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DATE News (chronologically)
02/17/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday  
  • Renault confirms Heidfeld to replace Kubica
  • Alguersuari predicts 'war' with Buemi in 2011
  • New curbs to debut at Barcelona test
  • Senna backs Heidfeld as Kubica replacement
  • Kovalainen tips Red Bull to dominate in 2011
  • Kubica has eight-hour elbow surgery
  • Hembery defends Pirelli amid tire criticisms
  • Vettel free to 'dream' about Ferrari - Horner
  • Lowndes to drive Button's McLaren at Bathurst
  • Bahraini marshals to work at Indian GP

Renault confirms Heidfeld to replace Kubica
(GMM)  Renault has appointed Nick Heidfeld as injured Robert Kubica's replacement for the start of the 2011 season.

"I would have liked to come back to formula one in different circumstances, but I'm proud to have been given this chance," the 33-year-old German is quoted as saying in a media statement.

Heidfeld, with more than 170 grands prix under his belt, made his debut in the Lotus-sponsored R31 at Jerez last weekend.

"I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative.  I'm extremely motivated and can't wait for the season to begin," he added.

Team boss Eric Boullier said he was impressed with Heidfeld's performance at Jerez.

"We always said the priority was to have an experienced driver in the car and we feel he is the ideal man for the job," said the Frenchman.

Beginning on Saturday, Heidfeld will test for two full days in Barcelona.

Alguersuari predicts 'war' with Buemi in 2011
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has predicted "war" with his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Buemi this year.

"This year will be war between Buemi and me," the Spanish driver said during an interview with Marca.

Team owner Red Bull's driver manager Helmut Marko has appointed Australian Daniel Ricciardo to be Toro Rosso's Friday runner this season, amid strong indications that he will make his race debut in 2012.

Alguersuari added: "I am surely competing with him (Buemi) this year to be the one who will go to Red Bull (in 2012), with Ricciardo to get one of our seats."

The 20-year-old's comments are at odds with those of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, who said on Wednesday that it is possible Mark Webber will stay beyond his new one-year contract.

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, has been musing about a switch to Ferrari.

"I see myself at Red Bull," Alguersuari continued.  "I want to win, not be finishing in 17th.  I want to be a second faster per lap and braking 20 meters later."

As for his views on the 2011 season, he commented: "For me, the most complete driver is Fernando Alonso.  However, Red Bull are able to take advantage with their car.

"I think it will be a game between those two, Red Bull and Ferrari, from the beginning to the end," added Alguersuari.

New curbs to debut at Barcelona test
(GMM)  Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya will trial some unique curbs at the formula one test beginning later this week.

A report by the Spanish news agency EFE, also publishing a photograph of the feature, said the new removable curbs are designed to prevent drivers from straying too far from the track at places like turn 8.

Track boss Salvador Servia said the curbs are a "world first" that will be tested with the agreement of the FIA this week.

"In corners like this, the F1 drivers find it better to go through the grass than the track," he said.  "So we are putting in these speed bumps, which can be removed for the motorcycles."

Servia insisted that the curbs are, for now, "nothing more than an experiment".

The circuit will also debut its new medical centre this week.

Senna backs Heidfeld as Kubica replacement
(GMM)  Bruno Senna on Thursday backed Renault's appointment of Nick Heidfeld to replace the injured Robert Kubica this year.

Apart from veteran Heidfeld and other more experienced names, the Lotus-sponsored team's new third driver Senna - who tested the R31 at Jerez - was touted as arguably a more courageous substitute for the start of the 2011 season.

But Brazil's Globo Esporte quoted the former HRT racer as saying: "The team was looking for an experienced guy to replace the main driver of the team.

"Among the options, Heidfeld was the logical choice because of his experience of more than 10 years in formula one, and the role he played with the development of the current Pirelli tires," added 27-year-old Senna.

The report said Senna will be at Barcelona for the four-day test beginning on Friday, but only as the reserve driver.

"I was happy with the chance I got (at Jerez)," he said.  "Now, I hope to help the team as much as I can this year."

Kovalainen tips Red Bull to dominate in 2011
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen believes Red Bull look set to continue their formula one dominance in 2011.

Although Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber did not set too many headline times at Valencia and Jerez, Team Lotus driver Kovalainen said the underlying speed of the new RB7 car was apparent.

"They seem to have everything under control.  It is my feeling that they have not yet shown even half of their full ability," the Finn is quoted by Turun Sanomat.

But the 2008 Hungarian GP winner also thinks Ferrari will have a say in the outcome of the 2011 championship.

"Similar to Red Bull, Red Bull have a strong feeling about them.  Williams also did a very good lap time in Jerez.

"With McLaren it's still difficult to say," said Kovalainen, who drove for the British team alongside Lewis Hamilton for two years.

"They came a bit late to the tests and they have had some problems, but at least their car is good looking, it may well be fast," he added.

Kovalainen is more worried about the Mercedes team.

"The body language I have seen tells me that they are disappointed with the car's performance," said the Finn, referring to Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

As for Team Lotus, Kovalainen said the "difference to the top (cars) has definitely been lessened.

"The (T128) car feels good in every way.  (1982 world champion) Keke Rosberg said our car looks like it belongs in formula one now," he smiled.

"He is right.  But we have to remember that we are only a year old, while Red Bull took 6 or 7 years before they started to win.  We have a long road ahead," said Kovalainen.

Kubica has eight-hour elbow surgery
(GMM)  Robert Kubica's elbow surgery on Wednesday took eight hours, the Santa Corona hospital near Genoa has confirmed.

"The operation was a success and it will probably not be necessary for him to undergo further surgery," the Italian hospital said in a statement.

It is believed that Kubica, 26, will probably need to stay in hospital for a further 10 to 15 days, initially in intensive care.

He will then begin his rehabilitation in Italy.

"The elbow was rebuilt satisfactorily but it is harder to give a prognosis about the recovery of functionality," orthopedics head Francesco Lanza is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Before the operation, the Polish driver was interviewed by Savona police as they investigate his horror crash in the Ronde di Andora rally.

Hembery defends Pirelli amid tire criticisms
(GMM)  The Italian marque's motor racing boss Paul Hembery has defended Pirelli amid criticism of its 2011 formula one tires.

It has been reported that the hard/soft compound combination for the initial four races of the season was selected because of serious problems with the medium and super-soft tires.

Indeed, the super-softs powered fast lap times at the initial tests of the 2011 pre-season but degraded almost completely after a single tour.

When asked about the criticisms from within the sport about the Pirelli tires, Hembery answered: "Well, someone will be winning, and will not be heard complaining even once.

"The others will complain because that's where they would like to be.

"We have already seen in the testing that some are able to get more out of the tires than others.  But that is part of the game."

Asked specifically about the severe degradation, he told German language spox.com: "They all wanted it that way because they were bored with one-stop races all the time.

"The teams and Bernie Ecclestone wanted there to be two stop races again, with us producing the tires for that," he added.

"That's what we've done, and now the teams are faced with the challenge of making the most of it, especially in terms of strategy," said Hembery.

It was pointed out to him that Bridgestone, F1's previous official supplier, was able to produce tires that did not have the same degradation issues.

"Sure, but that was the intention," answered Hembery.

"It would be the easiest thing in the world for us to build a tire that keeps going and going for the whole weekend."

Vettel free to 'dream' about Ferrari - Horner
(GMM)  Christian Horner has refused to publicly scold new world champion Sebastian Vettel for admitting he "dreams" about a future with Ferrari.

With the 23-year-old's contract running towards its expiry and Red Bull openly keen to retain him, Vettel has mused on several occasions recently that he sees Ferrari as an ideal employer at some point in his career.

But even though the young German is a home-grown talent and Red Bull's first champion, and he looks to be sitting in another title-charging car for 2011, team boss Horner said he will not be urging Vettel to keep some of his opinions to himself.

"One of the things we encourage is a freedom of expression and so on, and Sebastian is his own person and he's got his own opinions," the Briton is quoted by Press Association Sport.

"I think any driver at some stage in his career would like to drive for the red team, and we certainly don't hold that against him," added Horner.

He joked that he wouldn't mind if Vettel switches to Ferrari "just before he retires" in "ten years" or more.

Lowndes to drive Button's McLaren at Bathurst
(GMM)  A modern formula one car could pose a threat to the new fastest-ever lap at the fabled Mount Panorama circuit, otherwise known as Bathurst west of Sydney.

A sponsor-fuelled car swap between McLaren's Jenson Button and V8 Supercar driver Craig Lowndes before the Australian grand prix next month has finally been approved by the local council.

Bathurst mayor Paul Toole told national broadcaster ABC that the event will be the first time a F1 car has lapped the imposing 6.2 kilometer layout.

In a V8 Supercar, it was Lowndes who recorded the fastest ever lap at Mount Panorama - 2:06.801 - late last year.

Australian Lowndes, 36, was Juan Pablo Montoya's teammate at Helmut Marko's F3000 team in 1997, but he has never driven a formula one car.

"It would be a dream to drive a F1 anywhere, let alone Bathurst," he said before Bathurst council gave its approval for the publicity event.

He said he is confident he can break his lap record.

"You would be very disappointed if you couldn't go sub-2:06 in a car like that," said Lowndes.

Bahraini marshals to work at Indian GP
The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) has revealed that, for the country’s maiden Formula 1 Grand Prix this October, some 110 Bahraini race marshals will be recruited in order to sustain that the event runs smoothly.

On the 20-race calendar of 2011, India and the Greater Noida-based venue falls into the crucial final trio of events, sandwiched between Korea and Abu Dhabi.

“We've reached an agreement with the Bahrain Motor Federation and 110 experienced marshals will be on duty during the Indian GP,” FMSCI President Vicky Chandhok, father of ex Hispania racer Karun, explained to the Hindustan Times.

“In addition to that, we will have 230 marshals from India to shadow the Bahraini officials.”

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