Latest F1 news in brief - Monday (Update) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
Horner, Ricciardo, deny Webber's 2014 seat news
|Horner denies Ricciardo signed yet|
- Renault factor involved in Raikkonen talks - Lopez
- Red Bull plays down chance of Monza dominance
- New engine deal for Sauber close - Domenicali
- McLaren divided over Perez penalty
- Visor tear-off caused Raikkonen problem
- Mercedes half a second off in Spa - Ross Brawn New
- Domenicali wants further step from Ferrari New
- Di Resta questions Maldonado New
Horner, Ricciardo, deny Webber's 2014 seat news
(GMM) Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo have denied Mark Webber's suggestion the decision about his 2014 successor is already made.
Obviously referring to his young compatriot Ricciardo, Le Mans-bound Webber said just before Sunday's Belgian grand prix that the news is "good for him and good for Australia".
Red Bull team boss Horner, however, hit back: "I have never known a driver sign another driver.
"We have not yet made a decision," he insisted, according to Express newspaper.
The British broadcaster Sky said at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, however, that Ricciardo has indeed been signed, with the news to be announced within days.
Horner also denied that.
"We will take a couple of weeks to think things over," he insisted. "It's not a football transfer window, so no rush," he told the BBC.
24-year-old Ricciardo also denied Webber's news.
"He really said that?" the Toro Rosso driver was quoted on Sunday by Russia's f1news.ru.
"We all know Mark -- he likes to make predictions, sometimes they are right, sometimes they're not.
"It's nice that he supports me, so I take his words as a compliment.
"But I'm sure if I had a contract, I would know about it. I don't think we're going to have to wait long for the team, but I still haven't heard anything," added Ricciardo.
Renault factor involved in Raikkonen talks - Lopez
(GMM) Gerard Lopez has admitted Renault is involved in Lotus' push to keep Kimi Raikkonen at the team in 2014.
It has been rumored the Finn is pushing hard for a closer collaboration between Enstone based Lotus and Renault, who are reportedly looking for more exposure given world champion team Red Bull's ever-closer ties to Infiniti.
Team owner Lopez on Sunday said Lotus has made "progress" regarding the talks with Raikkonen.
"We understand what Kimi is waiting for," he is quoted by Russia's f1news.ru.
Asked if he is talking about his unpaid salary, Lopez answered: "No, I mean the technical side.
"He is interested in what our relationship will be with Renault next year, things like that. The chances that he will stay are very high. I really believe in it.
"The financial side is not a problem. What we are discussing is options that will allow us to establish a closer collaboration with Renault. Nothing more, nothing less."
Asked, however, if any deal between Lotus and Renault for 2014 exists already, Lopez admitted: "Not yet.
"This is all part of the negotiation process. I think it will happen soon enough."
Meanwhile, the latest wild rumor as the F1 paddock packed up at Spa late on Sunday was that Fernando Alonso could be poised to move his backing by the Spanish bank Santander from Ferrari to Lotus in 2014.
Niki Lauda, however, urged the Spaniard to focus on the task at hand.
"All his whining and complaining about the Ferrari just discourages the whole team," the triple world champion said on German television RTL on Sunday.
Red Bull plays down chance of Monza dominance
(GMM) Red Bull is playing down expectations Sebastian Vettel will continue his dominance next weekend at Monza.
Although some insiders thought Mercedes would have the upper hand on the long Spa-Francorchamps straights, German Vettel dominated the Belgian grand prix from start to finish.
Monza is an even higher-speed and lower-downforce circuit, but Vettel is not so sure the RB9 will continue to dominate in Italy.
"It's very difficult to predict," said the reigning triple world champion, whose points advantage over Fernando Alonso is now 46 points with eight races to go.
"We had some painful years (at Monza), where we just got hammered down the straights, and we've had years where the loss down the straight was limited, so we could come back in the corners.
"How it turns out to be this year is difficult to say," added Vettel.
Designer Adrian Newey is also unsure.
"I think Monza could be a difficult circuit for us," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint. "There are a lot of straights and not so many corners."
New engine deal for Sauber close - Domenicali
(GMM) A new engine deal for Sauber could be announced at the Italian grand prix in two weeks, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said on Sunday.
"As you know, we want to continue to supply our engines to Sauber," he is quoted by Russia's f1news.ru, "so I hope that very soon we will settle all the formalities."
Reports in recent weeks have indicated the relationship between the financially-struggling Swiss team and Sauber is on the rocks, over unpaid bills for the current V8 engine.
But it does appear that the first money from Sauber's new Russian rescue deal has now started to flow.
Asked whether a 2014 engine deal for Sauber could be announced at Monza, Domenicali answered: "I hope so."
Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn agreed: "Yes. There are no problems with the talks, and we hope that in the very near future we come to an agreement."
Asked if there is a chance an announcement will be made at Monza, she answered: "Of course.
"We have never considered any other options (than Ferrari), and do not plan to either."
Kaltenborn also hinted that the Sauber-Ferrari relationship could actually be strengthened for 2014 and beyond, as the new turbo V6 era begins.
"Let's see if it makes sense," she said.
"We have worked very closely before, and I think both sides are ready for it. We know each other well and cooperate perfectly, so we'll see how things develop."
McLaren divided over Perez penalty
One has to feel for the fans on either side of the fence when even Sergio Perez's own team can't quite decide if his Belgian penalty was justified.
The Mexican driver, who is contesting his first season with McLaren, was hit with a drive-through penalty at Spa for pushing Romain Grosjean off the track.
And his team boss Martin Whitmarsh felt it was a harsh call.
"Checo is clearly being watched in these situations (pass on Grosjean). I think it was a tough decision," F1 journalist Maurice Hamilton quoted Whitmarsh as having said.
But while Whitmarsh wasn't happy with the decision, McLaren's sporting director Sam Michael believes it was justified.
"Sergio did not leave enough room so I have no complaints with the penalty," he said.
Perez finished the 44-lap Belgian GP down in 11th place, outside the points for the sixth time in 11 races. PlanetF1
Visor tear-off caused Raikkonen problem
Lotus suspects that a blocked brake cooling duct caused by a loose visor tear-off led to Kimi Raikkonen's retirement from the Belgian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen suffered from an overheating left-front brake duct shortly after the start of the race at Spa-Francorchamps. At the first pit stop, the team discovered the visor tear-off lodged in the cooling channels of the brake duct. Although Lotus was able to remove it, the brake disc was already too hot and could not be cooled enough. Eventually it failed completely.
Investigations by the team after the race discovered no other explanation for the brake issues, which led it to believe that the visor strip was the cause. Team principal Eric Boullier said there was no design problem with the brake cooling on the Lotus, even though it had been operating in a high temperature window.
"We know that we have two options on cooling here: one was nearly too cool, one was on the top of the range," Boullier said. "If the failure had happened on both discs then you would think that the cooling was wrong, but it was only on one disc." Racer.com
Mercedes half a second off in Spa - Ross Brawn
Ross Brawn says Mercedes is "half a second" off the pace after finishing third and fourth in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton had started on pole position but dropped behind Sebastian Vettel on lap one and then Fernando Alonso later in the race. Nico Rosberg dropped from third to fourth behind Alonso early on too, and Brawn said Mercedes was lacking some pace at Spa which was most evident in the early stages of the race.
"It was about where we thought we might be," Brawn said. "We were hoping we might have picked up a little bit of a better balance … in fact the car didn't look too bad at the end. We're not quite sure why we struggled so much on the first couple of laps as we were sitting ducks. But that's probably where the car was and we're half a second slower than we need to be."
With Hamilton and Rosberg able to hold off Webber late on Brawn said the main encouragement came from another race where the team had no problems with its tires.
"We didn't have any tire issues, which was great. On the last stint both drivers were able to push hard when they needed to and defend their position against Webber, so that was OK. We're getting there but it's a moving target and Red Bull are not sitting still."
Brawn added that he was hopeful of a more improved showing in Monza.
"It's an outlier for the sort of tracks that we have this year, so none us really know quite how that is going to pan out. I wouldn't say we want to make any predictions but we're optimistic." ESPN F1
Domenicali wants further step from Ferrari
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is pleased with the progress the team made at the Belgian Grand Prix but he admits they need to make another step forward if they are to maintain their championship challenge.
Domenicali had called for a big improvement after a number of disappointing results, but it looked like they would struggle at Spa-Francorchamps when Fernando Alonso only managed to qualify in ninth place.
An impressive run from the Spaniard, however, saw him finish second behind Sebastian Vettel but he still has some way to go if he is to catch his championship rival.
Domenicali was pleased with the response of the team, but he knows Ferrari will have to find further improvement to maintain its championship hopes.
“I think it’s important, not only for Fernando – who deserves a very quick car – but also for the team because they are working very hard to make sure that we are able to fight up until the end for the championship,” Domenicali said.
“We had a very bad July for many reasons and I am very pleased to see that we are back on track but it is not enough.
“If you want to make sure that we are able to arrive at the end we need to have another step with regards to the performance of the car and this is what I am seeking from my people. This is what at home everyone is trying to do as best they can and this is really the target that we have.
“For us it’s important to get back on the trace of improving the car but for sure we have seen Red Bull has improved and we need to stay there because we can beat them by improving the car better than them and/or being there if there’s an opportunity that comes because they may have a problem. Don’t forget last year…”
Di Resta questions Maldonado
Paul Di Resta is convinced he would have been back in the points at the Belgian Grand Prix but for a collision with Pastor Maldonado that left him baffled.
Di Resta was left without the back end of his Force India on lap 27 at Spa after Maldonado clipped the Scot's team-mate Adrian Sutil before running into the 26-year-old in a bizarre attempt to pit.
It means Di Resta is now on a miserable run of three races without a point after failing to score in Germany and Hungary before the summer break.
"I don't know what he (Maldonado) was really thinking," said Di Resta. "In the process of taking me out, he probably could have taken another two cars out at the same time.
"I'm not going to point a finger, but it's pretty clear I was stuck where I was and there was nothing I could do to avoid it.
"I was going for a cut back and because I was so wide I assumed he was nowhere near.
"It's a few times here the pit entry has caught a few people out. He wasn't going to make the pits, so I don't know what he was planning to do or where he was going.
"He made quite a mess of my car. He ripped the whole side out, from the radiator back. I'm surprised he carried on."
Neither man exchanged views after the race, nor was there an apology from Maldonado, who collected a stop-go penalty for the incident.
Explaining from his perspective, Maldonado said: "Our lines crossed as I was entering the pits.
"It was a difficult situation because I was fighting hard with the Sauber and I didn't see Di Resta on the outside as I turned toward the pitlane. I tried to brake to avoid the accident but it was too late."
Di Resta, who had started from a career-high fifth, feels a top-10 finish was on the cards as the team showed signs of getting on top of the new Pirelli tires.
"Points were on the cards," added Di Resta. "I got off to a bad start, falling to 11th at the first corner, but got back up to seventh, which was probably reflective of our speed at that point in the race.
"We had a good first stint, called right the timing of the first stop, but after that I got stuck in a gaggle and grained the front tires.
"Then I got on to the last set of tires, which felt exceptional, and for the lap and a half I did before the incident I was showing some pace which was a bit of a surprise.
"In Hungary, yes, we struggled, but here we bounced back well. That is where our car is, fighting for ninth, 10th if everything goes well.
"Everybody has done a good job reacting, all the engineers, and the effort put in has obviously paid off.
"It would have been points but for what happened with Maldonado. There was definitely a 10th place in there."