- Buemi to be Red Bull reserve driver in 2012 - report
- Vettel insists more dominance in 2012 not certain
- Alonso says Mercedes among favourites for 2012
- Mercedes sure V6 engines will sound 'great'
- Lauda says DRS overtaking 'wrong' for F1
Buemi to be Red Bull reserve driver in 2012 - report
Sebastien Buemi will reportedly become Red Bull's official reserve driver at GPs this year.
After three full seasons with the energy drink company's Italian rookie team Toro Rosso, the 23-year-old Swiss - like his teammate Jaime Alguersuari - lost his race seat ahead of the 2012 season.
But veteran journalist Roger Benoit, writing in the Swiss newspaper Blick, reports that Buemi will at least remain in the paddock this year, as Red Bull's new reserve driver.
He will be ready to substitute not only for Toro Rosso's newcomers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, but also if need be for world champion Sebastian Vettel or his Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber, Benoit said.
"No-one wants to say if the contract has been signed yet or not," he added. "But for the driver from Vaud, it is the best solution to at least stay in the paddock."
Vettel insists more dominance in 2012 not certain
Sebastian Vettel has baulked at claims he will almost certainly stroll to an historic third consecutive drivers' title in 2012.
Some pundits think that, given the 24-year-old's huge 122-point championship win over McLaren's Jenson Button this year, it is almost inconceivable his and Red Bull's advantage will be eroded in the 80 days until Melbourne.
"We will try (to win again)," the German agreed in an interview with France's Auto Hebdo.
"But the beauty of this sport is that before a new season, all the points counters are reset.
"It is up to Red Bull to build a competitive chassis and Renault to produce a powerful and reliable engine.
"There is no certainty; nothing is sure about this (success) continuing," added Vettel.
He said recently that his meteoric season was the result of hard work that must now continue.
"All year long (we were) pushing to keep the car at the level that it was," said Vettel.
"McLaren were pushing massively and I think at the end we were pretty even. I don't think that one car really had the edge."
Briton Button, Vettel's title runner-up, doesn't agree with his rival's last comment but he does think McLaren can mount a serious challenge next year.
"It hasn't been perfect, Red Bull have been quicker than us, more consistent than us," he said.
"All round it's been a reasonable season. We've grown as a team together and I think that we have a very good base going into 2012," added Button.
The key for McLaren, he thinks, is to have a winter unlike pre-2011, when the team abandoned a complex exhaust system in order to hurriedly copy Red Bull's approach.
"It's wrong to say we could have fought them if we had a better winter," said the 2009 world champion. "We don't know that.
"What we do know is that we didn't have a very good winter. The guys did a great job of turning it around for the first race but obviously you lose a lot of preparation work," said Button.
Alonso says Mercedes among favourites for 2012
Fernando Alonso has named Mercedes as a dark horse for the 2012 season.
Together at the German marque's new works team since 2010, Michael Schumacher's return to F1 has been the subject of much criticism while it has been said teammate Nico Rosberg could go his entire career without a win.
But Alonso, the lead driver at Ferrari, insists he does not underestimate the German duo, or the Ross Brawn-led Mercedes team, even though they were soundly beaten by Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari in 2011.
"In Formula One, the car is always the most important (element)," the Spaniard is quoted by EFE news agency.
"We know that Mercedes didn't have a great year but we have to respect them. With a car capable of winning races, Rosberg and Michael are among the favourites," said Alonso.
In fact, when contemplating the field of 2012, 30-year-old Alonso insists Schumacher - 43 next month - remains the reference for his rivals.
"I say (it's) Schumacher, because we all respect a driver who has been champion seven times.
"He has always been very fast and there is nothing left for him to prove," he added.
Mercedes sure V6 engines will sound 'great'
Mercedes is certain Formula One engines will still sound exciting when the regulations change significantly in 2014.
The German marque, whose F1 engines are designed and built in Northamptonshire, is believed to be imminently ready to fire up its first 1.6 litre turbocharged V6.
But after the sound of F1 changed when the sport moved from normally-aspirated V10 to its current V8 engines in 2006, there have been fears the cars could sound comparatively tame when they are powered by turbo V6s in 2014.
Thomas Fuhr, managing director of Mercedes' HighPerformanceEngines division, doesn't think so.
"With the limit of 15,000 rpm, the engines will have a great sound," he is quoted by Italy's Tuttosport.
"With the six pipes going into the turbocharger I think the sound will be very nice," he said.
Lauda says DRS overtaking 'wrong' for F1
Niki Lauda has admitted he is no fan of the overtaking innovation 'DRS' that debuted in 2011.
The system, which allows a chasing driver to move a flap in the rear wing and increase top speed when he is close to his rival, is set to be retained and even ramped up for next season.
The BBC reports that in Melbourne next March, for instance, there could be two DRS zones, while other zones - like at Valencia - will be extended.
The system was designed by a working group including McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe, who insists DRS was a good idea amid the long debate about tweaking the cars to boost overtaking.
"What's great (is) at least we can move on from this debate of trying to change the aerodynamic characteristics of cars to try to improve overtaking," he said.
"We've found something much more authoritative, much cheaper, easier and more effective, and adjustable from race to race."
Many purists, however, are unhappy, arguing that overtaking can now be too easy, has been devalued, while the spectacle of a driver successfully holding off his charging rival is diminished.
"You've got to take the rough with the smooth to a certain extent," argued FIA's Charlie Whiting.
F1 great Lauda, the famous triple world champion of the 70s and 80s, told Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten that DRS "bothers me".
"To see passing at the push of a button is fundamentally the wrong direction (for F1)," he insisted.
"The front man (the driver in front) is totally defenceless. I think from the sporting point of view it is not right."
He also thinks DRS has proved unnecessary, with new supplier Pirelli's heavily-degrading tyres credited for much of the success of the racing in 2011.
"This (Pirelli's approach) is okay," said television pundit Lauda, who is reportedly arguing with the German broadcaster RTL about the size of his fee for F1's 2011 season.
"There is enough overtaking already because of the tyres, which often have to be taken right to the limit by the drivers," he explained.
"And they pose the engineers with the task of making tyre-friendly tyres."