TMR Team | Nov 7, 2012
  • Marko criticises Webber as title hopes end
  • Title contenders already practising for title 'match point'
  • Lotus win helps talks with team investors - Boullier
  • Horner blames 'human error' for qualifying debacle
  • Pressure on McLaren to up game for 2013
  • F1 teams use foul language to hide secrets
  • Frijns - 'I twice said no to Red Bull'
  • Final young driver test to begin on Tuesday
  • Even Italy and Spain impressed with Vettel's drive
  • More trouble but no blame for embattled Grosjean
 

Marko criticises Webber as title hopes end

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko has pointed some criticism at Mark Webber, after the Australian bowed out of mathematical contention for the 2012 title with a messy race in Abu Dhabi.

Webber made a bad start on Sunday, losing key places, until he clashed with Pastor Maldonado.

But as he pushed to recover from that spin, his second clash was with Ferrari's Felipe Massa, before he crashed heavily as Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta fought for position.

"You can't have more errors than that in one race," Red Bull's driver manager Marko is quoted by Bild newspaper. "That was not a good day for him."

"The start was no good, and the accidents were not good. It's too bad, because it affects us in the constructors' championship."

Indeed, Red Bull could have wrapped up the teams' title in Abu Dhabi simply by scoring more points than Ferrari or McLaren.

(GMM)

 

Title contenders already practising for title 'match point'

Title protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have headed straight from Abu Dhabi to their respective driver simulators.

"It should be a relax day," said Ferrari's Spaniard Alonso on Facebook, "but change (of) plan, simulator session now."

Alonso finished second in Abu Dhabi, reducing his points deficit to Red Bull's dominant title leader Sebastian Vettel to 10 points, with just Austin and Brazil now to go.

"Alonso can still win," former F1 driver Patrick Tambay told France's RMC Sport.

"It will be tough to beat Sebastian Vettel, but Alonso is mentally very tough, intelligent. And he also puts pressure in both directions."

Agreed Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko: "Alonso is the champion in the political ring, and unfortunately he can also be the same on the track.

"We will not do him any favours by attending to his political games. That's not our style. We focus on what's important -- to be fast."

Polls in Spanish sports newspapers AS (40,000 voters) and Marca (30,000 voters) said readers think Alonso has a 45 per cent and 49 per cent chance respectively of beating Vettel to the chequered flag.

Alonso is quoted by Switzerland's Blick: "When your competitor climbs from last place to the podium next to you, then it is clear that we are fighting against the best car.

"But we have the better team."

Bild newspaper said that, like Alonso, Vettel will also be hard at work on the simulator this week, ahead of next weekend's US GP at the brand new Austin track.

The German will reportedly be at Red Bull's Milton Keynes factory on Wednesday and Thursday.

"I like new tracks, a new challenge," said Vettel. "And so far I've heard nothing but good about Austin."

Jaime Alguersuari, the Pirelli test driver, said America will be a big challenge for both title protagonists.

"A new track is not easy for anyone, especially for those who are playing for a championship," he told Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

(GMM)

 

Lotus win helps talks with team investors - Boullier

Kimi Raikkonen's triumph in Abu Dhabi was important for more than just giving the Finn and Lotus the winning feeling.

Turun Sanomat newspaper reveals that boss Eric Boullier is so new to winning as a constructor in F1 that he had no idea what to do before mounting the podium for the team's trophy.

"I was a little lost with the protocol, but fortunately Fernando Alonso was helping and advising what I had to do," smiled the Frenchman.

But as well as learning the winning procedures, Boullier admitted Raikkonen's breakthrough was timely amid reports team owners Genii are in talks with potential investors.

"We believe that we show the world that we are serious and can deliver and that's going to help some of these commercial discussions," he is quoted by Reuters.

And Raikkonen, while apparently failing to show his boss the ropes as they climbed the podium, said he hopes his win can help Lotus to stability and more success.

"We have had hard times lately," said the Finn. "I mean they've been working very hard the whole year but with the hard times there's a bit unknown in the whole situation.

"For the people who run the team, who own the team, for everybody, hopefully it gives a bit more support and hope that things will turn around and be even better than it's been this year," he added.

(GMM)

 

Horner blames 'human error' for qualifying debacle

Christian Horner has admitted "human error" led to Sebastian Vettel having to start Sunday's Abu Dhabi GP from the back of the field.

After qualifying third in Abu Dhabi, the championship leader was asked by his Red Bull engineer to "stop the car" on the track, apparently with a technical problem.

But when the scrutineers tried to extract the mandatory 1-litre fuel sample from the RB8, the pot fell a few hundred millilitres short, resulting in the German's disqualification.

He started the race from the pitlane, Vettel only rescuing his title lead by charging through the field to third.

So what happened at the end of qualifying?

"To be honest, we have no clear answer but I suspect that it was human error," team boss Horner is quoted by Germany's Sport1.

"Renault gave us a clear statement that we should stop the car. Because we feared that it could be something that damages the engine, we followed their instructions," he added.

"We had to explain to the stewards why we stopped the car, they accepted our argument, but then we had to give the one litre sample."

Horner said Renault has not been able to explain why too little fuel was put into the RB8.

(GMM)

 

Pressure on McLaren to up game for 2013

Still among F1's grandee teams, there are signs McLaren needs to up its game if it wants to win its first title since 2008 in the near future.

Indeed, the British team is losing its last champion, Lewis Hamilton, to Mercedes next year, leaving Jenson Button as the senior driver.

But Button said in Abu Dhabi: "Since I've been here, this has been the worst year. It's been tricky, even on good weekends.

"We've had a problem pretty much every weekend lately. We need to stop it. I don't get it," he added.

"I'm not happy with where it is at the moment. But hopefully next year will be perfect."

On Sunday, pole sitter Hamilton's MP4-27 failed as he commandingly led in Abu Dhabi, but team boss Martin Whitmarsh blamed the problem on engine supplier Mercedes.

Hamilton, however, said there have also been "failures and issues with pitstops and so on".

"If my car was as reliable as Sebastian (Vettel)'s or Fernando (Alonso)'s I would be right up with them now," he insisted.

"Maybe ahead, who knows."

The man who will replace Hamilton at McLaren next year is Sergio Perez, who according to Whitmarsh earned the seat due to his "giant killing" performances for Sauber this year.

But since the Mexican's 2013 deal was announced, 22-year-old Perez's form has slipped dramatically.

Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn played down the link between Perez's recent struggle for points and his impending team switch, describing it as a "coincidence".

"There's nothing we can reproach him for because he's trying his best to do something good for the team before he leaves," she is quoted by the Independent.

"But we definitely will talk to him."

Indeed, Whitmarsh admitted there is no guarantee Perez will thrive once he is thrust under the spotlight at McLaren.

"There have been drivers who have talent, can live with that pressure and deliver, and others that can't," he said.

"It would be foolish of me to sit here and say that in taking a very young driver there is not an element of risk."

Button agreed, saying: "Obviously it's very difficult to know what he (Perez) brings to the team, because he's not there yet.

"With Lewis leaving, obviously the team loses a very fast driver. It is a big loss but things change and you move on and adapt.

"I think Sergio will be fast but I really don't know," he added.

(GMM)

 

F1 teams use foul language to hide secrets

F1 teams and drivers use foul language to hide crucial race tactics and information from their rivals, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The topic of swearing hit the headlines after Sunday's Abu Dhabi GP, when Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel both swore during their podium interview with former F1 driver David Coulthard.

Winner Raikkonen recalled the media giving him "sh*t" for not smiling enough after his previous victories, while Vettel used the F-word not only with Coulthard but also in the post-race press conference.

Referring to when he smashed through a trackside marker board during the race, the championship leader told the world's assembled media: "I thought, Well, now the front (wing) is f**ked".

Coulthard told the Gulf News that the swearing was "embarrassing".

"(It was embarrassing) because it goes out live to the whole (television) feed. I guess they don't really enjoy doing those interviews on the podium," he mused.

According to the Guardian, teams and drivers also use foul language as a weapon to censor crucial information from rival teams.

The newspaper said an employee of Bernie Ecclestone's television company monitors pit-to-car radio chatter, selecting excerpts for broadcast.

Journalist Richard Williams writes: "While making inquiries about the protocols surrounding this form of supervised eavesdropping, I made an interesting discovery.

"Although the teams have no control over the selection of these snippets, they do have one weapon at their disposal: when passing information they are keen to conceal from others, they ensure that an obscenity forms a prominent part of the conversation."

(GMM)

 

Frijns - 'I twice said no to Red Bull'

Robin Frijns has revealed he once turned down an offer to join F1 world champion Red Bull's young driver development programme.

Actually, "I twice said no to Red Bull," the 21-year-old Dutchman, who in 2012 won the Renault World Series at his first attempt, is quoted by De Telegraaf newspaper.

This week in Abu Dhabi, he will test for Sauber, and is tipped to become the Swiss team's new reserve driver for 2013, probably taking over from Esteban Gutierrez who has been linked with the race seat.

But Frijns will also drive Red Bull's championship-leading RB8 as Yas Marina, as his prize for winning the aforementioned Renault-powered Formula Renault 3.5 category.

He has, however, ruled out joining Red Bull's junior programme, which has produced the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne and others.

"I know their games," Frijns is quoted as saying.

"You cannot decide what you want to do, and if you don't do what they want, you're out.

"They treat you like a dog," he insisted.

"In my career I've always made my own choices and I want to continue to do that.

"I need people around me who I can trust, and so Red Bull is not for me, even though I have won more than Vettel did before he made his name in Formula One."

(GMM)

 

Final young driver test to begin on Tuesday

The sound of F1 engines in Abu Dhabi will resume on Tuesday.

Barely a day after Kimi Raikkonen won Sunday's thrilling grand prix at Yas Marina, the track will return to life on Tuesday when the final three day 'young driver test' begins.

Six teams have already run their young driver days this year, so just Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Caterham have stayed behind in Abu Dhabi for the session.

Red Bull junior Antonio Felix da Costa will be running for the reigning champions, as will new Renault World Series champion Robin Frijns, who will also get a run in the Sauber this week.

McLaren's test regular Gary Paffett may not technically be a 'young driver', but the British team will use the loophole of his F1 racing inexperience to continue its development programme in Abu Dhabi.

Also in action in the MP4-27 will be Oliver Turvey and Kevin Magnussen, the 20-year-old son of former Danish F1 driver Jan.

In Lotus' newly-winning E20 will be Nicolas Prost, son of the famous quadruple world champion Alain, as well as DTM driver Edoardo Mortara and new GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi.

Sauber's likely 2013 race driver Esteban Gutierrez will be in the C31, while Dutchman Frijns will also get some time in the 2012 car and is tipped to succeed Mexican Gutierrez as reserve driver next year.

Toro Rosso will be running GP2 runner-up Luiz Razia and 2012 rival Johnny Cecotto jnr, whose Venezuelan father was a motorcycle and F1 driver in the 70s and 80s.

And driving the Caterham will be the team's testers Giedo van der Garde and American Alexander Rossi.

(GMM)

 

Even Italy and Spain impressed with Vettel's drive

Sebastian Vettel managed even to impress the Ferrari-loving Italian press with his historic race through the field in Abu Dhabi.

"The German is unmatched," said Corriere dello Sport.

"He showed all his talent that had been hidden behind his superior Red Bull," the newspaper added, referring to Vettel's climb from dead last in the pitlane to third at the flag.

"He is a driver on a par with Alonso and perhaps even beyond."

La Stampa added: "The winner (Kimi Raikkonen) is the past (for Ferrari), second place (Fernando Alonso) is the present, and it is rumoured that third place (Vettel) is the future."

Alonso's native Spanish press was also impressed with Vettel's drive, insisting Sunday "removed any doubt from the minds of those who said he cannot withstand the pressure, or that he needs to always start from the front to win, or that he is no good at overtaking, or that he becomes world champion only because of his cars."

According to Bild newspaper, Red Bull's Dr Marko fully agrees.

"If after such a race there are still those who claim Vettel's performances are subject only to the car, they do not know what they are talking about."

Agreed F1 legend Niki Lauda: "For me, Vettel and Alonso are in the same league."

(GMM)

 

More trouble but no blame for embattled Grosjean

Romain Grosjean was back in the wars in Abu Dhabi, but this time no-one is calling for the embattled Frenchman to be banned.

It was rumoured recently that more collisions for the Lotus driver could result in him sitting out the rest of the 2012 season -- and perhaps missing out on a seat for 2013.

In Abu Dhabi, he clashed with Nico Rosberg on the opening lap.

"I kept my line and did a safe start but there was no room for me to go," said Grosjean.

Later, he was in trouble again, mixed up in the incident involving Sergio Perez, Paul di Resta and Mark Webber.

"Sergio went off and came back on leaving me with no room to go anywhere else," Frenchman Grosjean insisted.

"Mark then came from behind and we touched; it was a big shame."

It was Mexican Perez, however, who was penalised by the stewards for the clash.

And Rosberg said Grosjean was also not to blame for their early race clash.

"I cannot blame him, and I don't blame myself either," the Mercedes driver is quoted by France's Auto Hebdo. "I think it's just a simple racing incident."

(GMM)