Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Wurz still working for Williams team
  • Lauda tips Vettel to win title with races to spare
  • Ricciardo's hips too wide for 2014 Red Bull – report
  • Massa 'favorite choice' for Domenicali
  • Kovalainen won't buy his ride

Wurz still working for Williams team
(GMM) Former F1 driver Alex Wurz has revealed he is still working for the Williams team.

The Austrian's last grand prix was with the Grove based team in 2007, but more recently he continued to work for Williams as a driver mentor.

But the Austrian sports magazine Sportwoche reports that 39-year-old Wurz is still working for Williams, albeit in a completely different role.

Wurz, also with a reputation as one of F1's best-ever test drivers, is reportedly working with Williams to help to restructure and recruit staff.

"My task at Williams is to analyze the structure of the team and offer ideas that will help us to make progress," he confirmed.

"Pat Symonds has come to us, but he is just one of several new people that Williams plans to hire," added Wurz.

Wurz played down speculation Williams might be grooming him to one day take over as team boss from 71-year-old founder Sir Frank Williams.

"When I finish my racing career," said Wurz, "and I want to go grey and have sleepless nights, maybe then I will try to be the head of a formula one team!

"Seriously, you never know what awaits in the future."

Wurz still races a Le Mans prototype sports car, currently for Toyota, in the FIA's world endurance championship.

Lauda tips Vettel to win title with races to spare
(GMM) Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda has tipped Sebastian Vettel to wrap up his fourth consecutive drivers' world championship with two races still to run this season.

Although some think Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton is perhaps Red Bull leader Vettel's main challenger with eight races to go in 2013, triple world champion Lauda thinks the title race is effectively now decided.

"I would go so far as to say Vettel will be the world champion in Abu Dhabi, which is the third to last race," the great Austrian told Bild newspaper.

"His points lead was already big when he dominated at Spa, even though the Red Bull is not really suited to this track.

"Ok, maybe for Monza he is not the favorite, but on every other circuit he has the best car. It is more than enough for him," added Lauda.

The comments indicate Mercedes, already strongly focused on the huge rules challenge of 2014, has now given up on pushing for this year's title.

"We will not give up," Lauda insisted to Osterreich newspaper.

"But I am also realistic. Vettel dominated at Spa, and I think he could have been three, four tenths per lap even faster.

"We have improved so much, but Red Bull is still better," he admitted.

Ricciardo's hips too wide for 2014 Red Bull – report
(GMM) Even before his 2014 seat has been announced, Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull career has hit a snag.

The German-language Speed Week, and Italy's authoritative Autosprint, report that the Australian has been at Milton-Keynes for a seat-fitting in the 2014-spec RB10.

Designer Adrian Newey is known for his tight-fitting cockpits, and the packaging is reportedly even more problematic for 2014 given the new turbo V6 and 'ERS' regulations.

And while Ricciardo is slightly shorter than his Australian compatriot Mark Webber, the European media reports reveal that his hips are slightly wider than Webber and world champion Sebastian Vettel's.

F1 legend Niki Lauda sees another problem with Red Bull's apparent decision to sign Ricciardo.

"Out of the new generation, Ricciardo is the driver with the most potential," the Mercedes chairman said in an interview with Bild newspaper.

"But at the moment no one knows if that potential is really enough. So it's a risk," said Lauda.

Another F1 grandee considering taking a risk for 2014 is Ferrari. According to recent reports, talks with Nico Hulkenberg about replacing Felipe Massa are underway.

"Hulkenberg is not bad," said Lauda, "but I think he needs another year. And Ferrari doesn't have time to waste."

The great Austrian said that if he was in charge at Ferrari, he would sign Kimi Raikkonen.

"He would give the team a boost, just as Lewis Hamilton has done at Mercedes," said Lauda.

"At Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo decides alone. Alonso would certainly not like it (Raikkonen as his teammate), but Ferrari does have a problem: if the car is not good, Alonso complains all day.

"If I was Montezemolo, I would pick Kimi," he added.

Finally, Lauda said the fact Nico Rosberg has been able to keep up with Mercedes' new recruit Hamilton in 2013 was a surprise.

Asked if Hamilton's 2013 title bid has been a surprise, Lauda answered: "No, as I knew that he would give the team a boost.

"What has surprised me is that Nico has been at eye-level. Nico has had more bad luck, but as far as the speed, they're both the same," he added.

Massa 'favorite choice' for Domenicali
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has explained that Felipe Massa remains his "favorite choice" to partner Fernando Alonso next season, but admits the Brazilian must deliver consistently strong performances if he is to be retained.

Having regularly been the subject of speculation since returning from injury in 2010, this year has seen Nico Hülkenberg, Paul di Resta, Jules Bianchi and most recently Kimi Räikkönen being linked to Massa's seat, with Ferrari undecided over its plans.

However, moving to defend his long-time driver, Domenicali explained that under ideal circumstances, the Maranello-based outfit's driver line-up would remain unchanged.

"Don’t forget, everybody wants to drive for Ferrari," Domenicali told the official Formula 1 website of the situation. "We have to wait and see. My favorite choice would be, of course, to keep Felipe because Felipe is a very good guy – very dedicated to the team – and when you look around there are not so many drivers out there that you swap and they immediately deliver.

"But, of course, we need good results from Felipe, so that’s why we will not rush as we have to make the right decision for the team. As soon as we have made up our minds we will announce it officially to silence the rumors once and for all."

Domenicali also brushed aside the furor over a meeting between Alonso's manager, Luis Garcia Abad, and Red Bull boss Christian Horner at the Hungarian Grand Prix, insisting that the two-time World Champion will remain at Ferrari long into the future.

"This is part of the psychological game that is around – if somebody is following these things," he said. "Honestly I don't really care. The fact is that we are totally united to win and we have a contract for a long time – all these stories are simply not relevant.

"I have the privilege of looking at these things in a very disconnected way, so I am laughing and thinking about the poor people who are reading these kinds of things. If they really knew the truth they would never read such absurd things again."

Kovalainen won't buy his ride
"I think it's important to get back racing, that's clearly my goal, but I really don't know whether the chances are good or not," he said.

"The fact is that I will not bring money, everyone knows that, and if that's going to be an obstacle again then it's out of my hands.

"I had a good opportunity with McLaren, I didn't make the most of it, but I'm not willing to give up quite yet. I'm working on turning that round, to prove myself again here to everyone.

"I haven't worried about other drivers bringing in money and taking the places. I'll try to find other ways, and I'll try to convince people based on another way, purely on performance and the things that I do and how I do things. Whether that will work or not I don't know.

"We know the reasons I was forced out of Formula 1, and I still don't want to go down that route – I don't want to look for money and bring money to the teams – but anyway I've managed to keep myself here in the paddock and I think I've managed to contribute some stuff to the Caterham team."

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