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F1: Hulkenberg 'Our Choice' For Lotus In 2014 - Boullier Photo:
 
 
TMR Team | Oct, 15 2013 | 3 Comments

Eric Boullier has admitted Nico Hulkenberg is Lotus' "choice" successor for the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen recently said he decided to leave the Enstone based team only for financial reasons.

Lotus has been sweating on a deal with a group of private investors originally called 'Infinity Racing', who in June committed to buying 35 per cent of the team.

But team boss Boullier admitted as recently as at the weekend in Japan that the deal is still not sealed.

In the meantime, Infinity has changed its name to Quantum, to avoid confusion with Infiniti, the luxury Nissan brand that is Red Bull's title sponsor.

"We want to now close this Infinity partner story because this should give us the ability to at least be secure and move us on to the next step," said Boullier.

An obvious 'next step' is the identity of Raikkonen's successor.

The clear frontrunner is German Hulkenberg, who was also considered by Ferrari and McLaren for 2014, and remains in the running either to return to Force India or stay at Sauber.

But if the 'Quantum' deal falls over, Boullier may have to go down the path of a pay-driver, even if the Frenchman admits "This is not the way to go".

Boullier hinted at Suzuka that he is also in talks with a sponsor, as well as engine supplier Renault, who could deepen their relationship with Lotus in 2014 and beyond.

If all the pieces fit together, Hulkenberg will surely be signed.

"Since he has been talking to us he has been doing a good job," said Boullier.

"I would love to (sign him)," he is quoted by Sporting Life. "He (Hulkenberg) is our choice."

(GMM)

 

Brawn issues clear Mercedes quit threat

Ross Brawn has threatened to leave Mercedes if he is not assured his job as team boss is safe.

After denying he has already decided to quit, but confirmed talks are taking place, Brawn made clear on Sunday he will only stay beyond 2013 if Mercedes agrees he will have a clear role at the very top of the Brackley based team.

"I think we need a very clear definition of who is in charge and obviously I need the motivation to carry on," the 58-year-old Briton said at Suzuka.

"Any successful F1 team has to have a senior reference and that's the big question. We need to make sure if I'm to remain here that I'm the reference," Brawn told the British broadcaster Sky.

Amid rumours Brawn could be looking in McLaren and Honda's direction, he also left the door open to switching teams.

Asked if he would walk away from the sport if Mercedes doesn't give him the answer he wants, Brawn responded: "Not necessarily walk away from the sport."

Brawn's comments tie in with the latest rumblings from within McLaren, where the British team has said it will not stop after signing Red Bull's aerodynamics chief Peter Prodromou.

"This (signing) is not something isolated," managing director Jonathan Neale is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"There are other things we are going to do to strengthen the team.

"It's a series of things aimed at 2015 and Honda, to ensure we are on the road to victory," he added.

On the driver front, McLaren has signed - but not officially confirmed - Jenson Button for 2014, but the future of his teammate Sergio Perez remains unclear.

The Mexican's case was not strengthened at Suzuka, where he crashed heavily in practice and then earned a rebuke from Nico Rosberg after the race.

"It's not good what he's doing, we know he has issues," Mercedes' Rosberg fumed after their run-in.

(GMM)

 

Mercedes vows to match Renault's engine trickery

Mercedes has vowed to catch F1's runaway Renault-powered teams, as it risks losing millions in Concorde Agreement bonus money.

Formerly looking set to finish second behind Red Bull in the lucrative constructors' championship, Mercedes had a bad weekend in Japan and is now ten points behind Ferrari.

Not only that, Lotus - whose Romain Grosjean was challenging for victory at Suzuka - is no longer far behind in the teams' title chase.

Mercedes, on the other hand, has lost ground.

"Red Bull has taken a big step forward since Singapore," Toto Wolff told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, adding that the similarly Renault-powered Lotus is now a few tenths ahead.

"We need to analyse what they have done," said Mercedes' motor sport chief.

The German report said Wolff suspects that the top two Renault-powered teams are now streaking away with a clever engine mapping and exhaust-blowing solution.

"If that's the case," Wolff said, "we need to find out why we have missed something.

"We think we know what they're doing. The only question is whether we have the resources to implement something in the last four races.

"Perhaps we will need to reallocate some resources," he added.

The problem is that, at Mercedes' Brixforth engine facility, all the test benches are reportedly now being used for next year's turbo V6 development.

(GMM)

 

Pirelli renews quit threat amid push for tests

Behind closed doors, Pirelli is stamping its feet as it pushes to prepare for 2014.

International reports, including in Spain's El Mundo Deportivo and by Italy's Italiaracing, say the sport's tyre supplier wants all the major F1 teams to take their 2013 cars to two tyre tests in Abu Dhabi in November and December.

"We can't carry on going round in circles and decide to do nothing," Paul Hembery said recently. "Something has to change."

Pirelli's frustration is with the lack of cooperation from the teams amid the Italian marque's tumultuous 2013 season, where the criticism of its products has been at fever pitch.

So the reports say Pirelli will demand the Abu Dhabi tests when F1's new strategic committee meets next Monday.

"Pirelli wants the same treatment that Bridgestone and Michelin had, when they could test their tyres at length," read the El Mundo Deportivo report.

Correspondent Raymond Blancafort said that if the teams or the FIA refuse, Pirelli president "Marco Tronchetti Provera could leave F1 without tyres" for 2014.

Italiaracing's Massimo Costa added: "Pirelli is tired of tainting its name because of a formula one in which it is forbidden to test in a proper way".

(GMM)

 

Ferrari's de la Rosa admits 2014 car 'ugly' rumours

Pedro de la Rosa has heard the paddock whispers about 'ugly'-looking formula one cars in 2014.

Adrian Newey, the designer of the dominant Red Bulls of the past few seasons, revealed last week that his car for next year's radical new rules is not pretty.

Asked if he has seen Ferrari's 2014 car, test driver Pedro de la Rosa said no.

"I heard that they are going to be different," the Spaniard told Marca sports newspaper, echoing Newey's claim that the nose of the cars will be "very low".

When asked if the new Ferrari is 'ugly', he answered: "I don't know.

"It's true that you hear comments, not only here but in other teams, of people saying 'Hey, our car is very ugly, is yours?'" added de la Rosa.

Ultimately, the biggest question is about whether the new rules will shake up the pecking order in F1 -- or, more specifically, will Red Bull's dominance finally end?

"No idea," de la Rosa smiled. "Honestly. We are working hard, but without any reference.

"But for the first time, the engine will have a significance about equal or even greater than the aerodynamics," he added.

(GMM)

 

Ferrari plays down Massa's team orders defiance

Ferrari has played down Felipe Massa's refusal to obey a direct team order in Sunday's Japanese grand prix.

While running ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso at Suzuka, Brazilian Massa - who is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season - was told by his engineer Rob Smedley to let the Spaniard past.

"Multi-function strategy A. Now, please," Smedley was heard to say on the radio.

Massa refused to either respond or obey, forcing Alonso to pass him in a wheel-to-wheel battle many laps later.

"We cannot make a big thing about it," Alonso said afterwards, hinting he understands Massa's frustration.

"Sometimes it's difficult, especially when you are fighting for seventh, eighth place.

"It would be nice to go back to the old days in Ferrari, fighting for first and second and deciding who wins the races, like Red Bull does," he added.

When quizzed about the 'Multi-function strategy A' command, which is eerily similar to Red Bull's infamous 'Multi-21', Massa readily admitted it was a team order that he refused to obey.

"It was an instruction," the Brazilian confirmed.

"We're never happy with instructions," added Massa. "Whatever happened in the race was not over any instruction; he overtook me on the track.

"We fought on the track," he added.

He is quoted by Speed Week: "I have said several times now that I do not make presents. And I've said that I am racing for me -- I am doing my races."

Team boss Stefano Domenicali played down Massa's defiance.

"I can understand his feeling," he said. "The team will totally support him until the end of the season, no problem."

A controversy was also brewing within the dominant Red Bull team on Sunday, amid suspicions pole sitter Mark Webber's race was deliberately compromised when he was switched from a two to a three-stop strategy.

"All of a sudden we decided to do a three," the Australian, whose teammate Sebastian Vettel extended his winning streak, revealed.

"I was a little bit surprised. I asked was it the right thing to do."

Boss Dr Helmut Marko insisted, however, that the retiring Webber was not 'sacrificed' to help Vettel.

"No!" he told Germany's Bild am Sonntag.

"We chose during the race to change our strategy because we could not assess whether Grosjean is doing two or three stops.

"If we had done nothing, we would have been second and third," Marko added.

(GMM)

 
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