Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Since Mercedes did their secret Pirelli test, no one can keep up with them, and Ferrari is falling further behind

    Alonso alarmed as Ferrari enters 2013 slump

  • Kaltenborn denies Sauber could exit F1
  • Red Bull wants own Mercedes-style Pirelli test – reports
  • McLaren switches resources for fresh start in 2014
  • Lotus pushing Raikkonen for quick decision on 2014
  • F1 no longer 'extreme' – Villeneuve
  • Marussia F1 Team forms strategic alliance with Russian-owned Reading FC
  • Hulkenberg: We're simply not quick enough

Alonso alarmed as Ferrari enters 2013 slump
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has expressed alarm at the situation at Ferrari after qualifying just tenth at Silverstone.

The Spaniard is already 36 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who qualified third behind the dominant Mercedes cars on Saturday.

"It's a bit of a surprise," said Red Bull's Vettel. "They've been very competitive here the last couple of years."

Alonso initially pointed the finger at Pirelli, as he was quoted by Brazil's Totalrace as suggesting the compounds "are not appropriate for F1".

He also told German broadcaster Sky: "We know the hardest tires favor one team, and we know they are not ideal for us and Lotus.

"But the fact is that others are working better than us."

He therefore admitted Ferrari's flaws.

"We have to improve," he said.

"We started the year with two cars on the front row and now we're getting into dangerous territory, struggling to get into Q3.

"We have not developed well enough in the past two months; the new parts have not been what we had hoped for," Alonso is quoted by international reports.

He also insisted no one should expect Mercedes, so dominant so far at Silverstone, to run away with victory on Sunday.

"It is quite easy to make a car that goes well in qualifying, and more difficult to make it right for the race," said Alonso.

Asked if Mercedes has taken strides forward because of its secret Pirelli tire test, Alonso is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper: "I think they are doing a better job than us; no more to say."

Kaltenborn denies Sauber could exit F1
(GMM) Sauber has allayed fears a financial crisis could see the Swiss team exit formula one before the 2013 season is out.

A constant presence in F1 since 1993, the Hinwil based squad lost its works BMW backing at the end of 2009 and ever since has been among the sport's struggling privateers.

This year, Sauber unveiled an uncompetitive Ferrari-powered C32, but promised to develop and improve it.

"For financial reasons, development of the car has stopped," revealed authoritative Swiss correspondent for the Blick newspaper, Roger Benoit.

There are rumors bills are going unpaid, and chief designer Matt Morris has already fled to McLaren.

Told by Benoit that in February she promised the C32 would look very different by mid-season, team boss Monisha Kaltenborn revealed the reason for the lack of development.

"We have been in negotiation for some time with a potential partner," she said.

"The whole thing is taking more time than we thought it would, but we are on track."

It is rumored that potential partner is Gazprom, the Russian natural gas giant that was a Minardi sponsor some years ago.

Gazprom recently became a sponsor of Sauber's English football club partner, Chelsea.

Asked by Benoit if she can guarantee Sauber will still be on the grid come the season finale in November, Kaltenborn answered: "We have been asked that question since 2010.

"We are currently going through a difficult phase, but we will continue in 2013 to the end."

Red Bull wants own Mercedes-style Pirelli test – reports
(GMM) Red Bull has asked the FIA if it can follow Mercedes' lead and conduct a 1000 kilometer tire test with Pirelli, using its 2013 car.

The world champion team has been heavily critical of the Mercedes test, which resulted in the German team being banned from the forthcoming young drivers test.

But the FIA has since clarified that, so long as Pirelli and F1 teams follow the right processes, tire tests like that are actually allowed.

So Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio, writing for O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, reports from Silverstone that Christian Horner has asked the governing body if it can be the next team in line for a Mercedes and Ferrari-style test.

"Horner is convinced," said Oricchio, "that the 1000 kilometers of testing that Hamilton and Rosberg did in Barcelona had a direct effect on Mercedes' rapid development in the last few races."

Speed Week is reporting similarly.

"Red Bull has sent a detailed letter to race director Charlie Whiting to clarify the question: 'under what circumstances can we also go testing?'" that report said.

Because of the 'test-gate' scandal, in which Red Bull has been vocally critical of Mercedes, a palpable tension between the two teams now exists.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff insists that some quotes about Red Bull in the German media last week were taken out of context, but according to Bild newspaper he had agreed with Pirelli to sit down for a 'peace summit' at Silverstone.

Red Bull's Christian Horner, however, refused to attend.

"That was not a good idea," Horner is quoted as saying. "The tribunal is over and we want to look forward from now on."

Wolff responded: "It's a shame Christian declined (to attend). I would have liked to talk about the tribunal, maybe clear up some things and get closer together once again."

McLaren switches resources for fresh start in 2014
(GMM) McLaren has finally written off the 2013 season, turning the vast bulk of the great Woking based team's resources towards a fresh start for 2014.

In the opening seven races of the season, McLaren has put every effort into solving the problems of the uncompetitive MP4-28, but the latest package of improvements at Silverstone failed to provide a major step forwards.

"Frankly," team boss Martin Whitmarsh said on Saturday, "we are putting a lot of resource and effort on next year's program, a lot earlier than usual."

He came close to admitting the basic design of the 2013 car is simply flawed.

"We're throwing quite a lot of different ideas at the car but frankly we're not making that progress," he is quoted by British newspapers.

"We are at a point where we have to ensure we are in a competitive situation next year."

However, a major difficulty for McLaren is that if the fundamental issues of 2013 are not understood, the team may repeat those mistakes in 2014.

Whitmarsh said: "We are still going to do everything we can to understand this car and make it better.

"We'll be pushing hard but I think we have to be realistic in terms of where our priorities are."

McLaren's endless struggles in 2013 had also raised questions about lead driver Jenson Button's loyalty, particularly with a Red Bull seat opening up for 2014.

But the 2009 world champion is vowing to stay put.

"You cannot look at this year and think 'It's time to get out'. That is not right. Jumping from team to team is not the right way to go in racing," said Button.

"This team will win a championship over the next few years and I want to be here for that," he added.

Lotus pushing Raikkonen for quick decision on 2014
(GMM) Lotus is pushing Kimi Raikkonen to make a quick decision over his future.

The 2007 world champion has admitted "small talks" with Red Bull have already taken place, but both Raikkonen and his potential 2014 boss Christian Horner are saying they are in no rush to finalize a deal.

A different message is now emerging from Lotus.

"He (Raikkonen) knows that we need to plan ahead for 2014," team boss Eric Boullier told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"We assume that before the summer break he will decide whether he is staying or not," the Frenchman added.

Far from issuing a 'take it or leave it' ultimatum, however, Boullier is arguing strongly that Lotus – with a new 35 per cent co-owner and therefore solid financial backing – is the right place for introvert Raikkonen, who despises most non-racing aspects of formula one.

"We are fighting hard to keep Kimi," he said. "We'll do everything in our power. Personally, I'm absolutely convinced that he'll be in our car next year."

Bild correspondents Nicola Pohl and Helmut Uhl said Red Bull can surely offer the Finn more money and probably a faster car, but for the reticent and wealthy Raikkonen, that might not be everything.

"Kimi is not for sale," Boullier insisted. "He doesn't need more money, so Red Bull can't just buy him.

"I know what goes on in his head and money does not play the most important role. We've built our team around him, and what he needs.

"He likes the people here, the engineers, the management. Kimi loves his freedom more than anything else, and unlike any other team he gets that here in combination with a good car."

Boullier therefore questioned whether Red Bull is the right place for Raikkonen.

"First, Red Bull is built completely around Sebastian Vettel. Kimi will have to slot in behind the guy who has given them three world championships.

"The other thing is that he has to do a lot less PR days with us, compared to at least 20 or 30 at Red Bull. That's why he's happy here," the Frenchman added.

"Kimi wants to beat Vettel, but not at any price," Boullier said. "All I can do is put the arguments in favor of Lotus on the table for him."

F1 no longer 'extreme' – Villeneuve
(GMM) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is no big fan of today's formula one.

These days, the French-Canadian still earns his living in the paddock as an expert television pundit, but he makes no secret that the sport has moved away from his passion.

"Formula one has ceased to be extreme," he told the Russian website

"Engines lasting only one race (is extreme), you know? Tires wearing out quickly because they're so fast, not because they're not strong enough.

"Sometimes, now, a formula one car in the race is slower than a GP2 car in qualifying — that is absolutely wrong," Villeneuve charged.

"The way formula one has developed, for me has been the wrong path, and the situation is only getting worse in the future.

"Next year, drivers will use only five engines for the whole season — in my view, it's becoming more like endurance racing."

There is a feeling in the paddock that fellow purist Mark Webber's decision to quit F1 and join Porsche at Le Mans is also due to a Villeneuve-like line of reasoning.

Alex Wurz, a former F1 driver who currently spearheads Toyota's sports car project, thinks the falling out with Sebastian Vettel also contributed to Webber's call.

"Mark is still hungry and I think he wants to go somewhere where it's all about the racing again," Wurz told German broadcaster Sky.

"The world endurance championship is simple; all the drivers are paid to drive, the racing is the focus; there's much less politics than in formula one.

"I'm convinced Webber has had enough of the politics, which I can understand because I felt the same when I finished my F1 career.

"I have no doubt he will have lots of fun in the WEC," Austrian Wurz added.

Marussia F1 Team forms strategic alliance with Russian-owned Reading FC
Ahead of today’s 2013 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the Marussia F1 Team is delighted to announce a partnership with another Russian-owned sports team based in the UK, Reading FC.

Owned by Russian entrepreneur Anton Zingarevich, Reading FC – also known as ‘The Royals’ – currently play in the UK Championship. Their home ground, the Madejski Stadium, is based in the heart of the Thames Valley, close to the UK’s ‘Motorsport Valley’.

The alliance is a meeting of minds between two major sporting properties operating in the two most high profile sports in the world. Both teams are owned by highly successful Russian entrepreneurs operating on an international stage and with the ‘Premiership’ firmly in their sights. The two parties will enjoy an exchange of benefits including significant branding exposure in their respective team environments, joint marketing and promotional initiatives, as well as integration at a human performance level, collaborating on fitness, nutrition and coaching programs.

‘The Royals’ will feature for the first time on the MR02 race cars of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi for today’s race at Silverstone.

Andy Webb, CEO, Marussia F1 Team
“We are delighted to be able to announce our partnership with Reading FC ahead of today’s British Grand Prix. Of course, next year we will have two home races when we head to Sochi for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, but for the moment we are a Russian owned team based on British soil which is the basis for a great deal of synergy with our friends at Reading FC. Through Formula 1™ we are able to combine our love of racing with our strategic business objectives for the Marussia brand, but we are also part of a sport within Sport, so naturally we are keen to look more comprehensively at what we can learn from other sporting properties and indeed what they can learn from Formula 1™. This is all part of our ethos of taking our Team and Formula 1™ to the widest possible audience. We look forward to working with Anton Zingarevich and his team to achieve a fully integrated partnership and we are delighted to welcome representatives from ‘The Royals’ to Silverstone today."

Nigel Howe, Chief Executive, Reading FC
"This is a fantastic partnership which allows us to connect two global sporting brands. Both of us are based in the Thames Valley and are hugely ambitious; it is clear that we have plenty in common and can learn from each other. We will be proud to see our badge displayed at some of the world's most iconic tracks – this is one of many ambitious projects we have announced in the last year or so and I'm sure our supporters will share our excitement."

Hulkenberg: We're simply not quick enough
Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg described his team as "simply not quick enough" after qualifying 15th fastest for Sunday afternoon's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The German, who will start 14th after stewards sent former teammate Paul di Resta to the back of the grid, linked the outfit's current struggles to a lack of grip in high speed corners, with the C32 proving to be particularly sensitive to changing winds.

"Unfortunately P15 is the reality," Hulkenberg reflected after qualifying. "It was more or less the best we could do today. The car was difficult to drive, especially at high speed with a little bit of wind the car is very sensitive. We are simply not quick enough."

He added: "A lot can happen during the race, and maybe a bit of English rain would help us. But I think points will be difficult, then again you should never say never."

Teammate Esteban Gutierrez was eliminated from the opening qualifying phase in 18th, although di Resta's post-session penalty moves him up a place to 17th

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