Reporter senses conspiracy after Alonso exit

A Spanish newspaper reporter has concocted a conspiracy theory in the days since Fernando Alonso’s first-lap retirement at Suzuka last weekend.

Diario AS Correspondent Manuel Franco reminds his readers that, at Spa, it was Lotus’ Romain Grosjean who triggered the chaos that ended former runaway championship leader Alonso’s race. Then in Japan, it was the sister Lotus, driven by Kimi Raikkonen, who made contact with the Ferrari.

“There are suspicious ones in the paddock,” Franco insisted.

Perhaps he is referring to the fact that it was Alonso who pushed Raikkonen out of Ferrari – and, indeed, F1 – at the end of 2009. Or maybe there is an Enstone factor at play, like when Renault’s Vitaly Petrov blocked Alonso in Abu Dhabi, ultimately costing the Spaniard the 2010 title.

Renault, remember, is now Lotus, and they both shared an engine supplier with Ferrari’s main championship rival, Red Bull.

“This is F1,” Franco, defending the possible conspiracy, concluded.

Referring to the Raikkonen contact at Suzuka, however, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali does not smell a rat.

“It was a normal racing accident, as I am sure that Kimi meant no harm,” the Italian is quoted as saying by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

Source:GMM

Boullier: Grosjean’s career not in danger ‘for now’

Eric Boullier was vague when asked if Romain Grosjean’s constant first-lap crashes have endangered his future in F1.

“Not for now,” said the Lotus team boss, who doubles as the head of the Gravity company that manages the beleaguered Frenchman’s career.

After his Monza race ban, Grosjean was back in trouble at Suzuka when he incurred the furious Mark Webber’s wrath for yet another first-corner crash.

“Maybe we need two separate starts — one for him, one for us,” the Australian, having earlier slammed Grosjean as a “nutcase”, told the BBC.

Pundits up and down the paddock have called on the FIA to get race bans at the ready once again for Grosjean, who was close to tears when he spoke to reporters in Japan. The French-language RMC wondered if Grosjean’s entire career could be in peril. For now, Boullier is defending his driver.

“Even Schumacher had a lot of crashes at the start of his career,” he said. “But everyone in the team is frustrated, me included.”

The RMC Sport report said Grosjean should be able to hang on to his seat for 2013, given that Lotus’ most important sponsor, Total, also staunchly backs the 2011 GP2 champion. The report also said Lotus’ contract ‘option’ to retain Grosjean in 2013 expires the day after Sunday’s Korean grand prix.

“Before Japan, there was no doubt that this clause would be affected,” the report read.

Now, the priority is simply to get Grosjean back on track.

“You can change anything you want in the environment around him, but in the end it is he who must learn to control the pressure,” said Boullier.

And that pressure has ramped up to fever-pitch in the mere days before Grosjean must make yet another race-start.

“He has a lot of talent and could achieve great things,” French former F1 driver Olivier Panis said. “But it’s not going to pay off in the long term if he keeps behaving like that.”

British Sky television commentator Martin Brundle added: “His judgement is clearly wrong in close combat and I don’t know what he can do about it.

“You can’t consciously start making decisions (at the start of a race). And then when you start getting tense about that, it’s all the more likely to happen.”

Source:GMM

Button gets Japanese GP grid penalty for gearbox change

Jenson Button faces a five place grid penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix due to a gear box change.

After Lewis Hamilton retired from the Singapore Grand Prix over a gearbox issue, the McLaren team inspected Button’s gearbox and found that it had an identical problem to his teammate’s. The team were left with no option but to change Button’s gearbox for a new one. This gearbox change means that the Brit will be handed a five place penalty.

Lewis Hamilton will also start the Japanese Grand Prix with a new gearbox however he will not be given a penalty as he did not finish the last race.

Japan visa problem for Chinese F1 driver Ma Qing Hua

HRT’s Chinese test driver Ma Qing Hua might have to sit out next weekend’s Japanese grand prix.

According to Speed Week, the Spanish team intended the 24-year-old to drive Narain Karthikeyan’s car during Friday morning practice at Suzuka next week.

But he is apparently having trouble securing a visa for entry to Japan.

China and Japan – Asia’s two biggest economies – are locked in an escalating row over the disputed Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

Source:GMM

Schumacher handed 10 place grid penalty at Suzuka

Michael Schumacher has been handed a 10 place grid-slot penalty for the upcoming race in Suzuka for his accident with Jean-Eric Vergne during the Singapore Grand Prix.

Schumacher smashed into the back of Vergne as he lost control of his car under breaking. Both drivers had to retire from the race following the incident. Stewards have decided that the German driver should be handed a 10-place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Schumacher has said that he believes there could have been a problem with his car.

“I just went straight on the brakes very hard, locked up everything and tried to brake as hard as possible,” he said. “But the accident wasn’t avoidable any more.”

Lotus delays ‘the device’ debut until Suzuka

Lotus will not race its highly-anticipated double DRS-inspired ‘device’ at least until Suzuka next month.

The Enstone based team intended to use the straightline speed-boosting system at Spa, but Friday’s practice sessions were a washout.

And Lotus will also not fit the device to Kimi Raikkonen and Jerome d’Ambrosio’s cars at Monza, due to the unique low-downforce configuration of the historic track.

“In Singapore you won’t see it either,” said technical director James Allison, “because it’s too high a downforce circuit with insufficient straights for it to be worthwhile.

“The earliest you might see it now is Suzuka,” he added.

Source:GMM