Reactions on Vettel's championship, Not a happy end of the season for all drivers, Yelmer Buurman testing for Force India, HRT remains silent after Toyota announcement
Reactions on Vettel's championship
The freshly crowned Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel has been hailed by the media after he took the title last Sunday, and especially in his home country Germany, Vettel can count on a very warm welcome to say the least. There is no more talk about team orders, favoritism, rivalry or bad judgment calls after Vettel started the race 15 points behind his rival Fernando Alonso, and against all odds, finished the race four points ahead of him. Red Bull already celebrated their double championship in Abu Dhabi, and Vettel, Mark Webber, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey arrived in Salzburg, Austria, on Monday for yet another celebration in Red Bull's Hangar-7.
Later that day they participated in a TV show together with ex-Red Bull driver David Coulthard and Austrians Niki Lauda and Gerhard Berger. Vettel received dozens of requests to appear on talk shows to tell about his title winning race, but after a press conference in Salzburg on Tuesday morning, he had already returned to Red Bull's headquarters in Milton Keynes to thank all Red Bull employees, and he will later this week return to Abu Dhabi to test the new 2011 Pirelli tyres.
The German media, who like to call him 'Baby Schumi', had headlines that read: "Vettel is King, Ferrari committed suicide", "Webber in the shadow of Vettel", "Ferrari's errors made Vettel champion" and "Vettel earned his wings". Vettel's home town Heppenheim, is preparing for a hero's welcome, but they will have wait a few days until after the testing days in Abu Dhabi are completed. The streets of Heppenheim are decorated with banners, the local bakery sells championship cakes, and restaurants have Formula One car shaped 'schnitzels' on the menu. "All Heppenheimers are very proud, and Vettel's success will become a part of our history," Heppenheim's mayor Gerhard Herbert commented.
UK newspapers also praised the young German, the Daily Express headline stated "Vettel driven by Bernie effect", and commented, "Bernie Ecclestone broke away from leading the King of Spain around the grid and stuck his head into Sebastian Vettel's cockpit to say "don't .... it up" -- and the young German took it as a command rather than advice." The Sun headlined, "Vet storms home in Bull charge", and commented, "The German came from third in the standings to snatch the drivers' crown thanks to a pit wall cock-up by rival Fernando Alonso's red-faced Ferrari team."
The UK Telegraph reported that 'Baby Schumi has come of age' and "there is no point denying that he is Red Bull's golden boy. Vettel is set for multiple world championships". While Vettel and Red Bull Racing were praised, the Italian press came down hard on the Ferrari team, its president Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali.
Roberto Calderoni, a minister in the Italian Berlusconi cabinet, demanded the resignation of Montezemolo. "Despite the ability of the excellent Alonso, Ferrari has managed to lose a championship already won. We are ashamed of this insane strategy and he is guilty," he said about the Ferrari president. Montezemolo rubbished the comments, "Sometimes winners lose, but we do not give up. There are some small people who systematically root against the country and its symbols. Luckily they are the minority."
The UK Daily Express was not impressed with Alonso's gestures to Vitaly Petrov during the slow down lap after the race and published an article 'Alonso shows he deserves nothing' in which they stated: "Frustration turned to petulance and arrogance from Ferrari driver Alonso, who will surely regret his display at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when he failed to capture his third world title." Triple World Champion Niki Lauda told the Austrian press after Ferrari's defeat in Abu Dhabi, "There should be three days of mourning, then they all eat spaghetti again and forget the defeat."
Not a happy end of the season for all drivers
While Red Bull and Vettel are partying, some drivers have nothing to celebrate at all. A few hours after the race in Abu Dhabi, another young and very promising German driver, Nico Hulkenberg, was told he was no longer a member of the Williams team. There were already rumors he would leave the team, as Williams is struggling to find sponsors, and although Adam Parr recently stated Williams is in a good financial shape, it now certainly looks the team is now set to contract a paying driver.
The statement announced Rubens Barrichello will stay in 2011, and Williams thanked Hulkenberg for his 'convincing performances', and further said Hulkenberg will have without a doubt a 'bright future in the sport'. "At Williams we have for many years tried to bring new talent into the sport, and we are convinced that Nico will go on to great things. We wish him well and hope that our paths will cross again in the future," team owner Frank Williams said in the statement. Nice words, but a slap in the face for the German, who proved this season he has the talent, but unfortunately for him, it was not enough to keep his job at the Williams team.
His manager Willi Weber suspects Williams has an eye on the GP2 Champion Pastor Maldonado, who is reported to have a $15 million sponsor budget, but he also insisted his prot?g? Hulkenberg will drive in Formula One in 2011. Weber has revealed he is talking with 'other teams', and it is suspected he is eying the Force India team, as yet another German, Adrian Sutil, hasn't made up his mind yet whether he will stay or not. Another possibility would be the Renault team, as they haven't yet made a decision about the future of Russian Vitaly Petrov.
There are a few interesting rumors about who will get the second seat at Williams, which have been fueled by the fact Maldonado is also testing for HRT. One possibility is that Maldonado will go to HRT next year to learn the ropes, and Williams will guarantee him a seat for 2012.
It is very likely Williams wants a paying driver for 2011, and that is where GP2 driver Dutchman Giedo van der Garde comes into the picture. Williams' sponsors Philips and McGregor have not yet made a decision whether they will continue sponsoring Williams, and Dutch media have recently speculated that Philips and McGregor could stay with Williams if Williams would hire Van der Garde in 2011. Another interesting detail is that Van der Garde's manager Jan Paul ten Hoopen is also the commercial director of McGregor, while Van der Garde's father-in-law, Marcel Boekhorn, is a major shareholder of that same Dutch fashion company.
But rumors are of course rumors, and both Hulkenberg's manager Weber and Van der Garde's manager Ten Hoopen have stated a decision will be made in the near future.
Yelmer Buurman testing for Force India
Meanwhile, another Dutch driver, Yelmer Buurman, who is currently active in the Superleague Formula series, has announced he will take part in the rookie test days in Abu Dhabi for Force India on November 16 and 17. Buurman, "I am unbelievably happy with this chance. It is an honor to be the next Dutch racing driver to get the chance to test an excellent Formula One car. Formula One remains my ultimate goal and testing for such a good team like Force India F1 Team is a dream come true."
The Dutchman is happy with the chance he has been given by the Force India team and added, "I met the team last week for a simulator session learning the circuit and the seat fitting. There is a fantastic atmosphere and I felt immediately at home. I am well prepared and I will do my very best to show that I am more than quick enough for Formula One."
The 23-year old Buurman became second in the 2008 Superleague Formula season and has also raced in the GP2 Winter Series with Trust Team Arden, where he was a team mate of Sebastien Buemi, who now races for Toro Rosso. Buurman started his career in 2002 in the German Formula Konig series and competed in several European Formula Renault series from 2003 to 2005. He participated in the British Formula Three series and the Formula Three Euroseries in 2006 and 2007 before he moved on to the GP2 and the Superleague Formula series.
HRT remains silent after Toyota announcement
On Monday the Formula One world was surprised by a statement of the German based Toyota Motorsport GmbH in which they announced the end of the cooperation with the Spanish HRT team. The full statement read: "Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) confirms that all cooperation with Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) has been terminated and will not resume. TMG retains all intellectual property rights to its current F1 car and is completely free to pursue other projects and support new customers for its high-performance engineering services. TMG regrets that HRT has not met its contractual payment obligations and will pursue all available options to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this matter."
Recently HRT had hinted they had reached a formal agreement with Toyota Motorsport in Germany which apparently involved the use of the TF110 Formula One car, a car that was designed for the 2010 season, but was never used as Toyota withdrew from Formula One at the end of last year. Spanish media had suggested the deal would be announced on the Monday after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but to everyone's surprise, Toyota instead announced the end of the agreement. And when one reads between the lines of the announcement, it seems the decision is definitive and there is looks very unlikely HRT will get a second chance. It seems Toyota was disappointed when HRT failed to pay for the use of the TF110, and has now severed all ties with the Spanish team. Which of course reminds us of the same problem the HRT team had with Dallara, they also didn't pay the bills and although Dallara gave HRT some extra time to raise the money, they also decided to call it quits.
HRT has so far not given a reaction or explanation other than a statement which was also issued on Monday and read: "Hispania Racing is very surprised about Toyota's Press Statement released this afternoon and this matter will be a subject of further clarification."
Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track"
See also: Formula One - On and Off track week 45