Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Vettel best driver in F1 today

    Early Vettel title not a shame insists Ecclestone

  • Team Lotus stays with Red Bull and Renault for 2013
  • Ferrari test 2012 front wing in Singapore
  • Vettel back to work next week after title party
  • Red Bull pushing to win back curfew 'wild card'
  • Back to back titles 'really not easy' – Newey
  • Top drivers defend quiet 'Q3' in Singapore
  • Construction delayed at 2012 US GP circuit
  • Austin to begin plan to annex F1 track

Early Vettel title not a shame insists Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone does not think the early conclusion to the 2011 world championship is "a shame" with multiple races still to run this season.

It is mathematically possible that Sebastian Vettel will wrap up the title after Sunday's Singapore night race, and almost certain that it will be concluded by the checkered flag at Suzuka in two weeks.

"Yes, he could do it (here)," F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who is very fond of the young Red Bull driver, said in Singapore.

"Let's see how the race goes. So many things can happen even when you're on the verge of success," he said in an interview with La Stampa newspaper.

Ecclestone insists that Vettel winning with multiple races to go is not "a shame" for the sport's trackside and television audience.

"No, it doesn't work that way. The public is not just interested in the championship, they like the races (too)," he said.

As for 2012, the 80-year-old said he will be putting a little bet on Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"At the beginning of the season I would have bet a dollar on him, so I'd better not bet any more than that," smiled Ecclestone.

Team Lotus stays with Red Bull and Renault for 2013
(GMM) Team Lotus will use Renault power and Red Bull's rear end and KERS system in 2012 and 2013, it was announced before the Singapore grand prix on Sunday.

The collaboration – excluding the KERS element – was already in place for 2011 and 2012 and so the one-year extension will take Team Lotus' technical solution through to the end of the V8 era.

Team Lotus also said it aims to stay with Red Bull and Renault "when the new engine regulations come into force" in 2014.

"This year we have established solid foundations with Team Lotus and this latest agreement consolidates the relationship that we look forward to continuing for many seasons to come," said Renault Sport F1's Jean-Francois Caubet.

Ferrari test 2012 front wing in Singapore
(GMM) Ferrari's new full focus on the 2012 season was in evidence this weekend in Singapore.

The Spanish sports daily Marca reports that a clear sign that Fernando Alonso's team has given up the fight this season was a 2012-spec front wing tested on the Italia 150 car in Friday practice.

The report said it and some other solutions run in Singapore are being closely guarded by the Italian team, who have admitted to designing an innovative single seater for next year's campaign.

A team member by the name of Paolo Benedetto, who usually does not travel to the races, was seen in the pitlane on Friday taking photos of the 2012 parts after they were tested over short practice runs coated in flow paint.

"From now on we will be spending some time on Friday to start testing parts for next year," team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted as confirming.

Toni Cuqeruella, an engineer with the Spanish team HRT, said he believed Ferrari's 2012 wing seen in Singapore seemed to be designed for a Red Bull-style car.

"We are now devoting 100 per cent of our resources to the development of the car for next season," confirmed test driver Marc Gene to El Mundo newspaper.

"The fact that next year the blown exhaust diffusers are banned means all the engineers in all the teams need to be creative in their designs," he added.

Vettel back to work next week after title party
(GMM) A party is provisionally planned but Sebastian Vettel will quickly get back to work if he wraps up the title later on Sunday.

That is the admission of Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, who previously denied reports that the team was secretly working on a championship party to take place on Sunday night at the five-star Swishotel tower.

"I suppose that our marketing people have something prepared," Marko told Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper, even though it is likely the title race will move on to Suzuka in two weeks.

At any rate, after Singapore, 24-year-old Vettel will be straight back to work.

"On Wednesday he's in the simulator in England and he has a sponsorship commitment as well. His schedule is not going to change," said Marko.

"Sebastian wants to win every single race, so he does a day in the simulator which is not fun and in fact quite exhausting. If he was only thinking about the title then he wouldn't do it," he added.

Red Bull pushing to win back curfew 'wild card'
(GMM) Red Bull is working to win back its second to last paddock curfew 'wild card'.

With the race weekend schedule skewed for the Singapore night race, several teams – Toro Rosso, Mercedes and Virgin – have this weekend lost one of their four 'wild cards' for the season for working in the paddock outside the allowed hours.

Toro Rosso's indiscretion was because boss Franz Tost jumped a queue and swiped his paddock pass just before the curfew was set to be lifted.

And for Mercedes and Virgin, it was a misunderstanding, with those teams forgetting that marketing staff are also subject to the curfew.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Red Bull's is a slightly different story, and significant because – with five races still to run after Singapore – the team has now used all but one of its curfew jokers.

"Nothing is finalized," said team consultant Dr Helmut Marko. "First we have to find out who it was."

The German report said it believed the person who actually cost Red Bull the Singapore wild card was someone with a team guest pass.

Auto Motor und Sport said: "Red Bull is trying to clarify the matter with the FIA in order to not lose the wild card."

Back to back titles 'really not easy' – Newey
(GMM) Back to back championships is a rare and difficult feat in formula one, car designer Adrian Newey said in Singapore.

It is possible that, late on Sunday, the Red Bull he inked for 2011 will be driven to Sebastian Vettel's second consecutive world championship.

It will be a feat not enjoyed by a 'Newey driver' since 1999 when he worked closely with Mika Hakkinen at McLaren.

"Well, to win any championship, all the elements need to be in place and working together perfectly — a good driver, good car, good engine, reliability, teamwork," the Briton said in an interview with Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"When you try to do it year on year, it really is not easy," added Newey.

The 52-year-old's cars have also won titles for the British team Williams, but Newey said success with Red Bull has been the sweetest of all.

"When I came to Williams and McLaren they were both top teams and had won championships already. I could assist in their design departments but the winning infrastructure was already in place.

"With Red Bull it was a very, very young team who had always been like seventh as Jaguar. Now as Red Bull it has grown into a winner and so it has given me the most joy of all," explained Newey.

As for his relationships with drivers, however, the Briton admitted he has the fondest memories of working with Mika Hakkinen.

"My relationship with Vettel and Webber is very good, but I am not actually working on their cars as an engineer and so Mika was closer to me," he said.

Top drivers defend quiet 'Q3' in Singapore
(GMM) Top formula one drivers have defended the decisions of rival teams late on Saturday to sit out Q3 in Singapore.

Both Force India drivers as well as Mercedes' Michael Schumacher qualified for the top-ten shootout but elected to stay in their garages in order to save a set of tires for Sunday's long race.

Some commentators criticized the decision as insulting to the thousands of paying spectators and detrimental to F1's "show", calling on those who deliberately sit out qualifying for tactical reasons to be penalized in future.

But pole sitter Sebastian Vettel said teams are simply making the best choices under the existing rules.

"I think that generally if we had more tires across the weekend, we would run more," said the Red Bull driver.

His teammate Mark Webber agreed: "Basically, if we were all flush with tires, the guys would be out there.

"I think the question is completely fair but I think the (suggestion of a) penalty is not — it's not fair to penalize people who are looking to try to have a good performance on Sunday."

And McLaren's Jenson Button, who has qualified behind the dominant Red Bulls, added: "You can't penalize people for not running unless there's a regulation change.

"It's the way the regulations are and we're going to try everything we can to do the best we can on a Sunday."

Construction delayed at 2012 US GP circuit
(GMM) Actual 'vertical construction' at the 2012 US grand prix venue in Texas has not yet begun.

The local Austin American Statesman reports that work on the buildings and grandstands cannot begin until nearby road improvements are done.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation confirmed the news, as did Circuit of the Americas spokesman Jeff Hahn.

The report said the road works will not be completed until October, just over a year before the track is scheduled to host its inaugural grand prix in November 2012.

The Austin American Statesman said the pace of work at the site recently "slowed dramatically" but never "completely stopped".

Austin to begin plan to annex F1 track
Austin City Council is taking a first step toward annexing Circuit of the Americas, a racetrack in southeastern Travis County that is scheduled to host its first Formula One Grand Prix late next year.

Council members are expected Thursday to set public hearing dates regarding the possible annexation, which could be completed by the end of this year.

Annexation extends the city's regulatory authority on the site as well as its ability to assess taxes on the land and structures, said Virginia Collier, a city planner.

The city is pushing the annexation, said Jerry Rusthoven, manager of current planning for the city.

Circuit officials are not "actively opposing it that I'm aware of," Rusthoven said.

Although the project has met with opposition from some council members, track President Steve Sexton said in a statement, "Circuit of the Americas is happy to work with the city and our neighbors in southeast Travis County through an annexation process."

Project attorney Richard Suttle said, "I think a lot of investigation needs to be done before either party can determine if it makes sense to annex this year."

The city is considering annexing 1,458 acres near

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport . About half of that land involves the circuit. The other half — part of land owned by the state and two privately owned parcels used for agriculture — are a way for the city to legally annex the track.

"We have to find a path to get from where we are today to the track," Rusthoven said.

It appears the city will give those private landowners an offer they can't refuse.

Through a relatively new law, those owners could sign a nondevelopment agreement and avoid paying city taxes, Collier said.

Or they could opt not to sign the agreement and get annexed anyway.

The council has the power to annex land, and there is no need for elections.

There are, however, rules the city has to follow, including holding two public meetings.

The council would later vote on the annexation. If passed, the council would try to complete the process by New Year's Eve so the circuit could be taxed for 2011, Rusthoven said. Any later, and the track wouldn't be on Austin's books until the following year.

City taxes the first year wouldn't amount to much, Rusthoven said.

"It will still be big piles of dirt," he said.

It's not clear what the assessed value of the property would be because construction is not finished.

Vertical construction is set to begin soon, and officials hope to have the project completed in time for the first race, scheduled for November 2012.

The city does not plan to annex circuit-owned land that will not be immediately developed, Rusthoven said. The Statesman

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