Mike Stevens | Nov 24, 2011
  • Kubica will not start 2012 season with Renault
  • McLaren plays down Honda engine rumours
  • F1 'not the right place' for Volkswagen
  • Raikkonen says F1 future 'an open question'
  • HRT convinced de la Rosa to leave McLaren contract
  • Brawn to consider 2013 with Schumacher mid next year
  • No eyes for Vettel as Ferrari happy with Alonso
  • Massa urges Barrichello to announce retirement
 

Kubica will not start 2012 season with Renault

Robert Kubica will not be ready to return to formula one early in 2012, the Renault team announced on Wednesday.

Throughout 2011, the Pole has been recovering from horror injuries sustained in a rally crash in February.

The Enstone based team said Kubica is now in "an intensive training programme" but has told Renault "it is still too early" to commit to racing in F1 in 2012.

"He feels that he needs more time to return to full fitness," the team said in a media statement.

Kubica, 26, is out of contract at the end of this year and has been linked with a possible 2013 return with Ferrari.

"Lotus Renault GP remains committed to helping Robert as much as possible in his recovery process. A test car is ready and waiting for him, and a dedicated crew is on standby," the statement continued.

"Of course, Robert will remain a member of the (Renault team) family in 2012 and he is already, through his management, holding talks about renewing his contract for the following season," added Renault.

The statement quoted Kubica as saying it was a "difficult decision" to tell the team to go ahead and make its plans for 2012 without him.

"I just need more time, as I want to be 100 per cent ready before I commit to anything driving related," he said.

(GMM)

 

McLaren plays down Honda engine rumours

McLaren on Wednesday dismissed reports the famous British team could reunite with Honda power for F1's new V6 engine era in 2014.

After next year, the Woking based squad will start paying for its Mercedes engines.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reported that Honda - having pulled its works team out of F1 at the end of 2008 - could fill the void for McLaren by returning to the sport and rekindling the ultra-successful past partnership.

"That's all wide of the mark," McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale, also denying that the team has been in talks with any other carmakers, told reporters on Wednesday.

"We are very happy with and enjoying our partnership with Mercedes-Benz," he added during a teleconference, according to F1's official website.

"We aren't quite sure where that story came from in truth. But I can stop the rumour and say that we are entirely focused on our Mercedes-Benz relationship.

"It is a long one spanning many wins and championships and long may it continue," added Neale, less than two weeks after Lewis Hamilton's win last time out in Abu Dhabi.

But with Mercedes no longer a McLaren co-owner, and indeed now with its own works team, there are fears McLaren might be a Mercedes 'customer team' beyond 2012.

Also amid Red Bull's ever-deepening relationship with Renault, Neale insisted: "I don't think that's a concern.

"Of course Mercedes have their own team and it's right and proper that a degree of focus is going in that direction.

"(But) they are formidable technical partners and we enjoy that relationship."

(GMM)

 

F1 'not the right place' for Volkswagen

Despite the switch to V6 turbo power in 2014, Volkswagen is still not interested in formula one.

The German giant's development boss Ulrich Hackenberg insists the sport is "too far away" from the world of normal road cars.

"There is no scope (in F1) for the Volkswagen brand, at least not at this stage," he told Germany's Auto Presse.

Hackenberg admitted, however, that the "prestige of winning" in formula one "is high" and therefore attractive for brands looking for worldwide exposure.

"But for those interested in technical expertise with a view to mass production, it is not the right place.

"This is where the core Volkswagen brand needs no help from F1," he said, arguing that world rally on the other hand is a "very good platform" for VW.

(GMM)

 

Raikkonen says F1 future 'an open question'

Kimi Raikkonen's chances of returning to formula one next year with Williams seem to have receded.

The Italian magazine Autosprint reports that the 2007 world champion's prospective sponsors may have withdrawn their interest, leaving fellow Finn and rookie Valtteri Bottas at the top of the candidates list now.

German commentator and former F1 driver Christian Danner would not mind if Raikkonen's comeback attempt fails.

"Quite simply, he was already past his best when he stopped," he told German broadcaster RTL, referring to Raikkonen's departure from Ferrari in 2009.

Swiss commentator Marc Surer agrees: "Whenever I think about Kimi I always worry about his motivation.

"His rallying did not bring him the desired result so he tries formula one again?

"I think he would fit well with Williams, who have the motto that the driver drives and the team worries about the technology.

"But he would be only in the midfield," he told Germany's T-Online. "I would rather see a hungry, young driver there."

A current competitor of Raikkonen's, Mikko Hirvonen, hopes the 32-year-old stays in the world rally championship.

"Two years is not enough to get the experience you need," he is quoted by World Rally Radio. "The last rally of the season was not so good but (if Raikkonen stays in 2012) it would be good for the world of rallying."

Typically, Raikkonen himself is giving nothing away.

"What happens in the future is still an open question," said the winner of 18 grands prix.

(GMM)

 

HRT convinced de la Rosa to leave McLaren contract

Pedro de la Rosa had to be convinced to break his multi year McLaren contract in order to join back-of-the-grid Spanish team HRT in 2012.

The Spaniard told reporters in Madrid that he began talking to former F1 driver Luis Perez-Sala, now an advisor for the team's new owners Thesan Capital, in July.

"To begin with, I didn't contemplate joining," said the 40-year-old, who explained that he was eventually convinced by the "serious and realistic approach" taken by Sala and team chief executive Saul Ruiz de Marcos.

Interestingly, team boss Colin Kolles was not present at the news conference.

"It's no secret that I had a contract with McLaren for the next few years so this was only possible because of them," said de la Rosa, who has been the main test driver for the famous British team for many years.

El Pais quotes him saying: "There were months of negotiations."

Added de Marcos: "From day one we got straight down to work to try and convince him and after four months of negotiations I am very proud to have achieved it."

Sala agreed: "It wasn't easy as he was very happy at McLaren but, in the end, he decided to join us and I'm very proud to have him on our team for the next two years."

According to El Mundo newspaper, de la Rosa arrives with a few personal sponsors but is hoping to attract even more backing.

"I come to stay but I need the support of the media and national companies," he said.

He is quoted by Marca: "I must make it clear that McLaren agreed to end my contract and I thank them.

"Another reason for coming (to HRT) is because a test driver cannot test any more. F1 is now the only sport that doesn't let you practice and it's a shame also for young drivers who are not getting the opportunity.

"At Singapore (in September) I remember looking in the mirror and saying 'I can't take another year of sitting on the pitwall watching the other drivers pass by'.

"I think at McLaren they understand me well, that I want to race and their response was spectacular.

"Martin (Whitmarsh) was surprised but he told me he was proud to have a reserve driver who has the passion to keep racing.

"It's a very mature decision and I am so happy because I would have had qualms leaving a team in a bad way."

De la Rosa clarified that he will remain with McLaren in Brazil this weekend and then throughout the month of December.

(GMM)

 

Brawn to consider 2013 with Schumacher mid next year

Ross Brawn will turn his attention to Michael Schumacher's expiring contract in the middle of next season.

Mercedes' other driver Nico Rosberg has already inked a new deal beyond next year, but there have been questions about Schumacher's desire to keep racing and also speculation linking Kimi Raikkonen to the seat in 2013.

"We have a contract (with Schumacher) for next year and if he is happy then I see no reason why we cannot continue with an agreement in 2013 as well," team boss Brawn told Italy's Autosprint magazine.

The Brackley based team has finished 2011 fourth in the constructors' standings, but the W02 car was below the German marque's expectations.

Asked what went wrong, Brawn answered: "We thought it was important to have a rather short wheelbase but the reality with the exhaust systems showed that we were not right.

"So we did not start with the right basis."

Schumacher's former boss at Ferrari Luca di Montezemolo is not sure the 42-year-old German is the right man for Mercedes.

"This last two seasons has not been about a driver (Schumacher) representing modern motoring," he told the La Politica nel Pallone programme.

"He made the choice to come back, and I don't think he had a competitive car, but to me it's a shame that a champion like him is not even on the podium.

"I would wish to see him close the second phase of his sporting life with a much greater satisfaction," added Montezemolo.

(GMM)

 

No eyes for Vettel as Ferrari happy with Alonso

Luca di Montezemolo insists Ferrari can live without F1's new back to back world champion.

Asked about the young German - who has dominated the 2011 season - during the La Politica nel Pallone radio programme, president Montezemolo insisted Fernando Alonso is better than the Red Bull driver.

"We have Fernando with a long and stable contract as we did with Michael Schumacher and, with all due respect to all the other drivers, Alonso is the best in the world," he said.

Notwithstanding his affection for the Spaniard, Montezemolo acknowledged that Felipe Massa's contract runs out at the end of next season.

"We expect a big season from him next year and then we will evaluate what to do. Let's say he is playing for reappointment," said the Italian, amid rumours Ferrari has eyes for the recovering Pole Robert Kubica.

(GMM)

 

Massa urges Barrichello to announce retirement

Felipe Massa has urged Rubens Barrichello to announce his immediate retirement from formula one.

Veteran Barrichello revealed this week that he has been frantically seeking sponsors in order to safeguard his Williams seat for 2012, which would be his 20th consecutive season on the grid.

"The advice I would give him is to stop," Ferrari driver Massa is quoted by Globo Esporte.

"In my opinion, Rubens has had an incredible season in formula one, driven for the best teams and won races. Many drivers would love to have had his career."

Massa suggested countryman Barrichello, 40, should not stoop to becoming a pay-driver.

"What I would advise is to stop racing, because of his team and everything that is happening in the category," he explained.

"There are 12 teams and at least six of them ask for money from their drivers. For the career that Rubens has had, I cannot see him ending this way, needing to pay to race in F1."

Massa is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo: "At 40 years old, he does not need it. He should make the announcement now that he is going to stop.

"If his idea to find investors fails, what is he going to do? Announce in February that he is leaving F1?"

(GMM)

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