Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
Thailand set to join 2015 calendar
|F1 to Thailand in 2015|
- McLaren to launch MP4-28 on January 31
- Ecclestone should quit over corruption charges - Montezemolo
- 'Continuity' helped Grosjean keep job - boss
- Inexperience no problem for Sauber - Hulkenberg
- Ecclestone says Hamilton chasing Mercedes cash
Thailand set to join 2015 calendar
(GMM) Thailand looks set to join the F1 calendar in 2015.
It was believed the capital Bangkok was targeting its inaugural grand prix in 2014.
But F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying the first Thai street race, staged under floodlights, will be in 2015.
"An F1 race is likely to take place here in early 2015 instead of in 2014 in our initial plan," Kanokphand Chulakasem, governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, told the Bangkok Post.
It is believed Red Bull, whose co-owner Chalerm Yoovidkya is from Thailand, is involved in the preparations.
"I can say that it is almost 100 per cent certain that Thailand will host an F1 race," said the energy drink's representative Michael De Santiesteban, who reportedly met with Ecclestone last month.
"With Thailand on the calendar," he added, "a current race is likely to be removed."
McLaren to launch MP4-28 on January 31
(GMM) McLaren will launch its 2013 car on the last day of January, the famous British team has announced.
A media statement issued by the Woking based outfit offered no further details except to say the MP4-28 unveiling "will take place in the UK".
It is likely most other teams will also reveal their new contenders around the same period, immediately before the three-test winter pre-season period begins in Spain in early February.
We reported Peter Sauber's news recently that the Swiss team's new car, the C32, will be launched on the first day of the first test at Jerez, on February 5.
Force India's car will be publicly shown at Silverstone, the day after McLaren's.
And Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport said the new Ferrari will probably be launched on either 1 or 2 February.
Ecclestone should quit over corruption charges - Montezemolo
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone should quit if German prosecutors charge him with corruption.
That is the view of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who recently attacked F1's chief executive for being too old to remain in charge of the sport.
"Could the post be filled by Montezemolo?" wondered Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.
Whether or not the 65-year-old Italian wants the 82-year-old Briton's job, he admits to thinking the Ecclestone era should be over.
"I hope for Bernie and F1 that nothing will happen," Montezemolo, referring to the possibility Ecclestone will be formerly charged over the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery scandal, told the Independent.
"If Bernie is accused under process, I think he will be the first to give a step back in the interests of formula one. This could be bad for F1."
As for Ecclestone's long reign over the sport, he continued: "The era of the one man show cannot continue: we are slowly approaching the end of a period characterized by the style of one man who has done significant things."
'Continuity' helped Grosjean keep job - boss
(GMM) Lotus' need for "continuity" helped Romain Grosjean keep his job after the Frenchman's tumultuous return to formula one in 2012.
That is the admission of team boss Eric Boullier, who along with team owner Gerard Lopez took his time in deciding whether the 26-year-old - derided as F1's "crash pilot" by many sections of the media - should be replaced.
Asked by Switzerland's Speed Week why Geneva-born Grosjean ultimately got the nod, Frenchman Boullier answered: "Continuity is a significant factor in a racing team.
"Driver changes bring unrest.
"Take a look at how stable the driver pairings at the top teams have been in recent years -- Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren. This is no accident.
"It takes time and energy to fuse the working methods of drivers and teams," he said.
As for why Grosjean, who for the second year in succession will be Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus teammate, is the right man for the job, Boullier stated: "Cohesion, courage, speed, freshness.
"And if he develops properly, he can be made not only a grand prix winner, but also a world champion.
"If he develops the way we want, then soon he will be one of the top five formula one drivers."
Grosjean made many mistakes in 2012, including the Spa start-line crash that saw him serve an ultra-rare FIA race ban at Monza.
"World champions make mistakes," Boullier acknowledged, "even if that happens rarely. I just want Romain to be competitive from the first race of the season."
Inexperience no problem for Sauber - Hulkenberg
(GMM) Sauber's inexperienced driver lineup will not hold the Swiss team back in 2013, Nico Hulkenberg insists.
25-year-old Hulkenberg, who is moving from Force India after returning to F1 this year, will be joined at the Hinwil based team by Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez.
Compared to Sauber's 2012 lineup, Hulkenberg and 21-year-old Gutierrez have 60 grands prix less experience than departing team drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.
"No -- I am bringing my bag of experience," said German Hulkenberg, who sat out the 2011 season after debuting for Williams the previous year.
"Sure, it's a new car for me, but every other team will have a new car as well that you have to get used to.
"So I don't think it's going to be a severe handicap," he told Blick newspaper on a visit to Sauber's Swiss headquarters.
However, with only two seasons under his belt, Hulkenberg finds himself the de-facto 'team leader' at Sauber for 2013.
He doesn't really agree.
"I don't see the difference. It is a fact I have more experience (than Gutierrez) on paper, but I don't see myself in a different role than in Force India.
"At the end of the day I'm here to collect as many points as possible. Whether you are team leader or not doesn't make much difference."
Hulkenberg said he doesn't know who is going to replace him at Force India, amid reports Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi are the hot favorites.
"I have no idea, really," said the German.
"I thought it was Sutil, but now the wait is taking so long, maybe logic suggests otherwise. But I have heard nothing. My concentration is here (Sauber) now," added Hulkenberg.
Amid perceptions he is making a 'sideways step' in the midfield, he defends his decision to swap Force India for Sauber.
"Yes, there were some races where Sauber fared poorly," said Hulkenberg, "but they proved this year that they have a fast car.
"Often I was overtaken by a Sauber this year and I saw for two or three corners how good the car is before it was gone.
"Naturally I sometimes wished that I was sitting in it," he smiled.
It has been rumored Hulkenberg is being groomed by Ferrari-powered Sauber for a switch to the Maranello based team in 2014.
Asked how long he will be a Sauber driver, Hulkenberg laughed: "I don't know yet. We will see next year.
"The team (Sauber) basically does the contracts for one year only."
Ecclestone says Hamilton chasing Mercedes cash
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has this week delighted his Christmas card recipients with his latest humorous handiwork.
Every year, the F1 chief executive commissions an original cartoon for his annual card, depicting a contemporary F1 issue with a mischievous tilt.
For the 2012 holiday season, the 82-year-old's card shows Lewis Hamilton abandoning his broken-down McLaren and leaping into a Mercedes saloon.
The silver road car is being driven by the red-capped Niki Lauda, and in the passenger seat is a big golden bag of cash for Briton Hamilton.
They are bound for Stuttgart, which according to the roadside sign is "Not far".
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg also amused his fans this week with his own Christmas message.
The German posted a Youtube video depicting him riding a rodeo bull.