Mike Stevens | Nov 21, 2011
  • Honda eyes F1 return with McLaren.
  • Ferrari eyes Kubica for possible 2013 seat - rumour.
  • US GP has one week to save 2012 race: Ecclestone.
  • Boullier admits contact with Raikkonen's manager.
  • Raikkonen also eyeing Williams co-ownership - report.
  • Mother Viviane says Senna negotiating 2012 Renault deal.
  • Webber wants DRS use to be limited.
  • De la Rosa slams 'young driver test' format.
  • Three teams try 2012 exhaust layouts in Abu Dhabi.
 

Honda eyes F1 return with McLaren

Honda could be looking to return to F1 in 2014, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The report said the Japanese manufacturer, having pulled out of Formula One as an engine and chassis maker in 2008, might reunite with McLaren, the currently Mercedes-powered team.

Between 1998 until 1991, Honda won four consecutive world championships with the famous British team.

"The chances are good that with the introduction of the turbo V6s in 2014, Honda will celebrate a comeback with McLaren," read the German report.

The Woking based team's current engine supplier Mercedes, formerly a McLaren co-owner, will actually charge McLaren for the use of its 2.4 litre V8s in 2013, the report added.

"A senior manager said at Suzuka that technically Honda is getting ready to return with a turbo V6 from 2014. Only the green light of the board is missing," said Auto Motor und Sport.

(GMM)

 

Ferrari eyes Kubica for possible 2013 seat - rumour

Ferrari has expressed interest in linking up with Robert Kubica once the Pole is ready to return to F1, according to reports.

The rumours follow speculation his relationship with Renault might be coming to an end, with the existing contract set to run out and the Lotus-sponsored team likely to pick between Vitaly Petrov, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna at least for its initial 2012 line-up.

At the same time, there are other rumours, including that Eric Boullier has not spoken to Kubica for weeks, and that the 26-year-old driver might need yet another wrist operation.

"He has broken off most of his contacts, even to the Polish journalists," a source told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

At the same time, it is being reported that Ferrari might be interested in assessing Kubica next year with an eye to installing him as Felipe Massa's successor beyond 2012.

"It is all highly speculative at the moment," read the report in Auto Motor und Sport. "Nobody can say today that Kubica will ever go back to his old level of performance.

"His stock will only rise again when he turns competitive laptimes in a Formula One car. And if he shows that he can be his old self again, he will open many doors - not just at Ferrari."

(GMM)

 

US GP has one week to save 2012 race: Ecclestone

Organisers of the US Grand Prix have one week to rescue their event before it is scratched from next year's calendar.

The deadline has been imposed by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, according to the Associated Press.

"If they want to come back to us, if it (a contract) is not signed before the end of next week, I suppose it won't be on the calendar next year," he said.

It is reported that Ecclestone wants a letter of credit or a guarantor for the organisers' $25 million race sanctioning fee.

"We have a World Motor Sport Council meeting on the seventh of December and we need to prepare everything before that," said the 81-year-old Briton.

In reality, the deadline will almost certainly be missed, with the Circuit of the Americas announcing that it is setting its sights on hosting an inaugural event in 2013 instead.

"We know the US market is important to the teams and their sponsors and 2013 certainly allows time for the Circuit of the Americas to be ready," the organisation said in a statement.

The project's collapse occurred apparently because of disagreements between the original promoter Tavo Hellmund, and the circuit.

"I think somebody needs to jump on a plane and go see (Ecclestone) and make him happy," Hellmund told reporters on Thursday.

Without saying it specifically, it is clear he blames the project's investors.

"It's really not a Tavo problem. It's really an investor problem," Texas comptroller Susan Combs told the local Austin American Statesman newspaper.

"The state has no role in saving something like this," she added.

(GMM)

 

Boullier admits contact with Raikkonen's manager

Reports that Kimi Raikkonen is also eyeing the Renault team for next season appear accurate, with Eric Boullier confirming contact with the 2007 world champion.

Asked about the former McLaren and Ferrari race winner on Friday, Renault chief Boullier answered: "What about him? I have just explained how we want to go about our driver lineup for next season."

Boullier had told F1.com that if Robert Kubica cannot return from injury in 2012, Romain Grosjean is at the top of the list to join Bruno Senna or Vitaly Petrov.

The Frenchman said "the driver market is closed anyway for 2012 so our priority is not to have a big name in the car but to have a fast car".

But Boullier also acknowledged that a "big name" driver would "help to make the car better", hence the Raikkonen question.

"Yes, there has been contact (with Raikkonen)," he told the interviewer. "Look at this call," added Boullier, holding up his mobile phone. "This was from his manager."

It was previously believed that Vitaly Petrov was definitely locked in for one 2012 seat, having signed a contract, but then came the Russian's astonishing outburst during an interview and the admission he might be ousted.

"Some steps on the matter have already been taken," admitted his manager Oksana Kossatchenko to RIA-Novosti news agency.

"The team's management decided to limit Vitaly Petrov's communication with the media," she revealed.

(GMM)

 

Raikkonen also eyeing Williams co-ownership - report

According to Bild newspaper, the only missing piece in Kimi Raikkonen's return to F1 with Williams in 2012 is an official announcement.

The German newspaper said a media statement could be forthcoming from the British team this week, which was pleasing news for his friend Sebastian Vettel.

"He is a sensationally good racer and it would be great if he is coming back," said the back to back world champion.

As ever in F1, however, there is more to the story.

"The Raikkonen case is complicated," commented Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The report said Raikkonen, 32, wants to return not only as a driver but also a co-owner of Williams' Oxfordshire based team.

"Standing behind Raikkonen are wealthy businessmen, apparently from the Middle East," said Auto Motor und Sport, revealing that the Raikkonen consortium is eyeing up to 20 percent of the famous British marque.

Raikkonen co-owned a Formula 3 team with his managers David and Steve Robertson between 2004 and last year.

Williams, however, might not be interested, with the report saying Raikkonen could also be eyeing a similar deal with Renault, the Genii-owned team that next year will become Lotus.

(GMM)

 

Mother Viviane says Senna negotiating 2012 Renault deal

Bruno Senna's mother insists her son is in negotiations to stay with the Renault team, which is set to become Lotus for the 2012 season.

Officially, the Brazilian as well as his current teammate Vitaly Petrov, Romain Grosjean and Robert Kubica are all in the running for the two race seats.

But team boss Eric Boullier has hinted that Pole Kubica will not be ready to return early next season, while Petrov made an extraordinary rant in the Russian press this week that might have breached his contract.

"It's a world where everything is possible, it will be hard to oppose if they want to remove someone," the Russian told Rossiya 2 television.

Therefore, despite Senna occasionally struggling since replacing Nick Heidfeld earlier this season, the 28-year-old looks a favourite to pair alongside new GP2 champion Grosjean in 2012.

"In the first race, Bruno didn't know the car at all," Senna's mother Viviane, the sister of fabled triple world champion Ayrton Senna, said during the SporTV programme Linha de Chegada.

"In formula one there is no testing and the car was new to him, so he has been learning about it live and in colour," she said. "Bruno has barely begun."

Regarding 2012, Viviane Senna said he son is in talks with Renault.

"We are already negotiating a contract with the team," she revealed. "Bruno has already gone beyond the expectations for someone with so little experience.

"The team is happy with him," she added.

(GMM)

 

Webber wants DRS use to be limited

Mark Webber has renewed his call for the use of the moveable rear wing 'DRS' system to be limited during Grand Prix weekends.

In his latest column for the BBC, the Red Bull driver claimed that the free use of the overtaking aid during practice and qualifying sessions has contributed to several crashes in 2011.

Webber, 35, said he backs the innovation in general because the teams and authorities are trying to make passing "possible but still a real challenge".

But earlier this season, several drivers expressed concern that the free use of the system in the pre-race sessions had increased the drivers' workload to a dangerous level.

And Australian Webber said some drivers have been "pushing the boundaries" in terms of where they are choosing to deploy DRS, which in the race can only be used in designated areas.

"Renault's Bruno Senna had a crash in Suzuka, I had one on Friday in Hungary, and one of my teammate Sebastian Vettel's practice crashes was caused by that, too," said Webber.

"So the drivers are almost unanimous that they would prefer the use of DRS outside of a race to be limited -- to just the DRS zone and perhaps a couple of key straights, plus a restriction on the point at which you deploy it so you're not too close to the exit of a corner," he added.

(GMM)

 

De la Rosa slams 'young driver test' format

Pedro de la Rosa has slammed the format of this week's 'young driver test' in Abu Dhabi, saying it is not fair experienced drivers are left in the cold as the sport looks to control its costs.

"It makes perfect sense to me to limit and control tests in order to contain costs," said the long time McLaren reserve driver in his latest formulasantander.com column.

"But come on, limiting them to three days a season exclusively for young drivers seems an exaggeration and an aberration for a sport which should be the prime example of competitiveness and innovation in the world of motor racing competition," the 40-year-old Spaniard said.

He said it is ridiculous that a 'young driver' like Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari is excluded at the age of 21 because he has contested more than two grands prix.

At the same time there are drivers like 30-year-old Gary Paffett "who continue to be young" according to the definition of the eligible drivers, de la Rosa marvelled.

And yet he, in a more senior role than Paffett at McLaren, is not allowed to practice.

"Can you imagine David Ferrer having to play a Davis Cup final as a substitute for an injured Rafael Nadal without having practised for six months?" de la Rosa wondered.

(GMM)

 

Three teams try 2012 exhaust layouts in Abu Dhabi

At least three F1 teams have this week been preparing for life after the current 'blown exhaust' era.

In 2012, to limit the possibility of using the exhausts as an aerodynamic aid by pushing the engine gases through the diffuser, the exhausts must exit at the top of the rear of the cars.

Prototype solutions were seen during the 'young driver test' in Abu Dhabi this week on the cars of the Williams, Mercedes and Ferrari teams, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

It - along with the debut of Pirelli's 2012 tyres - was one of the points of note in an otherwise quiet three days of testing, with the field comprised of many drivers who paid handsomely for the privilege.

Auto Motor und Sport estimates that, of the two dozen drivers in action this week, perhaps only Charles Pic and Jean-Eric Vergne might actually secure a drive for next season.

Attracting a lot of attention, therefore, was Frenchman Vergne, who at the end of the six separate test sessions over the course of the three days was fastest on every available opportunity.

"I must say I have been very impressed with him during this test," said Red Bull's engineering chief Ian Morgan.

Vergne's laptimes have compared favourably to Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber's of a week ago, but Ferrari's Jules Bianchi pointed out to Autosprint: "I honestly don't know what tyres they've been running".

At the very least, 21-year-old Vergne is - with his Red Bull junior stablemate Daniel Ricciardo - now a frontrunner for a Toro Rosso seat, or at least place at HRT if the energy drink company extends its driver deal with the Spanish team.

It is bad news for Sebastien Buemi, the lower points scorer at Toro Rosso this year who must now sit out morning practice in Brazil next Friday to make room for Vergne.

"In life you can't ever give up," the Swiss is quoted by Blick newspaper this week. "No matter what happens, the sun rises every day as it did before."

(GMM)

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