Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Will Button and Hamilton be teammates in 2013?

    Hamilton's winning mood hints McLaren tenure ending

  • Kubica wins rally but extent of injury revealed
  • Webber's 'older' alternator survived at Monza
  • Ferrari rumors fire again after Perez podium
  • Vergne 'fine' after pain of Monza flier
  • Massa succumbs to team orders, Button still fighting
  • Raikkonen locked into 2013 contract now – Lopez
  • Vettel vs. Alonso – Monza Italian GP 2011 vs. 2012
  • Williams profits up mid-year
  • Massa disappointed by tire-wear

Hamilton's winning mood hints McLaren tenure ending
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton gave away more clues about his future after winning Sunday's Italian grand prix.

Although at Monza the Briton matched Mika Hakkinen's career tally of 20 wins, he looked miserable as he celebrated the Monza victory with his team.

Observing the post-race events, Express journalist Bob McKenzie wrote: "Hamilton looked like a man who has the world on his shoulders rather than in front of him".

And photos of the British team's traditional victory photograph depicted Hamilton, 27, as the only McLaren member without his fist aloft in triumph.

"There appeared to be tension in the air," said another observer, writing for the French news agency AFP.

"As (team boss Martin) Whitmarsh hugged Hamilton, the embrace looked strained and then the 2008 champion struggled to raise a smile, or a clenched fist, when asked to by photographers."

Was Hamilton's mood indicative of a terminal falling-out with McLaren, on the eve of a rumored 2012 switch to rivals Mercedes?

A report in the Daily Mail said Ron Dennis, McLaren's impresario who was at Monza for the grand prix, failed to applaud when Hamilton collected the winner's trophy.

Asked if it would be a shame if McLaren did not have two Britons at the wheel next year, Dennis answered: "It is not essential, we always have the two best available drivers."

Whitmarsh is quoted as saying: "We want Lewis to stay if he wants to stay."

Writing in the Times, Kevin Eason suspects the cat may be out of the bag following a recent meeting between Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone.

Not long after that get-together, Eddie Jordan was telling the world Michael Schumacher is going to be replaced by Hamilton next year.

Actually, Hamilton still has the entire paddock guessing.

Asked if it's a shame his teammate Jenson Button could not complete a McLaren one-two on Sunday, he teased: "Maybe next year."

Not, however, if some of Hamilton's McLaren colleagues have anything to do with it. One unnamed McLaren staffer told Der Spiegel at Monza: "We are extremely upset with him.

"He should go."

Kubica wins rally but extent of injury revealed
(GMM) Robert Kubica enjoyed a dream return to competition at the weekend, winning the Ronde Gomitolo di Landa rally in Italy.

Wearing a bandage on his right forearm that masked the most serious scars of his F1 career-ending rally crash of 19 months ago, Italian reports said the Pole took his Subaru Impreza to victory in all four time-trials.

But Brazil's Agencia Estado said the 27-year-old's first real public appearance since his crash also revealed the true extent of Kubica's new limitations.

The former BMW and Renault driver "does not have full mobility of his right arm", said the report.

Indeed, footage of the minor Italian rally shows that while Kubica is able to steer a car with both hands, the movement in his right arm and hand is obviously limited.

He held the winning trophy and champagne aloft, and drank water from a bottle, only with his left arm.

Webber's 'older' alternator survived at Monza
(GMM) Mark Webber's alternator survived the Italian grand prix because it was an "older" specification.

That is the claim of Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, after reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel on Sunday suffered a repeat of his Saturday morning failure and failed to finish at Monza.

"The part was from the latest specification (of alternator) that came after the similar failure in Valencia," Marko is quoted by Salzburger Nachrichten.

"Webber had an alternator from an older specification that had no problem," said the Austrian.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said engine supplier Renault, whose supply partner for the alternator is Magneti Marelli, is treating the problem as a priority.

"Since 2011 we have changed virtually nothing," said Renault's baffled Remi Taffin.

One glimmer of hope is that the Renault alternator used by Lotus' Jerome d'Ambrosio at Monza was showing early signs of failure, which could be useful for getting to the bottom of the mystery.

Arguably the bigger problem for Red Bull, however, is the recent lack of pace.

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari said Monza was "the (team's) worst performance since 2008".

And yet another problem on Sunday was Vettel's penalty for driving Fernando Alonso off the track, even though a similar incident at Curva Grande a year ago was ignored by the stewards.

Was the FIA giving Ferrari a helping-hand at Monza on Sunday?

"I think not," Vettel, dismissing the conspiracy, told Bild newspaper.

Ferrari rumors fire again after Perez podium
(GMM) Even suffering an illness all weekend at Monza, Sergio Perez still managed a performance that prompted podium-interviewer Niki Lauda to offer a rare dip of his famous cap.

"I take my hat off, Sergio. You did an incredible job," legend Lauda, whose scalp is scarred from his fiery 1976 crash, said.

The Mexican's performance – his third podium of the season so far – instantly breathed new life into rumors he could swap his Sauber for a Ferrari next year.

Indeed, as he managed to overtake not only the endangered Felipe Massa but also Ferrari's impressive Fernando Alonso at Monza, surely he is now ready for the great Italian team.

"I don't know," the hesitant 22-year-old said on Sunday.

Perez's current boss Peter Sauber was also giving nothing away when asked about the Ferrari rumors: "We'll see," he told broadcaster Sky.

Sauber chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn added: "We will in due course announce (the drivers) for the next season. I am still relaxed, as I was months ago."

Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali added: "At the moment we cannot give any information away regarding (Ferrari academy member) Sergio Perez.

"He drove a good race, no doubt."

Perez told F1's official website two days earlier: "There will be a decision. And of course it is coming nearer and nearer."

Vergne 'fine' after pain of Monza flier
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne is unhurt after Sunday's incident at Monza.

Toro Rosso is investigating why the French rookie's Ferrari-powered car suddenly veered out of control at the end of Monza's front straight during the Italian grand prix.

The high-speed incident launched Vergne's car over a curb, "And I count myself lucky that the car did not flip over", he said.

He did, however, land with a bump, and immediately complained on the radio of a sore back.

"I was taken from the accident to the medical centre," explained the 22-year-old, "but apart from a bit of pain in my back and my head, I am fine."

Massa succumbs to team orders, Button still fighting
(GMM) Felipe Massa and Jenson Button will take vastly different approaches to the remaining races of 2012.

Button admitted after retiring from Sunday's Italian grand prix that his title hopes are now all but over.

The 2009 world champion is 78 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso with seven races to go, while his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton is still right in the reckoning.

"It (the championship) is going to be very difficult but nothing is going to change," Button said before leaving Monza.

"I am still going to race hard and try to win every race. It is such a special feeling to win a grand prix."

At Ferrari, however, the pecking-order is now firmly in place, and Felipe Massa – fighting hard to stay with the Italian team for 2013 – got the team orders firing on Sunday.

He let Alonso pass him at Monza to maximize the championship leader's points tally, and vowed to do more of the same if possible between Singapore later this month and the Brazilian finale in November.

"I worked for the team, trying to help Fernando, which is as it should be," said Massa. "I have always done it and will do it whenever it's necessary."

Team boss Stefano Domenicali praised Massa's race and attitude.

"Felipe proved to everyone – not to us, because we knew already – that he is a driver who can fight for the very top spot and that at Ferrari, we work as a team, united in our efforts to reach the targets we set ourselves," he said.

If Massa can keep up his improved form, the 'number 2' issue could ultimately be decisive in Ferrari's deliberations about its 2013 lineup.

Sauber's Sergio Perez, although hotly tipped to oust Massa, said after passing the Ferrari drivers at Monza that he will "fight any driver, no matter if it's Fernando or Lewis".

Massa said on Sunday: "I don't know if this race changes anything regarding my future, but definitely the most important thing for now is to keep going like this, working with great concentration and trying to do my best for the team."

Raikkonen locked into 2013 contract now – Lopez
(GMM) Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez has moved to silence the persistent rumors about Kimi Raikkonen's future.

Recently, the impressive F1 returnee and Finn was linked with a switch next year to his former title-winning team Ferrari.

And now amid the Lewis Hamilton rumors, some have mentioned 32-year-old Raikkonen as the ideal successor, reprising his five-year McLaren career of 2002-2006.

Lotus team figures have, however, revealed that Raikkonen is on a two-year contract.

But, in F1, contractual situations are usually complicated, with drivers and teams often only obligated in the event of certain performance-related criteria.

Lopez told Finland's Turun Sanomat that Raikkonen is staying in 2013.

"At least in the short term, Kimi is with us," he said.

"We have an agreement that is based on performance, and it has been fulfilled," he revealed.

Lopez acknowledged, however, that a team should not "force anyone" to race its cars "if they don't want to be with us".

In that case, "Kimi wants to be here, as does Romain Grosjean," the Luxembourgian entrepreneur insisted, "and we are happy with them too."

Lopez said he has not been surprised by the McLaren and Ferrari rumors.

"No," he answered. "This is F1.

"Sometimes the rumors are true, sometimes someone has just come up with it, based on nothing."

Vettel vs. Alonso – Monza Italian GP 2011 vs. 2012
There are quite a few people discussing this incident on social media, with all sorts of pro's and con's

Williams profits up mid-year
Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (WGPH, Ticker: WGF1) today announced its interim results for the six months to 30 June 2012. WGPH is the holding company of the Williams group of companies, which includes Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited and Williams Hybrid Power Limited.

The core business, which combines the traditional Formula One business and diversification using our Formula One derived intellectual property and know-how, has seen turnover increase by 57% to £73.0m (2011: £46.4m). This has driven an overall Group turnover of £74.3m (2011: £47.3m). The results of the investment businesses, Williams Hybrid Power and Williams Technology Centre, Qatar, are progressing as expected and are in line with the board’s long-term business plan.

Our key figures are:

Overall Group results
• Turnover increased to £74.3m (2011: £47.3m)
• Net profit increased to £6.6m (2011: £1.9m)
• EPS up to 68.55p (2011: 19.31p)

Core business results:
• Turnover increased to £73.0m (2011: £46.4m)
• Net profit increased to £8.5m (2011: £2.9m)

The notable increases in half year turnover and profit are largely due to our diversification strategy as well as the recent receipt of a one off payment following a new commercial agreement for our continued commitment to Formula One. Full year results are expected to show the continued stability of the business, with double digit growth expected in turnover and net profit as a result of our core business and new business development.

Founder and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said: “Williams is at a very exciting stage in its history and these promising results are indicative of this. We have made good progress on track this year, thanks in part to a new technical team, which has seen us pick up our first win in eight years. Our diversification strategy is also gaining momentum, positioning us as a leader in the development of cutting edge technology in areas such as sustainability and safety."

Chief Executive Officer Alex Burns said: “We are pleased to report interim results that demonstrate the ongoing stability of the business in a difficult economic climate. We have made a step forward in Formula One this season and expect this upward trend to continue into next season.

‘’These results also validate our long term business plan of adapting technology and know-how developed in Formula One for commercial application in energy efficiency, safety and education. Our core business is now generating strong revenue figures from projects outside of Grand Prix racing. For example, our partnership with Jaguar, to develop the ground breaking C-X75 hybrid supercar, is making good progress and other Formula One teams are also using our technology, including a new deal with Marussia that will see them use our KERS technology next year.

‘’Williams Hybrid Power and Williams Technology Centre, Qatar continue to show growth in line with the targets we have set. Williams Hybrid Power has secured some notable successes so far this year, announcing a new partnership with Go-Ahead Group and helping to power a hybrid Audi to victory at Le Mans. Williams Technology Centre, Qatar is receiving ongoing investment into its R&D activities, with the Middle East’s most advanced road safety simulator about to be unveiled to the world next month."

Massa disappointed by tire-wear
Felipe Massa was disappointed by the high tire degradation Ferrari suffered during the Italian GP, despite a third and fourth place finish for the team.

The Brazilian had shown good pace in qualifying and led the Ferrari charge at Monza, before having to yield to Fernando Alonso to help his team-mate's Championship challenge.

The team were unable to monitor Massa's car throughout the race after they experienced electronic problems with the telemetry, although the 31-year-old says it was not a major issue.

"It was unfortunate (to lose the telemetry), but the degradation was high today and we were in a difficult position and putting that on the table it was a good result for the team," he told Sky Sports F1.

"They couldn't see me on the track from start to finish but everything they were telling me I was doing on the steering wheel and I don't think it was a big problem. The biggest problem was the tires.
"I expected better degradation, but I think it was a good result for us, third and fourth, for the team it was a good result."

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