Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Buemi still on sidelines

    Horner offers Buemi same job for 2013

  • Boss Booth denies Marussia negligent in de Villota crash
  • Lotus owner Genii to spend big on football
  • Weather chaos spoils British grand prix
  • Grosjean 'happy' to shape up against Raikkonen
  • London GP fanfare now just muted buzz
  • HRT confirms Silverstone test going ahead
  • Schumacher not playing 'contract poker' – Haug
  • Ecclestone hints big teams should make rules

Horner offers Buemi same job for 2013
(GMM) Red Bull has indicated it is keen to keep Sebastien Buemi on board as reserve driver next year.

The Swiss was dumped as junior team Toro Rosso's race driver at the end of 2011, but Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner has indicated he is very happy with the 23-year-old's performance in his new role.

"In the simulator he's doing a sensational job," the Briton told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"Technically he is very good, and in the simulator he can adapt to the driving style of both the race drivers without any problems. That's pretty unique," Horner added.

Buemi said earlier this week there is a possibility he could do some driving during a Friday morning practice session this season.

Horner apologized as he said that will not be possible.

But he added: "He will have a job with us in 2013 if he wants. We absolutely want to keep him."

Buemi, however, wants to return to racing next year.

"That's quite understandable," said Horner. "But Sebastien knows that he always has a job with us."

Boss Booth denies Marussia negligent in de Villota crash
(GMM) Maria de Villota's condition has been downgraded from 'critical' to 'serious' as she recovers from her horror testing crash in an English hospital.

Marussia's 32-year-old test driver is currently in an induced coma following another round of surgery on Friday.

"Whilst Maria remains acutely ill … she has been responding well to the treatment she has received since her accident," the team said in a statement.

Team boss John Booth told Bild newspaper: "The swelling in her head is not getting worse.

"This is some good news, but it will take a lot of time before she is completely well again. At the moment it's day to day, hour to hour."

Briton Booth said de Villota, who lost her right eye due to the severe head and face injuries, is aware of what has happened.

"Yes, she has spent most of the time conscious," he told the German newspaper. "But after the long surgery, the doctors decided it would be best for her recovery if she is in an artificial coma."

He denied Marussia acted negligently by putting an inexperienced driver, who does not have an FIA super license, at the wheel of the team's 2012 car for an aerodynamic straight line test.

"No, we did not. This is the normal method for a team to train its new development drivers and give them some experience.

"And it was not the first time Maria has driven a modern formula one car."

Booth would not talk about the likely cause of the crash.

"I cannot. Not yet," he insisted.

"Unlike in some other countries there are very strict procedures in England. What happened must not only be examined by the team but also by the authorities."

Booth said he can therefore "not talk about" issues such as why the truck loading ramp was sticking up at visor height.

Asked if the incident could have "serious consequences" for the Marussia team, he answered: "All I can say is that safety is taken very seriously in England."

Lotus owner Genii to spend big on football
(GMM) Genii, the private equity fund that owns the Lotus team, is looking into investing EUR 500 million in the world of football.

Team owners Gerard Lopez and Eric Lux are eyeing five second-tier European clubs as well as a dozen player agencies, academies and media rights companies, the Financial Times reports.

"(Big-name clubs) are inherently risky and very difficult to turn around," said Lopez. "We would rather take a club of EUR 40m turnover than one with high aspirations and huge debt."

Despite last year's losses, and the departure of title sponsor Group Lotus, Lopez said the Enstone based F1 team is now on track to break even.

Weather chaos spoils British grand prix
(GMM) In more ways than one, there is a big cloud over this weekend's British grand prix.

On Friday, those en route to Silverstone queued for hours in traffic jams, missing the practice sessions and then either being turned away from the quagmire car parks or invited into the circuit to watch very little on-track action.

"Fortunately, I bought plenty of reading material," said the New York Times correspondent Brad Spurgeon.

"But I pity the spectators who paid to go through that and then witness nothing but drivers sitting around while it rained."

It looks set to get worse. Race organizers have admitted the weather is playing havoc with their plans and are urging 30,000 spectators with general admission tickets to stay away on Saturday.

Track boss Richard Phillips issued an "unreserved apology" to those affected, insisting he is "so sick I could cry".

Not only that, Jenson Button said that if the weather stays the same, Sunday's grand prix might be called off.

"I can't see us being allowed to race in these conditions," he said on Friday, when some of the limited track action involved Bruno Senna and Fernando Alonso aquaplaning into the barriers.

Lewis Hamilton said it "looks like there is no drainage" in crucial sections of the high-speed layout.

The weather even prevented F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone's helicopter from flying in.

"If it's like this on Sunday, visibility would be zero. We would spend half or the whole race behind the safety car," Marussia's Timo Glock told Bild newspaper.

Grosjean 'happy' to shape up against Raikkonen
(GMM) Romain Grosjean, the always-grinning Lotus driver, tried hard to hide his delight at shining the way to a former world champion so far in 2012.

Run out of the sport after a disastrous start amid Renault's 'crashgate' scandal in 2009, the Frenchman was given a second chance with a new GP2 title in his pocket and the trust of Lotus team boss and manager Eric Boullier.

"Only a few drivers get a second chance at formula one," veteran journalist Mike Doodson told Grosjean this week, "but you did."

Not only that, many are tipping the Swiss-born 26-year-old as probably F1's eighth different winner of 2012, even though his teammate is the 2007 title winner, Kimi Raikkonen.

Asked by the Telegraph's Tom Cary if he is surprised to have matched the hailed Finn this season, Grosjean answered: "I think the surprise was the car."

Cary dutifully tried the Raikkonen question again.

"I'm pretty surprised with the way the season is going," Grosjean smiled. "If you had told me in January that I would have two podiums I would have signed straight away."

For a third consecutive time, journalist Cary pressed the point about Raikkonen — that Grosjean has emerged from the apparent death of an F1 career to now arguably lead the way to a hugely-respected winner of 18 grands prix.

"Kimi didn't take long to come back to his level," Grosjean responded.

"And yes I'm happy with the way the season is going. I expected to have less experience and in a few conditions to be less good.

"But I'm trying to get the best of his experience in every situation and then use it."

London GP fanfare now just muted buzz
(GMM) After all the recent fanfare, most of F1's seasoned regulars at Silverstone merely raised their eyebrows when someone mentioned the London grand prix.

In fact, the raucous speculation has became only a muted buzz as experts agree it was all just a PR stunt.

Any attempt to get at the real possibility of the bustling British capital closing down its streets for F1 came to a dead-end.

David Coulthard wrote in the Telegraph: "I learnt that it would require an act of parliament for it to happen as it would require a change to the law on speed limits.

"It's not as easy as the mayor giving it the green light," said the former McLaren and Red Bull driver.

And F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, accused by some of skillfully planting a diversion amid the Gribkowsky corruption affair, told the Daily Mail that one of the plans – involving the Olympic stadium – "looks a bit complicated".

"Then this other thing came up, which was a Santander publicity stunt," he said.

"They showed me their idea two or three months ago and said 'It looks good. It looks exciting. It's good publicity for the British grand prix and Santander'.

"I said 'You're bloody right it is'," Ecclestone told the newspaper. "And before I knew it I was apparently the one who was behind it.

"I didn't know about it to be honest, but I accepted the credit."

Ecclestone confirmed that he is still prepared to put in 35 million pounds to "make it happen", but he doesn't really rate the chances.

"I will try to resurrect what we originally discussed with the sports minister and the old mayor – er, what's his name, Mr. Ken Livingstone – some years ago. I will try to get that back on track," he added.

HRT confirms Silverstone test going ahead
(GMM) A young driver test is going ahead at Silverstone next week.

Earlier, Mercedes' Norbert Haug described as "ridiculous" the confusion surrounding the plans, after some teams baulked at running at Abu Dhabi as scheduled in November due to the calendar congestion in 2012.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone then threw water on the alternate Silverstone plan because, technically, he controls a grand prix venue in the days before and after a world championship round.

The Spanish backmarker HRT, however, has confirmed it will definitely be in action at Silverstone next Thursday and Friday.

"An agreement has been finally reached", the team said in a statement.

Boss Luis Perez-Sala added: "The fact that these tests will finally be able to take place at Silverstone is great news for us because it fits perfectly with the next step that we had planned for (Chinese driver) Ma Qing Hua's development program."

Schumacher not playing 'contract poker' – Haug
(GMM) Norbert Haug has denied a game of "contract poker" is shaping up between Mercedes and Michael Schumacher.

Team boss Ross Brawn said this week that Mercedes will decide the identity of Nico Rosberg's 2013 teammate this summer, prompting reports that – in fact – only Schumacher possesses a unilateral option to extend his expiring contract.

The 43-year-old then came out and rejected the notion he will make a decision before October.

"The situation is that we will get together in peace," Mercedes' motor racing director Haug told the broadcaster Sky, as the speculation ramps up.

Speaking at Silverstone He denied one party is putting pressure on the other.

"It is very important that there is a mutual decision," said Haug.

"It was rumored that it is Michael's choice, but Michael is always the first to emphasize that we must agree as a team.

"There is no 'contract poker'," the German said.

He ruled out the possibility that Schumacher could be testing the water on the driver market, Haug insisting that he is "an integral part of the silver arrows" and "not flirting with another team".

"That means we can allow ourselves the time we need," said Haug.

He did not say whether Schumacher appears headed for a new contract, or back to retirement.

"We will see. If we knew now, then we would announced it now," said Haug. "But we are not ready and we are giving ourselves the time we need."

In fact, Schumacher sounds very likely to race on, comparing his work at Mercedes to the rebuilding phase at Ferrari that led to five consecutive titles.

"I do not see significant differences between what I did then and what I'm trying to achieve here," the seven time world champion told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Asked if he still has the hunger and ability to race on, Schumacher added: "After retiring and turning 40, I thought my career was over, but here I am!

"I don't know what will happen from now on, but I'm fit, I have no physical problems and I still feel strong."

Teammate Rosberg, however, sounded mischievously tired of all the questions he is facing regarding Schumacher's looming decision.

"Yes, he is staying two years. But he wants 43 million euros, which is crazy," he told Berliner Zeitung newspaper, before laughing.

"Just kidding! I honestly don't know what he's doing."

Ecclestone hints big teams should make rules
Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested the future technical rules should be set by the leading teams, as he moves closer finalising a new Concorde Agreement.

Although the current regulations are laid down after a strict process that involves the FIA's Technical Working Group, the Formula 1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council, Ecclestone reckons that a new process could be agreed in the future.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Ecclestone made it clear that all teams – including Mercedes that had been holding out for improved commercial terms – were now on board with the new Concorde.

"Total agreement," said Ecclestone. "We are just talking to the lawyers – 'why have you used this word, that word'. Typical lawyers but everything's fine. Commercially it's done."

Speaking about the way rules could be framed going forward, he said: "Now what we've got to do is look at how the technical regulations are made. It should be the teams, though not all the teams, who do that.

"They are the people who have to come up with the money, not the FIA. It would be the established teams who are here to stay – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and probably Williams as old timers – deciding what to do." Autosport

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