Maldonado plays down mistakes

Pastor Maldonado is quickly gaining a reputation for being a crash driver. However the Venezeluan has insisted that it is not fair being branded in such a way.

Sauber’s Sergio Perez was furious with the Venezuelan after their clash at Silverstone, which was one of just several incidents blamed on the Williams driver so far in 2012. Barcelona winner Maldonado’s latest run-in was with Paul di Resta in Hungary, earning him a drive-through penalty.

“There was a small contact, but this is racing,” he is quoted by Sapa-AFP news agency. “I saw Raikkonen and Grosjean (battling) and it was more or less the same.”

Maldonado also told the online GP Week magazine: “They’re normal mistakes. If you look at other drivers, they’ve done the same in the past.”

He also suggested the spotlight has been shining more brightly on him since becoming a grand prix winner earlier this year.

“Before I won the race nobody was here, now everyone is here,” said Maldonado, referring to the big media-scrum surrounding him in Hungary. “I made a couple of mistakes, that’s it.”


Button not ready to help Hamilton

Jenson Button insists he is not ready to fall in line behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton’s championship bid.

In Hungary, Felipe Massa – who is pushing to stay at Ferrari next year – vowed to help his teammate Fernando Alonso seal the drivers’ crown in 2012. In fairness to Button, however, the situation at McLaren at the mid-point of the 2012 season is quite different.

While Alonso is leading the championship and is a massive 139 points ahead of Massa, Button has been a race winner in 2012 and is only 41 points behind Hamilton. So Briton Button answered ‘no’ when asked if he will move over for Hamilton if he sees the sister McLaren in his mirrors.

“If I am leading a race, then I want to win that race,” he is quoted by British newspapers. “I will not be asked to do anything but if there comes a time in this championship when I can’t win, then I will obviously help my teammate,” added Button.


Anthony Hamilton suing di Resta over firing

It appears that Paul di Resta’s recent split from his manager Anthony Hamilton could be heading to the courtroom.

Newspaper The Telegraph has reported that Hamilton has filed papers in London’s High Court for wrongful termination and loss of earnings. According to papers for the defence, di Resta fired Hamilton because he claims he was misled over a sponsorship deal with an energy drinks company called ‘Go Fast’.

Scot di Resta, 26, brought the EUR 5.5 million deal to Hamilton and was told by his former manager that buying his drinks sponsorship rights from Force India would cost 2 million. Di Resta reportedly fired Hamilton after he approached the Silverstone based team himself and found that buying the rights from Force India actually cost only EUR 1m. Hamilton and di Resta would not comment.

But the row could have a wider effect, with di Resta now working with the Sports Partnership, a management firm headed by Jenson Button and his manager Richard Goddard. Button is Lewis Hamilton’s teammate at McLaren.

Journalist Tom Cary wrote: “It is thought most likely that both parties (di Resta and Anthony Hamilton) will agree to settle” before the case reaches court.


Boullier: Kimi is not going to Ferrari

Eric Boullier has revealed he “definitely” plans to keep not just Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus in 2013, but also the Finn’s impressive rookie teammate Romain Grosjean.

The Enstone based team’s boss has dismissed speculation Raikkonen could return to Ferrari next year, where he won the 2007 title before he was ousted at the end of the 2009 season.

“It’s nice that Ferrari is in the newspapers,” Boullier is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, “but to my knowledge Kimi has no intention of going back to Ferrari.”

When asked if he also wants Grosjean to stay in 2013, Boullier answered: “Definitely. There is no reason why either of them should leave us.”

Rival teams have been impressed by the former Benetton and Renault squad in 2012.

“Their car has been quick all year, and they have two good drivers, so Kimi is a factor in the drivers’ championship,” Red Bull chief Christian Horner is quoted by AFP news agency.


Rossi hails Ferrari’s 2012 recovery

Valentino Rossi has used Ferrari as an example of an Italian racing team that managed to emerge from a deep crisis.

Increasingly frustrated with his MotoGP outfit Ducati’s lack of progress, the Italian motorcycle great said Maranello based Ferrari turned around a similar slump in a matter of mere months.

“They too were far behind at the beginning, and it was Fernando (Alonso) who made a difference, but then the team also progressed. But, us (Ducati), we do not improve,” he told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.


Technical reshuffle at Mercedes

According to media reports, Mercedes has begun to restrucutre its technical team.

Autosprint has reported that Mercedes aerodynamics chief John Owen is moving up to be technical director. Mike Elliot, who has just joined from Lotus, will fill Owen’s old role.

Autosprint wonders, however, “What will happen with the trio (Aldo) Costa, (Geoff) Willis and (Bob) Bell?”

At last count, the well-known trio held high-ranking technical roles at the carmaker-owned squad. Autosprint said Mercedes could be scaling-down.


Danner: Schumacher mistakes shouldn’t have happened

Former F1 driver Christian Danner has scolded Michael Schumacher for making rookie errors in Hungary last weekend.

Germany’s Bild claims the 43-year-old is very close to announcing a new deal to keep racing at Mercedes beyond 2012, but at the same time the newspaper wondered if the seven time world champion might “need glasses?”

“It had nothing to do with poor vision,” the German’s manager Sabine Kehm insisted. “Don’t worry, Michael is more than fit.”

She had been asked about Schumacher’s strange pre-race mistakes at the Hungaroring: first lining up in the wrong grid spot, and then turning off his engine when the start was aborted.

“We’re all only human and can make mistakes,” Danner told the German news agency SID, “but really they shouldn’t happen to a Formula One driver. If it had happened to a young driver, we’d all say he’s not ready for F1.”


Haug: No Schumacher contract announcement at Spa

Norbert Haug has played down expectations Michael Schumacher’s plans beyond the 2012 season will be discussed and decided during the month-long August break.

With the seven time world champion’s three-year ‘comeback’ contract set to expire this year, it might be said the big gap between Sunday’s Hungarian grand prix and F1’s next outing at fabled Spa-Francorchamps in early September is an ideal opportunity for his crucial talks with Mercedes. News of a new deal would also be timely, given Schumacher’s special connection with the Belgian grand prix, and the fact the 2012 event coincides with the triple-century milestone in the 43-year-old’s epic grand prix career.

But Haug, carmaker Mercedes’ motor racing chief, insisted the sport’s fans and media should not be expecting that news at Spa.

“I doubt there will be an announcement at Spa. This is going to take a little bit longer,” he is quoted by SID news agency.

Schumacher made his F1 debut at Spa-Francorchamps in 1991, winning his first of 91 career victories at the same Belgian circuit a year later. He won five other Belgian grands prix (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002), which is an outright record.


Alguersuari: ‘Many problems’ at Toro Rosso also last year

Half a season into 2012, Jaime Alguersuari has aimed fire at his former team Toro Rosso.

The Red Bull-owned squad controversially dumped its established race drivers Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi at the end of last year. They opted instead for the energy drink outfit’s latest hotshot rookies Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, but at the mid-point of the current season, Toro Rosso has just 6 points on the board.

The Faenza based outfit is also believed to have split with its veteran technical chief Giorgio Ascanelli, over a disagreement about the direction of the team. Asked for his two cents, Spaniard Alguersuari told AS newspaper: “Honestly, for me it’s in the past and I am only looking forward.

“All I will say is that we had many problems there with the way things were done, but it’s not my problem any more. Now I need to keep looking to find a project for the future, which is something they didn’t give me,” the 22-year-old added.

Nevertheless, the feeling is the paddock is that Toro Rosso and Red Bull will definitely give Ricciardo and Vergne at least another full season in 2013.

“So far Daniel is doing a good job,” team boss Franz Tost said last month. “He is a highly skilled driver. Jean-Eric Vergne is new, so of course all the tracks are new for him,” Austrian Tost added. “But also he is a highly skilled driver. I rate him very high. He is doing a good job and improving from race to race and if we provide the drivers with a good car they show a good performance.”


Alonso: We have to stay focused

Fernando Alonso was happy and yet concerned after Sunday’s Hungarian grand prix.

A week after winning at Hockenheim, the Spaniard actually extended his 34 point lead in the championship to 40 points in Hungary, despite finishing just fifth. But the Ferrari driver confided to Spain’s AS newspaper: “Actually we should have finished seventh.”

He was obviously referring to McLaren’s Jenson Button – sixth in Hungary a week after finishing second in Germany – and also his closest points rival Mark Webber, who had a bad weekend and finished a poor eighth on Sunday.

“We know that Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus have faster cars,” Alonso is quoted by the Italian agency AGI. “We have changes to make ahead of the next races. I think we have to stay focused, not worried. We must go on holiday knowing that our lead is not enough to win the championship.”