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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
  • Perez days numbered?  Not as long as Carlos Slim is paying for his ride
    McLaren's Perez admits need to improve
  • Alonso doesn't need my help for title charge - Massa
  • Ricciardo thinks he beat Vergne in pressure stakes
  • Mercedes eyes Massa for DTM seat
  • Kovalainen has 'big chance' of 2014 return - Fernandes
  • Raikkonen injury causes paddock tongues to wag
  • Caterham sticks with Renault engines for 2014
  • Alonso describes 'sad' Ferrari showing
  • Ecclestone says Formula One Singapore IPO still on 

McLaren's Perez admits need to improve
(GMM)  Sergio Perez knows he is on notice at McLaren.

After Martin Whitmarsh made overtures to Fernando Alonso, the McLaren boss admitted Mexican Perez hasn't beaten teammate Jenson Button "consistently enough" in 2013.

"He is going to give it a good go this weekend I expect," he said in Singapore.

But Perez, 23, then qualified 14th, six places behind Button.

"I have to say that I'm not happy with my performance at all," he admitted afterwards.

"I know I have to improve and I'm working very hard with my team to improve," added Perez.

While Whitmarsh has hinted McLaren will nonetheless go into the 2014 season with the same driver pairing, the Guardian newspaper reports that Perez's three-year contract actually features year-on-year 'options' in the team's favor.

Another rumor in the Singapore paddock is that the question mark above Perez's name might also be related to his crucial sponsorship ties to the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

Asked if Perez is championship material, 2009 title winner Button answered: "I don't know.

"It is very different emotionally when you are fighting for a championship.  It breaks some people and others rise to it," he added.

With Alonso apparently out of the running for now, McLaren also has young chargers Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne champing at the bit to enter F1.

A more likely candidate might be Nico Hulkenberg.

"Ah, another rumor," the German, also linked with a move to Lotus, told F1's official website.  "I like that."

Alonso doesn't need my help for title charge - Massa
(GMM)  With Felipe Massa heading for the exit at Ferrari, the big question arose again after qualifying in Singapore -- will the Brazilian bother helping Fernando Alonso win the world championship?

"Honestly, how can I help him?" Massa, hoping to rescue his career with another team but also open to moving to DTM or taking a sabbatical, is quoted by Russia's f1news.ru.

The question arose because Massa, to be replaced at Ferrari by former teammate Kimi Raikkonen next year, has outqualified Fernando Alonso in Singapore.

And before travelling to the floodlit city-state, Massa told Brazilian television that he would now focus on his own interests rather than serving as Alonso's number 2.

He said after qualifying that there's not much he can do to help Alonso on Sunday.

"Sebastian (Vettel) is first and I think Fernando needs to pray that his (Red Bull) car has a problem," said Massa.

"I will just try to do the best race possible.  I want to have a good final seven races.

"Honestly, I don't know whether Fernando needs my help."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, however, had chided Massa's original comments about racing only for himself from now on.

And team boss Stefano Domenicali told Marca newspaper on Saturday: "You'll see how Massa is going to help Fernando if he can.

"You'll see," he repeated to the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

The real problem is not Massa; it is Ferrari's failure to make up enough ground on Red Bull, despite pushing hard on the development front.

Singapore, Domenicali said, is the "crossroads".  In other words, the focus will now surely switch completely to 2014.

"You could not say anything bad about how hard the team has worked on the developments," Alonso is quoted by Speed Week.

"The problem is that the other teams are also not sitting in the pool or watching TV between the races.

"In Hungary, we were the fourth fastest team, and we still are.  This is sad, but it's just the reality," he added.

Ricciardo thinks he beat Vergne in pressure stakes
(GMM)  Daniel Ricciardo thinks Red Bull chose him over Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne because he is better at dealing with pressure.

In fact, Red Bull has said the young Australian's slight advantage in experience over Frenchman Vergne tipped the balance in Ricciardo's favor.

Asked the question by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Ricciardo answered: "Since I have been part of Red Bull, I have always got good results and shown to be fast.

"But I think the differential element was coping with the pressure at the time when we (Ricciardo and Vergne) knew we were being considered (for 2014)," he admitted.

"Jean-Eric has suffered a little while I was fine, both on Saturdays and Sundays," said Ricciardo, who at 24 is just under a year older than Vergne.

But now he has secured the seat alongside Sebastian Vettel, many believe Ricciardo may suffer the same fate as the German's departing teammate Mark Webber -- being roundly beaten and slipping into a 'number 2' role.

"I have no fear at all.  I'm not Mark," Ricciardo said.

"The team told me not to be worried; that I will get the same opportunities as Seb," he insisted.

"They told me to ignore a lot of the things that are said, because most of the time they aren't true.

"And Mark told me to watch out for Sebastian, but from a sporting point of view, because he says he is constantly improving."

Mercedes eyes Massa for DTM seat
(GMM)  Toto Wolff, the boss of Mercedes' motor racing activities, has admitted Felipe Massa is a candidate to move into the German touring car series DTM in 2014.

While also hoping to move to Lotus next year but not ruling out a sabbatical after Ferrari decided to replace him with Kimi Raikkonen, Brazilian Massa recently admitted he might be interested in DTM.

"I do not like endurance races," O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper quoted him as saying, "(but) DTM is something I see as possible for me."

Austrian Wolff, who watched Massa outqualify his Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso in Singapore on Saturday, said the 32-year-old might be in the running for a seat with Mercedes.

"A driver like Felipe, with services as he has shown here, would be a benefit for DTM or any other racing series," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"He's definitely an interesting driver.  We would certainly consider it," admitted Wolff.

Kovalainen has 'big chance' of 2014 return - Fernandes
(GMM)  Caterham supremo Tony Fernandes has admitted Heikki Kovalainen is in the running to return to a race seat in 2014.

The Finn was ousted in favor of two 'pay drivers' this year as Caterham decided instead to focus its resources on preparing for the huge rules challenge of 2014.

"We were trying to save for 2014," Malaysian Fernandes, on a now rare trip to the paddock in Singapore, said.

"This is the state of formula one right now where unfortunately sometimes the budget plays a large part in your decision making."

Realizing it had taken a step backwards relative to the competition, however, Caterham drafted the highly-rated Kovalainen back into the reserve role and gave him four practice outings at grands prix this year.

Asked what chance Kovalainen, 31, has of returning to the race seat in 2014, Fernandes told Turun Sanomat newspaper: "(A) big chance.

"I don't want to say more than that.  Heikki is still with us, he is a big part of this family," he added.

It is believed Charles Pic's seat is secure for 2014.  Caterham's other race driver this year is the Dutchman Giedo van der Garde.

Raikkonen injury causes paddock tongues to wag
(GMM)  It is not surprising that news of Kimi Raikkonen's back injury caused eyebrows to raise in the Singapore paddock.

That's because the news followed so hot on the heels of the Finn's controversial revelation that he is only leaving Lotus for Ferrari next year because he has not been paid.

And the common paddock perception is that Raikkonen's 'illness' that caused him to sit out Thursday's proceedings at Spa recently was simply his lack of desire to attend.

Now, Raikkonen qualifying 13th in Singapore, ten places behind Romain Grosjean, is apparently due to a pinched nerve in his back.

"Perhaps he should pad his seat with wads of money?" one paddock cynic said mischievously late on Saturday.

Sources insist, however, that the 'iceman' really does have a painfully bad back.

The official story, according to Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper, is that the injury dates back to a huge backwards testing crash at Magny Cours in 2001.

Correspondents Frank Schneider and Nicola Pohl have heard something different -- Raikkonen hurt his back in an alcohol-fueled stumble on a staircase.

A Lotus team member said without elaborating: "There was an incident."

Caterham sticks with Renault engines for 2014
(GMM)  Renault on Sunday announced it will continue to supply engines to Caterham beyond this year's V8 regulations.

The French marque said in a statement that the team will use the new turbo V6 'power unit' for at least three years, starting in 2014.

After Red Bull and Toro Rosso, Caterham is the third team whose Renault engine supply for 2014 has been confirmed.

Lotus is also expected to remain with Renault beyond 2013, while Williams is moving to Mercedes power.

"This announcement is obviously very good news for our F1 team and is a reflection of the deep bonds that have been created between our two businesses since 2011," said team boss Cyril Abiteboul in a statement.

Caterham 'supremo' Tony Fernandes admitted in Singapore, however, that the much higher price of the new V6 engines is an example of how cost-cutting efforts in F1 have failed.

"We screwed it up, it's as simple as that," he told reporters.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone also admitted he is not happy with the 2014 rules.

"The one that could have stopped it, really, was Ferrari," he told the New York Times.

"Ferrari had a veto over a lot of these changes when they were made, and they didn't veto it.  If they had, I'd have completely supported it," he added.

Alonso describes 'sad' Ferrari showing 
Fernando Alonso has labeled Ferrari's performance deficit throughout qualifying in Singapore as "sad", the Spaniard finishing more than a second off the ultimate pace.

Although the two-time World Champion – who starts behind team-mate Felipe Massa in seventh – made reference to the relentless efforts back at Maranello, he suggested that the updates arriving at the circuit are not providing the desired lap time gains.

"I think we need to be realistic and not be happy at all with the performance here," said Alonso, who sits 53 points behind title leader Sebastian Vettel. "We did the maximum bringing new parts and they work in a way, but maybe not enough. We tried many things, we made many changes last night and today and the car was then a little easier to drive. Everyone is pushing in the same direction, and the gap is very big – that is sad.

"I think we have to be happy with the work that the factory has done. They worked non-stop. It's true we are not in the position we wanted but it's not because they didn't try the maximum."

Alonso added: "On a high-downforce circuit we were fourth fastest in Hungary. We come here and we are maybe fourth fastest in terms of the teams. It's sad news for us, but there is nothing we can do now apart from preparing a perfect race Sunday."

Ecclestone says Formula One Singapore IPO still on
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has insisted plans for a multi-billion dollar initial public offering (IPO) in Singapore are still very much on despite a lengthy delay in the process.

Ecclestone, speaking at the Singapore Grand Prix late on Saturday, said he was "sure" Formula One would float on the city-state's exchange as soon as the timing is right.

The glitzy, global championship has been mulling a flotation for more than a year, but the process was put on hold in June 2012 due to market volatility.

"It's just a case of when we think is the right time to go to the market. We're not in a hurry," Ecclestone told AFP. Asked whether it would be in Singapore, he said: "I'm sure so."

Formula One is close to finalizing a Concorde Agreement with its various teams to determine how to divide up revenues over the coming seasons.

However, Ecclestone indicated the deal was not the major factor governing when the IPO would go ahead.

Singapore, one of 19 stops on this year's schedule, is viewed as an attractive destination for IPOs because of it status as a large, stable and transparent Asian financial centre.

English Premier League football club Manchester United also considered listing in Singapore before it eventually chose New York last year.

Earlier reports said private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, the biggest shareholder, would seek a valuation of more than $10 billion when the flotation finally goes ahead.

Ecclestone has also received a boost this week after a German court delayed setting a date for a bribery case involving the Briton until next year.

The 82-year-old could face a prison sentence after being charged by Munich prosecutors in July in relation to a $44 million (33.6 million euro, pound sterling29 million) payment he made to German banker.

But a court official said no trial date would be set until next year, because "the judges did not want to put themselves under pressure by making a decision that was too hasty".

Plans for the IPO come as Formula One teams repeatedly complain about rising costs, including the added expense of introducing a new type of engine next year.

"When I came into Formula One, people talked to me about costs coming down but I don't think there's been a single year it's come down," Caterham boss Tony Fernandes said in Singapore.

"I think next year will be probably the highest year -- so I think there's something fundamentally wrong."

The diminutive Ecclestone controls about a five percent stake in Formula One, which he has cannily built into an empire with annual revenues of about $1.5 billion.

He has also cleverly exploited Formula One's cachet and high profile to take the sport into new markets, charging venues large fees for the right to stage races.

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