Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday (Update) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
New Jersey 'mess' not on 2014 calendar - Ecclestone
|If NJ cannot raise enough money for F1, IndyCar is a much less expensive alternative|
- No 2014 talks until Lotus resolves issues - Raikkonen
- Drivers could boycott over Spa tire danger
- Hulkenberg finally paid by struggling Sauber
- Pirelli ends Spa boycott threat amid Michelin return rumors New
- Lopez denies Lotus in financial strife New
- Schumacher not entering race for Red Bull seat New
New Jersey 'mess' not on 2014 calendar - Ecclestone
(GMM) Plans to take formula one to New Jersey are in tatters, as Bernie Ecclestone confirmed a race amid the Manhattan skyline will not happen in 2014.
This year's scheduled New Jersey race had already been delayed, but the F1 chief executive announced it also won't be on the 2014 calendar because organizers "haven't got any money".
Ecclestone told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt: "It's not on the cards for next year."
In the same CNN report, however, a spokesman for the event insisted preparations are in fact "on track for 2014".
He added that a statement will be issued after the 2014 calendar is officially published.
But Ecclestone likened the New Jersey foray to Donington's disastrous bid for the British grand prix a few years ago.
He said New Jersey "is like Donington all over again", adding that it is "such a muddle and a mess that it is not worth doing".
Ecclestone said he was surprised promoter Leo Hindery Jr could not make the project work.
"The guy is a multibillionaire and is well-known in New York," Ecclestone told Sylt.
No 2014 talks until Lotus resolves issues - Raikkonen
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen on Friday said he is unwilling to even talk with Lotus about 2014 until certain issues are cleared up.
As he did little to assuage suspicions he actually wasn't ill on Thursday, the 2007 world champion also hinted Lotus is behind on paying him.
"Yeah, fine," he said when reporters asked if he had returned to health.
"There's always reasons for things. I don't have to tell."
Raikkonen also suggested at Spa-Francorchamps that options to switch to Red Bull or Ferrari next year are still alive.
"They (Lotus) know exactly what they have to do first, and then we are open to talk," he said.
Undoubtedly, the inimitable and unforthcoming Raikkonen was uncomfortable and annoyed as the media spotlight burned brightly.
"Why should I talk yesterday (Thursday) and today say the same thing?" Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio quoted the Finn as having said.
Oricchio, writing in O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, said Raikkonen was "clearly annoyed by being in front of the dozens of reporters in the Lotus motor home".
"He started the interview half an hour late and would not speak loud enough so that those more than five feet away could hear a single word," he added.
The most concrete piece of news from the gathering was that, despite his manager Steve Robertson saying talks with Red Bull had collapsed, Raikkonen had a slightly different take.
"I have no answers from them and I am waiting to hear from them personally what they are going to do," he said.
Raikkonen would not be drawn on the rumors also linking him with his former teams Ferrari and McLaren.
Many insiders, however, think Ferrari would be reluctant to pair him with clear number 1 Fernando Alonso next year.
In fact, the Spaniard said 24 hours ago that he would prefer to keep Felipe Massa alongside him, as the Brazilian had beaten Raikkonen in 2008 and 2009.
"It is his opinion," Raikkonen responded, "and everyone has the freedom to say what they want. As I do."
And what about the suggestions Alonso would veto the move altogether?
"You'd have to ask Alonso," Raikkonen answered, "although I don't think that it is his option -- nor mine."
Drivers could boycott over Spa tire danger
(GMM) F1 drivers are threatening to 'boycott' the Belgian grand prix if their concerns about tire safety are not eased, according to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The new saga has arisen after Sebastian Vettel suffered a rear failure during practice at high-speed Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, reviving fears of a repeat of June's tire-exploding British grand prix.
It later emerged that a similar failure had occurred at the rear and on the same side on Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, while Speed Week said yet more drivers had also reported problems.
Pirelli's Paul Hembery reacted by insisting the problem is "very different" to what was seen at Silverstone, according to SID news agency.
"We are not talking about a Silverstone scenario," he is quoted by Speed Week.
"From initial analysis it appears that both (Vettel and Alonso's failures) were caused by an outside factor, probably debris on the track," the Briton was quoted in an official statement.
F1 veteran Mark Webber, however, does not believe it.
"We need answers and debris is not the answer," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.
Reports, including in the Guardian newspaper, said the drivers have asked F1 race director Charlie Whiting to "seek a guarantee" from Pirelli about the safety of the tires.
That would require the Italian company to give definite answers about precisely what debris cut the tires on Friday.
"It is a worry for the sport," Hembery said, "because we have to go out and find what it is."
The implication is that Pirelli might not be able to come up with a definite answer, risking the prospect of drivers going through with their threat.
So Hembery showed journalists photographs of the damaged tires, arguing that all the evidence points to debris having caused the cuts.
"There's not a lot we can do about that," he is quoted by The National.
"We have seen a lot of signs on other tires, small surface cuts, so there is clearly something. I cannot tell you what it is, but it is from external sources," added Hembery.
Hulkenberg finally paid by struggling Sauber
(GMM) Despite protestations to the contrary, Sauber's struggle for survival is not over, according to the latest German-language reports.
The Russian rescue deal had appeared back on track on Friday, as teen driver Sergey Sirotkin confirmed rumors he has now signed a race deal for 2014.
But Welt newspaper said the flow of money from Russia has actually been barely more than a trickle.
Reporting from Spa, Bild correspondents Nicola Pohl and Lennart Wermke referred to a promised EUR 22 million injection, in exchange for Sirotkin's race seat.
But the reports said only EUR 3 million actually materialized.
"For Sauber, the situation is dramatic," said Pohl and Wermke. "The Russian rescue is probably off the table."
However, there are also conflicting reports. Auto Motor und Sport claims team driver Nico Hulkenberg, who has been waiting to be paid all season, has now received the first installment.
"We got some money," confirmed his manager Werner Heinz. "At Sauber things are looking up."
The German report also said Sauber has travelled to Belgium with a new front wing and is tinkering once again with a passive double-DRS system, indicating that funds for technical development are flowing once again.
Pirelli ends Spa boycott threat amid Michelin return rumors
(GMM) Pirelli on Saturday said metal debris, not a tire design flaw, caused the rear failures and cuts seen at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday.
The latest tire problems revived memories of June's tire-exploding chaos at Silverstone, and reportedly pushed the drivers back to the brink of boycott.
But Pirelli said on Saturday morning that the punctures had been traced to a piece of metal debris on the circuit that had fallen from Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus.
Motor sport boss Paul Hembery told reporters: "There are certainly no tire-related issues.
"We've seen no signs of fatigue and from our point of view there's no reason to be concerned."
Media reports said the Pirelli investigation had allayed the nervous drivers' fears.
But it hasn't stopped rumors Michelin, reportedly backed politically by FIA president Jean Todt, is poised to return to F1 to replace Pirelli in 2014.
The BBC said the French marque has already held talks with the governing body, while a Michelin spokesman confirmed the company is still "interested" in F1 but would want a shift away from the new era of heavy tire degradation.
Lopez denies Lotus in financial strife
(GMM) Team owner Gerard Lopez on Saturday played down reports of financial strife at Lotus.
Reportedly in debt to the tune of EUR 120 million, behind in payments to lead driver Kimi Raikkonen and with the new Infinity Racing investment in doubt, Lopez insisted at Spa-Francorchamps that Lotus is in fact in good health.
Indeed, some believe the team's debt is actually just 28 million.
"It is 120 million," Lopez confirmed to Auto Motor und Sport, "but four-fifths of it we owe to ourselves, to Genii, because we do not sponsor the team but finance it through loans."
He said, therefore, that Genii is not going to urgently demand Lotus pay it back.
"First of all I want to ensure that the team continues to be well funded. Whether we get the money back now or later, we have to see.
"We continue to look for partners to join the team. It's not about getting money back quickly now."
Lopez insisted that is precisely why Lotus does not have a title sponsor at the moment.
"We could have signed a cheap contract," he said. "But we think from the performance point of view, we need a sponsor who pays really well.
"We don't want to sign something now for three, four, five years that we will regret later."
On the face of it, rumors aside, Lotus seems to be in good health.
Raikkonen, although upset his wages are being paid late, is still fighting for the title, while Lotus is pushing hard with development of the 2013 and 2014 cars.
"We are currently working on a (2013) car with a longer wheelbase," Lopez revealed. "I think we are really well positioned."
Losing Raikkonen, however, would be a major blow.
The Finn is at the centre of the 2014 'silly season', but Lopez would not be drawn on whether the touted moves to Red Bull or Ferrari are likely, or simply a negotiating tactic.
"I don't know," he insisted.
"I don't know whether he would actually go together with Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso. No idea," Lopez added.
But if Lotus does lose its lead driver, Lopez insists Lotus will continue to thrive.
"When you have a very good car, you always have options in formula one," he said.
"We are very close to Renault and so we know we will have a competitive car next year too. So there will always be drivers who want to be with us."
Schumacher not entering race for Red Bull seat
(GMM) Just in time to stop the 'silly season' from becoming the 'crazy season', Michael Schumacher has ruled out returning to formula one in 2014.
As the candidates line up to replace Red Bull's departing Mark Webber, some have dared mention the seven time world champion as the perfect teammate for his protege, countryman and friend Sebastian Vettel.
The 44-year-old German, however, hung up his helmet for the second time only at the end of last season, and Schumacher's spokeswoman insisted on Saturday he "has moved away from formula one now".
"He has not been among those who have been in touch with Red Bull," she told the Mirror.
"He has achieved a great deal in formula one and (is) happy with what he has done.
"It's not that he's not physically capable because he has kept himself in good shape but it would take a lot of commitment and he doesn't feel the need to make it.
"Michael is enjoying his life," she added.