Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (2nd Update)

UPDATE #2 2nd Update shown in red below.

10/10/13 Updates shown in red below.


  • If Marussia want to do their own engines, it's ride-buying drivers will have to bring really big checks

    Marussia wants own F1 engines by 2016

  • Bahrain could host F1 night testing – report
  • Brawn exit reports 'surprising' – Wolff
  • Absent Newey would miss Vettel's title win in Japan
  • Hulkenberg wants Lotus 'certainty' this month
  • Honda: Wins the target from very first year
  • Raikkonen engineer Slade not moving to Ferrari
  • New chassis for Webber after Korea fire
  • Pirelli and McLaren to test near Rome – report
  • Vettel denies dominance like Schumacher era
  • Single DRS zone for Japanese GP
  • Honda chief unsure of 2015 McLaren line-up
  • Rest of career will show if Vettel great – Alonso New
  • Lotus waiting until it 'can afford' Hulkenberg New
  • Mercedes drivers want Brawn to stay New
  • Pirelli explosion 'unacceptable' – Perez New
  • Brawn not joining McLaren in 2014 – Button New
  • Ecclestone 'very happy' with 2020 Brazil GP deal New

Marussia wants own F1 engines by 2016
(GMM) Marussia owner Nikolai Fomenko wants his F1 team to be powered by its own engines.

As current engine supplier Cosworth departs, the team announced in July it has agreed a 'long-term' deal to be powered by Ferrari's new turbo V6 from 2014.

But, citing the Russian edition of Autosport, the Russian news agency Ria Novosti quotes Fomenko as saying: "If we survive to the 2016 season, then I hope Marussia will have its own engines.

"We're moving towards that. It's our main aim," he added.

Marussia, a Russian supercar maker led by Fomenko, bought the F1 team from Virgin ahead of last season.

Bahrain could host F1 night testing – report
(GMM) Some winter testing in Bahrain ahead of the 2014 season could take place at night, Italy's Autosprint reports.

It was already known that the Sakhir circuit will host back-to-back tests between mid February and March ahead of next year's all-new V6-powered championship.

Martin Whitmarsh, boss of the partly Bahrain-owned McLaren team, revealed recently that organizers of the race have installed floodlights at the track, so that the tenth anniversary of the grand prix can be held at night.

"The difference in air density between day and night would give the teams verification of the aerodynamic data (during winter testing)," correspondent Cesare Maria Mannucci said on Thursday.

It has also emerged that Mark Webber's first taste of his new life away from formula one will be in Bahrain.

Spain's Diario Sport newspaper said the Australian will test Porsche's new Le Mans prototype at Sakhir in January, after his Red Bull contract expires.

Brawn exit reports 'surprising' – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has described as "surprising" reports team boss Ross Brawn has decided to leave Mercedes.

The reports said Brawn told chairman Niki Lauda of his decision in Korea last weekend, but both men have denied the news.

Wolff, who is Mercedes' motor sport director, told German-language Spox: "We are all involved.

"Ross Brawn has some ideas for his future, as we as a team want to develop together with him. We are in constant discussions.

"But there was no news in recent days — not even internally. So it is somewhat surprising that something is coming out now," he insisted.

Wolff denied the suggestion that the real story is that Brawn is pushing to exit because his successor Paddy Lowe is already looming.

Mercedes, on the other hand, is insisting Brawn respect his contract.

"No, not at all," said Wolff. "There is no question of observing contracts or that Ross Brawn wants to change.

"There is a common discourse, all in the best interests of the team and the people involved," he added.

Nonetheless, the rumors continue. Spain's sports newspaper AS said Brawn moving to Honda could be Fernando Alonso's trigger to finally accept McLaren's recent flirtations.

New Honda motor racing chief Yasuhisa Arai told British broadcaster Sky this week the Japanese carmaker wants "good drivers, (a) good team and good organization" ready for its 2015 return.

"Those things have to be ready, have to be right, in order to have a good start," he added.

Absent Newey would miss Vettel's title win in Japan
(GMM) Adrian Newey will not be trackside on Sunday if Sebastian Vettel wraps up his fourth consecutive world championship at Suzuka.

Germany's Bild newspaper reports that Red Bull's famous car designer has decided to stay at the team's Milton-Keynes factory rather than travel to Japan.

Briton Newey is usually a fixture on the pitwall, but Bild correspondent Nicola Pohl says he has decided focusing on the all-new 2014 car is a higher priority.

"It is always important for Newey to be at the track for Seb," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko commented, "simply because he has expertise in all areas and can help in many ways.

"But of course he is where he is most needed, and in view of next season, at the moment that is at the factory in England," he confirmed.

At least Vettel will have his team boss Christian Horner on hand for any Japanese celebrations, even though his wife Beverley has reportedly given birth to their first child – a daughter – back in Britain.

Vettel will be crowned champion on Sunday if he wins, and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finishes lower than eighth.

"Sebastian has the championship firmly in his hands," the Spaniard admitted to the German broadcaster RTL.

"He has been clearly above all the others, he does a good job and his car is excellent," added Alonso.

He warned, however, that with a better Ferrari on track in 2014, Vettel will have a tougher fight on his hands.

"In recent years I have developed my driving skills and become more mature and complete," said Alonso.

Ross Brawn, Mercedes team boss, said all of Red Bull's rivals have a golden opportunity to give F1 a different world champion in 2014.

"Next season will not start like this one is going to end," he told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper. "Or at least it's very unlikely."

Hulkenberg wants Lotus 'certainty' this month
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg on Thursday denied setting Lotus a rigid deadline as he lines up his plans for 2014.

The German is currently the hottest property on the driver market, with McLaren, Force India and Sauber all also reportedly in the mix.

A specialist publication this week reported that Hulkenberg has set Lotus an end-of-October deadline for the Enstone based team's definitive answer.

"I've not set a deadline, that was a misunderstanding and someone didn't lay it out correctly," Hulkenberg told reporters at Suzuka.

"But what I have said is that I would like clarification or certainty by the end of October," he added.

Hulkenberg also denied any teams have said his height or weight are playing a part in their deliberations about 2014.

Honda: Wins the target from very first year
Honda will be gunning for wins from the very start when it reunites with McLaren in 2015, motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai has said.

Honda announced it would return as an engine manufacturer earlier this year, and speaking ahead of this weekend’s race in Japan, Arai told Sky Sports F1 that the company is ‘committed fully’ to its latest foray at the pinnacle of the sport.

“We decided to participate again from 2015, that's means we are committed fully to get wins. That is the very target from the very first year," he confirmed.

Meanwhile Arai added while no thought has yet be given to drivers, not exactly unsurprising at this stage, it would be important to have the best two possible.

"Of course in the 1980s we had a splendid time with McLaren with [Ayrton] Senna and [Alain] Prost as very good drivers. It was a wonderful time," he continued.

“However, at the moment we are completely undecided of anything about drivers and what we should do now is to have good drivers, [a] good team and good organization. Those things have to be ready, has to be right, in order to have a good start [in 2015]," he concluded.

Raikkonen engineer Slade not moving to Ferrari
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's race engineer Mark Slade will not follow him from Lotus to Ferrari, it has emerged.

The Finn worked with Slade initially at McLaren, and the pair reunited when Raikkonen returned to F1 with Lotus last year.

But a report in Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday said Ferrari has "no intention" of hiring Slade.

With Felipe Massa's engineer Rob Smedley believed to be heading to Williams, the report said Ferrari will promote from within as it prepares to welcome Raikkonen.

Raikkonen's former Ferrari engineer, Andrea Stella, now works with Fernando Alonso.

Spaniard Alonso said on Thursday he does not expect Raikkonen to be quicker than the departing Massa in 2014.

"If we have a competitive car we will enjoy the season and we will do very good things," he said.

"If we don't have a competitive car it will be very similar to this season I think," added Alonso.

New chassis for Webber after Korea fire
(GMM) Mark Webber will be using a new Red Bull chassis in Japan this weekend, after his crash and subsequent fire days ago in Korea.

Ahead of his fifth-to-last grand prix before switching to Le Mans for 2014, Australian Webber said the fire in Korea did not faze him.

"We're used to bushfires in Australia. No problem," he smiled to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Some had even suggested Webber seemed particularly uninterested in getting the marshals to quickly put the flames out.

"I pressed for the extinguisher in the car, but it didn't work," he said. "The marshals could speak no English, so what could I do?

"I couldn't blow it out," added Webber.

Auto Motor und Sport said Webber will have a replacement chassis for Suzuka.

"The chassis was more damaged by the impact with Sutil than the fire itself," he said, revealing that the engine and gearbox survived the incident.

Pirelli and McLaren to test near Rome – report
(GMM) Pirelli has decided to test tires for the 2014 season at Vallelunga, near Rome.

After some teams vetoed the tire supplier's plans to head to Austin with McLaren and one of the British team's 2011 cars, we reported that Aragon, Spain, had been earmarked as a likely alternative venue.

But Auto Motor und Sport on Thursday said Pirelli has in fact decided on Vallelunga, and has invited other teams to attend as well.

A new date has also been decided — 11 and 12 November, between the Abu Dhabi and US grands prix.

It is believed McLaren will field test driver Oliver Turvey and young hotshoe Kevin Magnussen, who is in the running for a Force India race seat.

McLaren still has a collaboration deal in place with Force India, raising the prospect of Magnussen being used as 'leverage' for a 2014 deal.

"They (Force India) want to extend (the collaboration), but we haven't agreed to that," team boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by The National.

"But at the same time, I don't want leverage. One way or another we will find a way."

Vettel denies dominance like Schumacher era
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has denied claims his recent dominance can be compared to the height of the Michael Schumacher era.

Lewis Hamilton said after Korea that the Red Bull driver's dominance reminds him of watching grands prix as a boy and falling asleep.

Vettel on Thursday said he didn't take the comments comparing his dominance with Schumacher's as a lack of respect.

"It's a compliment," he said at Suzuka when told about the comparison. "But I think it's very different.

"If you take Korea, which is more similar to Spa for example, the gap was something between three and six seconds for the whole race and if you look ten years ago it was more like 30 to 60 seconds," added Vettel.

Single DRS zone for Japanese GP
The Japanese Grand Prix will again feature a sole DRS zone along the start/finish straight, although it has been extended slightly in a bid to increase its overall effect.

The activation area, following a detection point ahead of the final Turn 16/17 chicane, will cover the majority of the main straight, beginning 100 meters before the finish line.

Monaco is the only other Grand Prix to have featured a single DRS area this season.

Honda chief unsure of 2015 McLaren line-up
Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai says the firm are "completely undecided" who will drive for McLaren when they team up in 2015.

It was confirmed in May that the McLaren-Honda partnership, which brought about plenty of success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, will be revived for the season after next in F1.

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez are the current McLaren drivers but, beyond 2014, it looks uncertain who will be in the new Honda-powered car.

Arai admits, at this stage, plans are yet to be finalized but he says Honda aim to be competing at the top of the standings from the start upon their return to the sport.

He told Sky Sports: "At the moment we are completely undecided of anything about drivers and what we should do now is to have good drivers, [a] good team and good organization.

"Those things have to be ready, has to be right, in order to have a good start.

"We decided to participate again from 2015, that's means we are committed fully to get wins. That is the very target from the very first year."

Honda have been linked with a move to employ current Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn but that has so far been denied by both Honda and Mercedes.

Rest of career will show if Vettel great – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Thursday added his slight to the debate about Sebastian Vettel's greatness.

After Lewis Hamilton's comments last week indicated a lack of respect for the soon-to-be four-time world champion, the 2008 world champion wrote on Twitter that Vettel is great "regardless of what you and I may think about his car".

Speaking at Suzuka, Alonso also gave mixed messages about what he really thinks about the dominant Red Bull driver's success.

"He's a fantastic driver and has a fantastic car," said the Ferrari driver.

"It's true he has an advantage in car performance for this year so we'll see how good he is later in his career," added Alonso.

Alonso also hinted that Vettel's superiority this year could have been enhanced by the performance of the driver at the wheel of the other Red Bull.

Alonso, who is close friends with Mark Webber, said of the Australian: "He's lost some of his motivation.

"He's no longer enjoying himself so he decided to retire," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Lotus waiting until it 'can afford' Hulkenberg
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg is at the front of queue for 2014 so long as Lotus "can afford him", team boss Eric Boullier admitted on Thursday.

Frenchman Boullier said Felipe Massa also has not been ruled out as departing Kimi Raikkonen's successor, but Lotus is waiting on pending deals with investors as well as Renault.

Raikkonen caused a stir recently when he revealed he decided to switch to Ferrari next year only because he has been left waiting for his pay.

The main holdup, it seems, is the conclusion of a deal between Lotus and a group of investors known as Infinity.

"I think we are nearly there," Boullier said at Suzuka. "Once we have done this we can afford to pick the driver we want.

"It could be tomorrow, it could be next week, but I will not bring Nico here if we see we cannot afford him," he added.

Boullier admitted, however, that some staff at Enstone – although all have been paid – have become "nervous" about the situation and begun to circulate their CVs in the paddock.

But he says they shouldn't be nervous, because an even closer relationship with engine supplier Renault beyond 2013 is in the works.

"We would like to discuss a branding opportunity with them and maybe something even closer," said Boullier.

Mercedes drivers want Brawn to stay
(GMM) Mercedes' F1 drivers on Thursday threw their weight behind Ross Brawn, amid rumors their boss is considering stepping down or even switching teams.

"He's a great boss," Lewis Hamilton said at Suzuka, after it emerged Brawn is in talks with team chairman Niki Lauda about the 58-year-old Briton's future.

Brawn is being linked with former employer Honda's 2015 foray with McLaren, although he has denied he has made any decisions yet.

"I don't know what his plans are for the future," Hamilton told reporters, "but I'd like him to stay."

The 2008 world champion said his talks with Brawn were central to his decision to leave McLaren at the end of last year.

"We had some really good conversations when we sat together before I made my decision," said Hamilton.

"He took me through where the team was going and was very influential in bringing me to the team."

Nico Rosberg also said he wants Brawn to stay, even if he expressed "confidence" in Mercedes' ongoing leadership "whatever his decision is".

But "It would be great if he stays because I get on well with him and I think he's a great team principal," said the German.

Pirelli explosion 'unacceptable' – Perez
(GMM) Sergio Perez has stepped up his attack on F1 tire supplier Pirelli, after his "explosion" in Korea a few days ago.

Pirelli had played down the Mexican's failure, saying it was simply caused by Perez badly locking the brakes on his McLaren.

"That something happens after a brake lockup is absolutely unacceptable," Perez is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

He said he doubts Pirelli's official explanation.

"I've never heard of a brake (lockup) automatically leading to an explosion of tires," said Perez.

"For me it was not normal: it's unacceptable that the tire explodes."

Perez's attack follows those of Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, towards the end of a tumultuous season for F1's official tire supplier.

"I knew that there were cars behind me and I just prayed that the rubber pieces do not hit them," Perez continued.

He revealed: "We could see that the tire temperatures were going up, which is why I braked five meters earlier and with less pressure on the pedal.

"I was surprised when the brakes locked. I came around the corner and the tire exploded on the straight," added Perez.

Brawn not joining McLaren in 2014 – Button
(GMM) Jenson Button on Thursday said Ross Brawn is "for sure" not joining McLaren in 2014.

Amid reports Brawn has decided to step down at Mercedes, there has been speculation linking Button's former Honda boss with McLaren.

So with McLaren linking up with the returning Honda for 2015, Button at Suzuka handballed the question to his boss Martin Whitmarsh.

However, 2009 'Brawn GP' champion Button did say: "One thing is for sure — Ross Brawn will not join the team next season," he told F1's official website.

That leaves the door neatly open for 2015. Button, 33, said he could also be Honda-powered again the season after next.

"There's a chance, yes," Button told reporters on Thursday. "There's definitely a chance.

"I think it's very special for Japan to have a manufacturer in the sport, but obviously that's not for another year and a half.

"We've got a long time before that and hopefully a very good year next year with Mercedes-Benz," he added.

Ecclestone 'very happy' with 2020 Brazil GP deal
(GMM) Brazil will continue to host a grand prix every year at Interlagos until at least 2020.

In July, we reported that Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad had "guaranteed" to Bernie Ecclestone that the ageing venue will be upgraded.

A tender for an all-new three-storey pit and paddock complex, and revisions to the layout, was then launched.

Now, Brazil's Globo reports that Haddad has signed a new contract with F1 chief executive Ecclestone that guarantees the Brazilian grand prix until 2020.

The report said the deal was signed on Wednesday in Sao Paulo, with the circuit upgrade to be in place by 2015.

"I am very happy that the mayor agreed to the investments that we asked for many years ago," Ecclestone confirmed.

"If this had not happened, for sure we would have considered not having the race here. We are very happy now," he added.

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