Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Kubica unhurt in Italian rally crash
  • Ferrari should keep Massa for 2013 – Briatore
  • McLaren eyes Perez as Hamilton saga races on
  • Sauber calm despite uncertain 2013 lineup
  • Returning Grosjean to help teammate's title tilt
  • Renault may have cost Vettel the title New
  • Wolff hopes Maldonado to stay at Williams New

Kubica unhurt in Italian rally crash
(GMM) Robert Kubica's return to competitive action has taken a knock, with the Pole crashing out of a minor rally in Italy.

Finally returning to action after a 19-month recovery from serious injuries, the former BMW and Renault driver won the recent Ronde Gomitolo di Landa rally at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza.

But Kubica, who clearly no longer enjoys the full mobility of his right arm in the wake of his February 2011 rally crash, crashed during another minor Italian rally – the San Martino di Castrozza – at the weekend.

Italian reports say the 27-year-old struck a tree, and photographs of the heavily damaged Subaru depict the car on its side in a ditch.

Kubica, and his co-driver, were videotaped walking away from the crash unscathed. Event organizers confirmed they were unhurt.

Ferrari should keep Massa for 2013 – Briatore
(GMM) Flavio Briatore thinks Ferrari should sign Felipe Massa for another season.

The Italian team is openly undecided over its choice of teammate for Fernando Alonso next year, but former Renault boss Briatore said: "I would keep Massa for another year".

"Massa is a good driver but he should never compare his times with those of Alonso," Italian Briatore is quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

Briatore, who remains involved in Alonso's management and was in charge at Renault when the Spaniard won his back-to-back titles, baulked at reports linking Sebastian Vettel with Ferrari.

"I would never put Vettel and Alonso together so long as there is only one title for one driver," he insisted.

"We have seen it so many times in F1: Prost-Senna, Mansell-Prost, Alonso-Hamilton. They were experiments that divided the team and cost the drivers as well.

"Put it this way: if I had a slow driver, I would put someone beside him who is even slower," he smiled.

Massa said at the weekend he is hoping to hear "good news soon" about his future.

"I have no news yet, but results help, and I think that it won't take long," said the Brazilian.

David Brabham, the son of triple world champion Sir Jack and a former Simtek driver, spoke in support of the struggling Massa whilst competing at a sports car race in Sao Paulo at the weekend.

"It is common in any sport to lose confidence after a serious accident," the Australian is quoted by Globo. "He probably didn't come back the same, but he's getting there.

"I don't know what Ferrari will do, but I believe he (Massa) would have a better year in 2013," said Brabham.

McLaren eyes Perez as Hamilton saga races on
(GMM) Sergio Perez has emerged as a contender to replace Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2013.

Although boss Martin Whitmarsh said recently there is no 'plan B', the British team must now surely be looking at its options amid intense speculation Hamilton is set to switch to Mercedes.

The Daily Mail reported that, indeed, McLaren has made contact with Mexican Perez, who is currently a Sauber driver.

The 22-year-old is also the cream of Ferrari's driver development 'academy', although Luca di Montezemolo has said Perez is too inexperienced to race for the famous Italian team next year.

The thought that Perez might simultaneously be under contract to both Ferrari and McLaren in 2013 is, to some, not credible, but Times correspondent Kevin Eason insists "there are no contractual issues" that would prevent it.

"It would be a mouth-watering combination of Jenson Button, the seasoned winner, and Perez, the fiery South American," he wrote.

Eason also noted that that Perez's switch might be a tidy solution amid rumors Vodafone is set to quit F1, because his sponsor Telmex could join McLaren.

Reports of Hamilton's future have ramped up amid suggestions McLaren has proposed a pay-cut for the 2008 world champion, while Mercedes is offering him a slightly increased retainer.

Another consideration is Mercedes' apparent willingness to allow Hamilton and his management, Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment, to exploit his commercial rights.

A source close to XIX denied Hamilton is under pressure to join Mercedes.

"There is absolutely no way XIX would push Lewis to make a decision which would be to the detriment of his career," he is quoted by the Telegraph.

"He (Fuller) wants Lewis to be as successful as he possibly can be on the track in order for him to be as successful as he can be off it. But there is plenty of time for all that.

"This is a decision for Lewis and Lewis alone. 100 per cent."

A report in the Guardian said Hamilton could make a decision this week, although the Times' Eason said the impasse could continue throughout this weekend's Singapore grand prix.

Briton Hamilton tried to distance himself from the entire saga during a sponsor event in India at the weekend.

"There's a lot of speculation, there are a lot of stories that aren't true," he said, saying most of what has been reported is "rubbish".

Sauber calm despite uncertain 2013 lineup
(GMM) Peter Sauber insists he is not worried about the future, despite intense speculation surrounding his Swiss team's 2013 driver lineup.

The impressive Mexican Sergio Perez has been linked with moves to Ferrari or McLaren, while speculation suggests Kamui Kobayashi's place could be in danger due to the well-funded Charles Pic's solid debut for struggling Marussia.

"It's not for nothing that the Brits call this time of year 'silly season'," Sauber wrote in the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"Journalists' crazy imaginations can tend to run away," he said.

"From our side there is nothing new on the subject. The situation has remained unchanged for weeks, we are not under time pressure and will announce our drivers for 2013 in due course.

"There is no deadline. The fact is, the interest in our team is very big," said Sauber.

Indeed, the Hinwil based camp has been impressive this year with its Ferrari-powered C31; Perez finishing on the podium three times so far.

The usually mid-grid team, meanwhile, has already scored more than double its 2011 points tally.

"Quite a few experts predicted we would suffer a mid-season drop," Sauber explained, "because they assumed that we would be unable to keep up with the rate of development of our competitors.

"Actually, the opposite has happened: we are stronger now than we were at the beginning of the season.

"I am convinced that the clearly upwards trend is no accident, but the direct result of our entire organization.

"Many experts were surprised when we announced our new structure without a technical director," said Sauber, referring to the departure early this year of James Key.

"I heard more than once that it (having no technical director) is impossible, but our results say otherwise."

Returning Grosjean to help teammate's title tilt
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has revealed he might give way to his teammate and title contender Kimi Raikkonen.

Returning in Singapore this weekend from his one-race ban, Frenchman Grosjean is a long way behind the sister Lotus in the drivers' standings, while Raikkonen is regarded as a dark hose for the title.

"I wouldn't say that for the rest of the season I'm here just to play a supporting role," said Grosjean.

"Of course, I want the team to achieve the best results it can and if you look at the points difference between me and Kimi it would be foolish to think only of my own results," he added.

After a very strong mid-season period, during which he was charging for victory at Valencia, Grosjean's momentum suffered a dip more recently.

But the Monza ban, for causing the start-line chaos at Spa-Francorchamps, gave him pause to learn and reflect, according to team boss Eric Boullier.

"He has definitely learned his lessons," said the Frenchman. "In a way, it will have done him good.

"We have spoken a lot about it. And definitely in some way it was best for him.

"He will be even more confident in himself and, having discussed and fixed these issues, he will be better."

Grosjean told L'Equipe that, having attended the drivers' briefing at Monza whilst serving the ban, he was greeted warmly by Fernando Alonso but ignored by Lewis Hamilton, whose race also ended at the first corner in Belgium.

Renault may have cost Vettel the title
Niki Lauda has all but written Sebastian Vettel out of the title race after he suffered a second alternator failure at Monza.

The reigning World Champion previously lost a chunk of points – one could argue 25 – when his Renault engine's alternator expired in Valencia.

It was a similar story – although not involving as many points – at Monza, dropping Vettel to fourth in the Drivers' Championship where he trails Fernando Alonso by 39 points.

"These quality problems could cost Vettel the title," Lauda told the Osterreich newspaper.

"An error can occur but it needs to be fixed immediately and must not occur again.

"Theoretically the Championship is not yet lost for Vettel but in practice it is."

As for who will win the title, the 63-year-old Austrian believes "Alonso is clearly on course for the title as Ferrari are very reliable."

Wolff hopes Maldonado to stay at Williams
(GMM) Toto Wolff on Monday admitted he hopes Pastor Maldonado stays with Williams in 2013.

Venezuelan Maldonado, although winning in Barcelona earlier this year, has been a highly controversial figure on the 2012 grid.

Bringing millions in backing to the famous British team, the 27-year-old is often fast and impressive, but he has also been involved in numerous on-track incidents.

Wolff, the team's shareholder and new executive director, insisted Maldonado is "extremely fast".

"Yes, he seems to struggle in some situations in the race," he also admitted to F1's official website.

Wolff, however, said he is "100 per cent sure" Maldonado will smooth off the hard edges.

"Remember Ayrton Senna in the beginning? Nobody wanted to touch him," he said. "In those days there weren't many grid penalties, but had there been he would probably have had to go back 10 places on the grid many times."

Wolff said Maldonado will "hopefully" be a Williams driver in 2013.

But what about Bruno Senna? The Brazilian already gives up his car to the Wolff-managed Valtteri Bottas on Friday mornings, and the young Finn is tipped to get a full race seat next year.

Wolff said it is "too early to say" if both of Williams' drivers will still be with the Grove based team in 2013.

"Sure, we are taking different looks at the issue, but the minute we discuss it we are going to mess up Pastor and Bruno – and maybe others that we try talking to – so I would give it another month before we are going to have the first idea of what we want," he said.

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