Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Alonso cannot stomach that Vettel is better

    Jealous Alonso encouraged Vettel booing – Horner

  • Rosberg claims speed 'equal' to Hamilton
  • Reserve Nasr to join Massa at Williams in 2014
  • GP3 runner-up tests McLaren simulator
  • F1 champion Piquet has heart surgery
  • Perez and McLaren announce split
  • Schumacher approached for Raikkonen's seat
  • Epsilon Euskadi's Villadelprat convicted
  • Maldonado 'happy' to leave Williams
  • Perez worried, Maldonado happy after F1 team splits New
  • Todt to remain FIA president New

Jealous Alonso encouraged Vettel booing – Horner
(GMM) Christian Horner has accused Fernando Alonso of encouraging his fans to boo world champion Sebastian Vettel on the podium this year.

Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz recently likened Spaniard Alonso's tactics to those of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, saying the Ferrari driver is "the worst of all at the psychological warfare".

Horner, the energy drink-owned team's F1 boss, has now directly accused Alonso of playing a role in the spate of post-race booing on the podiums in Belgium, Italy and Singapore this year.

He told BBC Five Live radio this week that Vettel's portrayal as "the bad guy" was "convenient" for the German's rivals.

"So they have encouraged that," said Horner, "whether that is Fernando Alonso taking off his cap and throwing it into the crowd as soon as Sebastian talks on the podium to get a reaction."

Others, however, think Vettel brought his unpopularity on himself. Nico Rosberg was highly critical of the 26-year-old this year, when Vettel suggested Red Bull is winning because the other teams don't work as hard.

"It's probably worthwhile talking to the fans to try to get their opinions (as to why they boo)," the Mercedes driver told Germany's Sport Bild this week.

"The more successful you are, the more people will let you know what their opinions are of you, which is why it's important to focus on the positive people around you," added Rosberg.

Many believe Vettel's popularity took its sharpest dive in Malaysia this year, when he blatantly ignored a team order to the detriment of his teammate Mark Webber.

"I think after the race his initial reaction was correct," Webber told the Daily Mail this week.

"I think he was shattered at what he had done, but his reaction two weeks later in China – when he said that he was not sorry at all – was probably not the best way to encourage people what to think of him," he added.

Rosberg claims speed 'equal' to Hamilton
(GMM) Nico Rosberg thinks he is rounding out his first F1 season with Lewis Hamilton as his teammate "about equal" with the 2008 world champion.

German Rosberg is widely regarded as having beaten the seven time world champion and F1 legend Michael Schumacher, when they were paired together at Mercedes between 2010 and last year.

But some wonder if Schumacher, now into his forties, was still riding the same kind of speed and form as in the prime of his ultra-successful days at Benetton and Ferrari.

2013, when he would be paired with the highly-rated Briton Hamilton, might be the real test of Rosberg's talent.

So, with two races to go this season, Nico Rosberg has won twice – at Monaco and Silverstone – compared with Hamilton's sole victory in Hungary.

But Hamilton is slightly higher in the drivers' points standings.

"Quite often I've been ahead of him," Rosberg told Germany's Sport Bild this week, "but I've had more technical problems.

"Lewis' season has gone quite smoothly, so I'm a bit behind him on the points.

"If we talk about pure speed, we are about equal.

"It's great, because it's for duels like this that I came into formula one — I am constantly looking for ways to get ahead of my teammate.

"I can assure you that Lewis is incredibly fast," he added.

This week, it emerged that Schumacher was contacted by Lotus as a potential candidate for the last two races, due to Kimi Raikkonen's back surgery.

Sabine Kehm, the retired 44-year-old's manager, credited Rosberg and Hamilton for the latest wave of respect for the great Schumacher.

"Many people have changed their assessment about Michael because of Nico Rosberg's recent performances compared to those of Lewis Hamilton," she said.

"Michael drove as well as Nico, just as Nico is driving as well as Lewis," Kehm told Bild newspaper.

Reserve Nasr to join Massa at Williams in 2014
(GMM) Felipe Nasr could be the next Brazilian piece of the puzzle for Williams.

It is believed the appointment of Felipe Massa for 2014 could entice the Brazilian oil company Petrobras back to the famous British F1 team.

Indeed, Massa hopes to revive Williams' glory days, when drivers like Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna were at the wheel.

"It's very nice to be in this team, a team that was very important for Brazil and I hope will be again very important for Brazil," he said.

The next Brazilian name linked with Williams for 2014 is GP2 frontrunner Felipe Nasr, who is backed by Brazilian sponsors Banco do Brasil and Sky Brasil.

Portuguese-language media reports say Nasr, whose surname rhymes with Massa's, is set to be announced as Williams' next reserve driver.

According to the 'Terra' publication, 21-year-old Nasr is managed by Kimi Raikkonen's Steve Robertson, while his uncle Amir runs a successful and well-connected Brazilian motor racing outfit.

GP3 runner-up tests McLaren simulator
(GMM) McLaren could have an eye on its next development driver.

Dane Kevin Magnussen, with his new Formula Renault 3.5 title, is set to leap straight into F1 with the great British team, while Stoffel Vandoorne is hotly tipped to find a McLaren-backed place on the 2015 grid.

And among the next McLaren-championed names could be Facu Regalia, according to the Italiaracing publication.

It is reported the 21-year-old Argentine, who finished runner-up in the GP3 championship this year behind 2014 Toro Rosso debutant Daniil Kvyat, was in Woking this week.

At McLaren's state-of-the-art headquarters, Regalia reportedly tried McLaren's formula one simulator, including the layouts for the Abu Dhabi and Silverstone circuits.

Italiaracing said Regalia also had talks with Force India this year.

F1 champion Piquet has heart surgery
(GMM) Triple world champion Nelson Piquet had heart surgery this week.

Agencia Estado said the 61-year-old, who won his titles for Brabham and Williams in the 80s, had the operation to unblock an artery at the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo.

A spokesperson for the hospital said the former driver, whose son Nelson Piquet Jr also raced in formula one, requested that details not be disclosed.

"Dad is fine and will be home soon," Piquet Jr told his Twitter followers.

Perez and McLaren announce split
(GMM) After accusing McLaren of lacking "organization and humility" in 2013, Sergio Perez has announced he is leaving the British team.

But, in a statement posted via Twitter, the Mexican driver toned down his criticism and insisted he doesn't regret having joined McLaren "even a bit".

It emerged early this week that McLaren has decided to replace 23-year-old Perez, who only joined the team from Sauber at the end of last year, with its development rookie Kevin Magnussen.

"I have always given the best of me for the team," Perez wrote in his statement posted in Spanish and English, "and still despite this I could not achieve what I aimed for in this historic team."

He described losing his McLaren seat as a "difficult moment", but said 2013 was a "learning experience" and he vowed to keep racing in 2014.

"I will always be a fan of McLaren," said Perez. "In the meanwhile I will be looking at my future to ensure my position in the best possible package to fight for wins."

Backed by the billionaire Carlos Slim-linked Telmex, Perez is now being linked with a move to Lotus, Force India, or a less likely return to Sauber.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh described Perez's departing statement as "kind and gracious".

"We wish him well for the future, and are sure that he will have many successes ahead of him," he said.

It is believed official confirmation of Perez's successor, Magnussen, is imminent.

"Kevin is so good and clever," Danish F1 journalist Peter Nygaard said, "I think he could even beat Jenson Button."

Magnussen and his father Jan, who raced in F1 for McLaren and Stewart, join F1's other sons-and-fathers including Damon and Graham Hill, Jacques and Gilles Villeneuve and Nico and Keke Rosberg.

"McLaren are taking a risk in having a new Hamilton," wrote Sportwoche chief editor Gerard Enzinger, "and if he fails, he will be spat out, just like Sergio Perez."

Schumacher approached for Raikkonen's seat
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen may only have been Lotus' third choice as the 2013 successor for surgery-bound Kimi Raikkonen.

The Enstone based team will announce on Thursday that Finn Kovalainen, who has been Caterham's 'Friday' driver this season, will race in Austin and Brazil at the wheel of Raikkonen's number 7.

But it emerged this week that Nico Hulkenberg was also approached by Lotus, who found the German locked into the rest of his contract at Sauber.

And Michael Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm told Bild newspaper that the seven time world champion was also approached by Lotus.

"It's not unusual that he was asked," she is quoted as saying.

"Michael would be fit enough, but he is enjoying his new life."

Another retired F1 veteran, Rubens Barrichello, may have been yet another contender.

The Brazilian mischievously posted a photo of himself driving a 1977 black and gold Lotus on Twitter, with the caption: "Anyone remember this?"

But in the end, 32-year-old Kovalainen was chosen by Lotus, with team boss Eric Boullier quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "Don't forget that he has won a grand prix."

Not only that, Kovalainen has driven on Pirelli's sensitive 2013 tires, while Caterham – like Lotus – is powered by a Renault engine.

And in 2007, the Finn made his debut for Enstone based Renault.

"A lot of the same people are still there," Finnish commentator Oskari Saari told MTV3. "In a way, it's the same team."

Former F1 driver Mika Salo, who was the first to mention his countryman as a candidate, said Austin and Brazil is Kovalainen's chance to stake a claim for a 2014 seat — even at Lotus.

"I don't know what the (financial) situation is at Lotus now," said Salo, "and whether he stands a chance.

"But he definitely would not hurt the situation if he managed to score two podiums."

Epsilon Euskadi's Villadelprat convicted
(GMM) The final chapter in Epsilon Euskadi's failed bid to enter formula one took place this week in a Spanish court.

Deia and El Correo publications report that the defunct motor racing outfit's chief, Joan Villadelprat, was convicted of corruption and negligence, and banned from administration for a period of three years.

Villadelprat, who worked in F1 for teams including McLaren, Ferrari, Tyrrell and Prost and tried to bring his own team into F1 for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, was also fined EUR 900,000 for concealing assets as Epsilon Euskadi collapsed.

It is reported the case will return to court next week, when – because Epsilon Euskadi was partly funded by the Basque region – it will be determined if Villadelprat and another chief committed criminal offenses.

Maldonado 'happy' to leave Williams
Pastor Maldonado says he is "happy" to be leaving Williams as he has wanted to part ways with the team for a while already.

Earlier this week, Williams confirmed that Felipe Massa would be joining them next year, replacing Maldonado as Valtteri Bottas' new team-mate.

The decision did not come as a shock as Maldonado's dissatisfaction with Williams had long been known.

"I am very happy," he told Autosport.

"Since a couple of months I was in conversation with the team and I wanted to leave the team. That is it. I am very happy for that.

"It was my decision. In Singapore I decide to leave the team more or less and it was 100 percent my decision."

Asked about why he wanted to leave the team that he first joined back in 2011, the 2012 Spanish GP winner stated that he believed he had done more for Williams than they had for him.

"I think I delivered more to the team than they for me.

"We find a victory, we find a very good result last year, and even this year we have been doing quite well races. But this is not everything.

"I am waiting for something more, I am expecting something more from F1."

He added: "Maybe I am learning more this year than last year.

"For sure it was a tough year, very hard for all the team, and my decision was because I was not good [happy] enough in the team personally.

"I wanted to try something different, and maybe it is a very important time for me and my career. It is a tough decision but a great one."

Perez worried, Maldonado happy after F1 team splits
(GMM) Two drivers newly available on the 2014 market appeared to have vastly different moods on Thursday when contemplating their respective futures.

Sergio Perez, who only hours ago revealed he has been dropped by McLaren, admitted the British team's late decision had left him in "a very difficult position" when it comes to finding another seat for next season.

"Obviously the decision came very late and it puts me in a very difficult position, but this is life and I have to move forward," he said in Austin.

23-year-old Perez, who after two years with Sauber was signed by McLaren for 2013, said the decision is so late he might have to leave formula one altogether.

"If I don't find the right option for my career then maybe I will look for something else, but the aim is to look for something good with a good team that can give me the opportunity to win races," he said.

At the very same time, Pastor Maldonado sounded excited about his own future, after it emerged both he and his lucrative Venezuelan backer PDVSA are leaving Williams.

Asked if he is disappointed, he said on Thursday: "No, I'm very happy. I wanted to leave the team, and I'm happy about that.

"Last year I was always competitive, but because of the condition of the car I've had this year everyone has forgotten my talent, the results and where we were last year.

"Overall, I feel I delivered more to the team than they did for me," added Maldonado, who is being replaced by the Ferrari refugee Felipe Massa.

It is believed Maldonado is the overwhelming favorite to take his PDVSA millions to Lotus, should the Enstone based team's 'Quantum' investment deal fall over.

"We're talking with Lotus," Maldonado admitted in Austin, "and I have another couple of options."

Todt to remain FIA president
(GMM) Jean Todt will remain president of F1's governing body, the FIA, for a second term.

The Frenchman's only rival to dethrone him in next month's elections, Briton David Ward, announced on Thursday he is pulling out of the race.

"It has not proved possible for me to secure the required number of regional vice presidents for sport to ensure the eligibility of my list," he wrote in a letter to FIA member clubs.

"I, therefore, would like to offer my congratulations to Jean Todt who will secure a second term uncontested if not unopposed."

Michael Schmidt, the respected correspondent for Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, said Ward has been highly critical of the FIA's election rules.

Ward, who described the process as "highly undemocratic", needed the support of at least 37 clubs simply to be eligible for the election.

"An outsider," Schmidt said, "has virtually no chance."

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