Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Vettel not apologizing after Karthikeyan attack
  • Red Bull has work to do to defend title – Marko
  • Clever Sauber turning heads in 2012
  • Amid Ferrari rumblings, Button commits to McLaren
  • Barrichello tells Massa to remember F1 joy

Vettel not apologizing after Karthikeyan attack
(GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel was unapologetic this week, having shown his Indian rival Narain Karthikeyan the middle finger recently in Malaysia.

The German also called the HRT-driving backmarker a "gherkin" and "idiot" in the aftermath of their Sepang clash that cost Vettel fourth place.

"I lost a solid fourth place so that's obviously disappointing," the 24-year-old is quoted by German media, including Sport Bild, after being asked this week about his loss of temper at Karthikeyan.

It was suggested Vettel might have breached the FIA's code of conduct, but it is believed the governing body has decided the stewards properly investigated the incident in Malaysia.

And Vettel is unapologetic.

"Sometimes you let some emotion show and I don't think someone should be ashamed about that," he said. "It's part of the sport."

Vettel, having utterly dominated a year ago, is now just sixth in the drivers' points standings after two races.

"Of course I would have preferred a slightly better start (to 2011)," he admitted, "but it's a long season.

"We have a very good car and I still have a good chance — it is still the goal to fight for the title," he said in Paris, where he accepted the 'Grands Prix de l'Academie des Sports 2011' award.

"Only a few hours ago I was in the simulator, preparing for China and Bahrain. We should hopefully have a few good improvements, but we need to prove that at the tracks," said Vettel.

Red Bull has work to do to defend title – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has admitted Red Bull has work to do in order to return to the front in formula one.

Having dominated F1's recent history, the energy drink owned team is now behind McLaren in the constructors' standings after two races in 2012, while its highest placed driver is Mark Webber in fourth.

Austrian Marko, the motor racing advisor to Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz, insisted that Adrian Newey and his technical team have built a good car for 2012.

"But it doesn't help," he told Salzburg television channel Servus TV, "if we are the fastest only in certain conditions, rather than consistently.

"To tell you the truth, at the moment it's almost as though the car decides when it is the fastest, and when it is not," Marko said during the 'Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7' program.

The outspoken manager also vigorously defended Sebastian Vettel in the wake of the Narain Karthikeyan affair, after Red Bull's world champion lost his temper with the HRT driver following a clash in Malaysia.

Marko firmly pointed the finger at F1's backmarkers.

"We have told our team manager to talk to both Marussia and Hispania about getting their drivers to simply pay more attention," he said.

"They are driving in another league, they're six or eight seconds slower, and so they need to watch out more than they do.

"They are 12 points Vettel lost that could be crucial in the world championship," added Marko.

He also fended off the claim that Vettel's behavior in Malaysia, featuring the display of middle fingers and calling Karthikeyan an "idiot", was not worthy of a role model.

"You've just been in a race, you've seen the chance of possibly a third place go away — you're naturally upset because he's a human as well.

"I think we can understand an emotional reaction," added Marko.

Clever Sauber turning heads in 2012
(GMM) Fernando Alonso's win was a complete surprise, but the name of another team was on more paddock-dwellers' lips after Malaysia — Sauber.

"Only one team could do consistently good lap times on all the tires and in all the conditions, and it was Sauber," confirmed Martin Whitmarsh, whose McLaren team had travelled to Sepang with arguably the fastest car.

Also in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agreed: "They (Sauber) have somehow managed to get all of the tires to work perfectly, which at the moment is the key to success.

"The (tire) window is so small that it's very easy to not be in it," added the Briton.

And Sepang winner Fernando Alonso, whose victory was only ensured by a late-race mistake by Sauber's Sergio Perez, admitted: "No doubt about it, they were quicker than us."

Some believe it was only the Malaysian weather chaos that brought the Ferrari-powered C31 to the top of F1's form-guide, but the Sauber was in fact also fast in Australia.

"Our cars were severely damaged at the start (in Melbourne)," explained chief designer Matt Morris. "At the front for Perez, the rear for Kobayashi."

Nonetheless, both finished inside the top eight.

"The race in Malaysia showed very clearly how fast our car is," insisted team boss Peter Sauber, writing in Blick newspaper.

"After two very different tracks, we have the assurance now that the C31 is a success."

The next question is precisely how the small Hinwil based team has managed to build a pace-setting car.

One possible answer is the end of the blown diffuser era, and the fact that Sauber's 2012 solution has already been copied by F1's formerly-dominant Red Bull.

Italy's Autosprint, meanwhile, claims Ferrari is next, mischievously suggesting that the updated F2012 might aptly be called the 'Ferrauber'.

Referring to the FIA exhaust clampdown, Morris admitted: "We had to give up less than our opponents."

Peter Sauber added: "When I saw that Red Bull had chosen a similar route to us, I was sure that we were right."

Another trick on the C31 is a clever use of the loophole allowing an opening at the front of the car for driver cooling.

"It's no match-winner," Morris insists, "but it gains us some (lap) time."

And Autosprint reports that another "trick" on the Sauber is located in front of the rear wheels, exploiting yet another "grey zone" in the regulations.

Amid Ferrari rumblings, Button commits to McLaren
(GMM) Jenson Button has revealed he will "definitely" remain loyal to McLaren for the next few years.

It was reported this week that the 2009 world champion received an "offer" from Ferrari last year to replace the struggling Felipe Massa.

According to the Brazilian news agency Agencia Estado, those talks took place prior to October last year, when the 32-year-old Briton signed a new 'multi year contract' to stay at McLaren.

"I had a listen to what some of the other teams could offer me," Button confirmed.

He also appeared to leave the door open to a Ferrari move in the future, admitting it would be "exciting" to be paired with Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

But Button has now insisted that he is perfectly happy at McLaren, despite the common paddock perception that the British team lacks the sort of "passion" seen at Ferrari.

"We have a great atmosphere, everyone thinks it's a very cold, very grey team," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

"People talk about Ferrari and them being very passionate, and they are. But I don't think most people realize how passionate this team is, and how much they want to achieve.

"So I'm very happy here, and you never know what's going to happen in the future," said Button.

"I'm not going to sign my life away, but I'll stay here for the next few years, definitely."

Button also lived up to his promise to "hurt" himself after a poor result in Malaysia recently, finishing sixth overall in the Waikoloa Lavaman triathlon in Hawaii.

"Yeah, I did (hurt myself)," he smiled immediately after the event. "My gluts are killing me. "They say that means you are riding the bike correctly, but it hurts."

Barrichello tells Massa to remember F1 joy
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello has advised his friend and countryman Felipe Massa to remember to enjoy his job, amid rumors the Brazilian is speeding towards the exit at Ferrari.

Speculation is rife that amid his apparently worsening performance slump, Massa will be replaced by the famous Italian team — perhaps as soon as within the 2012 season.

F1 veteran Barrichello, who has switched to IndyCar this year after losing his Williams seat, told Brazil's Globo Esporte that he thinks Massa's problem is psychological.

"It's not a speed problem," he said, "it's something that he needs to solve within himself.

"He has to close his eyes and enjoy, remembering that he does this because he likes it.

"Every time that I lost a little bit, it was because I had forgotten that I did it because I liked to. So we (drivers) have to relax and improve that way.

"(For Massa) it is just a moment, and every moment and race in formula one is a cycle of life."

Barrichello's advice for Massa may be particularly relevant, as he was at Ferrari during Michael Schumacher's ultra-successful reign last decade.

Now, it is Fernando Alonso who is the Maranello team's favored son.

"Of course Ferrari loves Alonso, because he is one of the best, if not the best who is there (in F1) now," said Barrichello, 39.

"So, it's tough for Felipe."

Barrichello also laughed at the results of a recent fans' poll in the Italian media that showed he would be a highly popular choice as Massa's replacement.

"It was very unexpected," he said. "Maybe it was a way (for journalists) to see if Italians would pick an Italian driver, and suddenly I win.

"It is a very public business and shows that I must have left something behind," added the winner of 11 grands prix.

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