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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Daniel Ricciardo
    Webber insists no tension with countryman Ricciardo
  • New Ferrari '20pc ready' after Jerez test - Alonso
  • Sauber not 'reading tea leaves' after Jerez test
  • McLaren stops Hamilton answering 'pathetic' insult
  • New Lotus 'definitely better' than 2011 car - Grosjean
  • No 'revolution' seen on 2012 grid yet - Sauber
  • Experts slam 'ugly' field of 2012
  • Clos announced as HRT test driver
  • Senna documentary wins two BAFTAs

Webber insists no tension with countryman Ricciardo
(GMM)  Some distance may have crept into their relationship, but Mark Webber insists there is no tension between himself and fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo (of Italian decent).

Ricciardo, the 22-year-old who has stepped up from HRT last year to the full-time Toro Rosso race seat for 2012, told the Melbourne Age newspaper that Webber - at the senior team Red Bull - is keeping his distance despite earlier easing his transition into the world of F1.

The feeling in the F1 paddock is that Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is grooming Ricciardo and Toro Rosso's other new driver Jean-Eric Vergne to potentially succeed Webber as world champion Sebastian Vettel's next teammate.

As for the distance between him and Webber now that they are in competition for the same seat, Ricciardo said: "I guess he's still got his career now and his things to worry about -- I'll try not to get in his way too much.

"And, you know, now we are on the same route together, maybe he doesn't want to tell me too much but that is completely understandable."

35-year-old Webber, however, insisted there is no real tension with his countryman.

"Not at all, you know, I've been through enough on and off the track to know that nothing is forever," he said.

"I was supposed to be replaced by Kimi (Raikkonen) four years ago," he laughed, referring to the notorious F1 rumor-mill.

New Ferrari '20pc ready' after Jerez test - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso managed to brighten Ferrari's spirits before the opening test of the 2012 test concluded.

His best time in Friday's proceedings was set with soft tires and still shy of the promising Lotus' earlier pace, but it nonetheless triggered sighs of relief within the Maranello ranks after a troubled early start.

"At the beginning of the test we had arrived and put our wheels on the ground and were slower than we expected," Alonso is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

"We had to change the way we were working with the car and we are still learning; we will come to Barcelona more prepared."

"In four days we went from black to white," Alonso is quoted in Spanish by El Mundo, "but we still have a lot of work to do, particularly on the reliability."

He is quoted by AS newspaper: "Where will we be in Melbourne?  No idea.

"From what we have seen so far, the highlight of the car is that it heats up the tires so that you can use them to the maximum from the first lap, which is something we could not do last season.

"We still have much to do in the area of the aerodynamics and, above all, the reliability."

Alonso - like Ferrari in general - is a regular critic of F1's testing limitations and he admitted it may be a factor in getting the all-new F2012 ready for Melbourne.

"Unfortunately there are only two more tests, which is one less than last year.  At Montmelo (Barcelona) we need to be doing at least 100 laps (per day).

"At the moment we are at maybe 20 per cent of what we need to do (before the season) overall."

Sauber not 'reading tea leaves' after Jerez test
(GMM)  It is too soon to be picking the winners and losers ahead of the 2012 season, reigning back-to-back world champion Sebastian Vettel insists.

An early analysis might suggest Ferrari is struggling whilst Lotus could be set to join the pacesetters this season.

But German Vettel, who drives for 2010 and 2010 constructors' champions Red Bull, said after the Jerez test that it is way too soon to be drawing conclusions about his rivals' form.

"There is a bit of a reference when you look at what runs they've been doing, but if you look at previous years at this time of year it's all up and down.  Nothing really shows yet," he is quoted by PA Sport news agency.

"Now we wait for Mercedes (to launch their 2012 car) and then we will know a little more, certainly at the last test in Barcelona," added Vettel.

"The change in rules have also given people an opportunity to catch up, so we'll see what happens."

One of those with potential to catch up is midfield team Sauber, but boss Peter Sauber insisted that Jerez provided "no more than a snapshot" with two group tests yet to run before Melbourne.

"For me, any attempt to create a pecking order based on Jerez is no more than reading tea leaves," he told the Swiss Sonntagsblick newspaper.

Sauber agreed with Vettel that the final test in Barcelona next month will "lift the fog" ahead of the trek to Australia for the season opener.

"Only at the last test will we see the teams using their technical packages for Melbourne," he said.

Vettel added: "Lotus looks quite good from what I've seen -- fast and consistent.

"Ferrari and McLaren are the big unknown, and perhaps us as well," he is quoted by Spain's Europa Press.

McLaren stops Hamilton answering 'pathetic' insult
(GMM)  McLaren has once again stepped in to prevent Lewis Hamilton from answering a reporter's question about the Adrian Sutil affair.

At the recent launch of the MP4-27 car, a reporter asked Hamilton about his former friend Sutil's accusation he is a "coward" for not appearing as a witness at the recent assault trial in Munich.

"We've been told that Lewis shouldn't really go there because it (the conviction) might go under appeal," the spokesman quickly intervened.

Hamilton smiled: "I'll listen to him."

The Briton's former F3 teammate did indeed file an appeal, but not before Sutil's father Jorge described Hamilton as "pathetic" in the German press.

Asked about the latest insult from the Sutil camp, Hamilton was once again prevented from answering in the Jerez paddock by a McLaren media minder.

"That question is not permitted," the spokesman is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport.

The German magazine article read: "We say that Hamilton should have the courage to speak for himself."

In other courtside F1 news, former Benetton driver JJ Lehto's attempt to appeal his prison sentence for manslaughter got off to a dismal start, the Swiss newspaper Blick reports.

Finn Lehto's lawyer reportedly appeared in court to file the appeal but was "immediately arrested himself, apparently because of money laundering".

New Lotus 'definitely better' than 2011 car - Grosjean
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean is happy the early signs of his relationship with new teammate Kimi Raikkonen are positive.

Last week, the newly-acquainted pair spent time at Jerez, where their new Lotus car was the surprise standout performer of the first pre-season test.

Another "really pleasant surprise", according to GP2 champion Grosjean, was "Kimi".

"It took a little time and I did wonder what kind of relationship we would develop, but I think he is a really nice guy.  Whatever I have asked, he has answered."

Arguably more important, of course, is their black and gold car, and it set tongues wagging by proving the standout performer at Jerez.

"It is definitely better than our one of last year," Frenchman Grosjean is quoted by Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

And he said both he and Raikkonen are likely to develop it in harmony.

"I did not see anything strange," said Grosjean when asked how his and Raikkonen's driving styles compare, "the telemetry was nearly identical."

Also more than pleased is Lotus' technical director, James Allison.

"The best thing about the week was the drivers' feedback," he said.  "We had not heard anything as positive in the last couple of seasons."

No 'revolution' seen on 2012 grid yet - Sauber
(GMM)  After the double diffusers, F-ducts and blown exhausts of the past few seasons, Peter Sauber is sure a "revolutionary invention" has not yet been seen in 2012.

The world of F1 watched the opening pre-season test of 2012 play out last week at Jerez, where clever solutions to the new exhaust clampdown and Mercedes' innovative F-duct-style front wing circulated at speed.

"The big question," agreed team boss Sauber, "is whether anyone has come up with another revolutionary invention after the banning of the adventurous engine control (of 2011).

"So far it doesn't look like it," he wrote in a column for Blick newspaper.

"At the rear of the cars there are different solutions for the guiding of the exhaust gases, but this was not unexpected," added Sauber.

Another point of note at Jerez was the obvious visual difference between the radical 'step' noses and the much more conventional solution on the McLaren.

"It means nothing else than that they are using a less-high chassis," Sauber reported.  "This is interesting because of the apparent aerodynamic disadvantage.

"But equally clear is that McLaren would not have done it if they had not found another way to generate the corresponding downforce," he insisted.

Experts slam 'ugly' field of 2012
(GMM)  F1's field of 2012 reminds one expert pundit of a supermodel without her best assets.

Former driver Hans-Joachim Stuck wrote in his German column for Eurosport that he dislikes the look of this year's formula one cars.

"The tires are too narrow, the rear wing too small and the front wing too big, and the nose is a complete failure," he said.

"It's like imagining Heidi Klum without her nice behind and bosom, and that's unfortunately what they've done with the new cars.

"Let's hope that they're fast, at least."

Tire supplier Pirelli's motor sport director Paul Hembery recently slammed the new cars for being "pig ugly".

He told The Sun it could be a turn-off for potential new fans and sponsors.

"It is what a lot of people will say who are maybe not as intimately involved as we are," said Hembery.

Clos announced as HRT test driver
Dani Clos has been revealed as HRT's 2012 test driver, the Spaniard joining Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan at the Murcia squad. Having contested GP2 for the past three years, picking up one race win and a further seven podium finishes in the process, the 23-year-old has hailed it as a very important career move.

“I’m very proud to be a part of HRT Formula 1 Team,'" said Clos, who hails from Barcelona. "It is a great step in my career, something that I have dreamt of all my life and, finally, my dream is starting to come true. I’m very impressed with the job the team is doing; they’re achieving fantastic things in a short space of time.

"I want to thank Sa£l Ruiz de Marcos (HRT CEO) and Luis Perez-Sala (HRT Team Principal) for the trust they’ve shown in me and, above all, I would like to thank the people who have always been by my side, such as Leonardo Soldevila and my father."

Clos tested for the outfit during the Abu Dhabi Young Driver event in December last year, but he believes big structural improvements have been made since then.

"The team has changed a lot since we met in the Abu Dhabi tests and I think it’s a great opportunity and an honor to form a part of this team," he added. "What they’re achieving is very important for motorsport in our country and has a lot of potential.

"Also, being alongside Pedro de la Rosa is very important for me, since he and Karthikeyan can positively contribute to me becoming a better driver."

Senna documentary wins two BAFTAs
The acclaimed Senna documentary enjoyed double-success at the BAFTA ceremony in London last night, adding to its growing trophy cabinet. Taking place at the Royal Opera House, the annual awards show recognized the account of late Ayrton Senna as the 'Best Documentary' of 2011, plus handed it the 'Best Editing' accolade.

With Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison documentary and Project Nim (based on the extended study of a chimpanzee) for competition, Senna ultimately came out on top.

“We’d just really wanted to thank the Senna family for trusting us with his legacy," explained Screenwriter Manish Pandey. "When your son dies in circumstances like that, and you get a bunch of guys who turn up and say listen, we want to tell the story, we think we’re very sensitive, we think we will absolutely tell it right; it takes a lot of guts to support people like that, and I’d like to thank them for doing that.”

Despite being beaten in the Outstanding British Film category, the Senna awards total now stands at six since its initial 2010 release in Japan, with the production since becoming the United Kingdom's highest-grossing documentary in history.

Full list of Senna awards to date:

Sundance Film Festival - World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary
Los Angeles Film Festival - Audience Award for Best International Feature
Melbourne International Film Festival - People's Choice Awards for Best Documentary
Adelaide Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Documentary
BAFTA - Best Documentary, Best Editing GPUdate.net

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