Mike Stevens | Nov 21, 2012
  • Mercedes takes full control of F1 team
  • Paddock figures back Ferrari's gearbox penalty 'trick'
  • Ecclestone happy F1 to get 2012 title showdown
  • Marko 'not relaxed' as alternator crisis looms for finale
  • Alguersuari says 2013 plans revealed 'very soon'
  • Massa's old diffuser better than Alonso's new in Austin
  • Button doubts Perez to fight for early wins in 2013

 

Mercedes takes full control of F1 team

Mercedes-Benz has taken back total control of its formula one team by buying the 40 per cent stake held by Aabar, the Abu Dhabi investment arm.

We reported in April that Aabar, who were then already watering down their involvement with Mercedes' parent Daimler, was set to pull out of the Brackley based Mercedes GP team.

Now, financial media sources Bloomberg and Reuters report that Mercedes has indeed bought back Aabar's stake.

Spokespeople for both Aabar and Mercedes confirmed the news, but would not comment on the value of the deal.

Niki Lauda, Mercedes' new non-executive chairman, currently wears 'Aabar' branding on his famous red cap.

(GMM)

 

Paddock figures back Ferrari's gearbox penalty 'trick'

Bob Fernley, the day-to-day team boss at Force India, has backed Ferrari's decision to deliberately penalise Felipe Massa in Austin.

The Italian team was roundly criticised for tampering with Brazilian Massa's long-life gearbox for no other reason than to incur a five-place penalty that switched title-fighting teammate Fernando Alonso to the 'clean' side of the grid.

Ferrari's immediate competitors, Red Bull and McLaren, said they wouldn't have made a similar decision.

But Fernley told PA Sport it is nonsense to write of Ferrari's tactic as unsporting.

"At the end of the day the regulations are what they are, Ferrari took them to the limit, and that's what we do in formula one," he said.

"I would absolutely have done the same. We're not here to try to make friends, we're here to win."

Many commentators in the media also slammed Ferrari's tactic, but former driver Marc Surer said the Maranello team did the right thing.

"If you look at the (race) start, it was absolutely right," he told German television Sky.

The Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport added: "With a world title at stake, everyone would have done Ferrari's trick."

(GMM)

 

Ecclestone happy F1 to get 2012 title showdown

Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he is happy the 2012 world championship will be decided only at this weekend's twentieth and last race of the season in Brazil.

As Christian Horner was speaking to the media in Austin, where Sebastian Vettel failed to wrap up the title despite being mathematically able, the F1 chief executive walked past and said jokingly to the Red Bull boss: "Thank you very much.

"Very kind," he smiled. "Very well planned."

Horner told journalists: "As you can see, everything pre-arranged."

Actually, Ecclestone is a close friend of German Vettel, and he told the SID news agency that he will deserve his third title.

As for a one-race championship showdown, however: "That's what every fan wishes for. And me too," said the 82-year-old Briton.

But asked who he would bet on at Interlagos, Ecclestone answered: "I think Sebastian."

As for how much money the billionaire would wager, he said: "As much as you want."

When asked who deserves the title the most, Ecclestone answered: "The one who has more points at the end, so maybe Sebastian is a bit more deserving because of what he has done.

"But most of the time Fernando (Alonso) has not had the best car, so I think he deserves it too."

Even the Ferrari-slanted Italian press agrees with Ecclestone that Vettel is the overwhelming favourite.

"The championship is still open," noted La Gazzetta dello Sport, "but, better said, it is not closed completely."

The sports daily said Vettel and Red Bull are beatable, "but at the moment not by Alonso or Ferrari."

F1 legend Niki Lauda told RTL television that Vettel's 13-point advantage over Spaniard Alonso is "a lot for one race".

Another former driver Marc Surer told Sky television: "We can assume that Vettel will drive it home in Brazil. His car failing is the only danger."

Alonso is pinning his hopes on the latter eventuality.

"They (Red Bull) have often had problems with their cooling or their brakes or their KERS or their alternator," said the Ferrari driver.

"It always happens to that car (Mark Webber's), so maybe in Brazil it changes cars."

(GMM)

 

Marko 'not relaxed' as alternator crisis looms for finale

On paper, Sebastian Vettel is the overwhelming favourite to seal his third consecutive drivers' crown this weekend in Brazil.

His 13-point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso means he can steer his ultra-competitive Red Bull to just fourth place at Interlagos and still set off for his winter slumber with the title.

"But Alonso still must win," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by Speed Week. "He must take the risk. That's the important thing."

But it's not quite as simple as that. First, there is the pressure of the season finale, with Alonso a hardened, never-say-die samurai-loving competitor.

And Marko acknowledged that Brazil is often a "crazy race", even without the forecast high probability of rain.

But the Austrian insisted: "The only question mark is reliability. So no, I'm not relaxed."

Marko is undoubtedly referring to Red Bull's recurring alternator failures in 2012, the latest of which struck Mark Webber's car in Austin.

It was believed Renault offered Red Bull a brand new specification of the Magneti Marelli unit for the US grand prix, but in fact the reigning champions opted for the tried-and-tested previous version.

Spain's Mundo Deportivo newspaper said Red Bull will definitely use the brand new specification for the Sao Paulo finale.

"We are ready with the new one," Renault's Remi Taffin is quoted by Brazil's Globo Esporte.

"Generally we feel more comfortable with something we have known for a long time, but we have tested the new design and so there's no need to be worried," he added.

(GMM)

 

Alguersuari says 2013 plans revealed 'very soon'

Jaime Alguersuari says his plans for the 2013 season will be announced "very soon".

Recently, the former Toro Rosso racer and current Pirelli tester told his supporters that he was confident he would return to the grid next season.

He told them the plans would be revealed "soon".

A reader of Spain's sports daily AS asked Alguersuari, 22, if 'soon' had now come and gone.

The reader told the music-loving driver that if he was in charge at McLaren, he would have signed him to replace Lewis Hamilton.

"But apparently without billionaire sponsors, it's impossible," the reader said.

Alguersuari responded: "Ha ha, thanks!

"I will reveal my plans for 2013 to all my fans very soon. Thank you for your support."

Force India is tipped to announce the identity of Paul di Resta's new teammate for 2013 this weekend in Brazil.

(GMM)

 

Massa's old diffuser better than Alonso's new in Austin

As was rumoured before F1 arrived in Austin last week, the latest developments for Fernando Alonso's title-contending Ferrari did not work.

New pieces, including a new diffuser, were tried in a straight line at the Idiada facility in Spain, prior to the US grand prix.

It was rumoured immediately afterwards that the real-world data did not match up with what was produced in the wind tunnel.

Still, the new diffuser was fitted to Spaniard Alonso's F2012 in Austin, before he was roundly out-performed by teammate Felipe Massa all weekend.

"Yes, indeed, Felipe Massa had the old diffuser and it worked better," former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari told the Spanish sports daily AS.

And Brazilian Massa confirmed to Marca newspaper: "Everything was the same except the diffuser.

"I had it available, but I decided I'd be better with the old one. That was the only difference."

Alonso said "It's not always the case that the latest part is the best choice".

(GMM)

 

Button doubts Perez to fight for early wins in 2013

Jenson Button thinks Sergio Perez could struggle to fill Lewis Hamilton's winning boots at McLaren next year.

Mexican Perez has been signed to replace 2008 world champion and F1's last-start winner Hamilton for 2013 and beyond.

Currently at Sauber, 22-year-old Perez has said his 2013 target is wins and the title, but in the five races since the McLaren deal was announced, he has failed to score even a single point.

"It's going to be a tricky seat for Checo to fill," his teammate next year, Button, is quoted by British newspapers after the US grand prix.

"I have a feeling he will be competitive, but of course he doesn't have the experience and I don't think he will be fighting at the front at the start of next season.

"It is a massive ask but what else can you do? You need to have someone in the car and he is quick.

"I don't know if he will be up to it straight away but we might be surprised at the first race," added Button.

Perez acknowledges the doubters, but said it has little to do with his black run of form at Sauber since the McLaren deal was announced.

"I am going to the best team next year, so there will always be a question mark until I constantly deliver in a McLaren," he is quoted by the BBC. "This doesn't bother me."

But the BBC claimed Perez is currently a long way from McLaren's standards, having failed to come close to Hamilton and Button in the British team's benchmark fitness test.

"I am not worried about him," insisted team boss Martin Whitmarsh. "We have the winter to prepare him."

(GMM)

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