TMR Team | Sep 11, 2012
  • Hamilton's winning mood hints McLaren tenure ending
  • Ferrari rumours fire again after Perez podium
  • Massa succumbs to team orders, Button still fighting
  • Raikkonen locked into 2013 contract now - Lopez
  • Kubica wins rally but extent of injury revealed
  • Webber's 'older' alternator survived at Monza
  • Another alternator problem hurts Vettel
 

Hamilton's winning mood hints McLaren tenure ending

Lewis Hamilton gave away more clues about his future after winning Sunday's Italian GP.

Although at Monza the Briton matched Mika Hakkinen's career tally of 20 wins, he looked miserable as he celebrated the Monza victory with his team.

Observing the post-race events, Express journalist Bob McKenzie wrote: "Hamilton looked like a man who has the world on his shoulders rather than in front of him".

And photos of the British team's traditional victory photograph depicted Hamilton, 27, as the only McLaren member without his fist aloft in triumph.

"There appeared to be tension in the air," said another observer, writing for the French news agency AFP.

"As (team boss Martin) Whitmarsh hugged Hamilton, the embrace looked strained and then the 2008 champion struggled to raise a smile, or a clenched fist, when asked to by photographers."

Was Hamilton's mood indicative of a terminal falling-out with McLaren, on the eve of a rumoured 2012 switch to rivals Mercedes?

A report in the Daily Mail said Ron Dennis, McLaren's impresario who was at Monza for the grand prix, failed to applaud when Hamilton collected the winner's trophy.

Asked if it would be a shame if McLaren did not have two Britons at the wheel next year, Dennis answered: "It is not essential, we always have the two best available drivers."

Whitmarsh is quoted as saying: "We want Lewis to stay if he wants to stay."

Writing in the Times, Kevin Eason suspects the cat may be out of the bag following a recent meeting between Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone.

Not long after that get-together, Eddie Jordan was telling the world Michael Schumacher is going to be replaced by Hamilton next year.

Actually, Hamilton still has the entire paddock guessing.

Asked if it's a shame his teammate Jenson Button could not complete a McLaren one-two on Sunday, he teased: "Maybe next year."

Not, however, if some of Hamilton's McLaren colleagues have anything to do with it. One unnamed McLaren staffer told Der Spiegel at Monza: "We are extremely upset with him.

"He should go."

(GMM)

 

Ferrari rumours fire again after Perez podium

Even suffering an illness all weekend at Monza, Sergio Perez still managed a performance that prompted podium-interviewer Niki Lauda to offer a rare dip of his famous cap.

"I take my hat off, Sergio. You did an incredible job," legend Lauda, whose scalp is scarred from his fiery 1976 crash, said.

The Mexican's performance - his third podium of the season so far - instantly breathed new life into rumours he could swap his Sauber for a Ferrari next year.

Indeed, as he managed to overtake not only the endangered Felipe Massa but also Ferrari's impressive Fernando Alonso at Monza, surely he is now ready for the great Italian team.

"I don't know," the hesitant 22-year-old said on Sunday.

Perez's current boss Peter Sauber was also giving nothing away when asked about the Ferrari rumours: "We'll see," he told broadcaster Sky.

Sauber chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn added: "We will in due course announce (the drivers) for the next season. I am still relaxed, as I was months ago."

Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali added: "At the moment we cannot give any information away regarding (Ferrari academy member) Sergio Perez.

"He drove a good race, no doubt."

Perez told F1's official website two days earlier: "There will be a decision. And of course it is coming nearer and nearer."

(GMM)

 

Massa succumbs to team orders, Button still fighting

Felipe Massa and Jenson Button will take vastly different approaches to the remaining races of 2012.

Button admitted after retiring from Sunday's Italian GP that his title hopes are now all but over.

The 2009 world champion is 78 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso with seven races to go, while his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton is still right in the reckoning.

"It (the championship) is going to be very difficult but nothing is going to change," Button said before leaving Monza.

"I am still going to race hard and try to win every race. It is such a special feeling to win a Grand Prix."

At Ferrari, however, the pecking-order is now firmly in place, and Felipe Massa - fighting hard to stay with the Italian team for 2013 - got the team orders firing on Sunday.

He let Alonso pass him at Monza to maximise the championship leader's points tally, and vowed to do more of the same if possible between Singapore later this month and the Brazilian finale in November.

"I worked for the team, trying to help Fernando, which is as it should be," said Massa. "I have always done it and will do it whenever it's necessary."

Team boss Stefano Domenicali praised Massa's race and attitude.

"Felipe proved to everyone - not to us, because we knew already - that he is a driver who can fight for the very top spot and that at Ferrari, we work as a team, united in our efforts to reach the targets we set ourselves," he said.

If Massa can keep up his improved form, the 'number 2' issue could ultimately be decisive in Ferrari's deliberations about its 2013 lineup.

Sauber's Sergio Perez, although hotly tipped to oust Massa, said after passing the Ferrari drivers at Monza that he will "fight any driver, no matter if it's Fernando or Lewis".

Massa said on Sunday: "I don't know if this race changes anything regarding my future, but definitely the most important thing for now is to keep going like this, working with great concentration and trying to do my best for the team."

(GMM)

 

Raikkonen locked into 2013 contract now - Lopez

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez has moved to silence the persistent rumours about Kimi Raikkonen's future.

Recently, the impressive F1 returnee and Finn was linked with a switch next year to his former title-winning team Ferrari.

And now amid the Lewis Hamilton rumours, some have mentioned 32-year-old Raikkonen as the ideal successor, reprising his five-year McLaren career of 2002-2006.

Lotus team figures have, however, revealed that Raikkonen is on a two-year contract.

But, in F1, contractual situations are usually complicated, with drivers and teams often only obligated in the event of certain performance-related criteria.

Lopez told Finland's Turun Sanomat that Raikkonen is staying in 2013.

"At least in the short term, Kimi is with us," he said.

"We have an agreement that is based on performance, and it has been fulfilled," he revealed.

Lopez acknowledged, however, that a team should not "force anyone" to race its cars "if they don't want to be with us".

In that case, "Kimi wants to be here, as does Romain Grosjean," the Luxembourgian entrepreneur insisted, "and we are happy with them too."

Lopez said he has not been surprised by the McLaren and Ferrari rumours.

"No," he answered. "This is F1.

"Sometimes the rumours are true, sometimes someone has just come up with it, based on nothing."

(GMM)

 

Kubica wins rally but extent of injury revealed

Robert Kubica enjoyed a dream return to competition at the weekend, winning the Ronde Gomitolo di Landa rally in Italy.

Wearing a bandage on his right forearm that masked the most serious scars of his F1 career-ending rally crash of 19 months ago, Italian reports said the Pole took his Subaru Impreza to victory in all four time-trials.

But Brazil's Agencia Estado said the 27-year-old's first real public appearance since his crash also revealed the true extent of Kubica's new limitations.

The former BMW and Renault driver "does not have full mobility of his right arm", said the report.

Indeed, footage of the minor Italian rally shows that while Kubica is able to steer a car with both hands, the movement in his right arm and hand is obviously limited.

He held the winning trophy and champagne aloft, and drank water from a bottle, only with his left arm.

(GMM)

 

Webber's 'older' alternator survived at Monza

Mark Webber's alternator survived the Italian Grand Prix because it was an "older" specification.

That is the claim of Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, after reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel on Sunday suffered a repeat of his Saturday morning failure and failed to finish at Monza.

"The part was from the latest specification (of alternator) that came after the similar failure in Valencia," Marko is quoted by Salzburger Nachrichten.

"Webber had an alternator from an older specification that had no problem," said the Austrian.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said engine supplier Renault, whose supply partner for the alternator is Magneti Marelli, is treating the problem as a priority.

"Since 2011 we have changed virtually nothing," said Renault's baffled Remi Taffin.

One glimmer of hope is that the Renault alternator used by Lotus' Jerome d'Ambrosio at Monza was showing early signs of failure, which could be useful for getting to the bottom of the mystery.

Arguably the bigger problem for Red Bull, however, is the recent lack of pace.

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari said Monza was "the (team's) worst performance since 2008".

And yet another problem on Sunday was Vettel's penalty for driving Fernando Alonso off the track, even though a similar incident at Curva Grande a year ago was ignored by the stewards.

Was the FIA giving Ferrari a helping-hand at Monza on Sunday?

"I think not," Vettel, dismissing the conspiracy, told Bild newspaper.

(GMM)

 

Another alternator problem hurts Vettel

Christian Horner has confirmed that yet another alternator failure caused Sebastian Vettel to retire from Sunday's race.

Having lost his charge for victory in Valencia earlier this year with the same problem, the issue resurfaced at Monza on Saturday when the reigning world champion broke down in practice.

It struck again on Sunday; a big blow to the German's championship hopes.

"It has to be corrected quickly," team boss Horner told the German broadcaster Sky.

After the practice problem, alternator supplier Renault apologised to Red Bull.

"Today it cost us a lot of points," Horner said on Sunday. "We have to move forward with it urgently if we are to continue for the title."

With Mark Webber also retiring in Italy, is is defending champions Red Bull's first double non-points finish since Korea 2010.

Earlier at Monza, Vettel was penalised by the stewards for forcing his championshp rival Fernando Alonso wide at the Curva Grande.

Last year, it was Alonso who pushed Vettel wide at the very same corner.

"It looked quite the same as a year ago," Horner said. "I thought it was a normal racing incident, with Sebastian in front and taking his line.

"It was very surprising that we were punished for it," he insisted.

(GMM)

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