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Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Sirotkin to test Ferrari at Fiorano
  • Raikkonen to assess back injury in Korea practice
  • Vettel heading for Schumacher's F1 records - Berger
  • German newspaper admits mistake over Ferrari bill
  • Ferrari 'thought hard' about signing Hulkenberg - boss

Sirotkin to test Ferrari at Fiorano
(GMM)  Sergey Sirotkin's push to become the next Sauber driver is now underway.

Officially, the Russian's debut was on Friday, when he demonstrated Sauber's 2013 car along a 700 meter asphalted stretch of the new Sochi circuit.

"These were my first meters in a formula one car, which obviously is something very special," said the teenager.

But some publications, including Spain's El Mundo Deportivo, report that the 18-year-old's actual debut was over two days recently at the Vairano track in Italy.

And Sirotkin has told Russia's f1news.ru that his next outings will be at the wheel of a Ferrari - who is Sauber's engine supplier - at the fabled Italian marque's Fiorano circuit.

It is there that he will push to secure his F1 super license.

"Actually, it's only a formality," he said.  "We have two days to show race pace over 300 kilometers.

"I take it very seriously, but I'm not afraid of it.  I believe that I can do it."

Asked to confirm if it will be a Ferrari he will be driving, Sirotkin confirmed: "Yes.  The first tests will be at Fiorano."

He was speaking on Friday in Russia, whereas he should have been qualifying for the Formula Renault 3.5 event in France.

"Yes, we decided that Sochi was the priority," said Sirotkin, who missed the first race at Paul Ricard but did race on Sunday.

As for who his Sauber teammate in 2014 will be, team boss Monisha Kaltenborn has all but admitted that Nico Hulkenberg is heading elsewhere.

"Drivers come, drivers go," she told F1's official website.  "Hopefully the team stays and - in our case - remains the fourth oldest."

Perhaps an all-Russian lineup is possible, as former Renault and Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov has admitted his interest.

"Hulkenberg is likely to leave," he told Championat, "and they are not too happy with Gutierrez."

Kaltenborn, however, denied that Sauber is not happy with rookie Esteban Gutierrez, who is closely linked with the team's Mexican sponsors.

"We will announce our driver lineup, which we always do for one year (at a time), when the time is right," she insisted.

Raikkonen to assess back injury in Korea practice
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen is unable to say if he will definitely be fit for the weekend's Korean grand prix.

Albeit ultimately on the podium, the Finn struggled through the last event in Singapore with a back injury.

His trainer Mark Arnall said late last week that Raikkonen will be fit for Korea, but the 2007 world champion has admitted: "We will have to see how it is when I get out on track on Friday."

Korea will be the 33-year-old's sixth-last grand prix for Lotus before switching to Ferrari for 2014.

Team boss Eric Boullier insists he is in no rush to name the successor, amid reports Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa are the frontrunners.

"When it comes to drivers, we are not simply looking for a short-term replacement for Kimi," he said.

"We are looking at where we are going to be in the next five years."

Boullier is referring to reports Lotus' immediate priority is its future on the financial front.

Referring again to the 2014 driver vacancy, he said: "We can afford to be patient -- to ask the candidates to wait as we formulate our strategy for the coming years."

Vettel heading for Schumacher's F1 records - Berger
(GMM)  F1 veteran Gerhard Berger thinks it is possible Sebastian Vettel will break Michael Schumacher's records.

Not too long ago, former F1 driver and team co-owner Berger was among those who regarded Schumacher's title and victory records as near-unassailable.

The great Austrian has changed his mind.

"Sebastian can break Michael Schumacher's records," he told Servus TV, referring to Schumacher's huge tally of seven titles and 91 wins.

"He is quite clearly already in that direction, and I think he will do it," said Berger, who was Vettel's team boss at Toro Rosso when the German won his first race in 2008.

"He's not even 30 and he's already a four-time world champion," said Berger, who obviously assumes Vettel will convert his points lead into a fourth consecutive drivers' title this season.

"This (Vettel's career success so far) is really incredible," Berger added.

Indeed, even Toto Wolff - Mercedes' competition boss - thinks Vettel could continue his run of form into 2014.

Bernie Ecclestone said recently that the huge rules shake-up could produce a different winner next year, but Wolff is quoted by the Telegraph: "The performance is being driven by people, and with people staying where they are in the top teams, I don't see there will be a big swing in the balance of power."

German newspaper admits mistake over Ferrari bill
(GMM)  A German newspaper has admitted it got it wrong in claiming Ferrari sent Mark Webber a joke invoice for the Singapore 'taxi ride'.

The major daily Bild published the hefty invoice for $27,500, claiming it was an "exclusive" revelation, when really the joke was dreamed up by GrandPrixDiary blogger Rob Sinfield.

"Some believe that pigs might actually fly ... especially in Germany," Ferrari said via its official Twitter account after reports of the Bild story emerged.

Bild correspondent Helmut Uhl admitted his mistake, in thinking Ferrari had sent Webber the joke invoice for riding on Fernando Alonso's sidepod in Singapore, caused a "fuss".

"To be fair to Bild," Sinfield wrote on Twitter, "they told me who sent them my spoof invoice and I wouldn't have checked the validity either."

Ferrari 'thought hard' about signing Hulkenberg - boss
(GMM)  Stefano Domenicali admits Ferrari "thought hard" about signing Nico Hulkenberg for 2014.

Ultimately, after deciding to oust Felipe Massa, the great Italian marque opted instead to bring its 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen back to Ferrari.

But German Hulkenberg might actually have been the more conventional choice, given the perception that Ferrari usually has a clear 'number 1' alongside a less senior teammate.

"He (Hulkenberg) was one of the candidates that we thought hard about," Ferrari boss Domenicali told Germany's Sport Bild.

He said Raikkonen's "experience" was ultimately a decisive factor.

"He also knows the team, he's very fast, he makes no mistakes and is not political," added Domenicali.

"But I think that for the future Nico still has a very good chance," he insisted.

Many in the paddock, however, are expecting trouble with Ferrari's new 'fire and ice' driver lineup.

Domenicali insists Ferrari is not worried.

"The priority is to have a good car," he said.

"If it's fast, I expect no problems.  If not, then we have bigger problems anyway.

"It is clear that both have the same conditions and their performance alone will decide who is at the front," added Domenicali.

Even Alain Prost, who clashed so famously with Ayrton Senna at McLaren in the late 80s, thinks the Alonso-Raikkonen lineup could work.

"When I was at McLaren and Senna came," he is quoted by France's RMC Sport, "we actually got along very well ... except on the track.

"It will be the same for Alonso and Raikkonen.  After that, it will be a matter of the management, and I see Ferrari as a team capable of handling it," added Prost.

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