TMR Team | Nov 8, 2012
  • Lauda still tipping Vettel to beat Alonso
  • Vettel must hope for dry weather in Brazil - Webber
  • Raikkonen's radio frustration 'normal' - Salo
  • Fernandes stepping down as Caterham boss
  • Force India to announce second driver on Wednesday
 

Lauda still tipping Vettel to beat Alonso

Sebastian Vettel remains the overwhelming favourite to become 2012 champion, despite Red Bull's qualifying crisis and the loss of three points to Fernando Alonso in Abu Dhabi.

That is the view of F1 legend Niki Lauda, who was asked by Osterreich newspaper if he has changed his mind after Red Bull bungled qualifying last weekend, forcing Vettel to fight up to the podium from a pitlane start.

With just two races to go now, Vettel is 10 points ahead of Ferrari's Alonso.

"Nothing has changed," Lauda insisted. "I believe Red Bull will have learned from its errors and now have everything technically perfect in the last two races.

"Then it will be up to Vettel, and he has the fastest car."

Spaniard Alonso, however, remains determined and feisty, continuing to espouse samurai quotations and push Ferrari to improve the F2012.

"That's what he's paid for," Lauda said, "but he can only carry on as before.

"Although he does everything right, it's not enough, because Ferrari cannot compete with Red Bull."

Lauda, however, said he is not expecting Vettel to wrap it up in Texas next weekend, but that F1 will get its "super finish" to the championship in Brazil.

David Coulthard, the former McLaren and Red Bull driver, warned Vettel to be wary of the wily Alonso.

"Fernando is a teak-tough competitor and I have a feeling these last two races could get a bit dirty," he wrote in the Telegraph.

"Fernando wants to go to war, wants this to become a battle of wits as much as machines. He is trying to unsettle Seb, while at the same time exuding confidence and serenity.

"My money is on Seb, but only just," added Coulthard.

(GMM)

 

Vettel must hope for dry weather in Brazil - Webber

If as is expected the 2012 title battle goes down to the wire, Mark Webber is not sure he would put his money on his Red Bull teammate.

With a 10-point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and the faster car, Sebastian Vettel is the overwhelming favourite to win his third consecutive drivers' championship late this month.

But according to Webber, who like Vettel also races the RB8, the 25-year-old German should be worried if bad weather is forecast for Sao Paulo.

"Sebastian needs dry weather there," the Australian told Austrian Servus TV this week.

"He can also drive in the rain, but Fernando is very strong," said Webber. "And it can be wet in Sao Paulo."

Another factor, he said, is the nature of championship showdowns, and the often tumultuous contests that take place at Interlagos.

"In Sao Paulo there is always some drama," said Webber.

Indeed, he tipped the 2012 finale to be "very dramatic".

(GMM)

 

Raikkonen's radio frustration 'normal' - Salo

Mika Salo has backed his countryman Kimi Raikkonen's radio attitude en route to victory in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.

The 2007 world champion's growing frustration with his engineer throughout his chase for Lotus' first win of the season culminated in him saying "leave me alone".

But Salo, another Finnish driver, insisted Raikkonen's attitude is actually "pretty normal".

"During a race you are so concentrated that you are fully aware of the situation if you're in the lead and you see a red car in the mirrors," he told the broadcaster MTV3.

During that phase, constant radio messages can just be "a nuisance", former Sauber and Toyota driver Salo added.

"If the driver wants information, he can ask for it. That's how it was for me. I asked what I wanted to know," he said.

Raikkonen, however, did not criticise his Lotus engineer for trying to feed him information in Abu Dhabi.

"It's the same with all the teams," he said. "They are just trying to help but if you keep saying the same things two times a minute, I'm not so stupid that I cannot remember what I'm doing.

"It's a normal thing, they are just trying to help," he added. "I know what I'm doing."

Meanwhile, Raikkonen is facing some criticism for posing for Lotus' post-victory photograph in Abu Dhabi with a bottle of beer in his hand.

At F1's Arab races including Bahrain, drivers spray non-alcoholic drinks on the podium, for cultural reasons.

"To publicly celebrate in a Muslim country with an alcoholic beverage is not very appropriate," said the Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.

(GMM)

 

Fernandes stepping down as Caterham boss

Tony Fernandes has confirmed reports he is stepping down as boss of his F1 team Caterham.

That might be news for team driver Heikki Kovalainen, who earlier played down the rumours when asked by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"Tony told me recently that he is 100 percent committed to the team," he was quoted as saying.

But wire services Reuters and AFP said Fernandes, the Malaysian entrepreneur, has already lined up his successor.

Rumours suggest it could be Jean-Francois Caubet, whose last race as engine supplier Renault's F1 chief was in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

"On the racing side we have come to the conclusion that it is better if someone else takes over the team principal role to move forward," Fernandes is quoted by Autocar.

Asked who will replace him, he answered: "I cannot tell you their name yet. All I can say is that they are from within F1."

Fernandes said he and deputy chairman Dato Kamarudin Meranun were right to lead the project from its 2010 inception until now.

"We are definitely better at business than finding tenths of seconds around a lap," he said.

"It was right for us to lead the team initially and set a template of how it should be. That vision is now set and the team is ready to move forward to the midfield."

(GMM)

 

Force India to announce second driver on Wednesday

Swiss newspaper Blick has tipped Force India to announce Paul di Resta's next teammate on Wednesday.

Veteran journalist Roger Benoit said the Silverstone based team has weighed up paying drivers including Adrian Sutil and Bruno Senna, or an essentially unsponsored talent like Sebastien Buemi.

"With five million, I would be there immediately," Swiss Buemi, currently Red Bull's reserve driver, said.

"But I'm still optimistic."

Also still in doubt is Nico Hulkenberg's 2013 teammate at Sauber, as candidates Esteban Gutierrez and the impressive new Renault World Series champion Robin Frijns, a 21-year-old Dutchman, test the C31 this week in Abu Dhabi.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, meanwhile, said the Swiss team Sauber is this week testing a Lotus-style 'double DRS' system.

Fastest on the opening day of the 'young driver' test on Tuesday was Kevin Magnussen, the son of former McLaren test driver Jan.

But team boss Martin Whitmarsh said that with veteran tester Gary Paffett taking over from Magnussen on Tuesday afternoon, McLaren's focus this week is actually on improving the car.

"A lot of the small teams use young driver testing for revenue and a team like ours uses it largely for a range of technical developments," he said.

(GMM)