Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday (Update) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
Force India not ruling out Magnussen for 2014
- Alonso says mathematical title chance 'a miracle'
- Heavy Hulkenberg still on the scales at McLaren
- Force India considering all driver options
- Ferrari needs 'another category of car'
- F1 Shareholder CVC Collects $865M From Contracts With 'Major' Broadcasters
- Grosjean plays down radio spat with team
- Japanese GP stats New
- Villeneuve urges Sauber to consider Barrichello New
Force India not ruling out Magnussen for 2014
(GMM) Force India has not ruled out signing Kevin Magnussen for 2014.
The young Dane, whose father Jan contested a race for McLaren in 1995, is being backed by the great British team as he closes on the Formula Renault 3.5 title.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport recently made the link between Magnussen and Force India, revealing that a debt owed by the Silverstone based team to McLaren could be forgiven if the 21-year-old is given his grand prix debut.
The rumor would tie in with speculation Force India is considering a new teammate for Adrian Sutil next year, because Paul di Resta is under-performing.
"We have a competitive pairing at the moment," insists team boss Vijay Mallya, "but it's unlikely we will make any decisions (about 2014) before the Indian grand prix."
Asked specifically about Magnussen by Reuters, deputy boss Bob Fernley answered: "Vijay has always taken the best drivers that he could afford. And I don't think he'll change that philosophy.
"So when it comes to actually determining the drivers, we can put our recommendations in. And if Kevin is in that mix then so be it," he added.
But Fernley also said: "I think McLaren have to look at it themselves really. If Magnussen is a wonderful driver, why not take the chance?"
Alonso says mathematical title chance 'a miracle'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso thinks it is "a miracle" he is still even mathematically in the hunt for the 2013 title.
Red Bull's dominant Sebastian Vettel will win the title this weekend in Japan, if Alonso - 77 points behind in his Ferrari with five races to go - finishes lower than eighth at Suzuka.
Christian Horner thinks championship celebrations in Japan are unlikely.
"When was the last time Fernando Alonso finished ninth?" the Red Bull team boss is quoted by Spain's EFE news agency.
Whether Vettel closes Alonso's mathematical possibility in Japan, or India two weeks later, is regarded by most F1 insiders as a moot point.
Mercedes' Niki Lauda: "Don't worry, Seb will get the fourth title soon enough," he is quoted by Speed Week.
The rhetoric from Ferrari, whilst not conceding the title definitively, is also increasingly pessimistic.
"If someone started watching formula one today or yesterday and you said the guy with the blue helmet in the red car is fighting for the championship, they would says it's not true," Alonso is quoted by Brazil's Agencia Estado.
"A miracle," he added.
Alonso's comment could be interpreted as the latest slight against Ferrari's development progress this year.
"We did a miracle for 14 races and we will try to keep this miracle alive for the remaining five," the Spaniard added.
But even Alonso's boss Stefano Domenicali is admitting the fight against Sebastian Vettel is "almost impossible" to win now.
"So congratulations to him (Vettel) and to what they (Red Bull) are doing, because at the end of the day if they have that (the title) they deserve it," he is quoted by the Independent.
Indeed, after all the recent booing, the time is now right to focus on the German driver's looming achievement -- a four-time world champion by the unprecedentedly young age of 26.
Horner thinks he's one of the all-time greats, and Lewis Hamilton has obviously become aware this week that his recent comments about Vettel indicated a lack of respect.
When asked to weigh up Vettel's greatness, the Mirror quotes him as saying: "I couldn't care less."
Hamilton subsequently wrote on Twitter: "Regardless of what you and I may think about his car, at the end of the day he's doing the perfect job."
His Mercedes boss Lauda, however, doesn't even like the implication that Red Bull's superior spending explains Vettel's dominance.
"It's not a question of money but a question of brains," he is quoted by Speed Week.
"Red Bull has a better program to constantly develop the car -- they do a better job than the other teams," added Lauda.
Heavy Hulkenberg still on the scales at McLaren
(GMM) McLaren might still be interested in signing Nico Hulkenberg for 2014.
After Korea, where the German driver impressed at the wheel of his formerly-uncompetitive Sauber, it was rumored he had now moved into pole position to replace the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus next year.
Earlier, Hulkenberg was considered for the Ferrari seat, but the Italian team signed Kimi Raikkonen instead.
It is believed Hulkenberg was also in the running at McLaren, where Sergio Perez's place beyond 2013 remains in doubt.
It is believed the Mexican has been given until this weekend's Japanese grand prix to prove he should be retained.
But quotes attributed to team boss Martin Whitmarsh in Korea suggested that the tall Hulkenberg, who stands at over six foot, would be too heavy for the 2014 McLaren.
Lotus boss Eric Boullier, however, was quoted on Tuesday as insisting Hulkenberg's weight, which is reportedly 74kg, does not rule him out of a seat for next year.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has now quoted Whitmarsh as insisting that he never ruled Hulkenberg out either.
"I only said that, next year, drivers would be hard pressed to be over 80 kilos.
"It's others who interpreted this to mean I was talking about Hulkenberg," said the McLaren boss.
Auto Motor und Sport said Hulkenberg is in fact "not much bigger and heavier than Jenson Button".
Hulkenberg, meanwhile, has hinted that his size might also have contributed to Ferrari's decision not to sign him for 2014.
"Of course I was disappointed," he is quoted by Speed Week, referring to the Italian team's decision to sign Raikkonen instead.
"But I have just as little influence over my body size, which is god-given and therefore not worthy of even discussing," said Hulkenberg.
Force India considering all driver options
Force India boss Vijay Mallya has said his team is considering all available driver options for next season.
Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil currently drive for the Silverstone-based outfit, and while Mallya said this represents a ‘competitive pairing’, he added that no 2014 announcement is likely before the end of this month.
“We are considering all available options and we never take these decisions in haste,” Mallya confirmed ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.
“We have a competitive pairing at the moment, but we will sit down with the team management and discuss the way forward for next year. It’s unlikely we will make any decisions before the Indian Grand Prix in any case.”
Meanwhile after a disappointing race in Korea – both drivers’ retired – Mallya added he is hoping the team will have more luck this Sunday.
“It was a very difficult race [in Yeongam] and we certainly didn't get the reward our race pace deserved,” Mallya noted. “We are making small steps forward on the one-lap pace and working hard to recapture the race pace we showed earlier in the season. Unfortunately, we can’t convert our performance into points. In Korea we could have had one or two cars in the battle for points that developed at the end of the race.”
“The final five races offer some very different challenges now. Some tracks will suit us more than others, but it’s vital that we get back to scoring regular points to secure our position in the championship,” he continued. “Suzuka is a big challenge for us, but it’s important we keep our heads up and try to put the disappointment of Korea behind us.”
Ferrari needs 'another category of car' - Fernando Alonso after Korea
Fernando Alonso says Red Bull has "super performance" and that Ferrari needs "to have another category of car" to compete after finishing sixth in the Korean Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel's victory in Korea means he can wrap up the title in Japan if he wins and Alonso finishes lower than eighth place. However, it was the performance of Mark Webber in overtaking Alonso at Turn 6 that surprised him and he praised Red Bull for its dominance.
"Obviously it's not a surprise anymore," Alonso said. "It's not frustrating or surprising you on Sunday. The place where Webber overtook me at Turn 6 we need to have another category of car because if not it's impossible to do Turn 4, Turn 5 behind another car and be side-by-side. This is superb performance and they deserve it, they are the best ones at the moment, they are winning everything and we have to do better."
Reflecting on his race, Alonso said losing out to Nico Hulkenberg at the start ultimately proved crucial.
"It was not good. We are not competitive in pure performance - we know that - but normally on Sunday we have a good pace. Here also on Sunday we didn't have the performance we expected. We saw on Friday a little bit the long runs were not as good as other grands prix and we knew that maybe the race would be tough and unfortunately we confirmed this feeling today.
"We were not so good at the start. At Turn 3 we lost the position with Nico [Hulkenberg] and then we were all the race behind Hulkenberg which obviously doesn't help the tires. We didn't have the pace; hopefully in Suzuka we can come back to a better one and fight for the podium again." ESPN.com
F1 Shareholder CVC Collects $865M From Contracts With 'Major' Broadcasters
CVC Capital, which owns roughly one-third of F1's parent company, "has banked" an $865M divided "thanks to a string of major media deals," according to Sylt & Read of the London TELEGRAPH.
The payout, made for the financial year to Dec. 2012, is "all the more significant as F1," which is run by CEO Bernie Ecclestone, did not "pay a dividend for the previous year." The $865M includes a $355M payout "awarded following a refinancing after the global sports management company put the brakes on a stock market float" in '12.
In addition to the dividends, CVC, which bought into F1 in "a leveraged buy-out" in '06, has netted a further $2.1B from reducing its stake from 63% to 35.5% in recent years.
The "new numbers show" that F1’s adjusted profits rose 24% last year to a record $426.4M as growth was driven by "a string of blockbuster deals including signing BSkyB to broadcast the sport" in the U.K. TELEGRAPH
Grosjean plays down radio spat with team
Romain Grosjean played down the significance of a series of radio messages between him and Lotus during the Korean Grand Prix which culminated in team principal Eric Boullier getting involved.
Grosjean repeatedly complained to his race engineer Ayao Komatsu that he was being held up by team mate Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages of the race. Raikkonen took advantage of a mistake by Grosjean to pass him in between the two Safety Car periods.
“I am stuck behind Kimi. I cannot do anything in sector two,” said Grosjean at one point, leading Komatsu to tell Grosjean “If we want to do anything you need to overtake him.” In subsequent messages Grosjean appeared to be urging his team to tell Raikkonen to let him pass.
After several further conversations team principal Eric Boullier came on the radio to tell him to “keep racing like it is”.
Once the checkered flag had fallen another team member told Grosjean, “We’ll talk about this in the office afterwards but for now big [censored] smile on the podium.”
After the race Grosjean played down the exchange: “Our radio is quite bad, I have to say. I don’t hear most of the conversations.”
“I just made a mistake, Kimi could go for it and the unfortunately there was a yellow flag at turn three so I couldn’t get my place back. I was quicker today but then we have rules not to fight.”
Japanese GP Stats
*wins from poles are marked with red
*23 wins from first row, 5 wins from other places, zero wins from third place on the grid
Most wins by teams
Most wins by engine suppliers
*with the red color active drivers, teams and engine suppliers are marked
Villeneuve urges Sauber to consider Barrichello
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has urged Sauber to think again after the Swiss team ruled out signing Rubens Barrichello for 2014.
Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn in Korea quashed rumors Brazilian veteran Barrichello count mount his return to F1 next year with Sauber, with the help of an eight-figure sponsorship purse.
1997 world champion Villeneuve, however, said Sauber should not dismiss the former Ferrari and Williams driver so hastily.
"Rubens would be worth considering," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
"Why would a team boss ignore the experience factor so easily? 2014 will be a complex year," said the French Canadian.
"Barrichello would always be better than (Esteban) Gutierrez," Villeneuve insisted. "What has he given to Sauber until now? Nothing. Look at him compared to Hulkenberg."
Outspoken Villeneuve, now a F1 television pundit, also recently chided the talents of Caterham's Charles Pic.
On French television, it was put to Villeneuve - a staunch critic of 'pay-drivers' - that Frenchman Pic had denied he is in fact a pay-driver.
Villeneuve hit back: "Then he should explain why he and not Kovalainen is in that car."
Finn Heikki Kovalainen, in the running to return to the race seat in 2014, will in fact be driving Pic's car in Friday morning practice at Suzuka.