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DATE News (chronologically)
05/17/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday  
  • Ross brawn may have new tricks up his sleeve for Mercedes
    Gov't rules out move for Albert Park GP
  • 2011 formula should end Barcelona bore
  • Ferrari making changes after early 2011 struggle
  • Haug not confirming radical upgrade reports
  • Montezemolo says he's 'married to Ferrari'
  • Virgin to announce reserve role for Wickens
  • Newey hopes Webber stays at Red Bull
  • A1-Ring not rebuilt for F1 tilt - Berger
  • Force India's Smith finally starts work at Team Lotus

Gov't rules out move for Albert Park GP
(GMM)  Melbourne's formula one race will only be held at Albert Park, state government minister Louise Asher said on Monday.

Her comments follow speculation that the event, criticized for costing taxpayers too much, could move to a bespoke facility to be built at nearby Avalon airport.

"The grand prix is going to stay at Albert Park," she insisted during a parliamentary budget estimates hearing.

Albert Park's current contract runs through 2015 but it was negotiated by the former government.

"When we come to negotiate we will play hardball," Asher said.

"I think taxpayers could get a better deal if the contract had less in it for my good friend Mr. Ecclestone and more in it for Victorian taxpayers," she added.

Avalon chief Justin Giddings said he was disappointed the government is not open to hosting the race elsewhere.

"There's been a lot of discussion and we were looking forward to presenting something to the state government in the next few weeks but it appears it will be no longer worthwhile," he said.

2011 formula should end Barcelona bore
(GMM)  F1's 2011 formula should ensure a more spectacular than usual Spanish grand prix at Barcelona.

The Circuit de Catalunya has announced that the 'DRS' rear wing overtaking zone has been set at 830 meters for the front straight -- "one of the longest (zones) of the world championship", according to the Spanish venue.

"The race will be a test of the new F1 rules," said Spanish daily Diario Sport.

The Circuit de Catalunya, so well-known to formula one teams, has usually hosted predictable and processional F1 races.

But the new formula also includes Pirelli tires that had to be changed around four times per driver in Turkey a week ago, where there was a dizzying 79 overtaking moves.

"With the tire degradation and the moveable rear wing it (the Spanish GP) will likely be different this year," predicted Williams' Sam Michael.

Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio wrote in his Jornal da Tarde column that in the 20 Spanish grands prix at Barcelona, the pole sitter has won no fewer than 16 times.

Another fact is that Adrian Newey-designed Williams, McLaren and Red Bull cars have won half of all the grands prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"It should be suitable for our car," said Sebastian Vettel, who has monopolized pole position with his RB7 so far in 2011.

Germany's Bild newspaper pointed out that Vettel's start to the season has been the fifth best in formula one history, after Michael Schumacher (1994 and 2004), Ayrton Senna (1991) and Nigel Mansell (1992).

Ferrari making changes after early 2011 struggle
(GMM)  Ferrari is in the process of devising some key changes to ensure a better start to the 2012 season, according to Autosprint.

The Italian magazine said there will be some layoffs due to the aerodynamic problems the team has grappled with in getting the new 150 Italia car up to speed.

No names were mentioned, but chief designer Nikolas Tombazis' role is reportedly safe, which raises doubt about the chief aerodynamicist Marco de Luca.

At the same time, a former Ferrari engineer has questioned the reports about the team's Maranello wind tunnel suffering from a calibration problem.

"I honestly do not think there's anything wrong with it," he is quoted as saying, speculating that the real problem could be with Pirelli's scale wind tunnel tires.

"Also, I think they (Ferrari) have tried to use a curved (air) flow, to simulate behavior in the corners, which is a very difficult task," the unnamed engineer added.

"It is not unusual to have a problem in the wind tunnel.  Unfortunately, when it happens to us there is a lot of attention," said technical director Aldo Costa.

"We have had to review something in the tunnel, I don't want to be more specific than that," he added, explaining that all the changes will be complete by the end of the season.

Haug not confirming radical upgrade reports
(GMM)  Norbert Haug is keeping silent amid reports Mercedes is set to introduce an exciting upgrade package in Barcelona this weekend.

The team has confirmed that a significant package of new parts will be debuted in Spain, with rumors suggesting a Red Bull-style flexible wing and a Renault-style front exhaust layout may be among the changes.

"We have quite a few things in the pipeline, but Ross (Brawn) will hit me if I tell," Mercedes' motor sport vice-president Haug joked in an interview with ibnlive.com.

"So, (there's) no chance that I can be specific," he added.

Montezemolo says he's 'married to Ferrari'
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo has played down the possibility of leaving Ferrari in order to enter Italian politics.

Rumors abounded last month that, despite the Ferrari president signing on with the Maranello marque for another three years, the 63-year-old has definitely decided to switch to politics in the near future.

But in a new interview with the International Herald Tribune, Montezemolo insisted he is "married to Ferrari".

However, he is undeniably interested in politics, having started a research group - Italia Futura - to monitor the government and identify potential political candidates.

He would not categorically rule out running for office but added: "I don't believe in a one-man show.  I'm more of a team-spirit guy."

Also constantly rumored in the recent past is that Ferrari, also the famous maker of road sports cars, could soon float on the stock market.

But a Credit Suisse analyst is quoted as saying a lack of financial transparency at Ferrari could be a hurdle.

"There are so many loose ends that would need to be addressed in an IPO," he said, estimating the value of Ferrari at EUR 3 billion.

Montezemolo hit back: "When I hear people say that the value of Ferrari is only three billion, I think, 'Someone must be out of their mind'."

Virgin to announce reserve role for Wickens
(GMM)  Robert Wickens is set to be confirmed as Virgin's new reserve driver.

We reported late last month that the 22-year-old Canadian was at the front of the queue for the role after Sakon Yamamoto's contract covered only the first races of 2011.

But some unknown problems held up the deal, despite Wickens being strongly backed in the Formula Renault 3.5 series by Virgin's Russian sponsor and shareholder Marussia.

The Toronto newspaper Globe and Mail insists the hurdles have now been overcome and Wickens - who attended the recent Turkish grand prix with Virgin - will be unveiled this week as reserve driver in time for Barcelona.

A Friday driving role is also on the cards, amid recent rumors it will be Wickens who takes over the race cockpit if Jerome d'Ambrosio's sponsors do not pay up.

Newey hopes Webber stays at Red Bull
(GMM)  Adrian Newey has revealed he would like to see Mark Webber stay with Red Bull Racing in 2012.

Along with other key players including designer Newey and team boss Christian Horner, Sebastian Vettel's contract for next year and beyond was recently extended.

34-year-old Webber, however, is currently scheduled to leave the dominant team at the end of the season, with bosses wanting to gauge his motivation and performance at a later date.

The Australian has struggled to match runaway championship leader Vettel's pace so far in 2011, with team driver manager Helmut Marko admitting recently that the young German alongside Lewis Hamilton would be a "fantasy" pairing.

"Crikey," Newey responded in an interview with the Guardian.

"I'm hoping Mark continues next season.  Apart from being a great person, his contribution has been significant.  He's been a pillar of the team from the start.

"Seb is very perceptive in his feedback in some regards and Mark is very perceptive in other areas.  We listen to both and it helps the car," the Briton added.

He admitted Webber has struggled recently but is now "closing the gap" to Vettel.

"At the moment he (Vettel) is really on top of his game.  It's certainly not a case that Mark has been driving any slower -- that's for sure.  Mark's just taken a bit longer to adapt to the Pirelli tires but the gap is closing."

He said the drivers felt the enormous pressure of last year's championship battle and also revealed that he was affected physically by the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.

"The little hair I had all fell out in the aftermath," said Newey, who designed the Williams that Senna raced at Imola.  "So it changed me physically."

He believes Senna's crash was caused by a puncture rather than a failed steering column but is nonetheless reluctant to see the new film about the great Brazilian's career.

"No.  It would not be an easy thing to do," said Newey.

A1-Ring not rebuilt for F1 tilt - Berger
(GMM)  The Red Bull Ring is ready for formula one but Gerhard Berger doubts its owner is pushing for the return of the Austrian grand prix.

Some years ago, the ten-time grand prix winner co-owned Toro Rosso with countryman and billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who at a nine-digit multi million Euro cost has rebuilt the former A1-Ring in picturesque Styria.

Mateschitz has played down the prospect of bidding for F1 but has achieved F1-standard homologation for the track, with Bernie Ecclestone admitting Austria's return to the F1 calendar is "possible" as he attended the circuit relaunch at the weekend.

"The track is completely formula one-capable, there's no doubt about that," Berger told the Austrian broadcaster ORF.  "And if you know Didi Mateschitz and Red Bull, they always do the maximum.

"On the other hand, I don't think that (F1) is the idea behind it," he continued.

"The circuit has not been revitalized to bring a formula one race here, but simply to give a life back to Austrian motor racing.  That's why it has happened in the first place.

"What comes next, we'll see," added Berger.

Force India's Smith finally starts work at Team Lotus
(GMM)  Mark Smith has finally made his switch to Team Lotus.

The move was announced a full year ago, but Force India enforced the "notice period" in his contract that is only now expiring.

Team Lotus announced on Monday that Smith has finally started work as technical director at Hingham and will develop the T128 under Mike Gascoyne "and begin work on the 2012 car".

"The foundations are there for long-term success and I am looking forward to helping the team achieve its goals for many seasons to come," said Smith.

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