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DATE News (chronologically)
02/23/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

02/23/12
  • Is new Ferrari a slug?
    Buemi impressed with Red Bull, McLaren, Force India
  • Pecking order hints McLaren fast, Ferrari not
  • Even teams can't trust test timesheets - engineer
  • Kovalainen 'not concerned' as Petrov joins team
  • Rosberg says Schumacher not toughest teammate
  • Qantas secure Australian GP naming rights again New
  • Neighbors of F1 track call late-night construction a nuisance New

Buemi impressed with Red Bull, McLaren, Force India
(GMM)  Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull's reserve driver in 2012, spent time watching Wednesday's Barcelona test action from a trackside vantage point.

"I like the Red Bull and the Force India the best," said the Swiss, after Nico Hulkenberg set the surprise pace.

"(McLaren's Lewis) Hamilton and Hulkenberg can brake late and get back on the gas early.

"You can tell that the Red Bull has fuel on board, but still the (RB8) is very good.  But you can see that the tires are old," explained Buemi.

He was most surprised, however, by Hulkenberg's Force India, congratulating the Silverstone based team: "They have made a very good car."

Former third driver Hulkenberg smiled: "I could have gone even faster."

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Buemi is also impressed with the McLaren.

"It looks good, it has grip -- not quite as much as the Red Bull, but close."

But in trouble, according to former Toro Rosso racer Buemi, is Ferrari.

"Oh dear, that doesn't look so good," he commented after Fernando Alonso passed by.  "He's playing with the throttle because there's no traction."

Like Hulkenberg, Sauber's Sergio Perez was also setting the pace on Wednesday, but Buemi reveals that the Mexican was running new soft tires.

"That distorts the picture, just as the level of fuel does.

"For me, Red Bull is in front, then comes Force India and McLaren," said Buemi.  "They are not too far away."

Pecking order hints McLaren fast, Ferrari not
(GMM)  After an inconclusive and perhaps even worrying performance at Jerez, the faces in the McLaren garage are looking happier as the second group test progresses this week in Barcelona.

"We're in a much better position than we were this time last year," confirmed Lewis Hamilton after Wednesday's running in the MP4-27, "and also better than we were two weeks ago in Jerez.

"We have learned a lot; the car is much better balanced now.  I can say that we have a stronger base than last year," added the 2008 world champion.

According to Britain's Mirror newspaper, Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button agreed: "There are no excuses this year.  I feel we have everything.

"We're on target," said the 2011 championship runner-up.  "There's nothing to say we're one and a half seconds quicker than anyone, but then there's also nothing to say we're not fast."

Red Bull's reigning back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel is quoted by the Telegraph as saying he thinks McLaren will be "strong straight from the beginning of the season".

Added Mercedes' team boss Ross Brawn: "Red Bull will have a strong car again, and so will McLaren.

"Ferrari seem to be having a few difficulties," Auto Motor und Sport quotes him as saying, referring to his former Maranello based employer.

Red Bull reserve Sebastien Buemi, having watched from a trackside position on Wednesday, said Fernando Alonso looked uncomfortable with the handling of the F2012.

"I think we are probably not the quickest today," Spaniard Alonso agreed, "but neither are we the slowest.

"At the moment we are not where we want to be, nor where we want to be in Australia, but I remain optimistic.

"We just have to hope that we have completed this learning process we are going through with a very complex car by the time the season starts," Spanish reporters quote the former two-time world champion as saying.

Even teams can't trust test timesheets - engineer
(GMM)  Even the formula one teams do not trust end-of-day testing timesheets as a guide to the sport's likely pecking order.

That is the claim of HRT's chief engineer Toni Cuquerella, in the context of Force India and Sauber setting Wednesday's pace at Barcelona, and the grandee Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes runners spread further down the order.

So while a full-tanks race simulation versus a qualifying run could make an obvious 4 or 5 second per lap difference, the games being played in pre-season testing are more complex, he explained.

"In Jerez or Montmelo, let's say, all you need is to pop 30 kilos more fuel in and your times are increased by a second on average," the Spaniard is quoted by El Pais newspaper.

"In that case, all you have to do (as a team) is refer to your time and add the second.  The problem is that only they know that they are doing it," said Cuquerella.

"That's why no one trusts anyone," he added.

HRT is not running at this week's Barcelona test.

Kovalainen 'not concerned' as Petrov joins team
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen insists he has "no concerns" despite having to start work with a new teammate less than a month before the 2012 season.

In 2010 and 2011, and since the formation of the former Lotus team, Kovalainen has shared the green garage with fellow grand prix winner Jarno Trulli.

Now, Caterham has replaced the Italian veteran with the much less experienced Vitaly Petrov, who has moved his Russian backing from Lotus (formerly Renault).

"I got along well with Jarno, but a new teammate doesn't change my life in any way," Kovalainen insisted to Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"I have met with Vitaly here in Barcelona and I don't have any concerns.  He is definitely a strong competitor but I always give 110 per cent to beat my teammate.

"I don't underestimate anyone," he added.

Kovalainen admitted that Petrov might have to adjust to the fact that Caterham is smaller than Lotus, and the car not as competitive.

"Of course he has to get used to the team," he said, "and if he has any questions, I'm available.

"But Vitaly is a professional driver and in F1 it is expected that the driver is able to start tackling the program right away."

Rosberg says Schumacher not toughest teammate
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has named Mark Webber as his toughest teammate in formula one so far.

The German made his grand prix debut alongside Australian Webber at Williams in 2006, moving four seasons later to Mercedes.

While at Williams, Rosberg also raced as teammate to Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima.

Rosberg's Mercedes move in 2010 coincided with seven time world champion Michael Schumacher's return to formula one at the same Brackley based team, where they have been teammates ever since.

When asked by Germany's Sport Bild who his toughest teammate has been, he answered: "Mark Webber in 2006, then Michael."

And he hopes he will be in front of his famous current teammate yet again in 2012, particularly with Mercedes hoping its new W03 is a race winner.

"To be the first German to win in the new Silver Arrow would be an absolute dream for me," said Rosberg, whose father Keke won the title in 1982.

Qantas secure Australian GP naming rights again
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation is continuing its longstanding relationship with Qantas as it confirms the iconic Australian brand as naming rights and official airline partner for the 2012 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman, Mr. Ronald J Walker, AC CBE said he was delighted to be working with Qantas again.

“Qantas has been associated with the Australian Grand Prix for over 25 years and we are pleased that this important partnership is continuing. Formula One is the world’s most popular annual sporting series, with each season attracting a television audience of 520 million fans around the world. Last year in Australia, 4.23 million watched the 2011 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix on television – you just cannot put a value to that level of branding.”

“We look forward to building on the success of the 2011 Albert Park race that beamed images of Melbourne to 187 countries around the world,” said Mr. Walker.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline has supported the Australian Grand Prix since it arrived in Australia in 1985.

“Qantas has been associated with the Grand Prix since its inception in Australia and we are pleased to continue our support for this year’s event. We wish Qantas Ambassador Mark Webber the best of luck for the race next month.”

The 2012 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix will be held at Melbourne’s spectacular Albert Park from 15-18 March with a host of on and off track activities.

Behind schedule, and to beat the oppressive Texas summer heat, Circuit of Americas construction goes round the clock on some days
Neighbors of F1 track call late-night construction a nuisance
Neighbors of the $300 million racetrack being built in southeastern Travis County plan to meet with county commissioners and officials this week to discuss concerns about late-night construction at the track and a preliminary traffic plan for the Formula One race scheduled for Nov. 18.

"This week, my dance card is going to be pretty full," said Cathy Olive, head of the Elroy Neighborhood Association.

Olive said recently that noise from the construction and bright lights near Elroy Road have kept some area residents up at night.

Another resident said that, on occasion, Circuit of the Americas has been lit up like a small city at 2:30 a.m.

Don Haywood, whose property overlooks Turn 11 at the track, said, "There's about 10 or 12 of these lights. ... Everything is illuminated on the west side of my house."

Haywood, a retired police officer, said all-night construction has gone on for about 10 days.

"They'll have 20 to 25 trucks just lined up, gravel trucks," said Haywood. His 15 acres are virtually surrounded by the track, which is suing him over a water line that cuts across land that the track wants to turn into a parking lot.

On Tuesday night, from Haywood's property, workers could be seen entering the track after the day shift left.

Track officials have consistently maintained they are on schedule to host Austin's inaugural U.S. Grand Prix in the fall.

Elroy residents, however, speculate that the track is playing late-night catch-up because of the recent wet weather and previous delays. F1 officials won't comment on whether there have been construction delays, but Haywood said work has temporarily halted after recent heavy rains.

From the beginning of December through Wednesday, 16 inches of rain were recorded at nearby Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, far higher than normal. From February through September last year, only 4.34 inches of rain fell in the area, including only 0.06 inches from July through September.

During that dry stretch, however, there were periods when the construction at the 3.4-mile track was slowed or almost halted, as questions persisted about whether the race would happen. The Statesman 

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