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F1: Ferrari Plays Down Raikkonen Rumours, Hulkenberg Pushing Ricciardo Photo:
 
 
TMR Team | Aug, 16 2013 | 1 Comment

Ferrari has repeated its denial, as reports Kimi Raikkonen could return to the Italian team in 2014 persist.

Two weeks ago, when the Raikkonen rumours first emerged, a Ferrari spokesman insisted the Maranello outfit "has no interest in the driver market right now".

Now, the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat claims the 2007 world champion has decided to accept Ferrari's offer.

And Ferrari has issued a near-identical denial.

"Right now," the spokesman told the BBC, "we're really not giving any thought to the driver market situation."

Interestingly, however, Ferrari seemed to rule out the reported scenario that, if Raikkonen does arrive, it could be to replace the Red Bull-bound Fernando Alonso.

"Drivers are not a problem for us," said the spokesman, "even if we were to change Felipe (Massa)."

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport points out that Raikkonen's management could see the Ferrari rumour as mere leverage amid the more realistic talks about 2014 with Lotus and Red Bull.

"It is important for Raikkonen to keep a third option open," said correspondent Michael Schmidt.

(GMM)

 

Hulkenberg urges Red Bull to sign Ricciardo

With famous alternatives looming large, Daniel Ricciardo has received a vote of confidence as he pushes to secure the Red Bull seat.

As Mark Webber prepares to switch to Le Mans, world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso are reportedly the big-name candidates for the 2014 vacancy alongside Sebastian Vettel.

But also right in the running is Daniel Ricciardo, the in-house candidate who, like Vettel before him, would win his place after serving time at Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso.

Nico Hulkenberg, the Sauber driver who might be first in line to replace Raikkonen should the famous Finn leave Lotus, actually thinks the rising Ricciardo should get the nod.

"I would pick him," the German is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"Daniel is a fast guy, and finally a young driver would get the chance to prove himself."

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost insists Ricciardo's candidature for the plum Red Bull seat should not reflect badly on Jean-Eric Vergne.

"Jean-Eric is a driver who is very good and has a lot of skill," he told Brazil's Totalrace.

"The only reason Daniel is being tipped for the job and not him is just the question of experience -- he has done 13 races more than Vergne, which is practically a season," Tost insisted.

(GMM)

 

Vergne claims he 'thrashed' teammate Ricciardo

Jean-Eric Vergne, reportedly overlooked for the 2014 Red Bull vacancy, claims he has done a better job than Daniel Ricciardo this year.

The Frenchman conceded recently that the world champion team is more seriously considering teammate Ricciardo to replace Mark Webber because of the young Australian's superior consistency.

But Vergne has now told France's L'Equipe that Ricciardo's reputation is wrong.

"Red Bull is the world champion team and they need a driver who can score points in every race," said the 23-year-old.

"But if you look at the results, Ricciardo finished every race but I did not, and I have more points than him," Vergne insisted.

"But I have this image, even if it is false, but in the paddock Ricciardo is seen as more consistent than me."

Vergne complained that, of his multiple failures to finish races, on only one occasion was it his fault.

And he added: "If you look at the races that I had no problems, I thrashed my teammate -- he was nowhere."

Vergne's latest comments coincide with suggestions that, although Red Bull has said the Frenchman should get another season at Toro Rosso, the energy drink company is also keen to give Antonio Felix da Costa his debut.

He acknowledged that the decision-making process at Red Bull is complex.

"It's not that (team boss Christian) Horner takes the decision. Adrian Newey is also heard, as are Dietrich Mateschitz and Helmut Marko," said Vergne.

"I understand the risks of taking a young driver like me or Daniel. And it's even harder when they see a driver who does not finish all of the races."

(GMM)

 

Brawn denies talks over Ferrari return

Ross Brawn has dismissed rumours he might return to Ferrari once Paddy Lowe replaces him as team boss at Mercedes.

After his ultra-successful stint as Ferrari's technical director, the 58-year-old took a sabbatical in 2007 and then returned to F1 with Honda.

Brawn has also headed the Brackley based team as Brawn GP and Mercedes, but Lowe, having arrived from McLaren, is expected to be the team's next boss.

Reports have suggested Brawn could then go back to Ferrari as the great Italian team grapples with its latest technical problems.

"Firstly, I have never discussed the possibility of a return to Ferrari," he insisted to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I had wonderful moments at Maranello and I love Italy so much now that in the next week I'll be (holidaying) in Forte dei Marmi.

"But I am happy to be with Mercedes and I have to say that we have done a good job," said Brawn.

"The arrival of Paddy Lowe doesn't change the situation, as I have a different role in the team."

So, after Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo publicly warned Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, and also pointed out the pressure on team boss Stefano Domenicali, Brawn advised the Maranello team to close ranks.

"In F1 we are used to pressure, especially those of us working in the top three or four teams.

"We all want to win and I'm under scrutiny just as Domenicali is," said Brawn.

"But one of the secrets of success in motor sport is stability: we at Mercedes are competitive again thanks to a job that started 18 months ago."

So, for now, Brawn's focus is on Mercedes, and the delicate transition of resources between continuing to develop the winning 2013 package, and preparing for the radical new rules of next year.

"It is important to prepare well for 2014," he admitted, "but if we have the opportunity to fight for this (2013) title, then why not try it?

"However, it is quite difficult -- Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull are very consistent -- they're hardly going to commit serious mistakes."

Finally, Brawn dismissed Ferrari president Montezemolo's accusation that Mercedes has only stepped into a winning position in 2013 due to the 'testgate' scandal.

"All I'll say is that we won in Hungary with tyres that we had never used before, as we couldn't do the Silverstone test.

"But I know what an enthusiast Luca is, so I understand his outburst," he said.

(GMM)

 

Ferrari to decide on 2014 focus switch - Massa

Within the space of a few more races, Ferrari could shift the full weight of its resources to the 2014 car.

That is the claim of Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, who is pushing to remain a part of the Maranello based team's plans beyond the 2013 season.

Next year, a new era dawns in formula one, but teams are already hard at work designing and developing all-new cars for the radically different V6 turbo regulations.

"We are already thinking about next season," Massa is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

After a solid start to the season, Ferrari's development progress has faltered more recently, with Fernando Alonso's challenge now almost 40 points behind Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's title lead.

It means Ferrari, like most teams, is now counting down the races until preparing for the 2014 challenge becomes the absolute priority.

"It is very important," said Massa, "because so much is changing that we have had a whole group that only works on the next car for a long time.

"But we need to look at the performance in the next races to determine if we should continue to develop this (2013) car, or focus completely on 2014," he added.

(GMM)

 

Hamilton the fastest driver on 2013 grid - analysis

Lewis Hamilton is the fastest driver on the 2013 grid, the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports in a mid-season analysis.

Although the Mercedes driver only broke through for his first win of the year in Hungary, correspondent Michael Schmidt revealed Hamilton's average qualifying position so far in 2013 is a field-best of 2.36.

Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel's average grid position is 2.45, ahead of Hamilton's Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, at 4.00.

The strongest driver in the crucial races, of course, is Vettel, with the German having held P1 during grands prix for a total of 1278 kilometres, compared to Fernando Alonso's mere 424.

Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen, and Mercedes and Hamilton, are the most technically reliable packages of 2013, with 3,022 kilometres apiece, followed by the uncompetitive McLaren driven by Jenson Button.

But Finn Raikkonen is the only one of them who has scored points in every race.

The most crash, spin and incident-prone driver has been Williams' Pastor Maldonado, followed by the under-pressure Caterham rookie Giedo van der Garde.

Toro Rosso has been the team with the most technical problems, while Red Bull has the fastest pitstop crew, with struggling Williams' crew coming in slowest.

(GMM)

 

Perez admits McLaren has made progress in 2013

McLaren's 2013 car is "much better" now than it was at the very start of the season, team newcomer Sergio Perez has revealed.

"Driving this car was a real challenge, but it's not the same now as it was in Jerez (for winter testing)," he told the Diario de Mexico newspaper.

"It is much better now than it was."

Perez, 23, was speaking during F1's summer break at the former Mexican grand prix venue in Mexico City, where his older brother Antonio was racing in Mexico's Nascar series.

Despite his comments that the troubled MP4-28 is performing better now, however, Perez is not expecting an easy second half of the season.

"I am motivated to attack in the next nine races," he said, "but it will be very difficult, because we know that we still do not have a competitive car."

Perez's target, therefore, is simply to attack his benchmark teammate, the highly experienced world champion of 2009, Jenson Button.

"The goal is to beat Jenson, as I have the good luck that he (Button's performance) is a guarantee; a world champion," he said.

"That will be the goal in the remaining races, as I know the potential of the car is difficult."

Perez acknowledged, however, that he is unlikely to be able to challenge Button's actual position in the drivers' championship, as he trails the Briton by 3 places and 21 points.

"I'm about 20 points away," he said, "which is hard with this car.

"It has been a very difficult year, but this is formula one, where my teammate won (in 2009) with the fastest car.

"This is a difficult and inconsistent car, it has not been the year I expected and I do not expect miracles now," he added.

(GMM)

 

Report - Mercedes to have 100hp advantage in 2014?

Mercedes could be set to power into F1's new V6 era with a huge advantage.

With the development-frozen V8 engines to be replaced by radically-different turbo units in 2014, a new era where power is more important than aerodynamics looks likely.

And Mercedes, already a leader at the tail end of the long V8-powered era, could be in pole position to usurp Red Bull's position at the very top of the tree.

Hungary winner Lewis Hamilton is now an outside chance for this year's title, but the Briton was actually lured to Mercedes "on the promise that he will be able to take on (Sebastian) Vettel in 2014," wrote Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Tobias Gruner.

So far, F1's three V6 engine makers - Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari - have kept their cards close to their respective chests.

But "There are signs Mercedes is one step ahead", Gruner reported.

"In the paddock, it is said that behind closed doors the silver engine has 100 horse power more on average than the Renault or Ferrari.

"Mercedes is not confirming that, obviously. But those in charge are giving an unusually confident impression," he added.

One sign that Mercedes is indeed speeding ahead is an argument about the specification of next year's Pirelli tyres.

Mercedes has been pushing hard for a wider rear tyre, which would better transfer the power and torque of a superior engine to the track.

Ferrari and Renault, on the other hand, are reportedly happy with the narrower status-quo.

 
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