- Hulkenberg admits F1 return chances 'high'
- Alguersuari 'very clear' about plans for 2012
- Drivers deny Red Bull faked Vettel gearbox problem
- Hamilton hugs Massa as feud and bad season ends
Hulkenberg admits F1 return chances 'high'
Nico Hulkenberg did not look like a driver with an uncertain future as the 2011 season closed at Interlagos.
When asked by BBC commentator David Coulthard to put a figure on the likelihood he will return to the grid in 2012 after a year as Force India's Friday reserve, the young German grinned widely.
"It's a high percentage. Two digits, a high percentage," he said.
It is believed Hulkenberg will replace long-time team driver Adrian Sutil, who is hoping to rescue his career by signing with Williams or Renault.
In Brazil, he sounded frustrated.
"I think I've done my job," said Sutil. "I cannot do better and if people can't see it then I can't do anything about it," added the German, who ended the season with 15 more points than his 2011 teammate Paul di Resta, who is tipped to stay.
Asked how much longer he will have to wait to find out, Sutil replied: "Hopefully not very long."
"We will see what Force India says, and then we'll see what some others say. I feel fairly safe."
SID news agency quoted his manager Manfred Zimmermann as saying clarity awaits within the next 10 days.
That ties in with the confident Hulkenberg's news.
"We've just got to be patient for another one or two weeks," he said.
Alguersuari 'very clear' about plans for 2012
Jaime Alguersuari has hinted strongly that he knows he is being retained by the Toro Rosso team in 2012.
Earlier at Interlagos, the Spaniard said he would leave formula one if the team's owner Red Bull decides to replace him, with the energy drink company's newest rookies Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne waiting in the wings.
But after the 2011 season finale at Interlagos on Sunday, 21-year-old Alguersuari told Europa Press he is "very clear" what he will be doing next year.
"It's been an incredible year and I am very clear where I will be in 2012," he is quoted as saying.
"Now that the season is finished, and for those who worry about my future, I will say that I am very clear about where I will be in 2012," Alguersuari repeated.
He said he had achieved his objectives for 2011; his second full season in F1.
"I asked for three things: to improve my final position in the standings, to score more points than in 2010, and to beat my teammate. I basically achieved them all."
Much more uncertain is the future of his teammate Sebastien Buemi, who Alguersuari described as "a formidable driver and an excellent person".
Drivers deny Red Bull faked Vettel gearbox problem
Even Ferrari smelled a rat on Sunday when Sebastian Vettel let his teammate Mark Webber pass for victory during the 2011 season finale.
Before the Brazilian GP, Webber had failed to win a single race all season but was mathematically still in the fight for second place in the drivers' championship.
In the race, he passed dominant back-to-back world champion teammate Vettel after the 24-year-old developed what Red Bull described as a gearbox problem.
But suspicions were roused in the media centre when the young German continued to set fast laptimes from second place, and it also emerged that Vettel's gearbox had been freshly installed before the event.
"They are really good at dealing with problems," Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted as having coyly told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
Vettel, who compared the situation to Ayrton Senna in 1991 when the fabled Brazilian managed to drive around a gearbox problem at Interlagos to win, insists his issue was genuine.
"I can tell you that I had a gearbox problem," he said when asked by a cynical reporter.
And Webber told O Estado de S.Paulo's Livio Oricchio: "I've agreed with you many times this year, but not this time."
Auto Motor und Sport quotes the race winner adding: "I could smell it (Vettel's failing gearbox). And you could see that he was losing oil."
Indeed, the team's Dr Helmut Marko told German broadcaster RTL that Vettel's gearbox was almost completely depleted of fluid after the race.
"I think Adrian Newey usually says 'There is too much oil in the gearbox'," the Austrian smiled, "but I think he can see now that it is all there for a reason!"
Hamilton hugs Massa as feud and bad season ends
Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa on Sunday came close to following recent advice to 'kiss and make up' after their spat-fuelled 2011 season.
The pair, jointly awarded the tongue-in-cheek BBC "naughty boy" prize earlier this weekend, shared a hug after the season finale in Brazil.
"I'm going to make it up with him," said the McLaren driver before approaching Massa during the Ferrari driver's media appearance for Portuguese language reporters.
Those watching the embrace, in the context of the duo's spate of on and off-track run-ins, smiled and clapped.
"That was a really nice gesture," agreed Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
Said Hamilton's boss Martin Whitmarsh: "It was not planned at all, Lewis had simply changed his mind and wanted to take a step forward.
"I think both of them are adults and wanted to just look ahead to the future," added the McLaren chief.
Massa is quoted by Brazil's Globo: "I never had anything against him, there has always been respect in all these years.
"After everything that happened this year, I found it very cool for him to come here to talk to me. I would not go there because I did nothing wrong."
Hamilton's gesture followed a notable change of mood for the Briton, who sounded determined to bury in the past his tumultuous 2011 season.
"There have been times this season when I have not performed as well as I could. But I got that out of the way and made sure they (McLaren) know that I am aware of it," he said.
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