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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Did Adrian Newey outsmart the other designers again with an airtake where the nose steps up?  Speculation is that it may feed air to the rear diffuser
    'Step noses' still the hot topic at Jerez
  • Eyebrows raise as Red Bull shows nose air intake
  • Grosjean thanks knockers for 2009 criticism
  • Lotus frustrated with 'reactive ride height' ban
  • Exhaust blowing saga not over yet - Lotus
  • Renault still Lotus team sponsor - Caubet
  • HRT to be among 'step nose' teams - de la Rosa
  • Van der Garde 'surprised' by Jerez test day
  • Raikkonen to reunite with McLaren engineer
  • Raikkonen not Lotus team owner - Boullier
  • Alguersuari ready for F1 comeback 'opportunity'
  • Teams say F1 officials to decide on Bahrain return

'Step noses' still the hot topic at Jerez
(GMM)  Amid the European cold snap, Franz Tost admits he was worried Toro Rosso might be late for its own car launch.

The STR7 was unveiled on Monday in the Jerez pitlane, a day ahead of its testing debut.

"When the trucks left Faenza on Saturday night I was worried we would not arrive in time," La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes the relieved team boss as saying.

Ultimately, it turned out well, although Daniel Ricciardo - one of Toro Rosso's new Red Bull-backed rookies - was not overly impressed with the car's looks.

"It's not exactly beautiful," said the Australian, referring to the now notorious 'stepped' noses on the 2012 cars, "but I'd rather have a quick car than a pretty one."

Actually, designer Giorgio Ascanelli is worried the STR7's nose might not be ugly enough.

"I think we could have made it more aggressive," said the Italian, "but in the end we had to homologate the car before we could test it."

Arguably more ugly is the nose on Sauber's new C31, but Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi isn't so sure.

"You think it's ugly?" he told reporters at Jerez.  "If everybody has the same style of car then it's not ugly.  Only the McLaren is different, so we will see."

On McLaren, Kobayashi might have a point.

Of the eight 2012 cars seen so far, all of them have a 'step' except the McLaren.  And Pedro de la Rosa has hinted that the new HRT will also feature the unattractive solution.

"Like almost everyone one else we have had the idea to have as much area under the car as possible.  The regulations force us to do what we have done," Sauber designer Matt Morris is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Said Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary: "It begs the question -- have McLaren got it wrong?

"Were they 'sandbagging' - faking - at last week's launch?  Have they got it right and everyone else got it wrong?"

McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe is confident: "We have always had a different philosophy than the others for the front of the car," he is quoted by Blick newspaper.

Two 2012 cars with 'step' noses - Lotus and Sauber - made their track debuts on Monday, ahead of official testing which begins on Tuesday.

Lotus' technical boss James Allison thinks the E20 is the "most beautiful ugly car" seen so far.

"It feels great in first and second gear," smiled Kimi Raikkonen, referring to the running for 'filming purposes'.

Agreed Sauber's Kobayashi: "I obviously can't make serious judgments on the car because we had just a promotional day and were running only demo tires."

The new Williams will be seen for the first time on Tuesday.

Eyebrows raise as Red Bull shows nose air intake
(GMM)  Red Bull raised eyebrows throughout the F1 world on Monday by showing some glimpses of its 2012 car.

Although detailed images are not yet available, the 'stepped nose' on the RB8 features a mysterious air intake.

"Why?" wondered Germany's Bild newspaper.

Spain's Marca said the intake is "surprising and unprecedented" among the growing field of 2012.

"Perhaps the intention is to cool the KERS batteries," wondered Italy's Autosprint.

Finnish broadcaster MTV3 cited the information of Caterham's technical boss Mike Gascoyne in speculating that the purpose of the intake is cooling.

"The first thing that came to my mind," wrote O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio, "is that the air will flow to the diffuser.

"We will soon find out," he added.

"In any event, however effective Adrian Newey's unique solution, it will not be as decisive as the blowing diffusers of last year."

The RB8's world champion driver Sebastian Vettel agrees.

"The car is based on last year's car," he is quoted by international publications.  "The changes are small and subtle."

Like Newey, the German laments the FIA's rules clampdowns.

"Before, there were many opportunities to invent something new, while now it will be harder to make a real difference.

"I think the gaps will be smaller than they were in the past," said Vettel.

Grosjean thanks knockers for 2009 criticism
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean has thanked those who wrote him off after his disappointing 2009 debut.

When Nelson Piquet was ousted amid the developing 'crashgate' scandal, Swiss-born Frenchman stepped in at Renault and failed to shine alongside Fernando Alonso.

So he returned to GP2, winning the title in 2011 and earning another chance at the Enstone based team - now Lotus - under new management.

"To the people who did not believe in me, thank you -- you made me stronger," the 25-year-old is quoted by the French language sport24.com.

Grosjean admitted, however, that his problems of 2009 were not other people's fault.

"I think I was not ready, I made mistakes.  I did some good things too but I overall I was not up for it," said the Frenchman.

"I must say the past two years were very useful and very interesting for me, and now I'm more prepared."

Lotus frustrated with 'reactive ride height' ban
(GMM)  Eric Boullier has admitted frustration with the FIA's decision to ban reactive ride height systems.

Lotus looked to have stolen the march with the clever technology ahead of 2012, but when the other teams started asking the governing body for approval, the FIA closed the avenue altogether.

"We invested time and money and always kept the FIA informed of our progress," team boss Boullier is quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It was frustrating, but it will not impact on our performance," he insisted.

The Finnish broadcaster MTV3 quoted the Frenchman as elaborating: "It took a lot of time to get the system in place -- a couple of years in fact.

"We are not stupid so we checked the progress with the FIA at all stages.  We believed it was beneficial, but the benefit would not have been massive," he added.

The benefit also would not have been immediate, as explained by technical boss James Allison.

"We would not have used it in the car from the very start," he told Auto Motor und Sport.  "For us, it was part of the development program."

Exhaust blowing saga not over yet - Lotus
(GMM)  F1's 'blown exhaust' saga may not be over, according to Lotus team officials.

"For us, it is clear that the exhaust gases may not be used to alter the car's aerodynamics," said team boss Eric Boullier.

He is referring to the FIA's ban on diffuser exhaust blowing, and the fact that major teams including McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull are being highly secretive of their 2012 solutions.

"We may see some strange things at the back of some cars which we will have to discuss, but let's see," Boullier said at Jerez ahead of the opening group test.

The problem, team technical boss James Allison explains, is that while the 2012 rules are much clearer, some loopholes may still exist.

"The area in which the exhaust can be located is still relatively large," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Therefore, there are grey areas.

"Our position at the moment is that there is no controversy, but we are watching very closely how far the competition is going and how much the FIA will allow," added Allison.

Renault still Lotus team sponsor - Caubet
(GMM)  Lotus - the former Renault team - will continue to receive the French carmaker's backing in 2012.

The Renault chassis name has now departed the grid, but Renault remains one of F1's few engine suppliers.

While the French marque's focus is the championship-winning Red Bull team, the word 'Renault' remains prominent on Lotus' new black and gold E20 car livery.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, however, said the Enstone based team is now paying for its 2.4 liter V8 power.

"But only 70 per cent," said Renault's Jean-Francois Caubet, "because we remain sponsors of the team from Enstone.

"We also have a technical collaboration that relates to KERS and the turbo V6 engine that will come in 2014," he added.

HRT to be among 'step nose' teams - de la Rosa
(GMM)  HRT will be among the 'stepped nose' teams in 2012, Pedro de la Rosa has revealed.

The Spanish veteran has visited not only the team's new Paterna headquarters in Valencia, but also the technical base in Munich, where the new car is being built.

"From what little I've seen, the most elegant car is the McLaren," the British team's former long-time test driver said.

"The step in the nose of the others is ugly, but it's a technical solution that many teams are taking because of the regulations.

"Ours will more than likely also have a step, maybe not as aggressive (as some)," de la Rosa told Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

The 2012 HRT, however, is not ready, so de la Rosa will drive the old car at Jerez this week, painted all white.

"I don't care about that; what matters is to maximize every mile, take off the rust and integrate into my new team," he said.

It has been yet another difficult period for HRT, with new ownership and the split with boss Colin Kolles, whose German based operation was the heartbeat of the team in 2010 and 2011.

"The team is entirely new," admitted de la Rosa, "mechanics, engineers, motor homes.

"Where there was nothing, now there is a formula one team.  I am seeing familiar faces, people I have worked with at different teams, and also Spanish people, some of them from Epsilon (Euskadi).

"So a mix of experience in F1, Le Mans or World Series -- the base is good.

"We are starting from scratch with a new group of people.  That's why I have signed for two years; I know that is the minimum we need to get everything started."

HRT's latest blow is the loss of its technical director Jacky Eeckelaert, whose expired contract was not renewed.

Van der Garde 'surprised' by Jerez test day
(GMM)  Giedo van der Garde has admitted to surprise at his inclusion in Caterham's test plans this week.

Originally, the former Lotus team scheduled the four days of the Jerez session to be split evenly between Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli.

Italian veteran Trulli, however, has been shunted from Thursday's schedule in favor of van der Garde, the Dutch former GP2 driver who has been signed as Caterham's 2012 reserve.

"We are very curious to see him at work in our new car," said team chief executive Riad Asmat, according to Dutch-language reports.

"I am surprised and delighted with this opportunity," added van der Garde, who is backed by the sponsor McGregor.

"I am fit and ready to get the best out of the car and myself," he said.

Raikkonen to reunite with McLaren engineer
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen will have a familiar race engineer for his return to formula one this year.

Finnish reports in Turun Sanomat and the broadcaster MTV3 claim the 2007 world champion will work with Mark Slade.

Slade, recently at Mercedes GP working alongside Michael Schumacher, was Finn Raikkonen's race engineer at McLaren years ago.

Turun Sanomat said they will start to work together at Barcelona at the last test before Melbourne.

"I wanted him and I am pleased that it worked out," Raikkonen confirmed.

Raikkonen not Lotus team owner - Boullier
(GMM)  Eric Boullier has slammed rumors Kimi Raikkonen is a shareholder in the Lotus team.

It was reported that the 2007 world champion's retainer this year was subsidized by owner Genii granting the returning F1 driver a small slice of the Enstone based team.

"He has no shareholding.  It is complete nonsense," Boullier is quoted by Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"Raikkonen has a two-year contract as driver," he added.  "Genii Capital holds 100 per cent of the team."

Boullier also dismissed suggestions Raikkonen, whose teammate is the reigning GP2 champion Romain Grosjean, is Lotus' obvious number one driver.

"There is no such thing in the contract," he said.

Alguersuari ready for F1 comeback 'opportunity'
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has admitted he was "hurt" by Red Bull's late decision to oust him from Toro Rosso.

The 21-year-old announced this week that, amid speculation he might rescue his career with the reserve role at Mercedes, he will in fact be missing entirely from the F1 paddock in 2012.

In a Spanish-language statement, he admitted the career interruption was "unnecessary".

"At the Brazilian grand prix, my continuity (at Toro Rosso) was confirmed verbally.

"After this confirmation by Red Bull and STR, we turned down a very good deal.

"A few days later, Toro Rosso sent me to the headquarters of (sponsor) Cepsa, and at a dinner I talked about my relationship with Toro Rosso and Cepsa with a script written at Faenza.

"No one has ever explained to me why, having fulfilled the expectations asked of me by the team, improving from 2010 and beating my teammate, I am stopped in December with no time to get a good position in 2012," said Alguersuari.

He insisted, however, that he is not giving up on F1.

"I am thinking only of F1," he said.  "I am 21, have played 46 grands prix, I'm not a rookie driver anymore.

"Yes to formula one, but not at any price.

"I contacted (HRT team boss) Luis Perez-Sala, my friend and former mentor, in December, but we both agreed -- HRT does not have a car for me and I cannot spend everything at my age struggling to improve a car that far behind.

"Williams?  That option never even occurred to me as nowadays they only want drivers who pay.

"In January I had discussions with one of the best teams that could be decisive in my future.  I was received with great affection and respect and we have opened a path.

"For obvious reasons I cannot reveal the nature of our intention, but what I can say is that I will devote myself body and soul to F1 in 2012.

"I will prepare myself, with no contractual relationships with anyone, to be ready and available for any opportunity that arises."

Teams say F1 officials to decide on Bahrain return
(GMM)  Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn has admitted the Swiss team will return to Bahrain this year if F1 officials say so.

She is referring to the fact that, despite the island Kingdom's scheduled return to the calendar in April, there are reports the situation inside Bahrain is not yet stable.

"We are not in a position to judge it too well," Sauber's managing director is quoted by Europa Press, "so we have to trust the FIA and the commercial rights owners.

"If they believe it is right to go there, we definitely will."

Agreed Lotus team boss Eric Boullier: "It is not an easy topic.  We are currently awaiting comments from the FIA about whether or not to go there."

Team owner Gerard Lopez added: "What I have heard is that there are a number of guarantees in terms of what will happen, so if things look good there is no reason why we shouldn't go."

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