The back of the grid Caterham team passed their 2014 crash tests. Above, Alexander Rossi helps to clean the track Friday morning in Austin
2014 Caterham passes crash tests
- Webber says Vettel, Alonso better than Hamilton
- McLaren supremo Dennis admits Brawn talks
- Raikkonen picks number 7, Bottas picks 77
- Di Resta set for DTM return – report
- Red Bull not ruling out Formula E entry
- Ecclestone to wait weeks for court verdict
- FIA tightens testing rules
- Andretti fearful over new engine sound
2014 Caterham passes crash tests
(GMM) Caterham has become the second formula one team to announce it is right on track to debut its 2014 car.
Last week, Sauber beat all of its rival teams by declaring that the FIA's mandatory static and dynamic tests were passed by the new C33 chassis, meaning the car is now "officially homologated" ahead of winter testing.
And now Caterham has followed suit.
"We have successfully completed the two crash tests for homologation of our 2014 chassis," the team said on Twitter, adding that it was "great news".
A video summary of the Caterham tests:
Caterham, having finished the 2013 season in last place, is yet to announce its driver lineup for next year.
Webber says Vettel, Alonso better than Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton is not quite a match for F1's top drivers Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
That is the view of Mark Webber, who after retiring from formula one has already moved on to his next challenge, testing his 2014 Le Mans car and being officially unveiled as Porsche's lead driver.
But when asked to name the pick of the F1 field, veteran Australian Webber hovered between his friend Fernando Alonso, and his former Red Bull teammate Vettel.
"On Sundays Fernando over two hours is a handful," Webber told the BBC.
"There is no question about that. Over one lap I think he's not with Seb. But on Sundays between those two it's very, very tight."
Mercedes' Hamilton, Webber added, comes next.
"Lewis is handy but probably not quite as much of a machine as those two are. They (Vettel and Alonso) are literally 'plug them in and off they go'."
But while Webber struggles to choose between Alonso and Vettel, he thinks F1's reigning quadruple world champion remains the favorite for 2014 spoils — even with the regulations changing so dramatically.
"It's an engine category next year more than probably a car-aerodynamic category, which is probably not a bad thing for some people," he said.
"But there will also still be decent driver input, especially from a brainpower perspective in terms of pacing and managing and all the technology the cars are going to have next year, which will help Sebastian," added Webber.
"That's right up his alley. Perfect for him."
McLaren supremo Dennis admits Brawn talks
(GMM) McLaren supremo Ron Dennis has admitted he has held talks with Ross Brawn.
Brawn has stepped down as Mercedes' team boss, insisting he is taking a sabbatical and refusing to even think about his future until "at least next summer".
But the 58-year-old Briton has already been strongly linked with Honda, whose works F1 project he headed at Brackley until the Japanese carmaker pulled out of F1 in 2008.
Honda is now returning to the sport as a supplier of engines to McLaren from 2015.
So when asked if he has talked with Brawn, McLaren chairman Dennis told the BBC: "We were having a chat and we're mature motor racing people so of course you're going to talk about life.
"But going beyond that, as you would expect, it's normal stuff. People probe around, the possible, the impossible.
"My understanding is he intends to take a year off," added Dennis. "That's my understanding of his intention."
Brawn, on the other hand, is refusing to comment.
"It wouldn't be fair or appropriate to say if any parties have invited me for discussions," he said.
"I am starting my fishing trips early next year and only time will tell if formula one and me ever get together again."
Raikkonen picks number 7, Bottas picks 77
(GMM) Drivers are spending the last days before Christmas coming up with the numbers they will carry for the rest of their formula one careers.
After the FIA kicked off the selection process, telling drivers they should name their top three picks between 2-99, it has already emerged that Force India's Sergio Perez has plumped for number 11.
It is believed Fernando Alonso considers 14 to be his lucky number, Jean-Eric Vergne wants the iconic 27, and Nico Rosberg has asked to carry number 6, which was raced to the 1982 title by his father Keke.
Now, adding the hashtag 'Bo77as', Williams driver Valtteri Bottas has told his 49,000 followers on Twitter that he has put down 77 as his first choice.
Felipe Massa has nominated the number 19, but others – like new Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo – aren't saying.
"For now I'll keep mine quiet," he said. "(But) it's a beautiful thing F1 drivers will have freedom to choose what number they want to race from next year."
His replacement at Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat, admitted: "I have been thinking all night long about my number."
And Lotus' Romain Grosjean added: "My 3 favorites sent to the FIA, but will keep it secret for now."
Finland's Ilta-Sanomat newspaper said Kimi Raikkonen has picked the number 7 to wear on his helmet and Ferrari next year.
Di Resta set for DTM return – report
(GMM) Paul di Resta appears almost certain to return to the German touring car series DTM in 2014.
The Scot has lost his Force India seat, and the only remaining places on next year's grid – at Sauber, Marussia and Caterham – are likely to be filled by drivers with significant backing.
Di Resta had flirted with switching to the American IndyCar series, possibly to replace his retiring cousin Dario Franchitti in the top Ganassi seat.
But Ganassi has signed Australian driver Ryan Briscoe instead.
"It is now almost definite that Di Resta will return to DTM, a title he won in 2010, with Mercedes," The Scotsman correspondent Jim McGill reports.
McGill said following Mark Webber to Le Mans could be another option, but for now, 27-year-old di Resta is not confirming the news.
"I'm not in a position to say what I'll be doing next year," he said.
"But one thing I know definitely is that I'll be in a competitive car, in a series I know I'll be capable of not only winning races, but also the championship."
Red Bull not ruling out Formula E entry
(GMM) Red Bull has admitted it might consider joining the FIA's new electric single seater series, Formula E.
World champion Sebastian Vettel recently admitted he is no fan of the city racing concept, despite the fact the almost-silent cars are being built by famous F1 names Williams and McLaren.
"I don't like it at all," the Red Bull driver said.
"I think the people come here to feel formula one and there's not much to feel when a car goes by and you don't even hear anything else but the wind."
Many, however, do not agree with Vettel.
Former F1 driver Michael Andretti has entered a team, as has the German carmaker Audi. Alain Prost is involved with the E.Dams outfit, and Super Aguri will be on the grid when the racing kicks off in China next September.
The concept has even wooed Virgin back to open wheel racing, while Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio is listed as a founder of the Venturi team.
F1 world champion Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko said: "We have been asked (to enter a team), but at the moment our full focus is on formula one.
"We will look again at this series and re-evaluate after the first season," he told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
Meanwhile, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has admitted the marque should give "serious consideration" to taking on Le Mans with a prototype sports car.
"We have won with the 458 GTE," he said at Ferrari's Christmas lunch, "but I also quite like the idea of racing at Le Mans in the highest category.
"Who knows, maybe one day we can return and win, say thanks and come home."
Ecclestone to wait weeks for court verdict
(GMM) 2014 looks set to be a key year in the history of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
He is already waiting to hear if German prosecutors will push ahead with a criminal trial, amid the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption scandal.
The Munich state bank BayernLB intends to file a $400 million civil suit in the new year, and a seven-week, $100 million battle in the London high court with Constantin has just ended.
But the Telegraph reports that the judge will not declare the outcome of that bribery trial until the first weeks of 2014.
Reuters correspondent Keith Weir added that judge Guy Newey "is expected to take several weeks to review the evidence, common in complex civil cases".
FIA tightens testing rules
There is unlikely to be a repeat of this year's testing debacle in 2014 after the FIA closed any loopholes in the regulations.
Mercedes found themselves in hot water this year after they conducted a 'private' tire test with Pirelli after the Spanish Grand Prix. Their rivals Red Bull and Ferrari both lodged protests.
The Brackley-based squad was found guilty of breaking the rules and were reprimanded and banned from the Young Driver Test.
In an attempt to avoid a similar situation next year, motorsport's governing body have confirmed the rules for the 2014 campaign and teams are now allowed a maximum of four two-day tests between the first and last race of the season.
The tests can only take place at circuits that has already hosted a race, but they can't host it within 36 hours of the next race.
"In the interests of providing the appointed tire supplier with access to current F1 cars for the purposes of tire development, all teams will be obliged to allocate one date from amongst the eight in-season test days for testing tires," the rules state.
It adds the requirements:
– Allocation of dates will be negotiated with the appointed tire supplier, who will give priority to teams according to their positions in the previous year's championship.
– Allocations must be declared by each team to the FIA before the start of the first Event of the Championship and may not be subsequently changed.
– The team must test tires on the allocated day according to run plan defined by the appointed tire supplier.
– The run plans and results for each day of tire testing must be made available to all teams.
– Tires used during such testing day will not be drawn from the team's annual allocation of tires for testing.
Mercedes used their race drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish test and both drivers wore black helmets, but next year the teams will be forced to make it clear who is testing.
In order that an FIA observer may be appointed, competitors must inform the FIA of any planned TCC or PE at least 72 hours before it is due to commence, the following information should be provided:
i) The precise specification of the car(s) to be used.
ii) The name(s) of the driver(s) if known.
iii) The nature of the test.
iv) The date(s) and intended duration of the test.
v) The purpose of the test. PlanetF1
Andretti fearful over new engine sound
Former World Champion Mario Andretti has expressed fears over the potential sound of turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 engines, being introduced to the sport next season amid a series of regulation changes.
The American had first-hand experience of the initial turbo era during the 1970s and 1980s, but is worried that the new powertrains, capped at 15,000rpm, will lack in comparison to the recent V8 units.
"I'm so in love with the sound of Formula 1 today and I'm afraid we're going to lose that," Andretti, who started 128 races in the top echelon, explained to GPUpdate.net.
"I know that's a very shallow statement to some degree but there's the romantic side to it. I was talking about it with Bernie [Ecclestone] and he said, 'Oh my god we should have never changed this!'
"Obviously technology must go on with more development of KERS and all this sort of thing. That's interesting, but I'm curious to wait and hear what the new engines will sound like.
"[The sound is] always amazing. Insiders or outsiders are always just in awe of that. It's such a big, big part of the excitement in my opinion. I don't like to lose anything."
Andretti added that, like many key technical figures have been predicting, teams look set to face a reliability challenge in the early stages of the year.
"Introducing anything new is potentially going to spoil some of the reliability they have been enjoying," he said.
"Let's face it, right across the board in the major disciplines, all the top competitors have an absolutely excellent chance of finishing unless there is a mistake.
"From a reliability standpoint, the entire field just finishes. There are only about two or three dropouts. That's wonderful because nobody can feel as though they were robbed.
"That all could change, so those are my fears about the new rules."