Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Hamilton refusing to wear team cap in 2013
  • Another Vettel title shows F1 'still a sport' – Wurz
  • Sauber seat for Sirotkin 'not a mistake' – Marko
  • Lopez tips Raikkonen to agree new deal 'quickly'
  • Suzuka denies Honda return to bring Japanese driver to F1
  • Button: Wet race would be tricky
  • Mercedes won't 'compromise' 2014 car focus New

Hamilton refusing to wear team cap in 2013
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has revealed he is refusing to wear Mercedes' team cap.

While team chairman Niki Lauda is famous for his cap, 2008 world champion and Spa pole sitter Hamilton has not been seen wearing one at all this year.

"I would like to help to design the Mercedes team clothing," Hamilton told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in a wide-ranging interview.

"I don't totally like what we have at the moment — that's why I don't wear the cap.

"But the team is working on it," the Briton laughed, "we are well on the way!"

Another Vettel title shows F1 'still a sport' – Wurz
(GMM) Former F1 driver Alex Wurz has admitted he expects Sebastian Vettel to stroll now to his fourth drivers' title.

Many others think Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, the dominant winner of the last grand prix in Hungary and back on pole in Belgium, could mount a real challenge to Red Bull rival Vettel's reign in the second half of the season.

But when asked by Speed Week what he is expecting from the last nine races of 2013, Austrian Wurz admitted: "An early world title for Vettel."

Asked if yet another championship for Red Bull and Vettel is really what F1 needs, Wurz added: "It depends on your perspective.

"If you take a step back, I think it's good because it shows that despite everything, formula one is still a sport, where the best one wins, even if it's early.

"For me it's good because it means formula one is a pure sport that is not influenced artificially," said 39-year-old Wurz, who last raced for Williams in 2007.

Sauber seat for Sirotkin 'not a mistake' – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull's often hard-talking F1 consultant, has a surprising view regarding the sport's likely newest rookie.

If 17-year-old Sergey Sirotkin makes his grand prix debut for Sauber next year as scheduled, he will be by far the youngest driver in the history of the sport ever to do so.

The Russian is therefore already being written off as simply the latest crude example of pay-drivers buying their way into the pinnacle of motor sport.

But Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn insists at Spa-Francorchamps: "You can't cut him down just because of his age and his father."

He may be central to Sauber's Russian rescue deal, but Kaltenborn insists Sirotkin deserves a chance.

"There are drivers who pay for their cockpit, that's true," she admitted.

"But many who came with backing have very quickly got rid of the 'pay driver' accusation. Look at Raikkonen," said Kaltenborn, referring to Sauber's controversial driver choice way back in 2001.

One man who knows a lot about Sirotkin's current arena, Formula Renault 3.5, is Marko, who has placed a lot of up-and-coming Red Bull-backed youngsters in the 'world series'.

"Sirotkin is still young," Marko told Der Spiegel, "but he is already very good.

"I am of the view that it is not a mistake to promote him."

Lopez tips Raikkonen to agree new deal 'quickly'
(GMM) Team owner Gerard Lopez is hopeful Kimi Raikkonen will soon sign a new deal to stay at Lotus in 2014.

As a weekend of fever-pitch speculation nears an end, the Finnish driver's manager Steve Robertson has now clearly denied rumors Raikkonen has inked a Ferrari contract.

"It's a load of rubbish," he told the broadcaster MTV3.

"We are in the same place as we were a month ago in Hungary — we do not have an agreement," Robertson insisted.

MTV3 claims Raikkonen staying at Lotus next year is backed by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who wants as many top drivers as possible spread across all the top teams.

So if Raikkonen stays put, Ecclestone thinks McLaren with Jenson Button, Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari with Fernando Alonso and Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel is an ideal situation for the sport.

Raikkonen hinted on Friday that one pertinent issue is the fact Lotus has often been late to pay wages.

But according to another rumor in Belgium, also crucial to Raikkonen staying next year could be a deal that brings engine supplier Renault – marginalized at Red Bull due to the Infiniti deal – closer to Lotus.

That would tie into speculation Raikkonen has demanded certain 'guarantees' about Lotus' competitiveness in 2014.

"We do not need to give any guarantees," Lopez insists. "We are very competitive.

"Rather, the question is about next season. We are very close to reaching an agreement with Renault.

"I believe that we have very good chances. We've done a good job to give Kimi what he wants."

And, ultimately, he thinks that when the time is right, sitting down with a new contract and Raikkonen will be a straightforward matter.

"We already talk a lot," said Lopez. "As long as we are able to give him what he wants and we can react calmly, I believe we can reach an agreement quickly."

Suzuka denies Honda return to bring Japanese driver to F1
(GMM) Suzuka race promoter Hiroshi Soda has played down suggestions Honda's return to F1 will see a Japanese driver on the grid again.

It emerged this weekend at Spa that Bernie Ecclestone has inked a new five-year deal to keep the Japanese grand prix at Suzuka until at least 2018.

Many insiders made a link between the new race deal and the fact that Suzuka is owned by Honda, the Japanese carmaker that is returning to F1 in 2015 as McLaren's works engine supplier.

Another part of the deal, it is rumored, could be Honda ensuring a Japanese driver is on the 2015 grid.

But Soda, president of the Suzuka operator Mobilityland, insists: "That is pure speculation.

"The return of Honda is very important for us, but it would be wrong to say that automatically means a Japanese driver will be at the start," he told Speed Week.

"Of course though it would help us — in the best of times we had a full house with 160,000 fans," he admitted.

"Of course, we will try do have this again. I expect a lot of synergy with Honda."

Button: Wet race would be tricky
Jenson Button has stated that the expected wet weather conditions for today’s Belgian Grand Prix will pose problems for all front-runners, with the Brit believing that all of Saturday’s top ten finishers have used up their supply of fresh Intermediate tires.

Button finished sixth in the rain-affected final session, and described the result as an ‘okay’ outcome. After the Woking-based squad’s impressive performance on a damp circuit on Friday, the 2009 World Champion reckons that his McLaren had more pace in the bag, and that he could have placed higher if not for timing issues in Q3.

“In the dry we were relatively happy with our pace, and in the wet I reckon it was a bit better still," he said. “I think P6 for us was an okay outcome, therefore. However, we’re still lacking a little bit compared with what we’d hoped for here. Our timing was just a little bit off at the end of Q3, which enabled the top three guys to put in laps quicker than ours.

“Looking forward to tomorrow, if the weather is wet, or changeable, as we expect it to be, then things could get tricky for all the front-runners, because I think we’ve all used our supply of inters. Anyway, let’s see what happens. It should be an exciting race."

On the other side of the garage, Sergio Perez’s day ended prematurely after the Mexican was knocked out in Q2, the 23 year-old lining up 13th for tomorrow’s race.

Mercedes won't 'compromise' 2014 car focus
(GMM) Mercedes says it will not "compromise" its preparations for 2014 by focusing too hard on this year's world championship race.

Many insiders now regard Lewis Hamilton as the most likely challenger to Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's title lead.

But team director Toto Wolff has reportedly said the team should be more focused now on the huge challenge of the radical new rules for 2014.

"I think there's several different people that have different opinions about it," Briton Hamilton said on Saturday, after capturing his fourth consecutive pole.

It seems, however, that team boss Ross Brawn in fact has the same opinion as Wolff.

"We're not thinking in terms of winning a championship (in 2013)," he is quoted by Sky.

Brawn said it would be "unusual" if Vettel can not take his healthy points lead all the way to November's season finale.

"Obviously I don't want that to sound like we don't want to win the championship, of course we do, but we're not compromising our 2014 program," he added.

So, Brawn said Mercedes will only do "a small amount of things" in terms of developing the W04 for the rest of this season.

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