Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Ecclestone sure India GP track will be ready

    Ecclestone sure India GP to run without problems

  • Red Bull denies Japan food contamination reports
  • 2012 Red Bull to 'surprise' F1 paddock – Newey
  • One DRS zone, not two, for Japan GP
  • Hamilton's father plays down management criticism
  • Valencia mayor reveals Ecclestone talks
  • Vettel's success hurting Webber – Marko
  • Work finally resumes at 2012 US GP site
  • Webber denies giving up on 2012 championship New
  • Button signs new 'multi year' McLaren contract New
  • Marko eyes Vettel contract extension to 2016 New

Ecclestone sure India GP to run without problems
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is certain the inaugural Indian grand prix will run without a hitch late this month.

There have been concerns the Buddh circuit is not complete, that teams and drivers will be heavily taxed, and that angry local farmers as well as regional terrorists may pose security threats.

"I don't think we can see anywhere in the world where there isn't a bit of uncertainty these days," the sport's chief executive told the Deccan Herald newspaper.

"I don't think there is the slightest bit of concern, though."

On the tax issue, Ecclestone admitted: "I don't think people have understood the structure. People haven't quite understood the right way to go about it. It's all pretty clear, there is no real problem."

And he dismissed suggestions the Buddh circuit will not be ready to host the F1 world in a few weeks.

"Some super reports are coming in," insisted the 80-year-old. "People are all there and they are doing a fabulous job.

"All these new events are really a learning curve. We are making good progress on the track, and even if we had come in 2012, we would have been in the same position."

Race organizers Jaypee, meanwhile, dismissed the latest reports about local farmers threatening "protest marches and sit-ins" around the track if they do not receive better compensation.

"People should not be taking these threats seriously," an unnamed official told the AFP news agency.

"We have spent $400 million dollars and we will spend a few million more if needed to have adequate security in place. We will do whatever it takes to have a wonderful event."

Red Bull denies Japan food contamination reports
(GMM) Red Bull has denied reports it is concerned about team members consuming contaminated food ahead of this weekend's Japanese grand prix.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag on Sunday said Sebastian Vettel's team had shipped its own food to Suzuka due to concerns about the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The report also said boss Christian Horner has told the 80-strong race team to avoid eating out.

But Red Bull denied the claims by insisting it "uses both local and international produce" at every grand prix on the calendar "and this race will be no different.

"Red Bull Racing has worked with local Japanese suppliers, such as big retailers, supermarkets and bakeries, in order to obtain good, local produce, which we will serve throughout the weekend," it said in a statement.

The team also said the claim Horner told his staff not to eat out in Japan is "incorrect".

The veteran Swiss correspondent Roger Benoit also scolded the media reports, saying recent MotoGP and Indy races at Motegi had allayed any fears about travelling to Japan.

Motegi is only 150 kilometers from Fukushima, while Suzuka is 700 kilometers from the crippled nuclear plant, meaning any alarm in the media "is pure scaremongering", Benoit wrote in Blick.

"I have no concerns about going and I think it is good that formula one is going to put on a show in a country that really appreciates our sport," said Ferrari's Felipe Massa on Tuesday.

2012 Red Bull to 'surprise' F1 paddock – Newey
(GMM) Red Bull's 2012 car will "surprise" the F1 paddock, its famous designer Adrian Newey has been quoted as saying by a Finnish newspaper.

Already this week, Ferrari's chief designer Nikolas Tombazis has revealed that next year's single seater is "fairly different" to the current 150 Italia and could provoke a "wow factor" when it is launched.

But the same is also true of Newey's RB8, according to Turun Sanomat newspaper, despite the current Red Bull being an evolution of the 2009 concept.

Blown diffusers aside, the rules are staying essentially the same in 2012 but Newey has "revealed that next year's RB8 will amaze everyone", correspondent Heikki Kulta wrote.

"When he was asked what about it is so surprising, he replied that if he revealed that now then it would no longer be a surprise."

Even team boss Christian Horner apparently knows very little about the 2012 Red Bull.

"So far he (Newey) has only told me that it's going to be blue," he joked, according to Die Presse.

Dr Helmut Marko said on the Servus TV channel this week that the 2011 car will feature some new parts in Japan this weekend.

"What we learn can be used for the new car in 2012," said the team advisor. "We want to come back with a clear lead for the first race of the season."

But before the full focus turns to 2012, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel need to mathematically conclude their 2011 title triumphs, and Newey insists there is no celebrating yet.

"We still have not won anything," the Briton said ahead of Suzuka, where Vettel needs only a single point to secure his second drivers' title.

Horner however insists the team will not be on 'cruise and collect' in Japan.

"We are not looking at the one point but the (maximum) 43," Kleine Zeitung quotes him saying.

As for the future, Horner insists he can live with the constant sniping about Red Bull's approach to F1 rules and financial agreements.

"We take it as a compliment," he said. "We have shown that what we have achieved was no fluke.

"Ferrari and McLaren were sworn enemies for twenty years, yet now they are united against us."

One DRS zone, not two, for Japan GP
(GMM) There will be only one DRS overtaking zone at Suzuka this weekend, the FIA has confirmed.

The fabled Japanese circuit is a drivers' favorite, but the sweeping curves are usually not conducive to overtaking.

Indeed, in the last ten years, three quarters of all the Japanese grands prix at Suzuka have been won from pole — a higher instance even than at Monaco.

"I believe the plan (for Suzuka) is to have two DRS zones which will be a big help," Ferrari's Felipe Massa said on Tuesday.

Actually, the FIA has settled on just a single DRS, with the detection point just after the ultra-fast 130R and the zone itself located on the pit straight.

The Spanish website quoted Pastor Maldonado's engineer Xevi Pujolar as questioning the decision because "you have to be brave to run that close in 130R" for the detection point.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg commented: "In the past, overtaking has been really difficult here, so it will be interesting to see how the new rules affect the racing."

Hamilton's father plays down management criticism
(GMM) Anthony Hamilton has tempered his recent criticism of his son's management team.

After Lewis Hamilton returned to the headlines for the wrong reasons after Singapore, his former manager and father said F1 drivers need a proper "driver-manager" rather than "people from a company".

It was a jibe directed at Hamilton's entertainment agent Simon Fuller, whose XIX company also handles the careers of Spice Girls Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham, and singer and actor Jennifer Lopez.

Anthony Hamilton has now justified his criticism by admitting he is still "very passionate" about his son's career even though he is no longer professionally involved.

"I spoke with Lewis during the week after the (Singapore) race," he is quoted by the Independent.

"He told me that he's happy with the job that his management and Simon Fuller are doing — and as long as Lewis is happy, then I'm happy."

Hamilton now manages Force India driver Paul di Resta, as well as the reigning kart world champion Nyck de Vries.

Valencia mayor reveals Ecclestone talks
(GMM) Valencia's mayor has revealed active negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone over the future of the formula one street race.

The existing contract – as the European grand prix – runs to 2014 and it is rumored the current talks are about Valencia then replacing Barcelona as F1's sole Spanish event.

The port city's mayor Rita Barbera has revealed to EFE news agency that she met with Ecclestone last Saturday and the talks are "on the right track".

"I will confirm the meeting (took place) because it was extremely important for him (Ecclestone) to know (new Valencia president Alberto) Fabra and to resume the pace of negotiations," she said.

Vettel's success hurting Webber – Marko
(GMM) Mark Webber's struggles in 2011 are about Pirelli tires but also his teammate Sebastian Vettel.

That is the claim of Red Bull driver manager Helmut Marko, when asked about the difficult season suffered by the team's Australian driver in 2011.

Last year Webber finished just a handful of points behind Vettel's championship win, but in 2011 he has failed to win a single race compared with his soon-to-be double world champion teammate's nine so far.

"Webber is suffering with the successes of Vettel," Marko told Austrian television Servus TV this week.

"But if they did not have each other then neither would be where they are now, as they push each other to excel. This is also the principle of our team."

Another factor has been the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli tires, as Vettel "has been better to adapt" according to Marko.

It has been suggested that Webber is unhappy with the inconsistency of the Pirellis off the grid, which has contributed to his run of poor starts.

"Mark has had some problems this year with the starts, which is a very complex process. But he is aware of it and he is working on it with his engineers and in the simulator," said team boss Christian Horner.

Both Horner and Marko tipped him to solve the problem in the next couple of races, but according to Yahoo Singapore, Webber thinks he lost his only chance of becoming world champion last year.

"Yes of course, I do think that last year was my last chance at being world champion," he is quoted as saying.

"To win the championship you need 100 per cent from the team. I think it's difficult for the team to give 100pc to both drivers as we are both demanding.

"Looking at the start we actually got (in 2011), it's clear where the support needs to go and I respect that in some way," added Webber.

Work finally resumes at 2012 US GP site
(GMM) Construction has finally resumed after weeks of delays at the 2012 United States grand prix venue Circuit of the Americas.

There have been grave concerns about the health of the project recently, particularly as vertical construction of the actual circuit buildings and grandstands had still not begun just over a year before the inaugural race date.

But Max Chapman, the project's construction manager, revealed on Tuesday that after weeks of almost no work at the site, "We just started back today".

The Austin American Statesman newspaper said the work resumed after more than $100 million in construction contracts were authorized.

"That's mechanical, electrical, concrete frame, all phases of the project," confirmed Chapman. "It's the last big piece.

"It (construction) was going great guns for a while. For the last couple of weeks, until we got our bookwork done, it was a trickle, and it slowed almost to a stop the last three or four days."

He said the foundation of the main grandstand is due to be laid at the end of next week.

The first job will be trucking in new soil, with the laying of the crucial track asphalt not scheduled until after Christmas.

Webber denies giving up on 2012 championship
(GMM) Mark Webber has denied claims he has given up on ever winning the world championship despite being signed up with Red Bull for 2012.

An interview with the Australian, which took place in Singapore recently, emerged on Wednesday in which Webber admitted last year "was my last chance at being world champion".

He suggested the team's "100 per cent" focus is with Sebastian Vettel, his teammate and the 2010 and likely 2011 title winner.

"Looking at the start we actually got (in 2011), it's clear where the support needs to go and I respect that in some way," said Webber, 35.

Well-known F1 blogger and Financial Times correspondent James Allen said Webber's honesty in the interview was "very refreshing and very unusual".

"It should come as no surprise therefore to see these comments," said Allen, "but you will be waiting a while to see a driver make comments of this kind again."

Indeed, Webber denies he made them at all.

"I'm hearing about a misquote about my plans to fight for the title next year, (it's) always possible to miss or add a few words for a good story," he wrote on Twitter from Japan.

To be fair, in the same Yahoo Singapore interview, Webber said he expects to be stronger next year.

"You can expect a stronger me next season and I hope to get a smooth start like we did in 2010," he said.

Button signs new 'multi year' McLaren contract
(GMM) McLaren and Jenson Button on Wednesday ended weeks of uncertainty by announcing a new "multi-year contract" for 2012 and beyond.

The team said in a media statement that the move "will strengthen (McLaren's) long-term stability".

"I've never felt more at home at a team than I do (here)," added Button, 31.

And team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: "I can safely say that he's one of the most capable and respected drivers we've ever had".

Marko eyes Vettel contract extension to 2016
(GMM) Red Bull has expressed the wish to extend Sebastian Vettel's contract for a further two years.

The reigning world champion, and likely back-to-back 2011 title winner, already has a deal with the dominant team to the end of 2014.

But Dr Helmut Marko has revealed to Sport Bild that he wants to add a further two seasons to the contract.

"We made a contract with Sebastian to 2014 because both sides assumed that we would have two years together under the new engine rules. That has now changed," said the Austrian.

Marko is referring to the fact that, subsequent to the signing of Vettel's 2014 deal, F1 decided to delay the debut of the new engine regulations from 2013 to 2014.

"That is why we have also extended the agreement with our engine supplier Renault to 2016," he explained.

Vettel has expressed the desire to one day switch to Ferrari or Mercedes, but Sport Bild quotes him as sounding open to extending his Red Bull stay beyond 2014.

"I feel very, very comfortable where I am at the moment and there is no reason to change. We're like a family," said the German.

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