Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Don't you go blaming me

    Frentzen says Schumacher scotched comeback hopes

  • 2012 Sauber 'best car on grid' – Marko
  • F1 back to work after August shutdown
  • Kovalainen could have chosen 'middle team' over Caterham
  • Head thanks Renault for Williams turnaround
  • Senna not good enough for today's F1 – Piquet Jr.
  • McLaren has no doubt it will secure new deal with Hamilton New
  • Lotus confident Raikkonen to stay New

Frentzen says Schumacher scotched comeback hopes
(GMM) Heinz-Harald Frentzen has taken a swipe at his countryman and former rival and stablemate, Michael Schumacher.

Once pre-F1 sportscar teammates, the Germans' careers both headed into formula one in the 90s, where Schumacher soared to uber-success and Frentzen won 3 of his 160 grands prix.

So when asked if, notwithstanding his 45 years of age, he might emulate Schumacher by making a comeback, Frentzen's answer was slightly less than diplomatic.

"It's because I'm 45 now, and because Michael Schumacher has done everything he can to ensure that older guys are no longer so much in demand," he told Motorsport Aktuell.

Frentzen drove for teams including Williams and Sauber until 2003.

2012 Sauber 'best car on grid' – Marko
(GMM) Sauber's 80 points so far in 2012 belies the true strength of the Swiss-made C31.

In fact, Red Bull manager Dr Helmut Marko claims the single seater steered by Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi this year is "perhaps the best car in the field".

However, the Ferrari-powered car has been on the podium just twice in 2012 so far, which has attracted criticism of the young driver duo.

McLaren's Jenson Button said: "It's not Perez who is the 'tire whisperer', it's the car.

"If I was to drive my car as he drives his, then our tires would wear out very quickly."

Peter Sauber recently described Sauber's 2012 season so far as a "roller coaster ride", although he did not specifically criticize Perez or Kobayashi.

He told Blick: "We have a very fast car that works very well on almost every circuit. We have the speed to win.

"We could have scored a lot more points."

With nine races to go, Hinwil based Sauber is ranked sixth of the 12 teams in the constructors' championship.

F1 back to work after August shutdown
(GMM) F1 has returned to work.

Spain's Mundo Deportivo reports that, still amid the rare month-long gap between Hungary and Belgium, most teams have now reopened their doors following the 14-day factory shutdown.

Caterham staff have a brand new home, after moving into the former Arrows and Super Aguri facility at Leafield.

And Spanish journalist Raymond Blacafort says Fernando Alonso is back from a jet-skiing vacation.

The Spaniard returned to Ferrari's Maranello headquarters on Tuesday for a sequence of meetings and a session in the driver simulator.

The forthcoming Belgian and Italian grands prix, at fabled Spa and Monza respectively and the last European races in 2012, will be staged back-to-back.

Kovalainen could have chosen 'middle team' over Caterham
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has revealed he could have avoided racing straight to the back of the grid after losing his top McLaren seat at the end of 2009.

In fact, the Finn signed on with the (then Lotus) Caterham team, whose only real opponents in the last three seasons have been the other 2010 startups Marussia and HRT.

"I had other options, but not with any big teams — teams that were in the middle of the pack," Kovalainen told Brazil's Totalrace.

"I didn't see any great opportunity and so I preferred to go with a brand new team," he added.

It is a vastly different approach to that which might be taken by Felipe Massa, who after seven seasons with fabled Ferrari has ruled out moving to a small team in the event he is dropped at the end of 2012.

"It (signing with Caterham) was a risky move, but I don't see I would be in a much better situation had I chosen a middle team," Kovalainen explains.

"I chose to restart from scratch, changing many things — my routine, my training, everything basically.

"For me, choosing to start with a new team made me a better person, a better driver. Maybe Felipe's situation is different to mine, I don't know if my plan would work well for him."

Kovalainen said he is yet to start talks with Caterham boss Tony Fernandes about staying for the 2013 season.

"At some point we'll have that conversation," he insisted.

"For me personally, I want to go back to always fighting for the podium, but I don't know what the future is for me. I don't have much to say about it (now)."

Head thanks Renault for Williams turnaround
(GMM) Williams' radical improvement this year, after the 5-point debacle of 2011, has much to do with Renault.

That is the view of the famous British team's former co-owner and technical chief Patrick Head, who is no longer involved in the design and development of the Grove-made cars.

"I always have a good look at what they're doing," he recently told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo, "but I am concerned with other things now."

Last year, the Cosworth-powered FW33's best finishes were a pair of ninths, achieved by Rubens Barrichello.

Now with the title-winning Renault V8, the new FW34 has already scored 53 points, including Williams' first race win since 2004.

Head told journalist Livio Oricchio that the better "aerodynamic design" of the FW34 has been possible largely due to the "characteristics of the Renault engine".

Oricchio said the radiators can be smaller, with the Renault generally smaller and lower than the Cosworth.

"We could make a car with better aerodynamics and weight distribution. It (the Renault engine) was the strongest influence on the efficiency of this year's project," said Head.

Senna not good enough for today's F1 – Piquet Jr
(GMM) Having already derided the talents of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen this week, Nelson Piquet Jr turned his attention to perhaps the most revered F1 driver of all time.

Referring to the current drivers at his former employer, the ex-works Renault team that is now called Lotus, Brazilian Piquet said Grosjean "has been lucky because he came (back) at a time when he had a slightly weaker teammate (Kimi Raikkonen) and a very good car".

Now in the second-tier Nascar categories, Piquet – who left F1 amid the 2008/9 'crashgate' scandal – has now aimed fire at his late and great countryman Ayrton Senna.

He mentioned Senna as an example of a talented driver who might struggle in modern formula one, due to the change of emphasis since the 80s and early 90s.

"Someone like Senna would not have won anything in F1 today," he is quoted by Terra.

"He was very fast but he had no talent in terms of the technical and mechanical."

Senna won three titles, 41 races and 65 pole positions until his death in the 1994 San Marino grand prix.

McLaren has no doubt it will secure new deal with Lewis Hamilton
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh sees no reason to worry about his team's failure to finalize a new deal with Lewis Hamilton yet – because he has no doubts a new contract will be signed eventually.

"I honestly don't think it is an issue," Whitmarsh told AUTOSPORT. "You get a few questions over a weekend about it, and it is clearly fascinating to some people, but I really don't think it is an issue.

"Lewis and I have spoken two or three times at length. I think we are closer than we have ever been, and I have known him [Hamilton] since he was 11, and our conversations have been about how we are going to beat the other teams, and how we are going to try and win races. We don't talk about these issues at race tracks because I don't think it is the right environment.

"Ultimately it [the contract situation] is relatively straightforward. If Lewis wants to stay in the team, which he has told me he does, then he should do. And if we want to keep him, then we should do.

"If the answer to both those matters is yes, then I think it is eminently doable – so not something that has to have as much focus as turning up at races, trying to bring the quickest car you can and doing the best job possible."

Lotus confident Raikkonen to stay
(GMM) Lotus is confident Kimi Raikkonen will stay with the Enstone based team in 2013.

Before F1 went into its August slumber, 2007 world champion Raikkonen refused to categorically deny rumors he might return to Ferrari next year to replace Felipe Massa.

When asked about those stories, Lotus' technical boss James Allison said: "He doesn't give us any reason to think that he is going elsewhere.

"I think he likes it with us, I think we're giving him competitive equipment and it's a very straightforward working environment for any driver who comes and works in our team," he told the team's website.

Allison suggested the F1 returnee and Genii-managed Romain Grosjean, completing a "very strong" lineup for the Enstone based team, is also going nowhere.

"It's important for us to carry that strength through to next year as well," he said.

"We won't have any engineering bedding-in to do that we have when we have a new driver."

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