Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Ecclestone believes F1 budget cap 'workable'
  • Lauda admits convincing Hamilton to quit McLaren
  • Perez now managed by Indycar's Adrian Fernandez
  • Rosberg says contract ensures equal status with Hamilton
  • Prost, Jordan think Sauber move possible for Schu
  • Ferrari has not re-signed Massa yet – spokesman
  • Alain Prost tests modern Red Bull Formula 1 car
  • Brawn: Schumacher may take Mercedes role

Ecclestone believes F1 budget cap 'workable'
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone insists a budget cap for formula one teams is "workable".

That is despite the fact that when the idea was proposed by former FIA president a few years ago, the teams banded together and threatened to quit the sport.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone has now told the Sunday Express newspaper that working to an imposed maximum budget is "the direction people are going in. It is workable".

Lauda admits convincing Hamilton to quit McLaren
(GMM) Niki Lauda has admitted he played a role in convincing Lewis Hamilton to quit McLaren and join Mercedes.

The triple world champion, who is set to become the non-executive chairman of the Brackley based team, also confirmed he "helped" Mercedes with its Concorde Agreement negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone.

But the biggest news is that the Austrian legend was instrumental in getting long-term McLaren protege and Briton Hamilton to turn away from his boyhood employer.

"I was impressed with his approach to things, very pragmatic, no emotions whatsoever," Lauda told BBC radio of his talks with Hamilton.

The former McLaren and Ferrari driver said he told Hamilton that taking Mercedes to success was a challenge he should not ignore.

"And think of it the other way round, if Schumacher couldn't get the Mercedes team running up front for three years and you (Hamilton) next year are doing much better it makes a huge impact on your personality and people will rate you much higher," Lauda recalled of his conversations with Hamilton.

"In the end it convinced him that the challenge is what he wants to do."

Naturally, there are some who believe Hamilton was also attracted to Mercedes for mainly financial reasons.

"The money discussion I was not really involved in," said Lauda. "The offer was very close to the one of McLaren."

Ultimately, Hamilton's move has divided opinions in F1.

Some think the 27-year-old is unwise to trade a surely competitive car for a Mercedes gamble, but 1996 world champion Damon Hill thinks the move was inevitable.

"Lewis has been like a caged bird at McLaren," he told the Daily Mail. "He'd been managed to within an inch of his life.

"You can have a bellyful of becoming a performing seal."

Niki Lauda said he will remain an expert pundit for German television.

Perez now managed by Indycar's Adrian Fernandez
(GMM) 2013 McLaren driver Sergio Perez is being managed by former IndyCar driver and fellow Mexican Adrian Fernandez.

McLaren, who have signed current Sauber driver Perez to replace Lewis Hamilton, confirmed the 22-year-old's professional link to Fernandez, 47.

Fernandez – an owner of racing teams as well – has also been backed through his career by Perez's sponsor Telmex, but Fernandez denied Perez is still a "pay driver".

"He is not bringing money to the (McLaren) team," he insisted.

Switzerland's Blick newspaper estimated Perez's new three-year contract to be worth EUR 10 million.

"I have been a successful driver and a successful team owner and now, with this, I hope I can be a successful manager and do a fantastic job for Sergio," added Fernandez.

Rosberg says contract ensures equal status with Hamilton
(GMM) Nico Rosberg insists he is not worried about playing second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton.

The pair, who have known each other and even raced as teammates since their boyhood karting days, will each be driving one of Mercedes' F1 cars in 2013.

German Rosberg has managed to dominate Michael Schumacher since the seven time world champion's 2010 comeback, but the 27-year-old might be forgiven for feeling more nervous about the similarly-aged Hamilton's arrival.

But when asked if he is worried he will be Hamilton's 'number 2', Rosberg insisted: "Absolutely not.

"I know the situation. Although Lewis will be a challenge and I gladly accept it.

"He is one of the best drivers of the moment, but I do believe that I can measure up," the 2012 shanghai winner told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Since the Hamilton announcement, Mercedes chiefs Ross Brawn and Norbert Haug have insisted that the high-profile 2008 world champion will not be Mercedes' 'number 1'.

"Yes, that's good. And it's in my contract that I always have the same opportunities as my teammate, no matter who it is," Rosberg answered.

But at McLaren in 2007, Hamilton clashed spectacularly with his short-term teammate Fernando Alonso. Is Rosberg worried that might happen again, this time at Mercedes?

"I think we're both smart enough to avoid that," he smiled.

Finally, Rosberg said he does not 'feel sorry' for Michael Schumacher, who has been pushed out.

"No," the German laughed. "He was not sure whether he wanted to continue or not, but Mercedes had to make a choice — and anyway Michael has said himself that he is not unhappy."

Prost, Jordan think Sauber move possible for Schu
(GMM) Alain Prost has admitted he can imagine former rival Michael Schumacher extending his career into a twentieth season in 2013.

When asked about Schumacher's deliberations now that he has been ousted by Mercedes, Frenchman Prost answered: "I was not particularly positive when he returned (in 2010). I don't quite understand why.

"Maybe he's going to Sauber now?" the quadruple world champion told RMC Sport, after testing a modern Red Bull F1 car at the Renault World Series event at Paul Ricard.

"It's a very personal choice," continued Prost, who ended his career with a fourth drivers' championship in 1993.

"I can understand that he is passionate and wants to continue driving, and it's very difficult to judge from the outside. Everyone should live their life as they wish.

"I can understand his position. But at some point, you have to decide it's enough."

Asked what Schumacher's biggest contribution to F1 is these days, Prost answered: "Passion in its purest form. It's pretty amazing to see someone at that level.

"He drives for pleasure, on the bikes, go-karts … it's to his credit."

Eddie Jordan, who gave Schumacher his first F1 seat in 1991, thinks Sauber could be a good option for Schumacher.

"I think it could make sense," he told Welt newspaper, "because the situation there is completely different.

"I imagine he would have the chance to live out his passion with a competitive car but also in a small racing team, with a much more intimate atmosphere than a global group like Mercedes.

"It could be just right for him," added Jordan.

Ferrari has not re-signed Massa yet – spokesman
(GMM) A Ferrari spokesman has dismissed reports Felipe Massa is now definitely staying for an eighth consecutive season in 2013.

"Not true," the spokesman told Spanish sports newspaper Marca, responding to the rumors.

"Felipe has not signed anything yet," he insisted.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport thinks Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta are still candidates to switch to Ferrari next year.

Switzerland's Blick newspaper, however, said German Hulkenberg is more likely to move to Ferrari-powered Sauber.

What is definite is that the Perez/Schumacher situation has stirred up the 'silly season' nest.

If Hulkenberg moves to Sauber or Ferrari, for example, Jules Bianchi could be promoted from Force India's reserve seat.

But the Ferrari-linked Frenchman Bianchi was obviously hoping Force India's Paul di Resta or Hulkenberg – not Perez – would go to McLaren.

"I don't know what to say," he told Autosprint. "I'm not so sure there will be any change at Force India."

Also still in the 'silly season' pot are Adrian Sutil, Heikki Kovalainen — and Michael Schumacher.

"A little mouse whispered in my ear that Schumacher could go back to Ferrari," former Ferrari driver Patrick Tambay told RMC Sport.

"It is perhaps just the dream of some tifosi, but why not?"

Alain Prost tests modern Red Bull Formula 1 car
Alain Prost returned to the cockpit of a Formula 1 car this weekend for the first time since 1996. The four-time world champion completed a series of demo runs in the 2010 title-winning Red Bull RB6 at the Paul Ricard World Series by Renault meeting.

Speaking about the opportunity to drive the Red Bull, Prost told AUTOSPORT: "10 days ago Renault told me this was an opportunity if I wanted to do it.

"Before that, I didn't even know it was a possibility. I've had many opportunities with other teams in the past and I never wanted to do it.

"But recently I thought maybe it would not be too bad to know what modern Formula 1 is like."

"I know I cannot go crazy trying to perform, but even what I have done here is enough to see what it is like and judge how modern F1 is," he said.

"It's not too different, it's just using the tools differently. The car is very stiff, and you just need to get used to it.

"If you don't drive a modern car it is impossible to compare it to the old cars. It was very nice, it was a great opportunity and I enjoyed it." Autosport

Brawn: Schumacher may take Mercedes role
Michael Schumacher could play a role with Mercedes next season but will probably take time to consider his options after losing his Formula One race seat to Lewis Hamilton, principal Ross Brawn has said.
Mercedes announced earlier that Hamilton, McLaren's 2008 champion, had signed a three-year deal and will replace 43-year-old Schumacher in 2013.

The news may have signaled the end of Schumacher's unremarkable comeback but Mercedes refrained from saying the seven times world champion would be retiring as a result of the decision.

"I think Michael's going to take a few months to think about things and reflect on things, to decide what to do in the future," Brawn told Reuters in an interview at the team's factory in central England.

"Michael's been undecided for some time now in what to do," added the Briton.

"As Michael has been contemplating what he was going to do, then the opportunity to have Lewis join the team gradually increased, gradually grew to the point where we had to come to a conclusion.

"Michael's very happy for the team but I think he is going to spend the next few months thinking about what he is going to do.

"There are opportunities within the team, within Mercedes for Michael to stay involved in some capacity or other, and he's particularly interested in developing high performance cars, that sort of thing."

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