Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Axe unlikely to fall on 2013 India GP
  • No 'controversy' at Ferrari – Alonso
  • Massa management denies Williams deal done
  • Kaltenborn confirms meeting with Petrov
  • Kvyat to get Friday outings in Austin, Brazil
  • Alonso says he is driving better than he ever has

Axe unlikely to fall on 2013 India GP
(GMM) High-ranking Indian motor racing official Vicky Chandhok has played down the likelihood this weekend's grand prix will be called off.

A supreme court judge will on Friday hear a petition filed by a campaigner to cancel the formula one race because of unpaid entertainment taxes.

"We will wait for the court's directive," a spokesman for race promoter Jaypee said.

"Whatever the court says, we are ready to follow."

But Chandhok, the father of former F1 driver Karun, said petitions like this are customary in the Indian democracy.

"Personally, I don't think it will affect the event at all," he is quoted by the Mirror newspaper.

In the Guardian, he added: "I don't think it endangers the race in any way whatsoever.

"People who live in this country learn to deal with these things. It is not something that is worrying.

"Generally, judges will not grant an injunction for a sporting event to be stopped. Sport has to continue and the rest of it can be dealt with later on," he insisted.

However, in the unlikely event that the race is scrapped, Sebastian Vettel will be crowned world champion, because there would not be enough races left in 2013 for Fernando Alonso to chase down his points deficit.

The bigger question is whether F1 will return to India in 2015, as the unpopular grand prix destination has been left off next year's bustling calendar.

"You know," Force India team owner Vijay Mallya told CNN, "Bernie (Ecclestone) is a good friend of mine and I have tried to persuade him that India has a market that should not be ignored.

"I would be very, very disappointed if India fell into the category of being in the F1 calendar and then being permanently out of the calendar," he said.

No 'controversy' at Ferrari – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has played down continuing speculation he is looking for the exit at Ferrari.

The Spaniard was this year publicly rebuked by Luca di Montezemolo, and privately by Stefano Domenicali, after making critical remarks about the fabled team.

And strong rumors said Alonso looked to leave Ferrari – who have failed to deliver him a world championship in four seasons – for Red Bull or McLaren.

But he is quoted by Spain's Marca newspaper as insisting his situation at Ferrari "has not changed at all".

"I would obviously like to win the championship, and be closer in years like this, but we are second — something that half the grid cannot even dream of.

"Lately there is a trend or a movement to say something is bad or to create controversy, but to say everything is the same does not sell as much," Alonso said in India.

"I remain confident in this team," he insisted. "I have no doubt about their work and their determination to do a very good car for 2014."

Alonso also seemed to play down the likelihood of a shock switch to McLaren, saying Ferrari is one of the best-placed to take on dominant Red Bull.

"We have to congratulate Red Bull for what they have done," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"Some teams like McLaren and others cannot even reach the podium."

But as for his title rival Sebastian Vettel, who is on the cusp of a fourth consecutive drivers' title, Alonso said he is not in a position to judge the German's greatness.

"I cannot (judge), because I have not been close enough to him," said Alonso to a round of laughter from reporters.

Massa management denies Williams deal done
(GMM) A member of Felipe Massa's management team has denied as "fantasy" reports the Brazilian has penned a five-year Williams contract.

Alessandro Aluni Bravi, who according to O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper works with Massa's manager Nicolas Todt, denied the report that appeared on a Brazilian website on Thursday.

"Felipe has already expressed that racing with Williams in 2014 would be a good option," he said, "but still there is nothing certain.

"Firstly," Bravi added, "who signs a five year contract today in formula one?

"Sebastian renewed for two seasons, Lewis has a three-year commitment with Mercedes. But this (report about Massa) is information without origin and it could only (adversely) affect the negotiations."

Bravi continued: "Williams is just one of the scenarios for us. We have talked with Lotus, Force India and Sauber as well.

"But we have not got to the level of discussing the contract term and details of how our relationship with the team would be," he added.

However, the rumor goes that if Massa does arrive at Williams, his sponsor Petrobras would replace PDVSA, the Venezuelan oil company, as well as Pastor Maldonado.

Speaking in India, Maldonado did little to quell the speculation.

"If I decide to leave," he is quoted by Spain's EFE news agency, "someone has to come to the team and I would wish Felipe well, to continue (in F1).

"It is not yet decided, so let's see what happens in this final part of the season," Maldonado added.

Williams' deputy team boss Claire Williams, however, played down the Massa link.

"We are not in a position to announce our driver lineup, so I can't comment on these rumors," she told Brazil's Totalrace.

"It is pure speculation," added Williams, who did acknowledge Massa's skills, history and experience.

"Felipe has a great history in the sport," she said. "He is an experienced driver and Williams is always interested in talents such as Felipe.

"But at the moment we have two drivers under contract who are doing a great job for us," Williams added, also referring to Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas.

But she fanned the flames when she referred to Williams' own great history of working with Brazilian drivers, such as Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Rubens Barrichello.

"Historically, we've had some great Brazilian drivers and we always get on well with them," said Williams.

"I think it has to do with the passion that the two sides have for the sport — it makes a good fit."

Meanwhile, Williams played down a sporting corruption scandal in Venezuela that some say could affect Maldonado's sponsorship backing.

"We have a contract with PDVSA," she said, "and to our knowledge, this investigation has nothing to do with us."

Kaltenborn confirms meeting with Petrov
(GMM) Monisha Kaltenborn has admitted she recently met with Vitaly Petrov.

It emerged on Thursday that Russian Petrov, reportedly with EUR 30 million in Gazprom sponsorship in his pocket, could return to F1 next year in the place of Sauber's intended 2014 race driver Sergey Sirotkin.

Team boss Kaltenborn told the Russian website "We saw Vitaly in Sochi (for a F1 demonstration) in September and, as we know, we talked.

"No more than that," she insisted.

However, Sauber's rhetoric about Sirotkin appears to have changed. While recently the team was obviously pushing hard to ready the 18-year-old for his 2014 debut, Kaltenborn now sounds open to the idea of a change of plans.

"Of course, no one will put pressure on him if something does not add up," she said.

"But we still believe in Sergey, even if it is true that if our plans for him cannot be achieved, then there are other elements of the cooperation."

Asked if a more experienced driver could race in 2014 while Sirotkin learns the ropes in a reserve role, Kaltenborn answered: "We have thought about that, and we have a number of options associated with different drivers."

She insisted, however, that her talks with Petrov last month were not serious.

"We didn't talk about the extent to which he is available," Kaltenborn smiled. "I asked him what he's doing now, and Vitaly told me about his ascent of Mount Everest!"

Team founder Peter Sauber, meanwhile, sounded happy to simply keep Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez at the wheel in 2014.

"We are pleased with both drivers," he is quoted by Blick newspaper. "I would actually like to keep them."

Kvyat to get Friday outings in Austin, Brazil
(GMM) Toro Rosso will prepare Daniil Kvyat for his debut next year by giving him time at the wheel during forthcoming Friday practice sessions.

The first step for the teenage Russian, who is replacing the Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo, will be getting his mandatory super license credential.

"We plan to run him in a two-year-old formula one car very soon … so that he can complete enough mileage to qualify for the all-important document," Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso said in a report posted on its website.

After that, Kvyat will get the green light to practice on Friday morning in Austin and Brazil, the last two grands prix of the season, the Faenza based team added.

Some, however, think F1 is coming too soon for the GP3 driver.

"It (F1) will be a shock to him," McLaren driver Jenson Button is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

"He's used to working with 12 people, but now he'll be working with 700."

But Dr Helmut Marko thinks talk like that is hypocritical, especially as a team like McLaren has been talking up the prospects of its own development drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne.

"Sebastian was the first of our young drivers to do it (succeed), and now Daniel Ricciardo is coming as the second," he told Speed Week.

"That's another thing: Red Bull brings young talent into formula one while the others talk.

"They say there is no room for inexperienced drivers, but that's just an excuse. Daniel and Sebastian are two that have made it out of our junior team and we are very proud of it," he added.

However, O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper reports that the FIA could be set to toughen the criteria for obtaining a F1 super license, on the grounds of safety.

Alonso says he is driving better than he ever has
It’s been a regular question at the last few races, when Fernando Alonso meets the media; how does he keep himself motivated with the title out of reach. It was asked again today, as the Ferrari man held his usual press meeting, although much later than usual, as darkness had already settled on the Buddh International Circuit. “Motivation is still high and always there, even if it might have been a little bit higher if we were still fighting for the titles," he began. “Even when I am racing go-karts with my friends I give it a hundred percent, because I don’t like losing! So, you can imagine how high is the motivation in a Formula 1 Grand Prix. So for the rest of the year, I will be trying to score as many points as possible to help the team achieve its current goal of finishing second in the Constructors’ championship."

There have been suggestions that Vettel might just settle for enough points to be crowned champion on Sunday, but that’s not Fernando’s view. “If it was the last race, he could be more conservative, but with four races to go, it’s only a matter of time before he wins the championship and so I think he will try and win all four remaining races, which he has the potential to do. My plan is to do my race as best as I can and try to get some top three finishes to enjoy the podium ceremony, the trophy and the champagne. As for when Sebastian takes the title, it is up to him to decide which is the best country to celebrate in!" The Spaniard singled out Brazil as the track that might deliver the best result for the Prancing Horse in what’s left of 2013. “Ferrari has always gone well there," he said. “And the rain could also open a window of possibilities for our team. But it will be important to do our very best at all the races."

The Indian media have proved quick to learn about what is a new sport to them, but it’s clear they are disappointed that the race does not feature on next year’s calendar. “I like this circuit a lot, especially the second and third sectors with a lot of high speed corners," said Fernando went asked for his view of the track. “I think all the drivers like it here. As for the future, we will be happy to come back if it returns."

Despite the fact that the end of what has been a very tough season is approaching, Fernando hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Asked if he could see similarities between Vettel and Michael Schumacher he reckoned he couldn’t answer, “because to be honest, I never get close enough to Sebastian." Had affected his morale to see that another driver is about to get a fourth title? The Spaniard’s attitude was sanguine. “I am still only 32 and it’s not the last year of my career, so I am sure I will have other opportunities. Of course I would like to win more championships. I have finished second three times in recent years, which could be considered sad, when you are so close to winning, but I am extremely proud of what I am doing now. I feel I am in the best form of my life and driving the best races right now."

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