Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Felipe Massa

    Hamilton tells feuding Massa to grow up

  • Barrichello presses Williams for decision before finale
  • Drivers expect tough race on soft Pirelli tires
  • Ferrari test 2012 front wing in Korea
  • Drivers steer for motivation after title settled
  • Little changed after Korea's calamitous debut
  • Button plays down threat to crash with Vettel
  • Hulkenberg to skip Friday duties in India too
  • Drivers to get pit exit warning New
  • Virgin evaluates 2012 components in Korea New

Hamilton tells feuding Massa to grow up
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton appears to have lost patience with Felipe Massa in Korea, as their spat in the wake of recent collisions rumbled on.

After their latest crash in Japan, the beleaguered McLaren driver changed his tone to an inward-looking conciliatory one, insisting he has high respect for his 2008 championship rival.

Hamilton, 26, even issued apologies in the media, but La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes Massa as saying on Thursday: "He has not apologized to me."

And as for the claim that the mirrors in F1 are not good enough, Massa is quoted by Autosprint: "I think mine are ok."

In light of the latest developments, Hamilton kept his cool but indicated it is the Ferrari driver who needs to start looking inwardly now.

"I think I've always had respect for Felipe and I still do today regardless of the negative comments that he is coming out with," he told reporters.

"If he doesn't want to be a grown-up about it, then that's fine," added Hamilton.

He openly admits 2011 has been the worst season in his recent motor racing career, and sounded pessimistic about turning around his form any time soon.

"It will take a lot to finally put aside all the difficulties I've had this year," said Hamilton.

"When things go badly they get worse, just like dominoes. At some stage it will stop and things will get better. I will keep pushing and bouncing back until it happens."

Barrichello presses Williams for decision before finale
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello in Korea sounds desperate to extend his long formula one career into a twentieth consecutive season.

Williams has not yet decided whether to keep the veteran Brazilian alongside Pastor Maldonado in 2012.

"I want to be here next year, whatever it takes for it, and wherever," the 39-year-old is quoted by the German news agency SID.

"I am talking to the entire paddock."

He clarified, however, that he is actually seeking only "a competitive car", hinting that his preferences are Williams or Renault.

"I hope to know from Williams before Brazil," Barrichello is quoted by Brazil's Globo Esporte. "The fans need to know as well.

"Williams have said they would like to make a decision before Interlagos and I hope that's a positive sign," he added.

As for his other options, the former Ferrari and Honda driver added: "I think there are still two or three opportunities that are very good.

"I will not drive in formula one for anything, just to say 'I have completed 20 years here, even without a competitive car'. That is not the point.

"The teams that I am talking to have the conditions for a good car.

"If my fate is that I am not involved any more with F1, 19 years would be wonderful and I will see if Disney wants me to drive the cars at Disney world," Barrichello joked.

Drivers expect tough race on soft Pirelli tires
(GMM) Formula one drivers are worried Korea could this weekend host some of the worst tire degradation of the season.

"We will definitely stop more than twice (in the race)," McLaren's Jenson Button is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Pirelli's decision to bring its softest tires to Korea, a rarely-used circuit whose surface was visibly dirty on Thursday and then watered by Friday morning's rain, has raised eyebrows within the paddock.

"It will be interesting to see how they work," said McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who recalled 2010 when even the Bridgestone tires grained.

Added Button: "Some (drivers) may need to stop five times and then if something goes wrong, your supply of tires runs out."

"We will see high levels of tire degradation," Ferrari's Felipe Massa is quoted by La Repubblica. "It will be a tough race with the soft and super soft tires, not only for us but for everyone."

Sebastian Vettel said the situation "will be worsened" further with the Friday rain. Rubens Barrichello said F1 learned last year that rain in Korea leads to mud sliding onto the track.

"All the preparation for the race may have to take place on Saturday morning," predicted McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

Ferrari test 2012 front wing in Korea
(GMM) Ferrari is testing a new front wing in Korea practice this weekend in line with the aggressive philosophy of its 2012 car.

Italian and Spanish media reports have revealed that Maranello's next single seater is known internally as '663'.

Italiaracing reports that the wing tested in Korea on Friday is "inspired by Red Bull's design".

Designer Nikolas Tombazis confirmed recently that the front wing "represents a different approach in terms of how it works".

"We can therefore try and learn as much as possible right away," he said.

The 2012 car is reportedly very low with a higher driving position and longer wheelbase than the current 150 Italia.

Other Italian sources say that, so focused is the team on 2012, boss Stefano Domenicali and technical head Pat Fry travelled back and forth to Italy between the long-haul Asian races in Japan and Korea.

The 663 reportedly also features Red Bull-style rear suspension, allowing more efficient airflow.

"The Red Bull is not just a diffuser but a very complete car, and I am sure that if the first race (of 2012) would take place now they would still have an advantage.

"Our challenge between now and March is to avoid that," said Fernando Alonso.

Drivers steer for motivation after title settled
(GMM) With the drivers' title now in Sebastian Vettel's hands and Red Bull almost certainly to be the champion team, the issue of motivation is an interesting one in the Yeongam paddock.

Teams are now focused on 2012 and testing new components, but the drivers must still line up on four more grand prix grids.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, 8 points behind runner-up Jenson Button and 8 ahead of Mark Webber, said on Thursday: "I think finishing second, third or fifth in the drivers championship is not a big difference.

"Once you cannot be world champion it is not any more a big interest on that."

The simple pursuit of victory is therefore the motivation, the Spaniard explained.

"I think we all want to win, in any race we participate in. Even when we do the race of champions in December, for fun, if we finish second it's a very bad feeling, and a very bad night," said Alonso.

Vettel – who could go on holiday rather than travel to India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil in the next six weeks and still be champion – added: "I think the moment you come to a race thinking that it doesn't really matter where you finish it's the moment when you should probably stay at home.

"We love racing, we will enjoy racing as usual, but we will not be happy leaving this track knowing that we could have done better," said the German.

And Lewis Hamilton said: "To me, racing is the biggest part of my life apart from my family and it doesn't matter if it's a practice race or whatever, it still holds significant value to me."

Another possible motivation, according to former Ferrari driver and Italian commentator Ivan Capelli, is money.

"It depends on their contracts," he told AFP France. "Some have incentives for points scored, wins, poles …"

And as for the multi-millionaires like Jenson Button, Alonso and Hamilton, Capelli added: "I think that once they get on the track, they want the prestige.

"It's like a new championship even after the title, where they can say maybe 'Well, I finished (the season) scoring more points than Vettel'."

Little changed after Korea's calamitous debut
(GMM) Little has changed at Korea's Yeongam circuit since the calamitous inaugural grand prix a year ago.

Bild newspaper reports the ghastly news that, when some teams opened the fridges in their paddock offices this week, food left over from the 2010 event remained rotting on the shelves.

And Williams revealed that the stickers on the team's hospitality suite still show Nico Hulkenberg driving for them, while the words 'Mark Webber' and 'Sebastian Vettel' on the floor of the garage had to be painted over by McLaren.

"It looks as though they locked the gates after the last race and simply unlocked them yesterday," one source is quoted as saying.

Said Sebastian Vettel, who has won two world championships since last visiting Korea: "It's funny, thinking about everything that has happened since then."

Another bone of contention is the circuit's location in Mokpo, hundreds of kilometers from Seoul and with the drivers all staying in the same five-star Hyundai hotel.

For the less affluent team members and journalists, they are still having to stay in so-called 'love motels', while the entire Williams team is staying in Gwangju, an hour from Yeongam.

"Here in the south it's really a little too quiet," said Vettel. "I think basically there hasn't been a lot going on since we left."

The fact Yeongam still seems barely finished has raised speculation about financial problems for the event.

"It is true that we are struggling in terms of profit because of the high investment and high cost structure," said chief organizer Park Joon-yung.

Button plays down threat to crash with Vettel
(GMM) Jenson Button has clarified any fears he might be prepared to drive into Sebastian Vettel this weekend in Korea.

Despite Vettel having only just clinched the 2011 title, McLaren's Button did not hesitate to bring up their Suzuka near-miss immediately after the Japanese race.

German Vettel denied seeing Button on the approach to the first corner, when the McLaren had to put two wheels onto the grass and lift the throttle.

And Briton Button warned with his famous smile: "I might not lift off next time you pull across at the start".

Asked by reporters in Korea if he was serious, the 31-year-old insisted: "No, but it sounded good on TV.

"You're still going to be intelligent about the way you go racing and if you know that he's not going to back out and you're going to push him on the grass, you're not going to do it," Button is quoted by Reuters.

But he did cast doubt on Vettel's excuse that he didn't see him in Japan, referring to BBC footage showing the German looking into his mirrors.

Vettel said in Japan: "By the time I saw him, I realized that maybe I was a little bit too far to the right and then he was backing off.

"Obviously no intention to put him in any danger but I think we can run with two wheels on the grass, can't we Fernando?" he added, referring to his own pass on Fernando Alonso at Monza last month.

Hulkenberg to skip Friday duties in India too
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg will also sit out the Indian grand prix in two weeks.

In Korea on Friday, with Force India locked in the battle for sixth place in the constructors' championship with Sauber, the German did not perform his usual Friday morning driving duties.

"It's a pity, for me," he said on German television Sky. "Here in South Korea and probably also in India I am not driving.

"For now, the team has only one priority; to secure sixth place," added Hulkenberg. "So the regular drivers need to be driving as much as possible.

"They need every lap in the car, and I can understand that," he added.

Drivers to get pit exit warning
Formula 1 drivers will be warned via lights on the main straight about rivals exiting the pits at the Korean circuit, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the Nico Rosberg/Jaime Alguersuari collision.

The design of the pitlane exit at the Korean Grand Prix means cars exiting the pits join the track on the outside of Turn 1 – which sets up the scenario of any car that runs wide having the potential to collide with one that is coming on to the circuit.

With drivers unhappy with the design, especially after Rosberg slid into Alguersuari in second practice, the matter was brought up in the Friday night drivers' briefing.

However, with it being impossible for the pitlane exit to be reconfigured for this weekend, it has been agreed that drivers both on track and in the pits will be warned of potential problems via lights on both the circuit and in the pitlane.

This solution, which will likely mean white lights on the circuit and extra blue lights in the pitlane, should make drivers more cautious about their entry into the first corner.

Virgin evaluates 2012 components in Korea
Friday saw Virgin Racing undertake what Team Principal John Booth described as an ‘ambitious program’, with the Sheffield-based outfit trialing a number of new car parts for 2012 alongside its preparations for this weekend’s Korean Grand Prix.

“It’s been a difficult first day with the wet conditions because I think that tomorrow, and on Sunday, it will be dry," said Timo Glock, whose Friday ended in 21st position and 1.1 seconds slower than the closest Lotus of Jarno Trulli.

“We will have to do a bit of catching up tomorrow, but today was okay even though we had a bit of a problem on the front-left suspension – where we had to change some parts and it cost us a bit of time.

“The wet conditions also make it more of a challenging track, but the day went well and it was good to be able to evaluate some developments for 2012. Tomorrow we have to concentrate on qualifying and our race preparation."

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