TMR Team | Mar 29, 2012
  • Vettel risks penalty for 'middle finger' tirade
  • Vettel team order 'not tactical' - Marko
  • Massa summoned to Maranello amid career crisis
  • McLaren must improve race pace - Hamilton
  • FIA rejects latest Bahrain axe rumours
 

Vettel risks penalty for 'middle finger' tirade

The FIA could sanction F1's reigning back-to-back world champion for his behaviour during the recent Malaysian Grand Prix.

Before calling backmarker Narain Karthikeyan a "gherkin" and "idiot" in the wake of their collision, Sebastian Vettel was captured by his on-board camera twice displaying his middle-finger to the Indian driver.

"I think he's highly frustrated because he's having a tough season," Karthikeyan told the Deccan Chronicle on Wednesday.

"It's completely unprofessional to blame me for the incident. The derogatory remark only goes to show him in bad light."

"Just because he has a good car, he can't call others an idiot," Karthikeyan continued.

"I have won races in all the previous single-seater championships I have participated in so I don't need a certificate from Vettel."

Reports in Germany, including in the Kolner Express, Bild and Die Welt newspapers, claim that Red Bull driver's behaviour may have breached the new stricter code of conduct introduced by FIA president Jean Todt.

The FIA has been contacted for comment.

"He has breached the code of conduct," former F1 driver Marc Surer told Germany's Sky television. "You sign it when you get the licence and then you have to behave correspondingly.

"Any behaviour that hurts other people or the sport is an offense," added the Swiss.

Asked what the penalties might be, Surer explained: "Anything from a warning to a license revocation. In this case I think it was quite understandable and there will be a mild punishment, if there is anything."

Hans-Joachim Stuck, however, is slightly less forgiving.

"When you're overtaking, misunderstandings can occur. I think Vettel needs to learn this."

"With him, the curve was always upwards and now it's not the case, and he needs to deal with that," the German legend told the DAPD news agency.

As for Vettel's description of Karthikeyan as a "gherkin", Stuck insisted: "It's better than 'asshole'."

Vettel's attack, however, was sustained, with Kleine Zeitung newspaper now quoting the Red Bull driver as having said: "Maybe Formula One is not the place to learn how to drive."

Stuck responded: "If Sebastian had left more space, it would not have happened. It happens sometimes so it's a racing incident.

"He (Karthikeyan) didn't do it on purpose and it always takes two."

The HRT driver hit back by calling Vettel a "bully", and even David Coulthard - a Red Bull team consultant - defended Karthikeyan.

"He can't make his car invisible," the Scot is quoted as saying by the Mirror.

Also defending Karthikeyan was Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, who told the Indian press this week: "From what I saw, it was not Narain's fault.

"So I don't really understand why he (Vettel) said all that."

Hukenberg's Force India teammate Paul di Resta added: "Narain is entitled to do as much on the track in comparison with someone like Vettel."

"Both are F1 drivers and are there to represent their teams."

(GMM)

 

Vettel team order 'not tactical' - Marko

Red Bull has hit back at claims the team lied about a technical problem in Malaysia in order to gain a tactical advantage for the forthcoming races.

Near the end of the Sepang race, Sebastian Vettel's engineer repeatedly instructed the back-to-back world champion to retire his RB8 car.

Team boss Christian Horner said the brake temperatures had risen to a dangerous level, but Vettel nonetheless raced to the chequered flag and finished eleventh, one position out of the points.

Horner explained Vettel did not hear the radio calls due to a "lightening strike", but photos prove that the German driver was also repeatedly shown pit boards with the same messages.

And the 24-year-old revealed after the race: "Of course you can save the car, but I wanted to see the chequered flag. I think that's how it should be."

Moreover, the authoritative Auto Motor und Sport quotes Vettel as confirming: "I heard the command."

Red Bull has been accused in some media reports of feigning the brake problem in order to retire the car for tactical reasons and therefore install a fresh gearbox for China next month without penalty.

Dr Helmut Marko told Bild newspaper: "After the crash (with Narain Karthikeyan), the temperature of the brakes rose far above the allowed level.

"We called him in purely because the car was no longer safe. It was not a tactical decision," the Austrian insisted.

It is reported that Vettel will sit with his team bosses this week in Milton-Keynes to discuss the apparently ignored team order.

German racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck said: "Another driver would be fired, but Vettel has the confidence of being a double world champion."

According to Welt newspaper, Swiss commentator Marc Surer added: "It was the right decision by Vettel, as the team needs to be careful with commands like that."

(GMM)

 

Massa summoned to Maranello amid career crisis

Amid his performance slump and rumours Sergio Perez will soon replace him, Ferrari's struggling Felipe Massa has been summoned to Maranello.

A report on the Italian team's official website said there is "sorrow" within the team at witnessing the "particularly difficult time" being suffered by Ferrari's Brazilian driver.

While Fernando Alonso leads the drivers' world championship at present, 30-year-old Massa is yet to record a race finish better than his fifteenth at Sepang.

But amid the calls for Massa's head, team boss Stefano Domenicali - recalling a similar situation after Malaysia in 2008 - said his driver has the ability to react now.

"The papers (in 2008) were demanding his immediate replacement and he managed to react in the best way possible, thanks to support from the team, which saw him win two of the next three races," said the Italian.

"Felipe has changed his plans and, instead of heading home to see his family in Brazil, he will be in Maranello tomorrow to work alongside the engineers to calmly analyse everything that happened in these past two races, trying to identify why he was not able to deliver what he is capable of," added Domenicali.

"That's the right spirit and we are here, ready to help him."

(GMM)

 

McLaren must improve race pace - Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has vowed to push his McLaren engineers to improve the race pace of the British team's 2012 car.

The 2008 world champion put the MP4-27 on pole position for both the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix, but then failed to have winning pace in the all-important races.

"In qualifying we are very quick but we need to be quicker in the race," Briton Hamilton is quoted by the Sun newspaper. "I don't think we are quick enough."

F1's next stop is in Shanghai mid next month.

"We will have some upgrades for the car, I hope," said Hamilton. "I will go and push the guys to see if we can get some upgrades to try and squeak ahead in the race."

He admitted to being disappointed after the two races so far this season, when the MP4-27's qualifying promise did not power him to wins.

"The main thing is I need to pick up my race pace," Hamilton is quoted by PA Sport.

"I spoke to Fernando (Alonso) and Sergio (Perez) after (the race in Malaysia) and they had lots of understeer whereas I had lots of oversteer.

"Maybe I'm setting the car up too aggressively, so I might make some changes for the next two races," he said.

(GMM)

 

FIA rejects latest Bahrain axe rumours

The FIA has dismissed the latest rumours about next month's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Some publications this week said F1's governing body was in the process of drafting a statement announcing that the Sakhir race has been cancelled due to security concerns.

But the FIA's director of communications Norman Howell angrily denied those reports.

At the same time, Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa al-Khalifa, Bahrain's motor racing federation chief and also an FIA world council member, admitted he could not guarantee the safety of F1's travelling personnel next month.

"There are no guarantees in this world," he is quoted by PA Sport, after admitting "disturbances" in Bahrain are still taking place.

"You could be (in danger) anywhere, even Silverstone.

"All I can guarantee you is you will be as safe as at any other Grand Prix."

Asked if there will be extra security measures in place, Khalifa answered: "No, absolutely not. It will be life as normal.

"We've never had any violence towards foreigners simply because they are foreigners or in F1."

F1 industry monitor Formula Money has found that the Bahrain Grand Prix is more commercially successful for teams and trackside advertisers even than Monaco, Spa and Monza.

The publication also said that if the 2012 race is cancelled, "the teams could lose $44.7m of prize money".

(GMM)