Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
Raikkonen unlikely to sit out races over money dispute
- F1 proposes extended practice session for young drivers
- Webber deploying 'tricks' to keep motivation
- 2014 Lotus lineup could revive old F3 rivalry
- Vettel not focused on big title advantage
- Vettel denies Ricciardo unwise choice for 2014
- Massa offering financial boost to 2014 team
- F1 drivers happy with 'Singapore sling' axe
- Massa only wants drive with top team
- Ferrari boss thinks team is ready to start winning again
Raikkonen unlikely to sit out races over money dispute
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has played down the prospect of sitting out races, after revealing he only chose to leave Lotus because he was not being paid.
Undoubtedly, the fact the Enstone based team has not paid the Finn is a breach of contract, but the 2007 world champion said on Thursday that he would still prefer to turn up and race than sit at home.
As for the prospect of sitting out races closer to the end of the season ahead of his switch to Ferrari for 2014, Raikkonen told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3: "Of course, anything is possible.
"But until now I am going to all of the races. I do not have any interest in not driving -- that's why I race, because I like it.
"I also don't want anything bad for the team -- if I didn't come here to drive, it would do nothing to improve things," he said.
"I hope and believe that the salary payments will be handled at some point."
A hot contender to replace Raikkonen at Lotus next year is Nico Hulkenberg, who has also had his share of salary problems at Sauber in 2013.
The German, however, said the prospect of not being paid by Lotus if he moves to Enstone next year is not worrying him.
"I can't speak for Kimi," Hulkenberg is quoted by Totalrace.
"I don't know what his contract is, but his salary is probably very high."
F1 proposes extended practice session for young drivers
(GMM) Friday practice sessions could be extended from 90 to 120 minutes next year in a bid to help young drivers gain formula one mileage.
That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, revealing that the proposal authored by team bosses and F1 race director Charlie Whiting will be put to the forthcoming meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.
The extended session would be to give extra preparatory and running time for teams, with race drivers and test drivers eligible to drive the same car during a single session.
The 'test drivers' eligible to drive in the extended first practice session will have to have an international A license, and have contested no more than two grands prix recently.
So far, the proposed change has drawn a mixed response.
"For us, it would take an hour to convert the car from one driver to another," said Williams' team manager Dickie Stanford.
But Force India's Andy Stevenson insisted: "At Monza, it took us ten minutes to get the car ready for Paul di Resta after James Calado drove it."
Auto Motor und Sport said the top teams are unlikely to field young drivers, but for outfits like Caterham and Marussia it would be "a welcome source of income".
Webber deploying 'tricks' to keep motivation
(GMM) Mark Webber has admitted his waning motivation will be stretched even further as he contests the final seven grands prix of his career in 2013.
"This question's getting pretty boring," the Australian is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport in the Singapore paddock.
He had been asked what it feels like to be contesting his last race under lights at the exciting and spectacular Singapore grand prix.
But Webber was asked the near-identical question at historic and high-speed Monza, and at the fabled Spa-Francorchamps.
"I'm using every possible trick to keep my motivation up," added Webber, who admitted that he is looking forward to the 2014 winter without the prospect of having to go to Jerez for customary testing.
2014 Lotus lineup could revive old F3 rivalry
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has admitted he is looking forward to being the 'number 1' at Lotus next year.
With Kimi Raikkonen heading to Ferrari, the Enstone based team will almost certainly keep the improving Frenchman Grosjean on board for 2014, when continuity will be important for the huge change of regulations.
"If I become world champion then I need to be number 1," Grosjean told the British broadcaster Sky.
"Every time I've been team leader, whether it be in Formula 3 or GP2, it's a good situation. But you have to create it," he admitted.
Interestingly, one of the favorites to replace Raikkonen is Nico Hulkenberg, who was one of Grosjean's teammates at the ASM team in Formula 3 in 2007.
For the record, Grosjean was the champion, with Hulkenberg third.
"I came fresh from the A1 series and had a few problems in the first half of the season," Hulkenberg told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"The second half was much better and I even won the Formula 3 Masters," he added. Grosjean had started the race from pole.
Hulkenberg said of Grosjean: "We were not the best of friends."
Grosjean explained: "We were two young drivers who were trying to go to formula one, so we clashed a few times during the season. But I don't think there would be any problems (in 2014)."
Vettel not focused on big title advantage
(GMM) With every rival team now focusing arguably harder on the big challenge of 2014, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is increasingly seen as this year's champion-elect.
Indeed, some are now wondering what the German's eventual points margin over his nearest rival will be by the end of the season, or with how many races to spare he will officially be declared a quadruple world champion.
But Vettel is playing down that sort of talk in Singapore, where he has won for the past two years.
"I'm not trying to be champion with a particular points advantage," he is quoted by the German news agency SID.
"I'm also not thinking about what the others are doing or what is good or bad for us in terms of points."
Indeed, Vettel claims to have had no idea - until he was told by reporters on Thursday - that his advantage over Fernando Alonso is currently 53 points.
"There may be some who are bored of us winning so often, but not us," he smiled.
Vettel denies Ricciardo unwise choice for 2014
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has played down suggestions Red Bull's rivals have put the world champions on the back foot with their driver lineups for 2014.
Ferrari plans to field the all-star lineup of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, and Mercedes' pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is arguably the strongest of 2013.
Red Bull, on the other hand, although counting again on the likely four-time world champion Vettel next year, is replacing the experienced Mark Webber with the graduating Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo.
With experience arguably at a premium in 2014 as the rules undergo perhaps the biggest shakeup in the history of the sport, Vettel played down suggestions Red Bull will be on the back foot.
"For next year, with a lot of new things coming in, it probably doesn't matter so much whether you've been around the last couple of years," he is quoted by the British broadcaster Sky.
But on the other hand, while some predict fireworks between champions Alonso and Raikkonen next year, others are hailing Ferrari's decision to put together the best and most experienced driver lineup possible for 2014.
"It's the right decision by (Luca di) Montezemolo, because Ferrari has been behind Red Bull on the last four world championships, which doesn't make him happy," Mercedes' Niki Lauda told CNN.
The great Austrian said the arrival of Raikkonen, to replace the obvious 'number 2' Massa, will "kick Alonso" to up his game.
"I got Hamilton last year, I convinced him to join the team and he made a hell of a difference," Lauda insisted.
Indeed, Lauda thinks Raikkonen's arrival will have an immediate impact on Alonso.
"If Alonso is annoyed that Raikkonen is coming, then he will drive even faster in Singapore, even if Kimi is not even there (at Ferrari) yet," he told Osterreich newspaper.
Meanwhile, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost dismissed suggestions that because Raikkonen is so laid back, he does not deserve his place at the very top of formula one.
"He even seems to drink faster than the others," the Austrian laughed, according to Spain's Marca newspaper.
"What I mean is, no matter what he does on his days off, he obviously trains hard because he is in perfect physical shape. Look at his neck -- he's a bull.
"That comes from somewhere, not only the bottle," added Tost.
Massa offering financial boost to 2014 team
(GMM) Felipe Massa has admitted he could bring a financial boost to a team that keeps his formula one career on track in 2014.
The Ferrari refugee has been linked with moves to Lotus or possibly McLaren, but the Brazilian was quoted in Singapore as also mentioning Williams, Force India and Sauber.
And 11-time grand prix winner Massa, 32, said there is no shame in offering some backing to a prospective employer.
"I don't mean that I'm taking money out of my pocket, which I would never do, I am a professional driver who gets paid to race and will continue to do so," he told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.
"But I can use my great relationships to find a company that wants to be part of a global marketing project, and there are many in Brazil," added Massa.
"I think it's also important not just for my career, but also for Brazilian motor racing, which is at the limit now," he added.
And if it doesn't work out, he ruled out racing for a back-of-the-grid team, or getting on his knees to beg for a drive.
"There are other categories that interest me, like the DTM," said Massa.
"I don't think I would race in Indy. So if I can't be in a category that I like, or if I run out of time, I can take a year off and still enjoy my life," he insisted.
Massa also said that, while disappointed to have been let go by Ferrari, he is happy his replacement is Kimi Raikkonen.
"If the team had swapped me for a driver who doesn't have the qualities of Kimi, it would be a little harder to accept," he said.
F1 drivers happy with 'Singapore sling' axe
(GMM) F1 drivers have given the thumbs-up to the corner that has replaced the notorious 'Singapore sling' chicane.
We reported a month ago that, following constant criticism and crashes, the slow and unusual chicane with high and harsh curbs has been replaced by a simple left-hander at turn 10.
"I think it will be good," Mercedes' Nico Rosberg told Brazil's Totalrace, after seeing the new solution during his track walk on Thursday.
"I can't say if it is safer or not, because the speed has been increased, but I think they've done a great job," he added.
Force India's Adrian Sutil admits he will miss the old chicane.
"I usually like a lot of fast corners, but I liked the chicane. It's now a fast corner which should be in third gear," said the German.
"I think it's a very fluid circuit now, for a street circuit," added Sutil.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso commented: "I think it's better now. The chicane was a bit dangerous.
"If everything went smoothly there, no problems, but if you had problems you could take off on the curbs. I think we have improved the safety a little bit.
"The lap will be a second faster, but it will be as fun and challenging as it was before," he added.
Massa only wants drive with top team
Outgoing Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has made it clear that he is only interested in joining a team that will give him the opportunity to fight for victories and world titles.
The 32-year-old, who will be replaced by former team-mate Kimi Räikkönen next season, is currently involved in discussions with a number of Formula 1 outfits, naming Lotus and McLaren in an interview with Brazilian media earlier this week.
"We are talking to some teams and we hope we can find the best direction for me and the best possible car," said Massa. "I've said before that I don't want to be in Formula 1 just to be on the grid. I want to be fighting for the best possible results. I want to find the best opportunity to fight for victories and for the championship. I know I have a lot to give to a team."
Massa added that he is hopeful of achieving at least one more race victory before he leaves Ferrari, with whom he has competed for the past eight Formula 1 seasons.
"I plan to do the best I can for the last seven races, coming at the end of what has been a fantastic and very long career with Ferrari," Massa went on to explain.
"This team is part of my history, where I have spent the majority of my career, including eight years as a race driver and others as a young driver. In 2003 I lived mostly within the team and I know everyone and have many friends there, so I will be trying the hardest for the rest of this year and would love to leave with at least one more win."
Ferrari boss thinks team is ready to start winning again
The whys and wherefores of a choice, a review of the current situation and a look ahead to the near future, the Scuderia’s top man covered all these points in an interview with the doyen of Italian journalists, Pino Allievi. The story was published in today’s edition of Italian daily sports paper Gazzetta dello Sport, as Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo took an overall look at the current state of the Maranello team and its prospects for 2014.
The President began with another appreciation of Felipe Massa. “He’s an exceptional guy and a wonderful person,” he said when explaining the reasons that led to the decision to end the relationship with the Brazilian and start another one with Kimi Raikkonen. “The relationship (with Felipe, Editor’s note) was clear. “He needed results and so did we. He did get some, but he was inconsistent, having some good races but not on a regular basis. In 2012, we felt the lack of his points in the Constructors’.
"It will be good for him to have a change of scenery. We are not masochistic enough to take on a driver without informing Alonso. Fernando was always in the picture regarding the choice of Raikkonen, taken partly because the alternative, that of employing a youngster, in what will be a complex 2014 season, did not inspire confidence. Today, Raikkonen is one of the best, along with Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton and Alonso is the first to be happy that he is coming here. Raikkonen’s situation is identical to the one we had with Lauda. At one point, even Niki had had enough. I spoke about having his twin brother because the guy racing for us was not the one we had employed. The break did him good and he returned in great form, he won and finished a lot of races. In a nutshell, I wanted a driver who would not make me regret Massa.
"What I ask of Raikkonen is wins, a consistent performance level and podiums and Alonso will be the first to benefit. I am pleased he is back with us and the Ferrari staff greeted the news enthusiastically, as they had good memories of him. Going back to Lauda, when he returned with a different energy level, he won the title, beating Prost…” Montezemolo strenuously reiterated that the 2013 game was absolutely not over yet. “I am expecting updates that will bring improvements. We should bear in mind that there’s only one Red Bull getting the results…The team will support Alonso until the very last meter and on top of that, I am also expecting Massa to have a great end to the season. Felipe is an exceptional guy and a wonderful person. They say he won’t help Fernando? Please! He will definitely do so, giving us a hand for the Constructors’ and Alonso for the Drivers’.
"The President didn’t shirk from the question regarding what percentage chance he would give Ferrari of taking the title in 2013: “I would not talk about percentages, but I would bet on Ferrari in order to win a lot of money, given that we are apparently outsiders. Looking to 2014, I would say however that we can no longer afford to be the contender beaten in a photo-finish. I can’t wait to be winning again. The time is now, believe me…” Time for two potentially delicate topics, the suggestion that Alonso is dissatisfied and Raikkonen’s PR skills, which Montezemolo dismissed with these words.
“I am the first to understand his (Alonso’s, Editor’s note) discontent. Let’s say his dissatisfaction is like the anger of a footballer who is called to the bench and tells the manager to get stuffed. But I’d rather deal with someone like that than a wuss! The PR business is ever more mediatised. I hope that his (Raikkonen’s, Editor’s note) public relations will consist of wins, as well as a contribution to the team and a diligent presence in Maranello. Alonso cannot take all the work on his shoulders alone.”
The interview was also an opportunity to talk about the man who heads up the Scuderia and the team’s new technical organization. Asked if Domenicali’s position was ever in doubt, Montezemolo had a clear response: “Never, he would be missed. He was the first to advocate the choice of Kimi. He has worked well, preparing for the future and now I expect to see results in the present. But, over the past three years, we have lost two World titles at the last race and it was not his fault. I’ve been around a long time, from the point eleven years on from Surtees’ title.
Then as President, with Schumacher and the Todt-Brawn-Byrne triumvirate, we created a golden era and now the team is ready to start winning again. The void since the Schumacher era was caused by delays on the simulation front and with the aerodynamics. However, in all but three years, Ferrari has always been in the title fight right to the last race. I am counting a lot on James Allison. With him came the head of aerodynamics from Lotus and other new faces. Finally, we will have the creativity we were lacking. Allison knows the team and the men and he speaks Italian. Others wanted him, but he preferred us and his arrival will also bring a change in working methods in many areas. Pat Fry will concentrate on improving our on-track operations, our methodology and the simulator.”
Finally, Montezemolo also spoke about two topics that always get plenty of attention, the costs of Formula 1 and an eventual future without Ecclestone. The President had this to say when asked if costs had effectively been reduced over the past five years. “No, they’ve not been reduced. The rate of increase has reduced, but the level is still too high. We would have to return to the less sophisticated F1 of the mid-Nineties, resuming testing to give youngsters a run, because today, GP2 is a laughing stock with no value. And the few tests we do have, well naturally the race drivers do them.” There was also a question about FIAT’s contribution to Ferrari’s Formula 1 program: “Zero,” explained Montezemolo. “We get no financial contribution from them and Ferrari survives on its sponsorship, prize money and the cars it sells.”
As for Formula 1 without Ecclestone, Montezemolo repeated his view, which he has expressed several times in the past: “We will need to rethink everything, with a structure that provides for a head of administration and finance, a commercial director and a Number 1 for technical matters. The work can no longer be centralized around just one man.”