Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

Ecclestone: Vettel is the best we have ever had


  • F1 to farewell India amid flood of bad press
  • Perez Hopes Indian F1 Grand Prix Will Make Comeback In The Future
  • Vettel even better than Senna – Ecclestone
  • Racing has never seen anyone like Sebastian Vettel
  • Kvyat better than da Costa, Sainz – Tost
  • Juncadella plays down Williams debut reports
  • Indian court to hear plea to axe weekend's race New
  • First DRS zone tweaked in India New
  • Ferrari: Car hasn’t matched Alonso's talent New

F1 to farewell India amid flood of bad press
(GMM) India looks set to bow out of formula one amid a flood of bad press, as it emerges McLaren mechanics have been armed with mosquito repellent to get them through this weekend's unloved grand prix.

Although provisionally scheduled to return in 2015, the country is falling off the F1 calendar for now after this weekend's race near New Delhi.

Autosprint correspondent Alberto Antonini introduced his coverage of the 2013 edition by referring to slums and local indifference, and reports of tax, customs and financial problems.

"We have missed an opportunity," Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, an Austrian who was born in Dehradun, is quoted as saying.

"We have not been able to sell F1 well enough in these parts," she admitted.

Antonini said the poor locals cannot afford to buy tickets, while the race is "a nightmare" for teams, weighed down by customs issues, chaotic traffic and fears of dengue fever.

McLaren is sponsored by Hilton, and so the mechanics are staying at the hotel that is plagued by disease-carrying mosquitoes, while the drivers and team boss Martin Whitmarsh are at the safer Jaypee Greens.

"The Hilton is really nice and the people are friendly and helpful," Jenson Button's manager Richard Goddard told the Daily Mail.

"But perhaps as the hotel is new, there has not been enough allowance made for the amount of mosquitoes in the area."

McLaren spokesman Matt Bishop said staff have been issued with "powerful mosquito repellent spray".

Sebastian Vettel will almost certainly wrap up his 2013 title in India, but his girlfriend and parents are staying away.

"India is a bit far away to visit for only one race," his father Norbert told the Kolner Express newspaper.

Bild newspaper said Vettel is taking all precautious to ensure his safety in India, refraining from putting ice in his drinks and eating local fruit and salads.

"To kill germs, he gargles with high-proof whiskey," the report revealed, adding that Mercedes' Nico Rosberg "dodged a cow" on a highway on Wednesday.

"Nothing unusual," the German driver Tweeted. Kaltenborn, however, thinks Rosberg has dodged his last farm animal.

She is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper: "I think that once a country leaves (the calendar) it is very difficult to come back again, especially when we have not been able to establish the sport here."

Perez Hopes Indian F1 Grand Prix Will Make Comeback In The Future
McLaren driver Sergio Perez on Wednesday said it is a "shame" that Indian Grand Prix "would not be part of the F1 calendar next year and hoped the event makes a return" in '15, according to the PTI.

Perez: "Hopefully, we return later on. The market is growing, when we come here every year, the interest is getting better."

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, in a reshuffle of the '14 calendar, "chucked out Indian GP which is expected to be part of the 2015 season in the first half"

IANS reported the customs and tax issues notwithstanding, the organizers of the Indian GP, Jaypee Sports Int'l, "have a five-year contract and the race is on the provisional 2015 calendar."

Whether the race "will return to India, is another question."

Perez: "India is a difficult place to get in, to get out, to get things and to get any updates during the weekend. It's got more to do with that kind of stuff than anything else. Otherwise we all enjoy coming to India. It is a great country and it is a place which we will miss next year. About 2015? Well you never really know in Formula 1"

Vettel even better than Senna – Ecclestone
(GMM) Gerhard Berger thinks Sebastian Vettel is the best driver on the grid today, while Bernie Ecclestone says the German might be F1's all-time great.

If Fernando Alonso fails to finish either first or second in India on Sunday, Red Bull's Vettel will be guaranteed his fourth consecutive drivers' title.

Bild newspaper said the 26-year-old will scoop a EUR 5 million title-winning bonus, while each Red Bull employee will go home with an extra EUR 12,500 in their regular pay.

Berger, who was the team boss at Toro Rosso when Vettel won his first ever grand prix in 2008, thinks the German is now the class of the field.

"I have always put Vettel behind Alonso," he told APA news agency, "but I think at the moment Alonso is focused too much on himself, becoming unstable.

"So while he is occupied with himself, Vettel gets one title after the next," added former Ferrari and McLaren driver Berger.

"I think Vettel is clearly the best driver in formula one now."

Michael Schumacher agrees that Alonso has done himself no favors recently.

"He put himself on a path of stones," the seven time world champion told Bild newspaper, without elaborating.

"Things have happened that were not constructive," the former Ferrari driver added, still referring to Alonso.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner would not disagree, saying the fate of Vettel's teammate Mark Webber over the past few years proves Vettel's class.

"Mark Webber is a very good driver," he is quoted by Spox.

"Before Vettel came into the team, his (Webber's) reputation was as a future champion. But this year in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel has beaten Mark 14 times and won nine times.

"If it was all about the car, we would be first and second in the drivers' championship, but we are not," Horner insisted.

"For me, he is now on par with Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher," Horner added.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone thinks Vettel is even better than that.

"People don't know how many titles Senna would have won," he told Bloomberg, "but Vettel is probably the best we've had."

Ecclestone admitted Vettel's dominance has hurt TV ratings slightly.

"People complain about him winning everything," he said, "but the racing is good.

"It's a bit like with Roger Federer or Muhammad Ali," he explained. "Vettel is the best there is and people want to be there when he gets beat."

Vettel, however, has not been a universally popular figure this year, but Schumacher thinks that is more Red Bull's fault than his.

"If you win with a traditional team, a brand full of emotion and history, that is the ultimate.

"And that would certainly change one or two things in his (Vettel's) situation," said the great German.

"Whether he would have had the same successes with Ferrari," Schumacher acknowledged, "is a different sheet of paper."

Racing has never seen anyone like Sebastian Vettel
How soon everyone forgets that it was Sebastian Vettel who took the lowly Toro Rosso to victory at Monza in 2008 in the wet in a very Aryton Senna-like performance, a win that cemented his drive for Red Bull.

Yet, for some reason, many seem determined to shower praise upon anyone and/or anything in finding an explanation for Vettel’s success since then, except Vettel himself.

And I suppose to what degree Vettel’s enormous run of success can be attributed to his supporting cast is open to debate. That said, a lot of people have enjoyed the luxury of the best car during their F1 career. Yet, there is no one with anything remotely close to Vettel’s accomplishments at such a young age.

Yes, if you take a moment to simply look at his results in the context of the sport’s history, it becomes clear that we are not witnessing simply the best driver of his era, maximizing superior equipment. Rather, we are potentially watching the beginnings of what may ultimately be the most prolific career, being engineered by the man who may go down as the greatest driver, in F1 history.

And while that may at first sound like a preposterous notion, keep in mind that Vettel has at the tender age of 26, already visited frontiers not previously explored; already carved out his own unique chapters of the Grand Prix record book.

Were Vettel to retire tomorrow, he would unquestionably be in the discussion with the greats of Grand Prix racing. Moreover, there is a mountain of overwhelming evidence suggesting Vettel’s best years may actually be ahead of him.

To begin, let’s take a brief look at what the three-time World Champion has already accomplished.

This past weekend, Vettel moved into sole possession of fourth-place on the career wins list with a sublime victory at the Singapore Grand Prix. Breaking a tie with second-place Singapore finisher Fernando Alonso on the career wins list, Vettel now trails only Ayrton Senna (41 wins), Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91) for career victories.

To be clear, Senna, Prost, Schumacher is the complete list of drivers with more victories than Vettel.

Also, Vettel will likely record his fourth World Championship in 2013, which would move him into a tie with the somewhat underappreciated Prost for third, behind Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Schumacher (7).

This is further evidence that, by the numbers, Vettel has already enjoyed a career of historic proportions. Only men named Schumacher, Fangio, and Prost lie ahead of him with regard to wins and/or championships. Vettel will likely soon join Prost.

You are watching the best there has ever been. Consider yourself lucky to be one who watched it all happen

But Vettel’s accomplishments become even more pronounced when you consider he turned 26 this past July 3rd. Prior to his 26th birthday, Vettel had recorded 29 of his 33 victories, and three world titles. And let the record show, there is no historical benchmark of any kind resembling a parallel to Vettel’s accomplishments at such a young age.

To illustrate this, let us briefly revisit the three men with more wins than Vettel — Schumacher, Prost and Senna. Prior to turning 26, Schumacher recorded 10 victories, Senna two, Prost none. Yes, the three men ahead of Vettel earned a combined twelve victories prior to turning 26, or stated another way: a combined 17 less than Vettel.

In fact, the only drivers who come closest to Vettel’s accomplishments prior to the age of 26, are two contemporaries, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Remember, we gooed and gushed, rightfully so, at the accomplishments of Alonso and Hamilton last decade. Alonso recorded 17 Grand Prix victories before the age of 26 and two world titles. Hamilton scored 13 wins and the 2008 World Championship before turning 26.

But again, Vettel combined for the same number of championships (3), and one more race win (30) before turning 26.

In short, when evaluating Vettel’s accomplishments by the metric of age, there is no parallel, with Alonso the only one even remotely close. Vettel didn't rewrite this chapter of the F1 record book, he is this chapter of the record book. More….

Kvyat better than da Costa, Sainz – Tost
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat secured the Toro Rosso seat for 2014 because his results were simply better than his opponents.

That is the claim of the Faenza based team's boss Franz Tost, despite earlier saying the 19-year-old Russian was too young and inexperienced to replace the Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo.

It has been claimed Kvyat, a GP3 and F3 driver, beat the older and more experienced Antonio Felix da Costa, and also Carlos Sainz Jr, to the seat because he is reported to be bringing some Russian rubles to the team.

And his drive has also been linked with the fact Russia's inaugural grand prix is taking place next year.

But when asked to explain why Kvyat got the seat, and not da Costa or Sainz, Tost told Speed Week: "The results.

"Kvyat impressed us with his strong performance in both the FIA European F3 championship and the GP3 series," he said.

"Da Costa did not show this consistency," Tost explained. "He (da Costa) finished third in the Renault 3.5 series.

"Kvyat," he continued, "is currently second overall in GP3, only seven points behind and fighting for the title with (Facu) Regalia.

"Sainz is ninth with 66 points," added Tost.

Juncadella plays down Williams debut reports
(GMM) Daniel Juncadella has played down reports that said he has a good chance of lining up on the grid for Williams next year.

The Spaniard is racing this year for Grove based Williams' 2014 engine supplier Mercedes in the German touring car series DTM.

And it was rumored that another link that could pay off for 22-year-old Juncadella, whose uncle is the former HRT boss Luis Perez Sala, is his sponsor deal with the Kazakhstan capital Astana.

TAK Group's Artur Ardavichus said in June: "Astana wants Dani to progress and gain experience with Williams, to prepare him to be a formula one driver with Mercedes."

But Juncadella has now told Speed Week that the Williams story was wide of the mark.

"No. A lot was written about Williams in the Spanish media," he said. "It was wrong.

"If I had EUR 20 million, I could drive in formula one, but that makes no sense to me.

"I want to drive in a championship where my talent and my results are important. That is the case in the DTM," said Juncadella.

"I also want to win races and titles. So while formula one is always the biggest target, in the near future I am only thinking about the DTM," he added.

Indian court to hear plea to axe weekend's race
(GMM) An Indian court will on Friday hear a petition to cancel this weekend's formula one race near New Delhi.

Indian reports say a supreme court judge agreed to hear the petition that was filed by a public interest campaigner called Amit Kumar, on the grounds that organizers have not paid enough tax.

"We will hear the petition tomorrow," the judge said.

Earlier this week, the Uttar Pradesh government was in the supreme court seeking the withdrawal of entertainment tax exemption for the beleaguered Indian grand prix organizers.

The exemption had been achieved for F1 by the former Uttar Pradesh government.

While it is unlikely Friday's court action will succeed, Indian motor racing official Vicky Chandhok admitted the 2013 race could be the country's last.

He told British broadcaster Sky that he is only 70 per cent sure the race will return to the calendar in 2015, after a one-year hiatus for reportedly "logistical" reasons.

"I am really disappointed about not having it 2014, but I hope to be in 2015 and 2016," said Chandhok. "But the price has to be right."

First DRS zone tweaked in India
The FIA has altered the DRS activation point into Turn 4 at the Buddh International Circuit, venue for this weekend's Indian Grand Prix.

Last season the activation point was 430 meters after Turn 3. However this year it will kick in at 350 meters. The detection point remains the same as in 2012, 16 meters before T3. The second DRS zone, onto the start-finish straight, meanwhile remains unchanged with the detection point 10 meters after Turn 15 and the activation point 36 meters after Turn 16.

Ferrari: Car hasn’t matched Alonso's talent
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has said the Scuderia is largely responsible for the failure to secure any titles since signing Fernando Alonso, and that the outfit hasn't given the two-time F1 world champion a car to match his talent.

Domenicali’s comments come ahead of this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit, and while Alonso still has a mathematical chance of beating Sebastian Vettel this season, with a 90-point deficit to overcome, and only four races left, it is not very likely, to say the least.

“If in the past four years we have come close to the title twice [in 2010 and in 2012], it is partly down to him. Unfortunately, we have not been capable of giving him a car that matches his talent. You [can] compare him to Vettel, but when you have a better car, everything is more straightforward," Domenicali said in an interview on the Scuderia’s official website.

Alonso has been rather vocal this season in his criticism of Ferrari and his comments after the Hungarian Grand Prix attracted the wrath of Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo.

Domenicali was also less than impressed: “If I have something to say to him, as would be the case with my engineers, I would do it behind closed doors and in a harsh manner. But externally, I will always defend the team.

“When he crossed the line, president Montezemolo intervened and in private, so did I," Domenicali added.

Asked why Red Bull have been so dominant, Domenicali replied: “Everyone is trying to work that out. But it’s pointless make accusations [about ‘strange engine mappings’] if there is no proof.

“The FIA can check the control unit, and if they find nothing then Red Bull is obviously doing a good job."

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