Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Kvyat buries teammates in the wet

    Lotus hopes for Quantum deal 'next week'

  • Alonso would have won title for Lotus – Villeneuve
  • Marko hails Kvyat's 'big balls'
  • Pirelli considers buying new F1 test car
  • Kovalainen better now than in McLaren days
  • F1 team boss reneged on Magnussen deal – Whitmarsh
  • Horner 'reaffirms Red Bull commitment' after Ecclestone comments
  • Beauty queens are invited to Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix
  • Swiss Formula One rights secured until 2016

Lotus hopes for Quantum deal 'next week'
(GMM) Lotus insists the team's 35 per cent sale to Quantum remains on track, even though the investment group missed its latest deadline set by chief Mansoor Ijaz.

Ijaz had said in Austin that the deal would be complete by the end of this week, but team boss Eric Boullier now says he is hoping to settle the issue "by early next week".

"Well, there is still some discussion ongoing, especially now between bankers," the Frenchman said in Brazil.

"The process is not fully completed but I think part of it has been done, which is obviously a good sign," added Boullier.

He dismissed reports – easily searchable on Google – that Ijaz has been at the centre of some questionable investments in recent years.

"Fortunately we don't have to base our judgment only on Google," said Boullier.

"To answer the question, yes, we have very serious proof of funds and good compliance of what is Quantum Motorsport."

However, Germany's Sport Bild reports that Lotus' team CEO Patrick Louis has sent a letter to employees, apologizing that November's salaries will be paid late.

"We will do everything possible to solve this problem as soon as possible," Sport Bild quoted Louis as saying in the note.

And another sign the Quantum backing may never arrive is the fact that Lotus' first choice to replace Kimi Raikkonen in 2014, Nico Hulkenberg, is no longer counting the Enstone based team among his realistic options.

"It is clear that the (seats at the) top teams are all occupied," the German told Die Welt newspaper.

"For me, the options are limited to teams that have not been in contention for the championship in recent years.

"For sure I will not go for the title in 2014," Hulkenberg added.

Asked to name his options, the 26-year-old answered: "Force India and Sauber."

What happened to Lotus? "It depends on the new investor (Quantum)," said Hulkenberg. "I have to admit I'm a bit skeptical."

Hulkenberg thinks Lotus will instead sign Pastor Maldonado, who for the past few years has brought millions to Williams in the form of PDVSA backing.

"F1 is an expensive sport," he said, "and if a team needs financial help, then someone like Maldonado is worth a lot."

Alonso would have won title for Lotus – Villeneuve
(GMM) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve thinks Fernando Alonso would have won this year's title at the wheel of the 2013 Lotus car.

The French Canadian told the Spanish sports daily AS that the Ferrari driver's performance this season was not quite as impressive as in 2012.

"He (Alonso) is always at a high level," Villeneuve said at Interlagos, "but what we saw from Alonso in 2012 I have not seen this year. That was second to none — the best I've seen.

"This year, with the statements (made by Alonso) about Ferrari and everything, there was too much negative energy," he added.

Next year, Alonso will be paired at Ferrari with a new teammate.

"(How will he fare) with (Kimi) Raikkonen?" Villeneuve said. "The Lotus is a great car this year. All I'll say is that Alonso would have won this year's title in that Lotus."

Alonso joined Ferrari in 2010 but, although he has come close, he is yet to add to his tally of two world titles, won at Renault seven years ago.

The Spaniard has had an often tense relationship with Ferrari this year, but despite flirtations with Red Bull and McLaren, he is staying put for 2014.

"You have no other choice than to be patient," Alonso told the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper at Interlagos.

"Sometimes it's frustrating. For days and days. But I have to use this anger in a good way, to work harder and to win again," he insisted.

Meanwhile, while Alonso's comments about Sebastian Vettel might often sound uncomplimentary, the 32-year-old insists the Red Bull driver deserves his success.

"With the same car, Webber was not able to win any titles," Alonso said. "It's clear that Sebastian deserves it."

Marko hails Kvyat's 'big balls'
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat has made an immediate impression on his bosses.

The Russian teen has been signed as the Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo's 2014 replacement at the energy drink company's second F1 team, Toro Rosso.

He has been given an early start in 2013, with two Friday practice appearances in Austin and now in Brazil.

On Friday at a wet Interlagos, the confident 19-year-old was not only faster than Ricciardo and his 2014 teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, but ranked eighth fastest overall in the morning session.

"He has big balls," Dr Helmut Marko, the outspoken Austrian Red Bull chief, said after Kvyat set the time on the wet Brazilian circuit.

"I think we have the right man," he told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was also impressed.

"You could see he's not afraid of the car in any way," he said on British television BBC. "He's throwing it around and has got plenty of car control. It was certainly an impressive performance."

Pirelli considers buying new F1 test car
(GMM) Pirelli is considering buying a new F1 test car from one of the teams.

Already frustrated by the lack of testing opportunities, and the teams' collective reluctance to help, F1's official supplier became further dismayed in Brazil when wet weather affected its plans to try the 2014 tires in Friday practice.

"We wouldn't have brought it (the 2014 tire) here if we didn't want to run it," motor sport boss Paul Hembery said.

It was a further frustration on top of a frustrating situation overall for Pirelli.

The Italian marque now wants to test the tires in dry Bahrain in December, but the teams cannot agree about who should accompany Pirelli to the island Kingdom.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said McLaren is offering to provide a car and send personnel at its own expense.

"It would give our new driver Kevin Magnussen some more experience," admitted team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

But some teams, like Mercedes and Ferrari, reportedly believe another Pirelli-shod test for McLaren would not be fair.

"I think we all want to help Pirelli provide the best tire they can," said Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn, "but it would be unfortunate if one team had the benefit of running a tire to the exclusion of all the others."

Hembery said: "If the teams are not able to sort out the problem, we will buy a car — just as we did previously with Toyota and Renault."

If Pirelli buys a car now, it would have to buy a 2011 model, according to the testing rules. But if it waits until January 1, it can buy a 2012 model.

But Hembery said Pirelli might actually go for a 2013 single seater.

"This is a grey area," Hembery said. "Actually, we can't be prohibited (from running a 2013 car) because we are not a competitor.

"We would use the data only for ourselves, and each team could send an observer if they want to," he added.

Hembery's frustration, meanwhile, is obvious.

"It's like having to develop tires wearing a blindfold," he is quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"No manufacturer, not Bridgestone or Michelin, would agree to return to F1 under these conditions," the Briton added.

Kovalainen better now than in McLaren days
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen thinks he is a better driver today than when he won a grand prix for McLaren in 2008.

The Finn, who was dropped as Caterham's race driver at the end of last season, has returned to action with Lotus in Austin and Brazil after countryman Kimi Raikkonen headed for early surgery.

Kovalainen told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper that the two outings late in 2013 have boosted his confidence, as he seeks a full-time return for 2014.

"Driving this (Lotus) car, a good car, I am now convinced that, with Caterham, I have developed as a driver in many areas compared to when I was at McLaren," he said.

Kovalainen's new race engineer Mark Slade, who has been working with Raikkonen full-time this year, agrees.

"Heikki is now more relaxed," said Slade, who worked with Kovalainen at McLaren. "He's been very good at adapting to the new car."

Kovalainen thinks he has done his quest to return to race action in 2014 no harm with his Lotus outings.

"I am on the right end of the timesheets, everyone can see that," the 32-year-old said.

"Now with a good car, I realize I am better than I was at McLaren," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"I want to remain a formula one driver in all circumstances, even if it's only as a test driver."

Kovalainen has been strongly linked with a return for Caterham in 2014, but the latest rumors suggest rookie Marcus Ericsson could in fact line up alongside Giedo van der Garde.

Team boss Cyril Abiteboul confirmed in Brazil, however, that Caterham is still interested in Kovalainen.

"First of all I need to make sure that Lotus is not going to keep him," he smiled.

F1 team boss reneged on Magnussen deal – Whitmarsh
(GMM) A fellow team boss reneged on a deal to sign Kevin Magnussen for 2014, Martin Whitmarsh has revealed.

The McLaren boss has said that if the impressive rookie Dane was not making his F1 debut for the Woking based team next year, the ousted Sergio Perez would have kept his seat.

Whitmarsh claims he tried to accommodate Magnussen elsewhere in pitlane for 2014, but ultimately failed. The 21-year-old was earlier linked with Marussia and Force India.

"I hoped and tried to find him a cockpit," Whitmarsh told F1's official website in Brazil.

"I even did a deal and shook hands with a team principal up and down this paddock – an absolute deal – but he stepped back," he revealed.

Asked to identify his reneging colleague, Whitmarsh answered: "I would like to, but I won't.

"Even after 25 years I find that difficult to deal with — I know I shouldn't, but I am still hopelessly naive.

"I still think that if you look somebody in the eye and shake hands then that's a done deal. When it turns out like in the Magnussen case, then I am shocked, and I tell myself 'learn, don't be naive'.

"So having to face this situation, I decided 'let's go for it with Kevin ourselves'," added Whitmarsh.

He said he is happy McLaren is doing its bit to bring new drivers into the sport, just as it did with Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

"I think F1 needs these young super talents to come in, but the problem with the sport at the moment is that money is doing most of the talking with most of the teams and there is a danger that we create a vacuum of young talents," said Whitmarsh.

His next target is to find a seat for McLaren's other in-house development talent, Stoffel Vandoorne.

"If we don't find an F1 cockpit at another team for Stoffel we probably will put him in GP2," Whitmarsh revealed.

"The danger with GP2 is that you have a lot of drivers there with financial backing who stay for four or five years — and that is the wrong signal. After two years, kick them out," he said.

Horner 'reaffirms Red Bull commitment' after Ecclestone comments
(GMM) Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has had to "reaffirm his commitment" to Red Bull after Bernie Ecclestone named him as his ideal successor.

F1 'supremo' Ecclestone, caught up in a corruption scandal that could end his long reign over the sport, said of his 40-year-old ally and friend: "I would be happy to hold his (Horner's) hand. We could have a transitional period."

The comments were interpreted as a clear sign that Ecclestone, 83, is paving the road for Horner to succeed him, but Red Bull issued a statement from Interlagos insisting its team boss "has a long term contract".

And Horner was quoted as saying: "While Bernie's comments in the press are very flattering, I am fully focused on my role as team principal with Red Bull Racing.

"I have said many times that there is only one Bernie Ecclestone. What he has done for formula one is incredible and in my opinion he is irreplaceable," he added.

Beauty queens are invited to Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix
The girls received valuable prizes and invitations to work as Grid Girls during the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.

"Miss Studentship of Russia 2013" final took place on the 22nd of November in Stavropol with participation of 25 girls. Finalists of Regional and Inter-regional University beauty contests won the award "Miss Formula Sochi". Among them was Margarita Parkina from the Saratov region who won the title of “Miss Studentship of Russia 2013".

Formula 1 project seemed to be really interesting for me, as well as for the other contestants. I will participate with a great pleasure, – said Margarita Parkina, – because it will help me to improve, meet new people and become a part of such a large-scale international event.

All the winners of Formula Sochi Award received watches engraved with Miss Formula Sochi and certificates with invitations to work as Grid Girls at first Russian Grand Prix.

Formula Sochi representatives congratulated the girls and passed them the message from Oleg Zabara, Vice General Director of OJSC “Center “Omega“ for organization of Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix:

Russia has been always famous for its beauties, and the national student contest "Miss Studentship of Russia" proves that. Participation of Formula Sochi at this contest will help the World to see at Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix the most beautiful, authentic girls striving for personal fulfillment and improvement, graceful and charismatic. I am sure that participation at Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix will give the contestants a perfect chance for their professional development and fulfillment of their ambitious plans".

Swiss Formula One rights secured until 2016
Swiss free-to-air broadcaster SRG has extended its agreement with Formula One Management to broadcast Formula One until 2016.

The three year deal will begin with the 2014 season and reportedly includes provisions for SRG to broadcast the sport on any of its channels, including SRF, RTS and RSI.

Although Formula One produces its own world feed which is made available to all global broadcasters, in line with other rights holders SRG will have continue to have access to the paddock and the ability to produce its own shoulder programming.

The deal also includes radio coverage of the sport in Switzerland.

SRG SSR has broadcast Formula One for 44 years.

"I am delighted we have managed to continue the longstanding partnership with SRG," noted Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, according to an SRG statement.

The final race of the 2013 Formula One season is in Brazil on Sunday. Although both world championships have been decided for some weeks, the Sao Paulo event will be Mark Webber's final Formula One race and Felipe Massa's last drive for Ferrari after eight years.

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