F1: Massa 'One Of Best-ever Teammates' - Alonso Photo:
Mike Stevens | Sep, 08 2011 | 0 Comments

After defending the talents of world champion Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso now insists his teammate Felipe Massa is also a top driver.

Brazilian Massa has appeared to struggle alongside Ferrari's highly rated lead driver in the last two seasons, but Spaniard Alonso insists the 30-year-old is on the pace.

"I do not have things easy with him (Massa), we are very close to each other," Auto Bild Motorsport quotes him as saying.

"There is often only one tenth in it," added Alonso. "He is one of the best teammates I have had. We work well together even though we have quite different styles of driving."

Alonso also defended Michael Schumacher, and the seven time world champion's decision to keep racing in formula one beyond his forthcoming 43rd birthday.

"For me he is and remains the best driver in F1 history and deserves respect. His records will probably never be matched.

"He still loves to drive and I understand that -- those who criticise him do not. I enjoy racing against him and I'm sure that if he had a competitive car he would be able to win races," said Alonso.

Former McLaren and Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger, however, does not rank Schumacher among F1's top three of the moment, and indicated that he would leave Alonso out of his ideal team lineup.

"I would love to have Lewis (Hamilton) as number 1 in my team if I had one," Berger, the former Toro Rosso co-owner, is quoted by The Sun newspaper.

"(Hamilton) together with Sebastian Vettel. Although maybe not, because that would not work, (it would) cause havoc!

"In my view, Seb, Alonso and Hamilton are the three best drivers out there. Vettel performs perfectly. Alonso suffers from minor mistakes, but he has not got a car on par with Seb's.

"Lewis is the best at overtaking, but with a huge amount of risk. It's usually 50-50 if it works or if he collides," added Austrian Berger.



11 dead in attack on F1 host city Delhi

On the month before the city's inaugural Indian grand prix, New Delhi is on Wednesday reeling from one of its worst terrorist attacks.

Bloomberg reports that at least 11 people are dead and scores injured after a briefcase bomb exploded outside the capital's high court.

With the government ordering a state of high alert, the Press Trust of India says a Pakistani militant group has claimed responsibility.

"It was a devastating scene," said a lawyer who was working at the court. "I saw bodies, people with broken arms and legs and flesh on the floor."

In July, 25 people were killed in attacks on Mumbai, India's most populous city.

Another lawyer in Delhi said: "This is a lapse of police security. It could happen again tomorrow."

The Wall Street Journal said the blast will heighten "concerns about the nation's security vulnerabilities".



Iran to build $85m F1 track

Iran has emerged as the unlikely latest prospective destination for formula one.

The local Mehr news agency said officials have decided to build a circuit 35 kilometres south of the capital Tehran, with Apex Circuit Design assigned the contract.

"Planning and construction would follow all formula one standards," Mehr, reporting that the track will be the first of its kind in Iran, quoted Apex's Martin Baerschmidt as saying.

"We were really surprised after seeing the landscape," he said.

The circuit will reportedly be inaugurated within six months, with the cost totalling $85 million.

The project's executive manager Alireza Sabbagh added: "Iran has so many young people and there is an increasing tendency for them to drive. Formula one has a great future in the Asian country."

Oil-rich Iran is bordered by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.



Webber pass too risky and 'stupid' - Berger

Gerhard Berger has criticised Mark Webber for taking too big a risk in his battle with Fernando Alonso at Spa two weeks ago.

Red Bull's Australian driver has confirmed there was light contact with the Ferrari as he passed his Spanish friend on the outside through the fearsome and fabled Eau Rouge corner at close to top speed.

"I tell you what ... that boy must have some balls to do that," exclaimed team boss Christian Horner, who has signed up the 35-year-old for 2012.

Alonso described it as a "nice duel", while David Coulthard confided in Webber that - whilst commentating for British television - he actually stepped back "because I thought you were going to come through the screen!"

"Whichever way you look at it," Coulthard's BBC colleague Martin Brundle said, "that pass was spectacularly impressive, skilful, and brave.

"Webber may not have won a race for more than a year but he won my eternal respect for that one."

Not everyone, however, was impressed.

Gerhard Berger told Austrian television Servus TV that the duel reminded him of 1985, when Stefan Bellof was killed after a duel in Eau Rouge with Jacky Ickx during a sports car race.

"Mark is getting a lot of praise but I think it was stupid," Berger, a ten-time grand prix winner, said.

"If you think of the Bellof crash ... he (Webber) would have passed Alonso on the next straight anyway. It was totally unnecessary, at one of the most dangerous places out there.

"If you take off there, you're dead," added Berger.

Webber, however, insists the pass was "particularly enjoyable", made possible only because of the respect shared with Alonso.

"There are a few guys on the grid you can enjoy something like that with. You can really take each other to the limit," he said.



Perez admits Monaco crash was big setback

Sergio Perez has admitted his Monaco crash was a hefty setback in his debut formula one season.

The 21-year-old Mexican, who will stay with the Sauber team in 2012, crashed heavily during qualifying for the prestigious race in May.

He sat out Sunday's race and then tried to return in Canada two weeks later, ultimately giving up his seat to Pedro de la Rosa after not feeling well during practice.

Races in Valencia, Silverstone, Germany and Hungary then apparently signalled a full return to health.

But just before the recent Belgian grand prix, Perez was quoted as saying the August break "was good for me to fully recover" from his crash three months earlier.

"The accident threw me back quite a lot," he revealed to Germany's spox.com this week.

"I lost my momentum and so it took me a long time to get back my normal level of performance."

Perez has just 8 points so far compared with teammate Kamui Kobayashi's 27, and he thinks that if Monaco had proceeded normally "I definitely would have more (points) compared to him" by now.

But Perez, backed not only by the billionaire Carlos Slim's companies but also Ferrari, insists he never feared for his career.

"No, I was not worried, except that for a couple of races I had to recover.

"Sauber is a really good team for a rookie. The support I have is great."

Sauber has already signed Perez for 2012, but at the end of the season the young driver will test a works Ferrari.

His likely career trajectory has therefore been compared with Felipe Massa's, who drove at Ferrari-powered Sauber before moving to Maranello.

"Well, first of all I have to prove that I can do my job well.

"Of course I want to have a lot of success in formula one and be world champion, but how and when I will move in that direction, at the moment I have no idea," said Perez.


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