Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Heavy drivers push for F1 rule change
  • Toro Rosso an option for Massa – Ecclestone
  • Lauda not convinced amid Red Bull cheat rumors
  • Team switch would stop Vettel booing – Surer
  • Typhoon threat eases in Korea
  • Bahrain to be 'twilight' race in 2014 – Whitmarsh
  • Sauber closing on 2014 Ferrari engine deal

Heavy drivers push for F1 rule change
(GMM) F1's heavier drivers are pushing hard for an increase in the mandatory minimum weight of the cars next year.

It emerged recently that tall Nico Hulkenberg may have dropped out of contention for a McLaren seat in 2014 because he weighs in at a hefty 74kg.

When asked about that rumor on Thursday, Christian Horner insisted the German was never in contention for a Red Bull seat in 2014, but if he was, his weight would have been a problem.

That is because, with F1's radical new powertrain rules next year, the cars are set to get much heavier in 2014, putting a premium on the smaller, lighter drivers.

The tall and thin Jenson Button, who revealed he "fasts" before a race weekend, said that if the sport doesn't change the rules, a "very talented driver could be missed for his height and weight".

"If he is over the weight by five kilos that is two tenths a lap and it is the end of your career," he told reporters in Korea.

"It needs to change now. To be fair, we (drivers) should have pushed harder."

It is reported the drivers will raise the issue at forthcoming Grand Prix Drivers' Association meetings and pre-race briefings.

But a change for 2014 is now almost impossible, given the need for full unanimity up and down the pitlane.

For Hulkenberg, however, the issue could be urgent, as he looks to move on from Sauber and secure a more competitive seat.

He told Speed Week he would even consider forgoing a salary next year if it means he can push his career up the grid.

"It would depend on the whole deal," said Hulkenberg. "With my personal sponsors, maybe I could afford it."

Another tall and therefore heavy driver, however, warned that the issue of driver weight might be overblown.

Adrian Sutil said: "We are not starving. When I looked at some of my colleagues at dinner – and I don't want to name names – you can see that one or two even has a little belly."

Toro Rosso an option for Massa – Ecclestone
(GMM) Toro Rosso could even be an option for Felipe Massa in 2014.

That is the claim of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who has previously admitted he is trying to help Massa find a seat next year, in order to maintain a Brazilian presence on the grid.

"I'm a big fan of Felipe's," the 82-year-old told Germany's Sport Bild.

"I think he's a fast driver; just terribly unlucky. But with his situation, I can't do anything."

It has been reported Massa, whose manager Nicolas Todt has put together a package of Brazilian sponsors, is in the running for the Lotus seat, but also perhaps Williams, Sauber and Force India.

Ecclestone said: "I think he could even go to Toro Rosso. It's a better team than many people think. The only problem is that they have young drivers.

"What I can say is that formula one needs a driver from Brazil."

Lauda not convinced amid Red Bull cheat rumors
(GMM) Niki Lauda did not sound convinced about the legality of Red Bull's car as rumors of illegal traction control echo around the Yeongam paddock.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso on Thursday, however, insisted he does not think the reigning world champions are cheating.

"People talk a lot without knowing exactly what they are seeing or hearing," a spokesman for the Maranello based team told Spain's Marca newspaper.

"Ferrari will not protest," he added, while correspondent Marco Canseco said Ferrari is not even planning a mere clarification from the FIA.

Mercedes' Lauda, however, gave a less convincing answer when asked his thoughts about the Red Bull 'system'.

"Red Bull did some software testing before Singapore," he told Osterreich newspaper. "(I know) because the FIA said they (Red Bull) need to change something about it.

"They did that and then everything was apparently fine," added Lauda.

Told that his answer did not sound completely convincing as to Red Bull's innocence, the great triple world champion insisted: "If you cannot prove anything, you should not speculate."

Team switch would stop Vettel booing – Surer
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel can stop the booing if he just proves his undoubted talent outside the dominant Red Bull cockpit.

That is the advice of admirer Marc Surer, a former grand prix driver who now commentates for the German broadcaster Sky.

"He has the speed, the consistency and always gets the most out of it," Swiss Surer said in Korea.

"In my opinion that's what distinguishes him from Fernando Alonso, who sometimes falters in qualifying, or Lewis Hamilton, who is too inconsistent."

Recent booing, however, has taken the shine off Vettel's recent success, including a hat-trick of increasingly dominant wins at Spa, Monza and Singapore.

"For him, a change would be good," said Surer.

"He would finally get rid of the perception that he can only win in a Red Bull, and the boos would fall silent."

Many paddock dwellers believe the booing is simply the result of fans' frustration that Vettel is now cruising to a fourth-consecutive title victory.

Surer agreed the 26-year-old is the obvious favorite in Korea.

"Actually, only the tires can stop him," he said. "We have even softer tires here than last year, when they were absolutely critical in the end.

"If that happens again, we have seen before that other teams like Ferrari and Lotus can handle the situation better," added Surer.

Typhoon threat eases in Korea
(GMM) The threat of catastrophic weather has eased in South Korea.

Earlier, it was feared Typhoon Fitow would strike the country's southern region on Sunday, threatening the running of the Korean grand prix.

But German sources SID and the newspaper Bild, and the local daily Chosun Ilbo, say the typhoon has now changed course, and is expected to hit mainland China on Sunday or Monday instead.

However, the reports say heavy rain and wind could still hit Sunday's race in Yeongam.

"Rain is predicted; perhaps really heavy rain," revealed world champion Sebastian Vettel. "We don't know exactly what's coming."

Bahrain to be 'twilight' race in 2014 – Whitmarsh
(GMM) Floodlights have been installed at the venue of the Bahrain grand prix, McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed.

Earlier, we reported that organizers planned to mark the tenth anniversary of the controversial race by staging it at night next year.

The deal was reportedly agreed with Bernie Ecclestone at Monza last month.

"I think they are going to call it a twilight race," Whitmarsh, boss of the partly Bahrain-owned McLaren team, told Reuters in Korea.

"I've seen pictures of all the floodlights on it, so for their tenth anniversary they've got floodlights."

The other 'twilight' race – beginning at dusk and ending under dark skies – is held in Abu Dhabi, while the Singapore grand prix is also staged under floodlights.

Sauber closing on 2014 Ferrari engine deal
(GMM) Sauber is close to reaching a deal to stay with Ferrari power beyond this season.

The Swiss team has had a troubled 2013, but boss Monisha Kaltenborn says money from the Russian rescue deal has begun to flow.

Indeed, Russian teen Sergey Sirotkin's quest for a super license is set to begin at the wheel of an older Ferrari at the Italian team's Fiorano track.

The next step is a new Ferrari deal for Sauber, as F1 moves from the current V8 rules to the new turbo V6 era.

"I think it is obvious to everyone in what direction we are moving in the negotiations about the engine," Kaltenborn is quoted by Russia's Championat.

It is believed the deal has been held up by Sauber's financial troubles this year, in which Ferrari reportedly went unpaid.

"We had to resolve some issues," Kaltenborn revealed, "and most of them have been settled now. So I think we will have an announcement soon."

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