Brazil GP could be last race for HRT

According to strong paddock rumours, Sunday’s Brazilian grand prix will be the last lap for ailing backmarkers HRT. Publicly looking for a buyer, it is reported that staff have actually already been served with pending redundancy notices that will come into effect after the chequered flag waves on Sunday.

“None of us know what will happen,” team driver Pedro de la Rosa, who was expected to stay at the Spanish team in 2013, admitted to reporters in Brazil.

When asked about the redundancy notices, he answered: “All I know is that we are here and that everyone here has not received anything.

“What happens after is unknown,” added de la Rosa. “I hope the team continues but at this moment in time I cannot say any more.”

Source:GMM

Raikkonen skips Thursday for longer LA holiday

Kimi Raikkonen, undoubtedly F1’s most laid back driver, reportedly skipped Thursday’s proceedings at Interlagos.

Normally, drivers attend media and sponsor functions, meet with their engineers and walk the circuit at grand prix venues on the day before the official practice action kicks off.

But according to the Finnish MTV3 broadcaster, 2007 world champion Raikkonen was on Thursday still holidaying in Los Angeles, in the wake of last weekend’s US grand prix in Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier denied reports the 33-year-old has not been paid all the points bonus money he is contractually entitled to.

“Kimi has got all the money which he has earned so far,” the Frenchman insisted.

Source:GMM

Ecclestone: Interlagos needs ‘some plastic surgery’

Bernie Ecclestone is pushing organisers of the Brazilian grand prix to improve the ageing facilities at Interlagos.

The circuit is regarded as one of the most outdated on the entire F1 calendar, and Speed Week reports that the sport’s chief executive will meet with track officials on Saturday. Interlagos’ existing grand prix contract runs only to 2014.

Brazil’s Globo reports that Ecclestone recently travelled to Santa Catarina, a state in southern Brazil, to hear about plans for a proposed new formula one venue designed by Hermann Tilke. Ecclestone, however, denied he is seriously considering dumping Interlagos.

“We do not have that intention,” he said. “We like Sao Paulo. It’s an old race track, a bit tired, but with a good update and some plastic surgery, it’ll be alright,” added Ecclestone.

“I know it will happen soon.”

Source:GMM

F1 heads to Brazil amid Sao Paulo crime wave

A nervous F1 circus has travelled to Sao Paulo for F1’s 2012 finale, amid reports of more than 1000 murders in the Brazilian city this year. Britain’s Guardian said the worse-than-usual bloodshed is due to drug-linked organised crime.

“We are not staying in gangland, though the track is near there,” a team boss is quoted as saying. “But we don’t go out in team colours.”

Jenson Button, who two years ago was the victim of an attempted armed attack in Sao Paulo, admitted this week: “We are having armoured vehicles and a police escort.”

According to the Times newspaper, the US state department is describing the Sao Paulo violence as “critical” and has warned against gangs targeting foreigners.

Gangs aside, the F1 world – and title protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in particular – have their eyes on the weather forecast.

The leading Brazilian authority Climatempo is predicting “intense rain” for qualifying and the race.

With Ferrari’s Alonso hoping desperately for rain in order to pull back the dominance of Vettel’s Red Bull, Dr Helmut Marko insisted: “Sebastian is also an excellent rain driver.”

McLaren’s Button commented: “There is a massive chance that it could be chucking it down. It (the title) is definitely not done.”

Source:GMM

Hill: Anything is possible in Brazil

According to 1996 champion Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso still has a significant chance of winning the 2012 world championship this weekend.

“If he had any other opponent, I would say that Sebastian would definitely win with his 13 points advantage,” the Briton told the German newspaper Die Welt. “But you can’t write off someone like Fernando Alonso. He is such a clever and tough driver and he always seems to pull off something extraordinary. Anything is possible in Brazil.”

Nonetheless, the mainly Ferrari-loving readers of Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport concede that Alonso has only a 20 per cent chance to win in Brazil.

“He has an advantage, no question,” Hill agreed. “If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say the odds at 65 per cent in favour of Vettel.”

And if German Vettel does add a third consecutive title to his tally on Sunday – a feat not achieved so early in Michael Schumacher’s career – Hill thinks the 25-year-old could be on the road to eventually eclipsing Schumacher’s record achievements.

“Someday, he certainly could,” Hill said. “It’s still a long way away of course. But he could certainly venture into that territory. If Vettel wins in Brazil, then you can certainly imagine him winning two more championships — at least.”

Karl Wendlinger, a former Sauber driver, told Austrian Servus TV this week that on a dry track and in the absence of reliability problems, Vettel should easily finish ahead of Alonso in Brazil.

So that is where the sport’s gaze is centred at the moment: on Red Bull and Renault’s last-minute efforts to solve the recurring alternator problem, and on a forecast of almost certain rain for both qualifying and the race in Sao Paulo.

“We want to win the race,” said Vettel. “Failing that, we want to be second or third.”

The podium, or even a fourth place, would guarantee Vettel the title. Still, Italy is not giving up.

“Believe in yourself, Ferrari,” La Gazzetta dello Sport hailed. “Believe in Fernando, the track, and the weather.”

Source:GMM

Marko ‘not relaxed’ as alternator crisis looms for F1 finale

On paper, Sebastian Vettel is the overwhelming favourite to seal his third consecutive drivers’ crown this weekend in Brazil. His 13-point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso means he can steer his ultra-competitive Red Bull to just fourth place at Interlagos and still set off for his winter slumber with the title.

“But Alonso still must win,” Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by Speed Week. “He must take the risk. That’s the important thing.”

But it’s not quite as simple as that. First, there is the pressure of the season finale, with Alonso a hardened, never-say-die samurai-loving competitor. And Marko acknowledged that Brazil is often a “crazy race”, even without the forecast high probability of rain.

But the Austrian insisted: “The only question mark is reliability. So no, I’m not relaxed.”

Marko is undoubtedly referring to Red Bull’s recurring alternator failures in 2012, the latest of which struck Mark Webber’s car in Austin. It was believed Renault offered Red Bull a brand new specification of the Magneti Marelli unit for the US grand prix, but in fact the reigning champions opted for the tried-and-tested previous version.

Spain’s Mundo Deportivo newspaper said Red Bull will definitely use the brand new specification for the Sao Paulo finale.

“We are ready with the new one,” Renault’s Remi Taffin is quoted by Brazil’s Globo Esporte. “Generally we feel more comfortable with something we have known for a long time, but we have tested the new design and so there’s no need to be worried,” he added.

Source:GMM

Brazil GP planning retirement send-off for Schumacher

Organisers of this season’s F1 Brazilian Grand Prix are planning to send Michael Schumacher back into retirement in style.

In late 2006, the seven time world champion entered his first retirement with a pre-race celebration on the Interlagos grid involving soccer legend Pele. Now, with the 43-year-old’s ultimate trip into retirement also coinciding with a Brazilian season finale, race organisers are planning a similar send-off.

But for now, the details are top secret.

“Just beforehand we will talk with Bernie Ecclestone, so as we do not interfere with any of the other activities,” Interlagos chief Claudia Ito is quoted by Agencia Estado.

Ito is also quoted by Globo: “You’ll all be surprised. Even Bernie doesn’t know what will happen. I am sure Schumacher will like it,” he added.

Source:GMM

Webber: Vettel must hope for dry weather in Brazil

If – as is expected – the 2012 title battle goes down to the wire, Mark Webber is not sure he would put his money on his Red Bull teammate.

With a 10 point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the faster car, Sebastian Vettel is the overwhelming favourite to win his third consecutive drivers’ championship late this month. But according to Webber, who like Vettel also races the RB8, the 25-year-old German should be worried if bad weather is forecast for Sao Paulo.

“Sebastian needs dry weather there,” the Australian told Austrian Servus TV this week. “He can also drive in the rain, but Fernando is very strong. And it can be wet in Sao Paulo.”

Another factor, he said, is the nature of championship showdowns, and the often tumultuous contests that take place at Interlagos.

“In Sao Paulo there is always some drama,” said Webber.

Indeed, he tipped the 2012 finale to be “very dramatic”.

Source:GMM

Ecclestone approves plan to move Interlagos pits

Bernie Ecclestone has approved plans to radically upgrade the Interlagos circuit, scene of the annual Brazilian grand prix in Sao Paulo.

O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper reports that the plans were presented to the London office of the sport’s chief executive on Wednesday of this week. The newspaper said Ecclestone’s approval of the sweeping plans essentially guarantees the organisers will retain the event beyond the 2014 contract until at least 2020.

Briton Ecclestone reportedly agreed that the plans comply with what he requested.

Recently, the 81-year-old said: “Brazil will have the next World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. It makes sense.

“I have long believed in Brazil — we’ve been there since 1972,” Ecclestone added. “The future of Formula One Brazil depends now on major improvements at Interlagos,” he said. “These events (World Cup and Olympics) are a great opportunity to look at the circuit as well.

“I can no longer be questioned by the teams about why we are racing at the worst circuit in the championship,” said Ecclestone.

Ecclestone demanded a drastic improvement in the ageing and cramped pit and paddock area at Interlagos. But because of the steep terrain beyond the current paddock area, the organisers proposed to move the pits and start-finish line to the expansive area on the long straight after the Senna-S and Curva do Sol.

Source:GMM