TMR Team | Aug 20, 2012
  • Alonso names main rivals for 2012 title
  • Ferrari says next races 'important' for Massa's future
  • FIA aware of VW's F1 foray plans for 2015 - report
  • More sources reporting Mercedes-rebranding rumours
  • Maldonado eyes 2013 title with Williams
  • Bottas admits Williams race debut 'ideal'
 

Alonso names main rivals for 2012 title

Fernando Alonso has singled out Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as probably his toughest challengers for the 2012 title.

With half of this year's Grands Prix now in the past, Spaniard Alonso has won more than any other rival and has a 40-point lead in the drivers' chase over Mark Webber.

But close behind Australian Webber is his Red Bull teammate and reigning back-to-back world champion Sebastian Vettel, followed by another 2012 race winner and former title winner, Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace: "Hamilton and Vettel are the drivers we have focused on since the beginning.

"They are the biggest challengers, but all of the teams are close.

"Hopefully, they will fight among themselves and not one of them will dominate," he added.

With nine races still to run in 2012, Alonso is taking nothing for granted.

"I think the distance between the top five, top six is not impossible to recover," he said. "You just need one good race or two good races and you are up there."

Pundits have lauded Alonso's extreme consistency so far in 2012, the Ferrari driver finishing all eleven races inside the points.

"Sometimes we know we can be on the podium, other times maybe it's only seventh, but we cannot afford to make any mistakes or do anything that we will regret," said the 31-year-old.

F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello said: "Alonso is in the form of his life.

"He does not have the fastest car but he is the one getting the best out of what he has," the Brazilian told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"And his rivals are taking points off one another. In the end I see this (championship) as a duel between Alonso and Vettel."

(GMM)

 

Ferrari says next races 'important' for Massa's future

The forthcoming races are "very important" to Felipe Massa's future.

That is the claim of Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali, apparently rejecting reports the famous Maranello team has already decided to drop the Brazilian at the end of the current season.

At the same time, however, Domenicali indicated that Massa has work to do if he is to secure a new deal for 2013.

"Felipe knows what he has to do," the Italian is quoted by Spain's Diario AS, Brazil's Globo Esporte and Spain's Marca.

Domenicali says Massa, who has upped his game in recent races after a dire start to the 2012 season, must "maximise his performance" in order to boost Ferrari's ranking in the lucrative constructors' championship.

"He knows there are some very important races in front of him as a driver and as a member of Ferrari," he added.

And according to Domenicali, Ferrari - who have let the automatic 2013 option on Massa's contract lapse - also has a responsibility.

"We need to improve the car and I am sure that Felipe will do a good job," he said.

As for the rumours Ferrari is actively looking for a replacement for Massa, Domenicali said: "We are not in a hurry to make a decision on the lineup for 2013."

(GMM)

 

FIA aware of VW's F1 foray plans for 2015 - report

The German weekly Sport Bild is reporting that Volkswagen, the carmaker giant, is making plans to enter F1 in 2015.

Sauber team boss Peter Sauber confirmed recently that he met at the Geneva motor show with VW's chairman Martin Winterkorn.

The Swiss team's chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn denied there is any more to the story.

But Sport Bild said Volkswagen is planning to enter F1 with Sauber, the Hinwil based team who won a Grand Prix with BMW during the 2006-2009 collaboration.

The report said the FIA has been informed of the VW-Sauber plans, with Wolfsburg based VW reportedly keen to strengthen its presence in the key premier car markets in China, the US, Russia and Brazil.

Sport Bild also said Sauber might be just a "stepping stone" into F1 for VW, with the marque also keen to get involved in F1 chassis design at its state of the art Porsche Motorsport Centre in Weissach, Germany.

(GMM)

 

More sources reporting Mercedes-rebranding rumours

More publications and sources are reporting rumours Mercedes could be looking to reshape its commitment to F1.

The latest edition of the French weekly Auto Hebdo reported that, still yet to agree a new Concorde Agreement deal, the Stuttgart carmaker could field only a 'semi-official' team from 2014.

The report said the move, with Mercedes remaining an engine supplier but taking a more engineering rather than managerial focus, could see the Brackley based team rebadged as 'AMG', which is the German marque's high performance arm.

A similar story, reportedly due to "increasingly insistent rumours", is now being told by Italy's Autosprint.

That report said the 'AMG'-solution is a "compromise" in light of the Mercedes board of directors pushing hard for a full F1 withdrawal.

Autosprint said the directors are unsatisfied that, three seasons after the Brawn GP rebranding and the reunion of Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher, all Mercedes has to boast is Nico Rosberg's single win.

The report said the "greatest advocate" of the Mercedes GP project has been Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, who will reportedly step down within a few months.

Also reporting that a "radical change" in Mercedes' F1 commitment is shaping up is French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet, who in his Auto Plus column cited a source who is "known for the veracity of his information".

That source said the matter will be finalised at Mercedes' next board meeting.

(GMM)

 

Maldonado eyes 2013 title with Williams

Pastor Maldonado has revealed he wants to stay at Williams for "at least" another year.

As reigning GP2 champion, and with substantial backing from his native Venezuela, the now 27-year-old made his debut for the famous British team last year.

He then defied his 'pay driver'-labelling critics by winning in Barcelona earlier this season, but has also faced criticism for making too many mistakes.

Maldonado is quoted by the Spanish news agency EFE as saying he would like to stay at Williams in 2013.

"I would, without doubt, stay there for a while - a year at least," he said.

"Before leaving Williams I would like to win the championship with them," Maldonado reportedly said in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

But he admitted the first step is a new deal for 2013.

"In F1 you never know what is going to happen," Maldonado admitted.

Asked if he has any alternative plans, he said "there are enough teams on the grid" to give him a good chance of continuing to race.

But he called Williams a "legendary" and "historical" team, admitting it is too early to know for sure where he will be in 2013.

Williams, said Maldonado, is priority one.

"I would love the opportunity of winning a world championship with this great team who gave me the opportunity to come into F1," he insisted.

(GMM)

 

Bottas admits Williams race debut 'ideal'

Valtteri Bottas, currently Williams' reserve and 'Friday' driver, has admitted a race seat at the British team would be "ideal".

The young Finn is hotly tipped to step up for his grand prix debut next year, with the reigning GP3 champion now focusing only on his F1 duties, and managed by Williams shareholder and new executive director Toto Wolff.

Bottas, 22, is quoted by Turun Sanomat as saying making the next step also with the Williams team "would be ideal".

"I like working with these people and with Frank Williams," he said.

"The team has a great history and it's the third year I've been involved with them. I feel at home now and so it would be great to stay here.

"I hope for a long career with Williams," said Bottas.

When he steps in for morning practice duties at a GP, Bottas always takes the place of Williams' Brazilian race driver Bruno Senna.

But Senna's advantage over Bottas is his sponsorship purse. Bottas insists it's too early to know what's going to happen next.

"It's hard to say what the opportunities are," he said. "It's still too early. We are only halfway through the season and so the teams still have plenty of time to decide.

"I really can't say that anything is impossible," Bottas concluded.

Wolff said recently that driver choice is an "essential part" of success in F1.

"It's all about developing your own drivers and trying to keep the ones who are good in your car, so it's as challenging as building a good car and getting a good engine," he said.

(GMM)

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