Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Will Schumacher make Nico Rosberg (above) eat those words?

    Rosberg does not fear Vettel or Schumacher

  • Kobayashi to debut new Sauber on January 31
  • 'Honest' Sutil is among best in F1 – Szafnauer
  • Webber should have kept injury secret – Briatore
  • Race boss Walker scolds mayor for Aus GP criticism
  • India GP boss quits to work in Abu Dhabi

Rosberg does not fear Vettel or Schumacher
(GMM) Sporting a new look for 2011, Nico Rosberg has declared he has no fear of F1's world champions.

"Where (Sebastian) Vettel is now? I'll get there," the Mercedes driver, referring to his German countryman and F1's new reigning champion, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Rosberg was speaking with a new short haircut and a stubble beard.

"No one recognizes me!" enthused the 25-year-old, whose long blonde hair of previous seasons earned him the nickname 'Britney'.

"The beard is just laziness," laughed Rosberg, who has had to call off taking part in a triathlon event due to a slightly injured knee.

As for emulating Vettel's success in 2011, Rosberg is determined. "He has a good team around him in Red Bull, but myself and the whole team at Mercedes are working like crazy to catch up," he said at the Berlin Fashion Week.

In 2011, Rosberg saw off the challenge of F1's returning seven time champion Michael Schumacher, and he insisted he still does not fear his famous teammate.

"It may be close between us, and maybe he will beat me, but there's no way he's going to put me in the shade," he insisted.

"There is no reason why I would be worse than last year — on the contrary, I will be better!"

In an interview with DPA news agency, Rosberg scoffed at Fernando Alonso's recent claim that Schumacher will be his biggest rival this year.

"It doesn't really interest me, but I found it a little strange that you wouldn't say Red Bull is your nearest rival. That seems pretty obvious," he said.

Kobayashi to debut new Sauber on January 31
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi will be at the wheel when Sauber's 2011 car makes its track debut on the day before group testing begins at Valencia.

Like Renault, the Swiss team has booked the Ricardo Tormo circuit to unveil its new single seater next Monday.

Team owner and boss Peter Sauber told the Swiss newspaper Blick that it will be Kobayashi at the wheel when the Ferrari-powered C30 does its maiden laps for promotional filming purposes in the afternoon.

"I am looking forward to the moment when it goes out of the box," admitted the 67-year-old. "Even after 18 years in formula one, the anticipation is still just as great as it was in 1993 with the C12."

Otmar Szafnauer

'Honest' Sutil is among best in F1 – Szafnauer
(GMM) With an announcement believed to be imminent, it is expected that Adrian Sutil is definitely staying with Force India in 2011.

The Silverstone based team's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has admitted that while Sutil is sometimes outspoken, he is among F1's very best drivers.

"He is sometimes almost too honest," Szafnauer, referring to the team's ever-present German racer, told Auto Motor und Sport.

"In terms of driving, he sits directly behind Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Kubica among the category of the top drivers in formula one," he insisted.

Force India's team boss and owner Vijay Mallya told the same German publication that he is also happy with 28-year-old Sutil.

"He has grown with the team and contributed to our improvements," said the Indian billionaire.

"He is also developing personally and I expect this upwards trend to continue," added Mallya.

On an outing near his Swiss home with a German reporter and Sutil's TechArt Porsche GT2, the 71-grand prix veteran confirmed Force India's progress of the past years.

"The organization is better, Mercedes and McLaren have helped us and our design department is working professionally," he said.

And after the team's top form of 2009, Sutil admitted he is hoping to get another chance at securing a place on the podium.

"We were down in the pack and then so suddenly in it to win, and I was so excited and surprised that I didn't manage a perfect lap in qualifying," he rued.

Webber used injury as excuse for why his teammate beat him

Webber should have kept injury secret – Briatore
(GMM) Mark Webber should never have revealed that he drove the last races of the 2010 world championship with a shoulder injury, his manager has admitted.

After his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel won the title, Australian Webber revealed in a book that he had contested the decisive final four races with a fractured shoulder caused by a cycling fall before Suzuka in October.

Webber, who did not even tell his team about the fall, insisted his injured shoulder did not affect his performance.

But Italian Briatore, who still heads Webber's management in F1, said: "It would have been better to leave it with no excuses at all, or to have said it when it happened.

"The truth is that Mark lost the championship only because of the mistake in Korea. Otherwise, he would be champion," Finland's Turun Sanomat quotes Briatore as having told the Italian media.

The famous Italian also manages 2010 championship runner-up Fernando Alonso, and Briatore backed the Spaniard to be even stronger this year.

"Fernando is very motivated and Ferrari have promised to give him a car that he deserves which is in front of the others," Briatore reportedly told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"In addition to that, the organization changes made are a sign of Ferrari's trust in their driver," he added.

Race boss Walker scolds mayor for Aus GP criticism
(GMM) Australian grand prix boss Ron Walker has scolded Melbourne's Lord Mayor for questioning the future of the city's annual event.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle wrote in the Herald Sun's Sunday edition that the Albert Park race is no longer value for money for the Victorian state taxpayer.

He speculated that one possible outcome was that "cranky" Bernie Ecclestone will replace the race by taking "the dollars of either an Asian or oil-rich Middle Eastern state".

"It's a sad thing for the mayor of a major capital city to come out so publicly against a major event like the grand prix," Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Walker told local radio 3AW.

He insists that criticism about the $50m taxpayer bill is only one side of the story.

"On the other side … there's an economic benefit of around $160 million," said Walker.

"All of Mr. Doyle's hotels, all of his restaurants do a very good trade. Then of course there's the tax that's collected of about $18 million a year. It's a huge profit for Melbourne," he insisted.

Also in the wake of Lord Mayor Doyle's comments, new Victorian premier Ted Baillieu admitted that the $50m taxpayer bill will need to be reduced if a new deal beyond 2014 is sought.

India GP boss quits to work in Abu Dhabi
(GMM) Indian grand prix boss Mark Hughes has quit, the promoters of this October's inaugural event have confirmed.

Hughes, formerly involved with the F1 race in Bahrain, was in charge of the promoter Jaypee group's project, which has a ten-year contract to host the event on a bespoke circuit currently under construction near Delhi.

An AFP media report on Monday said Hughes resigned last month for "personal reasons".

A Jaypee spokesman said Hughes has been replaced by Azhar Ghazili, who formerly worked as an organizer for the formula one race in Malaysia.

"Mr. Ghazali is a very capable man and he's more than making up for Mr. Hughes's absence," the spokesman added.

Hughes said he is now working with the organizers of the Abu Dhabi grand prix at Yas Marina, clarifying that he is "still closely associated with Jaypee" and "still advising them on the upcoming Indian grand prix".

The Jaypee spokesman said the FIA is expected to homologate the new Jaypee Group Circuit in "July-August".

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