Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Webber tosses his helmet away after his last race

    Tears and anger as 2013 season closes in Brazil

  • Hulkenberg and Perez for Force India in 2014
  • Lotus 'risk' turns out bad as Kovalainen star fades
  • McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa leaving F1
  • Massa critical of stewards' decision
  • Hamilton had to watch tapes to see he clearly caused Bottas clash
  • Domenicali says actions speak louder than words
  • Alonso: No rest for Ferrari
  • Playing with Fire in Austin
  • Whitmarsh admits no excuses for in 2014

Tears and anger as 2013 season closes in Brazil
(GMM) Popular Mark Webber raced into F1 retirement with one final show of irreverence, completing his lap on the way to the Interlagos podium without the protection of his helmet.

Told that he seemed to be tearing up as he took in the emotion of his last-ever lap, the popular Australian veteran replied afterwards: "It was (just) the wind."

Webber, who is now released from his Red Bull contract in order to get an early start to his new Le Mans career, admitted driving around without a helmet was also not the kindest thing he could have done to his ears.

And he said he got his helmet and Hans device "jammed" against the steering wheel, making it difficult to negotiate the final corners on the way into parc ferme.

"But it was good to get it off, obviously the marshals, the fans, to see … in this sport, it's not always easy to show the person that's behind the wheel," said Webber.

Later, he slipped and fell on the podium, and the usually flawless Red Bull crew also messed up a couple of pitstops.

But overall, it has been a frighteningly dominant display by the Milton-Keynes based team in 2013, led by Sebastian Vettel, who continues to sweep up all-time records.

Webber, however, fell 43 points shy of finishing the championship runner-up behind his German teammate.

So he paid tribute to the actual 2013 runner-up, his Ferrari-racing friend Fernando Alonso, and also his own imperious teammate, Vettel.

"Yeah, a very good finish to my career, a good fight with all the guys I've enjoyed fighting with for most of my career: Seb, Fernando, Lewis, Nico, all the guys who have been in the window for the last five or six years," said Webber.

But while Alonso managed second place for himself, Ferrari ultimately finished the season just third in the constructors' championship — and furious with the outcome of Sunday's Brazilian finale.

Indeed, had Felipe Massa not been punished by the stewards for crossing the white line of the pitlane entry in his Ferrari farewell, the Italian team would probably have beaten Mercedes to the extra second place millions.

Massa, racing in front of his home crowd in red overalls for the last time, was furious.

"Unacceptable!" he fumed on the radio as he shook his fist.

Referring to the FIA officials, Massa said afterwards: "These guys think they have all the power and they can do what they want so I am more sorry for them than for me."

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn admitted that his drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, had reported Massa's driving over the radio.

"They were telling us that Felipe was driving with all four wheels over the line repeatedly," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Had Massa remained in fourth place, Alonso would have moved over to gift his podium place to the native Paulista for a fitting Ferrari farewell in front of his fans.

"When I saw him fourth I thought this would be a very good celebration for him," said Alonso.

Massa confirmed: "I am sure that if I had found myself behind Fernando, he'd have let me pass."

Hulkenberg and Perez for Force India in 2014
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg physically signed on the dotted line of a 2014 Force India contract in Brazil on Sunday.

That is the claim of Germany's reliable Sport Bild, as it emerged that the German had until midnight to take up an option granted recently by the Silverstone based team, for whom Hulkenberg raced last year.

The 26-year-old had joined Sauber for 2013 after Force India became late in its payments, but it was the Swiss team that found itself in the deeper financial trouble this year.

So, in a sure sign that Lotus' 'Quantum' investment deal will ultimately collapse, Hulkenberg opts for Force India, who according to Sport Bild have included a bank guarantee of EUR 1.9 million to cover the unpaid wages of 2012.

It is believed Hulkenberg's teammate next year will not be countryman Adrian Sutil, despite that German hinting repeatedly in recent weeks that his is a done deal.

In fact, it is understood the experienced Sutil is taking his Medion sponsorship to Sauber.

Force India's other 2013 driver, Paul di Resta, is almost certainly leaving F1.

"People are saying it's not budget related," the Scot told BBC's radio Five Liv, "but there are things which are. I go into the winter with my head held high."

It seems Force India will head into 2014 with an all-new driver lineup, completed by the McLaren refugee Sergio Perez, who is bringing a reported EUR 15 million in sponsorship, having patched up his relationship with Telmex.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, having dropped Mexican Perez at the eleventh hour, has hinted he helped to broker the deal.

"I am very happy," Whitmarsh is quoted by the Guardian. "Lots of stuff has been written but he's a young man who has been incredibly dignified.

"He is very much liked in the team, is a thoroughly likeable guy and I said to him: 'Prove us wrong'.

"We've done what we can to help him out and he certainly deserves to be in formula one, so I'm delighted for him that we'll see his smiling face in the paddock."

Whitmarsh admitted it is bittersweet that, in helping Perez, fellow Briton di Resta is apparently being pushed out of F1.

"It's a complicated sport these days and there are drivers with less talent than Paul who will be in the sport, and that's sad," he said.

The obvious conclusion of all the latest 'silly season' goings-on is that Pastor Maldonado, the most powerfully sponsored driver on the market, is taking his PDVSA millions to Lotus to fill the Quantum hole.

F1 correspondent Heikki Kulta, of Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper, expects the news to be announced early this week.

Alongside Sutil, the likely occupant of the other Sauber is less clear, as team boss Monisha Kaltenborn on Sunday refused to "speculate" about the future of Mexican Esteban Gutierrez.

It appears she was waiting for midnight, and the expiry of Hulkenberg's Force India option. Also waiting in the wings is the Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin.

"My sources tell me that Sauber is still waiting for Hulkenberg," former long-time Sauber driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was also managed by Hulkenberg's agent Werner Heinz, told German television Sky.

Lotus 'risk' turns out bad as Kovalainen star fades
(GMM) The tumultuous 2014 'silly season' is taking yet another twist, as Heikki Kovalainen's hopes of returning full-time next year fall dramatically.

Mere days ago, the Finn was a powerful new player in the speculative hot-bed of the driver market — on the verge of signing for Caterham, and signed up by Lotus for the last two races of 2013 to replace Kimi Raikkonen.

But, despite some flashes of speed, those two races later, 32-year-old Kovalainen's hopes are dwindling, after he failed to score a single point in the otherwise highly competitive black and gold Lotus.

"I think the car is great," he said on Sunday, "but I was not able to unlock the pace.

"I was anticipating it would be easier to come back and race competitively," added Kovalainen.

"These two races were not the best," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat. "I knew it was a bit of a risk (replacing Raikkonen) but I did not think it would be so difficult."

The Enstone based team therefore finishes the season only fourth in the constructors' championship, millions in crucial prize-money behind its foes Mercedes and Ferrari.

The wilder rumors had suggested Kovalainen had became a late contender to race full-time for Lotus in 2014, but now even his hopes at Caterham appear faded.

Marcus Ericsson, a Swedish GP2 driver, smiled on Sunday as he refused to comment on sweeping paddock speculation that he will be racing a green car in 2014.

Caterham may now be looking for supplementary income, after finishing behind its back-of-the-grid rival Marussia for the lucrative final spot in the top-ten paid positions in the constructors' championship.

"At the moment I do not have an agreement (for 2014)," said Kovalainen. "I can only say that it's looking good.

"Caterham is still the most likely option for me," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"Nothing has been signed yet, but I don't think these two races with Lotus changes things too much," he added.

Disgruntled Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi, meanwhile, thinks Austin and Brazil is evidence that Lotus made the wrong choice.

"I told the team it would have been better to choose my heart and my motivation than the experience of Kovalainen," he said on Twitter.

"I'm really sorry they didn't do it."

McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa leaving F1
(GMM) McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa is stepping away from formula one.

The broadcaster MTV3 reports that the Finn will from now on concentrate on running his clinic in Geneva.

"Travelling is proving to be a pretty big obstacle," Hintsa is quoted as saying. "Now, there are younger and better doctors, and I will focus on a different mission — life," he laughed.

However, Hintsa said he will not break off all contact with F1.

"Drivers will certainly see me in my clinic in the same way as before," he said.

Not the happiest of ending for Massa at Ferrari

Massa critical of stewards' decision
Felipe Massa was adamant that he did not break any rules during Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, criticizing the stewards for issuing him with a drive-through penalty.

The Ferrari driver, who joins Williams next season, was deemed guilty of crossing over the pit entry line, something Race Director Charlie Whiting had prohibited in his pre-race notes.

But having been in a battle for fourth position, Massa felt the decision was a harsh one.

"It was a real shame. I was having a great race," said Massa, who ultimately finished seventh. "Then I suddenly got a drive-through penalty for crossing the line on the main straight. I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't overtake cars outside the track, I didn't hold anyone up.

"These guys they think they have all the power and they can do all they want. It's more of a shame for them, not for me. I think it was pretty unacceptable, to be honest. I'm sure I was not the only car that crossed the line, but I was the only car that got a drive-through for that."

Massa added that a podium could have been possible given his pace, and team-mate Fernando Alonso's apparent willingness to move aside.

"My race was going to be fourth and maybe third, as Fernando was maybe going to back off and let me by," he explained. "The race could've been a much better result than it was, but it was still very emotional."

Lewis Hamilton had a race weekend he would rather forget

Hamilton had to watch tapes to see he caused Bottas clash
Lewis Hamilton was left confused by the moments that led up to his clash with Williams rival Valtteri Bottas during Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Bottas was attempting to unlap himself when the pair collided on the run to Turn 4, sending the Finn out of the race with left-rear damage and forcing the Mercedes driver to make an additional stop with a right-rear puncture.

Having assessed the relevant footage, the stewards subsequently decided to give Hamilton a drive-through penalty, from which he ultimately recovered to ninth.

"I guess I caused a collision, but with a backmarker trying to overtake me," Hamilton told reporters after the race. "I don't really know what happened, I need to go and watch the replay.

"I really can't quite work it out. I moved to the left. He outbraked me and we touched. Obviously I did something wrong. I'm a bit gutted that I lost so many points for the team."

Hamilton added that he was confident of fighting Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for the final podium spot before the accident.

"I was catching Fernando," he said, "I think we had a chance to at least fight with him."

Speaking after his early exit, Bottas argued that he was not at fault for the clash.

Domenicali says actions speak louder than words
Stefano Domenicali says actions will speak louder than words in Ferrari's quest to return to the front of the Formula 1 grid next season.

Although it started brightly, claiming two victories in the first five races, the Maranello-based outfit has ultimately endured another challenging campaign, with third in the Constructors' standings the outcome.

But with a series of staff changes and the clean sheet of next year's regulation overhaul, Domenicali is determined to make amends, making clear that only the work carried out at the team's factory is of importance.

"This has to be the impetus to prepare for next season as well as possible and our engineers are aware of the results we want to obtain," said Domenicali after the Brazilian Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso recorded a podium and Felipe Massa finished seventh.

"The assessment of this season just ended cannot be positive, because after a competitive start, we had a second half that did not live up to our standards, as I have said many times before.

"Now words count for nothing, but only the work we must do back home: on this topic, I think all the decisions we have taken and the changes we made are taking us in the right direction to tackle next season in the best way possible."

Alonso: No rest for Ferrari
The 2013 F1 season may be over but Ferrari won't be relaxing just yet, using the team before Christmas to focus on next season.

Alonso and Ferrari wrapped up this year's campaign with a podium result in Sunday's Brazilian GP when he brought his F138 home in third place behind the Red Bulls.

It was the Spaniard's first top-three result in six races and cemented his position as second in the Drivers' Championship.

However, next year it could be all change with new rules expected to spice up the Championship.

Formula One will undergo a major overhaul of the regulations that include the introduction of 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engines with ERS.

As such Ferrari will not be resting on their laurels with Alonso revealing that work will continue at the factory until Christmas.

"Until Christmas time we are quite busy in Ferrari with some events with sponsors and then in Maranello many parties with the people working in Ferrari and their families," he said.

"We will use those days that we are already in Italy to spend some time in the simulator and to so some work looking for next year relation.

"Christmas time will probably be the first that we completely stop. Until 21st December I think we are on."

Pressed as to whether Alonso and Ferrari have a fighting chance in next year's Championship, third favorite with Paddy Power to take the title, the Spaniard insisted Sunday's podium did not boost his confidence, he always feels they can do it.

"Nothing changed, to be honest," he said. "I'm still optimistic for next year because I trust my team, I trust Ferrari preparation and philosophy for the 2014 car.

"We will be a contender, always, even this year when we haven't been competitive and we only won two grands prix, we were off the podium for the last six or seven grands prix etc, we finished second in the World Championship, so with whatever the car that Ferrari do, normally, better or worse, you are a contender.

"That's my optimistic point for next year, not because we are on the podium or not on the podium."

Playing with fire in Austin
A reader writes, Dear, Last year before the USGP, I emailed you that the biggest threat in November in Austin was cold, not heat. Well, today, one week after the race it's raining and 37 degrees in Austin. It's been below 50 degrees (F) and wet since Friday at noon.

We had great weather for the race weekend, but don't forget that it froze overnight on the Tuesday before the race this year. This is typical central Texas weather in November. A freeze on Tuesday followed by 85 on Sunday.

So far, we've gotten lucky with the weather on both race weekends, but the odds are we'll get caught out one of these years. Kerry in Austin

Whitmarsh admits no excuses for in 2014
Martin Whitmarsh has made clear that McLaren will have no excuses if they don't rebound from their miserable 2013 season and return to winning ways next year.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after finishing their year on a relative high with fourth and sixth places in Brazil, Whitmarsh made no bones about how difficult 2013 had been but said winning races again next season was their only goal.

"It's been a pretty tough year. We've had a big kick up the pants and hopefully that's what we needed and we're working hard to make sure we don't need one again next year," the McLaren Team Principal said.

"When you have a bad year you've got to look at everything. We've got to do a better job at the circuit, we've got to do a better job back in Woking developing the car.

"I think Mercedes will do a pretty good job on the powertrain, so I don't think there are excuses for us – we have to go out there and we've got to win next year. That's what everyone's focused on."

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