Improving on second place 'difficult' for Ferrari – Todt
- 'Fear' doesn't explain Massa's decline – Kubica
- Alonso tips Ferrari to 'miss' Massa's input
- Ecclestone celebrates Todt marriage in Xmas card
- Van der Garde marries
- VW, Audi, Porsche play down F1 rumors
- Video: Sky Sports talks to F1 rookies Kvyat and Magnussen New
- Daniil Kvyat – The Next Sebastian Vettel? New
- Missing evidence makes dramatic reappearance in Hamilton letterbox New
- Dennis would not veto Alonso return New
Improving on second place 'difficult' for Ferrari – Todt
(GMM) Overcoming Red Bull for title spoils next year will be "difficult" for Ferrari, FIA president Jean Todt has warned.
Before the Stefano Domenicali era, Frenchman Todt oversaw Ferrari's ultra-successful Michael Schumacher days, delivering a Red Bull-like period of domination with five consecutive championships until 2004.
Kimi Raikkonen won the title in 2007, and Ferrari has come close to winning in subsequent years, but president Luca di Montezemolo this week admitted he is "sick of coming second".
"I hope that Ferrari do a good job," Todt is quoted by Italy's La Repubblica, when asked about 2014. "They have already done this in the past few years.
"Obviously being second is not the same thing as being first, but it is also really difficult to be second," he added.
Todt was also asked about Bernie Ecclestone's troubles, and the prospect that F1 could soon be needing a new 'supremo' at the helm.
The 67-year-old said he hopes Briton Ecclestone, 83, "stays in his place for many years".
"I saw him (last) Monday," Todt said. "He is in great shape, vibrant, motivated. Then we talk about what happens after Ecclestone?
"I'd rather focus on the present," he insisted.
Todt sidestepped any talk about the potential problems caused by the revolutionary new regulations, or the obviously urgent need to cut costs, answering: "I do not have a crystal ball".
He also didn't want to talk about measures that were considered for 2014 but not adopted, such as mandatory two-pitstop grands prix.
"I read a lot of proposals," said Todt. "If I was to comment on everything that we read, we'd be here until tomorrow.
"The reality is that we have spoken about the tires, but the regulations will not change next year.
"There will be tests next week in Bahrain, where I hope the right solutions will be developed. I am convinced that Pirelli has all the ability and the professionalism to do it," he concluded.
'Fear' doesn't explain Massa's decline – Kubica
(GMM) Robert Kubica, whose F1 career was ended by serious injuries almost three years ago, does not think "fear" led to the decline of outgoing Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.
Two years before Pole Kubica was horribly injured in a 2011 off-season rally crash, Brazilian Massa was almost killed at the wheel of his single seater, when a spring struck him on the helmet during a qualifying session.
Massa bounced back into F1 but he was arguably not the same from a competitive point of view, and for 2014 he has lost his Ferrari seat and will drive for the once-great British team Williams.
Asked if "fear" after returning to speed is something that could explain Massa's situation, Kubica told Italy's La Repubblica: "It's a complex subject.
"A driver does not simply drive. But I'm willing to bet that fear had nothing to do with Massa's problems. And I'm sure he would confirm that too.
"When you get in the car you are so concentrated that there is no room for fear. There are much bigger factors that can affect performance."
Asked what those factors might be, Kubica answered: "The bad luck to have a cannibal as a teammate."
Indeed, Kubica was particularly close to his friend Fernando Alonso, who utterly dominated at Maranello ever since he joined Massa in the garage.
And Kubica, who won the second-tier world rally championship in 2013 and is now moving into the premier category with Ford, seems to still be among those who think Alonso is better than Sebastian Vettel.
"As a driver I shouldn't answer this question," the 29-year-old responded.
"I think Vettel is in a state of grace. When you have a team and a situation that is so competitive, then it gives you an unbelievable confidence.
"Any driver in the top ten of F1, in that situation, would be invincible," added Kubica.
"In contrast, in the situation like Alonso where you are always pushing so hard to win, it's a constant struggle, and the same goes for the team, trying always extraordinary things, because the ordinary is not enough.
"Put it this way — Vettel is in a tunnel leading straight to victory, while Alonso is in a maze where you are trying to find the way at every turn," he said.
Alonso tips Ferrari to 'miss' Massa's input
(GMM) Ferrari is likely to "miss" Felipe Massa, according to the Williams-bound Brazilian's teammate of the last four seasons.
For 2014, after a period in which Fernando Alonso was regarded as the clear number 1 at Maranello, the Italian team has signed up its last world champion Kimi Raikkonen to replace Massa.
Alonso, who said he counts Massa among his few friends on the F1 grid, pushed to keep the 32-year-old on board, but ultimately must now face the prospect of working alongside the famously cool and odd Finn.
"Definitely Felipe was a hard worker," Alonso told Brazil's Totalrace.
"He works day and night for the team to improve the car's performance," he added.
"I don't know Kimi, but the rumors say that he speaks very little and is a bit more isolated. So I think that Ferrari could miss him (Massa)," said Alonso.
However, Alonso played down the prospect that a bad working relationship between himself and Raikkonen – like the one between former Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and the retiring Mark Webber – will hurt Ferrari.
"What we have to do now is focus on making a good car in the winter," he insisted.
"If it's good, like the Red Bull, it doesn't matter if there's 'Multi-21', 'Multi-35' or anything like that, because the atmosphere in the team will be great," Alonso added.
Ecclestone celebrates Todt marriage in Xmas card
(GMM) The F1 world is wildly cheering peace, love and Concorde Agreements, according to Bernie Ecclestone's latest humorous Christmas card.
Every year, the F1 chief executive commissions an original cartoon for his annual card to friends and close colleagues, depicting a contemporary F1 issue with a mischievous tilt.
For the 2013 holiday season, 83-year-old Ecclestone is depicted as a groom, tying the knot and holding hands with FIA president Jean Todt at a trackside wedding.
The priest is Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, the bystanders are the familiar faces of team bosses on one side and drivers on the right, and the confetti is pages of the newly-signed Concorde Agreement.
Meanwhile, the hands of an unseen and unknown conductor orchestrates the entire scene.
Van der Garde marries
(GMM) Giedo van der Garde has marked the last few days before Christmas by getting married.
The Caterham driver, whose future on the 2014 grid is yet to be confirmed, tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend Denise in Zwolle, in his native Netherlands, according to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Denise is the daughter of Dutch businessman Marcel Boekhoorn, who financially backs 28-year-old van der Garde's career.
Among the wedding guests were former F1 drivers Jos Verstappen and Christijan Albers, and members of the Caterham team, even though van der Garde has also been strongly linked with a potential move to Sauber for 2014.
VW, Audi, Porsche play down F1 rumors
(GMM) Volkswagen, and its major motor sport-linked brands, have denied the latest round of speculation connecting the German marque with a potential formula one foray.
The FIA revealed last week that it is seeking a twelfth team to fill the last spot on the 2015 or 2016 grids.
Volkswagen, and its Audi and Porsche brands, is regularly linked with a potential F1 foray, so it was speculated one of them might be interested in the FIA's new opening.
F1's governing body has said expressions of interest for the final place will close on 3 January, with a decision to be made at the end of February.
But Stefan Moser, VW's communications boss, told Speed Week: "There are no plans for us to go into formula one."
Moser's counterpart, Jurgen Pippig, added that Audi is also content with its existing programs, including Le Mans and DTM.
"That is what we are focused on. We have no formula one plans."
And Oliver Hilger said: "In 2014, Porsche has the biggest factory motor sport program in its history.
"We have no plans to enter formula one."
Sky Sports talks to F1 rookies Kvyat and Magnussen
Natalie Pinkham catches up with the next season's Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat and McLaren Young driver Kevin Magnussen.
Daniil Kvyat – The Next Sebastian Vettel?
Daniil Kvyat Interview – the new Red Bull Toro Rosso driver talks about his jump into F1.
Missing evidence makes dramatic reappearance in Hamilton letterbox
The damages law suit brought by Anthony Hamilton against former client Paul di Resta took another dramatic turn, when it resumed after the weekend, as the father of Lewis Hamilton reported ‘finding’ evidence which he earlier reported had gone missing.
Early on in the trial Hamilton claimed that a box containing several mobile phones containing important evidence had gone missing during a period when building work was being carried out at his home.
But after the weekend Hamilton returned to the stand to reveal that the box containing the missing Blackberry devices had been returned, discovered in a disused letterbox near the back gates of his new mansion in Tewin, Hertfordshire.
Unimpressed Paul Downes QC, representing Di Resta, accused Hamilton of telling “lies, lies and lies" and believes that he had known the whereabouts all the time.
Downes surmised: “You knew that if you had tampered with evidence, that would be a serious criminal offence."
To which Hamilton responded: “I have not tampered with any evidence. I have told you the truth and if you don’t like it, there is nothing I can do."
Downes replied: “You knew you were at serious risk of criminal proceedings if you lost this case. You knew perfectly well where the BlackBerrys were and you knew where the USB stick was. You took them to Access Data because you needed to be satisfied there wasn’t a serious smoking gun on this USB stick."
Downes added: “There were eight BlackBerrys [that went missing] but only three have been returned. So the thief has seen the press coverage and has thought they will return half of them?"
Lee Banks, a witness who took the stand on the day, in charge of installing 110 CCTV security cameras on Hamilton’s property admitted that none of the cameras were pointed at the back gate where the box containing potentially crucial evidence reappeared.
Hamilton is suing Di Resta for breach of contract and loss of earnings after he was dismissed by the Force India driver in 2012.
Di Resta gave Hamilton a lead to pursue with Go Fast energy drinks company, who indicated they wanted to pump substantial money into a deal with the Scot.
Early on in the trial Hamilton said, “It was obviously a scam. Only in fiction do drivers who have made no name for themselves get offered a â‚¬21 million deal. But I had an obligation on behalf of my client to pursue it. I was under huge pressure."
The case continues this week with judgment expected early 2014. (Apex)
Dennis would not veto Alonso return
McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis says he would not actively block Fernando Alonso from returning to the Woking-based outfit, despite a tumultuous relationship with the Spaniard during their last spell together.
Having won two world titles at Renault, Alonso made the move to McLaren ahead of the 2007 season, but he encountered problems with Dennis and then rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton and departed after just one term.
Earlier this season, Alonso vowed to remain with current outfit Ferrari until at least the end of his contract in 2016, but paddock rumors have linked him with a McLaren comeback.
When questioned over the matter by BBC Sport, Dennis explained that a reunion is not an impossible outcome.
"One has to recognize the first objective of any Grand Prix team is to win races," Dennis commented.
"Whatever obstacles sit between a team wanting to win and winning, be it engineering, fiscal or human issues, you resolve them. You never say never."
Last weekend, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo publicly eased fears over the team's ongoing relationship with Alonso, having previously rebuked his driver for criticizing car performance after the Hungarian Grand Prix.
"I can understand his occasional moments of frustration, which we all share, but I am sure he is well aware what Ferrari represents," said di Montezemolo during the brand's traditional end-of-season Christmas celebration at Maranello. "Because of that, he will be even keener to give it his best shot."