Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
- Buemi not fazed by Ricciardo pressure
- Two grands prix in Spain 'a problem' - Ecclestone
- Mercedes opposes three cars per team - Haug
- Innovation and caution as test season starts
- Alonso criticizes Pirelli tires
- Vettel 'will drive for Ferrari one day' - Ecclestone
- Government 'committed' to F1 in Melbourne
- 'All teams' eye competitors' staff - Haug
- Vettel yet to name 2011 car
- Razia admits bringing sponsor to Team Lotus
- Red Bull confirms sponsorship deal with Geox
- Sponsor renews with McLaren team
Buemi not fazed by Ricciardo pressure
(GMM) Sebastien Buemi has revealed he is not overly concerned about the additional pressure on him in 2011.
Once the cream of Red Bull's young driver program, the Swiss is now entering his third season with Toro Rosso and reportedly first in line to be replaced by the team's new Friday driver Daniel Ricciardo.
"Daniel's presence will be a good thing," insisted 22-year-old Buemi when asked about his new Australian stablemate at the Valencia test this week.
"Anyway, that's just F1 -- either you're good enough or you will be replaced by someone who is younger!" he laughed.
Two grands prix in Spain 'a problem' - Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that Spain is unlikely to continue to host two grands prix per season.
Currently, the Spanish grand prix is held at Barcelona, while the European grand prix is a newer and often-criticized street event in the port city Valencia.
A journalist asked whether, after a Rome race was ruled out because Italy already has a grand prix at Monza, Spain will also be limited to one event per year.
"Yes, that is a problem we are facing," F1 chief executive Ecclestone said in an interview with La Repubblica.
As for rumors that CVC is looking to sell a part of the sport's commercial rights, the 80-year-old Briton was less forthcoming.
"I don't know, I'm just an employee!" he joked.
"As far as I know everyone is happy and not thinking about selling," he added.
Meanwhile, Ecclestone said that if he was forced to bet some money on the outcome of the 2011 world championship, he would back Alonso.
Asked if his answer was merely to appease the Italian newspaper's readership, he insisted: "No, no. When I talk about money I'm always very serious."
Mercedes opposes three cars per team - Haug
(GMM) Norbert Haug has revealed he is not in favor of allowing teams to field three cars per grand prix.
Ferrari, whose president Luca di Montezemolo is highly critical of the uncompetitive small teams, is pushing hard for the rule change.
But Haug, Mercedes' competition director, is quoted by f1today.nl at the Valencia test: "Three cars per team is not something we support.
"It would be disastrous for the small teams so we see the current situation as much healthier.
"If we can avoid having three cars per team, we certainly will do so," added the German.
Innovation and caution as test season starts
(GMM) There were no bold statements at Valencia after Tuesday's opening day of pre-season testing.
The usually furtive 2010 runner-up Fernando Alonso tested at the wheel of Ferrari's new F150 and claimed to have not even looked at reigning champion Red Bull's 2011 challenger.
"I followed Vettel for a while and noticed he had the same colors as before," joked the 29-year-old to the Spanish press.
Mercedes' new W02 did not seem fast and broke down on its tenth lap with an hydraulic problem.
"I've had cars that started off great and became troublesome, and troublesome cars that became great," said team boss Ross Brawn.
Vettel was Tuesday's quickest, but Alonso ridiculed anyone who took that accomplishment seriously.
"I remember last year at the last test we were sixth fastest with Sauber and Force India ahead of us. At Sakhir we lapped them," said the 2010 Bahrain winner.
"Testing is like watching Real Madrid or Barcelona play against (reserve teams) Castilla or Barcelona B. One or the other could win but it doesn't mean anything," insisted Alonso.
More interesting at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit this week are some of the innovations, including Renault's exhaust, and the heavily undercut roll hoop and waist of the new Williams FW33.
"It's gorgeous, the rear of the car is fantastic," gushed Rubens Barrichello.
"At the moment you look at the times and it's bad for us, but there is a three second difference between an empty fuel tank and what we are using," he told Globe Esporte.
Another notable innovation is aboard the newly launched Toro Rosso, with Auto Motor und Sport saying it is a reminder of Ferrari's 'double floor' of 1992.
And arguably the least radical of the new cars is Vettel's currently chart-topping RB7.
"It is the third generation of the RB5 family," admitted designer Adrian Newey. "It's an evolution."
Alonso criticizes Pirelli tires
(GMM) Fernando Alonso was critical of Pirelli's tires after the first real test day of the 2011 season on Tuesday.
"They degrade quite a lot, especially the rears, and the lap times are not consistent," the Spaniard, whose F150 Ferrari was almost a second off the pace of the chart-topping new Red Bull, said at Valencia.
Alonso is also quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport as saying exploring the car's setup was difficult because there are not enough sets of Pirelli tires at the test.
Vettel 'will drive for Ferrari one day' - Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has fueled speculation about Sebastian Vettel's future by predicting a switch to Ferrari for the new world champion.
The F1 chief executive is famously close to 23-year-old Vettel, who at Valencia on Tuesday worked hard to ease the rumors about his Red Bull contract and links to Ferrari and Mercedes.
"Yes, Sebastian will drive for Ferrari one day," Ecclestone told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The 80-year-old Briton denied that his prediction was merely to appeal to the newspaper's Italian readers.
"No, I really think so," he insisted. "Ferrari is really something special -- it's like an opera singer who wants to sing in the best and biggest theatre."
Team boss Christian Horner said on Tuesday that he hopes Red Bull and Vettel stay together for "years to come", but Vettel did not want to look too far ahead.
"If you're asked where you see yourself in five or ten years then for all of us it's a difficult question," he told reporters.
It has been reported that if Red Bull finishes outside the top three this year, he will be free to switch to another team.
Horner refused to confirm those reports, but Michael Schumacher told a German newspaper this week that Mercedes would be mad not to consider an approach.
"Firmly, there are no negotiations in place whatsoever," insisted the German marque's Norbert Haug. "What will happen in a couple of years' time? Who knows."
Government 'committed' to F1 in Melbourne
(GMM) The state government on Wednesday said it continues to support the Australian grand prix.
The Melbourne race beyond its 2014 contract has recently been the subject of speculation, with the city's Lord Mayor and the new Victorian premier publicly questioning the value of the annual event for taxpayers.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone responded to the story by telling a German newspaper this week that "we (F1) don't need Australia".
"The government has supported the grand prix because it is a significant international event which provides branding and tourism value for Victoria," state tourism minister Louise Asher said at the launch of the 2011 event on Wednesday.
She also played down reports that new premier Ted Baillieu does not support the race inherited by his government.
"In terms of the Baillieu government, we are committed to the grand prix," insisted Asher.
And she said there are talks taking place with the organizing Australian Grand Prix Corporation about how to reduce costs.
'All teams' eye competitors' staff - Haug
(GMM) Norbert Haug has played down the recent movement of staff between leading formula one teams.
After Ferrari signed Red Bull's strategy boss Neil Martin, Helmut Marko accused the famous Italian team of trying to poach the "spirit" of the new champions.
Another high profile signing by Ferrari is McLaren's Pat Fry, but Mercedes' Haug insists that staff transfers are commonplace.
Asked if the German marque has also tried to engage some of Red Bull's personnel, he told the Welt newspaper: "I don't want to rule it out, or the reverse.
"We are all trying to improve our own teams and looking for good people," added Haug.
Vettel yet to name 2011 car
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has revealed that he is yet to think up a name for his new formula one car.
Last year, the 23-year-old won his first title at the wheel of Randy Mandy, after the original RB6 named Luscious Liz was replaced due to damage after Monaco.
The giving of an amorous female name has become one of the Red Bull driver's several F1-related superstitions, including the sliding of a lucky coin behind his boot laces.
When asked about his new RB7 wearing the coveted number 1 as it was launched at Valencia on Tuesday, Vettel told Welt newspaper: "The number looks good.
"I saw the car in one piece for the first time this morning. So I haven't got a name for her yet," he revealed.
Vettel was also asked about reports that his friend Michael Schumacher suffers from motion sickness at the wheel of driver simulators.
As for whether he has also been sick in a sim, he smiled: "Once, but only very briefly.
"I think it's an important tool with testing so limited, especially with regards to (learning) the tracks," added Vettel.
Razia admits bringing sponsor to Team Lotus
(GMM) Luiz Razia is not hiding the fact that he is taking a personal sponsor to his new appointment with Team Lotus.
It has been reported that, alongside Davide Valsecchi, Brazilian 21-year-old Razia - a GP2 driver and Virgin reserve in 2010 - will appear several times during Friday morning practice sessions this year.
A report by Globo Esporte quoted Razia as admitting that "sponsorship is essential" for drivers today.
"It was not crucial to the team hiring me, but it was welcomed," he said.
Razia refused to disclose the name of his main sponsor.
"At the moment I can't say anything," he insisted. "I'll only talk about it when I am allowed to."
The report said Razia's first outing in the Team Lotus T128 will be at the Bahrain test prior to the 2011 season opener.
Red Bull confirms sponsorship deal with Geox
Red Bull Racing has confirmed a technical partnership with Italian shoe brand Geox, it was confirmed in the Valencia paddock on Wednesday morning. Founded in 1995, the company founded in Treviso in 1952 is now making an annual profit in the region of 66.7 million euros (57 million pounds).
The partnership means that, not only will the company’s logos be seen on and around the cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, but that the World Champion and his team-mate will be making best use of the new ‘breathing’ shoes – which make use of Kevlar technology – to allow the driver’s foot to sweat without letting other materials in.
The shoes, which contain 14 holes in their sole for both air and weight loss, were first worn by Vettel as the German set the quickest time on-track in Valencia on Tuesday.
Sponsor renews with McLaren team
Santander is extending its sponsorship of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 ™ team and drivers. This means the bank will continue its successful relationship with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Britain’s two World Champions. Santander will continue to use the drivers’ images in its advertising and in its branches, and the Santander brand will continue to appear on the drivers’ overalls and helmets. Santander has worked with Lewis Hamilton since 2007 and the advertising which featured his image has been extremely successful, especially during the Santander launch campaign last year, as consumers were able to link Lewis very strongly to Santander. This has helped build the Santander brand in the UK to a position where 9 out of 10 people are aware of the bank, from less than 3 in 10 in 2007.
Ana Botín, Chief Executive Officer of Santander UK plc, commented:
“We are delighted to sign an extension to our deal with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and drivers. It’s exciting to be able to continue working with Lewis and Jenson; they have been very popular figures with both staff and consumers. The relationship that we have built, initially with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, and now its drivers, has been integral to creating and building the Santander brand in the UK. Without it, we would have not been able to rebrand to Santander in 2010.” “The partnership has helped us launch the Santander brand in the UK – and will contribute greatly in helping us meet our goal of being the UK’s best commercial bank.”
The relationship Santander has developed with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers has not only helped the brand – by use of the images of the drivers in high profile advertising campaigns – but also been integral in establishing the Santander brand with our staff. More broadly the relationship has also been supportive of Santander’s Corporate Social Responsibility activities and the Santander Universities program.
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principle at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes said: “Santander has been a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Partner since 2007 and we are delighted to be working together in building a successful future for both brands. The support of our Partners is a critical element of our success. We are looking forward to a winning season for 2011.”