Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Bottas

    Ferrari still braced for Mercedes, Lotus battle

  • Bottas 'deserves' Williams seat in 2014 – Salo
  • No Hulkenberg news this week – manager
  • Valencia slams Catalunya over F1 alternation 'word'
  • Sauber: Exhaust changes key factor
  • Haug finds new job in disabled mobility company New
  • Marussia names Magnussen as potential Chilton successor New
  • Rosberg wants help to find stolen helmet New

Ferrari still braced for Mercedes, Lotus battle
(GMM) Ferrari's two chiefs have apparently clashed over the priorities heading into the final four races of 2013.

After Suzuka, where Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel moved his title campaign into check-mate, Stefano Domenicali said: "The 2013 (Ferrari) car will have some new parts, but the technical staff is 100 per cent focused on the new (2014) project."

In the lucrative constructors' world championship, Ferrari is a distant second behind Red Bull, but only 10 points ahead of Mercedes. Lotus is also within striking distance.

"Lotus have achieved a good pace in qualifying," team boss Domenicali is quoted by Russia's, "very close to ours, or even a little better.

"They control their tire wear very well, so if they qualify ahead it is very difficult to deal with them.

"Mercedes has an advantage in qualifying speed, so if they are fighting ahead with Lotus, then our task is very difficult," he also admitted.

Mercedes has already said it is determined to overhaul Ferrari, and Lotus is also bracing for the battle that is worth many millions in official prize money.

Lotus' Eric Boullier is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo as targeting the "very ambitious plan" that is achievable "if we can keep up this pace".

Former F1 driver turned television pundit Mika Salo agrees: "It is still quite possible that Lotus can take second place, because they can now rely not only on Kimi (Raikkonen) for big points, but also (Romain) Grosjean."

So Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari's indomitable president, declared this week: "I read about assumed bellyaching or about the team concentrating only on 2014.

"I don't even want to hear that kind of talk," he insisted. "There are still four races to go where we will field Ferraris that are fighting for the podium with maximum determination from the drivers and the whole team."

Indeed, Domenicali says Ferrari is still fighting to get the most out of 2013 — which is second place behind Red Bull.

"The fight with Mercedes and Lotus has intensified," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe. "It is very tight and we must ensure that we improve the car."

Bottas 'deserves' Williams seat in 2014 – Salo
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas "deserves" another season with Williams in 2014.

That is the view of former F1 driver Mika Salo, who also commented on fellow Finn Bottas' last-corner battle with teammate Pastor Maldonado at Suzuka.

Ultimately, rookie Bottas only lost sixteenth place to his experienced teammate, but he was sour.

"It was not fair," said the 24-year-old, who has not yet been confirmed by Williams for a second season beyond November's Brazil finale.

"Racing shouldn't be like that," added Bottas, continuing his criticism of Maldonado.

Salo, however, told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 that the last-chicane battle "shows what kind of people F1 drivers are".

"If you are far away from the front, being in front of your teammate is the only thing that means anything," he added.

Even though Bottas lost that battle, Salo said Bottas "has driven quite a good season and deserves a sequel".

"He has beaten his teammate pretty steadily, especially in qualifying but also in races.

"Bear in mind that Valtteri has been learning a lot of new things, while Maldonado was a race winner last year," added Salo.

No Hulkenberg news this week – manager
(GMM) News about Nico Hulkenberg's future is not imminent, his manager has revealed.

It has been reported Lotus' crucial Quantum investment deal is now imminently ready, and that an announcement about Hulkenberg joining Romain Grosjean at the Enstone based team in 2014 would shortly follow.

But German Hulkenberg's manager Werner Heinz said that sort of timeline, with the deal to be all done by the end of the week, is "unrealistic".

German reports quote Heinz as saying three or four teams are all interested in signing the 26-year-old for 2014, "but first they need to do their homework".

One of the teams interested in signing Hulkenberg is Sauber, for whom he already drives. If that deal is done, he would surely join hopeful rookie Sergey Sirotkin, who is a part of Sauber's Russian rescue deal.

But if Hulkenberg leaves Sauber, incumbent Esteban Gutierrez's hopes will increase dramatically.

The 2013 rookie, who is linked to Sauber's Mexican sponsors, has had an often difficult campaign this year, but he finally scored his maiden points last weekend at Suzuka.

"Looking at his times," said team boss Monisha Kaltenborn this week, "he (Gutierrez) was often very close to Nico.

"But, because the competition in the middle field is so tight, sometimes it was a couple of positions away, which, at a first glance, doesn't look good.

"However, he also did an outstanding job when, for example, giving feedback regarding the setup of the car, which took the team forward," she added.

Sauber's chief engineer Tom McCullough has also praised Gutierrez's recent improvement.

"We always knew he was fast," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe. "He is also very bright and hard-working, so I can see him with a bright future in F1."

Valencia slams Catalunya over F1 alternation 'word'
(GMM) Valencia president Alberto Fabra his hit out at his Catalunya counterpart for reneging on plans to alternate Spain's two grands prix.

Fabra, president of the Generalitat Valenciana, this week confirmed reports the Spanish port city will no longer host a formula one street race.

He said the Valencian government has higher priorities than F1.

"I cannot say to an essential supplier 'I cannot pay you because we have formula one'," Fabra told Valencian regional television.

He confirmed that he had successfully negotiated with Bernie Ecclestone so that Valencia is not liable for up to EUR 54 million in breach of contract penalties.

"The document is being finalized," said Fabra, "but I can announce that we will not pay any financial penalty.

"What we have agreed is that we will not use any equipment in other circuits," he added.

Indeed, a Spanish website has published a series of photographs depicting the ruinous current state of the F1 circuit.

The photos can be seen here.

Fabra said: "In meetings with Ecclestone I explained how difficult it is right now for us to cover the budget, but I left the door open for the future, if we have different economic conditions and with the collaboration of the private sector."

He also hit out at his Catalan counterpart Artur Mas, who initially agreed to alternate a single annual Spanish grand prix with Valencia.

"We had talks with (Catalunya president) Mas, but he changed his criteria. First he agreed, and then he did not," Fabra is quoted as saying.

"I regret the change of position, as administrations should be loyal to their word and commitments," he added.

Sauber: Exhaust changes key factor
Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn says revisions to the exhaust system on the team's C32 during the middle of the F1 season are the key factor behind the improvements seen in recent races.

The Swiss team had gone into the 2013 campaign hoping to build on an impressive season in 2012 but scored just seven points prior to the summer break.

Despite another no score when racing resumed at Spa, the team has since gone on to pick up 38 points in the last four races, with many putting the improvement down to the revised Pirelli tires that came in in Hungary and although she said they had helped, Kaltenborn said other factors had played a more important role in the team returning to form.

“After the concept of the side exhaust system was very successful last year, our engineers decided to go with a different concept for the C32, that in theory had even more potential," she said. “In practice, however, it looked different. We realized that in Melbourne where we brought an update to the car that didn't work as we expected it to. It then took some time for our engineers to understand the problem.

“The aero balance of the car was not stable, especially during braking and turning in. Apart from the measurable implications, the side effect was that the drivers had less confidence in the C32. In addition, we didn't have the resources to quickly modify the car. Instead, this process happened step by step.

“The largest update we brought was in Hungary, where we implemented a modified exhaust concept. We already saw a significant improvement back then, but, of course, it took some time until we were able to get the most out of that. In addition, our understanding of the car improved, which translated to a better set-up. Furthermore, we were able to maintain the high level of quality producing the parts back at the factory.

“The whole team, in the factory and at the track, did an outstanding job."

Kaltenborn added that the team never considered turning its focus solely towards 2014 at the expense of trying to resolve the issues it had faced with its current car.

“Giving up was never an option, because we wanted to make progress with the current car, in order to improve in the constructors' championship," she said. “In addition the insight we are getting now will help with the development of the new car."

Haug finds new job in disabled mobility company
(GMM) A few days ago, former Mercedes chief Norbert Haug said on German television he had "found a new challenge".

On Thursday, it became clear what it is.

The 60-year-old, who for two decades was Mercedes' motor sport vice-president until he was replaced by Toto Wolff, has joined Paravan Technology Group.

Paravan is a German company specializing in vehicle mobility for disabled people.

Haug will coordinate the "future strategic development" of the wheelchair company, it was announced.

Marussia names Magnussen as potential Chilton successor
(GMM) Marussia has named McLaren protege Kevin Magnussen as a potential race driver for 2014.

It is already known that the Ferrari-linked French rookie Jules Bianchi is staying with the team beyond this season.

But a few days ago, his 2013 teammate Max Chilton admitted his own future is not yet secure.

"I feel I'm showing I deserve a seat for next year," the Briton, who brings substantial backing to Marussia, is quoted by the Independent newspaper.

"I admit, at times, I haven't got things right, like at Silverstone and Germany, but on the whole it has been pretty good, and since the August break especially I couldn't have done much more," Chilton insisted.

Nonetheless, Marussia has admitted it is on the market.

Likely 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Magnussen, the son of ex-F1 driver and Dane Jan Magnussen, is a protege of the McLaren team.

McLaren, who it is believed has offered to forgive Force India's reported EUR 8 million debt in exchange for a 2014 seat for Magnussen, also has a technical partnership in place with Marussia.

"Certainly Kevin has impressed in the tests he has done, and as a team that has brought young drivers into formula one, he is in the frame," Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon is quoted by Sky.

But Lowdon said Chilton is also in the frame, and that Marussia is in "no rush" to make its decision.

Over at Force India, reports have emerged that Adrian Sutil expects to keep his seat beyond 2013.

Paul di Resta's future is far less secure. His manager Richard Goddard on Thursday admitted the Scot is at risk of being pushed out by a pay-driver.

"Force India have always been very fair in that they have tended to put outright talent in the car, and they haven't looked to a driver to bring in income, which is great," he told Press Association.

"That's because they are well funded by a couple of individuals and corporations who are able to do that, and hopefully they will carry on doing that."

Goddard, who also manages Jenson Button, admitted 27-year-old di Resta's situation has not been helped by his recent run of poor form.

"It's difficult to determine," he said, "because this last half of the season he has been adversely affected by the tires.

"He hasn't produced the results he would want to produce, but overall it is the team under-delivering on what it should have delivered."

Rosberg wants help to find stolen helmet
(GMM) Nico Rosberg on Thursday urged his fans to keep an eye out for a stolen race helmet.

The German said his distinctive yellow F1 helmet was stolen at 2am in the hours before his home grand prix at the Nurburgring in July.

Rosberg, who published a photo of the theft taken from the FIA's security camera in parc ferme, said the helmet was stolen from Mercedes' "security-guarded garage".

Rosberg also gave details of the helmet's unique registration and FIA labels.

"Let us know if any of you see (the helmet) on eBay or somewhere else," he wrote on his personal website.

Schuberth's F1 helmets are worth thousands of euros.

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