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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Ferrari signs Bridgestone's Hamashima
  • Hamilton raises eyebrows with 'garish' outfits
  • Vettel defends constant helmet color changes
  • Spa wants F1 future clarity within 'weeks'
  • Liuzzi unlikely to keep HRT seat - Eeckelaert
  • D'Ambrosio announcement due in ten days - manager
  • Valencia rejected alternating race idea - Barcelona
  • Steve Clark moves from Mercedes to Ferrari - reports

Ferrari signs Bridgestone's Hamashima
(GMM) Ferrari has signed Bridgestone's former technical chief Hirohide Hamashima, it emerged from the 'Wrooom' media event in the Italian Dolomites on Wednesday.

The news was announced by Stefano Domenicali, the famous team's boss.

Better known as 'Hammy', Japanese Hamashima, 52 will be in charge of the interaction between the new Ferrari car and its Pirelli tires and other "tire issues", Domenicali said.

Still without an official name, the 2012 single seater - codenamed 663 - will be revealed at the team's headquarters on February 3, just before a Fiorano shakedown.

Official testing begins the following week at Jerez.

Domenicali on Wednesday also denied reports that Ferrari has already secretly inked a new Concorde Agreement with Bernie Ecclestone.

Hamilton raises eyebrows with 'garish' outfits
(GMM) According to some sections of the media, Lewis Hamilton has kicked off 2012 on the wrong foot.

The former world champion had a tumultuous 2011 season both on and off the circuit but has vowed to return at full speed this year.

But among his first public appearances in the new year is in what Britain's Daily Mail described on Tuesday as a "garish photo shoot" for the American magazine GQ.

The report said the McLaren driver, who turned 27 last weekend and was modeling the so-called 'layering' fashion trend, has also "been busy recording an album during the off-season".

"I love it in the States," he is quoted as saying.

"The roads are big, the food is big. If it was possible to be in LA and still live my racing life, I would move now."

Vettel defends constant helmet color changes
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has defended his habit of regularly changing his F1 helmet livery.

The back to back world champion uses several designs in a single season, which according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport is a "bit disappointing" in the eyes of some spectators.

"Is it (your livery) not your business card, something special?" the magazine asked Vettel in an exclusive interview.

Vettel answered: "Some things on my helmet always stay the same.

"But somehow it just happened that my helmet designer and I experiment and have fun with it. Together, we usually have pretty good ideas.

"I do find some helmets incredibly beautiful," the 24-year-old German conceded. "Like Senna's. Or the bars on Damon Hill's black helmet.

"Or the Scottish cross on David Coulthard's. Very simple but unmistakable," he added.

He may be setting a new trend in one way, but on the other hand he has so far resisted joining the new age of Facebook and Twitter.

"For me, this is not real communication. It's not my thing," Vettel insisted.

"I find it a very indirect and impersonal way to communicate with other people."

Spa wants F1 future clarity within 'weeks'
(GMM) The local Walloon government is seeking clarity about the future of the fabled Belgian grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps within "four or five weeks".

Jean-Claude Marcourt, the government's economics minister, was responding on Tuesday in a parliamentary committee, following media reports that France looks set to return to F1 in 2013.

Those reports suggested France's Paul Ricard circuit will share a single alternating annual date with Spa, the fabled Belgian venue.

Marcourt explained that, in a bid to reduce costs, the government had last year begun to look into possibly alternating its grand prix with another European host.

A "non-binding document" with France was circulated, with an answer necessary by the end of 2011.

"On January 1 there was nothing," Marcourt is quoted by RTL Sport Belgium. "Now the French seem to be catching up.

"In four or five weeks, we have to clarify everything. I do not want things drawing out so that we get to the end of the contract not knowing what is going to happen.

"We are awaiting the response from France," he added.

Liuzzi unlikely to keep HRT seat - Eeckelaert
(GMM) Jerome d'Ambrosio, Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna are all in the running to complete HRT's driver lineup in 2012, according to the Belgian newspaper La Libre.

According to the struggling Spanish team's technical boss Jacky Eeckelaert, ousted Virgin/Marussia driver d'Ambrosio is towards the top of the list.

"I don't think it's in the interests of the team to have a second Spanish driver," he said, effectively ruling out Jaime Alguersuari or Dani Clos to be Pedro de la Rosa's teammate.

"The same goes for the drivers approaching retirement," added Eeckelaert, thereby also scratching Rubens Barrichello from the shortlist.

With an existing contract for 2012 is Vitantonio Liuzzi, but Eeckelaert also spoke against the Italian.

"He hasn't really confirmed himself after several chances. We are looking more for a young driver with a lot of potential," he added.

HRT, formerly Hispania, has had a troubled young history and ahead of the 2012 season is still looking to find its feet with new management and ownership.

"We hope to continue our battle at the back of the pack with Virgin (Marussia)," said Eeckelaert.

"It is difficult to aim higher. The Dallara chassis we used in our first two seasons was clearly not good enough. So in our German workshop we have built our own HRT to be powered by the Cosworth V8.

"We started fresh in September, later than the others, and so we cannot have fantasies.

"The new owners decided to move the team with the result that 90 per cent of the staff in Germany will not follow us.

"This is unfortunate because even if the car did not work, the team was beginning to work well together. Now it's as though we are beginning again with a new team," he said.

D'Ambrosio announcement due in ten days - manager
(GMM) An announcement about Jerome d'Ambrosio's plans for the 2012 season is due within ten days, according to his manager.

The 26-year-old Belgian lost his Virgin/Marussia seat after his debut season in 2011 but is now reportedly in the running to re-emerge at HRT.

Handled by Lotus owner Genii's management arm, it is also possible d'Ambrosio could fall back on a reserve driver role at the Enstone based team.

"A decision should be made within ten days in time for the start of winter testing at Jerez on February 7," manager Benjamin Mignot told the La Derniere Heure newspaper.

"We are not spoken about much in the foreign press and that's fine," he insisted. "But I can assure you that we are still in the frame and that doors are still open.

"The situation is unchanged since Christmas -- we have a reasonable budget for a formula one seat.

"I'm not talking about the amounts, but we consider Adrian Sutil the only real competitor."

D'Ambrosio said: "We are thinking of the best solution for me to be in formula one for a long time. Honestly I prefer to race if I have the chance and that possibility still exists.

"This week we have one last meeting and with any luck, I will know very soon what I'll be doing this season."

Valencia rejected alternating race idea - Barcelona
(GMM) Valencia reportedly turned down an opportunity to safeguard Spain's presence on the F1 calendar by alternating an annual date with Barcelona.

Bernie Ecclestone confirmed last year that Spain's two races could in the future share a single annual date.

But this week, it emerged that - amid the European economic crisis - both Valencia's street circuit and the permanent Circuit de Catalunya could lose the support of their respected authorities and fall off the F1 calendar altogether.

On Tuesday, Catalonia government Francesco Homs was quoted by Marca sports newspaper as recalling that the idea of alternating a single race with Valencia was raised last April.

He said the proposal was rejected by Valencia.

Homs did, however, assure journalists that this year's Spanish grand prix in Barcelona, scheduled for mid April, is safe.

Steve Clark moves from Mercedes to Ferrari - reports
(GMM) The Ferrari team is congregating this week at Madonna di Campiglio, an Italian ski resort, for its annual pre-season media event.

One of the first pieces of news to emerge from the Dolomites is the move from Mercedes of Steve Clark to the famous Italian squad.

Briton Clark was Brackley based Mercedes GP's highly respected senior technical advisor.

Italy's Autosprint, reporting from the 'Wrooom' event, said the switch could be announced officially by team boss Stefano Domenicali on Wednesday.

Marca, a Spanish sports newspaper, said 42-year-old Clark's new role will be similar to the axed Chris Dyer's -- in charge of Ferrari's race engineers Andrea Stella (Fernando Alonso) and Rob Smedley (Felipe Massa).

He formerly worked with Ferrari technical director Pat Fry at McLaren.

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