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Winless Wonders – And Who Goes Where?
Singapore, September 20 2012 – Two themes emerged from the opening official press conference ahead of this weekend’s FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX: can you win the Drivers’ Championship without winning a race, and who’s going where in 2013?
Sahara Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg was first to be asked about his 2013 contract – his is one name that has been linked with a move to other teams, possibly Ferrari, possibly Mercedes. But the German driver’s lips were sealed: “There’s a good chance that I’ll be with Sahara Force India next year but nothing has been announced yet,” he said.
Next up: Sergio Perez, Sauber’s rising star who arrives in Singapore fresh from a superb second place at Monza – the 22-year-old Mexican’s third podium finish of 2012. A member of the Ferrari Academy, he has been touted as a Ferrari F1 driver in the near future – possibly even next year.
“In the position that I am, when I have a good result, fighting for points and sometimes able to get podiums, it’s always the time when the rumours start,” he pointed out. “If you have a bad race, there are no more rumours – they change to the driver who had a good race! In that respect I’m not really worried, I know I have a very strong car for the next seven races so I hope I can deliver very strong performances.
Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo has voiced concern over Perez’s lack of experience, as the Sauber man acknowledged: “It’s only my second year in Formula 1,” he added. “I feel ready to do a good job for a top team, to be able to fight for the championship, in that respect I feel ready but I fully respect his opinion.”
Last but not least, Perez had to comment on new rumours of a move to McLaren Mercedes should Lewis Hamilton decide to end his long association with that team. Again Perez had an answer: “Regarding the McLaren rumour, there are so many rumours around – before it was Ferrari, now it’s McLaren. Always when I have a good race they put me in a different team! The most important thing is to keep doing a good job and try to maximise the car potential for the next races.”
Another South American in the transfer spotlight was Brazil’s Bruno Senna, currently with Williams and just a point behind teammate Pastor Maldonado, even though the Venezuelan has won a race this year and Senna has not. What did he have to do to keep his race seat for next year?
“The focus is to continue scoring points consistently,” Senna maintained. “There is no target – the target for me has always been to qualify and do the best job I can in the races. Coming to the next few races I had a pretty decent run last year in a few of them and I think with the experience added I can improve and do a good job.”
As for winning the title without taking a single race victory, that question went to Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, who lies third at the moment, and last year’s Singapore winner Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, currently fourth – one point behind Raikkonen. Both men have to catch Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who is 37 points clear of Hamilton after winning three times.
“Whoever has most points at the end of the year deserves to win the championship,” was the typically economical response from 2007 World Champion Raikkonen, who has yet to score a point in Singapore but has six podium finishes already this season.
Vettel was slightly more forthcoming – even though he does have one 2012 race win under his belt. “I don’t know,” joked the German, “I think it’s easier if you win a lot of races! It depends what the others do, that’s the most important if you want to win… without winning.”
Tickets for the 2012 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX are available for sale online at www.singaporegp.sg, via the ticketing hotline +65 6738 6738 as well as at all SISTIC outlets and authorised travel agents.