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

  • McLaren signs former driver Magnussen's son
  • Schumacher to be first to test new Mercedes
  • Ecclestone, FIA, circuit say Bahrain GP still on
  • Clos 'trusts' HRT to deliver Friday promises
  • Mateschitz not ruling out Webber for 2013 contract
  • 'Splitting with Key was logical decision' - Sauber New
  • Aethra joins Sahara Force India for 2012 New
  • Sutil to 'fight' for 2012 F1 seat - manager New 
  • James Allison: The car we take to Melbourne will be significantly different New

McLaren signs former driver Magnussen's son
(GMM)  McLaren has signed up the son of a former team driver to test its 2012 formula one car later this year.

In 1995, Denmark's Jan Magnussen - also a former McLaren test driver - made his formula one race debut with a one-off McLaren seat.

He moved on to contest 24 grands prix with Stewart until he was stepped down for poor performances in 1998.

Now, the 38-year-old's son Kevin, who is 19, has been signed up for McLaren's young driver program, which will include a seat at the young driver test later this year.

Like Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey, Magnussen will also work in McLaren's state-of-the-art simulator.

He first caught McLaren's attention in 2010, and last year finished runner-up in the British F3 championship with eight poles and seven wins.

This year, he will contest the Renault World Series.

"The team has shown great faith in me so far and I feel that this is an important step in my career," said Magnussen.

Schumacher to be first to test new Mercedes
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher will beat Nico Rosberg to the wheel of Mercedes' 2012 car.

After the major teams unveiled and ran their new cars at Jerez last week, Mercedes' W03 will be launched and debuted early next week at Barcelona, at the second of three pre-season tests.

The Brackley based team has announced that seven time world champion Schumacher, who last year finished 13 points behind his teammate Rosberg, will be at the wheel throughout the first day of testing on 21 February.

The 43-year-old said recently he doubts the W03 will be a title contender, despite strong pace with the 2011 car at Jerez last week.

And Rosberg said: "You can't really compare the lap times with other teams, but it was interesting to learn a lot with our 2011 car.

"Now I'm really looking forward to the two Barcelona tests with our new silver arrow."

Ecclestone, FIA, circuit say Bahrain GP still on
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has played down the latest reports about violence in Bahrain, insisting April's 2012 race is still scheduled to go ahead.

On the one-year anniversary of the 'Day of Rage' unrest, international media agencies claimed violent clashes took place, with youths throwing rocks and petrol bombs and police hitting back with tear-gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

"The only message I got was that there were some kids in trouble with the police," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told the Telegraph.

"We are planning to go.  People there seem confident that a race two months away will be alright."

At the Jerez test last week, it was suggested teams were expressing concerns about Bahrain.

But Ecclestone insists: "The teams are not the slightest bit concerned.  They seem happy that things will go ahead without problems.

"Last year was a more clear-cut decision not to go but things have changed a lot since then."

In recent days, however, F1 has been the subject of a high profile row about the event, with influential figures and political parties publicly debating whether the sport is right or wrong to return to Bahrain.

"We've always been non-political," said Ecclestone, 81.  "Any decision will be made on grounds of safety."

But an FIA spokesman said the "staging of a grand prix would be beneficial in bridging some of the difficulties Bahrain is experiencing".

And a spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit told CNN: "We are entirely confident that the race can be and will be an excellent event.

"The FIA has said that there is no reason why the grand prix should not go ahead."

The unnamed spokesman also compared Bahrain's problems of the last twelve months with London's riots last August.

"There's no doubt that (in Bahrain) there have been some small riots, nothing like on the scale that we saw in London," he insisted.

"When it comes to being in and around the track, the drivers and the teams will be extremely safe.  Absolutely, totally confident about that."

Clos 'trusts' HRT to deliver Friday promises
(GMM)  Dani Clos insists he is delighted with his new role as HRT tester, despite some seeing him as little more than a 'pay driver'.

A reporter for Spain's Diario AS newspaper admitted to the 23-year-old from Barcelona that when he read the news about his Clos' new role, he surmised that the driver must have some lucrative backers.

"That's definitely not why I'm here," Clos insisted.

He admitted however that he is also "looking at some options" to split his time between HRT and another race series this season.

"There are offers but I'm happy with HRT.  Some people would give their right arm to be here."

Clos conceded, however, that if he had lots more money to spend on formula one, he might have been appointed as Pedro de la Rosa's teammate in the place of Narain Karthikeyan.

"It's obvious that if you contribute more then you have more options," he said, "but for me this is my place now, and where I have to be right now."

He revealed that the role will include running on Friday mornings at grands prix, rather than the symbolic role played by many 'test drivers' nowadays.

"Yes, yes, I'll do Fridays," said Clos.  "I will not be one of those who are there just to be there."

He also denied that his new deal could fall apart the way countryman Andy Soucek's did at Virgin in 2010, when the Spaniard was promised track time that never materialized.

"I have no fear in that regard," insisted Clos.  "I trust the team."

Mateschitz not ruling out Webber for 2013 contract
(GMM)  Dietrich Mateschitz has left open the door to Mark Webber receiving a new contract to keep racing with Red Bull beyond 2012.

The Australian is the only significant member of the championship-winning team who is not yet already signed up for the 2013 season.

But billionaire team owner Mateschitz this week backed Webber, 35, to return to Sebastian Vettel's pace this year, insisting the pair will receive no more or less than equality in 2012.

At the same time, however, Webber was utterly dominated by Vettel last season, causing some experts to predict that Red Bull will replace him for 2013.

Indeed, Mateschitz said at the Jerez test last week that "Our primary goal is to put one of our juniors in the car".

He told the German-language Speed Week magazine: "That's one reason why we changed the drivers at Toro Rosso.

"Both (Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne) are highly talented and have great potential, but the question will only arise if, for example, Webber stops at the end of 2012."

'Splitting with Key was logical decision' - Sauber
Peter Sauber claims that splitting with James Key was a ‘logical decision’ for the team, despite the separation coming at arguably the worst possible time of the year. The exit of the Technical Director, who joined the Swiss squad for 2010, was announced just four days prior to the start of pre-season testing.

Key helped to take Sauber through the ultra-difficult stage of re-converting to an independent team, with previous owner BMW having pulled the plug on its Formula 1 project at the end of 2009, thus leaving the Hinwil-based team with a half-built car.

“James joined us in a phase when we had to undergo the painful transformation from a manufacturer to a private team and he was one of the key factors behind returning stability to our squad,” Team Principal Sauber told the official F1 website.

“In the phase that followed it became more and more obvious that the cooperation was not working as both sides had hoped. So to walk separate ways again was the only logical conclusion.”

Key has already accepted a job offer at home in the United Kingdom, although the role is yet to be revealed to the public.

Aethra joins Sahara Force India for 2012
Sahara Force India is delighted to announce that Aethra, a leading auto parts manufacturer based in Brazil, has joined the team as an official partner for the 2012 season.

The signing of the partnership marks the beginning of Aethra’s strategy to increase its brand awareness by taking full advantage of the global audience offered by Formula One. The relationship with Sahara Force India therefore offers an exceptional marketing platform for Aethra’s growing product range. Aethra's management believe that this partnership is a significant step towards their global expansion, especially in important markets such as India and China.

Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India: “I am pleased to welcome Aethra to the team as we prepare for the start of our 2012 campaign. Their support is important as we seek to build on the solid foundations we have established over the last four seasons and sustain the momentum we generated last year. As an auto parts supplier, Aethra is an ideal match for Sahara Force India and their understanding and passion for cars will help ensure the success of the partnership for both organizations.”

Rafael Sportelli, Aethra Chief Executive Officer: “Aethra is very proud to join the Sahara Force India Formula One Team. Both companies share a long commitment to technical excellence and strive for innovation in very competitive environments. Over the last few years this has been demonstrated by Sahara Force India’s rise through the ranks, culminating in a fine sixth place in the championship last year. Aethra is delighted to be associated with a team that is hungry for success and we look forward to an exciting 2012 season.”

Sutil to 'fight' for 2012 F1 seat - manager
(GMM)  At the very end of last season, Adrian Sutil had four options to stay in formula one in 2012.

That is the claim of the German driver's manager Manfred Zimmermann, who has so far failed to secure Sutil a race seat for the forthcoming season after his five consecutive years with Force India.

"We will fight to stay in formula one and we're still hoping to get a seat for 2012 -- even if it is in the course of the season," he told the Sport Bild magazine.

He played down the impact of the 29-year-old's grievous bodily harm conviction, insisting there has been "encouragement and support from all sides".

Zimmermann said that at the very end of last season, Sutil was juggling four concrete options for 2012 that ultimately "slipped like soap" through their fingers.

"Unfortunately in formula one, money is always important," he explained.  "It simply didn't work out in the end."

As for the role the assault charge played, Zimmermann conceded: "I can't really judge."

However, for Sutil's career, all is not lost.

"We have had enquiries in the past days from several series such as IndyCar and touring cars.  In America Adrian is a very highly regarded driver."

James Allison: The car we take to Melbourne will be significantly different
James Allison, technical director of Lotus F1 Team, gives insight into the workings of his team during the crucial Formula 1 pre-season as they prepare the impressive E20 for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean ahead of the 2012 Formula 1 season.

This week back at Enstone the team are focusing on the build-up of chassis two to be used at the Barcelona test. Is this process slightly easier now that you have experience from the first chassis build?
James Allison: When you do the first chassis build of a new car there are always a couple of things that need to be re-positioned compared with where you expect them to be. When it comes to the second build you’re already aware of these elements, so it becomes a case of copying what you’ve done previously. So yes, it generally takes a little less time to do the second one than the first as you’re not having to find ways around things.

This year’s design is perhaps slightly more conventional than last year’s, particularly without the forward-facing exhaust concept. Has this also helped make things easier in the build process and on track?
Allison: Not having the forward facing exhaust has definitely made the car build part of the process simpler. It’s much quicker to get the car turned around every evening and get it ready for the next day’s running because it’s a more straightforward layout. In terms of running and analyzing the car on the track, there shouldn’t have been anything inherently difficult about last year’s car, but it did turn out to be quite challenging as the exhaust system created several aerodynamic issues. So in that respect the E20 is easier to work with again. This means our race engineers can fill their boots with springs, roll bars, tire pressures, cambers, and so on; all the conventional tools in the engineer’s arsenal.

With such an immensely complex design as a modern Formula 1 car, the build process must be far from simple. Do the team have a ‘Haynes Manual’ style guide to help them through?
Allison: Every part on the car is detailed in an assembly drawing, so typically each sub-system, like the power steering, the brakes or the front / rear suspension for example, has a drawing showing how it all bolts together and describing how it should be set up / operated. These drawings show in some detail what goes in what order. The race team then supplement the assembly information with an indexed photo library showing the best practice routing of the various cables and pipes. We don’t need to be quite as verbose perhaps as a Haynes Manual, because the guys who design the car are only upstairs from the guys who are building it, so you can have some dialogue in place of documentation.

With so much development still ongoing at this early stage of the season, how different will the E20 that sits on the grid in Melbourne be to the car we’ve already seen at Jerez?
Allison: The car we take to Melbourne will be significantly different to the one we ran in Jerez. There’s a lot of work still to do before the season opener, and so many elements will change; the front wing, rear wing, side pods, pod vanes, engine cover, barge board, floor, some suspension elements, and some small brake duct features to name but a few! As always, it’s going to be a very busy few weeks.

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