Mike Stevens | Aug 9, 2011

Although refusing to write off the 2011 title, Ferrari has announced that its full focus will switch to next year's car project in September.

"We have already defined all the updates for the 150 Italia, at least up until mid-October," revealed team boss Stefano Domenicali at the summer media event in the Italian Dolomites.

Earlier, he had told the Daily Telegraph: "Our target at the moment is really to stop in September and move to the new project. The more time we can spend on the wind tunnel the better."

Domenicali said the early switch of focus is so that Ferrari can avoid starting a third consecutive championship campaign off the pace of the leaders.

"So this year our priority is to have a much better winter."

Fernando Alonso told publications including Italy's Corriere dello Sport that winning this year's title is "almost impossible".

"Let's face it: difficult, almost impossible. But we do not give up until the classification is sealed mathematically," said the Spaniard, predicting that 2012 for Ferrari will be "entirely different".

(GMM)

 

Massa successor to be 'talented youngster'

Felipe Massa's chances of securing another Ferrari contract beyond 2012 appear to have taken a hit.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali told reporters during the summer media event in the Italian Dolomites that Fernando Alonso's next teammate should be a "talented youngster on the way up".

The early frontrunners for the seat are Jules Bianchi and Sergio Perez.

Domenicali was responding to a question about whether Lewis Hamilton might switch from McLaren to pair with his former teammate Alonso.

"I don't think the question will arise," he answered, "neither in the short nor in the long term.

"For the Ferrari of the future, I believe the right combination is to have one well established driver with great experience, alongside a talented youngster on the way up."

Spaniard Alonso's new contract will see him at Ferrari at least until the end of 2016.

He said: "I am very happy to have Felipe as a teammate and we work very well together. If the day arrives when someone else was to come here, that would not be a problem for me, even if it was Hamilton."

Domenicali said Brazilian Massa, 30, has upped his game in 2011 and is "a very quick driver over a single lap".

"(But) maybe he needs to improve a bit in terms of his consistency in the races. For us, it is vital for Felipe to be on top of his game, given that for at least another year and a half, he is one of our drivers."

(GMM)

 

Schumacher criticism 'bad for F1' - Villeneuve

Fourteen years ago, Jacques Villeneuve won the title after Michael Schumacher was found to have deliberately driven into him at Jerez.

But now the French Canadian, on a visit to Brazil at the weekend to race stock cars, has defended the seven-time world champion amid criticism of his return to F1 in the last two seasons.

"It makes no sense to criticise him," Villeneuve is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo.

"He was a tenth of a second faster than Rubens and Eddie (Irvine) at Ferrari and now he's a tenth slower than Nico Rosberg, so not much has changed.

"The criticism is bad for the sport and the young drivers. It would be better to say he is very good and he is being beaten than to say he is bad and that's why he loses now."

Villeneuve added that, "It can always happen when things do not fit together perfectly as a driver for a season or two".

A staunch critic of "artificial racing" produced by deliberately degrading tyres and DRS, he admitted that he no longer sets "an alarm clock" in order to watch grands prix on television.

"My father held at bay four drivers for the whole race at Jarama (1981) and everyone remembers that race as the most spectacular," said Villeneuve, in a rare reference to his late father Gilles.

(GMM)

 

Schumacher admits eyeing return to retirement

Michael Schumacher has reportedly admitted he is considering returning to retirement.

Corriere dello Sport said that despite the seven time world champion having a contract for 2012, he might hang up his helmet at the end of this season.

"I arrived at Mercedes with a specific task: not winning at all costs but to grow the team," the 42-year-old is quoted as saying.

"If anything, I am the problem: it is a fact that I am a bit more relaxed than before and I do not know if my mindset is right for this team.

"At some point we will evaluate whether I continue or stop," added Schumacher.

Should the German retire for the second time, Force India's Paul di Resta is considered the favourite for his Mercedes race seat in 2012.

(GMM)

 

'Not true' McLaren copy Red Bull ideas - Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has denied McLaren has chased down Red Bull's dominance in 2011 by copying the technical ideas of the formerly dominant team.

Some analysts claim Red Bull's rivals, including McLaren who have won the past two Grands Prix, were only able to catch up by developing key ideas including the blown exhaust and diffuser.

"Apparently we and Ferrari have copied the Red Bull, but that's not true," Briton Hamilton told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

"We really haven't changed very much on the car. Sometimes it's just the little things that bring 0.007 of a second or something.

"But those tiny time savings are important in a sport where a tenth of a second is huge," he added.

(GMM)

 

India 'not happy' with new 2012 race date

India is "not happy" with its new date on the updated provisional calendar for 2012.

On the original provisional schedule released by the FIA in June, India was slated to host its second Grand Prix at the new Buddh circuit in October.

But Bernie Ecclestone has admitted to re-jigging the order in order to accommodate Bahrain's request for a later race date, with the result that India has reportedly moved to April.

"I am not happy with April because it's going to be hot," Indian motor sports clubs president Vicky Chandhok told Reuters.

"But if we have to go in April we will go. But I really think that the ideal dates for India are when it's cooler. Maybe March or you go to October, November, December."

The April switch also means that India, whose inaugural F1 race will be held in late October this year, will host two Grands Prix within 6 months.

(GMM)

 

F1 return for Mexico 'possible' - Todt

A return to the F1 calendar for Mexico is "possible", FIA president Jean Todt has revealed.

He said in Mexico City on Friday that he sees "no reason" why a future Mexican Grand Prix should be ruled out.

"As part of the meetings I am doing I intend to see the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit," added the Frenchman, referring to the venue that last hosted formula one in 1992.

"Today Mexico is an economically strong country and I am convinced that in the future it (F1) is possible," Todt is quoted by Europa Press.

"We know that the races have a cost. There are also a number of criteria for the approval of an event, especially in the safety parameter."

The only Mexican driver in F1 at present is Sergio Perez.

Meanwhile, Todt - apparently referring to the recent blown exhaust saga - has been quoted as saying F1 needs "more specific" rules for the future.

"The teams interpret the rules in such a bizarre way that they break them. We must be more specific, so that everyone applies them," he is quoted by the Italian agency AGI.

(GMM)

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