- De Villota loses eye in F1 crash
- Red Bull dominance in doubt for Silverstone
- Horner denies Vettel has Ferrari contract
- Raikkonen used to 'really good steering' in F1
- Vergne sure 'things will get better'
- 2013 Schumacher decision due within weeks - Brawn
- Hembery hits back at Pirelli quality doubts
- Massa almost back to his best now - Smedley
De Villota loses eye in F1 crash
Maria de Villota has lost her right eye after crashing at a straightline aerodynamic test on Tuesday, the Marussia team said on Wednesday.
The Banbury (UK) based team confirmed in a media statement that the 32-year-old was in surgery between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning to address "serious head and facial injuries".
"Maria remains in a critical but stable condition," said the team.
Boss John Booth said: "It is with great sadness that I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye."
He added that Marussia is conducting a "very comprehensive" investigation into the circumstances of the incident.
Note from TMR: Our best wishes are with de Villota as she recovers from her accident and surgery.
Red Bull dominance in doubt for Silverstone
There will be nervous glances Red Bull's way this weekend, after Sebastian Vettel stunned his rivals with the RB8's pace last time out at Valencia.
Team boss Christian Horner had described the car's improvements as "small", but Vettel was suddenly a second-per-lap faster than any rival on the Spanish street circuit, recalling his utter dominance of the 2011 season.
"It was very impressive and so all the teams will be looking closely at what they do at Silverstone," Mercedes' Ross Brawn is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
Horner, however, is keeping expectations down.
"So many cars have looked fast at different events," he told the Mirror.
"For sure we made a step forward at Valencia, but the circuit challenge of Silverstone is totally different.
"It has high speed corners and quick changes of direction and, probably, a lot cooler temperatures with the likelihood of rain as well."
Sam Michael, key rival McLaren's sporting director, agrees with Horner that it is too soon to predict more Red Bull dominance from now on.
"It's clear Red Bull have taken a step forward, although I don't think it's as big as the pace that Sebastian Vettel showed (at Valencia)," he told reporters during a team sponsor teleconference on Wednesday.
Australian Michael said he thinks Red Bull's Valencia dominance was less to do with the car updates, and more to do with simply getting the finicky tyres to work perfectly.
"A second a lap is quite a lot when you've changed fairly secondary parts on the top surface of the floor," he said.
"I'd be pretty surprised if they maintained a second a lap gap to the rest of the field."
Horner denies Vettel has Ferrari contract
Christian Horner, Red Bull F1 team boss, has scotched reports star driver Sebastian Vettel is set to switch to Ferrari.
Numerous reports and sources have claimed double world champion and German Vettel, who turned 25 this week, has signed a 'pre-contract' that could lead to him moving to Ferrari in 2014.
"I can't see that," Horner is quoted by British newspapers, "because all contracts have to be declared with the Contract Recognition Board for a kick-off.
"I've also spoken to Sebastian about it, and he has made it quite clear he hasn't had any dialogue and hasn't signed anything with Ferrari, but I guess the rumour mill will always continue."
Horner dismissed the rumours.
"I think most of our team has been going to Ferrari at some point this year, whether it be Adrian (Newey), Mark (Webber), Sebastian, even myself at one stage was supposed to be going," the Briton said.
And after Vettel recently said he is happy at Red Bull alongside Australian Webber, Horner indicated the driver pairing is indeed likely to stay the same for now.
"They drive the car in a similar manner and it's important for us to have two drivers who do push each other to get the best out of each other," he said.
"So I'm sure over the next few weeks we'll sit down and talk about the future with Mark."
Raikkonen used to 'really good steering' in F1
Kimi Raikkonen has played down a reported spat with Lotus, insisting he is only pushing the team to improve its steering system.
It has been claimed the former McLaren and Ferrari driver has repeatedly rejected Enstone based Lotus' efforts to tailor the E20 car to Raikkonen's precise needs.
"It's just because in other years I drove cars with really good steering," German reports quoted the 32-year-old as telling the Italian magazine Autosprint.
"There are a few things on which we can continue to work and improve. That's the only reason (for the reports)," said the 2007 world champion, who according to reports has been in the middle of a team dispute.
Raikkonen insisted that, in fact, the atmosphere at Lotus is "cool and relaxed", and run by people who "want to race and not have too much politics".
He clarified he is not therefore criticising Ferrari, who reportedly ended the contract with Raikkonen a year early in late 2009 because of the politics surrounding the arrival of Fernando Alonso and Spanish sponsor Santander.
"I felt good with them," he insisted.
"I won a world title and I have no feelings at all towards them, neither good nor bad. I'm happy with what I have.
"Things probably could have gone better, but what does it matter now?
"I know the reasons why I didn't stay, but I don't want to talk about it now. As I said, I don't have problems with anyone."
He denied he opted to leave F1 rather than accept an alternative offer from McLaren because of a money dispute.
"That's not true," Raikkonen said. "The real reason is that I didn't see any need to sign for a number of months.
"I wasn't desperate or willing to do anything to stay in F1," he added.
Vergne sure 'things will get better'
Jean-Eric Vergne is sure "things will get better" for him in F1.
The 22-year-old has struggled in 2012 since entering the sport as a rookie.
And given the way Toro Rosso's owner Red Bull swept out its previous drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, Frenchman Vergne is now the subject of speculation he may be the next youngster without a job.
"One of the things you have to learn in F1 is the very heavy workload; there are many things to learn and understand," he told Spain's El Confidencial.
"The tyres, for example, are difficult to understand. The results have not yet come but I am progressing step by step with each grand prix - things will get better," said Vergne.
He said it has surprised him how different Formula One is compared with motor racing's formative categories.
"Each category is a step higher, but this (F1) is unlike anything," said Vergne.
"I have never felt like a rookie anywhere else, but in F1 you are fighting against guys who have been there for 10 or even 15 years, of course making it more complicated.
"You can not achieve the same technical knowledge in other categories."
The big risk, however, is that Toro Rosso's apparently backwards step in 2012 could ultimately be blamed on its drivers.
"This year there have been changes in the area of the exhausts," Vergne explained. "Some teams have already developed their systems but we are the last.
"Right now it's not working well for us but we're working on it, and when we solve it we will be there again," he insisted.
Vergne said Red Bull has not imposed certain goals or deadlines for his first season on the grid.
"There are no goals except trying to learn as much as possible and to do some good things in the car.
"And, yes, maybe Daniel (Ricciardo) has some more experience and I have to work harder to catch him, but it should not be a problem," he said.
2013 Schumacher decision due within weeks - Brawn
Whether or not Michael Schumacher stays at Mercedes beyond this year should be decided within the next six weeks, team boss Ross Brawn has revealed.
The 43-year-old's contract runs out this year, in which he has so far performed more strongly than in 2010 and 2011 but suffered a spate of technical failures and incidents.
It has been suggested Mercedes protege Paul di Resta, currently at Mercedes-powered Force India, is the most likely candidate to replace the seven-time world champion.
"We will make a decision this summer," said team boss Brawn at the FOTA fan's forum at Williams' team headquarters on Tuesday.
"We know it is coming and we have to make a decision soon. I think in the next six weeks or so we will have to think about what we want to do next year."
With Schumacher's contract running out, the major complication for Mercedes is that its apparent top pick as replacement, Scot di Resta, already has an agreement in place for 2013.
But Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley said the Silverstone based team would not stand in his way.
He said on Tuesday: "We would not get in the way of the career of a driver but there would have to be commercial agreement in place."
Hembery hits back at Pirelli quality doubts
Paul Hembery has hit back at claims F1's championship 'lottery' in 2012 could be because Pirelli is supplying tyres with inconsistent quality.
The rumour has been rumbling around the paddock, and Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko last week admitted he suspects there are in fact "serious differences" between what should be identical sets of tyre compounds.
First, Pirelli's F1 chief Hembery ruled out the theory the Italian marque might be deliberately mixing up tyre quality in order to shake up the results.
"We don't decide how they're distributed (to the teams), it's an process that is done randomly," he insisted to Spain's El Confidencial.
But what about the more realistic suggestion that an odd tyre here and there is not the same quality as the others?
"The possibility is very low due to our quality controls," said the Briton. "Each tyre can be traced to the day it was manufactured, the process, the ingredients.
"In terms of consistency, we have the most advanced quality control systems in the world," added Hembery.
Not only that, he said no one in pitlane has actually complained formally.
"I have not received any comments from any team, or anything indicating a problem with the consistency of the tyres.
"In fact, we've had compliments. That is all I can say, unless someone shows us something we can look into," said Hembery.
When it was put to Hembery that some drivers - including some world champions - have indeed complained to the media, he hit back: "We get reports from each driver and each team after each race.
"No one has made any comments. We cannot solve problems that no one has raised," he insisted.
"Human error can occur, of course, but we have very elaborative systems of control, not only x-ray but others that I can't even talk about because they're top secret.
"All I can say is that the quality is exemplary. In fact, we have had no tyre failures at all, which we are told is something new in formula one," Hembery said.
Massa almost back to his best now - Smedley
Felipe Massa is now almost back to his best form, the Brazilian's race engineer Rob Smedley insists.
31-year-old Massa's form was so low earlier this season that some seasoned pundits were predicting Ferrari would have to oust him long before his contract expires at the end of the year.
But, for the first time in 2012, Massa was back in the decisive 'Q3' qualifying segment in Monaco and Canada, and then last time out in Valencia Ferrari hailed his strong performance despite a tumultuous race.
"Right now, going into Silverstone, there is very little that Felipe is lacking for him to be back where he was (in the past) in terms of driving and confidence in the car," Briton Smedley, who is famously close to the diminutive Brazilian, said.
"In terms of his pace in these recent races and the way he was driving and his confidence, he is a different driver to the way he was at the start of the season," Smedley added.
"So, we are missing very little, maybe a tiny one per cent to make it all start happening for us."
More generally, Ferrari's rate of progress this season has been little short of sensational after a nightmare start for the F2012, with Fernando Alonso now clearly leading the drivers' points standings.
"I think our chances are good at Silverstone this weekend, even if it's no secret we still need to develop and have a quicker car," said Smedley.
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