Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

UPDATE #2 More updates shown in red below.

04/14/12 Updates shown in red below.

Mark Webber coping better than teammate


  • Webber coping better than Vettel in 2012 – engineer
  • F1 TV broadcasters pull out of Bahrain
  • Slow return to top not possible for Ferrari – boss
  • Karthikeyan denies apologizing to Vettel
  • Lotus backs Sauber over budget cap proposal
  • Raikkonen disappointed with pace
  • F1 track selling seats for as much as $6,750 New
  • Button I left pits too late New
  • Vettel: Just not quick enough New

Webber coping better than Vettel in 2012 – engineer
(GMM) One of Sebastian Vettel's engineers has admitted the reigning double world champion is currently playing second fiddle to Mark Webber.

Cyril Dumont, who works with German Vettel through Red Bull's works engine supplier Renault, admitted to RMC Sport that the balance of power from one side of the team's garage to the other has changed.

"Mark tends to be able to get around the problems and adapt," he said.

"But for Sebastian, each ingredient needs to be at its optimum for him to have full confidence and get the performance out.

"The car has worked well for him in the previous two years, while it is true that at the first two grands prix (of 2012) he has been less comfortable.

"Mark seems to be suffering less," added Dumont.

F1 TV broadcasters pull out of Bahrain
(GMM) At least three television broadcasters will not travel to next week's controversial Bahrain grand prix.

Blick newspaper, as well as Bild and London's Times, are reporting that the host broadcasters for Finland, Japan and Germany (Sky Deutschland) will not be sending personnel to the troubled island Kingdom.

The broadcasters usually report directly from the twenty grand prix locations, but have pulled out of Bahrain due to security fears.

"Grands prix attract so much attention internationally that the possibility of problems is too high," said a spokesman for Finland's MTV3.

"It is too bad," he added, "because Kimi Raikkonen's return has dramatically increased the interest in formula one. But we don't want to go at the expense of safety."

Former Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi, however, played down the risks.

The Swiss, who has lived in Bahrain with his uncle, is now Red Bull's reserve driver.

"My uncle goes to work every day and takes his children to school," he is quoted by RMC Sport. "The reality is not necessarily what you see on TV.

"We'll see when we get there."

In the wake of F1's decision to plough ahead with next week's race, media reports said violence returned to the streets of Bahrain on Friday.

"No F1, no F1 — they killed my son in cold blood," one protester is quoted as having chanted on Friday.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, said protesters hurled firebombs at police, who returned fire with bird shot pellets.

Slow return to top not possible for Ferrari – boss
(GMM) A steady regroup is not possible for the Ferrari team, Stefano Domenicali has claimed.

The famous Italian team's boss admitted in Shanghai that while the F2012 was eight tenths off the genuine dry pace in Malaysia, the gap is even bigger this weekend.

Technical chief Pat Fry, a Briton who used to work at McLaren, warned that Ferrari needs to change its "fundamental methodologies" in order to return to the front.

Mercedes, arguably with a faster car than Ferrari in 2012, has spoken of a steady push towards a title tilt that could take several years.

But Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari president, has hinted Maranello's problems could be firmly in the past in a matter of races.

So is a three-year plan possible for Ferrari, a team either revered by its Tifosi or said to be in deep crisis?

"No," Domenicali firmly told Germany's Die Welt newspaper.

"If I said that publicly, I would have a lot of problems and I would have to move somewhere high in the Dolomites," he joked.

Karthikeyan denies apologizing to Vettel
(GMM) Narain Karthikeyan has firmly denied world champion Sebastian Vettel's claim he apologized for their recent clash in Malaysia.

After being shown the middle finger by Germany's top driver, and called a "cucumber" and "idiot", Indian backmarker Karthikeyan sat down for a lengthy interview with the major daily Bild-Zeitung.

"What?" Karthikeyan gasped when told Vettel had told reporters he had been apologized to.

"We happened to meet here outside of the paddock and we talked about it. But it was a normal racing incident, so why should I apologize?"

Karthikeyan was also asked about Vettel's insults, and the television footage that depicted the Red Bull driver showing him the middle finger — twice.

"As a driver you always need to have respect. I saw it (the middle finger) later on TV. But I'm used to it in India. It's not nice but we all have emotions.

"Cucumber? I don't know that as an insult.

"It's all ok now and I hope it will be for the rest of the season. There is no bad blood," he insisted.

Lotus backs Sauber over budget cap proposal
(GMM) Lotus has become the second team to announce it would be happy to operate within a budget cap.

A few years ago, former FIA president Max Mosley's push for teams to be confined to an even playing field when it comes to spending power was angrily rejected, resulting in a bitter political war.

But Sauber said recently that it would be happy if the idea was proposed again.

Like the Swiss team, Lotus has also agreed a new commercial Concorde Agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, as have the 'grandee' outfits Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.

But on the issue of a budget cap, they apparently do not agree.

"Some teams do not realize that we need to do something on the cost side," Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Most do agree, but unfortunately there are a few obstructionists."

As for a budget cap specifically, Lopez revealed: "There is no problem with it. It would reward the smartest ones."

Raikkonen disappointed with pace
Lotus line up fourth and tenth in China, with Kimi Raikkonen leading the charge and Romain Grosjean having decided to abort his final run in Q3. Despite being in a promising position, the 2007 World Champion admits that he hoped for more.

“The grid position is okay but, when you look at the times, I’m disappointed with the pace of the car today," says Raikkonen, whose best lap time of 1:35.784 is almost seven tenths of a second off the pole lap from Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.

“We’ve gained a position after Lewis (Hamilton)’s penalty but the speed wasn’t where it should have been, especially when you look at the pole time. We’ve tried some updates this weekend, but they haven’t worked as we wanted so we’ve gone back to how the car was before. We go into the race less confident in the car than in the last two races, but knowing that we start from a higher position on the grid."

En route to his world title, Raikkonen won in Shanghai for Ferrari five years ago.

Austin F1 track selling seats for as much as $6,750
A prime seat in the Circuit of the Americas main grandstand, one with a view of the action in the Formula One pits, could run $6,750 — $5,500 for the personal seat license and $1,250 for a season ticket.

That's according to the circuit's website, which recently posted the locations and pricing structure for personal seat licenses. Those licenses, good for 15 years, run from $1,500 to $5,500, and season tickets for those seats, currently good for the F1 Grand Prix in November and an Australian V8 Supercar race in 2013, range from $375 to $1,250.

The seat licenses now being sold are in four locations: the main grandstand, Turn 1, and the main and corner grandstands of Turn 15.

At Turn 1, the F1 cars will be screaming up a hill before braking hard and cutting to the left. Seats there should offer a good chance to see some overtaking, as passing is called in F1, and some wild action at the start of the Nov. 18 race. Turn 15 is part of a stretch modeled after Hockenheim's storied stadium section.

General admission and grandstand tickets for Austin's first Formula One race are not yet on sale and probably won't be until June, around the time of Montreal's Grand Prix. Geoff Moore, head of the track's marketing and sales, said those tickets would be sold online, with all likely to be three-day passes. He said prices for those tickets have not yet been set, but they could be similar to Montreal's. At the Canadian Grand Prix this year, three-day passes are $558 for premium grandstand seats, $265 for the regular grandstand and $123 for general admission.

Moore said the sale of personal seat licenses has been brisk.

"We're in kind of a dead sprint," he said.

According to Moore, six senior representatives have been selling the personal seat licenses since mid-February, and in the past week 14 junior sales reps have been through training and are now working the phones from a row of cubicles at the circuit's office on Congress Avenue. They're going through 11,000 potential customers from around the U.S. and the world who earlier placed their names on the track's waiting list.

"It will be all 50 states and several countries," Moore said of the personal seat license customers.

Moore said slightly fewer than 10 percent of those on the waiting list were from foreign countries and 39 percent were from Texas. Californians account for about 15 percent of the list and Floridians about 8 percent.

Moore said the track has commitments for all 29 of the circuit's permanent suites. There are also 40 temporary trackside suites, similar to those found at professional golf tournaments, and he said there were commitments for about 35 percent of those suites. The Statesman

Button "I left pits too late"
With Lewis Hamilton taking a five-place grid drop for a gearbox change, many expected Jenson Button to seal a first McLaren pole position in China. Instead, the 2010 winner left the pits too late and finds himself starting only fifth.

“In Q1, we went out on the softer tire and put a lap on it when most of the other teams didn’t," Button explains. “In Q2, I felt I had too much understeer, so we made a few adjustments for Q3. However, I could feel the temperature dropping in that final session: I think we just went out a little too late.

“Of course, that’s a little bit disappointing, but our race pace seems to be very good. It’s going to be tricky to get heat into the front tires if it’s cold tomorrow, though – but that’s not unusual for me. But that’s the way it is and I hope we can have a good race from fifth on the grid."

Like team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Button still targets the win.

“Our aim will be to go for victory," he begins to conclude. “That won’t be easy, but we ought to be as quick or quicker than most of the cars in front of us in the race. The unusual one is Kamui (Kobayashi), who seems to have very good long-run pace."

Vettel: Just not quick enough
Sebastian Vettel says he won't blame his Red Bull RB8 after failing to reach the final ten in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Last season, Vettel was the dominant force on Saturday afternoons, claiming a record-breaking 15 pole positions. This year, though, the situation is very different.

Vettel has yet to secure a front row grid slot never mind a pole position and slumped to P11 in Shanghai, missing the cut by five hundredths of a second

"Obviously I'm not happy but as I said I think I was pretty happy with the laps I had in Q2 but they weren't quick enough," said the Red Bull racer.

"Now I could go through another hour but that's a fact.

"We have to start the race from P11 and see what we can do tomorrow. It surely makes it a bit harder but not impossible to do a good race."

Vettel's slump came on the back of a decision to return to the old exhaust configuration that Red Bull ran in the Barcelona pre-season test. While team-mate Mark Webber stuck with the current layout, Vettel reverted.

However, the reigning World Champ says he's not going to lay the blame for his P11 on his car.

"It's always easy to say this and that now, but I was happy with the car yesterday and that's why I decided to stay as we were.

"I was happy with the laps I had in qualifying. There were no mistakes, but they weren't quick enough. It's as easy as that.

"Yesterday I was happy with the car. We decided to stick with the current settings and I don't want to blame it on the car. Three times I did exactly the same lap, and three times it wasn't quick enough to make it into Q3."

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