Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Greenpeace Protestor
    Getty Images

    Michelin also open to 2014 tire war

  • Alonso hopes bad luck strikes Vettel
  • Van der Garde 'has options' for 2014 – report
  • 'Don't write off New Jersey race' – team boss
  • Ricciardo to Red Bull 'makes sense' – Vettel
  • F1 organizers tried to hurt me – Greenpeace 'Julia'
  • Button to commit his future to McLaren New
  • Pirelli 'needs' better driver dialogue New
  • McLaren considered Raikkonen for 2013 New

Michelin also open to 2014 tire war
(GMM) Michelin is not ruling out taking on Pirelli in a formula one tire war next year.

With the sport's existing sole supplier Pirelli having already inked 2014 contracts with Bernie Ecclestone and the bulk of the teams, the fact Michelin has now entered the race is fascinating.

Michelin competition boss Pascal Couasnon said on Monday that the French marque has dropped its earlier condition that it will only return to F1 if it can go in competition with a rival.

"We have changed one of our conditions," he told Le Figaro newspaper. "Now, we don't mind becoming the exclusive supplier.

"We are ready for it, as there is quite an interesting technical challenge."

But Couasnon said Michelin is also still open to a tire war.

"We have always said that we are interested in competition," he added.

He said talks with the governing FIA, led by Frenchman Jean Todt, have already begun.

"We have sent them the same information as we have to the general public, so our position is known to all," said Couasnon.

He denied, however, that talks with F1 chief executive Ecclestone are already underway.

"I was surprised by these reports, but I'm starting to get used to it," Couasnon smiled.

"Two weeks ago, I read that Michelin planned to hold a press conference, but nothing happened. In formula one, there are always a lot of rumors.

"I can confirm that I have not scheduled any meetings with Bernie Ecclestone. If negotiations were to begin, we would hold them with the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and the teams."

Alonso hopes bad luck strikes Vettel
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has admitted his championship hopes would get a boost if Sebastian Vettel crashes at the start of a grand prix.

Many see Vettel's dominance in Belgium as a sure sign the Red Bull driver will now canter to his fourth consecutive drivers' title.

"Vettel has the world title in the bag," said Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport after the race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Corriere dello Sport agreed: "Vettel remains out of reach; invincible in his Red Bull with which no one can find fault.

"He is on track to break all of Michael Schumacher's records."

Ferrari, however, showed at Spa signs of recovery after a miserable July, but Spaniard Alonso acknowledged that he needs Vettel to run into trouble.

"I left Monza last year with 41 points more than Vettel," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace. "It shows how quickly things can change.

"But for this, we need to win three or four races in a row and have someone run over him at the start, as happened to me, or technical problems."

Alonso is undoubtedly referring to his Belgian grand prix of a year ago, when Romain Grosjean's flying Lotus ended his race in a shower of carbon fiber.

"It happened to me last year and it could happen again," added Alonso.

But with just eight races left in 2013, some of Vettel's rivals are beginning to be written off.

Kimi Raikkonen, for example, lost his runner-up place in the drivers' standings at Spa, where he retired with brake failure.

"You would probably have to say that the three (Vettel, Alonso, Lewis Hamilton) who finished on the podium in Belgium are likely to be the major rivals to the end of the year," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Marc Surer, a former driver turned pundit, sees another problem for Raikkonen's Lotus.

"If you lack the money to try everything you can think of," he told Der Spiegel, "you have no chance."

Questions about Mercedes are also being asked.

"Do they still have reserves in their development to catch Red Bull in this season?" former driver Patrick Tambay told France's RMC Sport.

"In Belgium they were clearly beaten."

So perhaps the final question is to wonder if anyone can beat Vettel now. "Probably, only himself," acknowledged Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn.

Van der Garde 'has options' for 2014 – report
(GMM) Giedo van der Garde, although tipped by some to leave formula one after a single season, could keep his career on the grid in 2014.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf said the 28-year-old Caterham driver's managers Jan Paul ten Hoopen and Jeroen Schothorst are working hard on the Dutchman's alternatives for next year.

The report, naming Sauber, Williams and Force India as van der Garde's options, said ten Hoopen will be at Monza next weekend for "talking and listening".

The driver has had an often-difficult rookie campaign, but De Telegraaf said van der Garde remains strongly backed by McGregor, a Dutch fashion label.

Van der Garde, however, is quiet for now.

"It makes no sense for me to already be thinking about next season. There are still eight races to go," he said.

Meanwhile, De Telegraaf said the chances of another Dutch driver, Robin Frijns, are not as bright.

The report said the Swiss team Sauber decided not to take up the option on the unsponsored 22-year-old's current contract. In 2013, Frijns has been the reserve driver.

He commented: "I have no idea. I have heard nothing, I know nothing."

Former Toro Rosso driver and current Pirelli tester Jaime Alguersuari, on the other hand, has called time on his formula one career for now.

Recent reports linked the young Spaniard with a move for 2014 to the premier US open-wheeler series IndyCar.

"I'm having a great time working for Pirelli," he told his 160,000 followers on Twitter, "but I don't think you guys will see me back in F1 at least for the early future."

'Don't write off New Jersey race' – team boss
(GMM) The fate of the inaugural 2014 New Jersey race is still uncertain, despite Bernie Ecclestone saying just days ago that it's "not on the cards".

The F1 chief executive told CNN that organizers of the street race "haven't got any money", but a race spokesman hit back by insisting preparations are "on track".

Ecclestone has now muddied the picture even further by answering "no, no" when asked if he is ruling out adding New Jersey to the 2014 calendar.

"They have a contract," he told Reuters, "so if they comply with the contract the race will take place.

"We would be very, very happy if it does," Ecclestone added.

An unnamed team boss suggested Ecclestone is playing his typical political games.

"It's not the first time we've heard words like these," the boss is quoted by Speed Week.

"I would not write off the race in New Jersey."

Ricciardo to Red Bull 'makes sense' – Vettel
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has admitted it would "make sense" if Daniel Ricciardo becomes his new teammate at Red Bull.

Earlier admitting his disappointment that Kimi Raikkonen seems out of the frame, Vettel was asked about Mark Webber's claim on Sunday that fellow Australian Ricciardo had been selected by Red Bull to succeed him in 2014.

Red Bull bosses denied Webber's claim.

But Vettel said the appointment of Toro Rosso driver Ricciardo would "make sense".

"The last few weeks have been very tumultuous in this sense," the German is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace, "but it (Ricciardo's signing) would make sense.

"He has been with us for a long time.

"Some people may doubt Daniel is ready, but you could also ask if I was ready when I arrived at Red Bull. How can you know beforehand?" he said rhetorically.

"It's not my decision, but I get along with him well," Vettel added.

He also denied that Ricciardo's appointment would leave him – probably a quadruple world champion at the beginning of 2014 – with clear number 1 status at Red Bull.

"It's a shame," Vettel started, "that some people on the outside sometimes have the wrong idea about certain drivers and certain teams.

"In the end, we will give everything to have a good performance, and someone will always prevail.

"Mark had the strength to beat me and I do the same to him. That's life," he insisted.

Meanwhile, McLaren's Jenson Button has finally counted himself out of the running for the Red Bull seat.

He told the Telegraph: "I am very happy here. I will be here.

"I am definitely not going to Red Bull.

"I feel that Ricciardo will go to Red Bull, Kimi Raikkonen will stay at Lotus and Massa will stay at Ferrari for another year," the Briton added.

Race official starts to cut the nut job’s rope, which promptly got her off the top of the podium. Later while she was spouting off at the mouth they stepped on her face while handcuffing her. Maybe next time she can just go find a tree to hug somewhere.
Getty Images

F1 organizers tried to hurt me – Greenpeace 'Julia'
(GMM) The Greenpeace activist who disrupted the podium ceremony at Spa on Sunday has accused race officials of trying to hurt her.

Identified only as 23-year-old 'Julia F' by the German newspaper Bild, the activist was abseiling onto the podium after the Belgian grand prix while David Coulthard was interviewing winner Sebastian Vettel.

"We are a bit confused down here because the crowd is booing and cheering and booing and we don't understand why," Vettel told Coulthard.

Coulthard responded: "We're not going to highlight why that is at the moment."

Some had expected the FIA to launch an investigation or possibly penalize the race organizer, but so far the Jean Todt-led governing body has been silent.

'Julia', however, has accused race organizers of heavy-handed tactics.

"They tried to cut my rope," Bild, revealing that Julia is from Switzerland, quoted her as saying.

"I would have fallen five meters. And in my arrest, they put a boot to my face," she added.

Button to commit his future to McLaren
Jenson Button is ready to commit is future to McLaren, saying he will see out his Formula One career with the team.

The 33-year-old caused a bit of a stir ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix when he revealed that the Woking squad are to exercise their option to extend his contract for the 2014 season.

It immediately led to speculation that he could be in the frame to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull or even Felipe Massa at Ferrari. However, Button has since admitted that he was "only winding him [team principal Martin Whitmarsh] up".

It now appears that McLaren are ready to tie him down with a long-term deal with The Times reporting that the team will announce next week that "his £12 million-a-year contract has been renewed".

It added: "The deal is likely to be for three years, taking Button up to his thirty-sixth birthday and close to a decision on retirement."

Button, meanwhile, told the paper that he wants to finish his career with McLaren.

"It is always nice to be wanted but I don't need it from other teams," Button told The Times. "I have it here at McLaren and I am very happy. I am definitely not going to Red Bull.

"It is not going our way at the moment but it will and I am very happy. I feel good here and I feel we can achieve so much together. I think I will be here for the rest of my future in Formula One." Planet F1

Pirelli 'needs' better driver dialogue
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery believes the tire company needs to establish better lines of communication with Formula 1 drivers.

On the Friday evening of the Belgian Grand Prix, the drivers demanded assurances about the safety of Pirelli's tires after both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso suffered failures during Friday afternoon practice.

The problems were later traced to a piece of titanium skid block shed by Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and the race was completed without any tire dramas.

While Hembery accepts drivers are right to raise safety concerns if they have them, he suspects a better dialogue with them would have ensured they were better-informed when situations like the one that happened at Spa arise, preventing conclusions being jumped to.

"You have got to understand they are in the car and accept that if they have concerns you have to listen to them," Hembery told AUTOSPORT.

"But we probably need a bit more dialogue with them so they can understand more about what goes on because there seems to be a gap in the information flow sometimes, certainly when it gets to detail.

"We were confident in the information we had from the teams. The cars were going a bit quicker this year and we had re-verified with our own testing that the product we had was suitable for Spa."

Hembery believes that the trouble-free race, during which the majority of drivers made two stops, has validated the change to the tire specification made ahead of last month's Hungarian Grand Prix.

While track temperatures at Spa were lower than those at the Hungaroring, the track configuration puts a heavy load on tires, meaning the Belgian GP was a stern test of the modified rubber.

"Sometimes the only thing you can do is have a completely faultless race," said Hembery.

"You can say what you want but at the end of the day you have to deliver the result.

"Friday was frustrating because we didn't really need that for obvious reasons, but the race confirmed we made the right decision after Silverstone to make a change.

"It was important that we got this race over with. Let's hope we can carry on with some great racing.

"Besides the comments on the tires, we're still having a great season and that's what we are here for." Yahoo Eurosport

McLaren considered Raikkonen for 2013
Kimi Raikkonen, rather than Sergio Perez, could have been lining up alongside Jenson Button this season, team boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed.

With the Finn out of contract at Lotus at the end of 2013, Whitmarsh was asked whether he would consider pursuing him to bolster the line-up ahead of next season, only to admit that the 2007 world champion had already been a target for the Woking squad.

Although both Button and Perez appear to be locked into contracts for next year – despite speculation at the Belgian Grand Prix linking the Briton to a possible move elsewhere – Whitmarsh makes no secret of his admiration for Raikkonen, who drove for McLaren between 2002-06 and concedes that he would still be a target should the team have a vacancy to fill.

“Kimi has always been great and I am a big fan of him," he admitted to the official F1 website, “Last year, we had talks with him but, for various reasons, it didn't happen. This year, we've had no talks – yet. There is a lot of speculation out there at the moment, so let's see what happens…."

According to Whitmarsh, Raikkonen appears intent on leaving Lotus and, having been linked to both Red Bull and Ferrari in recent weeks, sees no reason why McLaren should be dismissed as a potential destination for the Finn, even it, ultimately, he believes he will stay at Enstone for another year.

“Kimi is determined to go somewhere else and I sense that he will not succeed in that goal," he said, before admitting that having two world champions in his line-up would be good for publicity in what could be a tough 2014 campaign, “We'll see. We are not talking to Kimi at the moment, so let's see what happens in the drivers' market…."

Such speculation would suggest that Perez, despite having another year to run on his current deal, is on the 'hot seat', but Whitmarsh is quick to defend the Mexican.

“Bear in mind that 'Checo' is still very young," he stressed, “We haven't given our drivers the car we should have done this year, but they've been fantastic ambassadors and I think they deserve another go with us next year. If we give them a car that is good enough they both can win – we know that."

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