Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATED UPDATE See updates in Red below.
- New mechanic and trainer for Buemi in 2011
- Mateschitz denies Red Bull to lose more F1 staff
- Alonso to debut new Ferrari at Valencia test
- August 25th earmarked for 2013 Rome GP
- Bahrain happy with F1 calendar top spot
- McLaren history on display at Bahrain GP
- Mosley: Tabloid sting scuppered budget cap
- Windsor recommends Sutil and Chandhok for Force India
- India GP on schedule despite monsoons New
- Force India and Virgin to test old cars at Valencia New
- Renault confirms January 31 launch for R31 New
New mechanic and trainer for Buemi in 2011
(GMM) Sebastien Buemi has a new chief mechanic and trainer, following his lackluster second half of the 2010 season.
Although Toro Rosso insists it is retaining both the Swiss and his teammate Jaime Alguersuari for this year, the FIA is yet to confirm that news officially.
And team owner Red Bull's driver coordinator Helmut Marko said recently that while Alguersuari is "on the correct path", 22-year-old Buemi "struggled" towards the end of last season.
"I make no excuses," Buemi told the Swiss newspaper Blick. "At the most there are explanations, but this analysis stay inside the team.
"But I know why it happened and there is a lot to talk about with the mechanics and the engineers. And now I have a new chief mechanic," he revealed.
"It's not the solution but just one of the things I had to fix. I will also change my physiotherapist," added Buemi.
"My current trainer, an Italian, gave me too little mental support. Formula one is not just about fitness and driving and your physio needs to do more than hold your helmet and drink bottle."
He said his new trainer is an Austrian who formerly worked with Nick Heidfeld at BMW-Sauber, with Blick confirming it is 45-year-old Helmut Fink.
But Buemi acknowledges that some of his mistakes in 2010 were purely his own.
"Oh, yes! I disappointed my team several teams when I was not aggressive enough or distracted, and there were some accidents. But 2010 is now checked off and I know that this season I will improve in every area."
An extra motivation will be the presence in the 2011 Toro Rosso on Friday mornings of Daniel Ricciardo, who is pushing to enter F1 with Red Bull's backing.
"Maybe that's right," answered Buemi when asked if Ricciardo's new role puts pressure on him and Spaniard Alguersuari.
"But I'm not worried that I am slower than anybody and I have enough confidence in myself."
But he is not entirely confident he will still be on the grid in 2012.
"You can never be certain," insisted Buemi. "But since 2005 Red Bull have been giving me so much support and I hope to be part of the family for a long time and one day race with Red Bull (Racing)," added Buemi.
Mateschitz denies Red Bull to lose more F1 staff
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz has denied Red Bull could be set to lose more prominent members of the championship winning team.
Ferrari announced this week that Red Bull's chief strategist Neil Martin, a 38-year-old Briton, has switched to the famous Maranello based team for 2011.
But Mateschitz, owner of the Red Bull brand and the Milton Keynes-based team, insists that Martin's defection is not the start of a larger exodus of staff tempted by lucrative offers.
"No!" the Austrian billionaire emphatically told Germany's Bild daily.
"We recently extended the contracts of our 50 most important people," revealed Mateschitz.
Bild suggested that Martin's switch might persuade 2010 world champion Sebastian Vettel to also consider moving to another team.
Mateschitz answered: "Sebastian knows very well what team he can count on for the future."
Alonso to debut new Ferrari at Valencia test
(GMM) Fernando Alonso will be doing the driving when Ferrari's new car for 2011 makes its track debut early next month.
That is the claim of the Spanish sports newspaper Marca, adding that the single seater will be launched on a day between January 25 to 29 at the team's Maranello headquarters.
When pre-season testing then kicks off at Valencia's Cheste circuit a few days later, 2010 championship runner-up Alonso will be at the wheel on February 1 and 2, Spanish radio Cadena COPE also reported.
After Valencia, more F1 group tests are scheduled in February at the Jerez and Barcelona circuits, before the circus moves to Bahrain in March for the final test and the 2011 season opener.
August 25th earmarked for 2013 Rome GP
(GMM) August 25th has been earmarked as the debut race date for the Rome grand prix in 2013.
That is the claim of organizer Maurizio Flammini, who insists that despite speculation to the contrary, everything is on schedule for the inaugural event in the EUR district.
"All the procedures are fully in line with the time needed to organize the grand prix," he told the Rome daily Il Tempo.
Flammini said Italy's sanctioning bodies have "expressed interest" in the event, and once Roman city authorities approve the project he will "formalize the request to the FIA".
Ultimately, however, "the one who decides is Bernie Ecclestone", he insisted.
"I have read that for nearly two years the name Formula 1 Gran Premio di Roma has been registered by (him)," Flammini added.
Bahrain happy with F1 calendar top spot
(GMM) Organizers of the Bahrain grand prix want the race to retain its current top spot on the sport's annual calendar.
Dating back to 1996, Melbourne was the traditional host of the sport's season opener, but the Sakhir venue in Bahrain took over at the head of the schedule in 2010.
The Middle Eastern race will also kick off the 2011 championship this March, despite fierce criticism of last year's unexciting season opener in Bahrain.
"We have had fantastic races with great touches," insisted the circuit's chief executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa at the 2011 race's launch this week.
"We're very proud that we have the opening round," he added.
"We worked very hard to secure the first race with Formula One Management. It is a challenge and I'd like to thank the support of the F1 management and Bernie Ecclestone.
"It's very important to us and our sponsors to be the first race and it means people are talking about the race for three months instead of two weeks, which is what happens if we are the third," Shaikh Salman added.
McLaren history on display at Bahrain GP
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes fans intent on heading to the Sakhir circuit for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix should ensure they head over to the McLaren Museum, a spectacular exhibition of some of McLaren’s greatest Formula 1 cars.
The attraction, which will be located at the circuit’s F1 Village, is the first of its kind and will boast a display of approximately 20 of the team’s finest racing cars, dating back to as early as the 1960s, while others will be among the most modern of racing machinery.
The team’s fans will be able to do something they never could before – journey through the history of one of Formula 1’s most illustrious racing teams.
Bahrain International Circuit has become acclaimed for more than just putting on fantastic races in state-of-the-art facilities in recent years. Each year, it organizes unique side attractions, such as a gathering of all living Formula 1 world champions, along with their title-winning race cars, which took place at last year’s race.
In 2009, a rare collection of vintage Formula 1 race cars, dating back over 70 years, were displayed to the public for the first time ever.
Another opportunity for fans to get up close to the cars is available at the NEC in Birmingham on January 13-16. Half a dozen of the team’s Formula 1 World Championship-winning cars will be part of the McLaren Racing Display at the Autosport International show.
Mosley: Tabloid sting scuppered budget cap
Former FIA President Max Mosley has says that the tabloid sting in which he found himself embroiled three years ago when the News of the World ran an explosive front page exposé on his sexual activities was indirectly responsible for the failure of his proposed budget cap initiative.
Ferrari’s support for him throughout his subsequent legal battle with the Sunday red-top that somewhat ironically hammered the final nail into the budget cap’s coffin, Mosley has now revealed.
“My plan was to go through with [the budget cap] with the other teams, with Ferrari threatening to withdraw,” the Englishman reflected. “I would have chanced it, because we all know they wouldn’t really have gone – but then came the affair with the newspaper. Ferrari was the only team that stayed loyal, so I couldn’t really do something like that to them.”
However, Mosley’s strained relationship with Ferrari's President Luca di Montezemolo still shows no signs of softening.
“On the one hand, he complains that the new teams are too slow, and on the other hand he asks for something (more testing) that will widen the gap even more,” Mosley mused. “The third car is complete nonsense, giving the big teams even more power, politically and sporting. It’s also against the spirit of F1. It needs different blood – without new teams, F1 would die.
“The problem with Luca is he has never had to build a team from nothing and doesn’t know how hard it is. F1 has a lot of problems, but Luca only adds to them.”
Windsor recommends Sutil and Chandhok for Force India
Failed USGP team co-owner and former F1 TV announcer Peter Windsor believes that the combination of Adrian Sutil and Karun Chandhok would be Force India’s ideal line-up for the upcoming season. “It’s a difficult question to answer straight off,” the journalist and broadcaster explained in a comprehensive pre-season interview with GPUpdate.net.
“You have to look at the history of the team and what they’re doing and where they’re going. I love the way Vijay Mallya has evolved in the IPL (Indian Premier League for cricket) and has his own team there and is larger than life, all those things are wonderful, but what I don’t understand and find astonishing is that he’s still so enthusiastic about Formula 1 but is still spending millions and millions and millions of euros on his Formula 1 team which at the moment is not really even stagnating, it’s going backwards.
“So I feel sorry for him there and I think he should by now be generating proper commercial sponsorship and should be able to choose his drivers as he wants them on merit; that doesn’t seem to be happening for whatever reason and I don’t know why – you would think the Indian F1 team with an Indian Grand Prix coming up would have Indian sponsors all over it, but most of the companies on the car appear to be companies that he owns personally, in other words his own money, or companies brought to him by Adrian Sutil.
“So I find all that very strange, but I would definitely run an Indian driver in one car and try to get into corporate India and get a lot of support from corporate India around the Grand Prix. Obviously Karun Chandhok’s done a good job so far to get to where he is; he’s intelligent, he’s fit, he’s young, he’s good-looking, he’s a good guy, so I’d probably run him although I do still think Narain Karthikeyan is very fast and underrated – he’s still a bit rough around the edges but he’s still got a lot of pace beneath him.
"For the other car I would take the best guy that I could get and it could well be Adrian Sutil. As I’ve said a couple of times on Twitter, I think Adrian still needs to be disciplined a bit in a number of ways - I think he makes too many mistakes on the race track but he’s very fast and he’s a great guy as well. It would be a very nice team, two nice personalities.
“Obviously Nico Hülkenberg’s around as well, he’s another guy, but he’d probably want more money than I would be prepared to pay him if I was in Vijay’s position, so if it was between Sutil who was bringing a bit of sponsorship with him and Hülkenberg, I would probably go for Sutil, but if Hülkenberg wanted to drive for nothing - but I was able to pay him a few bonuses for podium finishes and the odd pole - I would consider him very strongly as well.”
India GP on schedule despite monsoons
(GMM) Severe monsoonal weather has reportedly not put organizers of the inaugural Indian grand prix behind schedule.
The local Mail Today claims the first layer of the track outside New Delhi has already been laid and the main grandstands are in place, as 4000 workers continue construction ten months before the first race in late October.
"Everything is going as per schedule," said chief operating officer Boris Lazaric.
Force India and Virgin to test old cars at Valencia
(GMM) Force India is among at least three teams set to travel to the Jerez test later this month without a 2011-spec car.
It was already believed that HRT and Virgin will not be ready with their new single seaters when the pre-season test period kicks off at Valencia on 1 February.
And Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer announced on Thursday: "The team will participate in all four pre-season tests and we will use the (2010) VJM03 for the first test in Valencia before the VJM04 makes its test debut in Jerez the following week."
Most other teams will begin the four-test period prior to the season opener in March with their new cars.
"Starting a test later with the new car gives us a couple of weeks more wind tunnel time when we are at our most productive to get the parts released for the new car," Szafnauer told Reuters.
A Force India spokeswoman this week refused to say when the team planned to announce its 2011 driver lineup, amid reports Nico Hulkenberg will drive on Fridays alongside racers Adrian Sutil and rookie Paul di Resta.
Renault confirms January 31 launch for R31
(GMM) Renault on Thursday confirmed reports that its 2011 car will be launched on the eve of the forthcoming pre-season group test at Valencia.
Most teams are planning to reveal their new cars shortly before the major session beginning on 1 February at Cheste, on the outskirts of the Spanish port city.
"The Lotus Renault GP R31 will be officially unveiled on 31 January in Valencia. More info to follow," Renault confirmed on Thursday.
On the same day – a Monday – Sauber has booked the same Ricardo Tormo circuit to present its 2011 car the C30, including some maiden demonstration laps.