Mike Stevens | Jan 9, 2012
  • Buemi eyes Le Mans and Webber's 2013 race seat
  • Senna plays down Williams rumours
  • Raikkonen cool amid F1 comeback 'noise'
  • Button has built 'strong team' around him - Hamilton
  • September date set for 2013 French GP return
 

Buemi eyes Le Mans and Webber's 2013 race seat

Sebastien Buemi has revealed he might contest Le Mans this year in addition to being Red Bull's official reserve driver.

The 23-year-old Swiss has been handed a lifeline by the world championship-winning team after being dropped from its rookie squad Toro Rosso.

He told Le Matin newspaper on Friday it was the "logical continuation" of his three-year F1 race career.

"Obviously I was surprised and was not expecting the (Toro Rosso) decision at all. But the Red Bull people immediately offered me the job as third driver and I thought about it before agreeing.

"Being close to them will be the best way to get a spot on their team one day in the future," said Buemi.

He admitted, however, that F1's limited track testing means he may have to "find a complementary programme" elsewhere.

"Ideally I would couple F1 with a different one, such as endurance - I like the Le Mans 24 a lot.

"There is no grand prix on that (Le Mans) weekend, so it would be possible. The big teams will start their testing soon, so I could participate as well," said Buemi.

"I will probably be able to announce the details of what I will be doing in 2012 fairly soon."

Beyond this year, he insists his future is completely open.

"The contract I've signed covers just one year. After that I have not been promised anything so we'll see.

"Actually I think it's better to be the third driver in the best team than to race at the bottom of the grid. Since December I was in contact with other teams as I had opportunities elsewhere.

"But ultimately the best solution was to stay with Red Bull. Now it's up to me to do my best in the simulator to prove to them that I am qualified, in case Mark Webber's contract is not renewed for 2013," added Buemi.

(GMM)

 

Senna plays down Williams rumours

Bruno Senna has played down rumours he is set to secure a race seat at Williams for 2012.

It is rumoured the 28-year-old Brazilian, whose late uncle Ayrton was killed at the wheel of a Williams in 1994, will take his sponsor Embratel to the beleaguered British team.

"Despite some rumours, my situation remains the same as before," he insisted on his Facebook page.

"In other words, I am still not confirmed with any team so I'm still battling for a place in F1," he added.

Senna debuted for HRT last year, before starting 2011 as reserve driver with Renault (now Lotus). He completed the season in Nick Heidfeld's race seat.

He has scored 2 points in his 26 races to date.

(GMM)

 

Raikkonen cool amid F1 comeback 'noise'

Kimi Raikkonen insists the "noise" surrounding his return to F1 does not bother him.

On the one hand, the 2007 world champion's decision to leave his new world rallying foray to return to F1 with Lotus is big news, with his static seat fitting on Thursday arguably the headline of the day.

But there has also been some negativity, with some questioning his motivation, others noting he appears visibly unfit, and Gerhard Berger advising him to "lay off the vodka".

"There has been quite a bit of noise in the press about my comeback and there have been a lot of rumours," Raikkonen, 32, said in an interview distributed by Lotus F1 Team.

"It has no effect on me - sometimes you hear some nonsense and sometimes you hear nice things.

"I have never really looked at what people say or think. I do my own thing and as long as I'm happy with it then that's the main thing for me," he added.

Raikkonen said Thursday's visit to the Enstone factory was his first sit in a F1 car while wearing a race suit and helmet since his last race with Ferrari in 2009.

"It felt a bit odd at first because the cockpit seems a bit small, but that's normal - it feels a bit strange when you first step into the car but you quickly adjust.

"It will be nice to get back to racing," added the winner of 18 Grands Prix.

(GMM)

 

Button has built 'strong team' around him - Hamilton

A key to Jenson Button's success last season was his smart relationship with technical members of the McLaren team.

That is the claim of Button's teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was uncharacteristically beaten to the chequered flag as his team's most successful driver in 2011.

Despite criticism that he was entering "the lion's den" by becoming Hamilton's teammate in 2010, 31-year-old Button has been hailed "excellent" by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo after trailing only world champion Sebastian Vettel in the points standings last year.

Fellow Briton Hamilton, meanwhile, had a tumultuous season on and off the track, trailing Button by the end of the year by 43 points.

"Jenson is very quick and he's gathered a strong team of technicians around him," London's Telegraph quotes Hamilton as having told La Gazzetta dello Sport this week.

"I'd like to be ahead of him all the time, and I'm not happy if the opposite happens.

"However, psychologically it's absolutely not a problem. Besides, he's an open and cheerful guy who I get along with. It would be nice to fight for the 2012 championship with him - that's just up to McLaren," added Hamilton.

The Mercedes-powered team had a less than ideal start to 2011, experimenting with and then abandoning just before the first race a highly-complicated exhaust system.

Hamilton thinks Red Bull's 2012 car will again set the benchmark.

"It will be up to us to be able to surpass it," said the 2008 world champion. "From what I've seen, however, the new McLaren seems a lot better than last year's."

(GMM)

 

September date set for 2013 French GP return

France's return to the F1 calendar is now so close to confirmation that even a provisional race date has been set.

It emerged just before Christmas that, with the historic French grand prix having been last held at Magny Cours in 2008, the country's return to the calendar is likely to take place at Paul Ricard in 2013.

The Nice-Matin newspaper had said the Bernie Ecclestone-linked circuit will thereafter alternate a single annual calendar slot with Belgium's fabled Spa-Francorchamps.

The news follows last year's establishment of a French Grand Prix working body by French prime minister Francois Fillon.

"The case is currently on Fillon's desk," said a report in the Paris daily Le Figaro.

"He has only to give the green light to sport minister David Douillet and to Nicolas Deschaux, the president of the federation francaise de sport automobile (FFSA).

"The (first) race would be held on 1 September 2013", Le Figaro revealed, adding that the spectator capacity of the circuit will be lifted to 50,000.

(GMM)

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