Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Heikki Kovalainen

    Kovalainen facing Christmas with uncertain future

  • Lotus thinks most F1 teams struggling
  • Raikkonen to get first taste of 2014 Ferrari
  • Philosophy tweak helps Vergne stay at Toro Rosso
  • Alonso admits 2013 not best season as driver
  • Allison best technical boss since Brawn – Montezemolo
  • Formula 1 Could Be Set For Float In New Year After CVC Failed To Buy IMG
  • Ferrari gives Alonso and Raikkonen a 220-mph incentive to win F1 title

Kovalainen facing Christmas with uncertain future
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen expects to eat his Christmas lunch without knowing if he has a formula one seat for 2014.

Throughout this year, the experienced Finn has been considered a favorite to return to the grid next season with Caterham.

But as the 2013 season ended, and 32-year-old Kovalainen struggled while replacing the hurriedly-departed Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus, Caterham looked increasingly likely to field a pair of sponsored drivers, such as Giedo van der Garde and rookie Marcus Ericsson, in 2014.

Kovalainen has travelled from his home in Switzerland to his native Finland for Christmas.

He is already planning ahead for 2014.

"I have been maintaining my training program for formula one as much as possible," the Finn is quoted by the broadcaster MTV3. "I will have a normal F1 driver's winter.

"The only difference to previous years is that I do not currently have a contract for next season.

"But this has happened more than once in my career, when I didn't know what awaited me for the future but eventually I had something.

"The most serious negotiations are with Caterham," revealed Kovalainen. "But all the different factors need to come together.

"In any case, it should be clarified by the end of January, when the tests begin. But I am not going to end my career," he insisted.

Lotus thinks most F1 teams struggling
(GMM) Gerard Lopez, the owner of the Lotus outfit, believes the vast majority of the teams in formula one are struggling financially.

Lotus' problems have had a high profile in 2013, as the Enstone based team thrived with a competitive car but tackled rumors it was struggling to pay its drivers, employees and suppliers.

But the Russian website quoted Lopez as insisting: "For 80 per cent of the teams, their financial situation is no better than ours.

"If half of those teams say they are leaving formula one, it would lead to the collapse of the championship," he claimed.

Lopez said it is extraordinarily difficult for a team to raise money through investment or traditional sponsorship at present.

"I can go to potential investors and say 'I want to sell millions of cars running on renewable energy and hybrid technology' and they tell me 'Wow! Let's see what we can do!'

"But if I say that I want money for formula one, to participate in one of the biggest sporting events in the world, you don't get the same answer," he added.

Raikkonen to get first taste of 2014 Ferrari
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen, not the Ferrari incumbent Fernando Alonso, will get the first on-track taste of the Italian team's 2014 car.

That is the claim of Italian media sources including La Gazzetta dello Sport, reporting that Finn Raikkonen will debut the new red single seater on the first two test days at Jerez in late January.

Spaniard Alonso, who until now has been regarded as Ferrari's clear 'number 1' driver, will make his debut in the 2014 car later in the same test, completing the four-day session.

Raikkonen, arriving from Lotus, has recently been recovering from back surgery that meant he missed the final two races of the 2013 season.

"He is returning to us because we have new technical regulations next year and we need an experienced driver next to Alonso," Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is quoted by Germany's Welt newspaper.

"I am convinced that Kimi Raikkonen will meet our requirements better than Felipe Massa.

"Some people are calling it a big risk," he added, "but I have been here since the early 70s and I know that risk is something you have to live with in formula one."

Montezemolo is referring to suggestions that, while Alonso and Massa was a harmonious pairing, adding 2007 world champion Raikkonen to the lineup might only further antagonize the already frustrated Alonso.

Spaniard Alonso, however, has played down claims he is already stamping his feet about having to take on Raikkonen.

"I'm excited to work with him," Brazil's Agencia Estado quotes him as saying, "because he has an extraordinary talent and he is Ferrari's last champion.

"I can learn a lot from him," Alonso added.

He said it is wrong to say Ferrari's new driver lineup will be too explosive.

"I cannot comment," he is quoted by Spain's El Pais, "because I don't know him, I haven't worked on a team with him or shared more than 10 minutes with him."

Some days ago, Alonso suggested Ferrari will "miss" Brazilian Massa's devoted efforts and open personality, which was interpreted by some as an early slight against Raikkonen.

"I'm not at all worried about such things," Montezemolo is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat.

"Kimi will be Kimi, the same driver he has always been. If he spoke a lot, he would not be Kimi.

"I can see he is very motivated to be with Ferrari again, after he had to pause for a while after his last period with Ferrari," Montezemolo explained.

"That was very important for him, as he came back very hungry for success."

He insisted Raikkonen will even be happy to work in Ferrari's new driver simulator, despite earlier reports that said the Finn is no fan of the technology.

"We now have a pretty good simulator at our disposal, and I think Raikkonen is happy to work with it," said Montezemolo.

He stopped short of saying Alonso remains the number 1, but he did allude to a hierarchy: "I think Fernando is the strongest racing driver in the world.

"He has a highly motivated new teammate. I look forward to both drivers getting a lot of points, so that we can fight back in the constructors' championship," said Montezemolo.

And he is not expecting fireworks between the pair.

"(Team boss Stefano) Domenicali has been very clear with them," Montezemolo is quoted by France's

"They have the honor and responsibility to drive for Ferrari. If drivers want to drive for themselves, they can make their own team or they can move somewhere else.

"But at Ferrari, there are very clear rules," he insisted.

Philosophy tweak helps Vergne stay at Toro Rosso
(GMM) Toro Rosso has tweaked its approach to formula one because it wants to take a step up in the pecking order.

That is the claim of the Faenza based team's Jean-Eric Vergne, who after missing out on the Red Bull vacancy for 2014 has been retained by Toro Rosso.

That surprised many in the paddock, who have seen drivers like Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari perform solidly, but nonetheless lose their places as team owner Red Bull pushes a new generation of youngsters into the seats.

The latest energy drink-sponsored youngster to get his chance is the Russian teen Daniil Kvyat, but for Frenchman Vergne, 2014 will be his third consecutive season with Toro Rosso.

"The picture with Toro Rosso is that it was a team that has drivers for a year or two but then they have to move on, so it's like a stepping stone team," Vergne, 23, told the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"But I think the philosophy has changed lately because Toro Rosso wants to go a step higher.

"Now, the feeling is that you can spend more time with them, developing for some years together. So I think that if I'm still with them, it's because they believe I can give them something that other drivers cannot," said Vergne.

Meanwhile, Vergne said he believes Red Bull remains the favorite for the 2014 season, despite some tipping an advantage for Ferrari and Mercedes in the new turbo V6 era.

"Aerodynamics is always the key," he said.

"I think Red Bull is still the favorite. They've been working on the new car for a while and I think it will be very strong — but it will be an interesting year," added Vergne.

Alonso admits 2013 not best season as driver
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has acknowledged he did not perform as strongly in 2013 as he did the previous year.

Recently, the Spanish sports daily AS conducted a survey among Alonso's driver rivals asking them to say whether they thought the Ferrari driver or the quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel was the best driver of 2013.

The Spaniard came out on top.

"It's always good to know that you are recognized by your peers," Alonso responded, "but I think 2012 was the best in my career.

"This season, there were times when I did not do well enough, such as when I could have had a little more performance, or when I made a mistake like in Malaysia.

"These are things that cannot be repeated next year," he insisted. "We must look to have a year of perfection, like 2012.

"What matters is that you are comfortable with yourself, but there are things that will be improved 2013 to 2014," added Alonso.

It has been rumored Alonso is slowly but steadily falling out with Ferrari, and that he thought seriously about switching to Red Bull or McLaren for 2014.

The McLaren rumors are still strong, particularly after his old foe at Woking, supremo Ron Dennis, answered "never say never" when considering a return to the famous British team for Alonso.

Asked specifically about Dennis' comments, Alonso would not be moved.

"You cannot comment on everything you read every day," he said, "or you would need someone working for you who only does that."

And Alonso insisted he is happy with his choice of team for 2014, and the start of the new turbo V6 era.

"Maybe some have done well in choosing Red Bull in recent years," he said, "but the safest option for any professional driver is to choose Ferrari.

"They said we (Ferrari) went wrong this year, but just look at Williams or McLaren," added Alonso.

Allison best technical boss since Brawn – Montezemolo
(GMM) James Allison is Ferrari's best technical director since Ross Brawn.

That is the view of the Italian team's president Luca di Montezemolo, after a subtle reshuffle of responsibilities took place recently at Maranello.

Until then, Briton Pat Fry was Ferrari's leading technical name, having joined from McLaren in 2010.

But Lotus chief James Allison arrived from Lotus late this year, and is now being openly referred to by Ferrari as the technical director.

Fry is still in a prominent technical and engineering role, but Montezemolo is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat: "Since Ross Brawn left us, Ferrari did not have a really good technical director.

"Now we have one," he added. "Allison is very good," said Montezemolo.

Formula 1 Could Be Set For Float In New Year After CVC Failed To Buy IMG
F1 could be set for a multi-billion dollar sale or flotation in the New Year "after the sport’s biggest private equity owner, CVC capital partners, failed to buy IMG," according to Ben Harrington of the London DAILY MAIL.

Sources said that CVC — one of the largest investors in F1 — "had put a flotation or sale of the business ‘on hold’ while it was trying to buy IMG."

But after losing the bidding war to buy IMG last week to Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, sources said that CVC "is likely to pull the trigger" on either a sale of its 35% stake in F1 or a flotation of the business in '14.

Throughout this year, CVC "has been working with several banks on a possible sale or float of Formula 1" DAILY MAIL

Ferrari gives Alonso and Raikkonen a 220-mph incentive to win F1 title
Prestige isn’t the only thing Ferrari Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will get if they win the F1 drivers’ title.

Ferrari, which hasn’t won a drivers’ championship since Raikkonen won in 2007, has promised the drivers a rare LaFerrari supercar if they win.

The LaFerrari was launched earlier this year and has a top speed of 220 mph and a price tag of $1.6 million.

There were only 499 of the cars made, and Alonso helped test it and contributed to the engineering (check out the video below of Alonso testing the car at Ferrari’s home track at Maranello this summer).

So how do you get your hands on a LaFerrari if you aren’t competing for an F1 championship? Well, that might be difficult. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo specifically handpicks who gets the chance to buy one. In order to even be considered, you have to already own five Ferraris. AutoWeek

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