F1: Schumacher Future Unclear, Vettel Rumoured For Ferrari Photo:

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TMR Team | Jun, 27 2012 | 0 Comments
  • Schumacher future still unclear after podium
  • Italian television reports Vettel to Ferrari in 2014
  • Hamilton should have avoided Maldonado crash - boss
  • Red Bull step 'could be decisive' - Alguersuari
  • Vergne to pay own fine after Valencia crash
  • No DRS rule for yellow flags - Whiting
  • Renault working to fix alternator headache

Schumacher future still unclear after podium

Even the end of a 2000-day podium drought is not enough to curb the speculation about Michael Schumacher's future.

Although it was powered in part by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton's misfortunes at Valencia on Sunday, the seven-time world champion's return to the podium was an emotional moment for the once-robotic German.

Veteran engineer and manager Joan Villadelprat, who worked with Schumacher at Benetton years ago, admitted he watched the 43-year-old's celebrations through "blurred eyes".

It was Schumacher's 156th career podium, but he was so excited on Sunday that he forgot the old routine and spoke in English when asked to address his fans in his native tongue in the official post-race press conference.

Realising his mistake, he roared with laughter and then started again, "maybe in German now".

Asked if the emotion of the moment was the reason he decided to return to F1 from retirement, Schumacher agreed: "Yeah, it's those moments that definitely you enjoy deeply.

"The team and myself have been criticised here and there, particularly lately, and this is the best way to answer and therefore I'm proud, thankful and very excited."

So with a podium now in his pocket, is it the right time to think about a new contract for 2013?

"If I may apologise, I have no further news on that matter," Schumacher insisted, "so give me the time that I need and we will see."

Triple world champion Niki Lauda said his fellow F1 great is still on top of his game.

"His qualifying at Monaco was world class, and as we saw in Valencia, he is still one of the fastest if everything fits," he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.



Italian television reports Vettel to Ferrari in 2014

Reports that Sebastian Vettel is headed to Ferrari are back in the headlines.

Italian television Mediaset's Italia1 channel, and the authoritative journalist Giorgio Terruzzi, claim the Red Bull driver will be Fernando Alonso's teammate in 2014.

The report echoed the claims of British newspapers, who said recently that an agreement is already in place for 24-year-old German Vettel to drive for Ferrari.

The Italian report said Vettel's deal is for three years, until the end of 2016.

Terruzzi said that Alonso's teammate in 2013 will either be an improved Felipe Massa or Australia's Mark Webber, who would fill the cockpit for a single season before Vettel is contractually able to move from Red Bull.

The respected journalist said Massa or Webber would cost Ferrari only EUR 5 million in 2013, before Vettel earns fifteen million starting in 2014.



Hamilton should have avoided Maldonado crash - boss

Lewis Hamilton should have known better before going wheel-to-wheel with Pastor Maldonado in the dying stages of Sunday's European GP.

That is the view of the McLaren driver's boss Martin Whitmarsh, after the British team's top 2012 driver fell 23 points off the championship lead at Valencia.

He crashed almost within sight of the chequered flag in a dice with Williams' Pastor Maldonado, and it was the Venezuelan who was penalised for the crash by the FIA.

And while Maldonado hit out at his rival afterwards, Hamilton's measured reaction was an obvious case of resisting the urge "to throw a tantrum," according to Times journalist Kevin Eason.

In the official post-race McLaren statement, Hamilton said losing the title lead to Fernando Alonso and Red Bull's Mark Webber is "not the end of the world".

But McLaren boss Whitmarsh said, "With hindsight you have to say if you are dealing with someone like that (Maldonado) then you maybe have to take a different approach."

Triple world champion Niki Lauda, meanwhile, said in Kleine Zeitung newspaper that he hopes the top drivers are soon once again dominating F1.

"The winner in Barcelona? Who was that? Maldonado, but no one remembers.

"Seven winners from seven races, which for you journalists is a hoot. But now I would like to return to some normality.

"The people who watch Formula One need their heroes," the Austrian legend said.



Red Bull step 'could be decisive' - Alguersuari

After seven unpredictable and tightly-contested GPs, Valencia last weekend reminded many F1 analysts of a dominant past.

On the concrete-lined streets, where Sebastian Vettel dominated in his two past championship seasons, the field was once again forced to play second fiddle to a dominant Red Bull.

Only a technical problem stopped the German's charge, but the message was clear: the RB8's latest updates - notably a new double-diffuser style floor - worked perfectly.

An unusually big gap to second place was the first hint after Vettel's strong pole on Saturday, and the next day "Red Bull were phenomenally quick," noted McLaren's Jenson Button, "and it was unexpected."

"For the first time this season," said former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, "we saw someone so much quicker than the rest.

"Sebastian Vettel's start and the first half of his race were astronomical and reminded us of the driver of last year.

"The way his team has achieved a very important aerodynamic step could be decisive for the near future," the Spaniard told El Mundo newspaper.

But Vettel and Lewis Hamilton's failures to finish have given Fernando Alonso a big points gap as F1 speeds towards mid-season, but - like McLaren - Ferrari is also wary of the stride forward taken by Red Bull.

"We know what our target is at the end of November and we know that (Red Bull) did something very good this weekend and improved their car," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.

Although gutted after Vettel's failure on Sunday, Domenicali's Red Bull counterpart is also fully conscious of the real situation, with Alonso benefitting from incredible consistency and reliability, if not out-and-out pace.

"Fernando has done a tremendous job," said Christian Horner, "but statistics say he has to have one bad weekend in 20. It will hopefully balance itself out over the course of the season," said the Briton.



Vergne to pay own fine after Valencia crash

Jean-Eric Vergne will have to dig into his own pockets after Valencia.

The rookie Frenchman was given a ten-position grid drop for Silverstone after oddly jinking before crashing into Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen on Sunday and then speeding back to the pits with a disintegrating Toro Rosso.

The incident caused the race director to call a safety car period, whilst stewards ruled that a EUR 25,000 fine was also in order for Vergne due to "the serious nature" of the indiscretion.

"What he did was not acceptable and it was his fault," former Toro Rosso team co-owner Gerhard Berger told Austrian Servus TV on Wednesday.

Christian Horner, the boss of Red Bull's senior team, said it is likely 22-year-old Vergne will have to pay the fine himself.

"If it's the driver's fault, he has to pay the money," the Briton, who works closely with Vergne's boss Dr Helmut Marko, said.

"But if, for example, a driver is too fast in the pitlane because his limiter is not working properly, then probably the team will pay the fine.

"Jean-Eric will probably have to reach into his own pockets for this one," added Horner.

The French publication Business Book GP 2012 lists Vergne's estimated 2012 salary at EUR 400,000.



No DRS rule for yellow flags - Whiting

Charlie Whiting has defended the decision to let Michael Schumacher keep his Valencia podium.

After Mark Webber spotted the Mercedes with its DRS rear wing being deployed within a yellow flag zone, Red Bull pushed hard for Schumacher to be penalised.

The stewards conducted a detailed post-race investigation but ultimately ruled that Schumacher deserved the first top-three podium finish of his comeback career.

"The stewards noted that the driver (made) a significant reduction in speed on entering the double-waved flag zone," the report read.

But Auto Motor und Sport reports that the officials found that Schumacher had indeed used his DRS amid the waving yellow flags.

"It's not about the DRS position," FIA race director Charlie Whiting insists. "There is no rule that says the DRS has to be open or closed under yellow flags.

"The decisive element is whether the driver has slowed or not. And compared to the lap before, Schumacher had taken out a lot of speed," said the Briton.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said that, in fact, Schumacher was slower at that moment than the whistle-blower Webber.



Renault working to fix alternator headache

Valencia flagged a major headache for F1 engine supplier Renault.

Not only did Lotus' Romain Grosjean break down with a failed alternator, so too did Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Initially, it appeared the failures were coincidental, but Germany's Auto Motor und Sport now reports a common link.

And, reportedly, Renault now suspects that a problem suffered by Caterham's Vitaly Petrov in Monte Carlo was also similar.

The unit is reportedly manufactured in cooperation between Renault and Magneti Marelli.

"We don't know what has broken, but we believe it's the same source," said engine boss Rob White.

He also doubts the initial diagnosis that the alternators overheated, in light of the possibility that Petrov's Monaco failure was the same.

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez agrees: "I heard it was the heat, but we have had races that were just as warm, and you would have to wonder why Kimi or Mark Webber weren't affected too."

Renault works very closely with Red Bull, the French marque's premier partner.

"We know now that it's a problem area," said world champion Vettel, "so we need to work to resolve it as soon as possible."


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