Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Paul de Resta

    Di Resta admits 'crucial' decision looming

  • Grosjean turns down Stewart 'coach' offer
  • Ferrari needs 'better number two' than Massa – Salo
  • Lotus owner Lopez happy with current driver lineup
  • Carlos Gracia criticizes Marussia after de Villota crash
  • Haug 'sure' of Nurburgring solution
  • No sign of Ecclestone yet as prosecutors race on
  • Mateschitz not worried about Vettel's Ferrari link
  • Salo warns Kovalainen about Sauber switch
  • Ecclestone set for Mercedes talks at Hockenheim
  • 20 races again in 2013, no NJ – Ecclestone
  • McLaren switch would be 'abnormal' – Hamilton
  • No 'shouting' as McLaren push to end slump – Button

Di Resta admits 'crucial' decision looming
(GMM) Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren? Paul di Resta is ruling out nothing.

The Force India driver admitted at Hockenheim that within weeks he will have to make a "crucial" decision.

"Anybody would like to drive for Ferrari at some point in their life for what they represent in formula one," he said.

"With Mercedes, I've been part of that family for a long time. I want to be winning races and championships, that's the important thing, the ultimate goal."

And what about McLaren?

The famous British team also has a theoretical vacancy for 2013, with Lewis Hamilton telling reporters on Thursday he "can't deny" McLaren's form since he won the title in 2008 has been disappointing.

"There are drives everywhere," di Resta told reporters. "It's fairly confusing what is going on at the moment, even with Lewis.

"There's still two (race) weekends to go and I believe that (the August break) is the time when you start to make sure you are putting yourself in the right places and making sure you know what you are doing.

"It is a crucial decision. I'll need to decide pretty quickly what way I want to go."

Di Resta, who recently split with his manager Anthony Hamilton, confirmed at Hockenheim that he is now taking advice from Jenson Button's management team.

"The biggest thing for me is to make sure I'm in a formula one car next year because that's where I want to be," he said.

Grosjean turns down Stewart 'coach' offer
(GMM) Romain Grosjean flashed his usual grin at Hockenheim as he jokingly dismissed F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart's offer.

After the Lotus driver was crowned in the media as one of F1's 'crash kings' of 2012, 73-year-old triple world champion Stewart reportedly offered to coach and mentor him.

Grosjean smiled that he is too busy for that.

"It's very tight at the moment and I've a honeymoon to do," said the recently-married Frenchman.

More seriously, he explained: "I used to work with a coach and I don't feel that I need one today."

Ferrari needs 'better number two' than Massa – Salo
(GMM) Mika Salo, a Ferrari driver in 1999, has tipped his former employer to drop Felipe Massa at the end of the season.

Speculation about the seat alongside Fernando Alonso remains rampant, despite Mark Webber signing a new deal for 2013 with Red Bull.

But at Hockenheim, Brazilian Massa insisted the news about the Australian is not significant.

"I'm sure not just Mark but a big number of drivers have been in touch, have called Ferrari," he said.

Massa said earlier that if he keeps up his current improved form, he can expect a new deal.

Finn Salo doesn't think so.

"Yes, I think they need a better number two to support Alonso," he told the MTV3 broadcaster.

"It's hard to say who it could be. I would like to think it's a good opportunity for Heikki Kovalainen.

"Ferrari are saying Massa could stay next year, but I just don't believe it."

The Brazilian correspondent for O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, journalist Livio Orrichio, said he has heard from "well-informed" Italian sources that if Massa does stay, he faces a EUR 4 million pay cut, to about 6 million in 2013.

Massa, 31, indicated he is very keen to keep his current job, even if it means sometimes moving over for Alonso.

Reminded about Hockenheim 2010, when he was instructed on the radio that 'Fernando is faster than you', Massa said on Thursday: "I can't say it was the most enjoyable weekend of my life.

"But I am a professional and if it happens again I will do anything to help my team and my teammate, the championship leader."

Lotus owner Lopez happy with current driver lineup
(GMM) Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen are in no mind to end their new partnership.

It has been not all smooth sailing since the 2007 world champion returned from rallying to team up with Lotus, triggering rumors that the seat occupied by Raikkonen might be a factor in the 2013 'silly season'.

But when asked if he is happy with the 32-year-old as well as Romain Grosjean, team owner Gerard Lopez insisted: "Yes.

"We have developed a strong and fast car that works on almost every circuit, and we have two good drivers — I think one of the best driver pairings," he told the Luxembourg newspaper Wort.

When asked about Raikkonen specifically, Lopez explained: "Kimi was a logical choice for us.

"We were looking for an experienced driver, and he is among the six champions this year.

"He has done a good comeback. He has forgotten nothing, he is very fast and focused and has no motivation problems. He can push the team along very well.

"He says what he thinks, whether it's good or bad. He is very direct, we talk very openly and directly together.

"He's a nice guy, a great person, but introverted. People often have a false impression of him. But he's not interested in politics and so he just fits well with our concept.

"I think he feels comfortable in our family."

Raikkonen's fellow Finn, former Sauber and Toyota driver Mika Salo, agrees.

"I don't think Kimi wants to go anywhere else. He has a good car, the support of the team behind him, and Lotus give him a free hand," he told the broadcaster MTV3.

Carlos Gracia criticizes Marussia after de Villota crash
(GMM) Carlos Gracia, the highest-ranking Spanish motor racing official, has criticized Marussia after the team implied Maria de Villota's recent testing accident was her fault.

Without actually saying the crash into a stationary truck during straight-line aerodynamic testing was driver error, Marussia recently revealed that an internal investigation showed the car had not failed.

Asked how he had digested the statement, Gracia – president of Spain's sanctioning body and an FIA vice-president – admitted he read it "with some indignation".

"I think it was not necessary when the (external) investigation is ongoing," he told AS newspaper.

"I see it that they want to shift the responsibility to Maria, but we need to wait if she can recover her memory.

"In any case, even if it was a driving mistake, there was a failure of logistics, when we speak about a truck ramp that acted like a knife.

"It's the same as a garage door raised to the height of a driver's head. That's a team failure, so there is a responsibility that certainly is not Maria's."

Gracia said he doubts a situation with such a grave outcome would have occurred if de Villota was testing for a bigger team.

"I have asked (FIA president) Jean Todt to regulate and ensure minimum safety measures and to consider it for the next World Council.

"What is clear is that a top team, a Ferrari or McLaren, would have worked more seriously. These modest teams should improve their basic safety," he said.

Marussia race driver Timo Glock said at Hockenheim that his teammate is "recovering well" from her head and facial injuries, which involved an irreparably damaged right eye.

"The last thing I heard is that she is very stable, talking to her family and the doctors and on the road to recovery," said the German.

"Of course there is still a long way to go, but in the circumstances, she is doing very well," he is quoted by the SID news agency.

Haug 'sure' of Nurburgring solution
(GMM) Norbert Haug says he is confident the Nurburgring can overcome its problems.

Speaking as head of Mercedes' motor racing programs, he said the circuit is important not just for the German grand prix but also the touring car championship DTM, which is also contested by the Stuttgart carmaker.

"I don't think the lights are going out," he is quoted by Die Welt newspaper.

"I am sure that solutions will be found," said German Haug.

Mark Webber, who earlier this week admitted he is not a big fan of the modern Hockenheim layout, said on Thursday he would be sad to see Germany's other grand prix venue fall off the calendar.

"Yeah, it's a sensational little track and obviously you have the big circuit out the back," said the Australian.

Michael Schumacher joked that F1's reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel, might be able to bail out the legendary circuit.

"Your wallet is bigger than mine," Vettel smiled back.

No sign of Ecclestone yet as prosecutors race on
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has not been seen at Hockenheim so far, raising suggestions he is afraid of arrest.

German newspapers – including FT Deutschland, Suddeutsche Zeitung and Munchner Merkur – say corrupt former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky has this week spent no fewer than eight hours in conversation with Munich prosecutors.

The subject? A possible indictment against F1's chief executive.

Munich prosecutors on Friday declined to comment.

"We do not disclose details at each step of an investigation," said a spokesman.

Ecclestone, however, insists he is not staying away from Germany this weekend for fear of ending the day in custody, also charged with corruption.

"I am going. I will be there on Saturday," the Briton is quoted by the Hamburger Abendblatt.

But is he afraid of arrest?

"I have nothing to do with the case," Ecclestone insisted.

Major F1 sponsors, however, are not so convinced. The Times reports that companies including UPS, Allianz and Petronas "have examined details" of the Gribkowsky situation.

"Big companies are very wary of being involved in anything that could damage their reputations," said a source.

Mateschitz not worried about Vettel's Ferrari link
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of the Red Bull team, insists he is not worried about reports Sebastian Vettel is considering a switch to Ferrari.

Speculation the reigning double world champion has inked some sort of 'pre-contract' with the famous Italian team will not go away.

"It neither bothers nor surprises us, since we nor Sebastian know anything about it," billionaire Mateschitz is quoted by DPA news agency.

"And neither, probably, do Ferrari or Fernando Alonso," he added.

"But should one day it be different, we would wish Sebastian all the best and much success," said Mateschitz.

Salo warns Kovalainen about Sauber switch
(GMM) Mika Salo has warned his countryman Heikki Kovalainen to think twice before switching to Sauber.

Finn Kovalainen, at the back of the grid with Caterham for the past three seasons, has been linked with a step up the grid to Sauber for 2013.

"It could be a good place for him," former Sauber and Toyota driver Salo told the MTV3 broadcaster, "but it's also a little risky.

"This is not a top team — their car is not necessarily always good," the 45-year-old said. "At the moment, it is."

After subbing for the injured Michael Schumacher at Ferrari in 1999, Salo returned full-time to F1 with Sauber but then left at the end of 2000.

"I know from my own experience," said Salo, "that Peter Sauber is not the easiest person in the world to work with.

"Maybe it will be different when Monisha Kaltenborn is in charge, but how much will Peter Sauber be able to stay away from running the team?" he wondered.

Sauber's current drivers Sergio Perez and – particularly – Kamui Kobayashi have been criticized in 2012 for not delivering on the full potential of the Ferrari-powered C31.

Peter Sauber refers to the car as the "best" in the team's 20-year history.

Chief executive Kaltenborn, however, said not only the drivers are to blame.

"The difficulties have been accidents, technical failures, strategies not working," she told the FAZ newspaper.

And she is also quoted by Blick newspaper: "We need to improve our results sheet as quickly as possible.

"We have two very fast drivers in a learning process."

Ecclestone set for Mercedes talks at Hockenheim
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is the epitome of imprecision on the subject of the Concorde Agreement and Mercedes.

The F1 chief executive said recently that there is "total agreement" in the paddock about the future.

But subsequent reports, essentially confirmed by Mercedes' Norbert Haug, indicated that Mercedes is in fact yet to sign on the dotted line.

"I am sure Mercedes will soon issue a press release on the subject," Ecclestone told DAPD news agency when asked about Mercedes' apparent agreement.

"I will speak with them at Hockenheim," he then added. "Hopefully there'll be a final decision there."

Die Welt newspaper said this week that Mercedes is not only yet to sign up, but that Niki Lauda has been engaged as an intermediary for the negotiations.

"We ask for your understanding that we are not commenting on the negotiations," Haug insisted.

"This is the standard in the industry, not because we want to hide something," he added.

But when asked if Mercedes is contemplating pulling out of F1, he answered simply: "No."

20 races again in 2013, no NJ – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down reports the calendar could be set to explode in 2013.

There have been rumors the F1 chief executive was open to expanding the schedule to no fewer than 26 races next season.

"Not next year," he told DAPD news agency. "There will be 20 again. No new races."

That doesn't bode well for New Jersey, which is scheduled to join the 2013 calendar.

For 2014, Russia is set to host a grand prix at Sochi, while Argentina is reportedly close to a deal.

"I hope we don't have to remove any existing races," said Ecclestone.

McLaren switch would be 'abnormal' – Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has used the word "abnormal" to describe the prospect of leaving McLaren at the end of 2012.

The 2008 world champion is locked in negotiations with the famous British team, but he indicated at Hockenheim that he would like to stay.

"I have a lot of faith in this team, we're like a family," he told reporters.

"Anything different would feel very abnormal.

But "you have to look at all your options and know all your plans, and not rush into things. Some of the worst decisions are generally the ones that are rushed," said the 27-year-old.

It is rumored Hamilton and his management are arguing with McLaren over his retainer and other contractual details.

Insiders regard his potential alternatives for 2013, including Lotus and Mercedes, as highly unlikely.

Lotus, in particular, would almost certainly have to involve a big pay-cut.

Asked if that is possible, Hamilton answered: "I have to be careful how I answer this — it could affect my bargaining power.

"It goes without saying for me that the number one priority is the car."

No 'shouting' as McLaren push to end slump – Button
(GMM) Jenson Button is hoping McLaren can end its performance slump at Hockenheim.

After a dismal outing for the British team at Silverstone recently, the 2009 world champion admitted the post-event debriefing at Woking would be "somber".

"We didn't sit down and shout at each other," the Briton told reporters at Hockenheim.

"We looked at what we had failed to do and how we are going to make it right."

For the German grand prix, the MP4-27 will feature some upgrades that according to boss Martin Whitmarsh will be obvious to the naked eye.

"It's the biggest upgrades we've had all year by a long way," Button confirmed, "something Red Bull and Ferrari have done already.

"Some of the upgrades have been pushed through quicker," he added. "Also, some things we have found very late in the day have been very interesting."

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