Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

Adrian Sutil


  • Sutil admits 'good chance' of Force India return
  • Haug felt responsible for Mercedes failure – Lauda
  • Hamilton has started work at Mercedes
  • Mercedes 'too late' to poach boss Horner – Marko
  • Mercedes failure Brawn's fault, not Haug's – Stuck
  • F1 career 'on track' says Grosjean
  • Conviction no barrier to 2013 return – Sutil New
  • Horner: I would not have kept Massa for 2013 New

Sutil admits 'good chance' of Force India return
(GMM) Adrian Sutil has admitted he could complete Force India's 2013 driver lineup.

The former team driver, who sat out 2012 in the wake of his assault conviction, told German television Sat 1: "I certainly hope so.

"It's not yet certain, but I have a good chance.

"I know this business very well, and so you can only be certain when you have something signed.

"I still have to be patient, but I certainly hope that it turns out in my favor.

"It would be nice because I know the team well."

Sutil, now 29, made his debut for the Silverstone based team in 2007, when it was known as Spyker. He stayed through the transition to Midland and finally Force India.

The German admitted he is pinning his 2013 hopes on Force India, who have a vacancy alongside Paul di Resta after Nico Hulkenberg's move to Sauber.

"If it doesn't happen, I will have to think about something else, but I haven't really started that process yet," said Sutil.

Haug felt responsible for Mercedes failure – Lauda
(GMM) Norbert Haug fell on his sword due to Mercedes' failure to succeed in its first three years, Niki Lauda has confirmed.

Following last week's shock news, many sensed the new non-executive chairman Lauda's influence when it was announced that Haug is stepping down after 22 years in charge at the German marque.

But the great Austrian insists he was as surprised as anyone.

"On Tuesday I was at the board meeting in Stuttgart for the first time in my new role," Lauda revealed to Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"At the end of the meeting, it was an absolute surprise when Haug gave his resignation.

"I took my cap off to him, because he said essentially he feels responsible for the poor performance this year, and had drawn the appropriate conclusion.

"To be honest, there are very few managers in top positions who do such things. Personally, I'm very sorry about it. I would love to still have worked with him."

Asked if he tried to convince Haug to stay, Lauda insisted: "No. If a person makes such a decision, you have to respect it."

He admitted that Haug's departure leaves a "huge gap" at Mercedes.

"Mercedes will now consider how the loss will be dealt with. I don't see anyone at the moment who can take over Norbert's tasks one by one.

"The situation will have to be evaluated completely."

Asked if he can step in to help fill the void, triple world champion Lauda answered: "No. I am chairman of the board, which has nothing to do with the operation of business."

Hamilton has started work at Mercedes
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has already started work at Mercedes.

Britain's Sun newspaper said that although the 2008 world champion remains under contract to McLaren for two more weeks, a "deal" has been agreed whereby the 27-year-old can at least meet his new engineers.

And the report said Briton Hamilton also got his first taste of Mercedes' driver simulator last week.

"Lewis has already been in the factory to see the team and fulfill some duties after we found an agreement about that with McLaren," said Mercedes' departing head of motor sport, Norbert Haug.

Hamilton has played down his chances of immediately succeeding at Mercedes, saying he will not really be thinking about titles and wins until at least 2014.

"That's fine," non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"I don't really like when drivers say they are going to win every race. For me, a sober, pragmatic analysis of things is better, where you can positively surprise rather than promise something that can't necessarily be achieved."

Lauda admitted, however, that Mercedes must improve.

"We have the best engine and the best drivers. Now we need to improve the car a lot before the season."

But he tipped reigning world champions Red Bull to enter 2013 as the definite favorites.

"Yes, the rules for 2013 are a great advantage for Red Bull, who are already on a high level, to just go on.

"But in spite of the limited possibilities, we have to try to make two or three steps forward.

"I know one thing: the people in England are highly motivated and have completely understood their failures."

And Lauda suggested that if Mercedes fails again, it will not be Hamilton's fault, nor his 2013 teammate Nico Rosberg's.

"For me, Hamilton-Rosberg is the strongest pairing compared to all the other teams.

"Take a look at Red Bull and the gap between Vettel and Webber, or Alonso and Massa at Ferrari. Or, even worse, at McLaren and the gap between Button and Perez. Some teams have worlds between their two drivers.

"Another advantage of Hamilton is that he comes with experience of another team, and he can tell us exactly what are the strengths and weaknesses of our car," added Lauda.

Mercedes 'too late' to poach boss Horner – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull has extended its contract with team boss Christian Horner, the energy drink company's motor sport chief Dr Helmut Marko has claimed.

The news follows speculation at the weekend that, in the wake of Norbert Haug's shock departure at Mercedes, the German marque had targeted Briton Horner as a potential successor.

Bild newspaper claims Horner's name was definitely discussed during Mercedes' latest board meeting in Stuttgart last week.

But Austrian Marko insisted: "Horner has extended his contract with us last week, by several years.

"Mercedes is too late," he added.

Bild said it is likely Haug's old role will be divided in two, with a German to run the DTM division and someone else taking over responsibility for F1 at Brackley.

The report said: "Schumacher is not available. He has no interest in the job."

Mercedes failure Brawn's fault, not Haug's – Stuck
(GMM) Mercedes should not pin its failure to succeed as a formula one works team on departing motor sport president Norbert Haug, according to Hans-Joachim Stuck.

After 22 years in the role, spanning the famous German marque's entire grand prix involvement in the modern era, Haug has resigned.

Niki Lauda, who arrived at Mercedes recently as non-executive chairman, said on Sunday that Haug resigned as a result of the team's failure to succeed since taking over Brawn in 2010.

But Stuck, the president of Germany's motor sport federation, defended Haug by saying: "The failures in formula one are solely attributable to Ross Brawn.

"The car was just not fast enough," he told the Focus newsmagazine in its Monday edition.

"He (Haug) was not the one who designed that car. He was the one who, after all those decades, made motor sport acceptable to Mercedes once again."

F1 career 'on track' says Grosjean
(GMM) Romain Grosjean insists his formula one career remains "on track".

His comments follow a period of intense speculation, amid suggestions Lotus – and sponsor Total – are considering dropping the 26-year-old after his often impressive yet tumultuous 2012 season.

Some good news for Grosjean, however, is that he won the prestigious Race of Champions event in Bangkok at the weekend, beating the likes of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

Lotus celebrated the 26-year-old's "emphatic" triumph with a lengthy press release.

As for his F1 career, "Things are on track," the Frenchman is quoted as saying by L'Equipe.

"I hope everything turns out well and I am able to put into practice what I learned this year.

"I hope to be stronger next season. Normally, you say that the first year is about learning, but F1 is a little different.

"We went through ups and downs this season, but I learned a thousand things. I had a good start but also went through some difficult times.

"Ultimately, the team allowed me to grow and I became a better driver. I hope to continue to learn next year," added Grosjean.

Conviction no barrier to 2013 return – Sutil
(GMM) Adrian Sutil insists a criminal conviction for assault last year will not affect his return to formula one.

Reportedly close to signing a deal to return to F1 with his old team Force India, it has been rumored the 29-year-old German's conviction might cause him trouble entering some of the countries on the 2013 calendar.

But Sutil told BBC radio: "We checked all the countries and there is no problem for me to travel. All my problems last winter are solved."

In January, a German court gave Sutil an 18-month suspended jail sentence and EUR 200,000 fine for attacking Lotus team executive Eric Lux in a Shanghai nightclub last May.

Horner: I would not have kept Massa for 2013
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says he would not have retained Felipe Massa if he was in charge of Ferrari, with a range of rival drivers linked to the Brazilian's seat in the early stages of the 2012 season. After much improved performances in the second half of the campaign, the Maranello-based outfit opted to extend his contract.

"No, I don’t think I would (have retained him)," Horner, whose team has claimed three successive world titles, said in The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2012 book. "Unfortunately, it’s a tough business, and results-based. You’ve got to look at what the guy in the other car, which we must assume is equal equipment, is achieving.

"They obviously had a look at other drivers – at least one of ours! – so they were obviously concerned about his form, but their options seemed to become limited.

"Then Felipe obviously picked his form up in the last third of the year. They were obviously deliberating – the messages coming out of Maranello confirmed that – and probably when the music stopped they realized that the option they had was best for them."

Meanwhile, Massa has explained that he is 'more motivated than ever' ahead of the 2013 campaign, admitting that his experiences from 2012 should help him next year.

"Now I am more motivated than ever: the second part of the season was like a training session for next year," he said at Ferrari's Christmas party. "In 2013, I really want to come back to this event to celebrate something even better together with all of you!"

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