F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Vettel just laughs at jealous Hamilton's comment that Alonso would be faster than him in his car.

    Pirelli renews threat to quit F1

  • Sutil fears 'children' on 2014 grid
  • Lotus admits talks with Maldonado
  • Massa prepared to ignore team orders again
  • Newey admits mind turning to America's Cup
  • Raikkonen blames tires for slip in form
  • Alonso would do more with Vettel's car – Hamilton
  • Magnussen ready even for 'good team' in 2014
  • Split in strategies to threaten Vettel’s dominance?

Pirelli renews threat to quit F1
(GMM) Pirelli has renewed its threat to quit formula one.

F1's controversial Italian tire supplier has signed deals for 2014 and beyond with the teams and Bernie Ecclestone, and even got the FIA's green light to stay in the sport.

But Paul Hembery, the marque's F1 chief, told reporters in India that Pirelli needs to be able to do more testing ahead of the 2014 season.

"Based on the comments of our chairman (Marco Tronchetti Provera) a few weeks ago, there has to be some (more) running or we can't do the tires," he is quoted by Reuters news agency.

Hembery's comments come amid a tumultuous season for Pirelli, after the explosive British grand prix and regular criticism of its heavily-degrading tires.

Sutil fears 'children' on 2014 grid
(GMM) Formula one has come too soon for incoming Russian drivers Sergey Sirotkin and Daniil Kvyat, who are both still in their teens.

That is the claim of Adrian Sutil, referring to the duo that is scheduled to debut for Sauber and Toro Rosso respectively in 2014.

"I think it's much too soon (for them)," the Force India driver, who is 30, told Speed Week. "They are still children.

"But in formula one it takes grown men, because it is a very tough business. It's also a shame, because it hurts these young talents if they come in too soon. There is no reason for it.

"Yes we have Russia on the calendar next year, so it's nice if we have a Russian driver. But I think it's too risky," said Sutil.

He said it's not just the young age that is a problem, but Kvyat is skipping the formative categories GP2 and Formula Renault and leaping straight in from GP3.

"It's not easy to control a formula one car," said Sutil, "especially with these tires. These are ultimately the fastest cars in the world, so it's a risk for everyone.

"Maybe I'm wrong and they are faster than me. But I think talent like that is rare — maybe one in a thousand drivers who make it into formula one," the German added.

McLaren's Jenson Button is another driver who has questioned the readiness of drivers like Kvyat, earning him a rebuke from Red Bull's outspoken Dr Helmut Marko.

"Jenson Button should focus on his career," Marko told the Russian website f1news.ru. "I think we have proved we know what we are doing.

"I don't care what anybody says," Marko continued. "Look at what we've done with Vettel. Half the paddock said he was 'too young, he is not ready, he will never be successful'.

"What do I have to say? I don't go to McLaren and tell them what to do," Marko insisted.

Marko also lashed out at suggestions drivers like Stoffel Vandoorne, who is backed by McLaren, and Dutchman Robin Frijns, turned down offers to race for Toro Rosso in 2014.

"I never talked to him!" Marko insisted loudly, referring to Vandoorne. "Ask him. Please do. Another guy, this crazy Dutch guy (Frijns), he said he turned down our offer.

"We never offered him anything and it annoys me to have to listen to what they say."

But Vandoorne's manager Richard Goddard, who also works with Button, begs to differ.

"It is true that there was no offer," he told Auto Motor und Sport, "but there was interest from Toro Rosso's side."

Lotus admits talks with Maldonado
(GMM) Eric Boullier has admitted Pastor Maldonado is in the running to race for Lotus in 2014.

But at the same time, the Enstone based team's boss made it clear that his preferred pick to replace the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen is Nico Hulkenberg.

"I would love to (sign him)," Frenchman Boullier told F1's official website.

"This is the recommendation that I gave to my board."

The board, however, will have to weigh its decision against financial considerations, with Lotus' 35 per cent sale to a group of investors called Quantum still not confirmed.

"We already dragged this out for many months, but we cannot drag it out forever," said Boullier. "We have a deadline — and I hope they will not miss it."

If Quantum does miss the deadline, Hulkenberg might miss out.

In that scenario, Maldonado might leap to the front of the queue thanks to his millions in backing by Venezuela's PDVSA.

Asked by the British broadcaster Sky if Lotus has been in contact with Maldonado, despite PDVSA's contract with Williams, Boullier admitted: "We had discussions with him, yes, it's true.

"They are still going on," he added.

Ferrari refugee Felipe Massa is another driver in the running, but Grosjean admitted that, if he could choose, he would sign Hulkenberg.

"But," Grosjean told Die Welt newspaper, "Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Massa would also be great teammates."

Massa prepared to ignore team orders again
(GMM) Felipe Massa has warned he still will not move over for teammate Fernando Alonso in the remaining few races of his Ferrari career.

The Brazilian, who is looking for an alternative drive for 2014, was ordered to let Alonso pass recently at Suzuka, but refused.

"I do not consider it a disrespect to be asked to let Fernando past," Massa told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

"But, as in Suzuka, I will race for myself," he insisted.

The 32-year-old, reportedly in contention to move to Williams next year, said his attitude will actually help rather than hinder Ferrari.

"What I am looking for is to get as many points as possible to help maintain the second position in the constructors' championship," said Massa.

"I will try to finish in the best position I can," he said in India.

Newey admits mind turning to America's Cup
(GMM) Adrian Newey has hinted his time in formula one may be coming to an end.

As Sebastian Vettel prepares to drive his Newey-penned Red Bull to an easy fourth consecutive world championship in India this weekend, the designer of his car admitted his eyes may be wandering elsewhere.

"I'm 54 now," Newey told the Telegraph, "and there are lots of other things I would like to be involved in.

"Maybe the America's Cup, who knows?" added Briton Newey, recognized as perhaps the greatest F1 designer of all time.

But he played down the prospect he will move his sights to designing a competitive yacht in the very near future.

"It's a bit too late (for 2014) isn't it?" he said. "My immediate future lies in formula one. I'm fully committed to next year and the new regs."

Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary speculated that Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz might want to put together his own America's Cup team, with Newey at the drawing board.

"Maybe," Newey answered. "It's not something I have spent a lot of time talking to Dietrich about I'm afraid."

Raikkonen blames tires for slip in form
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has pointed to Pirelli's reversion to 2012-specification tires, and the tightening of the operating guidelines, as the reason he has fallen off the pace at recent grands prix.

The Finn denied that his impending switch to Ferrari might explain why teammate Romain Grosjean appears to have moved ahead inside the Lotus team.

Told there is an obvious link between Raikkonen's drop in pace and his 2014 move to Ferrari, teammate Grosjean insisted: "It may look like it, but there is no direct link.

"Ok, it's my chance to prove that I can lead the team, but from my side it was all about just taking one step at a time," the on-form Frenchman told Die Welt newspaper.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, pointed to the tires, whose specification was changed by Pirelli in the wake of the explosive British grand prix.

"I can get less out of them than Romain on a (single) flying lap," he is quoted by Agencia Estado.

"In the race it's less of a problem because you're not so much at the limit of the car, but when you have started down the grid, it's too late to attack the leaders."

The 2007 world champion said Pirelli's clamping down on the tires' operating guidelines also hurt him.

"They increased the limits for camber and tire pressure," Raikkonen explained. "So there's not much you can do about it.

"Before we had more freedom," he added.

Raikkonen is also quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat: "I am not happy with the behavior at the front of the car, and we have a limited ability to change it."

Raikkonen will be Fernando Alonso's teammate at Ferrari next year.

The Spaniard said Romain Grosjean is doing a "good job" alongside the Finn at present.

"But it's not a big surprise," Alonso is quoted by RMC.

"Last year he made some mistakes, he was sometimes too aggressive, but it has changed this year.

"He is a little bit calmer and he is doing a good job of using his speed on the track.

"Romain has always been a good driver," added Alonso, who was Grosjean's teammate at Renault for part of 2009.

Lewis Hamilton looks like a deer in headlights as he watches the greatest F1 driver of all-time completely dominate the sport like no man has before him. Hamilton is so jealous his negative comments indicate a defeated man.

Alonso would do more with Vettel's car – Hamilton
(GMM) At the wheel of a Red Bull, Fernando Alonso's feats would be "far beyond" what Sebastian Vettel has achieved.

That is the claim of Lewis Hamilton, despite having recently clarified his views about Vettel's dominance following suggestions he lacked respect for the German.

"Feel the need to clarify my thoughts," he wrote on Twitter earlier this month. "Seb is great champion!"

However, when asked by the Spanish sports daily AS if he would have won four titles at the wheel of Vettel's Red Bull, Briton Hamilton answered: "I can't really say.

"It would be foolish of me to say that.

"But what is clear to me is that if Fernando (Alonso) had been in that car … he would be far beyond where Vettel is now. He would have won even more easily," added Hamilton.

When asked about the general lack of respect for Vettel's achievements, Adrian Newey – who pens the dominant Red Bull – put it down to "jealousy".

Niki Lauda, however, is full of praise for the German, who will stroll to his fourth title in India on Sunday if he simply finishes fifth.

"If the good lord had mixed a cocktail with all the best features of a racing driver," Mercedes' Lauda told Auto Bild, "Sebastian Vettel is the result."

Magnussen ready even for 'good team' in 2014
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen has declared himself "ready" for formula one — even at a top team.

The McLaren-backed youngster has just wrapped up the Formula Renault 3.5 title, and rumors suggest he could make his debut next year with Marussia.

But with Sergio Perez still not confirmed at McLaren for 2014, rumors Magnussen, 21, could replace him are also swirling in the paddock in India.

"Well, what you see in the media and what is reality in the team are two completely different stories," Mexican Perez told F1's official website.

Nonetheless, there is a feeling that McLaren's man of the moment is Magnussen, the son of former F1 driver Jan, who was presented to the world's media by the Woking based team in India.

Asked if his new 2013 title, or his solid McLaren connection, are giving him the warmest feelings at present, he smiled: "Winning the title was nice.

"But I guess the connection to McLaren is important because it could be my ticket to grand prix racing," Magnussen is quoted by Speed Week.

"I also know that everything has to fit together if I drive in formula one next year. I know I'm ready," he insisted.

"I have learned enough to take the step, so if it works, I'm happy. If it doesn't work for 2014, the world won't end and I'm in good hands with McLaren."

As for which 'M' he might make his F1 debut with next year – Marussia or McLaren – Magnussen would not be drawn.

"I don't know where I'll go," he said. "If it is a good team, I will have to prove immediately that I deserve the trust.

"I have no problem with it. If it is with quite a small team, maybe the pressure will be less, but the expectations will be the same."

Split in strategies to threaten Vettel’s dominance?
He may have romped to pole position in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix today, but Sebastian Vettel’s all-conquering record at the race could be at threat thanks to a variety of strategies that could be used on Sunday.

Following practice on Friday, many of the teams and drivers expressed their frustration with Pirelli’s tire allocation for the race in India, with the soft compound lasting for only a few laps before blistering and becoming unusable. However, Paul Hembery defended the Italian supplier’s decision, believing that it would spice up the racing and prevent the somewhat mundane one stop race that we saw in last year’s Indian Grand Prix.

However, the decision did have a knock-on effect in qualifying today. Even in Q1, it was clear that the majority of the field had to set a time on the option tire in order to be sure of a place in the second session. However, Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean both risked running on the medium compound so they could save a set of softs. Vettel’s searing pace meant that he was never really at risk and finished a comfortable eleventh, but Grosjean was less fortunate. The Frenchman dropped out in Q1 because of the strategy call, exclaiming: “No way!" when he heard that he had not made it through.

Come the final session though, there was a fair argument for using the harder tire. Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button all took on the white-ringed medium compound, effectively throwing in the towel in the fight for pole given Vettel’s pace in the previous two sessions. The German driver opted for the soft tire, immediately going 1.7 seconds quicker than Alonso with his first time, signaling to the rest of the top ten that resistance was futile: pole position was his and his alone.

However, Webber managed to qualify a respectable P4 on the medium tire ahead of three soft runners and just a tenth behind Lewis Hamilton who also ran on the option compound. The Australian driver can now go far deeper into the race than his teammate, which also means that Vettel’s record of leading every single lap at the Indian Grand Prix is likely to come to an end. For Webber, it will be about ‘sticking with’ the front-runners on the slower tire and then trying to lay down a competitive pace on the mediums before his first stop. Just as Vettel and Button did in China, the plan will be to take on the softs at the final stop (the tire equivalent of a ‘splash and dash’) before blitzing the medium runners at the last possible point. He may be fourth on the grid, but Mark Webber is very well placed to claim his first win of the season.

Fernando Alonso’s win in China was an example of how clever strategy can pay dividends, and he too will also be happy to be starting on the prime tire. However, P8 is not the result he would have been wanting, leaving the Spaniard with a great deal of work to do on Sunday. That said, there have been few races this season where he hasn’t faced an uphill struggle during the race, but once again, his strategy could see him come into the picture if he can shadow Webber and stick with the Red Bull throughout the race.

Vettel may be keen on sewing up the championship with a win in India, but should the German driver come under threat in the later stages of the race, it would come as little surprise to see Red Bull inform him of a problem (be it fact or fiction) and settle for a podium finish that would clinch him a fourth world title. However, with a variety of strategies available to all of the teams, we could be in for a fascinating race in India tomorrow. NBC Sports

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