Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
Lotus still happy to let drivers take risks
- Lotus to give Raikkonen time to shake off rust
- Red Bull to launch 2012 car before first test
- Hiring Raikkonen Shows We’re Serious - Bahar
- Senna open to reserve driver role in 2012 New
- A little pressure for Interlagos New
- Alesi: Grosjean’s sponsor was the main factor New
Lotus still happy to let drivers take risks
(GMM) Even after losing Robert Kubica's services to serious injury and seeing new star recruit Kimi Raikkonen hurt his wrist at the weekend, Lotus will continue to let its drivers run their own lives.
With Pole Kubica still not recovered from his horror pre-season rallying crash, Lotus' new signing Raikkonen fell whilst racing a snowmobile in Austria at the weekend, spraining his wrist.
Writing in Blick newspaper, veteran correspondent Roger Benoit said Lotus' attitude is "almost negligent".
"Have they learned nothing from the Kubica incident?" he asked.
But Dany Bahar, Lotus Group chief executive, told reporters he will not wrap the F1 team's drivers in cotton wool, amid reports Raikkonen's teammate Romain Grosjean has been racing karts in France.
"It is part of our job to do things that are risky, we do it commercially and corporately, Kimi does it in his own life," Bahar is quoted as saying by Reuters.
"Kimi is Kimi and it will be difficult to change the way he lives," added Bahar.
Raikkonen's teammate for 2012 is new GP2 champion Grosjean, whose French nationality is a "godsend" for happy sponsors like oil company Total, team boss Eric Boullier admitted.
But he replaces Vitaly Petrov, the sponsored-funded Russian, and Brazilian Bruno Senna has also departed.
"It's a brave decision to say 'We're not after the money, we try to go the hard way ... we try to succeed through performance ... maybe not to go after 'pay drivers' any more", said Bahar.
Lotus to give Raikkonen time to shake off rust
(GMM) Although Dany Bahar has admitted signing Kimi Raikkonen involves Lotus spending "a big amount of money", he expects the 2007 world champion to be a bit rusty initially.
Asked to compare the Finn's return with the difficult F1 comeback experienced by Michael Schumacher, team title sponsor Group Lotus' chief executive said: "Definitely it is a gamble with Kimi as well.
"He has maybe taken two years, but we have the time for Kimi as well."
Bahar is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat: "Whether it takes three days, six races or 20 races, remains to be seen.
"The important thing is that Kimi steadily improves. As long as this happens, we give him time."
But there have been questions about 32-year-old Raikkonen's basic motivation, with some commentators thinking he did not take his earlier career with McLaren and Ferrari seriously enough.
"He has grown up, he is no longer young," Bahar insisted.
"He knows what he is doing and what is expected of him. I believe he will take things a little more seriously."
Also being given another chance is Eric Boullier, following speculation the team principal was on the way out.
"After a not-so-good year you are often criticized," said Bahar. "The important thing is he learns from it and identifies the areas where he has to strengthen, and he has done that."
Red Bull to launch 2012 car before first test
(GMM) The car in which Sebastian Vettel will push for an ultra-rare triple back-to-back world championship will be launched on February 5.
That is the claim of France's Auto Hebdo, with the autohebdo.fr website saying the official unveiling of the 2012 Red Bull will take place at the energy drink-owned team's Milton Keynes headquarters.
February 5 is two days before the first official test of the 2012 pre-season kicks off at Jerez, and the RB8's designer Adrian Newey has revealed the intention is to take the new car to the Spanish circuit.
"Adrian and the guys are pushing very hard to get the car ready for next year," said Vettel recently.
Meanwhile, it is believed the new Lotus (nee Renault) will be launched a day later than the Red Bull.
The precise date of the Williams launch is not yet known, but Auto Hebdo claims the FW34 will be revealed for the first time not in Europe but in Doha, the capital of Qatar where the British team has a technical facility.
It has been reported that the Oxfordshire based team is close to inking a major sponsorship deal with the Doha-based Qatar National Bank.
Hiring Raikkonen Shows We’re Serious - Bahar
Group Lotus boss Dany Bahar says LRGP’s decision to take Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean shows that the team is serious about taking a step up.
Bahar insists that the team made a conscious choice not to take drivers with funding.
“The decision we took was that we need to bring the team to the next level,” Bahar told Reuters at a media event today. “Now it's the next step, to restructure the team, to bring in new talent, technical talent, an experienced driver, maybe not to go after 'pay drivers' any more, not to look to the highest bidder any more. It's really to get more and more competitive.”
Bahar said that dropping Vitaly Petrov – who brought funding from Russia – was a sign of the new policy.
“It's a brave decision to say: ‘We're not after the money, we try to go the hard way, we try to succeed through performance, with the best people coming in, best driver coming in, and make the team better.’
“We have to fight even harder to get the money, even harder to race and to get sponsorships, but we believe we have a nice offer especially now with the two brands [Group and Team Lotus] combined.” Speedtv.com
Senna open to reserve driver role in 2012
Bruno Senna would accept a seat as a third driver in 2012 as long as it allowed him track time on Fridays.
When replacing Nick Heidfeld ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix this season, Senna had to adapt quickly to the Renault having made only one Friday practice appearance in the R31. With Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean driving for the team in 2012, Senna's options appear to be limited, and although still preferring a race seat he admitted he would be open to a third driver role if it gave him more Friday opportunities.
"To take a third driver place it would have to be a similar type of role to what certain people had this year with driving on Fridays," Senna told Autosport. "That allows you to be active and do something relevant with the team. It would have to be with the right team, but it could be an option."
Senna also said that he could revert to the role he had with Renault, but that it wasn't his first choice.
"There is still a chance of that (staying with Renault); I still have a good relationship with the engineers and everybody at the team. But we would need to discuss terms and see what else is in the market." ESPN F1
A little pressure for Interlagos
Formula 1 wants to be in Brazil. It is a traditional venue and there have been Brazilian drivers in the sport, on a regular basis, for more than 40 years. But the old Interlagos facility in Sao Paulo has long needed a revamp, although Bernie Ecclestone always forgets this fact when he is criticizing Silverstone. Interlagos has now fallen so far behind the other F1 circuits that there is beginning to be pressure and a plan has been floated to re-profile the last corners, where two touring car drivers have been killed in recent years and to build a new pit and paddock facility on the back straight. But will that actually happen? Brazil is also renowned for getting away with delay after delay, on the basis that F1 needs the country. At the moment there is a deal in place for the race at Interlagos until 2015 and a new contract will likely be dependent on changes being made.
It must be remembered that Interlagos has been a racing facility since 1939 and that its existence as a circuit is owed to the fact that the unstable hillside on which it is build was deemed unsuitable for housing when property developers built in the area. Rather than waste time on a circuit design, they simply took the ideas which had been used for Roosevelt Field, on Long Island, near New York, and adapted them to the available land. The track has been revamped somewhat since the 1970s but the spirit remains much as it was. The facility was engulfed by the expanding city in the late 1970s as shanty towns were build all around it, but the area has improved somewhat in the last 15 years, although sections of the approach are still relatively hazardous, as F1 folk have found out in a series of attacks in recent years – although there was no hint of trouble this year.
No-one wants to see Interlagos disappear, as it remains a challenging circuit, but there are people who believe that Brazil would do better to shift the race to a new site, in order to publicize the other side of life in Brazil: golden beaches and plenty of sunshine. The country’s major tourist destinations are the beach resorts on the south coast. These have very high occupancy during the summer months (the European winter) but are quiet for much of the year. The vast majority of the tourism is domestic and of the small group of international visitors, 72 percent come from Argentina, 11 percent from Paraguay and eight percent from Chile and Uruguay. European and long-haul visitors are headed by Portugal, but that amounts to only two percent of the international visitors. The local authorities have identified tourism as a key growth area for the economy. It is in the light of this knowledge that the announcement that Beto Carrero World is building an international level racing facility is fairly interesting. It is being designed by Hermann Tilke.
Beto Carrero World is the largest theme park in Latin America. It is located at Penha, in the state of Santa Catarina, which is on the Atlantic coast between Curitiba and Florianopolis. The park was opened in 1991 and has been expanding ever since. There is plenty of room for expansion as it sits on a 5.4 sq mile site. The facility opened an international kart circuit last year and it recently became the venue of the annual Granja Viana 500 km kart race.
The park has been run since 2008 by Alex Murad and his sister Juliana, following the death of their father João Batista Murad, a cowboy who has traveled the world performing several shows, including Las Vegas. After a visit to Walt Disney World in Florida, he returned to Brazil, intent on building a similar facility. The business has expanded slowly but recent economic growth in Brazil has increased the number of people able to afford to visit and last year the park had a turnover of $50 million.
As part of the expansion since Murad’s death, the park has embraced motorsport. In addition to the kart race, the venue will host rounds of the FIM Motocross MX1 and MX2 Championships in May next year.
The current plan is to build the track in the next couple of years and then bid for a round of the IndyCar Series. If all goes to plan, the facility will end up being rather similar to Suzuka, with the race track adjoining the theme park, and able to share some facilities.
However, if the local government is interested, F1 might be a better option in the longer term. Joe Saward
Alesi: Grosjean’s sponsor was the main factor
Sponsors were the strongest factor when Lotus Renault GP chose its second 2012 driver, according to Jean Alesi. With backing from French petroleum company Total, Romain Grosjean was selected to partner returning 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen, leaving Bruno Senna on the sidelines and searching for a drive.
Former Grand Prix winner Alesi is an ambassador for the Enstone team, having retired from F1 in 2001 before spending a stint in German touring car series DTM.
“Grosjean is a beginner and he’s had a chance a few years ago, but France needs a French driver and I know he will have the support of Total, so why not?” French-Sicilian Alesi is quoted as saying by The Norwich Advertiser.
“For Bruno, what he did this year was great, especially as he started in the middle of the season. He had to jump in the car straight away and he has been quick. The performance of the car was sometimes good, sometimes not, but he managed to do his job in the best way. So it’s a shame – but Total did push very much for a French driver and they pay more…”
Also on the hunt for a 2012 race seat is Vitaly Petrov, who has been dropped by Eric Boullier's squad after spending two seasons with the outfit and scoring a maiden podium result at the start of 2011.