Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Jenson Button climbs from car after winning Spa pole

    Win from pole crucial for fading title challenge – Button

  • Hamilton in 'Twittergate' after Spa outburst
  • Bottas admits more sponsors would 'help' for 2013 seat
  • Caterham's progress in 2012 'not great' – Kovalainen
  • Red Bull 'must show teeth' after Spa shocker – Marko
  • Schumacher hints intention to race in 2013
  • Engineer claims some breached August shutdown pact
  • Engine switch 'wise' despite loss of V8 scream – Domenicali
  • No 2013 driver announcement at Monza – Domenicali
  • Brawn: 2013 ideas could come early

Win from pole crucial for fading title challenge – Button
(GMM) Jenson Button has acknowledged a win from pole in Belgium on Sunday is crucial for his fading world championship hopes.

This season's first winner, Button's 2012 campaign then nosedived so badly that he has been fending off questions all week about when he will slip into a 'number 2' role to accept team orders and help his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

But the 32-year-old has bounced back strongly after the August break, securing a dominant pole at Spa-Francorchamps. He is now focused on cutting into his huge 88 point championship deficit.

Asked how important a win on Sunday is, the Briton answered: "It's very important.

"It (the title) is a long shot. I need to be on the podium and finishing in front of Fernando (Alonso) at every race for the rest of the season, which is not easy given his consistency.

"But this (pole) is a good start," he said in Belgium.

"Yeah, a win is very important tomorrow (Sunday) to fight for the championship," said Button.

He admitted all the questions in the last few days about ceding to team orders and a 'number 2' role to support Hamilton have been "very unusual" so early in the season.

But those stories were fuelled by team boss Martin Whitmarsh suggesting there may eventually be a time for team orders, to which Button told F1's official website on Saturday: "Well, I have never had a teammate that helped me."

He also told reporters on Saturday that rumors and stories like that are "Part of formula one and I've experienced it before".

"The important thing is that within the team we've got a very good relationship and we're working together to build the best car we possibly can and on the weekends trying to extract everything from it."

A dejected Hamilton making excuses again after deciding to use old wing

Hamilton in 'Twittergate' after Spa outburst
(GMM) In the hours after qualifying at Spa, the paddock quickly and half-heartedly dubbed the affair 'Twittergate'.

Disappointed with his eighth in qualifying compared to McLaren teammate Jenson Button's pole, Lewis Hamilton got onto Twitter and used the internet acronym "WTF" (what the f**k?) to describe his feelings.

"Damn," he added. "Jenson has the new rear wing on, I have the old.

"I lose 4 tenths just on the straight. Jenson should win easy with that speed."

McLaren officials then reportedly deleted the 'tweets' from Hamilton's personal account, possibly without the 2008 world champion's knowledge.

Asked why the 'tweets' had disappeared, Hamilton told reporters in Belgium: "Did they?

"No particular reason. Just wanted to rephrase some things I said."

Then, in McLaren's official end-of-day press release, Hamilton was quoted as saying it was a "collective" decision on his side of the garage to opt for the older wing.

Happier with Saturday's outcome was championship leader Fernando Alonso, despite the fact he qualified just sixth in his Ferrari.

But, crucially, he is ahead of title challengers Hamilton and the Red Bulls, meaning he won't be upset if Jenson Button wins.

"If this (qualifying) result could be repeated tomorrow, honestly I'd sign for it now," Spaniard Alonso said.

He is, however, worried about getting involved in the start chaos.

"It is very easy to get caught out by those behind you," Alonso is quoted by Spanish reporters. "I'll have to be careful."

Bottas admits more sponsors would 'help' for 2013 seat
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas has admitted that a flood of sponsorship would boost his chances of debuting for Williams in 2013.

Earlier reports from Finland said the British team's 22-year-old reserve driver has been asked to put together more money to compete with Bruno Senna's millions.

"Some gestures from Finland would help him a lot," Toto Wolff, who is not only a Williams shareholder and executive director but also Bottas' manager, said.

The highly-regarded Finn already brings some sponsors from his native country, but when asked about his chances of moving up the pecking order at Williams in 2013 he said in Belgium: "I sure hope that the cooperation with Williams will continue.

"I've been here for a few years and I like it. I know all the people and how the team operates — yes, it would be a big help," he is quoted by the MTV3 broadcaster.

Bottas said he does not want to have to spend another year on the reserve bench.

"Definitely the next step in my career is a race driver's seat," he said.

"I haven't competed this year at all. Another year without that might be too much; I could lose the feeling," explained Bottas.

More money from Finland would be the answer.

"Of course it would help; it's a bonus for the team," he admitted.

Caterham's progress in 2012 'not great' – Kovalainen
(GMM) The likelihood Heikki Kovalainen will stay at Caterham in 2013 was dealt a blow at Spa, when the Finn admitted to being disappointed about the team's progress this year.

As is usually the case in qualifying, the Finn was the highest placed of the six drivers for the three backmarker teams on Saturday, including Marussia and HRT.

But, even without a KERS on board, Marussia's Timo Glock was only 6 tenths adrift, while Kovalainen was a massive 1.6 seconds shy of moving out of Q1.

"Our momentum has been not that great," Kovalainen is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"Others seem to have made better steps than us, as the difference is surprisingly large," he explained.

"The fact that Marussia is coming closer to us is a bit of a worrying phenomenon. We should be well clear of them.

"The update from Silverstone has either not worked, or it has not brought us enough."

Red Bull 'must show teeth' after Spa shocker – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull's title hopes could take a big hit at Spa-Francorchamps, with neither RB8 set to start Sunday's race from the points rankings.

Mark Webber, who is second in the drivers' title chase behind Fernando Alonso, qualified the highest (7th) of the pair in Belgium, but he must move five places back due to a gearbox change.

The Australian revealed he has known since the days immediately after Hungary in late July that his gearbox was irreparably damaged.

"I had a holiday on that," he shrugged and smiled on Saturday.

With even less pace in qualifying was his teammate and reigning back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel, who could not explain why he failed to make the cut for Q3.

"There was nothing obvious that was wrong," said the German. "I was just too slow," he is quoted by the Kolner Express.

"I would like to know why as well," added Vettel.

Red Bull's motor racing manager Dr Helmut Marko told Kleine Zeitung newspaper: "We didn't expect that.

"Now we need to show all of our teeth in the race," he said.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda, however, said he doubts Red Bull will be able to shine that brightly.

"I thought Red Bull wanted to attack here at Spa," said the great Austrian. "With Vettel, I have not seen a sign of that."

HRT's wily Pedro de la Rosa, however, said motivation has little to do with it. Red Bull has simply lost its dominance of 2011.

"It's not just Vettel, Webber is also behind," the Spaniard told AS sports newspaper.

"Unfortunately there is no other explanation than the car. We want heroes, but there are few, mainly it's cars and teams.

"If it was only about the drivers, then Alonso would win every race," added de la Rosa, "but it's not."

Schumacher hints intention to race in 2013
(GMM) Michael Schumacher may have dropped the biggest hint yet about his plans for the future.

On the heels of the August break's rumors, the seven time world champion explained at Spa on Thursday that he and Mercedes will only have decided the plan for 2013 "by October".

"Nothing has changed, so no news I'm afraid," the great German told reporters.

But that was before Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, to mark his mentor, countryman and friend's landmark 300th race, Sebastian Vettel painted a humorous picture of Schumacher racing his silver Mercedes through the legendary Eau Rouge.

When the Austrian broadcaster ORF showed Schumacher the painting, the 43-year-old grabbed a pen and wrote a caption: "2013".

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag said it "knows" that negotiations between Schumacher and Mercedes about next year are currently "underway".

Engineer claims some breached August shutdown pact
(GMM) An unnamed engineer has alleged that some teams broke the 'gentleman's agreement' governing the factory shutdowns during F1's recent August break.

As per an unofficial cost-cutting pact, the twelve competing teams all agreed to close their doors for a full 14-day period.

During that time, the teams pledged to do almost no official F1 business — not even the sending of a single email.

But some teams broke the agreement, the unnamed engineer claims.

"The factories were, for the most part, closed," the anonymous source told the Spanish newspaper El Pais' correspondent Oriol Puigdemont at Spa.

"But what was done was that some work was put in the hands of suppliers, who continued to make parts in August," he claimed.

"I know firsthand that some teams, like Sauber and Williams for example, told their workers to shut down their computers on the last day of work and leave them at the factory.

"But there were others, like Ferrari, who never did that," the unnamed engineer said.

"The restrictions (of the shutdown) were very vague, and cheating very simple. You could just create a parallel email account.

"Also, if someone looked at the log of communications and you have talked to one of your colleagues, you could just argue that it's just your friend who is in the same team," the source added.

Engine switch 'wise' despite loss of V8 scream – Domenicali
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali has admitted the F1 fraternity may initially struggle to adapt to the "new noise" of 2014.

The sport is preparing to move from deafening V8 power to the comparatively-sedate turbo tones of V6 engines.

One aspect of the radical new rules is the requirement for the cars to be totally silent, relying only on electric power, whilst in the pitlane.

"We are totally against that, and it's something that is yet to be fully defined. We have to discuss that further with the FIA," Ferrari team boss Domenicali told the Spanish daily Marca.

As for the new turbo V6 formula, Domenicali said Ferrari is happy. Amid the current V8 engine development 'freeze', the Italian team has been complaining for years about the dominance of aerodynamics.

"To me, what I do not like about the F1 of today is that we only talk about aerodynamics," Domenicali said.

"If you ask the fans about the engine – how many cylinders, how much horse power – they have no idea.

"I think it is right for the future to find a balance."

Domenicali said V6 is a "different technical challenge" that Ferrari finds "exciting".

"At first I think everyone will say it (the engine tone) sounds a little strange, but probably for the future it is a wise decision, especially talking about the turbo, the recoverable energy, and the less noise.

"F1, being the pinnacle of motor sport, has to be the first to go this way. Some say that in this time of crisis it would be better to wait, and that may be right, but now we have taken a road we cannot return from."

As ever in F1, however, there are many uncertainties. Red Bull's Adrian Newey said recently he fears one engine manufacturer could get the upper hand with the new V6 formula, and dominate for years and years.

That risk appears even higher given the fact that the 2014 manufacturers – Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault – are designing their V6s right now amid F1's strict testing ban.

"We're not agreeing to introduce any new test sessions that would use mule (V6-equipped) cars," said McLaren's Paddy Lowe at Spa.

Ferrari's engine boss Mattia Binotto is worried.

"It's clear that we are very keen to run the new power unit earlier because what you can find on a car is never equal to what you can find on the dyno," he said at Spa.

"We are all afraid that by the start of the (2014) season you find out that you have a big issue with the engine and you have no time to sort it out."

No 2013 driver announcement at Monza – Domenicali
(GMM) Ferrari has ruled out announcing its 2013 driver lineup at its home Italian grand prix next week.

The fabled Maranello team traditionally announces its driver plans for the next season at historic Monza, but at present struggling Felipe Massa is still fighting to rescue his endangered seat.

Asked by the Spanish daily Marca if the Tifosi can expect an announcement at Monza as usual, team boss Stefano Domenicali answered: "We will not discuss anything concerning the drivers (lineup) at Monza."

Undeterred, the interviewer asked Domenicali if Ferrari might nonetheless spring a surprise, perhaps by announcing that Finn Heikki Kovalainen will be Fernando Alonso's new teammate.

"If you listen around the paddock I think even (Real Madrid captain Iker) Casillas is mentioned, but I think he is a little big for our car," he joked.

Before hitting the track on Friday, Massa admitted at Spa that his second half of the season needed to be "completely different" to the first.

"I have no news to give you regarding my future," he told reporters, "but it is the remaining races of this year that are important.

"Definitely it's important that something is decided before the very end of the season."

In qualifying, he was 14th compared to Alonso's sixth.

Brawn: 2013 ideas could come early
With the FIA regulations taking on no real changes next year, Mercedes' Ross Brawn was quizzed over the team’s inconsistent season at Spa-Francorchamps.

“It is very close this year and a few tenths seem to make a huge difference," he said. “We’ve had some good races and more difficult ones, like in Hungary when we struggled with the balance. What you are trying to seek with a car is finding the right balance on entry, mid-corner and exit as well as consistency with the tires. Sometimes we are having one of these, but then struggling with the other; so optimizing the car around that has been difficult.

“We’ve got ideas, theories and views with what we need to do with the car and some of those will be implemented this year in order to know what to do with next year’s car. But it is this question of knowing what to do with balance in terms of tire consistency – and we have struggled with tires. But these challenges and aspects of the car are what all of us face."

Then asked whether Mercedes could be re-branded as AMG F1 in 2013, as rumored across the internet, Brawn was unable to comment on the matter but insisted that the company is 'committed' to Formula 1 as a whole.

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