- Team bosses vote Alonso best driver of 2012
- Haug denies Lauda pushed for F1 axe
- Button warns Rosberg to fear Hamilton's speed
- Designer Coughlan defends Williams' Maldonado
- Valsecchi next in line for Grosjean's seat - report
- Austria 'has everything' for 2013 F1 return - Berger
- Gutierrez admits 'not 100pc ready' for F1 debut
Team bosses vote Alonso best driver of 2012
F1 team principals declaring Fernando Alonso the best driver of the 2012 season is "satisfying", Ferrari has admitted.
The Spaniard was beaten to the championship by 3 points by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, but a British magazine asked the bosses of the 12 teams this year to name the standout performer.
"Well, Alonso got a resounding vote: (he) racked up 269 points, a whole 71 more than Vettel," Ferrari said in a report posted on its official website.
"Apart from (Stefano) Domenicali, seven other team principals chose Alonso as the best driver of the season," the famous Italian team added.
Alonso said: "I was pleased to be chosen by the team principals as the best driver of 2012.
"Of course, next year I would prefer to win the title, happy to leave this prestigious yet idealistic award to one of my peers."
Haug denies Lauda pushed for F1 axe
Norbert Haug has denied Niki Lauda played a decisive role in his departure as Mercedes' motor sport boss.
When it was announced on Thursday that, after 22 years, 60-year-old Haug will not be with the German marque in 2013, some sensed the hand of Mercedes' new non-executive chairman, triple world champion and Austrian great Lauda.
"I want to state strongly that this was a decision that the board and I reached by consensus. Niki had absolutely nothing to do with it.
"We have respected each other over the years, and this changes nothing," Haug told the news agency SID.
He hinted that Mercedes' failure to properly succeed since forming its works team in 2010 was a reason for the split.
"We have had success in the past three years, but not enough consistently," said Haug.
Niki Lauda told German television Sky: "I was just as surprised as anyone about Norbert.
"For me personally, I'm sorry about it. I have always had a very good relationship with him and would have very much liked to have continued to work with him."
Michael Schumacher, who is returning to retirement in 2013 after three seasons with Mercedes, also sounded disappointed with the decision.
"This step represents a major turning point," the seven time world champion said on his website.
"His departure will tear a big gap in both our sport and our team."
German motor racing federation president Hans-Joachim Stuck is quoted by Speed Week: "Norbert has also had some health problems, perhaps that played a role."
Button warns Rosberg to fear Hamilton's speed
Jenson Button has warned Nico Rosberg to be ready for Lewis Hamilton's speed.
After Button was paired with his younger countryman at McLaren between 2010 and 2012, the Briton and 2008 world champion Hamilton is now heading to Mercedes.
German Rosberg's teammate in the same three-year period was the great Michael Schumacher.
"I think he (Rosberg) will be a little surprised by his (Hamilton's) speed," Button is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr.
"I know they have been teammates in the past, but I think it will be a surprise for him to see what Lewis can do with a bad car."
F1 great Sir Jackie Stewart, however, has a different view, wondering if Hamilton will do as good a job for Mercedes as Schumacher did.
"Schumacher was an entirely different animal," the Scot is quoted by the Sun.
"He was completely focussed on F1. It was the only thing in life he did. Lewis has a lot of other pursuits -- some no doubt a distraction.
"Lewis' management team will want to prove they can earn him more money with outside things. But the more contracts he has the more work he has to do for them which takes up time," added Stewart.
According to David Coulthard, however, Mercedes was right to split with 43-year-old Schumacher and sign Hamilton.
"Jenson told me that Michael has lost none of his speed," the Scot is quoted by Speed Week. "I'm not so sure.
"Look at Rosberg -- is he faster than Michael was in his prime? That's hard to say."
Indeed, Coulthard thinks Schumacher will not even be missed.
"I think it will be just as it was with other drivers before him. Who wondered in 2012 about Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld?
"No driver is greater than formula one," he insisted.
A survey commissioned by the SID news agency claimed 70 per cent of the German population believes Sebastian Vettel can one day surpass Schumacher's record of seven titles.
Designer Coughlan defends Williams' Maldonado
Williams' technical chief Mike Coughlan has defended Pastor Maldonado.
Venezuelan Maldonado won this year's Spanish grand prix, but he also had a tumultuous season littered with mistakes.
The 27-year-old, who carries significant PDVSA sponsorship, has been retained for 2013.
"We win as a team and lose as a team," Briton Coughlan is quoted by Speed Week.
"Of course we've been through some difficult situations together and he will have learned from it. But it's not our style to point the finger at someone.
"It could just as well be argued that if we had given him a better car, he would not have been battling in the midfield so often."
Overall, Williams' 2012 season (76 points, 8th in the constructors' championship) was much better than 2011 (5 points, 9th).
"The biggest advantage has been the Renault engine -- light, powerful, reliable," said Coughlan, referring to the switch from Cosworth power.
"It meant we were able to focus entirely on aerodynamic development, and it paid off."
Valsecchi next in line for Grosjean's seat - report
Davide Valsecchi has hinted he may be next in line for the vacant Lotus race seat in 2013.
The Enstone based team is believed to be considering whether or not to keep on board the fast but erratic Frenchman Romain Grosjean.
Italian Valsecchi, 25, is the new GP2 champion.
"I don't wish anything bad against Grosjean," he told Autosprint magazine, "but if he's not there then I see myself as the favourite.
"It's perhaps too early to talk about it."
It is believed Lotus was due to make its decision about Grosjean last week, but the board met and decided to wait a little longer.
Valsecchi, who would be the only Italian on the 2013 grid, added: "My goal is to get into formula one and then prove that I deserved the chance."
Austria 'has everything' for 2013 F1 return - Berger
Gerhard Berger sees no reason why Austria cannot return to the F1 calendar.
Following reports the former A1-Ring's new owner Red Bull has offered up the venue for the unconfirmed 20th race in 2013, Bernie Ecclestone played down the possibility of an Austrian return next year.
But Austrian Berger, the former McLaren and Ferrari driver and ex Toro Rosso co-owner together with Dietrich Mateschitz, thinks his native country is in the running.
"If Red Bull is in the game, nothing is impossible," he told Osterreich newspaper.
"They have everything: the track, the facilities, the contacts and the necessary status in F1. And money should not be a problem."
Berger rubbished Ecclestone's claim that the 'Red Bull Ring' is not appropriate for F1 because there are not enough hotels in the surrounding area.
"That opposite is true," he insisted.
"The critics should look at what Red Bull has brought into the area in terms of the hotel sector.
"There is a direct motorway connection to Graz; in 45 minutes you're in the city. At Silverstone, there is a much bigger hotel problem," said Berger.
Gutierrez admits 'not 100pc ready' for F1 debut
Esteban Gutierrez has admitted his might not be an easy transition to formula one in 2013.
The 21-year-old rookie is replacing his Mexican countryman Sergio Perez at Telmex-backed Sauber next year.
In 2012, he finished the GP2 season in third place behind Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia.
"I am fully aware that F1 is not easy, because it's the highest level of motor sport," Gutierrez is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.
"It's true that I have not been consistent in GP2, but I think this has been the most rewarding season on my career because it's the kind of experience that gives you a better perspective for the future.
"I will try to look for consistency in F1 and when I get it, I can start thinking about great results," he added.
"First, I have to go step by step, adapt, and for that the beginning of the season will be very important."
Gutierrez admits he cannot say for sure that he is ready for F1.
"It makes no sense to say I am 100 per cent ready because it's difficult to judge.
"But definitely I am doing my best and using all the time I have had on the track to improve my knowledge with the car, not only for the driving itself but also the feedback to give to the team.
"In F1, this is crucial," he concluded.
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