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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Jerome d'Ambrosio
    Lotus signs d'Ambrosio 'before HRT announcement'
  • Valencia pushing Barcelona for F1 share solution
  • Marussia delays 2012 car track debut until March
  • Three teams could fight for 2012 spoils - Fittipaldi
  • De la Rosa eyes points for HRT in two years
  • Caterham targets point for team's third season
  • Rivals cannot write off Schumacher - Glock
  • Hulkenberg race deal for one season only
  • Sainz Jr races under Red Bull spotlight
  • Chip Ganassi rules out F1 team
  • Petrov with Pirelli but hoping for race seat New
  • Eyebrows raise as 'ugly' Caterham photos leaked New
  • Pirelli reveals brighter tire colors for 2012 New

Lotus signs d'Ambrosio 'before HRT announcement'
(GMM)  Former Virgin driver Jerome d'Ambrosio will be the third driver for Lotus in 2012.

The 26-year-old Belgian's career is handled by Gravity, the management arm of the former Renault team's owners Genii.

He will "attend all races" this season and be ready to replace Kimi Raikkonen or Romain Grosjean if required, Lotus said in a media statement.

"Of course, I would love to be racing, but racing with a top team," said d'Ambrosio.

"Being associated with Lotus F1 team should be more beneficial and this is the choice I have made," he added.

D'Ambrosio was the Enstone based team's reserve driver in 2010, before making his grand prix debut last year.

Just before the Lotus announcement on Tuesday, his manager Benjamin Mignot told Le Derniere Heure: "They (Lotus) are conscious that if they are going to announce Jerome as the third driver, they should do it before HRT reveals its second driver."

Valencia pushing Barcelona for F1 share solution
(GMM)  Valencia is waiting on fellow Spanish F1 host Barcelona to reply to talks about alternating a single annual race date.

Both venues have admitted to suffering economic difficulties at present, with the sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone pushing for them to share a spot on the calendar in future.

Valencia's regional president Alberto Fabra is quoted by the EP news agency as admitting he wants Ecclestone to agree to a new deal with "different conditions".

Fabra met with the Briton last week.

"Now we are waiting for a response from him and, after contact with different organizations and also with Catalonia, he will tell us what are the alternatives.

"I'm waiting for what Ecclestone says, being aware of our economic situation, that allows us to continue with the grand prix," he added.

Fabra said simply breaking Valencia's existing race contract is not an option.

"There is a penalty of two years of fees and then a submission to the English courts for a possible (further) compensation," he revealed.

"The only viable option is to renegotiate the contract," added Fabra.

Marussia delays 2012 car track debut until March
(GMM)  Marussia will sit out the forthcoming first test of the 2012 pre-season.

And it has also emerged that the former Virgin team's new single seater will not make an appearance until the third and final test of the winter in Barcelona.

Kevin Eason, the London newspaper The Times' veteran F1 correspondent, said the news is "worrying".

After finishing its first two seasons dead last, however, the team has gone back to the drawing board with what boss John Booth describes as an "almost entirely new (car), with very little carry over".

"Unfortunately our program has slipped and there seems little point in fielding the new car before we can optimize the run plan for it.

"So the plan is to run the 2011 (car) in Barcelona from 21 February and the new (2012 car) MR01 from 1 March at the second Barcelona test," the team explained on Twitter.

"We will hopefully gain more constructive track time than we might otherwise have achieved had we rushed the new car out for the second test," added Booth.

Previously, Marussia planned to be at the forthcoming Jerez test with the 2011 car to give rookie Charles Pic some mileage.

Three teams could fight for 2012 spoils - Fittipaldi
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel is the outright favorite, but Red Bull's rivals are also in the running for spoils in 2012.

That is the claim of Brazilian legend and two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

"It seems that Sebastian Vettel will be the guy to beat again, since the strong Red Bull project counts on Adrian Newey, who is a genius," the 65-year-old is quoted as saying by Globo.

"But we can't forget that Ferrari and McLaren have very big and competent structures, and excellent drivers, with all the conditions to be at the top," added Fittipaldi.

He also commented on the return in 2012 of former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who kicked off his campaign this week with a test in Lotus' two-year-old Renault car.

"As a very talented driver, he has the ability to be very fast again, even after two years away," said the winner of 14 grands prix.

"But he will have to adapt quickly.  The first six months will be crucial for him."

De la Rosa eyes points for HRT in two years
(GMM)  HRT's new car should be ready for the second test of the 2012 pre-season, according to Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa.

"According to our plan, the car will be ready for the second test," he told the Brazilian website Corrida de Formula 1, referring to Barcelona late in February.

Most teams will kick off their 2012 campaigns at the first test at Jerez.

De la Rosa, 40, said HRT plans to be at Jerez with its 2011 car.

"I'm not afraid to say that we are the last team at the moment," admitted the former McLaren test driver, "but I hope we will be targeting points in a couple of years."

Caterham targets point for team's third season
(GMM)  Caterham enters the 2012 season with a simple goal -- a point.

In its first two seasons, then known as Lotus, the Tony Fernandes-led squad proved the best of the other new-in-2010 startups including Virgin (now Marussia) and HRT.

But a green-colored car is still yet to score a point.

"That must be the goal (for 2012), but we are also realistic," Malaysian Fernandes told Brazil's Corride de Formula 1.

"We want to take steps forward in the right direction towards building long-term success.  But the fact is that the only way to do that is to beat the teams that are ahead of us.

"All of them scored points in 2011," he said, chiefly referring to Williams.

"So to beat them, we will at least have to score a point.  That has to be the goal," added Fernandes.

Rivals cannot write off Schumacher - Glock
(GMM)  It is a mistake to write off Michael Schumacher.

That is the claim of the seven time world champion's countryman Timo Glock, who drives for the back-of-the-grid Marussia team.

43-year-old Schumacher, meanwhile, is looking ahead to the third and final season of his comeback contract, having so far failed to score a single podium with the Mercedes team.

"You can't underestimate him in any way," Germany's Sky Sports News HD quotes Glock as saying.

"He is highly motivated and still someone who you always have to take into consideration."

Former driver Derek Warwick, however - the new president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club - is not so sure.

He predicts the great German will be having "sleepless nights" as he looks ahead to another year of being beaten by his teammate Nico Rosberg.

"I think the Mercedes will be quick this year as they continue to develop their challenge to the big three at the front," he told the Sun.

"So can Schumacher win a race?  Yes, but it will probably at the default of Rosberg, because Rosberg has now shown what a magnificent grand prix driver he is," said Warwick.

According to Glock, the obvious favorite for 2012 is Sebastian Vettel.

"What he did in the past two years was phenomenal," Glock is quoted as saying by SID news agency.  "In terms of consistency, he will be hard to beat."

1980 world champion Alan Jones hopes Vettel's teammate Mark Webber can match that form.

"He probably knows that he's got to do it this year, and he's at his fittest and most determined," the Australian told Fox Sports News.  "I put him down as a real dark horse to be honest."

Hulkenberg race deal for one season only
(GMM)  Nico Hulkenberg's race deal with Force India appears to be only for a single season.

The 24-year-old, who sat out the 2011 season on the Silverstone based team's reserve bench, has told Germany's Sky Sports News HD that he will be working this season to secure his future.

"My goal is to establish myself in formula one," said Hulkenberg, whose promising new career was interrupted by Williams at the end of his debut in 2010.

"I want to have a race cockpit again in 2013," he insisted.

Hulkenberg said he should be ready to face off immediately with his new teammate Paul di Resta, who will begin his second consecutive season with Force India in Melbourne.

"I may have to polish off a little rust," admitted Hulkenberg, "but I'm relaxed and ready for the season."

Sainz Jr races under Red Bull spotlight
(GMM)  With Red Bull juniors Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne stepping up for 2012, the spotlight is set to fall on the energy drink company's next young hopeful.

That youngster is Carlos Sainz Jr, the 17-year-old son of the Spanish world rally legend.

Sainz Jr is now the cream of Red Bull's junior driver program, and this week is heading to Milton Keynes to drive the F1 team's state-of-the-art driver simulator, Spanish sports newspaper Marca reports.

Also in the spotlight this year is Russian 17-year-old Kaniil Kvyat, who like Sainz Jr is the other 'veteran' of the Red Bull program.

Sainz Jr moves into the British F3 championship for 2012; a category previously won by former Red Bull juniors Ricciardo, Vergne and Jaime Alguersuari.

Chip Ganassi rules out F1 team
(GMM)  Well-known US motor racing team owner Chip Ganassi has ruled out entering formula one.

His cars have been winners in Nascar, IndyCar and US sports car racing.

So with Austin joining the calendar this year, and New Jersey to follow in 2013, might it be the ideal time for Ganassi to look into running a F1 team?

"There was a time when I would think about that," he is quoted by examiner.com.

"But now when I get that feeling I go lay down until it goes away."

Petrov with Pirelli but hoping for race seat
(GMM)  A hundred F1 journalists are in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday at Pirelli's behest -- but Vitaly Petrov stole the show.

The former Renault driver's appearance at the 2012 tire launch was a complete surprise, stirring obvious speculation he will be the official supplier's new main test driver.

Indeed, the Russian news agency Ria Novisti quoted his manager Oksana Kosachenko as confirming the news.

That story was then corrected and finally withdrawn.

Kosachenko said Petrov is actually still holding out hope of a race seat -- surely the one currently occupied by Jarno Trulli at Caterham.

But she hinted the only vacancy for 2012 is at HRT.

"I don't comment on rumors," Kosachenko said, "but for those in the know about formula one, it's totally clear where Vitaly could end up.

"All you need to do it take a look at the driver list, and it's totally clear.

"I won't hide it, the main issue at the moment is over our partners and sponsors, whether they will support the program we are offering," she said.

"Unfortunately, we are running out of time.  There is a chance that Vitaly will end up in a formula one team, even as the lead pilot."

Petrov told reporters at the Yas Marina circuit that he cannot say anything for another week.

"Maybe I will not test Pirelli but maybe we can work together in different parts," he said.

The BBC quoted a Pirelli official as saying a deal with Petrov is "not signed yet but probable".

Eyebrows raise as 'ugly' Caterham photos leaked
(GMM)  F1 fans on Wednesday got their first glimpse of a 2012-specification car.

Caterham is launching its new CT01 in the pages of British magazine F1 Racing on Thursday.

But some subscribers got their copy a day early, and so a side-angle photo was released by the team on Twitter.

A leaked front-view photo is also doing the rounds, and the most eye-catching feature is the radically stepped nose.

The nose is the result of new regulations dictating a lower front section for crash impacts, and given Ferrari's admission about its own "ugly" car, the look is likely to be widespread on the 2012 grid.

Pirelli reveals brighter tire colors for 2012
(GMM)  Pirelli's tires for 2012 are brighter, squarer and softer, the Italian marque announced on Wednesday.

F1's official supplier had summoned F1 journalists to the venue of the Abu Dhabi grand prix to launch its second season on the grid.

This year's range is "more angular" and the compounds are softer, while the wet tires bear the word 'Cinturato' -- the brand of Pirelli's F1 debut in 1951.

The colored sidewall markings, meanwhile, are bigger and brighter.

President Marco Tronchetti Provera told reporters the tires are designed for "deliberate degradation" in order to produce "spectacular races".

And Pirelli's F1 boss Paul Hembery said he is looking for a replacement for the 2009 Toyota test car, with talks scheduled for a forthcoming meeting of the F1 Commission.

Former Renault driver Vitaly Petrov - in Abu Dhabi - is a likely signing if he does not find a race or reserve seat, but existing tester Lucas di Grassi may also be retained.

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