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

  • Button hopes McLaren can beat Force India.  Forget about Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull
    Button expects McLaren to beat Force India
  • Massa's future depends on slump recovery - Fittipaldi
  • F1 legend Surtees questions Hamilton's focus
  • Vettel points gap 'a bit too much' - Alonso
  • F1 pays almost no tax - report
  • Russian Grand Prix to be staged in October
  • FIA power struggle on horizon?
  • Pirelli confirms tire choices up to Singapore New
  • Minor tweaks made to Hungaroring circuit New
  • Red Bull boss impressed with Ricciardo New

Button expects McLaren to beat Force India
(GMM)  Although now firmly focused on 2014, McLaren should be able to overtake Force India by the end of the season.

That is the view of Jenson Button, who admitted that the great British team's pale form this season "hurts".

With McLaren ten points behind Force India for fifth in the constructors' championship, the British driver told Russia's Championat that is "not a position we want to be in".

"But they (Force India) didn't make any mistakes in the design of their car in the winter," said Button.

"Yes, we are behind them now, but I don't think we'll be behind them at the end of the season."

Button said McLaren took a "radical approach" to 2013 "that didn't work out", while Force India "just developed their car from last year".

"They are competitive now," he added, "but I think we will be able to improve more than they will."

Button said McLaren has identified the cause of the problems with the MP4-28, and is therefore now focused on an all-new car for 2014.

"We will continue to develop this (2013) car," he explained, "but only in the areas that will help us in 2014.

"Our goal has to be to build a good car for 2014," added Button.

Massa's future depends on slump recovery - Fittipaldi
(GMM)  Brazilian legend Emerson Fittipaldi thinks the second half of 2013 will be crucial to countryman Felipe Massa's future.

Having emerged from his performance slump of 2012, Massa has more recently struggled with a string of crashes and spins that now threaten his place at Ferrari, where he only has a contract until the end of the season.

"I see Massa's future as depending on how well he will go in the second half of this year," Fittipaldi, a two-time world champion of the 70s, told Brazil's Totalrace.

"He's aggressive, he has talent and is very fast, but sometimes an athlete has phases where he cannot put it all together," he explained.

"But I'm sure he will come out of it."

Fittipaldi revealed that, in the midst of Massa's string of incidents, he managed to speak face-to-face with the 32-year-old Paulista.

"I spoke to him at Silverstone and told him that every athlete goes through difficult times in his career -- and this is not just in motor sport but in every sport.

"And, suddenly, everything comes back in your favor."

Massa's first chance to turn it around is this weekend in Hungary, the last race before the summer break and factory shutdowns.

"What I would like most of all," said the Ferrari driver, "is to turn things around, because going on holiday with a good result under my belt would really make the difference."

F1 legend Surtees questions Hamilton's focus
(GMM)  John Surtees, F1's 1964 world champion, has questioned Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton's focus.

Briton Hamilton, while regarded by many as perhaps the most naturally gifted driver today, has had a leaner period of success since winning the 2008 title in his second season.

"Other things have partly had a bearing on his career, but to what degree?  I don't know," Surtees told the Daily Mail.

79-year-old Surtees may be referring to Hamilton's involvement in numerous scandals, his friends, his amateur music and film careers, his controversial paddock pass for dog Roscoe, and his on-off relationship with a pop singer girlfriend.

"In the end it is up to the person concerned to live their life, and if Lewis believes that he is getting the best out of life in the way he lives it on and off the track than that is up to him and no one else," he said.

"At the same time, it would appear that he is not quite as constantly focused on getting the job done as he was perhaps at one time," added Surtees.

"And when you are competing against the likes of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, then you have a problem."

Hamilton admitted at the Nurburgring recently that he is struggling to cope with his latest split from girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.

British Sky commentator Martin Brundle insists: "He needs to find a way pretty soon to be able to package that up and be able to manage his private life and make sure he's maximizing his racing life."

Vettel points gap 'a bit too much' - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has admitted he needs to start making up ground on runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Having won two grands prix so far in 2013 compared to reigning triple world champion Vettel's four, Spaniard Alonso said Ferrari is working "day and night" to recover lost time in the car development race.

"We must try to finish ahead of Vettel," Ferrari's Alonso told Italian television TG1 ahead of this weekend's Hungarian grand prix.

The last race before the summer break and factory shutdowns, Budapest marks the exact half-way point of the 2013 championship.

German Vettel, driving for Red Bull, has a 34-point lead over Alonso with ten races to go.

Alonso admitted: "The gap to Vettel is beginning to be a bit too much in terms of points.  We have to reduce this gap as soon as possible."

Having recently watered down his anti-Vettel rhetoric, Alonso this week insisted that the 26-year-old German has a clear car advantage again in 2013.

"Any driver who goes into the Red Bull manages to go very strongly," he said.

"We saw that in the tests for young drivers (at Silverstone)," Alonso added, referring to tests last week for Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr.

"Whoever goes into the Red Bull is very fast -- it is a fact that it is stronger than the others," said Alonso.

F1 pays almost no tax - report
(GMM)  A clever tax arrangement sees formula one pay a tiny amount of tax, it has emerged.

Writing in The Independent, leading F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said the sport paid less than $1.5 million in tax in 2011, despite making a profit of almost half a billion dollars.

Sylt said the low tax bill was achieved due to a complex web of loans within the Bernie Ecclestone-headed empire.

Sun journalist Ben Hunt quoted British tax office Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs as saying: "We do not discuss individual businesses."

The formula one teams association FOTA also declined to comment.

Russian Grand Prix to be staged in October 
The 2014 Russian Grand Prix has been penciled in to run from 17-19 October, confirming the end of a long wait for a race in the former-Soviet state.

The track’s organizers posted on their Twitter account: “Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix will be held on October 19, 2014. Now we are 450 days before the 1st Friday practice of Formula 1 in Krasnodar region.”

The Formula 1 circus currently visits Korea, Japan and India throughout the month of October. The announcement by Sochi International Circuit officials places those aforementioned locations in doubt, with Bernie Ecclestone recently confirming the 2014 calendar will be capped at a maximum of 20 races. It is thought that Korea will be the likeliest of the three to drop out.

FIA power struggle on horizon?
Jean Todt has been a fairly quiet and low key leader behind the scenes. Sometimes we think of him as the great and powerful OZ. A fictions character playing the role of an almighty wizard in the children's classic tale of the Wizard of OZ. Don't ask me why, however it’s been one association I've never been able to shake.

We never really heard much from the Frenchman at the helm of the FIA until recently. Arguably it started with the whole ‘TireGate’ affair between Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA and again when the issue arose with the possible safety concerns of the Pirelli tires delaminating.

Some see this assertive behavior and more vocal Todt trying to be more visible as the time approaches for FIA presidency re-election. Others see it as a display of a Napoleon Complex symptom. Jean Todt has never really displayed any of these inferiority symptoms before, so I'm going to put my money on the first option.

So why be vocal, assertive and visible now? Especially if no one seems to be interested in running against him in the elections? Perhaps because there is someone who may just be ready to announce his intentions for the President's chair.

Who you might ask? Max Mosley? Would he come back and try to wrestle power away from the man who replaced him? Possible but doubtful in my estimation. Mosley may still have a hand in running the FIA but not from a public post. Staying out of the limelight but still being able to pull some strings like a puppet master may still be possible. Perhaps that might be painting a picture that isn't quite accurate, however, that might be the public perception if his old mate David Ward runs against Todt and wins.

Ward may actually be a welcome change for some who have been unhappy with Todt's direction. It's no secret that the Frenchman and Bernie don't quite see eye to eye. That comment had nothing to do with their height (or lack thereof).

Ward currently occupies the position of director-general of FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society. He may not hold the same sporting prowess as Ari Vatanen who lost out to Todt in the first round of elections, however he may have the ear and support of many of the players in F1. F1Plus

Pirelli confirms tire choices up to Singapore
Pirelli has confirmed its tire compound nominations for the first three Grands Prix after the summer break, taking place in Belgium, Italy and Singapore.

For the Spa-Francorchamps and Monza rounds, featuring a variety of high speed corners, the manufacturer will supply its Medium and Hard compounds, while the Super Soft and Medium steps are to be used at the Marina Bay street circuit.

"The second half of the season starts off with two of the fastest and most demanding races for tires of the year, in Belgium and Italy," Paul Hembery, Motorsport Director at Pirelli, explained of the nominations. "Singapore is a completely different challenge: the final street race of the season, which is ideal territory for the Super Soft tires."

Hembery went on to state: "As always, our selections have concentrated on providing the best opportunities for strategy as well as the most effective race tires."

Pirelli's modified rubber, blending 2012 construction with 2013 compounds, will be raced for the first time in Hungary after a trouble-free debut at the Young Driver Test.

Minor tweaks made to Hungaroring circuit
Governing body the FIA has confirmed small changes to the Hungaroring since 2012, with organizers installing new fencing and a drainage system for selected curbs.

Along the start-finish straight, a debris fence has been erected behind the left-hand side guardrail to further improve safety levels, while the strips of kerbing situated at the exit of Turns 3, 8 and 9 now feature improved drainage capabilities.

Weather forecasters are predicting a completely dry weekend in Budapest, with temperatures expected to edge close to 40°C (104°F) on Sunday afternoon.

Red Bull boss impressed with Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo's hopes of landing the second seat at Red Bull have been boosted after team owner Dietrich Mateschitz admitted the team was impressed with his recent speed.

The Australian driver is going up against Kimi Raikkonen for the vacancy alongside Sebastian Vettel, and was recently handed a half-day audition in the RB9 at Silverstone to show what he could do.

Despite running off the track at one point, and being unable to work on the car set-up because of FIA restrictions, Ricciardo delivered some consistent pace in the car.

With Red Bull hoping to make a decision over the summer break, Mateschitz has dropped a firm hint that Ricciardo is now in pole position to take the seat, although he also praised the job done by team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne, who still believes he is contention for the seat.

"There is no decision yet, and it is still under discussion within the team," Mateschitz told Autosport. "It will be announced after Budapest.

"But Ricciardo did an excellent job at Silverstone, and [Jean-Eric] Vergne was very good."

Raikkonen's management has been in discussions with both Lotus and Red Bull chiefs about what opportunities are available for next year.

Sources indicate that Raikkonen is keen to stay at Lotus in 2014, but is seeking guarantees that the outfit has the financial capabilities needed to keep up its push for victories.

That security will almost certainly rest on a major investment deal with Infinity Racing being sorted sooner rather than later, after team owner Gerard Lopez revealed that the situation was not as firm as had been previously indicated.

Lotus has won one race this year, and is one of the favorites for the victory at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. Yahoo! Eurosport UK

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