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

UPDATE #2 2nd round of updates shown in red below.

10/03/13 Updates shown in red below.


  • Vettel: Catch us if you can

    Bianchi staying at Marussia in 2014

  • Massa denies being Ferrari 'number 2'
  • Perez, Slim admit Mexico race not guaranteed
  • Ward could stand aside for Bin Sulayem
  • FIA backs Vettel amid cheat claims
  • Amid cheat claims, Vettel 'proud' of Red Bull 'system'
  • Kimi confident he will race
  • Heavy rain showers forecast for Korean GP
  • Massa 'quite optimistic' for 2014
  • Red Bull to further 'enhance' traction system – Vettel New
  • No plans for single fuel supply tender – FIA New
  • Vettel risks losing rival drivers' respect – Rosberg New
  • FIA stops McLaren's Pirelli test in Austin – report New

Bianchi staying at Marussia in 2014
(GMM) Jules Bianchi is staying at Marussia in 2014, the team announced on Thursday.

The Ferrari-backed Frenchman had been tipped for a move up the grid next year, perhaps to Ferrari-powered Sauber.

But Marussia team boss John Booth said in a media statement that keeping Bianchi, 24, on board for 2014 is a "great pleasure".

"He rose to the challenge of his debut season exceptionally well and since that time has clearly demonstrated his ability and potential," said Booth.

Currently powered by departing supplier Cosworth, Marussia is switching to customer Ferrari engines in 2014.

Bianchi's current teammate is the well-backed Briton Max Chilton.

"We look forward to confirming our full race driver lineup later in the season," said Booth.

Although backed by the Ferrari rival McLaren, it is believed Kevin Magnussen is among those in the running to be Bianchi's teammate next year.

The F1 career of Magnussen's father, Jan, was short-lived, but McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh told El Confidencial: "We will make sure the same thing doesn't happen to Kevin."

Magnussen, 20, is closing in on the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 title, with Whitmarsh adding: "He has a steely character and is more determined than his father."

But before Marussia turns its full attention to Bianchi's 2014 teammate, it is more focused on securing the lucrative tenth place in the constructors' championship — particularly after The Times reported that the team has finally penned a financial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone.

It has also emerged that investor Andrei Cheglakov plans to clear Marussia's more than $200 million in debt.

"Our investors have met with some incredulity at the way F1 costs are run," said chief executive Andy Webb.

"They were not expecting to enter a spending competition but they have put us on a solid footing and we are secure for the future."

However, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said recently that two or three teams are in danger of dropping off the grid.

"It's hard to say exactly what teams Bernie had in mind," Webb told Russia's Championat, "but we are determined to move forward."

Massa denies being Ferrari 'number 2'
(GMM) Felipe Massa has denied he ever signed a contract to be Ferrari's clear 'number 2' driver.

Initially Michael Schumacher's teammate at the fabled Italian team, Brazilian Massa has been alongside Fernando Alonso since 2010, with many regarding him as the obvious subordinate.

It emerged recently that, in the 80s, Nelson Piquet's Lotus contract clearly stated that the Brazilian was the "first driver", and Satoru Nakajima the subordinate who signed a relevant "code of conduct".

But Massa told Brazil's Totalrace he does not believe those sorts of contracts exist anymore.

"There are provisions (in the contracts) for you to serve the team, and not do anything that goes against what the team wants," he said.

"But I think that is a clause in every driver's contract," added Massa, who has lost his seat at Ferrari for 2014 to former teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

"I never had any clause in any contract defining who is the first or the second driver," he said.

Perez, Slim admit Mexico race not guaranteed
(GMM) Sergio Perez, and billionaire backer Carlos Slim Domit, have admitted Mexico's place on the 2014 calendar is not guaranteed.

Indeed, the race on the former and ageing grand prix venue in Mexico City has been given only a provisional date on next year's schedule.

"I'm very excited," said 23-year-old Sergio Perez, the McLaren driver who is backed by Slim-linked Mexican companies.

"It's not confirmed yet, it's just a pre-calendar but I feel there are very big chances now of this happening."

Slim Domit also told Mexico Today: "It (Mexico) is a stable country, our economy is doing quite well and we have drivers people can identify with.

"All of the pieces are coming together and I believe the potential promoters are doing a good job in trying to secure something," he added.

Mexico is one of three races given only provisional status on the unprecedentedly-long 2014 calendar, the others being New Jersey and Korea.

But Sam Michael, McLaren sporting director, said that even if they all go ahead, F1 can cope.

"F1 is about achieving things that are not normally possible, and this is far from the worst challenge we have had," he said, suggesting the financial benefits of an expanded calendar will outweigh the hurdles.

Ward could stand aside for Bin Sulayem
(GMM) David Ward has admitted he might give up his bid to become FIA president.

Earlier, it was rumored Ward's candidature to dethrone Jean Todt was a mere 'straw man' precursor to the real challenge to be made by Mohammad Bin Sulayem.

A spokesman for Bin Sulayem, the highest-ranking Middle Eastern FIA official, admitted the former rally driver has been encouraged to run but has made no decision yet.

Now, Briton Ward has been quoted by the Telegraph admitting that he could stand aside for Bin Sulayem if he has a better chance of success.

"If Mohammed thinks that my reform agenda is worthwhile and, if he is prepared to give solid undertakings and commitments to introduce it, then (standing aside) is something that I should look at," said Ward.

FIA backs Vettel amid cheat claims
(GMM) The FIA has backed Sebastian Vettel amid claims he is strolling to the 2013 title with a questionably-legal Red Bull.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko has already dismissed the claims the RB9 is mimicking illegal traction control as "nonsense".

But former F1 team owner Giancarlo Minardi had said he saw and heard evidence with his own eyes and ears recently in Singapore, when Vettel was putting down the power 50 meters earlier than his rivals, while the Renault engine emitted traction control-like tones.

However, F1 race director Charlie Whiting has told Germany's Sport Bild: "(FIA technical delegate) Jo Bauer has found no irregularities.

"Everything is under our control, and Vettel's car complies with the regulations."

Meanwhile, according to Bild newspaper, Red Bull's determination to dominate F1 can be seen in the team's new EUR 100,000 jack.

The jack is reportedly designed to automatically lower the car once it detects that all four wheels have been secured during a pitstop.

Bild said Red Bull's powerful rivals including Ferrari and Mercedes are now working on similar systems.

Force India team manager Andy Stevenson is quoted as arguing the innovation should be banned.

"If no one has it, everyone's pitstop will be half a second slower. So who cares?" he said.

Amid cheat claims, Vettel 'proud' of Red Bull 'system'
(GMM) There were two big talking points on Thursday as formula one gathered at the Yeongam circuit in South Korea.

The first was reports Sebastian Vettel has sped into a position of dominance in the second half of the season with the help of some sort of traction control-like system.

Red Bull and the FIA have dismissed suggestions it is illegal, and Vettel said on Thursday: "We are pretty proud of the system.

"The others have to figure out how we have done it," the German is quoted by the Associated Press.

The other big talking point is suggestions Davide Valsecchi has been briefed to be ready to step into the Lotus, should Kimi Raikkonen's back problems worsen in Friday practice.

The Finn was playing down the situation on Thursday.

"It would be a bit pointless to come here if I didn't think that I would race," he told reporters.

"Right now it's ok. Obviously tomorrow we'll see."

Kimi confident he will race
Kimi Raikkonen expects he will take to the grid at this weekend's Korean Grand Prix despite concerns about his back.

The Lotus driver suffered severe back pain last time out in Singapore and had to take pain-killing injections before racing.

That, though, didn't stop him from going from 13th to third on a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

Following the night race there were still concerns about whether he would opt to sit out this weekend's Korean GP in light of the pain.

Raikkonen, however, insists he will race.

"I wouldn't be here if I wouldn't be racing," he told Autosport.

"It would be a bit pointless to come here if I didn't think that I would race.

"Obviously tomorrow we'll see. Right now it's OK. It's always difficult to say until you drive, but I think it should be fine.

"Once we try it tomorrow, I'll know more. Like I said already at the last race, this wasn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last time.

"It's something that I've been dealing with for a long time."

The back pain is not a new issue for the Ferrari-bound driver, who suffered the injury back in 2001 in a testing accident while with Sauber.

"I've been OK every year I've been racing," he said. "Sometimes I have to deal with the pain.

"Obviously every year you get older and your system has more issues but I'm sure you can deal with these things." Planet F1

Heavy rain showers forecast for Korean GP
Formula One could be in for a very wet Korean Grand Prix as Typhoon Fitow will be in the area.

Although initial reports predicted that the typhoon would hit the circuit, updated reports now suggest it will head towards China instead.

However, the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam would still get the fringes of the weather which includes high winds and heavy rain.

At present there is a 60 percent chance of "heavy rain showers" when the 55-lap grand prix is set to start at 3pm local time on Sunday.

Heavy rain fall in 2010 meant the grand prix started behind the Safety Car before conditions were deemed safe enough for the drivers to be let loose.

As for the rest of this weekend, the forecast is for sunny weather on Friday with a high of 22'C and a few clouds on Saturday where the temperature will reach a high of 23'C. Planet F1

Massa 'quite optimistic' for 2014
Felipe Massa insists he won't remain in Formula One just to make up the numbers, he wants a competitive ride or nothing.

The Brazilian is still seeking a new home after Ferrari announced that Kimi Raikkonen would be taking his place next season.

While it is a known fact that Massa in a talks with Lotus, the 11-time grand prix is also talking with other teams.

However, for now at least he has nothing to announce other than that there are "some good opportunities" out there.

"I'm quite optimistic that we are going to find a good direction and a good solution," he said.

"It will not change my mind, I want to have a car that will give me some good possibilities to fight, not a car that won't give me the opportunity to fight. I don't find that interesting.

"We are talking with a few teams but I don't think there is a right time to think about that. I think the right time is when you know where you're going.

"At the moment there are some good opportunities, I think, but it's better to wait and say at the right time." Planet F1

Red Bull to further 'enhance' traction system – Vettel
(GMM) Red Bull is perfecting a "system" that is mimicking the effects of banned traction control, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reported on Thursday.

The magazine said the complex electronic mapping system, although entirely legal, is able to put Renault's V8 engine down to just four-cylinders under certain circumstances.

"I am sure for the races to come that we will be able to enhance the system even further — to profit even more," world champion Sebastian Vettel told F1's official website.

He told reporters: "Other people will never figure out how we've done it."

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on Thursday stirred the pot by admitting Vettel's traction in Singapore was not normal.

"The last time I was able to put the pedal down that quick was back in 2007 or 2008, when we had traction control," he said.

But Ferrari's Fernando Alonso admitted Red Bull, whose engine he said has been emitting the odd tones in corners all season long, is doing nothing wrong.

"They are using something different compared to the other teams but something that is completely ok," he is quoted by the BBC.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, however, admitted the rumors were frustrating.

"So we're running traction control through the ECUs which are supplied by McLaren and approved by the FIA?" he bristled at reporters.

"You'd have to be pretty stupid," added Horner.

No plans for single fuel supply tender – FIA
(GMM) The FIA insists it has no plans to appoint a single supplier of fuel in formula one.

With the governing body hinting at the move after the recent World Motor Sport Council meeting, we reported that F1's major teams had expressed their objections.

That is because they all have separate and lucrative deals in place with major oil corporations: Ferrari with Shell, Renault with Total, Mercedes with Petronas, McLaren with Mobil.

But in the Yeongam paddock on Thursday, it emerged that the FIA had allayed the teams' fears.

"Fuel was mentioned (in the World Council statement) purely for illustrative purposes," a FIA spokesman is quoted by Reuters.

A source at the Paris based federation, meanwhile, said the mention of fuel in the statement had been a "mistake".

Vettel risks losing rival drivers' respect – Rosberg
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has admitted he took objection in Singapore when world champion Sebastian Vettel suggested his rivals are lazy.

After dominating the floodlit grand prix, German Vettel explained Red Bull's advantage by insisting that while his team works "very hard", the others are "hanging their balls in the pool very early on Fridays".

It may have been a joke, but Mercedes' Rosberg did not laugh.

"Maybe he shouldn't be thinking about my balls," he is quoted on Thursday by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"It was definitely inappropriate," added Rosberg. "My team works its ass off. And he can't possibly know how much we work compared to them.

"My boys work like crazy."

And as F1 figures puzzle over why Vettel is being booed on post-race podiums, Rosberg said comments like the one made in Singapore do him no favors.

"He is in very clear danger of losing the respect of the other drivers," he said.

McLaren's Jenson Button agrees: "It was a wrong and unfair thing for Sebastian to say."

But Vettel said he found it "strange" that his comment was so controversial.

"It was not my intention to say anything against someone else," he said, "but only to show that our success is no accident."

FIA stops McLaren's Pirelli test in Austin – report
(GMM) The FIA has scuppered McLaren's plans to test Pirelli tires with a 2011 car at the US grand prix venue in Austin, it emerged on Thursday.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the British team and F1's tire supplier planned to do the 1000km test in mid October, but did not get the green light from the FIA.

The report said the FIA baulked because the test, which would have been funded by Pirelli, would have taken place mere weeks ahead of the grand prix at the very same venue in Texas, USA.

"The competition, including McLaren rival Force India, had complained," wrote correspondent Michael Schmidt.

"Now, Pirelli and McLaren will have to find another track to test the new-generation tires."

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