Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • F1 design genius Adrian Newey says the 2014 cars will be even uglier than the current cars

    Massa also sets October deadline for 2014 talks

  • Newey admits 2014 Red Bull 'ugly'
  • Raikkonen coy amid Mark Slade reports
  • Vettel fears eating nuclear fish in Japan
  • Toro Rosso drivers better than Sauber's – Tost
  • Pirelli clamps down amid illegal tire heating claims
  • Maria de Villota dies
  • De Villota died of natural causes
  • Bianchi: My elbow got caught New
  • F1 paddock pays respect to De Villota New
  • Alonso: We need to raise our game New

Massa sets deadline, but what if no one hires him?

Massa also sets October deadline for 2014 talks
(GMM) Felipe Massa says he has set the same deadline as Nico Hulkenberg as the Brazilian also looks to secure his future for 2014.

German Hulkenberg, believed to be the favorite for the vacant Lotus seat, said at Suzuka on Thursday that he wants the team's answer by the end of the month.

Massa, also in the running as he departs Ferrari, agreed: "It (the October deadline) is important not only for him but also me and any driver who is looking for a team.

"I think it will not take too long," he is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper in Japan.

Massa said he is in talks with "three" teams regarding 2014, and correspondent Livio Oricchio said they are Lotus, Force India and Williams.

Newey admits 2014 Red Bull 'ugly'
(GMM) Red Bull designer Adrian Newey has admitted his new car for 2014 is "ugly".

"The new Red Bull is ugly. Unfortunately," he is quoted by the German news agency SID.

Briton Newey, widely regarded as the best car designer in F1, is not at Suzuka this weekend as he focuses instead on the challenge of the radical 2014 rules.

He said he is working on the RB10 for "four of the five days" of the working week.

He said the reason for the 'ugly' 2014 car is because of the new aerodynamic rules, sending designers down the path of penning a "hook nose".

But the bigger concern for F1's technical boffins is the new powertrain rules, which Newey said are "more complex than ever before".

Agreed Alain Prost, Renault ambassador: "We have three engine manufacturers, and none of them are particularly optimistic.

"Reliability is the biggest challenge at the moment, to be honest," he added.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff, however, is excited.

"A month ago I was in Maranello and saw their engine factory and thought: 'German engineering ingenuity against Italian improvisation and French laissez-faire'."

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, however, is most concerned about the 'show'.

"Yes, it could be very frustrating to have to save fuel," said the Brazilian at Suzuka.

"I just hope it can be interesting to watch for the spectators and viewers and that it can also be interesting for the drivers," he added.

Raikkonen coy amid Mark Slade reports
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has answered "we'll see" to speculation he will have to work with a new race engineer in 2014.

Reports say Ferrari has decided against bringing engineer Mark Slade to Maranello next year, despite his successful relationship with Raikkonen over the past two years at Lotus.

Slade also worked with Raikkonen at McLaren, but Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport said Ferrari will instead promote an Italian from within the team.

"I have enjoyed working with Mark, but I enjoy working with Ferrari people too," Raikkonen, who was teamed with Chris Dyer when he won his title in 2007, said.

"It was important to be with Mark at Lotus, as he had already worked with the team and it made my life easier," the Finn told Turun Sanomat newspaper at Suzuka.

"We have had two good seasons but we'll see what happens next year," correspondent Heikki Kulta quoted Raikkonen as saying.

Vettel fears eating nuclear fish in Japan
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is leaving nothing to chance as he chases his fourth consecutive world championship this weekend at Suzuka.

Fearing contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster two years ago, Red Bull arranged for fish and meat to be delivered to Suzuka from Australia, the German newspaper Bild reports.

The report said Mercedes is also taking extra precautions in Japan this weekend.

"We are taking absolutely no risks," a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed reports he is yet to see his newly-born and unnamed daughter, after his wife Beverley gave birth to their first child in Britain just after the Korean grand prix last weekend.

Horner said he was "sad" he did not travel home after Korea, but had to attend business meetings in Tokyo ahead of the Japanese grand prix.

"The caesarean was actually planned for a week later, but she (Beverley) was in pain and the doctors had to do it earlier," the 39-year-old revealed.

"But at least everything went smoothly.

"I fly home on Monday and will finally get to see my daughter," added Horner.

Toro Rosso drivers better than Sauber's – Tost
(GMM) It is not getting widespread attention, but a big battle is brewing between Sauber and Toro Rosso.

Benefitting from the Pirelli tire construction switch, and having reverted to last year's exhaust solution, Sauber has caught Toro Rosso in the constructors' championship.

The pair are now level-pegging with 31 points apiece for seventh in the constructors' world championship, which is worth several million dollars more than eighth under the financial arrangement with Bernie Ecclestone.

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "Sauber should not celebrate too soon. We made too many mistakes in the last race."

He acknowledged, however, that Korea was also the scene of a standout drive for Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg, who Tost says is "an exceptional talent".

But Tost said Toro Rosso still has the edge.

"For driving skills, we are better positioned with Ricciardo and Vergne," he insisted. "Just because of (Sauber's Esteban) Gutierrez."

Another factor is that Sauber may be fully stretched in terms of its limited budget when it comes to further improving the 2013 car.

Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn admitted to Speed Week that the Hinwil based team is already "a little behind schedule" with the 2014 car, because of Sauber's recent financial troubles.

Pirelli clamps down amid illegal tire heating claims
(GMM) Pirelli has clamped down on enforcing the operating guidelines of its tires, amid rumors some teams were not playing along.

After the tire-exploding British grand prix this year, the FIA backed Pirelli's move to force teams to stay within certain operating guidelines.

The guidelines set strict limits on things like tire camber and pressures, but also pre-session tire heating, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The report said teams were not allowed to 'boost' temperatures in their respective heating systems beyond 110 degrees for one hour.

But a Force India team member is quoted as saying: "The heating systems are easily manipulated. If you boost more than allowed, you have an advantage."

Auto Motor und Sport said Pirelli has reacted by checking pre-running tire temperatures not only via the heating systems, but also with their own probes.

Maria de Villota dies
(GMM) Maria de Villota, who lost an eye after a near-fatal F1 testing crash last year, died early on Friday.

The 33-year-old Spaniard was found dead in a hotel room in Seville, where she was to give a lecture, Cadena Ser radio reported.

Marca sports newspaper said de Villota's family, led by former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, confirmed the death but did not yet know the cause.

"Dear friends, Maria is gone," the Spanish-language statement read.

Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso said after Friday practice in Japan: "I just took my helmet off and (manager) Luis (Garcia Abad) told me.

"I can only pray for her and all her family," Alonso is quoted by El Pais newspaper.

De Villota sustained serious head and facial injuries in July last year when the Marussia she was testing at Duxford, UK, inexplicably drove into the loading ramp of a truck.

De Villota died of natural causes
(GMM) It appears Maria de Villota died of natural causes.

The 33-year-old Spaniard, who sustained serious head injuries in a Marussia testing crash last year, was found dead in a Seville hotel room early on Friday.

She was in the Spanish city to give a presentation ahead of the launch of her autobiography, 'La vida es un regalo' (Life is a gift), and according to reports had appeared in perfect health on Monday.

Spanish motor racing president Carlos Gracia, who said de Villota had sent him an email at about midnight on Monday, told Marca newspaper: "All I know for now is that her personal assistant, Arancha, came into the room and could not wake her.

"She was already dead. Apparently it was a natural death, but we know nothing," he added.

Manuel Franco, the F1 correspondent for the sports newspaper AS, added: "There were no drugs found or any signs of violence, so she is likely to have died of natural causes."

Spanish television Antena 3, who said de Villota has suffered from migraines since recovering from the near-fatal 2012 crash, revealed there will be an autopsy.

The Marussia F1 Team would like to make the following statement in response to the very sad news of the death of Maria de Villota:

“It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria de Villota has passed away.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria’s family and friends at this very difficult time."

Bianchi: My elbow got caught
Jules Bianchi says his elbow "got stuck between the chassis and the seat" causing his crash in first practice in Japan.

The Marussia rookie went off at the second Degner after putting in just eight laps on Friday morning.

In the immediate aftermath Bianchi was seen looking at his elbow which later rested on a bag of ice.

And in fact the Frenchman says it wasn't a mistake so much as his elbow getting caught that resulted in his crash.

"My elbow got stuck between the chassis and the seat so when I had the oversteer moment, I could not turn right any more," he explained.

"I am okay now, I had some pain in the elbow, but now I'm fine."

Such was the damage to Bianchi's car, that the rookie was forced to sit out FP2 as his team were not able to repair it in time.

"It's a shame, but these things happen in racing," he told the BBC.

F1 paddock pays respect to De Villota
The Formula One teams paid tribute to Maria de Villota after news of her death swept the paddock in Japan.

On Friday morning, the former Marussia test driver's family informed the world that she had passed away.

The 33-year-old, who lost an eye in a freak testing accident last year, was found dead in a hotel room in Seville.

Marussia, her former team, released the following statement: "It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria de Villota has passed away.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria's family and friends at this very difficult time."

The team was joined in expressing their condolences by rival team bosses.

"We were extremely saddened to learn of the loss of Maria de Villota," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

"On behalf of everyone in the team, we send our sincere condolences to Maria's family at this difficult time."

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier stated: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Maria de Villota earlier today.

"On behalf of the whole team I would like to express our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Maria. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

Mercedes tweeted their message, saying "Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Maria de Villota following the tragic news of her passing today.

"Her courage, determination and hope were an example and inspiration to many. She will be sadly missed by our sport."

Meanwhile, the BBC spoke with Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn who said: "She had such a tragic experience, yet she had the courage to be out there, talk about it."

Ferrari also took to Twitter: "Tragic news of Maria de Villota passing away, our thoughts are with her family and friends! #Sad" Planet F1

Alonso: We need to raise our game
Fernando Alonso says he and Ferrari need to "raise the game" after struggling for raw performance throughout the opening day of practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Spaniard, whose title fight could expire on Sunday afternoon, wound up 10th on the overall Friday timesheets, with an uncharacteristic spin playing a part in him finishing behind McLaren driver Jenson Button and Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo.

"In terms of competitiveness, we are not in the position we wanted," Alonso explained to the gathered media at Suzuka. "So definitely we need to improve. We were not at a good level. Mercedes, Red Bull and Lotus in a way, are in front of us, and they should be in front. But we have people that are normally behind us and today they are in front.

"I had a mistake with a spin and things were not good enough. We need to raise the game for tomorrow and do a good lap in Q3 as it's important to start from the front."

Felipe Massa finished eighth fastest in the sister Ferrari, 0.389 seconds ahead.

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