Bianchi has 'real chance' of Force India seat – manager
- Alesi retires from motor racing
- 2013 Pirelli tires could shake up pecking order – Hembery
- Razia 'surprised' by Marussia's Chilton deal
- Haug admits Mercedes defeats led to F1 departure
- Uncertainty over 2013 seat 'unpleasant' – Grosjean
- Vettel 'not bothered' some think Alonso better
- Barcelona pulls pin on Valencia alternation plans
- Hamilton will pressure Mercedes New
Bianchi has 'real chance' of Force India seat – manager
(GMM) Jules Bianchi has a "real chance" of securing one of the two remaining race seats on the 2013 grid.
The 23-year-old Frenchman's manager Nicolas Todt told RMC Sport that Bianchi is in the running for the vacant Force India drive alongside Paul di Resta.
Bianchi, also supported by Ferrari's driver development 'academy', was the Silverstone based team's full time reserve driver this year.
"The decision is in the hands of two or three people at the Force India team," Todt, the son of FIA president Jean Todt and also the manager of Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado, said.
"I think Jules has a real chance but nothing is done," added Todt.
It has been reported the favorite for the drive is German Adrian Sutil, but Todt insisted: "There are many drivers knocking on the door at Force India."
He said he doubts Sutil is a shoe-in for the seat.
"I would be surprised, but as of today I do not think anyone has signed," said Todt.
Force India has announced it will launch its 2013 car at Silverstone on 1 February, ahead of the winter test season in Spain.
Alesi retires from motor racing
(GMM) Jean Alesi has decided to retire from motor racing.
At the wheel of Lotus' highly uncompetitive car, the F1 veteran made his Indy 500 debut this year and vowed to return in 2013 with a better performance.
But the 48-year-old Frenchman, who won just one grand prix for Ferrari during his 202-grand prix career between 1989 and 2001, announced this week he is in fact quitting.
"I do not feel like hunting for sponsors," Alesi told the French sports daily L'Equipe.
2013 Pirelli tires could shake up pecking order – Hembery
(GMM) Pirelli's new tires for the 2013 season could shake up the pecking order in formula one.
That is the view of the Italian marque's British head of motor racing, Paul Hembery, who this week was in Sao Paulo to announce Pirelli's new foray in the Brazilian stock car series.
It has been said that, because the technical regulations are not significantly changing over the winter, next year's pecking order could be a continuation of the 2012 season.
But Hembery is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo: "The tires next year will be different from those used this year.
"The walls flex a little more, which will have a significant influence on the aerodynamic performance," he said.
"I don't think the next championship will necessarily be anything like how it finished this year," added Hembery.
"I think there will be teams who will look deeply into this feature of our new tires," he said.
"I am sure they are racking their brains as to how it affects, for example, the suspension. We saw in testing how the tires changed the behavior of the cars.
"The designers will be looking at that," said Hembery.
Razia 'surprised' by Marussia's Chilton deal
(GMM) Luiz Razia, the 2012 GP2 runner-up, admitted he was surprised when on Tuesday Marussia announced Max Chilton as Timo Glock's 2013 teammate.
The 23-year-old Brazilian told Globo he was a hot contender for the seat until the very last minute.
"We didn't have much chance at Lotus," Razia, referring to this week's news of Romain Grosjean's new contract, admitted.
"But we were caught by surprise by Marussia. We were talking to them until yesterday. They said 'We're still deciding'.
"There are still two vacancies, Force India and Caterham, and we've been talking. Yes we still have a chance," said Razia.
Yet another possibility is that Marussia does not honor its existing contract with Timo Glock.
Indeed, Tuesday's press release about Chilton made not a single reference to the German, and the recent official 2013 entry list said both of Marussia's 2013 seats were 'TBA' (to be announced).
"Timo has a contract until 2014 and so the team would have to pay a penalty of termination. I don't know if that's interesting for the team," said Razia, who admitted he has "sponsors" but not a "bottomless pit" of funding.
Haug admits Mercedes defeats led to F1 departure
(GMM) Norbert Haug has admitted he is stepping down due to Mercedes' lack of success as a works team since 2010.
But in an interview with Germany's Bild daily, he denied reports he is being made a scapegoat.
"No, I'm not," said Haug, who served as the German marque's motor sport vice president for more than two decades.
"If I had nothing to do with our failures in the last three years, then I would have nothing to do with our victory in China this year," said the 60-year-old, "and I wouldn't like that."
But why has Haug been axed, and not the Brackley based team's British principal, Ross Brawn?
"Because over 22 years I have borne the overall responsibility for motor sport at Mercedes, not Ross Brawn. I am ultimately his superior," he insisted.
Haug said he accepts that he must take the responsibility.
"The basis of our car was good, but the development was poor to very poor," he admitted.
Haug denied rumors he is actually quitting for health reasons.
"Thank god not," the German insisted. "Almost three years ago to the day I had thyroid surgery, but since then I'm doing very well. I'm totally healthy," he added.
He said he doesn't know if his job will now be split into two roles — DTM and F1.
"I have no information. Maybe there is a very capable professional who can do much more than I can," said Haug.
He played down suggestions ex-drivers like Michael and Ralf Schumacher, or Mika Hakkinen, can fill his shoes.
"Honestly, I don't think they were born to be in the office," laughed Haug.
Uncertainty over 2013 seat 'unpleasant' – Grosjean
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has admitted to relief, after Lotus this week ended a long period of speculation about the Frenchman's future.
After his often impressive yet error-strewn return to F1 this year, the 26-year-old Frenchman admitted he genuinely feared for his race seat.
"I am happy and relieved," Grosjean told France's RMC Sport.
"It has been some long and not necessarily very pleasant weeks."
In the wake of his Monza ban, Grosjean began to put his season back together but then ended 2012 badly in Austin and Brazil.
"The last two races of the season did not help the negotiations," he admitted.
"We sat down together to understand, analyze and especially consider whether we go on again.
"I was clearly concerned about going, losing what I love. When the decision came, I was very relieved," said Grosjean.
There was speculation Grosjean's turbulent season had also endangered the backing of his sponsor Total, but the French company said on Tuesday that it continues to support the Swiss-born racer.
"This is a new step in the relationship of trust that we have built together from his first laps, 7 years ago," said senior vice president Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier.
Grosjean, meanwhile, denied Lotus decided to give him another chance for 2013 after beating the likes of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel at last weekend's Race of Champions.
Asked when the new deal was done, he told Sky Sports: "It was just before the Race of Champions, so it was good to get there and have a weekend of fun with some good guys and really enjoy it."
Vettel 'not bothered' some think Alonso better
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel insists he is not bothered that some regard Fernando Alonso as a better driver.
Recently, after a confidential post-season survey involving all 12 team bosses, Spaniard Alonso was voted the standout driver of the season, despite German Vettel winning his third consecutive championship with Red Bull.
"If people think that Alonso's wins are about the driver and mine about the car, that is also Fernando's responsibility — but it doesn't bother me," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"I admire him (Alonso) very much and I respect him as a driver," added Vettel.
"For me it was clear from the beginning that my opponent for the title would be him.
"After the winter tests, Ferrari became competitive more quickly than we expected – yes, maybe in Malaysia he would not have won in the dry – but already by Barcelona he was among the best.
"His strength was to always be fast even if he was almost never the fastest," Vettel said.
As for the claims Alonso is a better driver, Vettel insisted: "I don't want to stand here and prove my performance, but we have also won races that we should not have.
"Monaco last year, for example, when I made the decision against all reason to go with a one stop. Also Barcelona 2011, when Hamilton was faster but he couldn't get past me."
Barcelona pulls pin on Valencia alternation plans
(GMM) Barcelona has moved to secure its annual spot on the formula one calendar.
With European grand prix host Valencia dropped from the 2013 schedule, it was expected that both of Spain's F1 hosts would now move to annually alternate a single race per year.
But El Mundo Deportivo newspaper reports that the Circuit de Catalunya has inked an agreement with the public institution Diputacion Provincial de Barcelona, providing new funding to the track.
"We have a contract to host the GP de Espana until 2016," said Circuit de Catalunya chief Vincente Aguilera, "and we want to keep it.
"Indeed, we are open to negotiating an extension until 2020 with the same conditions," he added.
Aguilera told AS newspaper: "We have no desire to alternate. We cannot speak for Valencia, who have agreements with (Bernie) Ecclestone about which we have nothing to say."
Hamilton will pressure Mercedes
Mercedes F1 CEO Nick Fry says it will be under pressure to produce a competitive car now it has signed Lewis Hamilton for the 2013 season.
"I think it's a clear indication of the aspirations of the team. We've had probably one of the greatest drivers of all time driving for us, who was clearly in age terms reaching the later part of his career when he arrived with us," Fry told AUTOSPORT.
"In order to do well in Formula 1, you've got to do well in every respect. You've got to have the best technology, you've got to have the best teamwork, you've got to have the best management and you have to have the best drivers.
"Hamilton's arrival is very exciting for the team and also puts a lot of pressure on because Ross Brawn has to provide him with a very good car.
"He can't win with a car which is duff. He can win with a car that is not quite the best, but the competition is such that you can't bridge a huge gap."
"Certainly in my view, Lewis and Fernando Alonso are the two best drivers," he added. "I'd caveat that by saying Sebastian Vettel may well be in that group, but he's always had the best car, and he's got to prove it, in my mind.
"Certainly Fernando this year, when the Ferrari has not been the best car by any stretch of the imagination, has still done an exceptional job.
"And I think Lewis is still in that category of being a driver you could give not quite the best car and he could still win races, whereas most of the other drivers in the Formula 1 field will probably win the race if you give them the best car."