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The 2012 News Review - Part Three 21 Dec 2012

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari helmet carrying a star for Maria De Villota (ESP).
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday, 6 July 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Great Ormond Street Hospital F1 Party, Battersea Evolution, Chelsea Bridge, Battersea Park, London, 4 July 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Route. Lewis Hamilton Starts day 52 of the Olympic Torch Relay Route from Luton Town Centre. England. 9th July 2012 Paving at the Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas, USA. August, 2012 Ferrari's Felipe Massa returns to track action at Interlagos, Brazil Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) CEO Formula One Group (FOM), Norbert Haug (GER) Mercedes Sporting Director and Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal present Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 with a Mercedes nose to celebrate his 300th Grand Prix Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 crash at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September (L to R): Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1, Alan Permane (GBR) Lotus F1 Race Engineer and Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Lotus.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday, 7 September 2012 Prof. Sid Watkins, Spa Francorchamps, 24 August 1997 Caterham F1 Team CEO Cyril Abiteboul with Caterham Group CEO Riad Asmat (left) and team principal Tony Fernandes (right) The FIA's Charlie Whiting visits the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, for a final pre-race inspection, September 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 4 October 2012

The month begins with news that Marussia test driver Maria de Villota has sustained serious head and facial injuries after crashing into a team truck during a straight-line test in the UK. Sadly doctors are unable to save De Villota’s right eye, but thankfully she’s able to leave hospital at the end of the month to continue her recovery at home. As a gesture to De Villota, numerous drivers wear stickers on their helmets over the British Grand Prix weekend to honour the Spanish driver.

Ahead of the British Grand Prix, members of the Formula One community help to raise £540,000 for London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital at the Official F1 Party. Those in attendance include Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone, former team principal Eddie Jordan, Red Bull driver Mark Webber, Caterham team mates Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, and former driver David Coulthard.

Elsewhere, with London gearing up to host the Olympic Games, Lewis Hamilton is given the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch. Caterham team principal Tony Fernandes is also given the chance to be a torchbearer.

At Silverstone three teams - Marussia, Williams and HRT - undertake their annual young driver tests with Ma Qing Hua becoming the first Chinese-born driver to drive a contemporary Formula One car.

There’s plenty of news from Williams. Driver Bruno Senna journeys to Italy to receive the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy, an award given annually by the town of Brisighella near Bologna, in memory of local driver Bandini, who was killed at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix. Williams also announce that Toto Wolff will become an executive director of the team, stepping up his role within the company from that of non-executive director.

Meanwhile Caterham are on the move, transferring their base from Hingham in Norfolk to the factory in Leafield, Oxfordshire that once housed the now defunct Arrows and Super Aguri teams.

The Formula One racing fraternity may be enjoying their annual mid-season break, but there’s still plenty going on.

Progress at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas - venue for November’s United States Grand Prix - reaches another milestone as construction crews lay the final piece of base course and complete the entire first layer of pavement around the 5.513-kilometre track.

There’s plenty going on in South America too. Williams driver Pastor Maldonado goes back home to Venezuela where he puts on a street demonstration for fans in the capital Caracas. Unfortunately the demo doesn’t go quite to plan as Maldonado clips a kerb and damages his Williams’ suspension…

Felipe Massa is also behind the wheel during the break. Whilst in Brazil the Ferrari driver stops off at his local circuit of Interlagos to take part in a practice session for the fourth round of country’s Copa Fiat series.

A very busy news month begins with celebrations at the Belgian Grand Prix. Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher joins a very exclusive club by making his 300th Grand Prix appearance. Only one other driver has been in attendance at more Formula One races - Rubens Barrichello, who had made 326 appearances when he bowed out of the sport at the end of the 2011 season.

“Spa is like my living room; for me, it's clearly the number one race track in the world," says the German. "It's uncanny how I always seem to have special moments there - my debut, my first win, a world championship victory and many great races.

"The fact that I will also take part in my 300th Grand Prix at Spa was somehow almost inevitable and we will have to celebrate it in the right way. I'm proud to be just the second driver in the history of the sport to reach this milestone."

Unfortunately the Belgian Grand Prix weekend is tainted by controversy as Lotus’s Romain Grosjean is handed a one-race ban and a 50,000 euro fine for causing a huge first-corner accident at the start of the race. Former Marussia driver Jerome D’Ambrosio is drafted in to replace the Frenchman at the Italian Grand Prix.

James Key, who left his position of technical director at Sauber in February, is appointed as the new technical director of Toro Rosso.

Three teams - Ferrari, Force India and Mercedes - hold their annual young driver test at Magny-Cours in France following the Italian Grand Prix.

There is sad news to report in the middle of the month as Professor Sid Watkins, the former FIA medical delegate credited with bringing huge improvements in safety and medical provision to Formula One racing, passes away at the age of 84.

During an F1 career spanning over 25 years, Watkins, affectionately known in the paddock as ‘the Prof’, helped save the lives of countless drivers including Rubens Barrichello, Didier Pironi and Mika Hakkinen.

“What Sid Watkins did in the way of safety in Formula One was incredible,” comments Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone. “He gave his whole life to that cause, to make sure that it could be as safe as it possibly could be. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his caring and commitment.”

In other news, Marussia appoint Briton Max Chilton as their reserve driver, Caterham announce deputy managing director of Renault F1, Cyril Abiteboul, as their new CEO, and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa helps to establish a new world record at Silverstone, as part of the biggest parade of Ferraris ever organised. A total of 964 cars grace the British Grand Prix circuit, beating the previous record of 490 set at Japan’s Fuji Speedway in 2008.

The month ends with a flurry of news. First, Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, the host venue of November’s United States Grand Prix, passes its final FIA inspection. The FIA also publishes its first draft of the 2013 calendar and announces revisions to the regulations that will effectively rid Formula One racing of stepped noses and double DRS systems in 2013.

In big news Lewis Hamilton announces his decision to leave McLaren at the end of 2012 to join with Mercedes. “It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team,” says Hamilton, who exits McLaren after six seasons. “Mercedes-Benz has such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along with a passion for winning which I share.

“Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.”

McLaren announce that Hamilton’s replacement will be Sauber driver Sergio Perez.

Continued in Part Four

Click Here to see Part One and Click Here to see Part Two.

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