Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Raikkonen, not Button, a Red Bull 'option' – Horner
  • F1 paddock delighted with Honda's return
  • 2014 F1 cars to be much heavier – report
  • Teams would only waste more income – Ecclestone
  • Vettel unaware of 36-point title lead
  • Lowe to attend first race for Mercedes at Silverstone
  • Turvey optimistic aero test will improve car
  • Fuel efficiency key in 2014, says Whiting

Raikkonen, not Button, a Red Bull 'option' – Horner
(GMM) Amid reports Mark Webber is nearing a new deal for 2014, Red Bull has admitted it still regards Kimi Raikkonen as "an option" to become Sebastian Vettel's next teammate.

Although earlier it was believed 2007 world champion Raikkonen as well as Toro Rosso's current drivers were in the running, it is reported this week that 36-year-old Webber in fact has team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's backing for an eighth consecutive season at Red Bull.

But team boss Horner told British reporters on Wednesday: "Kimi would have to be an option, if he were to be available."

33-year-old Finn Raikkonen, currently at Lotus, has said he is yet to consider his future beyond 2013.

Horner added: "We're in the fortunate position that there are an awful lot of people who would like to drive a Red Bull Racing car."

He said it is possible Webber will decide to leave formula one at the end of his 2013 deal.

"We've agreed year-on-year deals with him as we did with David Coulthard at a similar stage in his career," said Horner.

"Before making any decision it's important to understand what his (Webber's) intentions are.

"The pairing we have has been tremendously successful. From our perspective we will only change for something better than we currently have," added Horner.

Horner said Jenson Button, who is just tenth in the drivers' championship this year at the wheel of McLaren's uncompetitive car, is not an option.

"Jenson's a class act, as a team player, a human being, a driver," he said.

"He's not on our radar because he's not available. He's married to the team that he's driving for."

F1 paddock delighted with Honda's return
(GMM) Honda's return to formula one in 2015 is being warmly welcomed in the paddock.

Amid poor results and the global financial crisis, the Japanese carmaker pulled out as a team at the end of 2008, but will return in 2015 as a works supplier of the new turbo V6 engine to McLaren.

"I think it's very good for the team and for McLaren's future," said Jenson Button, "but I think it's also good for the sport.

"It means we will have four engines in formula one, and I think it will pave the way for even more carmakers to come in," the McLaren driver, and former works Honda driver, told Brazil's Totalrace.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso also welcomed the good news, believing Honda will boost competition in F1.

"It's always positive and always welcome when manufacturers come into F1," the Spaniard is quoted as saying.

"We have seen that the smaller teams with lower costs did not have the success that was expected, as formula one is much more demanding than any other category.

"Honda's arrival is the best of news," added Alonso.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner also sees Honda's return as a good sign for F1.

"It's great to see them coming back," he said. "It shows that F1 is very significant for car manufacturers.

"We have seen the benefits that Infiniti has had to be involved with Red Bull, so I'm very happy to see Honda coming back," the Briton added.

Four time world champion Alain Prost, affiliated with F1 engine supplier Renault, agreed: "I think it's great. It's great for F1.

"It's good for Honda but I think also good for the image of F1.

"We have new and very complex technology coming next year, and manufacturers want to be involved in F1 again because of that, which is great for F1's image in general," he added.

Button's former works Honda teammate, Rubens Barrichello, commented: "When I knew they (Honda) were going out of the team I was in, there was a very big sadness in the air.

"Honda without F1, and F1 without Honda — they're not the same," said the veteran Brazilian.

"I am very happy to see them again."

2014 F1 cars to be much heavier – report
(GMM) Formula one cars will be much heavier in 2014, according to a report in the German newspaper Bild.

The report by correspondent Frank Schneider said the V6 engines and related energy-recovery systems and batteries will make the 2014 machines weigh 50 kilograms more.

"It will certainly be a big change," world champion Sebastian Vettel is quoted as saying, "and very different to drive."

However, the 50kg calculation may not be as simple as that.

Although the current V8s weigh just 95kg, while next year's V6s will be about 145kg – excluding the heavy ERS batteries – the fuel tanks will be much smaller in 2014.

That's because while cars currently start grands prix with up to 150kg of fuel on board, next year the rules dictate that only 100kg of fuel per race may be used.

"That is a significant difference," said the FIA's Charlie Whiting.

The minimum legal weight of the cars is also changing for 2014; from 640 to 660kg.

Teams would only waste more income – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone insists F1 teams would simply waste money if he agreed to up their income.

Amid reports only Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are not having financial troubles at present, backmarker Marussia complained that Ecclestone is not providing a "level playing field" for the smallest team.

"We have a suitably obscene amount of money to go motor racing with," team president Graeme Lowdon told the Guardian, "but nowhere near the levels of the other teams.

"If we had another couple of tenths in the car, we would be troubling some pretty big names ahead of us, who have been in the sport for a long time."

In a big blow to Marussia this year, Ecclestone limited official prize money to just the top ten constructors, while taking away the $10 million per year bonus to the newest teams.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone told Switzerland's Blick newspaper: "I could give all the teams another $20 million.

"But after a month, there'd be nothing left."

Vettel unaware of 36-point title lead
(GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel claims he does not know what his points margin is at the top of the 2013 championship, or that Fernando Alonso is his main title rival.

The triple-consecutive championship winner is superstitious; he always slides a lucky coin under his boot laces, and gives his chassis a female name on the Wednesday before the first race of a season.

But he told British reporters on Wednesday that his deliberate efforts to avoid knowing the championship points situation is just "to keep things simple".

German Vettel acknowledged that he knows he is in a "good position" in the current standings, but insists he has no idea of the precise 36-point gap, or that Ferrari's Alonso is running second.

"If you ask me currently – and please don't tell me – what's your score? Who's second or third in the title race? I don't know," he said.

"I am not entirely sure, but I think Fernando is second now because Kimi had a poor race in Canada, but I have no idea of the points.

"The first thing I do after a race when they give me the results is rip off the championship standing and focus on the rest because that's what matters for the next race," added Vettel.

"I am trying consciously to keep things simple. We have 20 races — if you manage to maximize all of those then you have a good chance of winning the championship in the end."

Vettel explained that focusing only on the races, rather than the championship, is the right strategy to perform at his best.

"I'm not stupid," he said, "but really right now the best is to focus race by race and if there is a gap, dive into it and don't think twice."

The 25-year-old also insisted he doesn't worry about rivals like Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who always herald one another's talents, but hail only Vettel's Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull.

"Well, I'm not relying on their opinion," said Vettel, who insists he feels happy with his own performance since he leapt to the top in F1.

"I don't think we have to hide," he added.

"We have shown enough more than once, not only if you look at championships but in many different races."

Lowe to attend first race for Mercedes at Silverstone
(GMM) Paddy Lowe will attend his first grand prix as Mercedes' executive technical director this weekend at Silverstone.

The 51-year-old started work at Brackley early this month, having served a period of 'gardening leave' after stepping down as McLaren's technical boss.

Germany's Sport Bild reports that the Briton's home race this weekend will mark his first in the paddock and on the pitwall in Mercedes team wear.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh told Sport Bild that it was his decision to release Lowe early from his 2013 contract.

"I did it because I like Paddy," he said, "and because we have a good relationship with Mercedes-Benz."

McLaren will remain powered by customer Mercedes engines until its works partnership with Honda formally begins in 2015.

It was previously thought Mercedes had to buy the remainder of Lowe's contract, but Whitmarsh said: "In the end I just thought it wasn't right to delay Paddy's commitment to Mercedes unnecessarily.

"I wanted to do it fairly and correctly," he added.

Sport Bild correspondents Bianca Garloff and Ralf Bach said Lowe's precise role is yet to be defined, but he is "somewhere between team principal Ross Brawn, motor sport director Toto Wolff and technical director Bob Bell.

"Paddy is a smart guy," Whitmarsh said. "I recruited him myself more than twenty years ago.

"But I don't know the organization at Mercedes and where he fits in there. Clearly they have many bosses, but they must know what they are doing."

Turvey optimistic aero test will improve car
McLaren test driver Oliver Turvey is optimistic that his straight line outing at the Idiada motorsport complex on Tuesday will boost the team's British Grand Prix chances, with a variety of aerodynamic upgrades being trialed ahead of the Silverstone race.

The 26-year-old Briton, fresh from finishing the Le Mans 24 Hours, conducted a full day of controlled-speed runs in north-east Spain, allowing engineers to determine which parts are ready to be used during Friday's pair of 90 minute practice sessions.

"We had a busy program yesterday and we got through the whole program," Turvey explained to "We gathered a lot of data and the team will go and analyze that before Silverstone."

He said of the outfit's chances at the venue: "If we can get both cars into Q3 and then fight for points, we’ll see what happens. At the end of the day, it’s a long race and the weather could play a part. Hopefully, with the aero test, we can improve the car. We’ll be pushing to get the best result we can."

Turvey went on to reiterate Managing Director Jonathan Neale's notion that 2013 is not a lost cause for McLaren, with the squad "working as hard as ever" to solve its issues.

"It’s been tough, but the team are pushing hard," he added. "I’m in the simulator most weeks. We’re trying to get on top of the car and to push for the rest of the season.

"Everyone is working as hard as ever. From a driver’s point of view it’s a great team to work with and to be part of. Hopefully we can improve and achieve better results."

McLaren sits sixth in the standings after seven races, 164 behind leaders Red Bull.

Fuel efficiency key in 2014, says Whiting
Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting has stated his belief that fuel efficiency will be fundamental to success when the new era of engine regulations are introduced next year, with the current V8 powerplants being replaced by turbocharged V6 units.

From the 2014 season, drivers will be limited to 100kg of fuel consumption during races – around 50kg less than the figure currently used. And, as the sport prepares to make the transition, Whiting emphasized the significance of the rule changes.

"We have new powertrain coming in 2014, with all sorts of energy recovery devices, which I think will bring the power up to a little over what we have at the moment," Whiting explained on the opening day of the FIA Sport Conference Week at Goodwood House. "The cornerstone of this new power unit is that cars will only be able to use 100kg of fuel for a race. There is also a fuel flow limit that will be checked and verified by the FIA fuel flow meter which will be fitted in all cars’ fuel tanks.

"Currently the fuel used is about 140 or 150kg and that will come down to the 100kg mark. That is a significant difference. Efficiency is the key thing. There’s no limit to the amount of fuel a team can put in a car but there is a limit to how much they can use in a race. It is a significant change to the efficiency of the car."

Whiting also moved to appease any lingering fears over safety, highlighting the technological advancements made since the most recent turbo era in the 1980s.

"You will not see any more fires than we see now," he added. "Things are much safer than they ever were in the past. The technology has come on in leaps and bounds and it is the most efficient way of developing the required power and that, alongside the energy recovery, means we will see some amazing machines out there."

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