Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Vettel not in trouble, Marko insists
  • Sutil withdraws appeal against assault conviction
  • No Mercedes talks with Hamilton – Haug
  • Sauber undecided on copying Mercedes F-duct
  • Fabrice Lom now working for the FIA New
  • Massa: 'I want things to return to normal' New

Vettel not in trouble, Marko insists
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has denied reports Sebastian Vettel was summoned to Red Bull's headquarters this week to explain his behavior at the recent Malaysian grand prix.

The Narain Karthikeyan-saga aside, reports suggested the German deliberately ignored his bosses' instruction that he retire his RB8 – ostensibly due to a brake issue – so that he could fit a new gearbox without penalty in China.

The reports suggested Vettel had confessed immediately after the race that he heard the instruction but chose to ignore it.

"That is all nonsense," Red Bull's motor racing consultant Marko told Sport Bild.

"Sebastian did nothing – absolutely nothing – that was against our wishes."

Marko said Vettel's visit to Milton Keynes this week was scheduled long ago, adding that he will be working inside the driver simulator amongst other things.

He also hit back at claims the 24-year-old could be penalized by the FIA for breaching the code of conduct when he showed the 'middle finger' to Karthikeyan.

"The matter was resolved during the meeting with the stewards (in Malaysia). For me, the case is closed."

Speaking to Kolner Express newspaper, however, an FIA spokesman confirmed that the code of conduct forbids superlicense holders from insulting their rivals.

But he added: "I imagine the application of this paragraph was considered by the stewards in Malaysia."

And Sebastian Vettel's spokeswoman said: "We know of no investigation."

Sutil withdraws appeal against assault conviction
(GMM) Adrian Sutil's dispute with Eric Lux is now formally over, after the former Force India driver withdrew the appeal against his assault conviction.

In late January, the German was found guilty of grievous bodily harm following a Shanghai nightclub incident that occurred early last year, and was handed a suspended 18-month jail term and EUR 200,000 fine.

Sutil's lawyers immediately filed an appeal against the Munich court's penalty, prompting the prosecution to do the same.

But Bild-Zeitung reports that the 29-year-old has now withdrawn that appeal, the German newspaper adding that the prosecution followed suit.

"I am very happy that I have been able to express myself to Eric Lux and don't have to go to court again.

"I don't want to have to go through another year like the one past.

"The topic is finished and I want to resume doing what I do best as quickly as possible — racing in formula one," said Sutil.

Bild said Sutil's FIA superlicense is not affected by his criminal conviction or his accepting of the sentence.

"We are very pleased that Eric Lux and Adrian have spoken and the topic is now closed," said his manager Manfred Zimmermann.

"From now on we will concentrate only on the sport and do everything to get Adrian back in formula one."

No Mercedes talks with Hamilton – Haug
(GMM) Norbert Haug has dismissed reports linking Lewis Hamilton with a switch to Mercedes for 2013.

With the 2008 world champion's McLaren contract expiring, speculation had linked Briton Hamilton with the race seat currently occupied by Michael Schumacher.

"I can dismiss that speculation out of hand, as it was only ever conjured by putting two and two together," the German marque's Haug told Sport Bild.

"Lewis was and is a Mercedes man," added the competition director, "but there are no agreements or conversations in that direction.

"At the moment we have one interest only — making our car as fast and reliable as possible, and then we'll see where we stand.

"Only then will we talk to Michael about a possible extension," said Haug.

Sauber undecided on copying Mercedes F-duct
(GMM) Sauber has revealed it cannot afford to simply jump in and copy Mercedes' innovative F-duct solution.

The small Swiss team had almost winning race pace in Malaysia last weekend even without the extra straight-line speed that would be provided by a system along the lines of Mercedes' DRS-complimenting concept.

Despite their complaints about the legality of the system, there is little doubt the big-budget teams will be working frantically to emulate the Mercedes' concept, which to date has the blessing of the FIA.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, it will be a different story for the smaller teams.

"If we started now with a blank sheet of paper, we would be ready in two months," said Sauber's chief designer Matt Morris.

"But it would really add up. We have to ask ourselves whether it's worth it for us, or whether we would be better off chasing the lap time with more conventional steps.

"On the other hand the big teams can handle a development like that in parallel to their normal programs," he added.

Also on the technical front, Auto Motor und Sport reveals that rival teams are closer to getting to the bottom of Red Bull's ever-flexible front wings.

After the last day of testing in Barcelona, detailed photographs emerged of Sebastian Vettel's stricken RB8 that appeared to show a sort of torsion bar inside the damaged front wing.

The report said the torsion bar may be pre-loaded in order to pass the FIA's static load tests, but then bend at speed.

An FIA insider suggested the system, although permitted in private testing, "would not be allowed" at the actual grands prix.

Fabrice Lom now working for the FIA
Fabrice Lom, the former chief engineer of Renault's customer program in Formula 1, is now working for the FIA, AUTOSPORT has learned.

The Frenchman, who most recently assisted Red Bull Racing during its back-to-back championship success, took up a role as Head of Power Train at motor racing's governing body at the end of last year, but his appointment has only now been confirmed.

As part of a restructured engine department, following the departure of its former chief Gilles Simon, Lom is working with Bernard Niclot, who heads up the division.

Simon left the FIA last summer to take up a role with the PURE engine company that has been set up by former BAR team principal Craig Pollock.

Massa: 'I want things to return to normal'
Felipe Massa has been at Ferrari's base in Maranello this week trying to find a solution to the problems he struggled with at the first two races. Massa failed to score at both grands prix while teammate Fernando Alonso has taken the lead in the drivers' championship. Massa said it hurt not to score any points and that he is now ready to return to form.

"I met my engineer Rob Smedley and I spent a lot of time with [technical director] Pat Fry, going over everything that happened, because this is the only way I think we can understand the reasons behind these two bad weekends," he wrote in his blog on the Ferrari website. "I am disappointed, there is no denying it: not scoring any points in two races hurts, but now it's time to turn the page.

"It's the not the first time I've gone through a difficult moment like this and I know well that things can change quickly, but now is the moment to do my utmost because I want this negative period to come to an end. I want things to return to normal, to a situation in which I can show my talent as I have always done and as the team knows I can do."

Massa said there would be improvements to the car for the next two races as Ferrari looks to close the gap to McLaren and Red Bull.

"Pat ran through with me the details of the F2012 development program and we hope we can slightly improve our performance already in Shanghai," Massa added. "Both there and at Sakhir, one of my favorite tracks, we will once again be fighting on the counter-attack, trying to fine tune the car as well as possible to make the most of any opportunity, just as Fernando did in Sepang.

"The championship looks like being long and closely contested, with many teams seemingly able to fight for the top places and it only takes a little to find yourself in the front or the back. We hope we can make good progress as soon as possible and put ourselves solidly in the lead group."

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