- 2012 finale could be title fizzer - Webber
- HRT sacks staff, seeks buyer to avoid closure
- Bianchi tests Ferrari improvements for Alonso
- Raikkonen gifts 'leave me alone' t-shirts to Lotus staff
- Glock always beats Vettel - at chess
- 204 fewer pitstops in 2012 - analysis
- 'Double DRS' was wrong turn for Mercedes - Brawn
- New deal shows team still believes - Vergne
- Force India in 'no rush' to decide 2013 driver
2012 finale could be title fizzer - Webber
(GMM) Mark Webber has warned that the 2012 championship finale may not be as spectacular as some are expecting.
The Australian's Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel, and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, are separated by just 10 points with only the Austin and Brazil races now to come.
But Webber told WA Today: "They may not even see each other on-track - that's the way it turns out sometimes.
"It's a bit like an FA Cup final or the rugby league grand final - sometimes it doesn't live up to the hype."
Indeed, while Ferrari is pushing hard to improve its F2012, the latest rumour is that upgrades tested at Idiada recently failed to deliver the expected speed boost.
Even Felipe Massa admits Red Bull is the favourite going into this weekend's US GP.
"It's a new track, and I might be wrong," he told Brazilian reporters this week, "but from what I've seen on the simulator, it's similar to Korea and India.
"We were reasonably competitive on those two circuits, but Red Bull was very strong," said Alonso's Ferrari teammate.
HRT sacks staff, seeks buyer to avoid closure
HRT has revealed that it is pushing to sell the Spanish F1 team.
Before the official confirmation, it was reported by Spain's El Confidencial on Monday that the struggling team had dismissed 32 employees, and needed a buyer before December to avoid closure.
HRT, owned by Thesan Capital since last July, swiftly confirmed that it is "in talks with a number of groups interested in buying the team".
The media statement said Thesan wants to complete a deal within weeks, adding that "the time has come for the team to continue growing with new financial backing".
The new owners would be HRT's fourth since the team's inception in 2009.
Bianchi tests Ferrari improvements for Alonso
Ferrari is still pushing hard to give Fernando Alonso a title-winning Ferrari for the final back-to-back head-to-head with Sebastian Vettel.
With Red Bull and Vettel's qualifying problems allowing Alonso to claw back three points in Abu Dhabi, the Spaniard is still 10 points adrift with just Austin and Brazil to go.
And with the red F2012 still not a match for the Adrian Newey-penned RB8, Alonso said after finishing second in Abu Dhabi: "We need to keep working and in Maranello they work day and night to bring new parts."
Indeed, the Spanish sports daily Marca reports that, following two similar straightline aerodynamic outings recently, Ferrari has been back in action at the Idiada facility in Spain.
At the wheel of the car was Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who as well as being Force India's test driver is also in Ferrari's development 'academy'.
Marca said Bianchi was testing a new rear wing and diffuser, while other Spanish reports said the F2012 featured even more new parts than that.
"With Fernando, you don't have to give him the best car," Marc Gene, another Ferrari test driver, told El Confidencial.
"You just have to give him one with which he can fight the best car, and he will do the rest.
"The team is working hard to give him the best car possible."
Mark Webber, Vettel's teammate but a better friend of Alonso's, said recently that if it rains as the championship showdown looms, punters might be wise to put money on the Spaniard.
Gene said: "The forecast for the US and Brazil suggests that they could be wet races, and we know that the Ferrari has proved a very reliable car when water appears."
The first title showdown will be at Austin's brand new Circuit of the Americas this weekend.
A local meteorologist told the Austin American Statesman newspaper: "The best rain chances come Saturday evening into Sunday, but they are still very slight, about 20 percent."
Raikkonen gifts 'leave me alone' t-shirts to Lotus staff
Kimi Raikkonen has turned his newly-famous Grand Prix-winning catchphrase into a t-shirt for the entire staff of the Lotus team.
The inimitable 'iceman' thrilled his fans with his radio banter - broadcast live on television - en route to the first win of his F1 comeback recently in Abu Dhabi.
And, to mark the Enstone based team's first win since its works Renault days, Raikkonen memorialised his most famous Abu Dhabi utterance - 'Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing' - on the front of t-shirts for the entire Lotus staff.
The 500 t-shirts arrived at Enstone last Friday, according to the BBC.
The 2007 world champion said this week: "I think you can probably find other messages from me in the car if you search Youtube; even from my short time in Nascar."
Lotus team boss Eric Boullier added: "'Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing' has already become a Formula One classic!"
Glock always beats Vettel - at chess
Reigning back-to-back world champion and 2012 points leader Sebastian Vettel has admitted that F1 backmarker Timo Glock always beats him - in a game of chess.
Switzerland's Blick newspaper reports that Red Bull driver Vettel only discovered his love of the famous board game in the past few weeks.
So far, the German has played mostly against his countryman Glock, who drives for Marussia.
"Timo is the only one who is giving me real problems this year," Vettel joked, "because he always wins!"
This weekend will be Vettel's 100th Grand Prix, where in Austin the 25-year-old could theoretically wrap up his third consecutive drivers' championship.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Lewis Hamilton's latest pastime is recording music in a $2,400 per day London studio, the Sun newspaper reports.
"He's very passionate about music and wants his work to be of good quality," said a source. "He's got the cash, so why not?
"But he has no intention of becoming a pop star."
204 fewer pitstops in 2012 - analysis
There have been 204 fewer pitstops this year compared to the same period in 2011, an analysis by the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport shows.
The report showed that, in the first 18 races of last year, there were 1,058 pitstops, compared to 854 so far in 2012.
"Pirelli is playing it safer," journalist Michael Schmidt surmised.
The conclusion is that while Pirelli's compounds are generally softer this year, the Italian marque is now often more conservative when it comes to choosing the compounds for grands prix.
Paul Hembery admitted: "The tyres were probably too hard for India and Abu Dhabi," said Pirelli's motor sport director.
"This will be corrected next year."
Another factor, Hembery said, is that "the cars are generating more downforce, and the teams have learned how to deal with the tyres".
'Double DRS' was wrong turn for Mercedes - Brawn
Ross Brawn has admitted Mercedes took a wrong turn by focusing too hard on its 'double DRS' innovation this year.
As the German team slumps ahead of Lewis Hamilton's arrival in 2013, boss Brawn told Italy's Autosprint that he has some regrets about the development direction of the 2012 single seater.
"Yes," said the Briton. "One of the conclusions we have reached is that while the double DRS was valid, it held us back in other areas.
"Today there is a lot of, let's say, smart technology around the front wings. But we had our system, and our wings were designed around this concept.
"When it became clear from what others were doing what the potential was of another philosophy, maybe we should have taken a step back."
Brawn hinted that Mercedes' 'double DRS' meant the team was not able to explore some of the latest trends, like flexible or bendy noses and wings.
"As you say, there are some 'structural' considerations that we have seen this year," he said, "but this will disappear next year - or should disappear."
New deal shows team still believes - Vergne
Jean-Eric Vergne thinks his paymasters still believe he has what it takes to perform in F1.
The 22-year-old Frenchman's debut season with the Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso has been mixed.
On the one hand, he has out-scored his slightly more experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo, but on the other he was ousted from the initial 'Q1' qualifying segment on no fewer than 8 occasions so far.
Still, Toro Rosso has signed him up for 2013.
"It gives me a good boost," Vergne is quoted by France's L'Equipe.
"It also demonstrates that the team believes in my ability to become even stronger.
"That is what I feel at the end of this season; I feel I can do much better, and the team as well. I'm confident for next year."
Team boss Franz Tost said it was "always" the intention to field Vergne alongside Ricciardo for at least two full seasons.
"It takes time to settle into Formula One, to get to know all the tracks, to get to know the whole team," he told F1's official website recently.
"Remember, these are all very young guys who have to swallow a lot of new things in a very short time to even get started. That is why you have to give them two years."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner recently suggested Vergne and Ricciardo are still candidates to replace Mark Webber in 2014.
Vergne: "Anything can happen. But we are in 2012 and there is another full season with Toro Rosso ahead. I am not even thinking about 2014."
Force India in 'no rush' to decide 2013 driver
Force India will wait until the end of the season before announcing its driver lineup for 2013.
It is, however, an open secret that Paul di Resta is staying put, after his 2012 teammate Nico Hulkenberg penned a deal to switch to Sauber next season.
The list of candidates to replace German Hulkenberg is long, ranging from Toro Rosso's former Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, ex-team driver Adrian Sutil and reservist Jules Bianchi.
"We have traditionally waited until the end of the season to confirm our lineup and I expect we will stick to this schedule," team owner and boss Vijay Mallya said.
"With the state of the driver market at the moment there is no rush to make an announcement."
One more candidate for the 2013 seat is 23-year-old Brazilian Luiz Razia, who recently tested for Toro Rosso in the young drivers' test in Abu Dhabi.
"The day after my test was announced, Toro Rosso confirmed its (current race) drivers!" Razia laughed to Jovem Pan radio.
"But there is still a vacancy at Force India and the smaller teams like Caterham. I think Sauber is already locked with Hulkenberg and probably Gutierrez," he added.
As for Force India, Razia - who will be in Brazil next weekend for talks - said he has done his "part and now it is up to them to decide".
"Sutil is pushing for the vacancy, he has scored a lot of points with them and has sponsors who pay his salary, so he's (a) strong (candidate)," he said.