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F1: FOTA 'Pointless' As Alliance Verges On Collapse - Marko Photo:
 
 
Mike Stevens | Dec, 07 2011 | 0 Comments
  • 'No point' to FOTA as alliance verges on collapse - Marko
  • Owner hints all change for 2012 Lotus lineup
  • Kovalainen rules out Caterham defection for 2012
  • Schumacher records 'too far away' insists Vettel
  • Sauber points finger at FIA's 'bizarre' u-turn
 

'No point' to FOTA as alliance verges on collapse - Marko

Red Bull quit FOTA because the teams association had ceased to have a good purpose, Dr Helmut Marko said this week.

Late last Friday, after many international news editors had already called it a day for the week, the team as well as Ferrari confirmed that they had pulled out of the Geneva-based body.

Formed amid the political war with former FIA president Max Mosley, the alliance gave the teams a strong negotiating position as well as a platform to reduce costs with the gentleman's 'resource restriction agreement' (RRA).

It is the RRA that caused the tension, with Ferrari struggling recently despite having F1's biggest annual budget, and Red Bull accused of breaching the spirit of the cost-cutting rules.

"FOTA fulfilled its purpose in the crisis period," Red Bull F1 consultant Marko said on Austrian Servus TV on Monday, "and so there was a reduction in costs, but as far as achievements there was nothing else."

Agreed team boss Christian Horner: "In the last twelve months it hasn't quite been clear what was the purpose of FOTA."

Added Marko: "If at the meetings we cannot agree even to the lowest common denominator, one wonders what is the point of all the effort."

Some believe the FOTA split gives Red Bull and Ferrari powerful individual positions to negotiate lucrative deals with Bernie Ecclestone under the next Concorde Agreement.

Others worry that F1 teams will now return to the unsustainable financial arms races of the past.

"We have decided at this time to withdraw and now we will see how it develops," said Horner ambiguously.

For the moment, the divide has F1's biggest spenders Red Bull and Ferrari on one side, and powerful competitors including McLaren and Mercedes on the other.

"I think it is absolutely vital that FOTA is existing," carmaker Mercedes' racing chief Norbert Haug told reporters on Monday.

France's autohebdo.fr reports that the remaining FOTA members will meet for talks on Tuesday.

Said the Mercedes team's chief executive Nick Fry: "We've certainly hit a bump in the road but I believe that work will continue in the background to try and resolve this and we will do whatever we can to support that."

(GMM)

 

Owner hints all change for 2012 Lotus lineup

Team owner Gerard Lopez has confirmed reports Lotus could change its driver lineup completely ahead of the 2012 season.

Already signed up for next year is Kimi Raikkonen, amid reports 2011 drivers Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov are the main contenders to be the famous Finn's teammate.

"It's not just a question of Vitaly or Bruno," clarified majority team owner Genii Capital's Lopez.

Other reports say reserve driver and new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean - whose career is handled by Genii's management arm Gravity - as well as likely Force India refugee Adrian Sutil, are also in the running.

"We will make a decision fairly quickly," Lopez told RTL Luxembourg radio.

He seemed to indicate that Brazilian Senna, who was drafted in mid-season to replace injured Robert Kubica's initial substitute Nick Heidfeld, is not the favourite.

"From the second half of the season we had two young drivers in Vitaly and Bruno," he said.

"They are really good drivers, but the huge problem at the moment is the little testing in formula one. We do not have time to build up young drivers."

(GMM)

 

Kovalainen rules out Caterham defection for 2012

Heikki Kovalainen has dealt a knock-out blow to any lingering speculation he might be set for a shock switch from the Caterham team.

Reports had suggested Lotus/Renault earmarked the Finn to be countryman Kimi Raikkonen's teammate next year, despite Kovalainen's solid Caterham contract.

"I will be at Caterham -- 100 per cent, I'm not going anywhere," he told the Norwich Advertiser newspaper.

"I have a firm contract and this is where I will race next year -– after that we will see," added Kovalainen.

He credits his two years so far at Caterham - formerly Team Lotus - for helping him to rebuild his confidence after a disappointing early F1 career at Renault and then McLaren.

"I'm very happy to work with this team, they have enabled me to get my swing back and I'm certain I'd be able to function in all kinds of teams now to be honest.

"After the second McLaren year, even if they had offered me an extension there was no point to continue there because it wasn't working -- for various reasons.

"There's no need to go too deep into those, but the bottom line was I lost confidence, lost the freedom.

"To find that freedom again I had to go back to the starting point. That is why I joined Team Lotus and not the offers I had from some of the established teams," explained the 30-year-old.

(GMM)

 

Schumacher records 'too far away' insists Vettel

Sebastian Vettel has played down any suggestion he has set as a career target his friend and mentor Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles and 91 wins.

At the weekend in Dusseldorf, the pair duly won their fifth consecutive 'Nation's Cup' crown at the Race of Champions.

But in the F1 world, although the current and back-to-back world champion, 24-year-old Vettel is still five championships and 70 victories short of even matching Schumacher's all-time title records.

"Sure he can do it," Schumacher, 43 next month, is quoted by the German magazine Sport Bild.

"I've always said that records are there to be broken so why should I think differently about mine?" the Mercedes driver added.

Red Bull driver Vettel, however, said on Austrian television Servus TV on Monday: "What Michael achieved is so far away from what I have done.

"So you can't set it as a goal."

But so dominant was Vettel's 2011 season that, when questioned, he could not recall how he celebrated his victory in Spain six months ago.

He disagreed about the details with his boss Christian Horner, laughing: "What we have here is a luxury problem!"

Another problem was his tendency, four times in 2011, to crash in Friday practice, but his other boss Dr Helmut Marko winked: "I have to say that, afterwards, he always won the race!"

(GMM)

 

Sauber points finger at FIA's 'bizarre' u-turn

Peter Sauber has pointed a finger at F1's governing body as the Swiss team rues the loss of millions in income.

After the season finale in Brazil, Sauber team figures were happy at least to have beaten Toro Rosso to the chequered flag for seventh in the constructors' world championship.

But "for all the joy we have not forgotten that we wanted more," founder and boss Peter Sauber wrote in a column for the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"At mid season we were solidly in position 6, but we soon fell behind Force India.

"The reason is the blown diffuser and the so-called 'off-throttle-blowing'," said Sauber, whose team would have earned considerably more income with sixth in the standings.

He is referring to the mid-season controversy that saw the FIA ban the technology only to promptly re-allow it.

"We stopped this development after the FIA announced the ban," wrote Sauber. "That proved to be a mistake because the FIA went back and bizarrely allowed this technology again.

"It got us badly on the defensive into the second half of the season. Those with the systems optimised their advantage, achieving much more than a second per lap," he said.

The issue has finally been settled for 2012, with a comprehensive ban.

"Other than that, the rule changes (for next season) are moderate," acknowledged Sauber. "Therefore our (2012 car) C31 will not be a revolution but rather a targeted evolution, albeit with numerous changes."

(GMM)

 
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