Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

UPDATE Update shown in red below.

MRF Challenge


  • Trio nervous as Ferrari stalls over Massa future
  • FIA putting a lid on aggressive drivers
  • Schumacher escapes grid penalty after Spa gearbox problem
  • Red Bull, Ferrari chasing McLaren for Monza win
  • FIA keeps two DRS zones for Monza
  • Hamilton team may have planted rumors to pillage McLaren's bank account
  • Launch of The MRF Challenge 2012 New

Trio nervous as Ferrari stalls over Massa future
(GMM) Ferrari has at least a trio of drivers on tenterhooks, as it considers the future of Felipe Massa.

"I hope it will not take very long," the Brazilian, who is pushing hard to up his game and secure a new contract, said at Monza.

"I cannot wait until there are just two races left," he is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo.

Ferrari reportedly lost patience with Massa's lack of performance earlier this year, but the 31-year-old has started to achieve some better results in the last few outings.

"He has to get good results," president Luca di Montezemolo told CNN.

"We will see, but I think we have to look to the future and we need two very competitive drivers."

If the rumors sweeping through the paddock are any guide, at the front of the queue are Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, and Sauber's Sergio Perez.

German Hulkenberg, whose career is right back to life after losing his Williams seat at the end of 2010, grins every time he hears the 'F'-word now.

"I am sure that I will be in formula one next year," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Mexican Perez is another hot candidate.

"I think the Sauber team is doing a great job in improving the car," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace, "but obviously if you have an opportunity to get a very good position, you would think about it.

"At the moment I am with Sauber."

FIA putting a lid on aggressive drivers
(GMM) Romain Grosjean may not be racing this weekend, but his name was still triggering a lot of conversation at Monza on Thursday.

Lotus' Frenchman is serving a one-race ban for the Spa crash a week ago, and most paddock pundits believe the FIA is also ready to clamp down on Pastor Maldonado's shaky driving in 2012.

The Venezuelan will already serve a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday's grid.

"This year the stewards seem to be harder, not just for me but generally," the Williams driver is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"We have to respect that and adapt to it."

Mentioning Grosjean or Maldonado's names to pundits throughout the Monza paddock, and the answer is unanimous: 'Aggressive'.

"It is one of my characteristics, some like it; some don't," Maldonado said.

"It's difficult to say 'now I will get this style or I will change that'. I need to think more and evaluate more the situation in the car," he acknowledged.

Some think Grosjean's ban is harsh, some say fair, but it is unanimously agreed that the FIA is laying down the law about those sorts of incidents needing to stop.

"Yes, there have been a lot of mistakes this year; things that you just wouldn't imagine happening at this level," Spa winner Jenson Button told F1's official website.

"Maybe this is a good thing to show people that it won't be tolerated because we are still racing in a dangerous sport."

Like it or not, it is believed that further action in the area of driving cockpit protection is now inevitable.

The paddock is split.

Michael Schumacher told German reporters that he thinks a forward roll-hoop or a canopy – whatever solution – "must be the future".

Sebastian Vettel is less enthusiastic, but he agrees: "It is probably unavoidable now.

"I'm not a big fan of it, but probably if you had the chance to choose in the moment when someone comes flying at you, everybody chooses the closed option.

"Therefore it will not take too long before we have it," the world champion agrees.

Schumacher escapes grid penalty after Spa gearbox problem
(GMM) Michael Schumacher can breathe easy, having worried after last week's Belgian grand prix that he would have to take a five-place grid drop at Monza.

Knowing that unscheduled gearbox changes carry the penalty for the next race, the great German finished at Spa with a broken sixth gear.

But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the gearbox has been fixed, even if there is no guarantee the problem will not return.

However, Mercedes believes there is a good chance Schumacher's woes are now over, because the main damage was to the actual sixth gear cog — which can be changed without penalty.

"I think we can save the transmission," team boss Ross Brawn is quoted as saying.

He thinks sixth was damaged at Spa because the drivers are often negotiating corners with high G-forces with that gear engaged.

The problem should not recur at Monza, because sixth gear on the famous Italian layout is mainly engaged whilst the car is on the straights.

Red Bull, Ferrari chasing McLaren for Monza win
(GMM) McLaren, Red Bull or Ferrari? Who is going to win Sunday's Italian grand prix.

"Well, for sure it's not going to be easy," said championship leader and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.

He's referring to the fact that, despite leading the drivers' chase by 24 points, he is being hounded in the standings by the Red Bull drivers.

And McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have dominantly won the last two grands prix.

"It's five days (since Spa) so I don't think we will recover eight tenths by magic button," said Alonso.

Those few days ago, the Spaniard said he feared McLaren more than Red Bull.

"If that's what he said, I think that's ok," German Vettel smiled and shrugged at Monza, according to Germany's Sport1.

"The top teams are very close together so it's hard to say anything (about performance)."

Driver manager Dr Helmut Marko is also keen to avoid Red Bull being written off.

"We are a winning team, we can win races. Why should it be otherwise here?" he is quoted by Kleine Zeitung newspaper at Monza.

Vettel told DPA news agency: "Honestly, I cannot say that I am the favorite, but before Spa the title was open and probably it will still be open until the last race in Brazil."

FIA keeps two DRS zones for Monza
There will be two separate DRS zones for the Italian Grand Prix, as there were in 2011. Once again, these will be on the runs to the chicanes of Rettifilo and Ascari.

The first detection point will come before the Parabolica, with activation then allowed down the main straight provided a driver is within one second or less of the car in front. The second detection beam is located on the entry to the Lesmo 2, after which drivers will be able to deploy DRS for the Curva del Serraglio which runs down to Ascari.

Since the demise of the original Hockenheim after the 2001 race, Monza has been by far the quickest Grand Prix on the Formula 1 calendar.

Hamilton team may have planted rumors to pillage McLaren's bank account
The Hamilton to Mercedes story may have come from Hamilton's camp to extract the maximum amount from McLaren as they renegotiate his contract.

With Red Bull and Ferrari not interested in signing the driver the story that "Mercedes were keen" might be used as a bargaining chip. Their rivals' offer provides Hamilton with a significant bargaining chip.

Questions of "team loyalty would also need to be considered by the Briton, especially when it comes to leaving a team he joined aged 13." However, Hamilton retains a strong bond with Mercedes Motorsport Division Chief Norbert Haug, whom he worked with during his early years at McLaren.

MRF Challenge

Launch of The MRF Challenge 2012
The true test of man and machine is in his pursuit of excellence. The MRF Challenge 2012 will put a spring in the step of young racing drivers across the globe. On 24th August 2012, the residents of Chennai witnessed the birth of a motorsport series like no other. India finally has its chance to shine in the International motorsport arena. The launch of this spectacular series was done by none other than Formula 1 driver, “The Fastest Indian in the World" and MRF Racing’s Brand Ambassador, Narain Karthikeyan, as he drove this awesome racing machine in front of an enthralled audience of over 10,000 fans assembled at Express Avenue Mall in Chennai, India.

The MRF Challenge 2012 brought the sounds and smells of the racing experience to the door step of the Chennai public. After a successful series last year with the MRF Formula Ford 1600cars, which also included a support race to the inaugural Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix, MRF has decided to up the ante in 2012. The upcoming series “THE MRF CHALLENGE 2012" will showcase high speed, cutting-edge race-car technology combined with Indian manufacturing excellence.

India has always had its share of motorsport fans, and this has been validated by the tremendous response to the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix in 2011. It is estimated that approximately 40 million Indians watched the live coverage of the race coupled with an in-stadia presence of over one hundred thousand spectators. Building on this growing interest, MRF Limited, the largest tire manufacturer in India and a USD 2.5 billion company, is all set to host The MRF Challenge 2012 racing series this year. The MRF Challenge 2012 series will consist of four rounds (and a total of ten races), the first two rounds at Buddh International Circuit, and the final two at the MMRT Circuit in Chennai, one of the oldest circuits in the country.

MRF has a rich legacy in the motor sports arena – a legacy built over twenty years of its association with the sport. The company’s focus has been in circuit racing with single-seaters, as well as in Rallying, both on the domestic front and in the Asia Zone and Asia Pacific Championships. On the international rallying front, Team MRF has won the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship three times, in 2003, 2005 and 2010. MRF also sponsors the Super Cross Championships and has had a long-standing association with karting community in India, having developed the first FIA-CIK approved karting tires in India

This year MRF has commissioned Jayem Automotives Ltd in Coimbatore to build the ‘MRF FORMULA 2000’car. This car has been built under technical collaboration with Automobili Dallara of Italy, who is the world’s largest manufacturer of bespoke single-seater racing cars and is also considered the best in the business. It is the company that helped design, amongst other elite machinery, the Bugatti Veyron. They also build all of the GP2, GP3 and Indycars, as well as class dominating Formula 3 cars. Dallara has given the car a modern and dynamic design with all the very latest in cutting-edge technology which is available to them, while Renault-Sport has designed and manufactured its 210 BHP 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine. This car will be a carbon fiber marvel with a six-speed Hewland sequential gearbox, making it an ultra-safe and reliable package. The car will boast performance equal to current international Formula 3 machinery.

The tires have been specifically designed from the ground up for high-speed circuit racing. MRFs R&D Engineers have worked tirelessly to satisfy all the needs of the drivers. Straight-line speed and stability, as well as high-speed cornering grip have been optimized into the design of the tires, in addition to a very high level of safety. For the purists and petrol heads who dissect every details of the car, it would interest them to know the front tire size is 200 x 540-R13, and the rear size is 240 x 570-R13. These sizes are available in both dry and wet constructions –again made specifically for this series. The wheel size is 8Jx13, and the car will use OZ racing alloy rims.

MRF has also finalized the calendar for the series – Round One will be on the 27th and 28th of October as a support race for the Formula One Indian Grand Prix. Round Two will be held on the 1st and 2nd of December 2012 as a support race for the FIA GT1 Championship. The final two rounds will be held in Chennai on the 1st to 3rd of February & 8th to 10th of February 2013.

MRF Racing Brand Ambassador Narain Karthikeyan. “When MRF launched the Formula 1600 in 2010, I was very excited and justifiably felt that it was a huge step forward in domestic racing. Little did I know, or expect, that a very short 2 years later, they would move the bar so far ahead. The new MRF Formula 2000 cars are the absolute cutting edge in international racing technology. The platform it will provide to young racing drivers from all over the world will make it a unique series internationally. The new MRF slick racing tires which are being developed specifically for the dynamic characteristics of this car are also shaping up really well. My first impressions of the car and tires were very positive when I drove it for the first time a few days ago."

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