Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Peter Sauber awaits start of 2013 testing

    Sauber looks ahead to first test of 2013

  • Buemi eyes Force India, Lotus seats for 2013
  • Perez had 'taste' of McLaren-like pressure in 2012
  • 'Vettel always wins' in Newey cars – Marko
  • Alonso 'has problems' when he loses – Marko
  • Nurburgring 'confident' of 2013 German GP
  • Montezemolo hits out at Ecclestone, Schumacher
  • Alonso counts himself among greatest ever drivers
  • Cuquerella hints HRT adventure definitely over
  • Vettel wants F1 return for Austria
  • Ease of Vettel's titles 'abnormal' – Gene
  • We owed our fans an answer, says Alonso
  • Jake Dennis wins F1 test with McLaren
  • Massa was worried about getting Ferrari axe

Sauber looks ahead to first test of 2013
(GMM) Just a week after the longest-ever F1 season ended, Peter Sauber is already looking ahead to the first official action of 2013.

The Swiss team's founder revealed in his column for the Sonntagsblick newspaper that Sauber's 2013 car – the Ferrari-powered C32 – will be tested for the first time at Jerez on February 5.

"I'm very confident," Sauber wrote. "Because the technical rules are not changing much, we can build on the C31. We are currently on schedule.

"I am convinced that on February 5 at Jerez we will put a fast car on the track."

Sauber, having lost Sergio Perez to McLaren and dropped Kamui Kobayashi, will have an all-new driver lineup next year.

"I don't need to say much about Nico Hulkenberg," said Peter Sauber. "What particularly impressed me in the second half of the season was how he dominated his highly rated teammate Paul di Resta.

"And his performance in Sao Paulo inspired us all," he added.

Hulkenberg's teammate will be the Telmex-backed Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez.

Buemi eyes Force India, Lotus seats for 2013
(GMM) Sebastien Buemi says he is still in the running to secure the Force India race seat for 2013.

And the Swiss, who was dropped by Toro Rosso at the end of last year but subsequently signed up as Red Bull's reserve driver, told the Blick newspaper that he might also be a candidate to replace the erratic Romain Grosjean at Lotus.

Blick said a new Red Bull deal for the 24-year-old is "on the table".

Buemi said: "But I am waiting for Force India's answer. And everything doesn't seem clear at Lotus.

"Luckily for me, most teams have not forgotten about me. There's no more I can do."

Buemi's career is currently being handled by Julian Jacobi, who is famous for being the great Ayrton Senna's manager.

Also still in the running for the remaining 2013 vacancies is Kamui Kobayashi, whose website campaign to raise money from his fans for a race seat is running strongly.

Spain's AS newspaper said the Japanese, who has been dropped by Sauber, has so far raised over EUR 1 million.

Perez had 'taste' of McLaren-like pressure in 2012
(GMM) Sergio Perez thinks he is ready for the pressure of racing for a top team.

Ahead of his move to replace Lewis Hamilton, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh recently warned the young Mexican that the added pressure of driving for the famous British team will shock Perez.

"He might think he understands it, but he doesn't," said Whitmarsh.

Perez, 22, acknowledged: "Of course there is extra pressure when you're driving at the front.

"I have to get used to that, but I have already had a taste of it at Sauber," he is quoted by the Dutch website

"When I was on the podium I was a superstar, and when I didn't do well, I was the driver who made too many mistakes," admitted Perez.

Still, Perez said he expects to succeed in 2013.

"I want to win titles with this team, so I want to do it next year," he said.

"It will be a long season, so it's important that I am well prepared from the beginning in order to satisfy their expectations."

'Vettel always wins' in Newey cars – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has hit back at Fernando Alonso, after the Spaniard recently said his real championship rival is Red Bull designer Adrian Newey.

"Our Spanish adversary does not seem quite up to date with his knowledge of the quality of Herr Vettel," Marko, a leading figure at the reigning champion team, said at a celebratory event in Graz, Austria.

"Yes, Vettel races in a Newey car, but he (Alonso) seems to have missed that we put two of them (Newey cars) at the start, and at the end it is always Vettel who wins."

Marko's comments might be seen as a barb at Vettel's teammate Mark Webber, who this season won twice in the latest Newey-penned RB8.

Australian Webber, however, does not think he is being steadily eased into the 'number 2' role at Red Bull.

"I'm not thinking I've got to be playing a team role as such," he told reporters late last week in Tasmania, for his regular outdoor adventure event.

"I'm there (in F1) for myself, to get the best results possible and to do that I need to be part of the team."

Alonso 'has problems' when he loses – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has hinted he thinks Fernando Alonso is a bad loser.

"He seems to have problems if he doesn't win," said the leading Red Bull Racing official, speaking after the FIA rejected Ferrari's challenge to Sebastian Vettel's title over a disputed yellow flag pass at the 2012 Brazil finale.

"When he (Alonso) doesn't win, then he develops incredible political skills," Marko added at a celebratory event in Graz, Austria.

As the yellow flag saga unfurled, Spaniard Alonso referred to "the correct rules" being his "miracles".

It was also rumored that the Alonso camp got fully behind the campaign to disseminate the video evidence of Vettel's allegedly illegal overtaking throughout the internet.

As for next year, Marko has no problem admitting that Red Bull will be a favorite.

"We assume that we will have a competitive car. Why should things change so much? We have the same team."

Also essentially the same in 2013 will be the regulations, leaving Marko to point out that the one changing element will be Pirelli's significantly different tires.

And he thinks Ferrari will continue to be the main enemy.

"McLaren has been weakened significantly by the departure of Hamilton," said Marko.

"Despite what Niki Lauda says, I don't see the possibility that he (Hamilton) will be racing for the championship (at Mercedes). That leaves only Ferrari.

"It will surely be a tough fight with them again."

Nurburgring 'confident' of 2013 German GP
(GMM) Nurburgring officials say they were "confident" after meeting late last week in London with Bernie Ecclestone.

Earlier, it was believed the circuit's hopes of organizing next year's German grand prix had been dashed by financial problems and a breakdown in talks.

But, back at the circuit on Friday, officials Jorg Lindner and Kai Richter said their Thursday meeting with F1 chief executive Ecclestone had left them feeling "confident", according to the German language Spox.

The report said the final calendar for the 2013 season will be published by F1's governing body this week.

Montezemolo hits out at Ecclestone, Schumacher
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo used Ferrari's end-of-season event at Valencia to criticize former team driver Michael Schumacher as well as F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Directing his attention to German Schumacher, who won five consecutive drivers' titles at Ferrari, president Montezemolo admitted he was unhappy the now-retired Mercedes driver moved over so readily at Interlagos for his countryman Sebastian Vettel.

In Brazil, Ferrari's new 'number 1' Fernando Alonso was fighting for the drivers' title with Red Bull's champion.

"I was expecting a slightly different final race on the part of Michael Schumacher because he is a driver with links to Ferrari through some extraordinary moments and with whom we feel very close," said Montezemolo.

The Ferrari president, however, saved his real vitriol for Bernie Ecclestone, who last week described Ferrari's questioning of the outcome of the 2012 championship as a "joke".

The affair surrounded an overtaking move by Vettel that, although ultimately declared legal by the FIA, was questioned by Ferrari in the days after the Brazilian finale.

Insisting Ferrari remains highly critical of F1 regulations including the emphasis on aerodynamics and a lack of testing, Montezemolo said: "Since some people have used the expression 'It's a joke' in recent days, I would like to say that this is the real 'joke'."

As for 82-year-old Ecclestone's criticism of the yellow flag saga, Montezemolo – who is 65 – said: "My father always taught me that you have to have respect for your elders, above all when they reach the point that they can no longer control their words.

"So I will stop there. Certainly, old age is often incompatible with certain roles and responsibilities."

Alonso counts himself among greatest ever drivers
(GMM) Fernando Alonso insists he is unmoved after being labeled a 'sore loser' in the wake of his 2012 championship defeat.

Even amid his title battle with Sebastian Vettel, the German media said Ferrari's Spaniard reverted to 'dirty tricks' to psychologically unsettle his adversary.

And afterwards, there were rumors that Alonso was firmly involved in the heightening of the 'yellow flag' saga over Vettel's allegedly illegal overtake in Brazil, earning him fresh rebukes from within Germany.

"Frankly, I'm not that interested in what the opinion is of me in Germany or elsewhere," Alonso said at Ferrari's end of season event at Valencia at the weekend.

"What I know is that people who see me in the streets hug me and call me gladiator or samurai. What matters to me are the 1200 people in the Ferrari family who gave me a standing ovation at a dinner."

Indeed, many in the paddock believe Alonso has improved even since his title-winning days at Renault mid last decade, and would have been a more deserving 2012 champion.

"Before," Alonso agreed, "the people had a more or less good opinion of me, but now I notice a whole different level of respect, which I did not have when I won in 2005 and 2006.

"And then, to be one of the greats of formula one, it's not enough to win titles, you must also tackle seasons like the one just ended."

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes him adding: "I don't have as many titles as Fangio or Schumacher, but I'm one of the best.

"Senna won three and is considered the best, even though others have more. When I retire, I will have the titles I have and I hope I am considered the best," he is quoted by the AS sports daily.

Cuquerella hints HRT adventure definitely over
(GMM) HRT's technical director Toni Cuquerella has acknowledged that the Spanish team's F1 foray is now over.

It was believed the team's departing owner Thesan Capital had set an end-of-November deadline for a new buyer to be found.

Indeed, as November became December over the past weekend, the FIA published the official 2013 entry list, and it made no mention of HRT.

But subsequent reports in Spanish newspapers suggested the dream may not be over for the team, who may have been granted more time by the governing body to pay next year's entry fee.

However, leading team figure Cuquerella wrote on Twitter: "Four years ago, I suggested to a friend to make a F1 team.

"Today after three seasons the last page of HRT has been written.

"It was certainly an experience," the Spanish engineer concluded.

Ferrari test driver Marc Gene, another Spaniard, commented: "It leaves a bad taste, because the probability of another Spanish project (in F1) is small and the precedent is negative.

"Support in Spain normally goes to the drivers," he is quoted by the EFE news agency.

"I can think of several projects in which it was thought that the country would get behind it, but instead only the athletes are supported," added Gene, a former Minardi driver.

Vettel wants F1 return for Austria
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has revealed he hopes Red Bull can celebrate a "home grand prix" in Austria.

Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who co-founded the highly popular energy drink, not only owns Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, but also the former Austrian grand prix venue A1-Ring.

After a complete refurbishment, the circuit in Spielberg – which last hosted formula one in 2003 – is now called the Red Bull Ring.

Red Bull's triple consecutive world champion Vettel said: "I was at the inauguration and had the chance to drive there.

"The track is completely formula one-compatible," the German is quoted by Austria's

"I don't know why we (F1) don't go there. For us (Red Bull) it would be great for it to be our home grand prix," he said at an event in Graz, Austria.

Ease of Vettel's titles 'abnormal' – Gene
(GMM) Fernando Alonso was "undoubtedly" the best driver of the 2012 season, according to fellow Spaniard and Ferrari test driver Marc Gene.

"The ease with which Vettel has won his titles is abnormal," the former Minardi driver is quoted by EFE news agency.

"For me the best driver this year was undoubtedly Fernando, getting thirteen out of twenty podiums."

In contrast, Red Bull's German Vettel – who beat his Spanish adversary to the championship by 3 points – was on the podium after 10 of this year's 20 races.

We owed our fans an answer, says Alonso
Fernando Alonso has defended Ferrari for its decision to seek clarification from governing body the FIA over Sebastian Vettel's allegedly illegal overtake during last weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, explaining that the Maranello-based team 'owed its fans an answer' in the wake of the on-board footage being discovered.

The video in question showed Vettel overtaking Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne after a yellow flag board in Brazil, but closer examination confirmed that the Red Bull driver had crucially passed a trackside green flag before pulling alongside his rival. Despite the outcome, Alonso insists Ferrari made the right choice by pursuing the matter.

Alonso fully backed Ferrari's decision to seek clarification over the move." There were a lot of video clips on the internet and we knew our fans were asking for an explanation and so it was right for Ferrari to turn to the (FIA) Federation for a clarification," Alonso said of Vettel's Lap 4 pass.

"We got a reply and I think everything has now calmed down. I did not pay much attention to all of the uproar, but I felt we owed our fans an answer."

"Frankly, I’m not that interested in what the opinion is of me in Germany or elsewhere," he said of the criticism the clarification generated. "What I know is that people who see me in the streets hug me and call me gladiator or samurai. What matters to me are the 1,200 people in the Ferrari family, who gave me a standing ovation at a dinner."

Jake Dennis wins F1 test with McLaren
Reigning Formula Renault NEC Champion Jake Dennis picked up the McLaren Autosport BRDC award on Sunday evening, earning him a prize Formula 1 test.

Dennis, who is backed by the Racing Steps Foundation, also received £100,000 towards his racing career and full membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club.

The 17-year-old won his 2012 Formula Renault title by a comfortable 60-point margin, securing three victories and a further eight podium finishes in his debut season.

To claim BRDC honors, Dennis went up against rivals Jack Hawksworth, Josh Hill, Jordan King, Melville McKee and Josh Webster in a series of on-track tests.

Massa was worried about getting Ferrari axe
Felipe Massa has admitted that the uncertainty over his Ferrari future affected his performances in the first half of 2012, with a wide range of rival drivers linked to the Brazilian's coveted seat after he endured an extremely difficult start to the season.

"In the first half of the year, I was worried about renewing my contract," he said. "I did not think that Ferrari would really wait right to the end of the summer before deciding on the drivers for next year.

"It’s true that ever since I’ve been at Maranello, there have always been rumors about me: already in my first year there was a list of drivers who were supposed to take my place and it was the same this year, with a lot of names and plenty of speculation."

"At the start, I paid too much attention to these things, but then, in August, I told myself I should only think about racing and having fun and so I began to really drive, to have the right feeling with the car and to drive as quickly as I know how," he said of his approach from the midway point of the championship onwards.

"Now I feel very strong and the results were there to see in the last nine races: so I am optimistic for the future, mine and Ferrari’s."

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