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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Ferrari moving closer to flexible wing debut
  • Kovalainen not working with Schumacher guru Singh
  • Paddock 'nervous' as F1 politics returns - Boullier
  • Ferrari slams F1 'rubbish' in English press
  • Red Bull breaching staff number limits - Schumacher
  • Vettel unsure of Webber's future in red
  • Webber still concerned about Red Bull's KERS
  • Alguersuari happy at Toro Rosso despite rumors
  • Vettel aims for pole despite strategy 'panic'
  • New Virgin nose 'like Mercedes' - Glock
  • Heidfeld surprised by Petrov's strength
  • Drivers hint 2011 return for Kubica unlikely

Ferrari moving closer to flexible wing debut
(GMM)  Ferrari tested a Red Bull-like flexible front wing last week but will not introduce it this weekend in Turkey.

It has emerged ahead of the Turkish grand prix that the Italian team tried the new wing in test driver Jules Bianchi's hands during the Vairano straight-line test.

Ferrari are however introducing a new wing in Istanbul, and some other developments as the team gets to the bottom of a wind tunnel calibration problem that marred the early progress of the 150 Italia car.

There is also a new rear wing, McLaren-like brake ducts and some tweaks at the blown exhaust, with Fernando Alonso expecting to be a couple of tenths quicker than in China.

"We know now that our data from the wind tunnel was not correct," the Spaniard is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.  "Now we can head in the right direction.

"There is no revolution for here but instead the first of many steps," added Alonso.

Kovalainen not working with Schumacher guru Singh
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has decided against teaming up with Michael Schumacher's former fitness guru.

The Finn has been looking for a new trainer after splitting with regular physio Petri Lehikoinen.

Reports in March said Schumacher, who worked with the Indian at Ferrari for years, recommended Balbir Singh.

Singh's last job in F1 was alongside Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India, and Kovalainen met him for the first time at a pre-season test.

But Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat reports from Turkey that Kovalainen in fact selected a British trainer, Dan Williams.

"His (Singh's) methods are totally different and holistic, which I am not accustomed to," said Kovalainen.

The Team Lotus driver said Williams has worked with racing drivers before, but never in F1.

Paddock 'nervous' as F1 politics returns - Boullier
(GMM)  After a prolonged period of relative peace and unity, the specter of power politics is returning to the formula one paddock.

It emerges that the media reports about 'big four' Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes planning a Stuttgart meeting next weekend surprised some other major teams, including Renault.

A regular FOTA meeting will take place this weekend at Istanbul Park, raising the suggestion that the formerly 'secret' meeting is to discuss possibly joining the News Corp/Exor consortium that is considering a bid for the sport's commercial rights.

Subsequent media reports back the theory, including the detail that News Corp officials will also be at the German summit.

"I think everybody is a bit nervous now," admitted Renault team boss Eric Boullier.

At the same time, McLaren's executive chairman emerged in an interview with Bloomberg urging caution that, prominently alongside Rupert Murdoch's interest in buying F1, is the Ferrari-linked major Fiat shareholder Exor.

Ron Dennis warned of a "conflict of interest" and said it would be like "someone who owns a football team wishing to invest in the league".

Italy's Autosprint, meanwhile, said that despite F1 being valued much lower, the buying price of EUR 8 billion could stir CVC's interest in agreeing to sell.

But Dennis said he is worried about Murdoch's famous attitude about free media content, should he become the new F1 owner.

"We generate revenue from the surface of the racing car," he said.  "The teams would have to be heavily persuaded to support anything that wouldn't see that free-to-air (television) element of grand prix racing maintained."

Ferrari slams F1 'rubbish' in English press
(GMM)  Ferrari has hit back at what it calls "rubbish" speculation from within the English-speaking media.

The Italian team regularly uses an anonymous and acid-tongued website columnist called the Horse Whisperer to hit out, and on Thursday it aimed fire at claims about the money paid to Ferrari's drivers, and the team's overall budget.

"The Spaniard (Fernando Alonso) is reckoned to touch 26 million euros which is obviously pure fantasy," the columnist wrote.

And "the visionaries from across the Channel, always ready to point the finger at Maranello as the biggest spenders, would do well to look closer to home", he added.

Ferrari then aimed fire at rumors the team could be looking to replace its Brazilian driver Felipe Massa with Mark Webber, Jenson Button or Nico Rosberg.

"Needless to say, it is just rubbish, the sort that gives you really bad allergies," the column reads.

Red Bull breaching staff number limits - Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has accused Red Bull of failing to adhere to an agreement about staff numbers in formula one.

Ross Brawn slashed the workforce of the Brackley based team after Honda's withdrawal, and kept those numbers low despite German carmaker Mercedes taking over in 2010.

Schumacher referred to a clause in the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), a pact agreed by the teams to keep costs down.

Earlier reports had accused Red Bull of also breaching some of the RRA's guidelines about budgetary spending in 2010.

"There was an agreement that everyone would have the same size, but certain teams don't respect that," the seven time world champion is quoted as saying by the Daily Express.

"Now there seem to be different visions," added Schumacher.  "Will Mercedes have to go to an open field again or will the teams respect what they agreed?

"We are not on the same playing field," the German added.  "If you take the number of people we have compared with Red Bull, that is very different."

Vettel unsure of Webber's future in red
(GMM)  Mark Webber has stepped away from his comments of last week by insisting a move from Red Bull for 2012 is "unlikely".

The Australian had told an Italian newspaper that if his current team "doesn't want me any more" he could not rule out a change of teams as opposed to retirement.

That rekindled rumors about Ferrari, with Webber telling F1's official website on Thursday: "I always look good in red.

"But Red Bull is what I associate all my success with, so the only red is in Red Bull, as when I wear Red Bull colors I think of success," he insisted.

Whether he stays, however, depends on him being offered a new contract, and a prime mover in that decision will be the curt Austrian Dr Helmut Marko.

"At 34, Mark is no longer at the beginning of his career," he is quoted as saying by Die Welt.

"I know other drivers who are trading a similar path as Sebastian (Vettel) did," added Marko, surely referring to Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi and Daniel Ricciardo.

And if Marko consults Vettel, there is no guarantee the 23-year-old will not ask for a new teammate for 2012.

Asked in Turkey about his relationship with Webber, a year after their crash at the same circuit a year ago, the German answered: "Sometimes you get along well with your teammate and sometimes you don't.

"I am fine with him.  We have a common understanding.  We might not be best friends but show me a couple in formula one who go to the pub in the evening for a beer."

As for Webber's future, Vettel answered: "I know that Mark is racing alongside me here and all the races this year, after that happens we will see then."

Until the future is clearer, it's an awkward period for Webber.  "If I want to talk to Fernando and go to the Ferrari motor home, what happens then?  Exactly, rumors," he said on Thursday.

Webber still concerned about Red Bull's KERS
(GMM)  Red Bull is not "out of the woods" despite other team members saying KERS is no longer a worry ahead of the Turkish grand prix.

The team's German-speaking faction Dr Helmut Marko and Sebastian Vettel said this week that, after earlier problems with the technology, modifications over the Easter break had eased concerns for Istanbul and beyond.

But Australian Webber is quoted by F1.com: "We are not out of the woods completely.

"The guys are working incredibly hard on it, but it will take time," Vettel's teammate added.  "Let's say we are at 70 per cent now, so let's hope come the next few races we are all clear."

RB7 designer Adrian Newey is no fan of KERS, but he is determined to make it work in 2011.

"In 2009 it was possible to win the world championship without KERS," the Briton is quoted by Cologne Express.  "Not now."

Alguersuari happy at Toro Rosso despite rumors
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has once again swept away speculation he could either be retained by Toro Rosso, promoted to Red Bull or left out of formula one altogether.

Red Bull's latest protege Daniel Ricciardo will almost certainly have a Toro Rosso seat next year, leaving Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi nervous about their futures but also eyeing the potentially-vacant seat for 2012 alongside Sebastian Vettel.

Asked in Turkey how he feels about the rumors, Alguersuari is quoted by AS newspaper: "I feel as I did yesterday or a month ago.

"I can't do anything about the rumors.  I think if I do a good job I will deserve to be where I am.  Personally, I'm proud of what I'm doing and if there is still a lot to do I think there is a great future ahead," said the Spaniard.

Having only just turned 21, he said he is happy at Toro Rosso.

"Obviously, I'd like to always be in the points or always fighting for podiums and wins but that's not possible now.

"I'm with a team that is like a family, I am happy to see a future beyond this and see where we are in a couple of years.

"My teammate Buemi is the best I've ever had, very good over one lap and hard to beat, but I'll try," he insisted.

Vettel aims for pole despite strategy 'panic'
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has denied he will sacrifice qualifying in a bid to return to the top step of the podium this weekend.

The German won the opening two races from pole, but was outwitted in China three weeks ago after Lewis Hamilton saved tires throughout the weekend to beat Red Bull at the wheel of the slightly inferior McLaren.

In Shanghai, Mark Webber seared through the field to the podium due to having a cache of fresh tires, with former driver Alex Wurz observing this week that "a new set of tires can be better" than a few further rows on the grid.

Nick Heidfeld told Speed Week that race tactics are therefore going to now unfold "a bit differently to before".

Pole specialist Vettel admitted there is some "panic" among F1's strategists at present but intends to push on in Turkey this weekend.

"My motto is: if you want to have fun, start from the back.  If you want to win, start from pole," said the 23-year-old on Thursday.

Webber told Auto Motor und Sport: "It's a very fine line to walk on now.  Unfortunately, you don't know exactly what's going to happen in the race."

New Virgin nose 'like Mercedes' - Glock
(GMM)  Virgin's heavily updated car is visibly different to the one that raced in China three weeks ago.

With the full package available only to Timo Glock this weekend, it has a much higher nose than before and a Red Bull-style blown exhaust following a dire start to the team's second F1 season.

Auto Motor und Sport said the car is 1.5 seconds quicker than the Shanghai version, with the high nose "a bit like the Mercedes", admitted Glock.

Other teams, however, have had problems with such radical improvements, moving the German to play down reports Virgin could beat Lotus this weekend.

"We can't expect the exhaust to work right away.  Williams tried it in Shanghai and had to pack it up again," insisted Glock.

He denied on Thursday that he is critical of designer Nick Wirth's aversion to wind tunnels, confirming only that he is unhappy "with the car, that's the main point".

Now working as a consultant to the team is Pat Symonds, who is still banned from having a direct operational role due to the 2008 'crashgate' scandal.

Heidfeld surprised by Petrov's strength
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has admitted he has been surprised with the strong pace shown by his teammate Vitaly Petrov so far in 2011.

The German veteran admitted he had expected to easily beat the Russian based on his pace alongside Robert Kubica in 2010.

For this year, Heidfeld has replaced Renault's injured regular Kubica, with the pair knowing each other's strengths well following their almost four common seasons at BMW until 2009.

Asked if he therefore expected to easily outpace Petrov, Heidfeld told F1.com: "I had, to be honest.

"I think he has made some good improvements and I would assume that he is as good as the team hoped he would be," he added.

Niki Lauda said this week that Heidfeld is not compensating Renault for the loss of Kubica, but the 33-year-old German insists he is at least as good as his Polish successor.

"Some people will probably tell you that Robert was quicker, but there are also numerous others who will swear that I was quicker and if you look at the real numbers we've always been pretty equally matched," he insisted.

Drivers hint 2011 return for Kubica unlikely
(GMM)  Two of the F1 drivers closest to Robert Kubica have indicated the Pole is unlikely to race in 2011.

The injured 26-year-old has just returned to his Monaco home after 76 days in an Italian hospital, with doctors to assess his rehabilitation with regards to a possible return to formula one only in the late summer.

"We know he just left hospital, now he has a long time to recover," Vitaly Petrov, Kubica's regular teammate at Renault, said in Turkey on Thursday.

"I hope that this year we can see him in the paddock, just to say hello," added the Russian.

Kubica's closest friend in F1, meanwhile, is Fernando Alonso, who spoke to the Pole three days ago.

"He is doing well, even if it is not an easy recovery, but I am sure he will be with us, maybe this year and no doubt next year," said the Spaniard.

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