Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Grosjean not sure about Lotus funding

    Grosjean not sure if Lotus budget in place

  • Sutil calls orange Force India 'a carrot'
  • Lauda tips Brawn to return in new F1 role
  • Webber's performance 'shocking' in 2013 – Schumacher
  • Kovalainen vows to be 'more ready' for 2014 chance
  • Top three teams to test 2013 cars in December
  • Massa admits wife wants him to retire
  • Thinner Ricciardo still shedding kilos for 2014
  • 2014 car 'related' to title-winning Red Bull – Newey
  • British teenager Parry wins McLaren F1 test New
  • Whitmarsh downplays engine speculation New
  • Ward may have given up on Presidency, but he has not given up New

Grosjean not sure if Lotus budget in place
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has admitted he is not sure if Lotus' money problems have been solved.

The Enstone based team had been delaying signing its preferred option to replace the disgruntled Kimi Raikkonen – Nico Hulkenberg – until the money from the much-vaunted 'Quantum' investment came through.

Ultimately, while re-signing the impressive Frenchman Grosjean, Lotus announced on Friday that his new teammate will be Pastor Maldonado.

The press release made no mention of the Venezuelan's backing, but it is well known that he brings around EUR 35-40 million from the PDVSA oil company.

After the news broke, some said it was a clear sign that the Quantum money will never arrive. But others insisted the deal headed by controversial businessman Mansoor Ijaz is still on the cards.

Asked if he has been told Lotus' financial problems are now over, Grosjean told France's L'Equipe: "Not yet, but I am going to see (team boss) Eric (Boullier) on Monday.

"We will discuss it then."

Asked if Friday's news was a relief, he told RMC: "I don't know if relief is the right word, but it's always nice to be confirmed sooner rather than later.

"The team had other things to deal with beforehand, but we had always wanted to continue to work together."

Grosjean said he is confident Lotus will handle the transition to the radical new 2014 rules well, but acknowledged: "We will have to have the budget, because it (the season) will be expensive and complicated."

And asked if he has concerns that he will not be paid in 2014, the 27-year-old answered: "I have no problem. My motivation and my work have never changed during the season.

"It is a personal matter between myself and my employer," added Grosjean.

Sutil calls orange Force India 'a carrot'
(GMM) In a clear sign he is leaving the Silverstone based team, Adrian Sutil has described this year's orange Force India car as a "carrot".

It is believed that, with Force India expected to shortly announce Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez as its all-new drivers for 2014, German Sutil is headed to Sauber.

In an interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Sutil sounded critical of Force India's 2013 season, but not his own performance.

"I think I did a good job," he said.

"Maybe a slight error here and there, but overall fine.

"As far as the results, we threw away many good results by bad luck, because of other drivers, or botched pitstops. This is something I've never experienced.

"So much slipped through our fingers. The car was really strong in the beginning, but this is a common problem with small teams — when they suddenly have a chance, you have to be able to cope with it," he added.

Indeed, Force India had a strong start to 2013, but it was believed Pirelli's mid-season construction change particularly hurt the team's performance.

Actually, Sutil claims, "The car was not particularly good.

"We had every problem you can have — oversteer, understeer, in slow corners, fast corners. There was not much you could do about it as a driver.

"Ultimately, the car was a carrot. Simply nothing worked," said the 30-year-old, apparently comparing the orange and green-liveried car with the orange and green vegetable.

Lauda tips Brawn to return in new F1 role
(GMM) Ross Brawn is going "fishing", but he may return to formula one after a break.

That is the claim of Niki Lauda, who as Mercedes' team chairman tried to stop 58-year-old Briton Brawn from deciding to leave the German squad altogether.

But, with Paddy Lowe waiting in the wings as team boss, Brawn did decide to step away from the Brackley based team, which he also led under the Honda and Brawn GP guises.

"He told me, and all the staff of the team, that he wants to do something else," Austrian Lauda told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

"Spend more time with the family, go fishing," he added.

"Ross assured me that first he wants to relax, but I would not be surprised if he is not soon in demand," added Lauda.

"He has won eight world championships — only Adrian Newey has won more.

"If Ross does eventually find another job in formula one, I will respect his decision," said Lauda.

However, Lauda insisted that the fact the team will now be headed by Lowe and Toto Wolff now makes the "leadership structure more clear, which will allow the team to make more progress".

"Ross was excellent at his job, I want to stress that," said Lauda.

"Now Toto and Paddy are taking over, and that will not be easy. Team leadership is always associated with pressure, and I will pay close attention to ensuring there is no vacuum in competence.

"But I firmly believe they will cope," he concluded.

Webber's performance 'shocking' in 2013 – Schumacher
(GMM) Michael Schumacher has described Mark Webber's performance alongside dominant world champion Sebastian Vettel this year as "shocking".

Schumacher, Vettel's German compatriot, mentor and friend, said that if any driver is going to beat his tally of 91 wins and seven world titles, he wants it to be the Red Bull star.

The 44-year-old said Vettel's performance in 2013 was particularly impressive.

"Look at his teammate, that's your reference point," Schumacher said.

"I mean, he (Vettel) won all those races, 13 this year I think. Mark Webber, if I'm right, won none in the end. That's pretty shocking.

"I'm glad I'm not his teammate," he smiled.

Meanwhile, as many in the paddock tip Mercedes to have an early advantage over the 2014 field with a superior V6 engine, Schumacher is not so sure.

He thinks Renault-powered Red Bull might continue to dominate.

"I think you shouldn't expect too many changes because of the (new) engine," the former Mercedes driver, and continuing ambassador for the marque, said.

"Aerodynamics always outplays the engine, and that will always be the case in the future," added Schumacher.

"The better car, the better package, will win in the end."

Kovalainen vows to be 'more ready' for 2014 chance
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has admitted he will have to prove he has upped his game to a potential 2014 employer.

After a season on the sidelines, the Finn was in pole position to return to the grid next year with Caterham.

He then jumped at the chance to replace the surgery-bound Kimi Raikkonen for the last two grands prix of 2013 at Lotus, but struggled to adapt to the black and gold car.

Kovalainen admits his pointless outings in Austin and Brazil did not help his cause.

"At first I was not racing at all, and then when I finally did, I did not do well," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"All in all, this was a bad year," Kovalainen admitted.

He insists he doesn't regret accepting the call from Lotus, however.

"It was a great opportunity," said the 32-year-old. "The car was really good, but I just couldn't fully take advantage of it at any point.

"It was much more difficult than I could have imagined in advance.

"I don't understand how I could make so many mistakes," said Kovalainen. "Maybe it was the lack of the routine, or the long break from racing."

Although many have urged him to call time on his F1 career now, he insisted that he will not give up.

However, "If anyone wants me, I will have to be much, much more ready for race driving," Kovalainen acknowledged.

Top three teams to test 2013 cars in December
(GMM) Three top teams will provide cars so that Pirelli can test its 2014 tires later this month.

Earlier, some teams objected amid rumors McLaren had put its hand up to run its 2013 car for the official tire supplier at a December test in Bahrain.

"It would be unfortunate," said Mercedes' Ross Brawn recently, "if one team had the benefit of running a (2014) tire to the exclusion of all the others."

Now, Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport and Autosprint are separately reporting that the 2013-car Bahrain test, to be held between 17-19 December, will in fact be attended by three teams.

McLaren will not be among the select three: Red Bull, Mercedes and Mercedes. Those three teams finished the constructors' championship in first, second and third places.

Autosprint said Lotus, fourth overall in 2013, was also invited, but declined for financial reasons.

McLaren finished the season fifth.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said the collected tire data will be made available to all of the other teams, who are permitted to send observers to Bahrain.

Autosprint correspondent Alberto Antonini, however, said the other teams are not happy to have been effectively locked out of the Bahrain test, handing an early advantage to the 2013 frontrunners.

Massa admits wife wants him to retire
(GMM) If his wife had made the decision for him, Felipe Massa would now be a retired formula one driver.

Actually, having lost his Ferrari seat after eight years with the Scuderia, the Brazilian is switching to the beleaguered British team Williams for 2014.

Massa, 32, admitted his wife Rafaela would have preferred if he decided instead to stay at home with their young son.

"She actually wants me to stop racing," Massa, who was almost fatally injured in a 2009 qualifying crash in Hungary, told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

"But she also knows that I am not happy just to be at home — my happiness is to race, and she also wants the best for me.

"I've even talked about continuing to compete in another category when I leave formula one," he added.

Thinner Ricciardo still shedding kilos for 2014
(GMM) A visibly-slimming Daniel Ricciardo had admitted he is still shedding kilograms ahead of his switch to Red Bull for 2014.

The Australian is among the taller and heavier drivers on the grid, and according to recent rumors he had trouble fitting at the controls of designer Adrian Newey's proposed cockpit during a seat fitting for next year's Red Bull car.

At the final few races of 2013, some observers noticed Ricciardo not only sporting a new beard, but also a more gaunt look.

He confirmed that he is trimming some superfluous muscle before 2014, when the V6 turbo engines and new ERS systems are adding crucial bulk to the single seaters.

"Compared to where I am now, I need to lose a couple more kilos," Ricciardo is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace. "That's my goal.

"It's not a problem. I like watching UFC (ultimate fighting championship) and those guys lose eight kilos in a week or something when it gets close to the fight.

"Two kilos in four months will be easy," he smiled.

2014 car 'related' to title-winning Red Bull – Newey
(GMM) The rules are changing radically over the winter, but keen observers will still spot 'Red Bull DNA' at the heart of Adrian Newey's next creation.

The turbo V6 regulations are not the only wholesale changes ahead of the new world championship, as Newey reminded readers of Germany's Sport Bild magazine that big aerodynamic changes are also on the cards.

"The narrower front wing and low nose means that the cars will look a lot different," he said.

"But you will also recognize some familiar 'Red Bull' characteristics next year," added Newey.

Indeed, Osterreich newspaper said Newey commonly refers to the 2014 car, the RB10, as "the cousin" of this year's dominant, title-winning single seater.

British teenager Parry wins McLaren F1 test
British teenager Matt Parry secured a Formula One test with McLaren and a 100,000 pounds ($163,800) check after winning the 25th edition of the McLaren Autosport BRDC award on Sunday.

The 19-year-old follows in the footsteps of F1 drivers David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Paul Di Resta, as well as three times Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who also won the award, aimed at helping the most promising young British driver, early in their careers.

Parry won this year's Formula Renault NEC championship.

Red Bull's four times world champion Sebastian Vettel was the international driver of the year for the fourth year running.

"It has been four years coming here to a room full of motorsport people," the German, winner of 13 races this season including the last nine in a row, said at the annual Autosport awards in a central London hotel late on Sunday.

"I wouldn't mind another four."

Lewis Hamilton won the British competition driver of the year award, a year after the 2008 F1 champion switched from McLaren to Mercedes.

There were also special awards for McLaren, celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and for Austrian triple world champion Niki Lauda, who is now non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team.

Whitmarsh downplays engine speculation
Martin Whitmarsh has downplayed suggestions that Mercedes' 2014 V6 engine is the best in the field.

Next season will herald the arrival of the 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engines which are taking the place of the V8s, which roared for the last time at this year's season-ending Brazilian GP.

And although the new engines have yet to be pitted against one another, there is speculation in the paddock that Mercedes have the edge over Renault and Ferrari.

For now, though, Whitmarsh, whose McLaren team will use Mercedes power for the last time in 2014, isn't making any predictions.

"Will we have a competitive drivetrain? I do not know," the McLaren team boss told Speed Week.

"There are many people in the paddock who seem to have much of a clue but I do not know what data they have to know that.

"From what I know about their resources and their organization I'm assuming that they have done a good job and the resources have been used."

He added: "I believe that we will be competitive." Planet F1

Ward may have given up on Presidency, but he has not given up
David Ward may have given up his candidacy for the FIA presidency, unable to find enough support in one region to qualify for the election, but he has not given up on his efforts to change the system. The plan to have the statutes changed by the General Assembly is not going to work, because the proposal must go through the two World Councils and they are unlikely to do anything that will upset the apple cart.

Ward, however, has gone to a company called I Trust Sport Ltd, a company dedicated to improving governance in international sport for an assessment of the FIA’s governance. This identified areas for improvement, particularly in financial reporting.

The primary findings of this body were that the FIA’s financial accounts are not published, the remuneration of elected officials and senior staff is not published and there is a lack of independent, non-executive members in the FIA Senate and World Councils.

The body said the FIA was strong is some areas, notably the International Tribunal and International Court of Appeal, which provide a comprehensive system for dealing with disciplinary matters which is much better than most other sports. It also found that there was a new code of ethics and that the federation invests extensively in its non-profit objectives regarding motor sport training and road safety, through the FIA Foundation.

“The FIA administers a popular and highly complex sport. Analysis of FIA governance shows that they do many things well – such as investing in motor racing training and road safety – but there is a lack of transparency in financial reporting in particular," said Rowland Jack, Founder of I Trust Sport. “At a time of intense external scrutiny, some straightforward reforms could make a big difference to FIA governance."

Ward, who commissioned the study, hopes that the independent report will get the FIA membership thinking about what can be done to create a better federation.

It remains to be seen whether anything will come of it. Joe Saward