Mike Stevens | Dec 13, 2011
  • Di Resta hails car, not driver, after Vettel title
  • Grosjean expects 'whole season' with Lotus in 2012
  • Kubica to test 2010 Ferrari next Spring - report
  • Manager to announce Petrov's 2012 plans this month
  • Dumping father 'a disaster' for Hamilton - Ecclestone
  • Mexico GP rumours heat up
  • Buemi 'very confident' about Toro Rosso seat
  • Sauber slams 'stupid' Kobayashi exit rumours
  • HRT denies Caterham designing 2012 car
 

Di Resta hails car, not driver, after Vettel title

If he'd been at the wheel of a Red Bull in 2011, Paul di Resta is sure he would be world champion now.

The Scot made an impressive Grand Prix debut with Force India this season and is expected to stay with the Silverstone based team in 2012, with an announcement due this week.

As teammates in 2006, di Resta - who is actually older than Sebastian Vettel - beat the 24-year-old German to the F3 Euroseries title.

"We had the same car, same engine, same tyres and I beat him," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I don't want to diminish Vettel's achievement (in 2011), but he won the championship because he had the best car. He did his job, but another driver in the same car would probably have achieved the same results.

"I hope one day to have the same opportunity."

Vettel's teammate Mark Webber, of course, did have that opportunity in 2011.

The Australian has been retained for 2012 and he told the Daily Mail last week that he hopes Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko decides to prolong his tenure "a bit longer" beyond next year.

"I think not winning the championship last year knocked him about a little bit," Webber's father Alan told the Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury.

Vettel, however, sounds more worried about his rivals at McLaren.

"McLaren were very strong at the end of the year. It will not be a walk in the park next season," he is quoted by The Sun.

(GMM)

 

Grosjean expects 'whole season' with Lotus in 2012

Romain Grosjean is not being marketed by Lotus as the latest substitute for injured team regular Robert Kubica.

Pole Kubica's contract runs out in less than three weeks and, if he returns to F1, he is being more strongly linked with Ferrari.

"The idea with Grosjean is to make him the number one (in formula one) in two or three years," team boss Eric Boullier, who has also signed up 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen for 2012 and beyond, is quoted in the French press.

The Swiss-born Frenchman Grosjean, 25, agrees that he is no stop-gap solution for Lotus.

"I can't wait to be there (in Australia in March), realising that I am in F1 for the whole season," he told La Figaro newspaper.

"So it is even more extraordinary than the first time."

He is referring, of course, to 2009 when - under Flavio Briatore's management - he made his ill-fated debut at Renault alongside Fernando Alonso.

"There has been an evolution of maturity," said Grosjean. "I think I needed a slap to make me bounce back. Everything had gone too well and now I understand it's not like that.

"With another approach, the pleasure outweighs the pressure or the stress."

As in 2009, he said he is happy to be racing alongside another world champion.

"I'm getting used to it - two chances in F1, two world champions," he joked. "I think there will be plenty to learn from Kimi and I think that after ten laps it will be forgotten that he has not driven for two years."

(GMM)

 

Kubica to test 2010 Ferrari next Spring - report

Plans are being made for Robert Kubica's return to F1- with Ferrari.

That is the claim of the authoritative La Gazzetta dello Sport correspondent Andrea Cremonesi, who raised the prospect of a test for the Pole in the Spring in the famous Italian team's 2010 single seater.

Cremonesi's report confirmed rumours that Kubica's relationship with the Lotus team will end completely once his contract runs out in less than three weeks.

Well-known for being close to Ferrari sources, he wrote that Kubica is much more likely to return to the grid alongside Fernando Alonso in 2013.

He said Kubica, still recovering from his horror rallying crash, will test the 2010-specification F10 car at Mugello next Spring.

Spain's AS newspaper said that, pending the last phase of his rehabilitation, Kubica may already have reached some sort of agreement with Ferrari regarding the 2013 season.

(GMM)

 

Manager to announce Petrov's 2012 plans this month

Vitaly Petrov's plans for the 2012 season will be announced before the end of December.

That is the claim of his manager Oksana Kosachenko, following Lotus' decision to replace the Russian - despite his 2012 contract - with new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.

"First of all, I'd like to thank all our partners and fans for the support Vitaly received during those two seasons," Kosachenko told sportbox.ru.

The Ria Novosti news agency claimed Kosachenko bemoaned the "testy relationship" between Petrov and the team in 2011.

"I stress that we have an excellent relationship with the Lotus Renault team," she insisted, "and together with them we have now come up with another programme for Vitaly.

"We'll announce it before the New Year. So it's not the end of Petrov's career, but his transition into a new phase."

It is rumoured Petrov, 27, could switch to Marussia, the former Virgin team that from next season will be named after the Russian supercar marque.

That rumour has thrown into doubt the future of the team's number one driver Timo Glock.

Kosachenko confirmed recent talks with two alternative F1 teams but would not name them.

Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper repeated a rumour that Lotus decided to oust Petrov because Kimi Raikkonen was nervous about being beaten by the Russian in 2012 due to his experience with the Pirelli tyres.

More likely is that Marussia needs the money promised by Petrov's sponsors.

Citing the team's latest financial documents, journalists Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid reported that Virgin made a huge $55 million loss in the 14 months to the end of 2010.

(GMM)

 

Dumping father 'a disaster' for Hamilton - Ecclestone

Lewis Hamilton's decision to dump his father and sign up with a celebrity management company was "a disaster".

That is the view of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, speaking after arguably the worst season in the 2008 world champion's entire motor racing career.

He said the 26-year-old Briton's "personal problems" in 2011 - including his split with girlfriend Nicole - were exacerbated by the absence of his former manager and father.

Anthony Hamilton, in charge of his son's career until early 2010, now manages the Force India driver Paul di Resta.

"A lot to do with these things, it depends an awful lot on the people you surround yourself with, and who are in a position to influence you," said Ecclestone.

"I think he just fell into a lot of people that I think weren't good for him," the 81-year-old told the Guardian.

"When his dad was looking after him, his dad was a bit more ... obviously it didn't suit Lewis, which was why they split, I think he didn't appreciate how much help his dad was," said Ecclestone.

After the split with his father, Hamilton linked up with XIX Entertainment, the company headed by Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.

"I think it's a disaster," said Ecclestone. "He gets to meet people that probably he wouldn't have met, and (who) have probably the wrong sort of influence on him."

He mentions Ice-T, the rapper who made a controversial video inside the McLaren garage in Canada this year.

"He (Hamilton) sees somebody like that, he admires the guy, so he'll start copying a little bit what they're up to," said Ecclestone.

British commentator and former McLaren driver Martin Brundle agrees that Hamilton needs to get his "mindset" right after a calamitous 2011 season.

"Any sport is 90 percent in the head. That's what he needs to get right," he is quoted by The Sun.

(GMM)

 

Mexico GP rumours heat up

Speculation about a return to Mexico for F1 is revving up.

Earlier this year, Sauber sponsor Telmex's Carlos Slim Domit confirmed that officials are working on a project to end the country's 20 year absence from the calendar.

On a trip to Mexico in August, FIA president Jean Todt said it is "possible" Mexico will host a race soon.

Slim Domit wrote in a column for FIA in Motion magazine: "Linking races in Canada and the US with a Mexican round would perfectly consolidate formula one's footprint in North and Central America and provide a viable bridge to the race in Brazil."

Bernie Ecclestone told the Independent newspaper in September: "After Russia I would like to go to South Africa and Mexico.

"Both countries are trying to do something."

Germany's Speed Week now says "leading representatives" of Mexico's motor racing federation are "very confident" a F1 race is viable, with the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on pole position as the venue.

That track, in Mexico City, last hosted the grand prix in 1992, won by Nigel Mansell.

(GMM)

 

Buemi 'very confident' about Toro Rosso seat

Downbeat about his future at the last few grands prix of the season, Sebastien Buemi now sounds confident he will have a place on the 2012 grid.

In the second half of 2011, speculation hinted strongly that the Swiss driver was likely to be ousted by employer Red Bull in order to make room at Toro Rosso for Daniel Ricciardo.

But the latest open secret in F1 circles is that Toro Rosso is sticking with its existing drivers for 2012.

Speaking to Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Buemi sounded relieved.

"I should have news in the next two weeks. But I'm very confident," he said.

"I already have events organised for next year, although confirmation of my place is not there yet.

"I am continuing to work normally, as I have always done, to prepare for the 2012 season."

Buemi insisted he cannot complain about the uncertainty that has been surrounding his F1 career in recent months.

"That's formula one and that's what we have to live with - once you're there, you have to be prepared to withstand the pressure."

He admitted his thoughts are firmly set on racing with Toro Rosso next year and then rising further up the grid.

"To get the best results at Toro Rosso," answered Buemi when asked what his medium and long-term goals are, "and then to go into a team that will allow me to fight at the front.

"I am fortunate to be part of Red Bull, which has the world champion team. It means there are opportunities to go further."

(GMM)

 

Sauber slams 'stupid' Kobayashi exit rumours

Sauber has slammed "stupid" rumours it is set to dump Kamui Kobayashi in favour of rookie Jules Bianchi ahead of the 2012 season.

The rumours, having emerged in the Swiss and French media in recent days, said GP2 star and Frenchman Bianchi - Sauber engine supplier Ferrari's reserve driver - stood a chance of ousting the exciting Japanese Kobayashi.

Bianchi, 22, is managed by Nicolas Todt, whose father Jean is the FIA president and former long-time Ferrari boss.

The move, despite Kobayashi being under firm contract, would see Bianchi paired with Ferrari's other development driver Sergio Perez, with the duo tipped as leading candidates to succeed Felipe Massa at Maranello beyond 2012.

But Sauber said on Twitter on Monday: "Unfortunately someone published nonsense about Kamui leaving our team. Stupid."

"We are very fond of him, he stays with us!"

(GMM)

 

HRT denies Caterham designing 2012 car

HRT has denied that a company linked to Caterham bosses Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne is in charge of the Spanish team's 2012 car design.

It was reported in November that HRT was set to work with Cologne based Caterham Technology and Innovation - essentially the design office of the former Toyota F1 team subsequently acquired by the Caterham chiefs.

Allied with the fact HRT did not name an engine supplier for the recent provisional FIA entry list, it triggered speculation the team might also be set to switch from Cosworth to Renault power for 2012.

But in a media statement on Monday, HRT denied that Caterham "will be in charge of the design and fabrication of the F112's monocoque".

The team insisted that its 2012 car is being developed at its own technical office in Munich, adding that HRT "is confident that the new car will be ready for preseason testing in February".

(GMM)

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