Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Button declares himself a free agent

    Button on the market after Dennis criticism

  • Alonso not looking beyond 'two year contract'
  • Susie Wolff lives her dream amid criticism
  • Raikkonen to 'probably' quit after 2015
  • Team drivers surprised by Caterham sale
  • Wolff reveals Ecclestone 'row' over social networks
  • Lopez witnessed abduction of female friend
  • Whiting plays down grid restart fears

Button on the market after Dennis criticism
(GMM) Jenson Button has declared himself on the market, in the wake of McLaren supremo Ron Dennis' criticism.

Dennis is said to have dismayed other members of the Woking based team's senior management this week when the 67-year-old publicly urged Button, who is out of contract at the end of the year, to "try harder".

Clearly, Button also did not appreciate the comments.

"I think Ron is practicing to be a motivational speaker maybe," he told reporters ahead of his home race at Silverstone, where he will wear a pink helmet in tribute to his late father John.

"I don't think we should be pointing a finger at any individual within the team," said Button.

Button, 34, rejected Dennis' claim that he is not pushing to the maximum with the uncompetitive 2014 car.

But he said he is keen to race its 2015 successor, to be powered by a works Honda engine.

"I would like to stay," said Button, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

"This team has a bright future and the partnership with Honda will help the team a lot, having that connection with a manufacturer.

"But it isn't the only team in formula one," the Briton added.

Alonso not looking beyond 'two year contract'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he is not ready to look beyond his current Ferrari contract.

Although their first collaboration ended spectacularly badly, it is rumored McLaren has approached the Spaniard about replacing Jenson Button to lead the team's Honda era.

Alonso's current contract with Ferrari runs to the end of 2016.

But reports in the Italian press, and also the Spanish sports daily Marca, say the Maranello team is willing to make "a major financial effort" to renew the deal right now in order to keep him away from key rivals.

Alonso, 32, says his current priorities lie elsewhere.

"For now, I am focused on improving the car and trying to get the best possible position for Ferrari in the constructors' championship, where we are fighting with Red Bull, Williams and Force India, and then looking at solutions for the 2015 car," he is quoted as telling Spanish reporters at Silverstone.

"Those are my priorities," added Alonso.

"I have a two year contract and eventually we will see what is the best solution for everyone," he said.

Susie Wolff lives her dream amid criticism
(GMM) Susie Wolff will live her dream on Friday at Silverstone, but she is also facing criticism.

The Scot will break a 22-year F1 drought in morning practice for the British grand prix when she drives Valtteri Bottas' Williams — the last woman in action during a world championship weekend was Giovanna Amati in 1992.

But not everyone is convinced Wolff, 31, has the right credentials.

Sergio Perez put his foot in his mouth on Friday when he joked to a Spanish reporter for Antena 3 television that Wolff would be "better off in the kitchen".

The Force India driver later apologized, insisting he "admires" Wolff's talent, and even the reporter admitted it had been an "unfortunate joke" by the Mexican.

Even so, former McLaren driver John Watson suspects she is only being given the chance by Williams, led by female boss Claire Williams and co-owned by Wolff's husband Toto Wolff, because of her gender.

"She is not the nominated third driver, Felipe Nasr is," he told the Daily Mail. "So why do this?

"It might be nice to put on her CV but no F1 team is going to take on a driver in their 30s who hasn't raced in two years. There is a lack of testing availability and this seems a strange way to use precious time," Watson said.

Wolff told the German newspaper Bild: "Some people think I'm just a female PR stunt.

"But here I will only be evaluated as a racing driver — with the helmets on, we're all the same."

Nonetheless, even Claire Williams acknowledges that Wolff's gender is at least playing a role in the opportunity she has been given this weekend.

"You would be naive to say that having a female on board does not bring commercial benefit," she told The Times newspaper. "She has to deliver as well."

Raikkonen to 'probably' quit after 2015
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has revealed he will "probably" retire from formula one at the end of next season.

Despite his 2007 title and his on-form F1 comeback with Lotus, the Finn has struggled this year after returning to Ferrari to be Fernando Alonso's new teammate.

It has triggered rumors Ferrari could once again oust him, despite his existing 2015 contract.

But what is also clear is 34-year-old Raikkonen's frustration with the restraints of life in the paddock, after tasting other disciplines like world rallying and Nascar during his F1 sabbatical.

Now, it is said the 'iceman' has his eye on the increasingly popular discipline of world rallycross.

"The teams are scared that we get hurt," Raikkonen said at Silverstone.

"But it would be nice not just for us but for the fans to do many things."

For now, Raikkonen says he is committed to F1 and Ferrari "until my contract is finished, and then I will probably stop," he revealed.

"That is what I think is going to happen."

But until that happens, the winner of 20 grands prix appears to be part of Ferrari's plans for 2015.

The Maranello team is already hard at work on next year's car, having acknowledged the distant gap to the pacesetting teams of 2014.

"The team will definitely do some things differently for next year and some of those changes we can also try this year," said Raikkonen.

Team drivers surprised by Caterham sale
(GMM) Caterham's change of ownership this week also caught its race drivers by surprise.

"It was as much news to me as it was for everyone else," Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson said at Silverstone on Thursday.

Swiftly after founder Tony Fernandes admitted his F1 project "hasn't worked", it emerged Caterham has been sold to an unnamed Swiss-Middle Eastern consortium.

Former HRT chiefs Colin Kolles and Manfredi Ravetto, and ex-Minardi driver Christijan Albers, are now in charge.

When asked about Caterham's surprise new future, team driver Kamui Kobayashi said at Silverstone: "I really didn't speak with them (the new management) about it yesterday.

"I think next week we will have more time, so let's see. I will drive for this year, sure," said the Japanese.

Oddly, the green-colored turmoil is actually good news for Ericsson and Kobayashi, as just a few weeks ago it was being rumored Caterham would be shut down long before the end of the 2014 season.

"I really appreciate that we can still continue to race," Kobayashi admitted, "and I think our target is clear that we need to push to get back the championship position.

"We need to focus, and I think the last few months we were struggling with the budget, but now it seems we can use a bit more budget, so let's see what we can do."

With traditional rival Marussia breaking through recently for its first ever points, Caterham risks losing access to the lucrative prize money allocated by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

"We have nothing to lose, this is simple," Kobayashi agreed. "The new boss is aggressive but I think this is what we need to do."

Wolff reveals Ecclestone 'row' over social networks
(GMM) Toto Wolff has revealed he had "a long row" with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Last month, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo called for a meeting with the sport's key stakeholders.

The common perception in the paddock is that Ecclestone, 83, is resisting the modern era of the internet, and so Montezemolo said the likes of Google and Apple should come along.

He also said representatives of "new media" and "social networks" could have some advice to give.

Oddly in F1, arch-rival Mercedes appears to entirely agree.

"I had quite a long row with Bernie in a meeting," the German marque's F1 chief Wolff is quoted by the Guardian newspaper at Silverstone.

"We have lost 30 per cent of TV audience in Italy and we have lost some of the audience in Germany, although interestingly the UK is growing.

"Sure the (social media) model does not work yet as you cannot monetize it, but it is just a matter of time," Wolff added.

Mercedes' championship leader Nico Rosberg also agrees.

"We are here to entertain the people," the German is quoted at Silverstone by Speed Week.

"Social networks are a young, exciting and emerging media and an excellent platform to show the fans fresh perspectives of the sport. So we should take it seriously," added Rosberg.

Lopez witnessed abduction of female friend
(GMM) Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez was in the middle of a kidnapping incident, according to reports in the French press.

Le Quotidien claims Lopez was returning from a business trip to Venezuela when he visited his 38-year-old friend Stephanie Turci in France.

Lopez was reportedly the only witness when masked men armed with silenced pistols burst into the house and dragged Turci, who is divorced, into a waiting Renault Espace.

Subsequent reports indicate Turci is safe and well, having been set free without any demand of ransom.

Lopez's lawyer is quoted as saying: "I can only conclude that Ms Turci was the target."

French authorities are reportedly investigating the incident.

Whiting plays down grid restart fears
(GMM) F1 race director Charlie Whiting has played down concerns about next year's grid restarts.

"We (drivers) all pretty much disagreed (with the proposal) as far as I am aware," Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo said earlier this week.

Nonetheless, to spice up the show amid a diminishing television audience, races will re-start from the grid following safety car periods next year.

But drivers are worried not only that grid restarts are unfair, but that they may also be unsafe.

The FIA's Whiting, however, said he is not convinced grid restarts are unfair on the race leader.

And "If you're in second place," he explained, "you might actually like the idea of being able to take the lead, which you probably wouldn't do in a rolling start."

Whiting also said he is also unmoved by the suggestion that the grid will be more dangerous than a rolling restart, insisting "no driver wants that (crashes) to happen and no driver will cause it to happen".

"First of all it has to be remembered that this was the suggestion from a team," he explained. "I put it to the rest of the teams and they all agreed that it was a good idea.

"The teams were 100 per cent behind it."

Whiting also told reporters on Thursday that efforts to turn up the noise of the turbo V6 engines is continuing.

It is believed Ferrari is testing a sort of 'double' exhaust at its Maranello headquarters, following the failure of Mercedes' 'megaphone' solution.

But, according to Italy's Autosprint, Whiting said anything that has "an impact on performance" will not be given the green light.

"These cars are quiet," the Briton acknowledged, "but is it really a problem?"

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