F1: Massa Staying, Hulkenberg To Sauber, Ferrari Denies Vettel Rumours Photo:
TMR Team | Oct, 16 2012 | 0 Comments
  • Massa staying put, Hulkenberg to Sauber
  • Hulkenberg manager not denying Sauber switch
  • Red Bull and Ferrari deny latest Vettel rumours
  • Rumours grow as Porsche signs F1 people
  • Red Bull still not imposing team orders on Webber
  • Media and sponsor muzzle for Alonso in 2012 finale
  • Schumacher rules out motorbike racing return

Massa staying put, Hulkenberg to Sauber

Felipe Massa has done enough to secure a new Ferrari contract for 2013.

The Brazilian was at times even faster in Korea than his championship-challenging teammate Fernando Alonso, and after the race team boss Stefano Domenicali was all but confirming paddock rumours that a new deal will be announced imminently.

"As my friend (singer) Laura Pausini would say, 'Wait and see'," Domenicali said.

He said Ferrari's position would be made clear "very soon".

Asked if he still had any doubts he will still be racing a red car in 2013, the similarly-smiling 31-year-old Massa said in Korea: "No, I don't.

"But anyway we wait for the (right) time. I think it will be pretty soon to be honest."

With Massa's future now clear, it has also emerged that Nico Hulkenberg - until now a leading contender to replace the formerly-struggling Brazilian - will instead move over to Ferrari-powered Sauber to replace Sergio Perez.

"At the moment, my focus is simply on 2012 and doing the best I can," the German said in Korea after racing to an impressive sixth place.

But his future boss Peter Sauber told Blick newspaper on Sunday: "Nico's race was very strong."

Sauber said much less about Kamui Kobayashi's race, leaving it to Jenson Button to brand the Japanese an "idiot" and "Kobay-crashi" for his first-lap antics.

Kobayashi is believed in real danger of losing his seat to the Telmex-backed Esteban Gutierrez.

Button was also not impressed with his future McLaren teammate Sergio Perez's first-lap driving, saying of the Sauber pair: "It's very poor driving standards, considering this is the pinnacle of motor sport."

"A race is not two corners long and some people need to learn that. Whether they will ever learn that, we will have to wait and see," he added.

With Hulkenberg moving over to Sauber, reports suggest the leading contenders to replace him at Force India are Adrian Sutil, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.



Hulkenberg manager not denying Sauber switch

Nico Hulkenberg signed his new Sauber contract before leaving Korea on Sunday evening, the authoritative German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports.

After being dumped by Williams after his impressive 2010 debut, the 25-year-old German returned to the grid with Force India this year, having served a season as reserve driver.

Faced with the Sauber rumour on Monday, Hulkenberg's manager Timo Gans said: "I don't want to confirm or deny.

"The drivers' contracts are announced by the relevant teams. I don't want to pre-empt anything."



Red Bull and Ferrari deny latest Vettel rumours

Ferrari and Red Bull on Monday separately denied reports Sebastian Vettel is destined for the great Italian team in 2014.

With Felipe Massa set to be re-signed for next year, the BBC claimed in a media report that Red Bull's double world champion Vettel is probably Maranello bound for the season after.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told Bild: "That's false. That report is wrong, plain and simple."

The German newspaper said Vettel, 25, has a contract with Red Bull that includes 2014, but the deal includes 'get-out clauses'.

But Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni rubbished the Vettel link.

"It's not the first time this year we've heard it, and it will not be the last."

That's not exactly a denial, but Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo - speaking on Italian radio Rai - was much clearer.

"I've always said that I don't want two roosters in the hen-house," he said.

"I don't like that and it creates instability in the team."



Rumours grow as Porsche signs F1 people

There are rumours in the paddock that Porsche is considering a formula one foray, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The VW-brand Porsche is returning to Le Mans, but the magazine said rumours are swirling that the project is merely "a warm-up" for F1.

Auto Motor und Sport said Porsche is busily signing-up personnel with F1 experience, including Fritz Enzinger, Alex Hitzinger, Mike Krack and recent Sauber engineer Urs Kuratle.

And the report said Porsche is also expressing interest in people from teams up and down pitlane.

Porsche is establishing its Weissach facility as a state of the art motor sport factory complete with wind tunnel, while the marque's drivers are reportedly having hours booked in the McLaren simulator.

"The formula one paddock wonders whether the expense is really intended only for Le Mans," said Auto Motor und Sport.



Red Bull still not imposing team orders on Webber

Red Bull is still not willing to slot Mark Webber into a supporting role after Sunday's Korean grand prix.

With the Australian on pole but 60 points behind Fernando Alonso's championship lead prior to Sunday's race, the team said it would not be imposing team orders in a bid to boost teammate Sebastian Vettel's title chances.

The situation is now different. After Korea, Vettel is now the championsip leader, while Webber's points gap is even slightly bigger.

But when asked about the need for team orders, team boss Christian Horner said on Sunday: "It's still too early.

"The gap is pretty big but Mark still has a mathematical chance," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "So it would be wrong of us to ask Mark to do that (follow team orders)."

Horner said the opening lap in Korea was evidence that Vettel and Webber can fight fairly for position without interference.

"It's always nerve wracking when you see your two cars so close to one another, but they've done it many times before and (on Sunday) they fought perfectly down to turn three," he said.

Meanwhile, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is one point further up the standings than Webber, but the Briton thinks his championship is now over after finishing just tenth on Sunday.

"In terms of winning, I think that's it for us," he said.

"We were still in the fight up until now but it's too far away (now)."

It's also looking grim for Ferrari's Alonso, because even though the points gap to Vettel is only 6 points, it is Red Bull who are enjoying a position of clear dominance.

"Now we need to score seven points more than Sebastian, which will be extremely tough but we believe we can do it," said the Spaniard.



Media and sponsor muzzle for Alonso in 2012 finale

Fernando Alonso will focus intensely on the final four races of the season amid a 'media muzzle', according to the German newspaper Bild.

The report said Ferrari's Spaniard - who finally lost his championship lead as his on-form title rival Sebastian Vettel won a third consecutive grand prix on Sunday - will not give any more interviews as the 2012 season draws to a close over the next six weeks through India, Abu Dhabi, the US and finally Brazil.

Bild also said Alonso will even curtail the time he will spend with Ferrari's sponsors between now and the season finale in late November.

Alonso looked disappointed on the Korea podium on Sunday, but he insisted that while making up the now 6-point deficit will be "extremely tough", it is not over yet.

"The important thing is to be first when you are crossing the line in Interlagos," he is quoted by El Mundo newspaper.

Alonso suggested German Vettel cannot continue to expect to experience "perfect weekends" as he did in Singapore, Suzuka and Korea.

"Congratulations for that (the wins)," he said, referring to his Red Bull rival, "but when everything goes smoothly for so long, inevitably sooner or later something has to happen."

Inevitably, off-track psychological elements like that will tinge the intense battle over the final races, but Vettel revealed that - even privately - Alonso was noble in defeat on Sunday.

"He said 'Well done', that's it," the 25-year-old told Bild.

"He just congratulated me very fairly. Mark (Webber) too. I like fairness like that, showing respect even when we are fighting one another and giving each other nothing.

"There are days when you are beaten, that's part of it."

Asked if he has Alonso's phone number, Vettel admitted: "No, but I don't have too many other drivers' numbers either!"



Schumacher rules out motorbike racing return

Michael Schumacher has ruled out falling back on two wheels as he prepares once again for F1 retirement.

The great German raced in the German superbike series at times during his three-year 'sabbatical' in the wake of his Ferrari career, and narrowly escaped serious injury in one particular spill.

Schumacher told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that racing motorbikes is "great fun", but he also acknowledged that it is "definitely" more dangerous than F1.

"I am very willing to learn," he smiled. "What that means is that I will not do any more motorcycle racing."


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