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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Dani Clos
    Friday driver Clos completes 2012 HRT lineup
  • New violence casts doubt on 2012 Bahrain GP return
  • Raikkonen's bad reputation not right - Lopez
  • 'Why not Webber' for 2012 title - Mateschitz
  • Di Resta cousin Franchitti has no F1 regrets
  • Vergne vows to keep 'tension' low with Ricciardo
  • Doubts remain about Red Bull 'cooling' inlet

Friday driver Clos completes 2012 HRT lineup
(GMM)  HRT has completed its 2012 lineup by signing Dani Clos as official reserve driver.

In a press release, the back-of-the-grid Spanish team said Barcelona born Clos, 23, will take part in "several" Friday morning practice sessions and travel "to every grand prix" in 2012.

HRT's race drivers for this season are Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa and Indian Narain Karthikeyan.

Clos, on the GP2 grid in the past few seasons and ninth overall last year, ran with HRT at the Abu Dhabi young driver test last November.

The team said he will attend F1's final winter test in his native Barcelona in March, where HRT is expecting to run its 2012 car for the first time.

"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 new team," Clos is quoted as saying.

New violence casts doubt on 2012 Bahrain GP return
(GMM)  With the 2012 season now just weeks away, the most serious doubts yet about April's returning Bahrain grand prix have emerged.

Reports claim that, on the eve of the one year anniversary of the bloody 'Day of Rage' protests that led to the cancellation of the race and test in early 2011, violent clashes involving tear gas-firing police have broken out.

"Formula one is monitoring events there", a report in the Guardian newspaper said.

"Formula one's governing body is keeping a low profile because it doesn't want to be part of the mounting pressure and speculation," added journalist Paul Weaver.

International news agencies including Reuters and the Associated Press reported this week's clashes involve protesters trying to reoccupy the symbolic scenes of the 2011 violence.

"Traffic came to a standstill on the main thoroughfare into the capital (Manama), and teargas canisters, rubber pellets and rocks littered the highway," said Reuters, adding that elsewhere "youths threw petrol bombs, iron bars and rocks" and police returned fire with "stun grenades".

The New York Times, meanwhile, referred to numerous online videos graphically depicting badly injured protesters.

Raikkonen's bad reputation not right - Lopez
(GMM)  Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez has hit back at suggestions Kimi Raikkonen's public image is an accurate reflection of the true 2007 world champion.

While the winner of 18 grands prix with Ferrari and McLaren is undoubtedly among F1's most naturally gifted drivers ever, he also has a reputation for being lazy, unmotivated and uncooperative with the media and sponsors.

But after signing the 32-year-old Finn - who is nicknamed the 'iceman' - for his return to F1 in 2012 after two years in world rallying, Lotus insists it is more happy with Raikkonen so far.

"We feel very good with him and he clearly feels at home," team owner Lopez is quoted by the Sun.

"He smiles a lot when he's with us.  But most importantly he says he feels like part of the family.

"I think Kimi has a public image that honestly from what we've seen does not translate into how he really is.

"He's a very hard worker, very good at providing feedback and has a good team spirit."

Lopez hinted, however, that he and team boss Eric Boullier did have some doubts about Raikkonen when they were considering their 2012 lineup.

But "Once we talked to him, once we understood why he was coming back to F1, we really felt comfortable," he insisted.

"If you look at what happened at the (Jerez) test nobody can say he's not on the pace."

'Why not Webber' for 2012 title - Mateschitz
(GMM)  Dietrich Mateschitz is giving Mark Webber at least an equal chance to get back on terms with his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel in 2012.

After his 2010 title challenge, Webber was utterly dominated by back to back world champion Vettel last year.

But team owner Mateschitz told Kleine Zeitung newspaper that the pair will continue to have equal status this season.

"Our attitude has not changed -- there are no team orders," the Austrian billionaire said.  "It starts at zero again, for both of them."

As for which Red Bull driver will get the upper hand in 2012, Mateschitz is open minded.

"From today's point of view it is difficult to say.  But why not (Webber)?  I'm curious to know how hard or difficult or impossible it will be for Vettel to defend his dominance," he added.

Beyond 2012, however, Webber has no contract, and Mateschitz confessed that "our primary goal is to put one of our juniors in the car".

He also admitted that rule changes could play against Red Bull for 2012, but still expects Adrian Newey's car to be on the pace.

"The competition copied from us so much last year that at the end our advantages were no longer the same.  But at the last race we still had quite a bit of an edge.

"Of course you take that into the new year."

Based on the initial Jerez test, however, he said it is too early to say the RB8 is the best car.

"These tests are not to scale," said Mateschitz.  "Everyone drives with their own goals and plans or to meet certain criteria.

"But I do think the balance of power has stayed about the same."

Di Resta cousin Franchitti has no F1 regrets
(GMM)  Dario Franchitti insists he has no regrets despite never adding success in formula one to his list of career achievements.

The famous Scot, whose wife is the Hollywood actor Ashley Judd, is the cousin of impressive Force India youngster Paul di Resta.

Last week, 38-year-old Franchitti joined his family member at the Jerez test.

The four-time IndyCar champion and double Indy 500 winner was asked by Sky Sports if, despite flirting with Jaguar at the beginning of last decade, he regrets not having made it to F1.

"You can live your life thinking 'I wish I'd done this, I wish I'd done that'," he answered.

"It would have been great to race in formula one at some point, but when the chances were there I didn't take them; I didn't feel that they were better than the opportunities I had in America."

Added Franchitti: "I made the decisions I made, I'm delighted I won a couple of Indy 500s and the four championships, so I wouldn't change that for that world."

Vergne vows to keep 'tension' low with Ricciardo
(GMM)  Jean-Eric Vergne has revealed he will try to keep the "tension" down to a minimum inside the Toro Rosso garage in 2012.

Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz this week has admitted that, beyond Mark Webber's 2012 contract, "Our primary goal is to put one of our juniors" alongside Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull.

With Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari ousted by the energy drink's Faenza based secondary team after 2011, those most eligible juniors are now French rookie Vergne and his new Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

At Jerez last week in the new STR7 car, their rivalry got off to a fascinating start.

By the end of the four days of running, their fastest laps were separated by no more than one hundredth of a second -- with Ricciardo enjoying the miniscule edge for the moment.

With a Red Bull seat up for grabs, 21-year-old Vergne admitted to RMC radio that the stakes are high.

But "There was not too much tension," he insists.  "You have to forget about all those different aspects when you think about the work you need to do.

"We had four good days of testing.  The engineers are working now for the next test in Barcelona at the end of the month.

"There is a competition with my teammate but at the same time we can't (let it) go in the wrong direction.

"You always want to beat everybody but my teammate is also the only other person who is working on the very same car as me," added Vergne.

Doubts remain about Red Bull 'cooling' inlet
(GMM)  When Adrian Newey said a mysterious 'letterbox slot'-shaped air inlet in the stepped nose of his new RB8 car is for driver cooling, a wave of speculation eased.

But not everyone inside the F1 paddock was entirely happy with that answer.

When the 2012 Red Bull was launched recently, it was apparent the 'step' nose design differed from its rivals in the form of a sizeable inlet where the monocoque meets the new mandatory lower nose height.

Some surmised it must be for KERS cooling, or perhaps even an F-duct style channel through to the diffuser.

Amid suggestions Mercedes has come up with an F-duct style channel in its 2012 front wing, Red Bull designer Newey explained that the nose slot is in fact simply to cool the drivers.

"Traditionally the driver cooling slot is at the front of the nose," explained Newey, "but really for styling as much as anything we moved it to where you now see it to break up the aesthetics of the ramp."

There are, however, doubts about that explanation, particularly with close-up images showing that the main inlet is actually divided into two channels at the middle.

Indeed, the Telegraph last week quoted Newey as having said the slot is "primarily" for cooling, which suggests that it might have another use.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "the competition is suspicious", having already been outsmarted by Newey in past years in the area of flexing wings and blown diffusers.

When asked about Newey's driver-cooling explanation for the big letterbox slot-style inlet, an unnamed rival engineer smiled: "Then the drivers are going to get their feet wet when it rains."

Asked last week about the 'cooling inlet' amid Jerez's cold temperatures, Mark Webber reportedly grinned to Autosprint: "The toes are a bit too cold now actually."

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