Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Felipe Massa

    Ecclestone insists London GP plans 'no joke'

  • Massa went to 'therapy' for results slump
  • 'Potent' driver pairing works for Red Bull – Webber
  • 'No hurry' to decide Massa's fate – Ferrari
  • FIA wants to examine de Villota's helmet
  • Mallya hints race seat likely for Bianchi
  • Webber admits 2012 title challenge influenced Ferrari snub
  • Button linked with new management for di Resta

Ecclestone insists London GP plans 'no joke'
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has hit back at those scoffing at his apparent plans to front a London street race.

Insiders have dismissed the stories either as clever publicity, or a masterly diversion from the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption scandal.

But, according to the Guardian, he told business journalist Christian Sylt this week: "We are getting on with it.

"It is no joke, 100 per cent completely no joke."

A separate report in Germany's Kolner Express linked the appearance at Silverstone of Olympic Games chief Jacques Rogge with reports F1 could use London's Olympic stadium as the scene of a grand prix.

"A London grand prix would be bigger than the Olympic Games," Ecclestone is quoted as saying.

In other F1 circuit news, Luca di Montezemolo has admitted he would like Ferrari's Mugello track to host a grand prix.

The flowing circuit near Florence, renovated last year and used for a F1 test earlier this season, is gearing up this week to host MotoGP.

"It would be a dream come true to one day also see a formula one world championship race take place at Mugello," Ferrari president Montezemolo said.

Massa went to 'therapy' for results slump
(GMM) Felipe Massa has admitted to enlisting the support of a psychologist and seeking "therapy" in the wake of his post-injury performance slump.

With the Brazilian last standing on a podium almost two years ago, some believe Ferrari's patience after Massa's recovery from serious head injuries in 2009 has finally run out.

"The bad results influenced the psychological side," the 31-year-old admitted to the Portuguese language Revista Espn magazine.

"I found a psychologist and went through therapy. I will try everything right until the end, because I believe that things will change," said Massa, who has not won a race since fighting for the title in 2008.

He has consistently denied that his 2009 crash had any influence on his performance afterwards.

But Massa now admits: "I'm not stupid. I'm tired of thinking about it.

"Not only did I think about it, I had 45,000 examinations. All the doctors say there is nothing (affecting his performance)," said the Ferrari driver.

Massa, however, complained that "99 per cent" of the Brazilian press has turned against him.

'Potent' driver pairing works for Red Bull – Webber
(GMM) As they face their fifth season together in 2013, Mark Webber has played down suggestions his relationship with Sebastian Vettel is perhaps F1's most fiery.

The pair clashed memorably as they fought for Vettel's first of back-to-back titles in 2010, and yet Red Bull chiefs have opted to keep them together several years later.

"It's not easy for both of us to be at the front and I can understand that as both of us are thinking about ourselves sometimes," Webber is quoted by the Associated Press.

"But ultimately we know that we need to get the cars home and get the best results for us and the team.

"I think no one would really have envisaged how long we have worked together, so that's probably been a bit of a surprise," Webber said.

"There are not many teammates staying together for that long in formula one, but it's proved to be a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with the key technical members of the team.

"It's been a potent operation."

Team boss Christian Horner extended 35-year-old Australian Webber's contract this week, and insists the pairing alongside Vettel is harmonious enough.

"They have spent a lot of time racing each other and they have spent hundreds of hours together working on developing the car and I think they have a genuine respect for each other," he said.

"Sebastian knows in Mark he has a very genuine competitor, and Mark knows Sebastian has been the benchmark for the last couple of years.

"It's a healthy situation for the team. I think they now have more experience," Horner added.

'No hurry' to decide Massa's fate – Ferrari
(GMM) Ferrari has stepped on the throttle with the message it is in no hurry to decide Fernando Alonso's 2013 teammate.

Earlier this week, we reported team boss Stefano Domenicali's claim at Silverstone that "we are not in a hurry" to decide whether or not Felipe Massa gets a new contract.

But has the Maranello marque's situation changed, in light of Mark Webber's re-signing with Red Bull, the Australian having admitted he had been in talks with Ferrari?

"In Maranello, no one is in a hurry to make any decisions and that's for sure," Ferrari's usually acid-tongued anonymous website columnist The Horse Whisperer said on Wednesday.

Some insiders interpreted the news about Webber as a shot in the arm for Brazilian Massa's hopes.

But the Ferrari columnist even rubbished these rumors, suggesting the very same "rumormongers" were writing off Massa mere weeks ago.

Interestingly, the Italian team has not yet been named by British newspapers this week, amid rumors Lewis Hamilton's management is busily leaking the 2008 world champion's possible alternatives for 2013.

Earlier this week, the Daily Mail reported that Lotus is a real option for the 27-year-old, but the Mirror insists that "team sources say" the Enstone based squad "will stick with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean".

Therefore, the newspaper says Hamilton has "roared to the top of Mercedes' shortlist".

Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio, however, senses a management ploy to drive up Hamilton's price.

"I don't believe for a moment that Lewis Hamilton is thinking seriously about leaving McLaren," the O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent said.

FIA wants to examine de Villota's helmet
(GMM) The FIA will examine Maria de Villota's helmet in the wake of the Marussia test driver's horror injuries.

Although now out of intensive care, awake and talking to family, the Spaniard lost her right eye early last week after her 2012 single seater drove into a stationary truck's loading ramp.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that, because the accident occurred during a private test, the governing FIA will not be launching an official investigation or writing a report.

The Jean Todt-led federation, however, is interested in the circumstances.

"We want to examine the helmet and know exactly what went wrong," race director Charlie Whiting is quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, it emerges that 'Barney' – the mechanic most badly injured in Williams' Barcelona pit fire – was back in the team's garage last weekend at Silverstone.

Williams reports, however, that he only watched the race and "won't be back at work for a while" yet.

But the few Sauber mechanics bowled over by Kamui Kobayashi during a British grand prix pitstop will all be back at work at Hockenheim, the Swiss team's chief mechanic Urs Kuratle said.

"They're all ok. They'll all be at Hockenheim," he told Bild newspaper.

Mallya hints race seat likely for Bianchi
(GMM) Team owner and boss Vijay Mallya has played up Jules Bianchi's hopes of eventually moving into the race cockpit.

This year, the Ferrari-linked Frenchman and former GP2 driver, who is managed by Felipe Massa's manager Nicolas Todt, is Force India's reserve and occasional 'Friday' driver.

Force India's current race drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, have both been linked with better seats for 2013.

The Silverstone based team's previous test drivers, Vitantonio Liuzzi, di Resta and Hulkenberg, were all subsequently promoted to a race seat.

"Let me put it this way," Mallya told France's Auto Hebdo when asked about 22-year-old Bianchi's chances.

"All of our test drivers were fortunate enough to get a (race) seat, so why should it be any different now?"

Webber admits 2012 title challenge influenced Ferrari snub
(GMM) Mark Webber has revealed that the fact he wants to charge for this year's title influenced his decision to stay at Red Bull in 2013.

Until Red Bull announced he is staying alongside Sebastian Vettel next season, the Australian was strongly linked with a move to Ferrari.

Even in the official media statement, Webber admitted there had been "discussions with Ferrari" about replacing Felipe Massa.

He then acknowledged to the Associated Press that it is "important the team knows you're 100 per cent with them, which, of course, I am."

But that might not have been the case if the rumored switch to Ferrari had become fact.

Webber has already felt the sting of questionable equality, famously declaring on the radio after winning the 2010 British grand prix that it was a feat "Not bad for a number two driver".

Two years on and with his teammate Sebastian Vettel now the reigning back-to-back title winner, Webber is a win and 16 points up on the German in the drivers' standings.

He senses it could be his last chance to win a championship.

"The fact that I am trying to win the championship this year was a consideration," Webber admitted in a BBC column.

"It would have been that bit harder to keep the momentum going if I was moving to a rival team. That was a factor, but it was certainly not the biggest one."

Webber's new contract is for yet another one-year term, but he insists retirement is not looming just yet.

"I'm not thinking about that at all," said the Australian, who turns 36 in August.

"The contract is just for one year, but I'm looking to stay in F1 for longer than that."

Button linked with new management for di Resta
(GMM) Paul di Resta is being linked to F1 rival Jenson Button's sports management company.

Force India driver di Resta confirmed last weekend that he has split with his former manager, Anthony Hamilton — McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton's father.

The F1 website is reporting that the Scot is now being informally advised by Richard Goddard, who manages Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button.

The report said Goddard has confirmed giving advice to the 26-year-old di Resta but denied he is being paid, or the existence of a contract.

The news is also fascinating in the light of 2009 world champion Button's admission last year that his new management company, Sports Partnership, would consider handling the career of a rival F1 driver.

Button set up the London based management firm in collaboration with Goddard.

"Absolutely," Goddard said late last year.

"Of course Jenson wouldn't want a business relationship with a direct rival — but he would enjoy working with a young guy, somebody who has just come into F1 or who is on the brink."

Leave a Reply