Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Narain Karthikeyan

    Karthikeyan rules out Force India future

  • Webber apologizes after insulting journalist
  • Vettel to reign over Schumacher-like era – Berger
  • Rosberg admits beating Schumacher 'very good' for career
  • Senna planned US trip to explore Nascar option
  • Button says Ferrari rumors 'hilarious'
  • Massa recalls teammate's 'manipulated' victory
  • FIA 'positive' on India GP 'situation'

Karthikeyan rules out Force India future
(GMM) Narain Karthikeyan has ruled out reviving his formula one career with a seat at Force India.

The Indian will reacclimatize to the cockpit of the HRT car this weekend in Singapore, almost three months after losing his race drive to Daniel Ricciardo.

Karthikeyan, 34, will be driving in the first Friday practice session before returning to the grid in his native India next month, but for 2012 his future is clouded.

He told The National newspaper in Singapore that he will not be creating an Indian dream-team with his countryman Vijay Mallya, owner and boss of Force India.

"I never even approached Mallya," said Karthikeyan. "The vibes from the camp have been extremely negative and I want to make it clear that I am not interested in driving for Force India."

Webber apologizes after insulting journalist
(GMM) Mark Webber let his frustration show when a French journalist asked him a tough question in Singapore.

According to specialist publications Auto Motor und Sport, Bild-Zeitung (Germany) and Blick (Switzerland), the Red Bull driver was asked on Thursday how he is dealing with his teammate Sebastian Vettel's utter dominance in 2011.

"Probably I'll hang myself," the Australian snarled before muttering to the questioner: "F*cking wanker."

All the reports said Webber, 35, later apologized in person to the journalist.

Perhaps he was simply tired, after admitting to his Twitter followers that he had been kept awake the night before.

"My hotel is close to the track which will be great for the rest of the week," said Webber. "Not right now though, (they're) still building it! Forklifts, beep beep beep, 4am".

As for the 2011 world championship, Webber joined his peers in acknowledging that Vettel is now the certain winner.

"The races have been even better than last year, but the championship itself was boring unfortunately," he said.

"If you look back you wouldn't think one driver would have pulled away, but that's what Seb did."

Vettel to reign over Schumacher-like era – Berger
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull could be set to reign over a new era of dominance in formula one.

That is the view of former grand prix winner and paddock personality Gerhard Berger, a countryman and close friend of Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz.

He is also the former team co-owner at German Vettel's first team Toro Rosso.

"If he keeps it up like this and Adrian Newey keeps on building such brilliant cars, then it pushes slowly into dimensions that have only been seen with Schumacher and Ferrari," Berger told Die Welt newspaper.

But another Austrian, triple world champion Niki Lauda, is not so sure Schumacher's seven world titles will be troubled. "What happened with Michael will probably remain out of reach for Sebastian," he insisted.

Lauda referred to Schumacher's era of success that featured a Ferrari budget approaching EUR 400 million a season, unrestricted testing and a works-style relationship with tire supplier Bridgestone.

"For them it was the perfect system," he said.

According to Pirelli's Paul Hembery, however, it is the little things making the difference for Vettel, who he said was the only F1 racer in 2011 to make a surprise visit to the new tire supplier's factory.

Hembery told Spain's Marca newspaper that the visit was in the dead of the Christmas period.

"He wanted to know what was going on, to see the labs, meet the staff, think about the sporting side and strategies, compounds, everything.

"I can't say what advantage that gives you but if that's what you do with each aspect of the car then you can understand the results," he said.

Rosberg admits beating Schumacher 'very good' for career
(GMM) Despite earlier worrying about teaming up with arguably F1's greatest ever driver, Nico Rosberg now insists he is happy to be Michael Schumacher's teammate.

The pair have been together at Mercedes since last year and all the signs are pointing towards a future beyond their 2012 contracts.

And Rosberg, who is 16 years younger than seven time world champion Schumacher, is happy.

"I cannot hide that beating Michael with the frequency I have done is very good for my career," said the German, who is yet to notch up his maiden race victory.

On the other hand, the 26-year-old admitted, sharing a team with Schumacher "is not easy".

"With Michael you don't really become close friends and he is very picky about everything," Rosberg told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper in Singapore.

"You notice why he is a seven time champion, paying attention to every detail. I learn from Michael and he learns from me too."

One area in which Rosberg insists he is better is in braking for the slow corners.

"That is mainly where I am ahead. I'm more efficient than him and it's what the telemetry shows," he revealed.

Senna planned US trip to explore Nascar option
(GMM) Mere weeks ago, Bruno Senna stared around the formula one paddock and acknowledged that his future was probably somewhere else.

"40 days ago my perspective was very bad," the Brazilian admitted in Singapore to the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

Before the summer break, Ayrton Senna's nephew was merely Renault's reserve driver, but by the time August was over he had replaced race driver Nick Heidfeld.

Now, the rumors are strong that team boss Eric Boullier regards the 27-year-old as a better bet commercially than his current Russian teammate Vitaly Petrov with an eye to 2012.

Just over a month ago, however, "I was already planning to travel to the US to have a look in Nascar and maybe race there with Nelson", revealed Senna, referring to his countryman Nelson Piquet Jr.

"Suddenly, things were turning around.

"It's obviously really difficult to get an opportunity as I'm having in the middle of a season but the important thing is to get the results so that I can stay here next year," added Senna.

Button says Ferrari rumors 'hilarious'
(GMM) Jenson Button has laughed at reports linking him with a move to Ferrari in 2012.

The speculation was triggered by the British driver's protracted talks with McLaren over next year and beyond, and spurred on last week by a report in the Brazilian press.

It is said Button wants to be contractually free at the end of next year so as to be available when Felipe Massa comes out of contract.

"It's hilarious because it's not true," Brazil's Globo Esporte quotes the 2009 world champion as saying.

"I don't know who put it out but it wasn't us and it wasn't Ferrari," said Button.

The Briton admitted that the rumors are only gaining wings because of his lengthy talks with McLaren.

"Hopefully it will be sorted out as soon as possible. I hope it is anyway because I don't want to be talking about it for too long and I don't want to leave people hanging," Button is quoted by PA Sport.

"I actually don't mind being asked about it (the Ferrari story) because I find it quite fun," he smiled.

At Ferrari, meanwhile, Brazilian Massa said he is determined to stay beyond next year.

"I have a contract until the end of 2012 and after that we'll see," he told the Singapore newspaper Today. "I hope to stay here a long time."

Massa recalls teammate's 'manipulated' victory
(GMM) Even now as Fernando Alonso's teammate, Felipe Massa is not shy to denounce the result of the Singapore grand prix three years ago.

It was in that 2008 race that Ferrari's Massa had a problem during a pitstop that was triggered by Nelson Piquet's notoriously deliberate crash and resultant safety car.

Piquet's then Renault teammate was Spaniard Alonso, who duly won the race before the 'crashgate' scandal claimed the scalps of his bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds.

But the saga also arguably claimed the scalp of Massa's 2008 world championship, as the Brazilian ultimately went on to lose the title to Lewis Hamilton by a single point.

Massa has always been outspoken about 'crashgate', but his complaints have got quieter with time and with Alonso now a revered Ferrari driver.

But he was open about his feelings when speaking with Spanish reporters on Thursday.

"Yeah, what happened hurt me because when you lose the title by so small a margin you start looking back and one of the things that was an influence was Singapore," said the 30-year-old.

"Everyone knows that result was manipulated by what happened. Singapore 2008 was false," said Massa, according to AS newspaper, "but the result was real.

"Have I spoken to Fernando about it? He knows and I know how the world works.

"The past is the past," Massa is quoted by Brazil's Globo Esporte. "I have answered 45 thousand times what I think about it."

Alonso, who insists he counts Singapore 2008 as a real victory, confirmed to Spanish sports daily Marca that he and Massa have never talked about the controversy.

"Yes, in 2008 Felipe lost points here, but he also lost points in Hungary when his engine failed with three laps to go," he said.

"When you lose a championship by one point you remember all those things. When I look back at last year I remember all the reasons why I lost the title as well," added Alonso.

FIA 'positive' on India GP 'situation'
(GMM) The FIA on Friday sounded confident ahead of India's inaugural grand prix next month.

With the Buddh circuit still to be formally homologated by the governing body, a Spanish newspaper this week said the situation at the Delhi site is "alarming".

Photos appeared to show that the track is "not only not complete but very far from it", the Marca daily reported.

There have also been concerns about tax payable to the Indian government by teams and drivers, as well as security concerns following the recent Delhi bombings.

On Friday, the FIA discussed the situation during a meeting in Singapore of the World Motor Sport Council.

"The (council) received positive reports on the ongoing situation in the preparation of the Indian grand prix from the Indian representative of the (council) and the formula one commercial rights holder," a statement read.

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