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DATE News (chronologically)
11/12/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Nurburgring to be saved?
    After Massa signing, 'more news' to follow - Williams
  • Bottas knew about 2014 deal for some time
  • Injured Alonso to fight on in Austin
  • Lopez admits frustration with Raikkonen surgery
  • Buyer could save embattled Nurburgring
  • Salo tells Lotus to replace Raikkonen with Kovalainen

After Massa signing, 'more news' to follow - Williams
(GMM)  More news will follow now that Felipe Massa has been signed up by Williams for 2014.

"It is very exciting for us to be able to confirm our 2014 driver lineup as part of a number of announcements we will be making over the coming weeks," said the British team's deputy boss Claire Williams.

Brazilian Massa, whose Ferrari career has ended after eight seasons, replaces the lucratively PDVSA-backed Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.

There is little doubt PDVSA, the state-run Venezuelan oil company, has had to buy its way out of the estimated EUR 40 million per season deal, which was set to run until 2015.

"It (the branding) won't be on the car for next year," Claire Williams told Reuters on Monday.

"I think when our numbers come out next year, people will see what has actually gone on behind the scenes with this whole arrangement," she added.

Massa and Williams insist the 32-year-old Paulista cannot be described as a 'pay-driver'.

Indeed, Monday's announcement did not coincide with the expected news that Massa would be followed to Grove by the Brazilian company Petrobras.

Williams, however, said it intends to capitalize on the strong Brazilian economy.

"I think Brazil is one of the sport's biggest markets, so it's really up to us to go out and commercialize Felipe as our driver," said Claire Williams.

Livio Oricchio, the well-connected correspondent for O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, hinted that the Massa rumor has been bandied around for some time, ostensibly to drum up interest among potential Brazilian sponsors.

But Massa's manager Nicolas Todt insists that the key part of the deal is the 2008 championship runner-up's talent and experience.

"They saw the opportunity to have an experienced and winning driver, still young at 32," said the Frenchman.

"Williams wants to renew itself, they need motivated people, so Felipe will bring a great motivation for them," added Todt.

"And for Felipe it was very important to feel wanted."

Todt admitted that his role in the deal has been complicated, given the fact he also manages Maldonado, who has been linked with a move to Lotus.

About Maldonado, Todt said: "We should have news later this month.  Pastor has lost none of the support he had before."

Williams said both Massa, and his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, have 'multi-year' contracts.

Bottas knew about 2014 deal for some time
(GMM)  Valtteri Bottas has admitted he knew for some time in advance that he will be staying at Williams beyond 2013.

The Finn made a solid formula one debut with the beleaguered British team this year, but he is the only driver outside F1's two bottom teams yet to score even a single point.

Nonetheless, the 24-year-old said he is happy to have retained the "trust" of the key people at Grove, notably father-and-daughter bosses Sir Frank and Claire Williams.

"We are looking forward to giving him the equipment he deserves to show just how good he is," said Claire on Monday.

The news about Bottas' new 'multi-year' contract has been held up while the negotiations with Felipe Massa, and the departing Pastor Maldonado's lucrative backers PDVSA, took place.

"For me it has been difficult because I have known (about the new deal) for some time," Bottas smiled to the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 when the news finally broke.

"The guys in the team assured me long ago, but they only wanted to make it public when both drivers were sure," he added.

Bottas said his main problem in 2013 has been Williams' struggling car, but Monday's news has given him a boost of confidence.

"It is a much more secure feeling knowing you are going on," he admitted.  "I know I will be a better driver next year than I was this year."

Bottas, 24, said he is also looking forward to sharing a garage with Massa.

"Felipe has so much experience, and don't forget how fast he is," he said.  "He was almost the world champion (in 2008), and in the last races he has been comparing very well against Fernando Alonso.

"With the big rule changes, experience can be a big help," Bottas continued.  "He has driven a number of different cars and for sure he has seen a variety of problems.

"I think it's a very good thing for us," he added.

Injured Alonso to fight on in Austin
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso and Ferrari have ended the fevered speculation about the Spaniard's participation in this weekend's US grand prix.

Since Abu Dhabi, Alonso has been reportedly struggling with back pain as a result of his harsh impact over the curbs in a duel with Jean-Eric Vergne.

It was rumored Ferrari was lining up Jules Bianchi or Pedro de la Rosa as last-minute substitutes for the injured 'number 1'.

But Alonso told his millions of Twitter and Facebook fans late on Monday that he is getting on a plane bound for Texas.

"Packing the bag for Austin," he wrote from his home in Spain.

"(I have) some pain still, but eager and confident to help the team.  I will try to give 100 per cent as always!"

Welcoming the news, Ferrari said in a report on its official website that anyone doubting Alonso's dedication to the Maranello based team "should think again".

The fabled Italian outfit confirmed Alonso had suffered a "compression injury" in Abu Dhabi, and will not be "in perfect shape" this weekend in Austin.

"I am pleased to see that Fernando is so keen to give it his all, even when he's not at his best," president Luca di Montezemolo is quoted as saying.

"It shows how attached he is to us and I am sure that his example will be a further boost for the whole team in its efforts to end this season in the best way possible."

Lopez admits frustration with Raikkonen surgery
(GMM)  Gerard Lopez, the head of Lotus' team owner Genii, might be among the cynics after news broke that Kimi Raikkonen will sit out the rest of the season.

The Finnish driver and his management say Raikkonen must undergo back surgery to end a run of worsening pain and ensure he is ready to return fighting fit for the start of his Ferrari return in 2014.

The cynics, however, might wonder if the timing of the surgery is related to Raikkonen's pay dispute with the financially-struggling Lotus outfit.

The timing is also interesting, given the fact Ferrari is locked in a battle with Lotus in the lucrative constructors' world championship with just two races to go.

"Primarily this is about Raikkonen's health, and I wish him a speedy recovery," Lopez told the German newspaper Die Welt.

"But the operation comes at a very unfortunate and unsuitable time for Lotus.  And I also know what sport we are in," he added, in an obvious reference to the skeptics' doubts.

Lopez's frustration is perhaps understandable, given that despite Lotus having one of the very fastest cars on the grid, every headline is focused on the team's money problems.

"Again and again I read these negative headlines," he said, "while no one seems to care that we decided to save a company and about 500 employees.

"Of course we know that formula one is not a charitable organization, but there are huge differences in how the teams are financially supported by formula one.

"It is not about the other (top) teams managing to get more investment, but the fact that they simply get more money," argued Lopez.

"And not because they are better, but because they are apparently more important.  We begin our 100 meter race at the 200 meter point," he added, "and still we make it to the podium."

Buyer could save embattled Nurburgring
(GMM)  The Nurburgring has moved one step closer to a savior, as a potential buyer for the fabled German circuit emerged.

The well-connected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper (FAZ) said the automobile club ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club) has submitted a non-binding offer.

ADAC, usually linked only to Germany's other F1 host Hockenheim, stepped in this year amid the Nurburgring's financial troubles to host the 2013 race.

The FAZ newspaper estimated the value of the venue, including the fabled Nordschleife loop, at EUR 100 million.

"With the non-binding offer," confirmed ADAC spokesman Lars Soutschka, "we hope to gain access to the numbers and then we will decide how to proceed."

Salo tells Lotus to replace Raikkonen with Kovalainen
(GMM)  Fellow Finn Mika Salo has nominated Heikki Kovalainen as the ideal replacement at Lotus for his surgery-bound countryman Kimi Raikkonen.

The conventional wisdom is that Lotus will simply promote its reserve driver, 2012 GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi, into Raikkonen's seat for the remaining two grands prix of the season.

Italian Valsecchi, however, is a rookie, but Enstone based Lotus is locked in a lucrative and - given its financial problems - crucial battle for points and prize money in the constructors' world championship's upper places.

"I have thought about this for a while," former F1 driver Mika Salo told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3, "and I think getting Heikki would be a smart idea."

The highly-rated Kovalainen is desperate to break back into F1 after losing his Caterham seat at the end of last season.

He is also better prepared than Valsecchi, given his appearance for Caterham on several Friday mornings in 2013.

"Valsecchi will hardly be able to do anything on a completely new track to him," Salo said, "but Heikki has raced in Austin.

"Caterham also has a Renault engine.  Heikki has been waiting for something like this, and if I was a team boss, I would take him rather than Valsecchi.

"That's nothing against Valsecchi, but simply about Lotus needing to score points," added Salo.

Arguably the neater solution for Lotus would be to use the Raikkonen situation to put together its permanent 2014 driver lineup ahead of time.

Nico Hulkenberg is in the running for the seat next year, and he might be able to pull out of his Sauber contract, after the Swiss team was late in paying him earlier this year.

A Sauber spokesperson told Speed Week: "Nico will do the last two races for us, just as he did the other 17."

Hulkenberg's manager Werner Heinz would not comment specifically on the Raikkonen situation, but DPA news agency quotes him as saying: "We are still in talks with several teams, including Lotus."

The other known candidate to replace Raikkonen next year is the strongly PDVSA-backed Pastor Maldonado, who will not be racing for Williams in 2014.

"There are four possible candidates," Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez told the German newspaper Die Welt.

"These include Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado, and I won't say anything about the other two."

Undoubtedly, if Lotus' 'Quantum' investment deal finally collapses, Maldonado's Venezuelan backing will surely make him the favorite for the 2014 drive.

But Lopez insists that it is wrong to write off the 28-year-old as a mere 'pay-driver'.

"Don't forget," he said, "Maldonado has won a grand prix.  He doesn't have to hide anything.

"We would not put someone in our car who has just got their driver's license, no matter their means," Lopez added.

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