rated 2008 title winner Lewis Hamilton.
But Hamilton, on pole for his last McLaren race at Interlagos, is setting off for Mercedes, leaving Button as the de-facto 'number 1' at the great British team.
His teammate in 2013 is Sergio 'Checo' Perez, the 22-year-old Mexican who has shown promise at Sauber since debuting last year.
So when asked if next season is his best chance so far to be champion again, Button said in Brazil: "Yeah definitely."
The Englishman suggested that being so closely matched with Hamilton since 2010 has dented both of their title prospects.
"When you compare it to Lewis and I, when you look at our three years together, there has not been a massive amount of points difference between us," Button is quoted by British newspapers.
"And that means we were taking points off each other as well.
"If I have a quick car next year I am going to score a lot of points. But I am sorry to see him (Hamilton) go," he added.
Alonso or Hamilton could replace Ferrari-bound Vettel - boss
(GMM) Red Bull would set its sights on F1's other two top drivers - Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton - if Sebastian Vettel switched to Ferrari.
That is the claim of the energy drink company's mogul Dietrich Mateschitz, responding to rumors German Vettel could seek a new challenge after achieving so much with Red Bull.
In a rare interview about F1, on the eve of Vettel probably securing his third consecutive drivers' title, Mateschitz told Salzburger Nachrichten that the 25-year-old is "one of the three best drivers" on the grid.
Referring also to Hamilton and Alonso, Mateschitz said Vettel "is the youngest of the three, and definitely there is potential for further development.
"Perhaps he is near his zenith in terms of the speed, but with more experience he can certainly keep getting better and better," he insisted.
Mateschitz moved to play down rumors Vettel is toying with a switch to Ferrari.
"There are not only contracts, but he is bound to us as well through loyalty and friendship," he said.
"But that doesn't exclude that he gets offers from other teams," Mateschitz admitted.
Fascinatingly, he even said he can understand Ferrari's lure.
"If I was a driver, I would probably enjoy the thought of driving for Ferrari one day as well," said Mateschitz. "It's not only natural, but quite legitimate.
"If he should ever leave us, we would wish him well, and then nothing would stop Alonso or Hamilton driving for us."
Lotus yet to take Grosjean 'decision' for 2013 - Lopez
(GMM) Gerard Lopez, the owner of the Lotus team, has played down rumors Romain Grosjean could be dropped.
Before the Frenchman got involved in yet another incident this weekend - a high-speed qualifying clash with Pedro de la Rosa - whispers in the Interlagos paddock suggested Grosjean's future was less than secure.
That's because of the 26-year-old's tumultuous 2012 season, and the fact his teammate Kimi Raikkonen's 2013 deal has already been announced.
"It is not yet completed, there are ongoing discussions," said Lopez, the head of Lotus' investment company owner, Genii.
"The decision will be made after the season."
When asked by France's RMC Sport if Grosjean could be ousted, Lopez answered: "No, this is not the subject right now.
"The subject is to sit down and see what we are going to do."
The buzz in the Interlagos paddock has been that Lotus is pursuing a high-profile figure for 2013, just as it did when it brought Raikkonen back from a rallying sabbatical this season.
One name mentioned a few times has been Robert Kubica's, even though the talented Pole is saying openly that his injuries are still preventing him from driving a single seater.
And Lopez told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "There is no 'Kimi' on the market right now."
Interlagos weather update
The weather forecast in Sao Paolo, brazil today has improved from a 90% chance of rain to now only a 40% to 50% chance of showers. If it stays dry, those who gambled on a wet weather setup in qualifying will be toast.
Red Bull signs Infiniti as title sponsor
Infiniti, the premium automotive brand, and Red Bull Racing, the three-time FIA Formula One Constructors’ World Champion, today announced a comprehensive extension of their partnership originally established in March 2011. The partnership will involve the team name changing to INFINITI RED BULL RACING and Infiniti named as the major technical partner starting with the 2013 Formula One season.
Johan de Nysschen, President of Infiniti, commented, “While our first 24-months have been very beneficial to both parties, our new deeper relationship will bring increased advantages to Infiniti and Red Bull Racing. As title partner, INFINITI RED BULL RACING will help us garner even more worldwide exposure for our brand, products and technology.”
Red Bull Racing’s Team Principal Christian Horner stated, “Red Bull Racing and Infiniti have been working on a number of initiatives since the start of our relationship in March 2011. During that time, Infiniti has demonstrated significant technical prowess and I’ve been impressed by the depth of the wider engineering capabilities of the Nissan Motor Company. In terms of marketing, Infiniti has leveraged their involvement with Red Bull Racing and Formula One very effectively and has become well known in a short space of time. These two attributes are what makes Infiniti the ideal title and technical partner for Red Bull Racing.”
The enhanced partnership, starting in 2013 and initially carrying through to end of the 2016 season will see a number of new technology initiatives. Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer also welcomed the long-term nature of the agreement. “Formula One presents immense design and engineering challenges on a daily basis. Having a committed technical partner like Infiniti gives us a great platform for working together on technical projects, such as the Energy Recovery Systems for the 2014 season.”
Video: The F1 Champions through the years
As the title showdown we've all been waiting for approaches, let's take a look back at all of the past Formula 1 Champions From Ascari to Alonso. The drivers who made F1 history.
Video: Lap of life (Senna Tribute)
With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high" Ayrton Senna 1960-1994. This is hands down one of the BEST tribute videos to Senna on YouTube.