- After Villota, F1 mourns another death
- Brawn is Mercedes 'number 1' – Lauda
- Lotus to have Hulkenberg and budget boost for 2014
- Small crowd expected for Vettel crowning
- Ferrari's Alonso era only beginning – Domenicali
- Di Montezemolo not giving up on 2013 New
- 'I s*** myself when I first tested an F1 car' – Sebastian Vettel New
After Villota, F1 mourns another death
(GMM) Following the sad news about Maria de Villota, the F1 world is mourning yet another death.
"Always enjoyed watching him drive at the F1 weekends," Mark Webber rued on Twitter, referring to Sean Edwards.
26-year-old Edwards, who was leading this year's edition of the F1 support series Porsche Supercup, was killed on Tuesday at a circuit in Queensland.
He was in Australia on driver coaching duties, and was in the passenger seat when the Porsche GT3 hit the wall at 210kph and burst into flames.
Edwards, who was killed instantly, had recently appeared in the new F1 feature film Rush, playing his father Guy who was one of the brave drivers who pulled Niki Lauda from his burning Ferrari in 1976.
"Sad period in the racing world due to the loss of Maria de Villota and Sean Edwards, who I went to school with," said Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg on Twitter.
Brawn is Mercedes 'number 1' – Lauda
(GMM) After Ross Brawn's clear quit threat, Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda says the 58-year-old Briton is still "number 1" at Brackley.
Amid rumors Brawn could leave the team and possibly join McLaren engine supplier Honda for 2015, he said at Suzuka he wants an assurance about his top job at Mercedes.
"We need to make sure if I'm to remain here that I'm the reference," he told the Sky broadcaster.
So with Paddy Lowe reportedly poised to take over the top job, Lauda made clear Mercedes actually wants Brawn to stay.
"We have had some small problems in the team in the past but everything is sorted now," the great Austrian is quoted by the Mirror.
"It's all agreed between him and Paddy and everyone else. He's number 1.
"I have tried to persuade him to stay," Lauda added. "It's down to him now. I'd say it's 50-50."
Lotus to have Hulkenberg and budget boost for 2014
(GMM) A Lotus contract with Nico Hulkenberg's name on it will be signed at Enstone "either today or tomorrow", the German newspaper Bild reports.
It was said that the team was poised to sign the 26-year-old German as soon as the deal with Quantum – formerly Infinity, a group of private investors who plan to buy 35 per cent of Lotus – is done.
If not, it could have opened the door to Pastor Maldonado.
Maldonado's lucrative sponsor PDVSA is locked in a contract with Williams, but O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio said the Venezuelan is desperate to move from uncompetitive Williams.
But Bild reports that Lotus' Quantum deal is finally now being formalized, which should boost the team's budget beyond EUR 200 million for 2014.
Small crowd expected for Vettel crowning
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel looks set to celebrate his fourth consecutive title win next weekend in front of a muted Indian crowd.
Race organizers Jaypee, who will not host a grand prix in 2014, have admitted that only 20,000 tickets have been sold so far for this year's edition, where Vettel only needs a fifth place to wrap up his latest title.
"The excitement surrounding the event is less compared to past editions but we are confident of having the turnout of 2012," said Jaypee chief Sameer Gaur.
"The latest number I have is that 20,000 tickets have been sold," he admitted, adding that he expects sales to pick up considerably in coming days.
Vettel and Red Bull might be forgiven for being disappointed they did not wrap up the title last weekend in Japan, where a huge and passionate crowd always gathers.
"How disappointed are we with a one-two finish in one of the best races strategically ever for this operation?" exasperated team boss Christian Horner said at Suzuka.
"We'll go to India and take that weekend as we have here and if we score more points than the others then we'll win the championship," he added.
Mere days after India, formula one will head to Abu Dhabi for the spectacular and hugely popular twilight race.
In total contrast to India, organizers of the Yas Marina event are expecting a sellout as usual, with less than 2,500 tickets still available.
"We're expecting more fans than ever before," said circuit boss Richard Cregan.
Ferrari's Alonso era only beginning – Domenicali
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali insists Ferrari's Fernando Alonso era is just beginning.
Actually, judging by the Spaniard's comments over the last six months, and rumors linking him with a switch to Red Bull or McLaren, one gets the impression Alonso is running out of patience after four consecutive years of failing to win the title in red.
"We are very Latin, very impatient," team boss Domenicali smiled to the Spanish sports daily AS.
"But I was at Ferrari in 1993. And before. But with Michael Schumacher we finally won in 2000 — and he had come in 1996."
According to Domenicali's comparison with the ultra-successful Schumacher era, then, Alonso is due a title in 2014.
"Yes, 100 per cent," said the Italian. "We will fight for the title next year."
But that has actually been a familiar refrain ever since Alonso joined, in 2010.
Domenicali, however, insists Alonso's years in red have not been barren.
"You need to see the results from another angle," he said. "Another perspective. The story of Fernando with Ferrari so far has been a tale of two championships lost in the last race.
"If we had won at least one of those two, the story would be extraordinary, fantastic. So it takes a bit of rationality.
"The Italian and Spanish have rationality between zero and zero-point-five," Domenicali smiled again.
"I understand that the best driver, a driver who is a double world champion, always wants the opportunity to prove himself in a more competitive car."
Ferrari has Alonso under contract for several more seasons, but there have been rumors hinting at the Maranello team's interest in Sebastian Vettel, who is similarly committed in the medium term to Red Bull.
Domenicali, however, said he thinks Alonso is better than Vettel.
"He (Vettel) is a great driver, there's no doubt," he said. "He has grown tremendously over the years — just look at his teammate (Mark Webber).
"But as I have said, with all due respect, he has been able to fully exploit a car that was faster than ours, and that means a lot," added Domenicali.
So, notwithstanding all the recent rumors, he insists Ferrari is planning ahead with Alonso.
"Ferrari and Fernando have to stick together; it is a challenge we have together," said Domenicali.
"He has always said the same, so I don't know where these reports that suggest otherwise come from.
"It's normal that other teams want him, but Alonso has said what he said, and so to think otherwise is not to give credibility to what Alonso says.
"What we say is 'We want to win with Fernando' and we have a contract for three more years. What more can we say?" he added.
In fact, Domenicali said he hopes Alonso stays even longer than his current tenure.
"I hope so, it would be nice," he said. "Fernando has said it too."
Di Montezemolo not giving up on 2013
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has delivered another motivational message to his workforce prior to the final four races of the Formula 1 season, claiming that he wants to see "maximum determination" from all areas of the outfit.
Although primary focus is switching to next year's rule changes, when V8 engines will be replaced by 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 units, di Montezemolo has refused to give up on a campaign that can still yield the runner-up spot in the Constructors' standings.
And with neither of his two drivers finishing on the podium at the recent Japanese and Korean Grands Prix, the 66-year-old has set his sights on collecting more silverware.
"I read about assumed bellyaching or about the team concentrating only on 2014," explained di Montezemolo, who was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 'Ferrari Sporting Spirit' exhibition, held at the Ferrari Museum. "I don't even want to hear that kind of talk: 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."
Di Montezemolo added: "As for next season, there will be time enough to talk about it, and in fact I am pleased to see that the group dedicated to that task is working very hard with maximum concentration. Everyone is well aware what they must do."
Ferrari sits 10 points clear of Mercedes in the battle for second place. Lotus, closing rapidly after podium appearances at the last three races, is 23 points further back.
'I s*** myself when I first tested an F1 car' – Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel has admitted he was not sure if he was up to the job of being a Formula One driver when he first tested a Williams in 2005.
Vettel's debut in an F1 car came at a test in Jerez in September 2005, when he shared some seat time with Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg in a Williams-BMW FW27. Just 18 years old at the time, he only completed 25 laps and was over three seconds off Webber's benchmark time. Now close to his fourth world title, he admitted the step up from Formula 3 was daunting at the time.
"The first time I tested the car, Mark drove in the morning and I drove in the afternoon," he said. "I shat myself for the first couple of laps and I thought, alright, that's for real men, not for me. Then I got used to it and obviously wanted to do more."
Since then Vettel has racked up 35 wins and is now closing on his fourth consecutive world championship. Nevertheless, he still gets nervous on race day mornings.
"Nothing has changed in the way that I still love racing, I love the challenge, I'm still nervous when I wake up on Sunday, still excited when I walk on the grid and tense, looking forward to the race," he added.
"I think it would be a shame if you were too tense and if you tried to force things too much. I think you have to allow yourself to enjoy it because this is not normal, it doesn't happen to everyone. I think I'm very fortunate that I'm one of these 22/24 guys in Formula One."
Vettel needs to finish fifth or higher at next week's Indian Grand Prix to secure the title.