Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Pedro de la Rosa

    De la Rosa denies Wurz to save dying HRT

  • 'Whining' Alonso has had 'very good' Ferrari in 2012 – Marko
  • Newey denies working only part-time for Red Bull
  • Raikkonen bonus money situation 'resolved' – Lopez
  • Hamilton cries during interview for last McLaren race
  • Kobayashi asks fans for money to save F1 career
  • Ecclestone exit could cost F1 'a few' races
  • Brazil to be wet
  • New rear wing for Red Bull New
  • Pirelli get positive feedback on 2013 tires New
  • Food company reports success at F1 New

De la Rosa denies Wurz to save dying HRT
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa has denied rumors Alex Wurz, his former McLaren test driver teammate, could be involved in the rescue of the dying Spanish team HRT.

Spain's AS newspaper said former F1 driver and Austrian Wurz, currently a 'driver coach' at Williams but also running his own company Firma Test and Technik, has been involved in talks to save HRT, whose lead driver is de la Rosa.

"No, it's not true," de la Rosa said.

"I believe Alex has already denied it, but I am sure he is here (at Interlagos) and you can see what he says."

De la Rosa, 41, acknowledged that Sunday's Brazilian grand prix could be his last grand prix.

And he warned others in pitlane about suffering HRT's fate.

"Apart from McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and maybe Mercedes, the future of all the other teams is not very secure," he is quoted as saying.

'Whining' Alonso has had 'very good' Ferrari in 2012 – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull's outspoken driver manager, has scoffed at the paddock's depiction of Fernando Alonso as the great title underdog.

The Austrian admitted to Auto Bild Motorsport that he has taken exception to Spaniard Alonso's repeated depiction of a David versus Goliath-style struggle against championship favorite Sebastian Vettel's vastly superior Red Bull.

"Who had the best car at Hockenheim?" Marko asked rhetorically.

"The Ferrari is not as bad as everyone says it is.

"Maybe Fernando has not always had the fastest car, but he has certainly had a very good one throughout the season.

"If he (Alonso) says he is fighting with blunt weapons, then I think he really is whining on a very high level," insisted Marko.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, however, said German Vettel has been "lucky" to have a top car in the last few seasons, delivering him two so far and almost now three consecutive drivers' titles.

Briton Hamilton on the other hand thinks he would have "absolutely" won more titles at McLaren, had his car been on Red Bull's level.

"I was lucky to get into F1 with a great car," Hamilton is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"But while I was unlucky that it didn't stay the same, he was lucky that it did," he added.

Newey denies working only part-time for Red Bull
(GMM) Adrian Newey has denied rumors he only works four days a week for Red Bull.

"I wish!" world champion Red Bull's car designer, and undoubtedly the most highly respected technical figure in formula one, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

"That's a rumor I've heard more and more but it's obviously false," said Newey.

"Unfortunately I'm working harder than ever and I think that's just the times we live in.

"We have so much data at our disposal and we spend a lot of time analyzing it all.

"I'd love to be in the factory only four days (a week), but I'm not," he insisted.

Raikkonen bonus money situation 'resolved' – Lopez
(GMM) Lotus F1 owner Gerard Lopez has blamed "angry" potential partners for spreading rumors about the team's financial situation.

It had been rumored the Enstone based squad, owned by Luxembourg businessman Lopez's Genii investment company, was having trouble paying Kimi Raikkonen and the team's 500 staff.

"We pay our bills on time just as well as the other teams," Lopez is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"It (the source of the rumors) was probably some people talking who wanted to join us as partners and are angry now because nothing happened," added Lopez.

Lopez admitted there was some truth to reports about Finn Raikkonen's unpaid points bonus money.

"It's been resolved," he said. "We just didn't expect him to get so many points, so it's been quite expensive for us. We have agreed to a new payment system.

"But at the end it has paid off because we are getting more TV money. Kimi has his money," Lopez insisted.

Lopez also hinted that, despite not yet confirming Romain Grosjean as Raikkonen's 2013 teammate, the Frenchman will stay.

"We have put him under some pressure," he smiled.

"The boy has sensational speed, but since he was punished for his crashes, he still has the handbrake on. I have told him to attack again.

"If he can get a better handle on it emotionally, he can achieve anything," added Lopez.

Hamilton cries during interview for last McLaren race
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton cried during a television interview whilst talking about his last career grand prix with McLaren.

Asked on Friday by the BBC reporter how he will feel when the checkered flag waves on Sunday, the 2008 world champion said in Brazil: "It's going to be tough.

"It's my family and I'll be going elsewhere. It's best I don't talk about it too much," he said, before welling with tears.

British newspapers believe Hamilton has fallen out badly with his former mentor Ron Dennis over his Mercedes switch, but he said telling boss Martin Whitmarsh about his move was "the most difficult (phone) call I've ever had to make".

"We'd grown so close and he had been so supportive and I didn't want to let people down," said the British driver.

"But at the end of the day you have to let people down sometimes to make decisions."

Hamilton likens leaving McLaren to finally "leaving home", and so Whitmarsh admitted he hopes the 27-year-old returns.

"We'd have him back, yes," he told British Sky television. "So let's hope it's just a gap year."

Kobayashi asks fans for money to save F1 career
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi is hoping a new website will help him raise the money to stay in formula one beyond Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.

Sauber announced on Friday that it will pair Nico Hulkenberg with the Telmex-backed Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez in 2013.

"I think if a driver deserves to be in formula one he's definitely one of them and I hope he can get support from Japanese companies and stay in the sport," Monisha Kaltenborn, admitting the decision to oust Kobayashi was "tough", said in Brazil.

Indeed, Kobayashi admitted at Interlagos that the '' website is designed to collect money from his fans in order to secure one of the last seats on the 2013 grid.

"It (the website) has been (live for) just two days but it's going to help my career for sure," he is quoted by Reuters.

The website includes the popular 26-year-old's bank account details.

Ecclestone exit could cost F1 'a few' races
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has warned that his demise could have serious repercussions for formula one.

Switzerland's Blick reports that German prosecutors could announce their intention to charge the F1 chief executive with bribery as early as next week.

And the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said British tax authorities are also closing in on the diminutive Briton.

It has been suggested the corruption scandal could cost Ecclestone – who although apparently fit and healthy is now 82 years-old – his job at the helm of the sport.

But Ecclestone told business journalist Christian Sylt his departure could have serious consequences for F1.

"One day, I'm not going to be there and one of the biggest problems is I've got really, really good relationships with the race promoters," he is quoted by the Independent.

"A few of them said to me, 'if you're not there, we're not there'. That's what the danger is," said Ecclestone.

Brazil to be wet
The latest forecast in Sao Paolo, Brazil is 70% chance of rain this afternoon increasing to 90% chance on race day. The rain will throw the race wide open and turn it into a crap shoot between point leader Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso who needs to make up 13 points to catch Vettel.

New rear wing for Red Bull
The relentless development race in Formula One has continued unabated this weekend as Red Bull bolts on updates at the eleventh hour. While most teams are beginning to focus efforts on the 2013 season, and slowing the pace of development for this year’s car, Red Bull continues its development program as it helps Sebastian Vettel towards a third consecutive drivers crown.

It’s understood a new rear wing arrived in Sao Paulo on Friday morning, along with some new bodywork.

Red Bull has endured a nervous week after Mark Webber was forced out of the United States Grand Prix with an alternator failure. “The alternator is a concern," admitted team boss Christian Horner during the week.

“It is something Renault need to get on top of this week," he continued. “They have run different solutions on different cars and hopefully they have enough data now to make sure we have a reliable version."

The alternator first proved a problem at the European Grand Prix when both Sebastian Vettel and Lotus‘ Romain Grosjean were forced out. The issue reappeared in Italy, while a new alternator was available to Renault powered teams last weekend. Red Bull opted to stay with the revised alternator it had used since Italy without problem.

Red Bull spent the opening day working on setup for the race, while taking the opportunity to test some of next year’s ideas. “We got through plenty of stuff and also did a bit of ’13 work," revealed Webber. “It’s the last test before next year, so we made the most of the beautiful sunny day in Brazil, before we go to colder Jerez in February."

Vettel and Webber were second and third respectively in both Friday’s practice sessions, just off the pace of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. Fernando Alonso, Vettel’s sole surviving championship rival, was fifth in both sessions, about two tenths off the pace of the points leader.

Pirelli get positive feedback on 2013 tires
The Formula One teams got their first taste of Pirelli’s 2013 tires during free practice in Brazil, with the Italian firm bringing two extra sets of prototype tires in addition to the usual allocation of P Zero Silver hard tires and P Zero White medium tires that have been nominated for the weekend.

The teams used the 2013 prototype tires mainly in the morning session, which were distinguished by orange writing on the sidewalls. The prototype tires seen in Brazil have a different structure compared to the 2012 tires, using the current hard compound, but with a quicker warm-up time as well as deliberately faster degradation.

Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Vitaly Petrov (Caterham) and both HRTs were the only drivers to use the prototype tires at the start of the afternoon session, which got underway in ambient temperatures of 32 degrees centigrade and 46 degrees of track temperature. These unusually warm conditions are not expected to last though: tomorrow should be much cooler for qualifying while there is a 100% chance of rain on Sunday: a hallmark of the already demanding Interlagos circuit, which places a lot of stress on the rear tires in particular due to its traction loads.

This gave all the teams – particularly the two championship protagonists – an interesting dilemma: whether or not to concentrate on qualifying performance, which will be in held in the dry tomorrow, or to work towards a wet set-up that will be useful for the race.

All the remaining drivers used the hard tire at the start of the second session, which was also the only tire apart from the new prototype used in the first session. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was the first driver to switch to the medium tires halfway through the session, followed progressively by the rest of the field, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean being the first driver to go quickest on them. The fastest time of the day was set by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton with half an hour to go on the medium tire: 1m14.026s.

Hamilton – who has never led a lap in Brazil despite winning the 2008 title at the Interlagos circuit – was fastest in the first free practice session in the morning, with a time of 1m14.131s on the orange-marked prototype tire.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “With testing opportunities so limited in Formula One, we wanted to give teams the opportunity to try out our tires before the first official test in February next year, so that they can start to understand how the new tires interact with the current cars. The initial feedback we received has been very positive: the tire that the teams tried today has a different structure with a faster warm-up. This delivers extra performance within a wider working range, due to increased cornering grip, which is exactly what we were aiming for. When we combine the new structure with the new compounds for next year we will see the full performance potential. As for this weekend, the high temperatures that led to quite a significant degree of degradation today, particularly on the rears, is not expected to last, so we are very likely to see the Cinturato Green intermediates and Cinturato Blue full wets during the race. We’re expecting at least a two-stop race, but if there is wet weather or safety cars involved, then all that could change significantly."

Food company reports success at F1
The company responsible for providing most of the food and beverage service during last weekend’s Formula One race at Circuit of the Americas reports the event went well overall, but that there were some shortages.

More than 117,000 fans attended the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday, but food and beverage services partner Sodexo had to stock enough goods to handle the crowds on all three days, which circuit organizers said was about 265,000.

The demand started heavy on Friday and built through the weekend, pressuring the sales of food and drink.

“The crowds and the overall event exceeded our expectations," said Martin Thorson, vice president of sports and entertainment for Sodexo.

“Even though the various crowds challenged us to get around the track, we were able to persevere and pull off an event. That, overall, is a success for us."

Thorson said he was pleased with how service flowed overall, and specifically mentioned people on foot selling water, beer and other beverages around the sprawling site.

He said employees were able to meet the demands not only of large crowds but individual needs as well, including setting up a bar at the top of the observation tower in 15 minutes Sunday night so a guest could propose to his girlfriend.

“We certainly felt there were many different great successes throughout the entire event," he said.

But he also acknowledged problems, including vendors running out of goods. He said that moving products and people through the large crowds was a challenge and that demand in some areas was higher than anticipated because it was the first event.

“We always had product and always had product going to them, and our nighttime redistribution went flawlessly," Thorson said. “It was more about a large crowd isolating off an area, consuming everything at that stand and not being able to get to it for a half hour or so."

Circuit President Steve Sexton said, “There’s always going to be room for improvement in terms of placement of food and beverage locations related to amenities."

About 1,200 people worked at food and beverage kiosks and high-end catered tents and luxury suites throughout the property. Jobs ranged from chefs to dishwashers to waitstaff, bartenders and kiosk workers.

Some kiosks were operated by Sodexo employees while others were staffed by volunteers from local nonprofits, Thorson said. And while most of the food and drink selection came from Sodexo, local food trailers were on the grounds as well as local restaurants such as the Salt Lick and Gatti’s Pizza.

Sodexo will consider adding more local food options for future events, Thorson said.

“We certainly want to continue to look at local community business and determine what is the best mix of that," he said.

Thorson also anticipated using more portable vending — golf carts loaded with beverages and snack food — at future events because of their maneuverability, Thorson said.

The company has donated “a significant quantity of food" to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Thorson said. The Statesman

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