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F1 news: Timo Glock axed by Marussia

Glock shock! Marussia dump driver to leave rookie Chilton waiting for new team-mate

By
Phil Duncan

PUBLISHED:

12:31 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

19:22 GMT, 21 January 2013

British Formula One rookie Max Chilton is on the lookout for a new team-mate after Timo Glock was surprisingly dumped by Marussia.

Reports gathered on Sunday evening that Glock, who has raced for Maurssia since the team made their debut in 2010, would leave.

And the news was confirmed today with the F1 team citing ‘commercial’ considerations behind their decision.

Your Timo's up: Glock has been axed by Marussia ahead of the new 2013 F1 season

Your Timo's up: Glock has been axed by Marussia ahead of the new 2013 F1 season

‘Timo is a fantastic driver and he has been a very popular member of the team,’ said Marussia chief John Booth.

‘Our team was founded on the principle of benefiting from proven experience while also providing opportunities for young emerging talent to progress to the pinnacle of motorsport.

‘Thus far, this philosophy has also been reflected in our commercial model.

‘And the ongoing challenges facing the industry mean that was have had to take steps to secure our long-term future.’

In a spin: Rookie Brit driver Max Chilton will be looking for a new team-mate after the German (right) was let go

In a spin: Rookie Brit driver Max Chilton will be looking for a new team-mate after the German (right) was let go

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Glock, who made his debut for Jordan in 2004 before spending two seasons at Toyota, wanted a bigger salary but Maurssia need a driver who can bring sponsorship to the cash-strapped team.

The British-based team suffered a hefty financial blow after conceding 10th place to Caterham in the closing stages of the season-finale in Brazil last year.

Bruno Senna, who was dropped by Williams, and Red Bull reserve driver Sebastien Buemi, are among the early favourites to replace Glock.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton will have a new boss at Mercedes next season after Williams shareholder Totto Wolff joined the team as an executive director.

The 41-year-old Austrian replaces Hamilton’s close ally Norbert Haug who left at the end of last season.

Starting out: Britain's Max Chilton will join the grid for the first time this season

Starting out: Britain's Max Chilton will join the grid for the first time this season

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton will have a new boss at Mercedes next season after Williams shareholder Toto Wolff joined the team as an executive director.

The 41-year-old Austrian replaces Hamilton's close ally Norbert Haug who left at the end of last season.

McLaren worse without Lewis Hamilton – Christian Horner

Red Bull team principal Horner says McLaren will be worse without Hamilton

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UPDATED:

08:37 GMT, 28 November 2012

McLaren will be a poorer team next season without Lewis Hamilton, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

Hamilton, who joins Mercedes on a three-year deal in 2013, saw his lengthy association with the British team end in failure after he was forced to retire from the lead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton will be replaced by Sergio Perez, who failed to score a single point in the six races since his move to McLaren was announced in September.

Impact: Christian Horner thinks McLaren will miss Lewis Hamilton

Impact: Christian Horner thinks McLaren will miss Lewis Hamilton

Switch: Hamilton (right) is leaving for Mercedes in 2013

Switch: Hamilton (right) is leaving for Mercedes in 2013

‘McLaren is a weaker team without Lewis,’ said Horner. ‘They would admit that.’

‘Lewis is an outstanding driver and in Lewis and Jenson Button they had a hugely strong driver line-up.’

Hamilton joins a Mercedes team who ended the season desperately off the pace.

But Horner, who last night joined over 500 of his Red Bull colleagues in celebrating Sebastian Vettel’s world championship triumph, still believes Hamilton will be a contender for the title next term.

‘Whichever team had taken Lewis, he will be an asset,’ Horner added.

‘Lewis will naturally bring performance to Mercedes. Fernando Alonso, Lewis and indeed Jenson are very strong threats for next year.’

Vettel completed a hat-trick of titles last Sunday after finishing sixth at the season-ending race in Brazil.

Chat: Mark Webber, Horner, Sebastian Vettel, David Coulthard and Adrian Newey speak to the Red Bull team

Chat: Mark Webber, Horner, Sebastian Vettel, David Coulthard and Adrian Newey speak to the Red Bull team

The 25-year-old German fought his way from the back of the pack after a collision with the Williams of Bruno Senna on the opening lap to beat Alonso to the title by just three points.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

After strong comeback drives in Abu Dhabi, where he finished third after starting from the pit-lane, and in Interlagos, Vettel has done his best to dampen accusations that his strongest performances only come from the front of the pack.

‘It’s actually a little bit of comedy to look back now and you were the driver who can’t overtake,’ said Vettel. ‘Now after just two races people have changed their mind.

‘To win from the front or to come through the field it is the same thing. You still do your best.

‘People credit the fact that you have overtaken drivers more than pulling away from the front and building a lead.

‘Maybe they don’t understand how much it is worth to pull out a gap’

Vettel was gifted sixth place in Sunday’s rain-hit race after Michael Schumacher allowed his fellow countryman to pass with relative ease.

Triple champ: Vettel (left) secured his third consecutive F1 drivers title at the weekend

Triple champ: Vettel (left) secured his third consecutive F1 drivers title at the weekend

It was Schumacher’s final grand prix before retiring from the sport for a second time, and Horner believes the manoeuvre was very significant.

‘Michael is renowned for being a tough racer but it was his gesture to Sebastian,’ added Horner.

‘It was almost like passing the baton on. It wouldn’t have been well received at his former team but Michael obviously felt it was something he wanted to do and it was very generous.’

On Schumacher, Vettel, who could challenge his fellow countryman’s incredible record of seven world titles, added: ‘He is extremely happy for me.

‘It is a great gift and great part of your character if you can be truly happy for somebody else because I think there is a lot of guys who pretend to be happy buy they’re not.

‘In that regard it is impressive after what he has achieved.’

Michael Schumacher to make most of Brazil Grand Prix retirement

Schumacher determined to make the most of Brazil retirement party in F1 swan song

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UPDATED:

16:12 GMT, 20 November 2012

Michael Schumacher heads into retirement from Formula One for a second time this weekend determined to savour his farewell finale.

Six years ago Schumacher faced an end-of-season showdown in Brazil hopeful of claiming an eighth world title before saying goodbye, only to lose out to Fernando Alonso, then with Renault.

On this occasion, after three unsuccessful years with Mercedes, the 43-year-old at least has the opportunity to revel in the moment when he will compete in his 308th – and final – grands prix at Interlagos on Sunday.

Last hurrah: Michael Schumacher (centre left) is set for his final race in F1

Last hurrah: Michael Schumacher (centre left) is set for his final race in F1

'Interlagos is the right place to round off my career because so much of the fascination of Formula One is rooted there,' said Schumacher.

'I always enjoy the enthusiasm of the fans, and it's simply a great circuit which has seen many memorable events and always produces spectacular races as the unique layout guarantees plenty of action.

'For me, it's also the circuit that brings back my memories of Ayrton (Senna).

'My departure from Formula One will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we were still fighting for the title and everything was much more intense.

'This time around I will be able to pay more attention to my farewell and hopefully savour it too.'

Schumacher departs, however, with his legacy intact, if not a little tarnished by his three barren seasons with Mercedes.

His return at the start of 2010 was fanfare stuff, and there was hope of success given Mercedes had just taken over 2009 world champions Brawn GP.

Second coming: Schumacher could not recapture his former glory at Mercedes

Second coming: Schumacher could not recapture his former glory at Mercedes

Certainly with Ross Brawn at the helm, the man who had played a part in all seven of Schumacher's titles – two with Benetton and five with Ferrari – it seemed only a matter of time before he would win again.

But in 57 races with Mercedes, Schumacher has managed just one podium – that earlier this year in the European Grand Prix in Valencia where he was third.

Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Mercedes have not scored a point in their last five races, and Schumacher is currently on the worst drought of his career with a six-race pointless run.

It casts a shadow over his string of records, not just his titles, but also of his 91 race wins, 155 podium finishes and 68 poles.

For Schumacher to depart this time around, he would like it to be with a small semblance of dignity.

'I have had fantastic years in Formula One and a lot of support from fans around the world, and I wish to particularly thank them for that,' added Schumacher.

'Of course, I would be happiest if I could say goodbye with a strong race, and I am sure we will be doing everything we can to make it happen.'

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel third as Kimi Raikkonen wins- report

Vettel storms to podium finish from back of grid as Raikkonen wins in Abu Dhabi

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UPDATED:

15:33 GMT, 4 November 2012

Kimi Raikkonen scored his first Formula One victory for more than three years by taking the chequered flag at the end of an astonishing, incident-packed Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

As a name in Formula One – bearing in mind the team has gone through various guises and owners in recent times – this was Lotus' first triumph since the 1987 USA East Grand Prix in Detroit.

Raikkonen, who inherited the lead after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire on lap 20 with an electrical failure on his McLaren, becomes the eighth different driver to win a race this year.

Balancing act: Kimi Raikkonen celebrates winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Balancing act: Kimi Raikkonen celebrates winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Three amigos: Raikkonen won from Fernando Alonso (left) and Sebastian Vettel (right)

Three amigos: Raikkonen won from Fernando Alonso (left) and Sebastian Vettel (right)

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Result

1 Kimi Raikkonen
2 Fernando Alonso
3 Sebastian Vettel
4 Jenson Button
5 Pastor Maldonado
6 Kamui Kobayashi
7 Felipe Massa
8 Bruno Senna
9 Paul Di Resta
10 Daniel Ricciardo

Hot on Raikkonen's heels was Ferrari's
Fernando Alonso, who has only managed to cut the gap to title rival
Sebastian Vettel by three points to 10.

That was following a stunning drive from the pit lane to third by the 24-year-old German.

It was exhilarating stuff throughout the 55 laps, from the first corner, through two safety car sessions, to the end.

Messages to Raikkonen during the race were met with dismissive comments so typical of the Finn as at one stage he said: 'Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.'

Following his 19th career win, asked as to how he felt at triumphing in a race again, the 'Iceman' simply said: 'Not much really.'

Pressed for a response from David Coulthard, Raikkonen added: 'I'm very happy for the team. It's been a hard season, not an easy time, but hopefully this gives us more belief.

'I hope this can turn the tables and give us many more wins, if not this year then for next year.'

Main man: Vettel (right) came from the back of the grid to finish third

Main man: Vettel (right) came from the back of the grid to finish third

Second best: Alonso remains behind Vettel in the race for the drivers' title

Second best: Alonso remains behind Vettel in the race for the drivers' title

Team principal Eric Boullier said after last Sunday's Indian Grand Prix that he felt the elusive win for his team would have to wait until next year.

But seven days later Boullier was ecstatic as he said: 'Oh my God! Those last few laps were the longest of my life.

'This means a lot. It's the reward for everybody at Enstone after a tough three years. I am very happy for everybody at the factory.

'We missed out at the start of the season, which was frustrating, so I'm relieved for everybody.'

Alonso was content with second, despite the proximity of Vettel, and said: 'I'm very happy. We were not super competitive this weekend.

Driving through the pack: Sebastian Vettel started at the back of the grid

Driving through the pack: Sebastian Vettel started at the back of the grid

'We had to fight through the laps, then we had a good strategy that gave us a chance for the victory, but second was the maximum.'

Vettel, who swore twice during his questioning, was initially asked whether he believed he could be on the podium after starting from the pitlane.

With a smile, he replied: 'Yes, I did to be honest with you.

'After the first couple of laps the target was drifting. I had a messy start and damaged the front wing.

'During the first safety car there was a big mistake from Daniel (Ricciardo), but after that it was either full attack or nothing.

Clash: Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, Paul di Resta and Sauber's Sergio Perez touch wheels after the start of the race

Clash: Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, Paul di Resta and Sauber's Sergio Perez touch wheels after the start of the race

'The second safety car helped, then I had a nice fight with Jenson. It was a thrilling grand prix, up and down all the time.'

Asked about being so close to now winning his third world title, he said: 'There are still two races to go.

'We saw how things can change yesterday (when he was penalised for a fuel irregularity). There was a chance we could screw it up, but we didn't do that.'

Lap one was one to forget for Force India as Nico Hulkenberg was involved in a turn-one collision with Williams' Bruno Senna.

With a broken front-right suspension Hulkenberg was immediately ruled out of the race, whilst the incident also hurt team-mate Paul Di Resta as he punctured a tyre and dropped to the back of the field.

It also resulted in Mercedes' Nico Rosberg requiring a new front wing, whilst the Lotus of Romain Grosjean was also forced to pit.

Off track: Nico Hulkenberg crashes with Bruno Senna

Off track: Nico Hulkenberg crashes with Bruno Senna

All that swiftly elevated Vettel up three positions, but approaching the turn at the end of the longest straight in F1 on the first lap, he lost the right front-wing endplate after being clipped by Senna.

That proved significant, for although he was able to continue, during a safety car period when Rosberg hit and flew over the slowing HRT of Narain Karthikeyan on lap nine, he was involved in a minor incident.

Running behind Toro Rosso's Ricciardo, Vettel was forced to brake sharply to avoid contact with the Australian down the straight, hitting a polystyrene 'DRS' sign and further damaging the front wing.

The team then decided immediately to change the wing, as well as switching him on to a fresh set of soft tyres, asking him to stretch them to breaking point with a possible 42-lap run.

As Vettel cut his way through the field, others fell by the wayside, initially Hamilton on lap 20 as an electrical failure saw him grind to a halt.

It meant for the second time in four years at this track, and second time in five races this season, Hamilton was forced to retire whilst leading.

Smash: Nico Rosberg flies over Karthikeyan's car in a spectacular crash

Smash: Nico Rosberg flies over Karthikeyan's car in a spectacular crash

There was a consolation hug from team principal Martin Whitmarsh once Hamilton made his way back to the pit wall, but it will have been of little solace.

From a near-certain victory position, Hamilton then watched this crazy race continue to unfold, with the most of the action surrounding Red Bull's Mark Webber.

The Australian was involved in a turn 11 collision with Williams' Pastor Maldonado on lap 22, and then a few laps later with Felipe Massa in his Ferrari.

Despite the stewards investigating, with the four-man panel including British Racing Drivers' Club president Derek Warwick, they decided both were racing incidents that did not warrant penalty.

It was third time unlucky, however, for Webber on lap 39 as he was part of a four-way scrap for fifth involving Di Resta, Sauber's Sergio Perez, Grosjean and Webber.

Di Resta initially tussled with Perez, sending the Mexican off the track, but in returning, McLaren-bound Perez then collided with Grosjean who in turn struck Webber.

Off and running: Lewis Hamilton made an impressive start from pole position

Off and running: Lewis Hamilton made an impressive start from pole position

Following another swift investigation from the stewards they decided to hand Perez a 10-second stop-go penalty for causing a collision and forcing another driver off track.

All that had come one lap before Red Bull decided Vettel did require another set of tyres, but bringing him out in clean air in fourth as he had climbed as high as second.

The Perez-Grosjean-Webber smash brought the safety car out for a second time, further aiding Vettel's cause because with three laps remaining he finally squeezed past Button to claim third.

Ahead of him, Alonso managed to get within a second of Raikkonen, but never close enough to make a pass, so settling for second.

Behind the leading quartet were Maldonado, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, Massa, Senna, Di Resta and Ricciardo.

As for the constructors' championship, with Ferrari collecting 24 points and Red Bull 15 from this race, the gap is now 82, with only 86 available.

Indian Grand Prix 2012: Sebastian Vettel wins

Vettel continues winning run in India as German extends lead over rival Alonso

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UPDATED:

11:45 GMT, 28 October 2012

Sebastian Vettel made it four consecutive wins for the first time in a season in his Formula One career to strengthen his grip on securing a third successive world title.

Vettel led the Indian Grand Prix from lights to chequered flag to open up a 13-point lead over Fernando Alonso with three races remaining as the Ferrari star was forced to settle for second, albeit his best finish since a win in Germany in July.

Not since Jenson Button in 2009 has a driver chalked up four wins in a row, with Vettel's run to the championship finish line seemingly perfectly timed.

Main man: Sebastian Vettel (centre) celebrates winning the Indian Grand Prix

Main man: Sebastian Vettel (centre) celebrates winning the Indian Grand Prix

Indian Grand Prix Result

1 S Vettel Red Bull
2 F Alonso Ferrari
3 M Webber Red Bull
4 L Hamilton McLaren
5 J Button McLaren
6 F Massa Ferrari
7 K Raikkonen Lotus
8 N Hulkenberg Force India
9 R Grosjean Lotus

Mark Webber just managed to hold on to third in his Red Bull ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who trails by 75 points with only 75 to play for.

The hope, from anybody other than a Vettel fan, that the German would suffer some sort of mishap or other never materialised.

Once the five red lights disappeared to signal the start of the 60-lap race at the Buddh International Circuit, Vettel was faultless for the third consecutive grand prix, leading from stat to finish.

Since inheriting the lead from Hamilton in Singapore on lap 23 when the 27-year-old's car suffered a gearbox failure, Vettel has led every single lap since.

Vettel's running total is now 206 after lights-to-flag wins in Japan, Korea and India, leaving him just 58 adrift of the all-time record set by Ayrton Senna.

More importantly, of course, Vettel is closing in on becoming a three-time champion ahead of Alonso, and but for some sort of failure or incident over the final three races, it seems improbable anyone can stop him.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

Champagne moment: Vettel pulled further clear of Fernando Alonso in the drivers' championship

Thanks, love: Vettel sprays grid girls with champagne after his win in India

Thanks, love: Vettel sprays grid girls with champagne after his win in India

There was no danger off the line, certainly not from team-mate Webber alongside him following a third consecutive front-row lock-out from Red Bull, the first in their history.

The battle, instead, saw Alonso, Hamilton and Jenson Button dice wheel-to-wheel for the places behind, which was as enthralling as the action got because there was precious little to entertain afterward.

Come the end of that first lap Hamilton had lost two places, dropping from third to fifth as Button and Alonso diced their way by.

It did not take too long for Alonso to make a move on Button, with Hamilton doing likewise shortly after.

Given how easily the McLarens were at the mercy of Alonso over those opening laps, the suggestion was the Woking-based marque had erred as to their gear ratios to assist with top speed on the straights.

Pulling clear: Vettel started on pole and was never caught as he won the Indian Grand Prix

Pulling clear: Vettel started on pole and was never caught as he won the Indian Grand Prix

Pulling clear: Sebastian Vettel started on pole and was never caught as he won the Indian Grand Prix

With the running order Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, it remained that way for 43 laps until a KERS issue affected the second of the two Red Bulls.

Webber radioed in at one stage that he had no KERS, the power-boost system, only to be told it would return by his engineer.

It did eventually, but not soon enough as Alonso took second on lap 45, and, whilst Hamilton closed in, he ran out of laps as he trailed by 0.6secs come the death.

The minor placings went to Button, Ferrari's Felipe Massa, with Kimi Raikkonen seventh in his Lotus, the Finn now 67 points adrift.

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was eighth, followed by Romain Grosjean in his Lotus and Williams' Bruno Senna.

Michael Schumacher, soon to be retiring for a second time, suffered a first corner puncture after a minor collision with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne.

Collision: Debris flies in the air as drivers take the first corner (above) as marshals race to clear the track

Collision: Debris flies in the air as drivers take the first corner (above) as marshals race to clear the track

Run for it! Track marshals race back to the fence after collecting debris from the circuit

That dropped him to the back of the field, with embarrassment to follow as the seven-times champion was under investigation for ignoring blue flags, waved to backmarkers to allow the leaders by.

Following a second successive win in India, Vettel said: 'Everything has been incredible, from getting pole on Saturday to winning the race on Sunday.

'I don't know what it is about this circuit, but I really like the flow of it.

'A big thanks to the team. Every single person is pushing very hard, we're all working hand-in-hand together, either at the track or back at the factory in Milton Keynes, and that makes the difference.'

Vettel, however, dismissed the notion he had one hand on the title, adding: 'If you think about the world championship this is a good step for us.

Waiting in the wings: Alonso (behind) was unable to catch Vettel as he settled for second place

Waiting in the wings: Alonso (behind) was unable to catch Vettel as he settled for second place

'But we've a long way to go, and we've seen how quickly things can change.

'I'm just very proud and very happy. Now we have to focus on Abu Dhabi next week. We just have to take it step by step.'

Alonso, though, will not rest as he said: “It's not easy at the moment fighting Red Bull, but we will never give up.

'We're happy today. We lost minimum points, which was the plan because we were not quick enough, but better races will come. I'm sure we will do it.'

Team work: Vettel is congratulated by members of the Red Bull crew after his convincing victory

Team work: Vettel is congratulated by members of the Red Bull crew after his convincing victory

Webber was happy enough with third, despite his struggles towards the end, as he said: 'I enjoyed the fight.

'It was difficult for me to get into a rhythm, I had a few issues to manage inside the car, and it was a tough old GP.

'Lewis and Fernando were very strong on the hard tyre, and without KERS it was difficult, but I was happy with the way I drove.'

Michael Schumacher reprimanded for holding up HRT drivers in Korea

Schumacher left red-faced after German is reprimanded for holding up slowest drivers

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UPDATED:

10:17 GMT, 12 October 2012

Michael Schumacher suffered the ignominy of being reprimanded by the stewards for impeding the two HRTs during second practice for the Korean Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion, who will retire from the sport for a second time at the end of the season, was adjudged to have held up Pedro de la Rosa at turn three 48 minutes into the session, before again getting in the way of the Spaniard and his team-mate Narain Karthikeyan further round the lap.

Red faced: Michael Schumacher has been reprimanded for holding up the slowest team on the grid, HRT

Red faced: Schumacher has been reprimanded for holding up the slowest team on the grid, HRT (below)

Schumacher delays Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa

Schumacher delays Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa

Phil Duncan F1 blog

It is the latest punishment dished out to Schumacher this year.

He was denied pole position in Monaco as he had to serve a five-place grid penalty for taking Bruno Senna out of the Spanish Grand Prix, and a similar incident with Jean-Eric Vergne in Singapore earned him a 10-place penalty for last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

This reprimand will cause particular embarrassment as HRT have consistently been the slowest team in F1 since their arrival in the sport at the start of 2010.

Michael Schumacher given penalty after Jean-Eric Vergne crash

Schumacher slapped with 10-place grid penalty after crashing into Vergne

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UPDATED:

18:13 GMT, 23 September 2012

Michael Schumacher has been handed a 10-place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix after smashing into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne in Sunday's race in Singapore.

Seven-times world champion Schumacher admitted liability for the accident that occurred just after the midway point of the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. It followed the restart after a safety car period for HRT's Narain Karthikeyan hitting a barrier across Anderson Bridge.

In what was a repeat of two previous incidents – one at this track last year and one earlier this season when Schumacher ran into the rear of Williams' Bruno Senna in Barcelona – the stewards decided to heavily penalise the 43-year-old for the next race in Japan.

Mistake: Schumacher was penalised for crashing into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne

Mistake: Schumacher was penalised for crashing into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne

Schumacher collected a five-place penalty for the subsequent race in Monaco after hitting Senna, one which saw him start sixth after he had set the fastest time in qualifying.

On this occasion, given it was a repeat offence, the punishment was doubled, with the stewards stating: 'The penalty takes into account this is the second similar offence by the driver this season.

'The driver admitted the collision was his error due to the failure to anticipate the braking performance of the car with lower grip following a safety car period.'

Carnage: Schumacher admitted guilt for the accident appearing to apologise to Vergne (below)

Carnage: Schumacher admitted guilt for the accident appearing to apologise to Vergne (below)

Carnage: Schumacher admitted guilt for the accident appearing to apologise to Vergne (below)

For his part, Schumacher said: 'It was obviously a very unfortunate ending to my race when I ran into the car of Vergne, who accepted my apology straight afterwards.

'I am not totally sure why it happened. I was braking, but the deceleration was not as strong as it usually would be and I could not avoid running into the car in front of me.

'We have to find out what happened. Up until then I think it would have been possible to get some points.'

Sorry: The veteran is facing a ten-place grid drop at the Japanese Grand Prix

Sorry: The veteran is facing a ten-place grid drop at the Japanese Grand Prix

As the two men climbed out of their cars, Mercedes driver Schumacher waited for Vergne to come across, immediately putting his arm around the Frenchman before they headed back to their respective garages.

Toro Rosso driver Vergne said: 'I was focussing on catching Perez at that point, trying to brake late to catch him, so I am not too sure what happened exactly.

'I assume Michael braked a bit too late and could not avoid running into me.

'There is no sense in being angry about it because these things happen in racing and even the most experienced driver on the grid can make mistakes. 'He said sorry and that's the end of it.'

Lewis Hamilton closes in on move to Mercedes from McLaren

Mercedes close in on Hamilton: Lewis is the last piece in the jigsaw for Brawn

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 13 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton is edging ever closer to a move to Mercedes with a final decision on his future expected in the run-up to next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Sportsmail understands McLaren, having been firm favourites to retain his signature only weeks ago, now have no better than a 50-50 chance of keeping Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Mercedes’ bid to make the 27-year-old their undisputed No 1 driver, coupled with the chance to work with team principal Ross Brawn, has tempted Hamilton to consider leaving the team he joined as a teenager.

Talking the same language: Mercedes will offer Hamilton megabucks to join the Stuttgart-based marque

Talking the same language: Mercedes will offer Hamilton megabucks to join the Stuttgart-based marque

McLaren’s latest offer to Hamilton to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the current campaign, is understood to be worth considerably less than his existing 15million-a-year terms.

/09/13/article-0-14ECACBF000005DC-34_468x311.jpg” width=”468″ height=”311″ alt=”Waving goodbye Hamilton's decision on his future is imminent” class=”blkBorder” />

Waving goodbye Hamilton's decision on his future is imminent

Finances aside, Hamilton is understood to be excited by the prospect of working at Mercedes under Brawn, the man who helped guide Michael Schumacher to seven world titles at Benetton and Ferrari.

In addition, Jenson Button’s talent and Brawn’s ability to oversee the design of a world-beating car saw Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate capture the 2009 drivers’ title.

Mercedes’ driver line-up of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg has provided one victory in three seasons, secured by the latter in China this year.

But Hamilton is understood to be satisfied that, with Brawn at the helm and the backing of one of the planet’s biggest car manufacturers, Mercedes can provide him with a car capable of realising his dream of emulating Ayrton Senna’s record of three world titles.

Where do I sign Tactical guru Ross Brawn is said to be a key component in Hamilton's future

Where do I sign Tactical guru Ross Brawn is said to be a key component in Hamilton's future

Key to this belief is the fact that Mercedes, along with Ferrari and Renault, are developing the new V6 turbo engine scheduled to be used in Formula One from 2014.

Brawn admitted that while McLaren will remain a Mercedes customer, the fact his is the ‘works team’ means they are privy to all of the research and development of the new engine and are therefore better placed to design their car around it.

Meanwhile, Brawn views Hamilton as the final piece of the jigsaw when it comes to putting Mercedes on the top step of the podium. The offer is to be their team leader and is irrespective of whether Schumacher decides to retire for a second time.

Although Mercedes’ focus may be on ensuring the 2014 car is a winner, there is no reason to assume that next season need be a write-off.

Even Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said recently that Hamilton, with whom he shared a fractious year at McLaren, is ‘the only one of those at the top table who can win without having the best car’.

Idol: Hamilton is determined to equal Ayrton Senna's record of three world titles

Idol: Hamilton is determined to equal Ayrton Senna's record of three world titles

Alonso described his decision to quit McLaren as ‘the best of my career’, but there are many who would question the wisdom of the Briton doing the same.

After all, he is giving serious consideration to walking away from Ron Dennis, the McLaren supremo whom Hamilton approached as a 10-year-old saying: ‘Hi, I’m Lewis Hamilton. I won the British Karting Championship and one day I want to be racing your cars.’

Dennis told him to call back in nine years but was on the phone within three to offer Hamilton, then 13, a place in McLaren’s young driver programme and the chance of a Formula One contract. Such was his progress, it was only a matter of time before he was sat behind the wheel of a McLaren.

But Hamilton has since matured into a
man, much of his growing up done in the critical glare of the public
eye. And having already jettisoned his father Anthony as manager, he
will expect Dennis to release the remaining control he has over him,
with any new McLaren deal based on the premise of a better partnership
between driver and team.

History: Hamilton and Ron Dennis (pictured in 2007)

History: Hamilton and Ron Dennis (pictured in 2007)

McLaren can point to a record that
has seen them win one in four of the grands prix they have contested,
and Hamilton has been in the hunt for the world title in four of his six
seasons in the sport. But only recently this season have they tinkered
with their car to the extent that it is regarded as the fastest in the
field.

Clearly, the
assertion of McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, that talk of a
move to Mercedes for Hamilton was nothing more than ‘fantasy’ is wide
of the mark.

Under the floodlights that line the Singapore streets, McLaren might find such fantasy has become reality.

Mark Webber wins British Grand Prix at Silverstone

Webber wins to close gap on Alonso as Hamilton and Button struggle at Silverstone

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UPDATED:

14:10 GMT, 8 July 2012

Mark Webber proved himself a genuine Formula One world title contender this season with victory in Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Last year at Silverstone Webber was contentiously ordered to hold station behind Sebastian Vettel as he closed in on his Red Bull team-mate in the dying stages at Silverstone.

Job done: Webber's Red Bull team rush to congratulate him as he crosses the finishing line

Job done: Webber's Red Bull team rush to congratulate him as he crosses the finishing line

HOW THEY FINISHED

1 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
4 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
6 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
7 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
8 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
9 Bruno Senna (Williams)
10 Jenson Button (McLaren)

But on Sunday it was Webber and
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso battling at the front at the death, with the
former grabbing the lead on lap 48 of the 52, going on to claim the
ninth victory of his career.

More importantly it has allowed
Webber to close the gap on Alonso at the top of the championship
standings to 13 points, with Vettel having to settle for third on this
occasion, and lying 29 points down.

Webber said: 'It was another great day for us, a great day for me. To win here again is a fantastic feeling.'

For the Britons, in front of a
sell-out 125,500 crowd, it was a day to forget as McLaren pair Lewis
Hamilton and Jenson Button were eighth and 10th, whilst Force India's
Paul di Resta retired after two laps.

High hopes: Webber jumps for joy after clinching his second British Grand Prix win

High hopes: Webber jumps for joy after clinching his second British Grand Prix win

High hopes: Webber jumps for joy after clinching his second British Grand Prix win

After two days of rain that have caused havoc on and around the circuit this year, with car parks turned into mudbaths, drivers and fans were able to enjoy a dry race.

To that end, as qualifying ended in the wet on Saturday, teams were given a free rein when it came to tyre choice at the start, and it was McLaren who opted for the wrong strategy.

They chose the hard compound for Hamilton and Button, while six of the seven ahead of the former – Alonso the exception – opted for the soft Pirellis.

In starting from pole and managing to
get the run into the first corner, Alonso was able to make his two-stop
plan work for the most part.

That was until his soft tyres in the final stint proved no match for
Webber on the hards, with the Australian making his move into Brooklands
with just over four laps remaining.

Leading the way: Webber overtook Alonso late in the race

Leading the way: Webber overtook Alonso late in the race

As for Hamilton, he finished where he started, with Ferrari's Felipe
Massa fourth ahead of Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, with
Mercedes' Michael Schumacher seventh.

Hamilton now finds himself 37 points down on Alonso, with Button cast
adrift in eighth, 79 points off the pace and with his title hopes fading
fast.

The 32-year-old, who started 16th, at least managed to collect a point
courtesy of a mistake on the penultimate lap from Force India's Nico
Hulkenberg.

For Di Resta, it was not the British Grand Prix he dreamed of as the Scot suffered his first retirement for 24 races.

Clear skies: The expected rain stayed away

Clear skies: The expected rain stayed away

Coming out of The Loop at turn five on the opening lap, Di Resta was
sent spinning into the large run-off area, sustaining a left-rear
puncture.

Although Di Resta managed to limp back to the pits, he sustained damage
to the floor that forced him back into the garage at the end of the
second lap, and ultimately out of the race.

Di Resta said: 'I've no indication as to what happened. I don't know if
someone caught me, but I picked up a puncture, and then the heavy damage
to the floor. There was no point carrying on.'

There was bitter frustration for Di Resta, felt by Sergio Perez too on
lap 12 as Pastor Maldonado again proved a danger to all around him.

From the seventh and ninth positions the duo pitted together, and after
returning to the track Perez was soon alongside Maldonado going into
Brooklands.

Missing out: Alonso had led the race from pole position before being overtaken

Missing out: Alonso had led the race from pole position before being overtaken

Missing out: Alonso had led the race from pole position before being overtaken

Although there was enough room for Perez to go round the outside,
Maldonado tried to shift to that line, only to bundle the Mexican off
track and out of the race.

It was the second time in successive races Maldonado has seemingly lost
the plot given his incident with Hamilton on the penultimate lap of the
European Grand Prix in Valencia a fortnight ago.

And for the second successive race Maldonado faces a post-grand prix
investigation by the stewards, with Perez demanding they take serious
action before another driver gets hurt.

A furious Perez said: 'He has no respect for other drivers. He is a very stupid driver.

'I don't know why the stewards don't take more action against him. He deserves a big penalty.

It's the pits: Webber comes in for a pit-stop

It's the pits: Webber comes in for a pit-stop

'We are risking our lives out there and if they (the stewards) don't do something he will hurt someone.

'For all the drivers he is very dangerous driver on the circuit.'

Team-mate Kamui Kobayashi later proved a danger to his own pit crew as
he sent four flying in coming in for his second stop at the end of lap
37.

That prompted Kobayashi into issuing a sincere apology to his team over
the in-car radio, in particular as he left two of his mechanics
requiring medical attention.

A delighted Webber said: 'At the start Fernando had good pace, Fernando
started on a different tyre to us but we never gave up and kept pushing.

'It didn't work out for Fernando at the end, it was very, very close for him but we were able to capitalise.

Close encounter: Alonso got off to a good start

Close encounter: Alonso got off to a good start

'It's a special win for the team, we are a local team based just down
the road and it's incredible for them and it's another victory for
Renault Sport in the UK and I am very proud.

'Thanks to all the fans for sticking with us over the last few days.'

Alonso remained upbeat despite being denied a second consecutive victory
so late on, and echoed Webber in praising the Silverstone fans for
braving the sodden conditions.

'At the end Mark was much quicker than us and he deserves the win so
congratulations to him and the Red Bull team, but I am proud of
Ferrari's recovery in the last couple of weeks,' he said.

'We have fought for the wins in the last four races.

'Thanks to the fans for coming through the bad weather, I hope they enjoyed it.'

Mud bath: The car parks remained closed at Silverstone

Mud bath: The car parks remained closed at Silverstone

Champagne moment: Webber is right in contention for the driver's championship title

Champagne moment: Webber is right in contention for the driver's championship title

Champagne moment: Webber is right in contention for the driver's championship title

Champagne moment: Webber is right in contention for the driver's championship title

F1 Can the Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button show survive?

Can the Lewis and Jenson show survive Hamilton's desire for a new deal

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 30 June 2012

Lewis Hamilton still remembers the over-riding reaction to Jenson Button's arrival at McLaren, his home from home since childhood.

'People were saying: “Ah, there's going to be a war there”,' said Hamilton last week. 'That's what people wanted, of course. But we have shown we can exist together.'

Team-mates: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (right)

Team-mates: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (right)

At Silverstone next weekend, Hamilton and Button will compete for popularity, grid position and, ultimately, glory at the race that matters hugely to both, the Santander British Grand Prix.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Already they have survived six months longer together than the last two world champions McLaren placed alongside one another, when the reward for Ron Dennis's ambition to partner Ayrton Senna with Alain Prost induced civil war within the team.

After two-and-a-half years together at McLaren, Hamilton and Button are as instinctively driven and competitive as ever. But while they have homes near one another in Monaco, their lives never connect outside of business hours.

'We are good at working together but we don't see each other away from the circuit,' admitted Button. Last week, they worked tirelessly together to promote McLaren's brand ahead of a race of massive commercial importance to the team.

Good night Lewis and Nicole were in great spirits as they left around 3am

His other half: Lewis and Nicole Scherzinger

Yet, no matter the congeniality of the rivalry Hamilton and Button have fostered against the expectations of most in the pit-lane, such harmony is under threat. For Hamilton is at a crossroads.

After the three races that flow thick and fast in July – Silverstone, Hockenheim and Budapest – Hamilton will open negotiations with McLaren to determine if he accepts a new deal or walks out of the team where he was first groomed for stardom as a karting prodigy 15 years ago.

Hamilton's manager is Simon Fuller, battle-hardened from power struggles in Hollywood and the man behind TV show American Idol as well as David Beckham, the Spice Girls and Andy Murray. Fuller will be briefed that Red Bull, Ferrari and, perhaps, Mercedes are alert to Hamilton's availability as those teams deal with uncertainties surrounding, respectively, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher.

Could Hamilton, who has won 18 grands prix for McLaren, imagine walking into a new garage at the start of next season 'Professional sportsmen do move teams,' he said. 'Footballers do, so do racing drivers. Jenson has been with a lot of teams, for instance. It's different when you are in one of the top teams already, though. It would be tough to do.'

Primarily, Hamilton wants what all
dedicated, fast champions desire: the promise of a competitive car. Yet,
besides seeking a salary commensurate to his status as one of the three
fastest drivers in the world, alongside Sebastian Vettel, winner of the
past two world championships for Red Bull, and Fernando Alonso, another
double world champion who, against perceived wisdom, will begin the
British GP as leader of this season's title race, Fuller will be seeking
McLaren to change their culture.

F1 driver Lewis Hamilton (L) and TV presenter Melanie Sykes

Hamilton and TV presenter Melanie Sykes at Santander promotion of London Grand Prix

Hamilton's acrimonious year with Alonso at McLaren has been consigned
to history by a new, open relationship. 'Fernando has grown up, so have
I,' said Hamilton. 'We have good conversations. I am grateful to have
respect from such a phenomenal racing driver.'

Vettel and Alonso both have fewer demands on their time than Hamilton
has from McLaren, and a greater freedom to broaden their own commercial
brands.

Hamilton said: 'I haven't sat down and forged all the criteria I am looking for, but probably 95 per cent is ticked off within McLaren. There could be small things, like I'd like to keep my trophies I win. But Ron's never going to want to give them up. That's all right, I'll get him on the money side!'

Hamilton chuckles at the prospect of the negotiations ahead, the first since his father, Anthony, then his manager, sealed a 75m contract at the end of his first year in Formula One in 2007, which expires in December. 'I think we will be talking with Martin Whitmarsh, who, in case people forget, is the boss now,' said Hamilton. 'Ron will be always the guy who signed me and I expect he will have a huge impact on the discussions with Simon, but I have to respect Martin is the man who will make the decision. 'I'm sure I could call Simon now, and say: “Let's do it right away”. But I'm not focused on the contract and I haven't given it enough energy yet. But there's a period coming up when I'll be on holiday and be able to get on the phone to Simon.'

In all probability, the strategy will be designed between them in person when Hamilton is in the United States with his girlfriend, singer Nicole Scherzinger.

High drive: Hamilton (left) and Rio Ferdinand

High drive: Hamilton (left) and Rio Ferdinand

Hamilton has a strong hand. After Button's performances last season, when he became the first team-mate to get the upper hand over him, finishing second in the championship, Hamilton arrives at Silverstone third in the championship on 88 points, 39 points ahead of Button.

'All I'm thinking of this weekend is how I can help McLaren win, how we can make this car better and how I can extract more from these intelligent people around me,' said Hamilton, who has out-qualified Button in all eight races. Only a series of mistakes by the team, costing him more than 60 points, have prevented him from having outright command of the championship.

At 32, Button is five years older than Hamilton. He is also approaching his 13th British Grand Prix without having ever made the podium. 'Lewis is the fastest team-mate I have ever had over one qualifying lap,' said Button. 'I respect Lewis for what he has achieved. I respect his speed and the way he sets up a car. We'll share information at Silverstone, as always. We always know one another's race strategies, too.' Button's laid-back demeanour engenders affection, but wins in 13 grands prix reflect a sublime talent, despite a rash of poor results since starting the season with a win in Australia.

'You have difficult days and the last few races have been tough,' he acknowledged. 'But I know I'm doing a job most people would love to do. I've lived through tough times, I have lived through good times, and this is something I still love.' At Silverstone, Button will camp out in his motorhome in a field surrounded by family, old friends from Somerset and his girlfriend, model Jessica Michibata. His only concession to the partying around him will be to wear earplugs at night.

'Staying on site reminds me of being a kid going to races and staying in a caravan,' he said. 'The evenings will be relaxed but I'll be 100 per cent focused from the moment I wake. Any British driver wants to win the British Grand Prix. It's the trophy I want most of all.' Hamilton and Button's co-existence is founded on mutual respect.

'Jenson is massively focused,' said Hamilton. 'He's hugely respectful when I succeed, and I am the same with him. We've kept that balance.' Most of the pieces in Hamilton's life have fallen back into place after the traumas of last season. 'I don't have any baggage holding me back any more,' he said. His relationship with his father, strained to breaking point when he dismissed him as his manager, has been repaired. 'We went through a difficult time, but now we're at a place where we are both very happy.'

Only one bit of the puzzle has still to fall into place – his future driving plans. And Button, with experience of the merry-go-round of the paddock, offered friendly advice when he said: 'It's unusual for a driver to spend all his career with the same team, but Lewis is racing for a team that has belief in him and will do everything they can to make sure he has a quick car. There aren't many teams that listen to the drivers like McLaren do.'