Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
Lotus reveals 2012 car with stepped nose
|New Lotus E20|
- Caterham signs Friday driver van der Garde
- Alguersuari announces no F1 role for 2012
- Hamilton not worried Button to derail F1 status
- Teams to blame for 'ugly' field of 2012 - Whiting
- Boss admits launch McLaren had 'plastic' exhausts
- Tombazis: Pressure is on at Ferrari
- HRT parts company with Jacky Eeckelaert
Lotus reveals 2012 car with stepped nose
(GMM) Lotus has become the fourth formula one team to reveal a 2012 car design with a controversial 'stepped' front nose design.
The former Renault team's black and gold E20 was launched on the internet on Sunday from its headquarters at Enstone.
Nose aside, another point of interest on the E20 is the disappearance of last year's innovative front-exiting exhausts.
"Our forward exhausts would now be illegal under the new rules and didn't live up to our expectations in any case," said technical director James Allison.
A second E20 is already at Jerez for the opening test of the pre-season.
Chairman Gerard Lopez, however, said the car is not likely to return the world championships to the former title-winning Renault and Benetton team.
"In 2012 we want to finish in fourth position or higher in the championship. Beyond that our aspirations are higher," he said.
Caterham signs Friday driver van der Garde
(GMM) Giedo van der Garde's quest for a place in formula one this year has led him to Caterham.
The Dutch GP2 driver, a Spyker tester in 2007, will be former Lotus squad Caterham's official reserve this season and run "in a number" of Friday morning practice sessions, a media statement said.
"I'd like to thank (sponsor) McGregor and everybody who has supported me in my career and for helping me take this next exciting step," the 26-year-old commented.
Caterham's race drivers are Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, although there remains speculation the team is waiting to see if Renault refugee Vitaly Petrov's sponsors buy out Italian veteran Trulli's contract.
Alguersuari announces no F1 role for 2012
|Will Jamie Alguersuari also turn to IndyCar to continue his career?|
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari has announced he will be absent from the formula one paddock in 2012.
After two and a half seasons and at just 21-years-old, the Spaniard has lost his Toro Rosso race seat.
And the final spot on the 2012 grid, at the Spanish team HRT, has been secured by Narain Karthikeyan.
There has been speculation Toro Rosso sponsor Cepsa was unhappy with Red Bull's decision to dump Alguersuari, but the Faenza based team announced that the Spanish oil company is staying on board for 2012.
It has also been rumored Cepsa's Abu Dhabi links could see Alguersuari become third driver at Mercedes this year.
Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo said an announcement about the driver's plans is due imminently.
"You will not see me there this year but I am content with the super experience formula one has given me for my life," Alguersuari wrote in Spanish and Castilian Spanish on his Twitter page.
"Thank you all very much for your support," he added.
Hamilton not worried Button to derail F1 status
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton insists he is not worried his McLaren teammate is set to spoil his reputation as one of the very best drivers in formula one.
Both Britons are former world champions, but it was 2009 title winner Button who finished higher in his last's points standings -- a rare inter-team defeat for 27-year-old Hamilton.
But Hamilton insists he has made efforts over the winter period to remedy the personal problems that saw his 2011 season drive off the rails.
And the Daily Telegraph said he is not worried about the Button threat.
"No, I don't have any concerns with it," he insisted.
"Considering last year, from my own personal feeling, that I wasn't performing at my best and I was still ... when you look at the qualifying positions - what was it, 13-6? - my performances were pretty good," said Hamilton.
He said he was able to usually out-qualify Button even though "a lot of (the) time ... my mind was elsewhere".
Meanwhile, Button, 32, revealed that he had dinner with Hamilton at the end of last season for only the second time in their more than two years as teammates.
"We had some steak and it was fun," he told the Guardian.
"The only other time we have dined together was when I signed the contract. It was good," added Button.
Teams to blame for 'ugly' field of 2012 - Whiting
(GMM) The teams are to blame for the 'ugly' 2012 cars seen so far, according to FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting.
Of the five new cars seen already, the Ferrari, Lotus, Force India and Caterham models feature a radical 'stepped' nose.
Though the new McLaren sports a sleeker line, the less attractive solutions are a quirk of the 2012 rules.
This year, the FIA is requiring the tips of the noses to be lower in order to protect drivers' heads in the event of T-bone crashes.
"We wanted to lower the survival cell to minimize the consequences of a crash into the side of another car," Whiting is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
"But some of the engineers complained that they would have to build entirely new cars due to the accommodation of the suspension elements.
"So that's why we came up with making the new height requirement relevant not to the chassis but to the nose (only)," he explained.
While pundits and fans initially lambasted the 'stepped' nose when seen for the first time on the Caterham, the hubbub is now becoming more muted.
"You criticize it on the first car but when you see it on the second or third you sort of accept it," former Jordan and Jaguar designer Gary Anderson agreed, according to Reuters.
Agreed Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo to Italy's Sky Sport 24: "It's ugly but the hope above all else is to win.
"The drivers just want it to be fast, without thinking if it's beautiful or ugly."
Ferrari designer Nikolas Tombazis added: "The nose? It's not pleasant but it's very efficient."
Boss admits launch McLaren had 'plastic' exhausts
(GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that the launch version of McLaren's new MP4-27 car featured a dummy diffuser and 'plastic' exhaust exits.
With exhaust-blown diffusers effectively banned for 2012, the big technical talking point will be how the designers claw back that lost downforce.
McLaren gave nothing away last week, installing a fake diffuser and plastic exhausts on the version of the MP4-27 launched at Woking.
"The exhaust was made of plastic, you won't see those components in that form again," team boss Whitmarsh confirmed to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
On the F2012 car launched by Ferrari, the Italian team had hidden the exhausts altogether, even though there was no hiding the front 'pullrod' suspension layout, which has not been seen on an F1 car for a decade.
"The big teams have the budget to make these sorts of parts just for the launches," complained Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer.
"The car seen at our launch is certainly a lot closer to its final configuration than the McLaren or Ferrari," he added.
McLaren and Ferrari will, of course, have to run real diffusers and exhausts this week at Jerez, where the first of just three pre-season tests begins on Tuesday.
But Whitmarsh noted: "The car will look different at Jerez to what it looked last week, and a lot different in Australia.
"At the weekend at Idiada (Spain) we did an aero test where we had a series of news parts that were not on the car at Woking."
Ferrari designer Nikolas Tombazis confirmed that the exhaust is now a main focus of the 2012 designs.
"There will be a lot of work before the configuration is final," he is quoted in La Stampa newspaper.
On Monday, the new Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Sauber cars will be launched.
Tombazis: Pressure is on at Ferrari
Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis has admitted the team’s relative underachievement in recent years means the whole company is feeling the pressure to deliver consistent race-winning performances this year.
“As chief designer of the Scuderia, I do feel even more pressure than normal this year because we are really all very keen and very eager to get back to being competitive and hopefully winning again,” he said in a video interview for the team’s website.
“That pressure I believe is felt by everyone – from the very upper levels of the company, to the lower level, almost by the whole company. This pressure is very tangible and it’s something that we’re all working to hopefully get a good result and manage to relieve some of that pressure.”
“Steve Clark’s joined us who takes over the head of race engineering, which is a good help for me and means I can concentrate more on the car program as a whole. We have Hamashima starting with us,” he said. “There’s a wealth of experience between Steve and Hamashima which we hopefully can share with our current knowledge and build and get a better understanding of how to maximize the performance of the tires.”
HRT parts company with Jacky Eeckelaert
Technical Director Jacky Eeckelaert has now left HRT, the Spanish team confirmed to GPUpdate.net as reports began to circulate on Monday morning. The Belgian was originally planned to replace Geoff Willis, although his contract has not been renewed.
“Jacky is no longer working for HRT,” a team spokesperson explained to GPUpdate.net. “His contract finished by the end of January and, following all the restructuring that the team has been going through over the past months, it was decided not to renew it.
“The (new) car is already in the last stages - crash tests and homologation - and it's being supervised by the current Chief Designer Jean-Claude Martens, who has been with the team since September. It is the same situation with Simon Shinkins (Head of Production), who has been replaced by Dave Campbell.”
HRT will be testing in Jerez this week this with its 2011 car. The team – whose two drivers are Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan – intends to roll out its latest contender for the second test in Barcelona, which begins on Thursday 1 March.