Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
Keke Rosberg tips Caterham to step up in 2012
|Start at Bahrain in 2010|
- Bahrain disappointed to lose season open date
- Red Bull has 'clever' exhaust solution - Caubet
- Karter Senna injured, not Bruno Senna
- Raikkonen wanted 2010 return 'for money' - Lopez
- New HRT still yet to pass crash tests
- Perez backer Slim not ruling out Ferrari future
- 2013 France GP project 'not dead' - minister
- Pirelli closer to deal for 2010 test car
- Trulli proud of F1 career 'without help'
- Early start for Mercedes' Barcelona test
- Caterham F1 Team Announce Sibur As First Russian Team Partner
Keke Rosberg tips Caterham to step up in 2012
(GMM) 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg has tipped Caterham to take a "step forward" in 2012.
But the Finn, whose son is the Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, also said Heikki Kovalainen's team could face a speed-bump in the form of its scheduled factory move.
"That will be a big distraction," Rosberg, 63, told the MTV3 broadcaster.
"It's not just moving a few machines but hundreds of people, not all of whom will want to move schools and children and the like. Let's see how they cope with it."
As for the former Lotus team's overall prospects for this season, however, Rosberg said: "They will probably go one step up from where they were last year, if only because they now have KERS in the picture.
"That should reduce the gap to Williams and Force India."
Rosberg said he is a supporter of the small teams, like Caterham and the struggling Marussia and HRT.
"You have to start somewhere; you can't come along and be Ferrari. And there is a need for the small teams, otherwise you would just have McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull. You need the top teams, the midfield teams and the small teams.
"Hopefully one day they can develop into a big team -- remember Stewart became Jaguar and finally Red Bull."
Rosberg said he rejects Ferrari's idea that small teams should give up on building their own cars and instead be allowed to buy a customer chassis.
"Imagine Ferrari is a half second faster than anyone else, so all of a sudden you have half the field with Ferraris all ahead of the others.
"If you could buy a last year's car, it increases the numbers and gives better access to the young drivers, engineers and mechanics," he added.
But the problem with that, he said, is F1's constantly changing rules.
"For example, the nose has changed for this year, so you can't really use last year's car (now). If you have a team that used to buy a car from someone else, what will they do then?
"F1 has always been the category in which teams build their own cars, otherwise it's GP2 with a lot of Ferraris," said Rosberg.
Bahrain disappointed to lose season open date
(GMM) Organizers of the Bahrain grand prix have admitted disappointment with being bumped from the head of the 2012 calendar.
Following the cancellation of its 2011 race and test over the civil unrest early last year, Bahrain was provisionally scheduled to return to F1 by opening this season's championship.
However, when the calendar was ultimately published, Bahrain was given a late April date, making it the fourth round after Australia, Malaysia and China.
Reports at the time said Bernie Ecclestone had "responded to teams' fears over the uncertain political landscape" in the island Kingdom.
So as tickets go on sale this week, the Sakhir circuit's chief executive admitted he is disappointed Melbourne will be kicking off the sport in less than a month's time.
"I think formula one should start the world championship in a time zone that makes sense," said Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa.
"We have a lot of support in Europe for our grand prix and to start in Australia, where it is 2am or 3am in Europe, that to me doesn't make sense," he is quoted by The National newspaper.
In addition to not being the season opener, Bahrain is also the second leg in a logistically-difficult 'back to back' pairing with China.
"Hosting the first race, you benefit obviously by people talking about you in the lead up to the start of the season," continued Al Khalifa.
"Now we are going to be after China so our event will come into play only after the third round. For us, it is important to host the race and we plan to make it a success," he added.
The slogan for Bahrain's 2012 return to F1 is 'Unified, One nation in celebration".
On the continuing security fears in Bahrain, Al Khalifa insisted: "I don't see an issue.
"Obviously, there are always concerns and the authorities are aware of that, but my main concern is that everybody is secure in and around the circuit and I am confident we can provide that."
Red Bull has 'clever' exhaust solution - Caubet
(GMM) Red Bull has devised a "clever" way of reclaiming some of the downforce lost through the banning of blown diffusers.
That is the claim of Jean Francois Caubet, who is in charge of the team's engine supplier Renault.
Red Bull, the reigning back to back world champions, and Renault Sport F1 have worked more closely than ever before ahead of their 2012 title defense.
"Formula one is about creativity," Caubet is quoted by Germany's Auto Bild, "and although the rules have changed, we have worked with Red Bull and found a solution to compensate for the loss of performance."
Last year, the cars acquired extra downforce through the 'blowing' of hot engine exhaust gases into the diffuser, even when the driver was off the throttle.
It is rumored that, despite the FIA's ban, some teams have flown close to the letter of the new rules with their new solutions.
"It is not the same as before," Caubet continued, "but a clever development that could make the difference."
After the first week of testing at Jerez recently, some observed that Adrian Newey's new Red Bull RB8 was cornering as though on rails.
"That's because we all used to play with model trains," joked team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Added Newey: "The exhaust is one of the areas in which we still have some ideas up our sleeves."
Karter Sena injured, not Bruno Senna
(GMM) Bruno Senna has calmed a wave of fears about his health by declaring "I'm fine".
Rumors buzzed around the internet that the Williams driver had been injured less than a month before the 2012 season.
In fact, the injured driver is Japanese karter Sakaguchi Sena.
"Guys, I'm fine," Senna wrote on Twitter. "There's been a confusion about me hurting myself.
"Whoever it is that actually got hurt, I wish him a speedy recovery."
Raikkonen wanted 2010 return 'for money' - Lopez
(GMM) Gerard Lopez has revealed that he doubted Kimi Raikkonen was ready to return to formula one last year.
Then called Renault, Lotus had talks with the Finn during the 2010 season that ultimately failed.
Almost two years on, the 2007 world champion will return to the grid with the Enstone based team next month.
So what went wrong in 2010?
"We felt that he was not 100 per cent ready to let go of rallying. If he had come to us under those circumstances, it would have been because of money," Lopez told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
A year on, Lotus resumed talks with the 32-year-old 'iceman'.
"I called Kimi directly. Without management, without anybody knowing anything. And I got the feeling very quickly that formula one was again at the front of his mind," added Lopez.
Raikkonen won 18 grands prix with McLaren and Ferrari.
New HRT still yet to pass crash tests
(GMM) HRT's 2012 car is still not ready to test, team driver Narain Karthikeyan has clarified.
While the struggling Spanish team ran with its 2011 car at the recent Jerez test, the new single seater failed to pass two of the mandatory FIA crash tests.
It means the machine cannot run this week at Barcelona test, prompting HRT to pull out of the second group test altogether.
Karthikeyan and his teammate Pedro de la Rosa now hope the car is ready to run for the second week of Barcelona running -- the last test before Melbourne.
Spain's AS sports daily reported at the weekend that the car's problems have indeed been rectified, and the crash tests will not be an issue next time around.
But Karthikeyan admitted on Twitter that the car "still" has to "pass the crash tests".
"Everyone knows the final Barca test is important," he added.
De la Rosa, meanwhile, told AS that the 2012 car has a "step on the nose like nearly everyone, but it's less ugly" than the others.
Perez backer Slim not ruling out Ferrari future
(GMM) Sergio Perez's backer has admitted a move for the Mexican driver to Ferrari is not out of the question for 2013.
Already a part of Ferrari's driver program, Perez is also strongly backed by Telmex, the telcom headed by the world's richest man, Carlos Slim.
Slim's son, Carlos Slim Domit, controls Telmex's formula one program, which is currently in the form of sponsorship of the Ferrari-powered Sauber team.
But Perez, 22, is tipped to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari next year.
"His most important challenge is this season," Slim Domit told Spain's AS sports newspaper.
"A good championship in 2012 can put him into the frame with the best teams, but a bad year would have the opposite effect," he admitted.
"It is true that there is a relationship with Ferrari on two levels -- with them being the engine supplier of Sauber and the other because he (Perez) is in their young (driver) program.
"It's a tough sport where results matter and, as such, the future will be clearer," added Slim.
He was also asked if Telmex has considered buying a F1 team, amid reports recently that the Slim family is interested in struggling HRT.
"I don't know," answered slim. "In our case, being not directly involved allows us to select the team we work with and we do not change our strategy."
2013 France GP project 'not dead' - minister
(GMM) France's sports minister insists the country is still on course to return to the formula one calendar.
Recently, a deal to see the Paul Ricard circuit annually share a grand prix date with Belgium's fabled Spa-Francorchamps seemed imminent.
But although the key meeting with Bernie Ecclestone took place nearly a month ago now, sports minister David Douillet said the 2013 French grand prix "is not dead".
"We have three new French drivers in F1 and so we have to have a grand prix de France," he is quoted by TF1 television. "That's my job.
"France is the land of the grand prix," added Douillet. "I met with Bernie Ecclestone and he is totally willing to share it between Belgium and France.
"He has mobilized and motivated local governments for the financing of the event, even if we are yet to have all the details from our Belgian friends.
"There are also some details to go with one or two of the close cities. We are almost there," he insisted.
Pirelli closer to deal for 2010 test car
(GMM) Pirelli is closer to finding a solution to its current lack of a F1 test car.
In the past two years, the sport's Italian supplier has used the last car raced by defunct team Toyota to develop its tires.
But Paul Hembery, Pirelli motor sport director, has said the 2009-spec TF109 is now too outdated and has been retired.
It is believed the marque initially intended to find an agreement to run a competitive 2011-spec car, but the new plan could be to acquire a single seater from the 2010 season.
"We do most of the work in the simulator," Hembery told the El Pais newspaper, "but it's more difficult to work on the compounds because it requires the interactivity with the asphalt."
The Briton admitted that, so far, the teams have been unhelpful in terms of agreeing a solution for a new-specification car, because of the potential performance advantage that could be gained by the chosen team.
Hembery, however, used the example of the common electronic unit which is supplied to all teams by a McLaren subsidiary.
"They all have it and no one complains," he said.
"But we have asked for help and they tell us that we should continue with the Toyota, and that's nonsense," added Hembery.
He said talks are still taking place.
"We have to find a car that was competitive in 2010, which was reliable and that allows us to incorporate all the systems that allow us to do our work."
Trulli proud of F1 career 'without help'
(GMM) The Italian press has pointed the finger at Vitaly Petrov's "rubles" as Jarno Trulli races out of formula one.
With Vitantonio Liuzzi replaced at HRT by Narain Karthikeyan, and veteran Trulli ousted at Caterham by Petrov, F1 history enters a new phase as Italy no longer has a single driver on the grid.
"If you look," said former grand prix winner Riccardo Patrese to La Stampa, "the drivers coming in now are from central America and the East."
The unsponsored Trulli, 37, said he still wants to race but also has his wine and hotel businesses to keep him busy.
"More than anything else, apart from the results, I am proud to have been able to fulfill my dream of racing in F1 for many years and stay on the grid on my own power, without anybody's help," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Switzerland's Blick newspaper points out that no fewer than 81 Italian drivers have raced in the modern F1 championship.
And Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio reminded that in 1989, no fewer than 16 drivers in the field were Italian.
Some Italian fans are pointing the finger at Ferrari, annoyed that the famous marque has not signed a full-time Italian race driver for many years.
And why Felipe Massa? "Because we believe in him," an official of the Maranello based team is quoted by Spain's Marca newspaper.
"It's not enough to have an Italian passport to drive for Ferrari," he added.
Early start for Mercedes' Barcelona test
(GMM) Mercedes got its Barcelona test off to an early start on Sunday.
At the same time, the rest of the F1 world was only setting up at the Circuit de Catalunya ahead of Tuesday's kick-off for the second of three pre-Melbourne group tests.
Mercedes, however, trod a different path recently by keeping its 2012 car under development at its Brackley factory while main rivals including Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren got their test campaigns up and running.
Again running Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg this year, Mercedes took its old car to Jerez and then sat out the last of the four days of testing.
Therefore allowed to make up the day in Barcelona on Sunday, and although details and laptime are scant, it has emerged that both Schumacher and Rosberg ran the new stepped-nose W03 and completed more than a race distance.
"Michael and Nico's first impressions are positive," Mercedes' Norbert Haug told Bild newspaper.
Also in action at the weekend was Williams, whose test driver Valtteri Bottas ran the new FW34 for an aerodynamic test at the Idiada facility in Spain.
"I am glad I got some time to get used to the car before my test date in Barcelona," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat.
Caterham F1 Team Announce Sibur As First Russian Team Partner
Caterham F1 team has today announced that it has signed a deal with SIBUR to be an official Team Partner. SIBUR, the largest petrochemical company in Russia and Eastern Europe, has also confirmed that it is continuing the partnership agreement it began in 2011 with Vitaly Petrov in his new role as Race Driver for the Anglo / Malaysian Caterham F1 Team. The SIBUR logo will feature on the CT01 cars and on Vitaly’s race suits throughout the 2012 season.
Tony Fernandes: “We are delighted to welcome SIBUR into our team and to help them continue their relationship in F1 with Vitaly, and now with Caterham F1 Team. F1 is a truly global sport, and SIBUR’s investment in our sport is proof of the value F1 can bring, on a national and international level, so we are looking forward to working closely with Mr. Konov and his team at SIBUR to help them realize maximum benefit from this partnership.”
Dmitry Konov, CEO of SIBUR: I’m very glad that Vitaly’s career in Formula One is continuing with such an exciting new role at Caterham F1 Team. Vitaly plays a very important role for us, and all Russians. Formula One mixes cutting edge technology and the highest level of competition, and these are concepts SIBUR understands very well. We understand how big a challenge it is to succeed in such an intense environment, and to maintain mastery of the conditions whilst always being at the very forefront of technical progress. That is why we are glad to give Vitaly and Caterham F1 Team our support. It is a real pleasure for us to continue our partnership in 2012, when Russia – thanks to Petrov as well – takes another step closer to Formula One.