Alonso furious at Ferrari in India?

Fernando Alonso almost lost his temper ahead of last Sunday’s Indian grand prix, the Italian newspaper La Stampa reports.

The newspaper said the Spaniard was furious after the Maranello based team’s technical boss Pat Fry blamed the drivers for a sub-standard qualifying performance.

“The result reflects our current potential,” said Fry after Alonso qualified fifth in India.

“But in order to be where we wanted and where we were capable of being, we needed to be perfect today and we weren’t,” he added.

Alonso went into the Indian GP weekend bemoaning the fact that, despite always talking up Ferrari’s improvements, the F2012 has not substantially improved for several races.

And his characterisation of his title battle as a head-to-head with Red Bull’s Adrian Newey might also be interpreted as a slight on Newey’s Ferrari equivalents.

La Stampa said that when Alonso heard about Fry’s post-qualifying comments, he “went into a rage”.

“(Stefano) Domenicali tried to calm him down … but the discussion continued until 1am,” the report added.

The newspaper said Alonso drafted on his phone a message to his Twitter fans that read: “I want my 1.2 million followers to know that the key aerodynamic components at the rear of the Ferrari are still the same as they were in May”.

La Stampa reported: “It took a lot of persuading Alonso not to press the submit button.”

Domenicali commented: “You (the media) are good at creating stories that do not exist.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Alonso is right to push the engineers.”

Felipe Massa, meanwhile, revealed to Brazil’s Totalrace that his F2012 was not in the same specification as Alonso’s in India last weekend.

“I had half as much as him,” said the Brazilian, “and even more will arrive in Abu Dhabi.”

In the wake of the reported Twitter affair, Alonso told his 1.2 million followers that his fighting spirit is intact for the remaining three races of 2012.

“If the sword breaks, fight with your hands,” he said, quoting a samurai. “If they cut your hands, push the enemy with your shoulders, even your teeth.”


Sandstorm in Abu Dhabi

As the F1 world touches down in Abu Dhabi, the region is sweeping up the mess after a severe sandstorm.

The high winds had locals and early arrivals among F1’s global travellers shielding their eyes and running for cover on Monday afternoon.

Authoritative F1 source RMC Sport, of France, said the storm caused some minor damage around Abu Dhabi, but the Yas Marina circuit “seems not to have been affected” other than a blanket of dust and sand on the track surface.


Lauda insists Brawn’s top job not endangered

Niki Lauda has now started his new job at Mercedes, insisting his presence does not endanger the Brackley based team’s current boss, Ross Brawn.

Officially, the Austrian great’s role is to ensure a better link between the racing team in the UK, and the German carmaker’s headquarters in Stuttgart.

“The job has already begun,” Lauda told Bild newspaper. “I have a lot of contact with Ross Brawn. I want to learn what the problems are.”

The 63-year-old revealed he has already been to Mercedes’ Brackley factory three times, giving fuel to speculation he might soon replace Brawn, three years after the Michael Schumacher project is acknowledged to have failed. But Lauda insists he has a “great relationship” with Briton Brawn.

Asked if Brawn’s job has ever been in doubt, Lauda answered: “Never. It’s not even been discussed. Ross has not been in danger and he never will be. He’s the boss.

“I’m just the head of the supervisory board. I just have to look at everything and ask ‘What are the strengths, what are the weaknesses?'” added Lauda.


Marko: Vettel-Ferrari rumour ‘to upset Red Bull’

The ‘Vettel to Ferrari’ story that emerged with renewed vigour in recent days was planted to disrupt Red Bull, Dr Helmut Marko has suggested.

Runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel slammed the story after winning Sunday’s Indian grand prix, calling it “bullsh*t”. Some paddock figures suggested the source of the rumour could be Ferrari itself, whose Fernando Alonso is locked in a head-to-head battle with Vettel for the 2012 championship. Responding to the rumours, Red Bull’s Marko is quoted by SID news agency: “It was totally unnecessary, because someone just wanted to create unrest for us.”

But the Austrian did not point the finger at Ferrari, insisting: “I do not know where it came from. All I know is that it’s not true.

“Sebastian has a fixed contract with us through 2014. And Seb’s not stupid. Alonso is fixed until 2016 with Ferrari and he’s not going to be his teammate.”


Mallya: Sutil could replace Hulkenberg

Vijay Mallya on Monday suggested former Force India driver Adrian Sutil is a possible contender to replace Nico Hulkenberg in 2013.

But Mallya, the Silverstone based team’s co-owner and boss, said he is not certain German Hulkenberg is switching to Sauber.

“I hear from the media that Nico has signed with Sauber,” he is quoted by the Indian Express. “He hasn’t sat down with me and told me that,” added Mallya.

But if Hulkenberg does go, Mallya is confident he will not be difficult to replace.

“Yes absolutely, why not? Never forget I always have the potential of considering Sutil again. Sutil is always quick. So there are many options,” he said.

Sutil was a long-time Force India driver until last season, when he was embroiled in the Chinese nightclub assault saga and thereafter lost his seat.


Lotus says Raikkonen staying in 2013

Lotus on Monday said Kimi Raikkonen is staying with the team in 2013.

Team boss Eric Boullier said after the Indian grand prix that Romain Grosjean “has his place” with the Enstone based team, despite his sometimes tumultuous 2012 season.

Now, it appears Finn Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who returned to F1 this year after a world rallying foray, is also definitely staying.

Lotus posted a video on Youtube that said at the end: “Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus F1 team in 2013. The story continues.”


Marko: Buemi could go to Force India

Red Bull’s reserve driver Sebastien Buemi on Sunday had a meeting with Force India officials, Blick newspaper reports from India.

The Swiss, who lost his Toro Rosso race seat at the end of last season, has already been named as a possible successor for the probably Sauber-bound Nico Hulkenberg. Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko also seemed to confirm the possibility Buemi is in with a shot of the Force India cockpit.

“If Buemi doesn’t go to Force India,” he is quoted by the Swiss newspaper Blick, “then we want to keep him. He might also do the (sports car) endurance world championship with Toyota,” added Marko.


Webber apologised after press conference snub

Mark Webber walked out of the official FIA press conference after Sunday’s Indian grand prix.

The incident occurred at the tail end of the media formalities at the Buddh circuit, when not a single question from the floor was addressed to the Australian. So, when Bild newspaper’s Frank Schneider asked title contenders Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel what they would each like from one another, Vettel turned to Alonso and grinned: “Ah, no, you have a cap.

“I was just about to say his cap, but … where did you get that from?” Webber’s Red Bull teammate joked.

Alonso looked puzzled: “I can give it (the cap) to you but … I didn’t understand the …”

Webber, “shaking his head” according to the SID news agency, had already walked out.

F1’s media delegate Matteo Bonciani told the Indian news agency IANS that he later apologised.

“He said it is something he should not have done. Maybe he did that as he didn’t like the questions asked in the room,” said Bonciani.

Bonciani told SID: “He apologised and I accepted.”

He confirmed that he could have referred Webber to the stewards for penalty, but explained: “I didn’t (do that) because anyone can respond incorrectly in the heat of the moment.

“Normally there are no problems.”

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko also defended Webber.

“Mark actually had an early fight and was running late,” he told Bild. “So because the last question was not for him, he got up (and left).”

Marko also dismissed the ‘psychological games’ played by Ferrari’s Alonso in India this weekend, when the Spaniard said his title fight is not with Vettel but with car designer Adrian Newey.

“It’s just games,” he insisted. “But they don’t make us nervous.”


Boullier: Grosjean ‘has his place’ after Indian GP performance

Romain Grosjean’s future is secure thanks to a good performance in the Indian Grand Prix last weekend, according to Lotus team boss Eric Boullier.

Boullier’s comments come after a tumultuous period for Grosjean, whose career has been in doubt due to his multitude of early-race incidents on his return to the sport in 2012.

Boullier told RMC Sport after the Indian grand prix: “Romain did a great race, doing what was expected of him. He did a good start. He was able to fight and win places. He drove well with no errors.

“I think he has really showed his potential and that he has his place. His confidence has taken a big leap forwards, he is more calm now and he will build on it,” he added.


Paul Ricard seeking more talks with Ecclestone

Paul Ricard will hold more talks with Bernie Ecclestone over France’s potential return to the F1 calendar in 2013.

After the circuit’s boss Stephane Clair last week indicated a “90 per cent” possibility that France will replace the delayed New York grand prix next year, F1’s chief executive Ecclestone indicated similarly in India on Sunday.

“We are ready to sign,” he said. “Which circuit they are going to use is one thing (to resolve), and who is going to pay for it. That’s the bottom line.”

Clair is now quoted by the French-language “Bernie Ecclestone never speaks in a vacuum.

“He has told the teams by announcing that there will be 20 races in 2013, not 19, despite the withdrawal of the grand prix of New Jersey.

“The message is heard,” he added. “We will try to continue the negotiations next week.” predicted that the story will continue to develop behind the scenes this week, as F1 gathers in Abu Dhabi for the next race.