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DATE News (chronologically)
02/28/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Marussia behind the 8-ball
    No testing for Marussia's 2012 car
  • Williams admits mistake to let Newey go
  • Alonso proud even without third drivers' title
  • 'Game on' as McLaren eyes title glory in 2012
  • New Schumacher contract 'absolutely possible' - Zetsche
  • Exhausts 'the key' to tech success in 2012
  • Top team or nothing for 2013 warns Webber
  • 'Impossible' to make friends in F1 - Vergne
  • Still a lot of work to do, Alonso repeats

No testing for Marussia's 2012 car
(GMM)  Marussia will take its unlaunched 2012 car to Australia for the start of the season without having tested it.

The former Virgin team had already delayed the launch of the MR01, and now it emerges that the car is yet to pass one of the FIA's mandatory crash tests.

In 2012, for the first time, the FIA is requiring that the tests be passed before teams can even run their new single seaters in the pre-season.

"The team will now not take part in the final preseason test in Barcelona later this week," Marussia said in a media statement, "and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash test at the end of the week."

Fellow back-of-the-grid team HRT reportedly passed the crash tests with its unlaunched 2012 this week, and is expected to be in Barcelona.

The season starts in Melbourne on March 18.

Williams admits mistake to let Newey go
(GMM)  Sir Frank Williams has admitted it was a mistake to let F1's most respected engineer Adrian Newey leave his beleaguered team more than a decade ago.

Aerodynamic specialist and Briton Newey, who has since built championship-winning cars for McLaren and Red Bull, left Williams in 1997 -- the year Jacques Villeneuve won the Grove based team's last title.

Williams, a woeful ninth in the constructors' standings last year, has not won a race since 2004.

"He (Newey) wanted some shares that I didn't want to give to him at the time," Williams told F1 Racing magazine.  "(That) was arguably, with hindsight, a mistake.

Wheelchair-bound Williams, 69, also admitted that last year's Cosworth-powered car was not good enough, triggering a restructuring of the famous team and a switch to Renault engines.

"It (the FW33) was deficient in most of the areas that matter, but we were completely lacking in the most important one of all, which is aero," he said.

"And probably a bit of horsepower.  It just wasn't a quick car."

But Williams admitted that there is one element his team will continue to lack in 2012.

"There's only one of him," he said, referring to Newey.

"Adrian is quite a remarkable individual."

Alonso proud even without third drivers' title
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has revealed he would be happy even if he fails to add a third world championship to his tally.

The Spaniard already has two titles in his pocket from his Renault days, and is now aiming for a third ahead of his third consecutive season with Ferrari.

But the F2012 has not looked a world-beater in preseason testing, and Alonso told Spanish reporters at a sponsor event this week: "If I didn't win another championship, I would go out (of formula one) with my head held high.

"At least I have won already, while some others leave without winning a single race," he is quoted by Marca sports newspaper from the Jarama circuit.

At the same time, he scolded any analysis that is already writing off Ferrari for 2012.

"There has been a tendency, especially from the media, to say that the car is bad and we are not having a good winter, but they don't understand.

"We are very calm because the car is very complex and there's no reason to believe that it won't be quick.

"The thing that is costing all of us is to get back the grip lost at the rear of the car by the blown diffusers ban, but I think it will be recovered soon," added Alonso.

This week, in Barcelona, the last test before Melbourne will begin, but Alonso denies that the pecking-order is imminently set to emerge.

"Australia is a strange race because it's a different circuit, so we will begin to see things from the third race I think," he said, referring to China in April.

"What is important, if we cannot win immediately, is that no driver wins all three or four."

But Alonso insisted that even a rough estimate of the events in Melbourne and beyond is impossible to make now.

"At the moment the conclusions are zero -- super-zero," he said.

"Hopefully we will not be seventh," Alonso smiled, "and everything else is guesswork.

"It is assumed that Red Bull will not be stuck in Q2 and that McLaren and Mercedes will not be far away, but these are only assumptions.

"Testing in Barcelona for us ended better than it started, but it's not as though we were in a tunnel and now we see the light.  Our team is working hard and well."

'Game on' as McLaren eyes title glory in 2012
(GMM)  Red Bull is the obvious favorite while Ferrari scrabbles to understand its 'complex car' and Mercedes admits it is not yet ready to win.

The sounds emanating from the McLaren camp, in contrast, are almost entirely positive.

Compared to last winter, the difference is stark, as team boss Martin Whitmarsh explains: "We were too bold and the car was neither competitive or reliable," he is quoted by El Pais newspaper.

"What we did, turning it around, was a miracle because we changed the rear of the car completely.  We almost didn't believe it because we found a second, if not a second and a half."

After his own tumultuous 2011, Lewis Hamilton has also been given reason to smile, recalling: "Last year we struggled to do 30 laps a day.

"Now we're doing 120, and honestly I can't remember the last time we did," said the 2008 world champion.

"We are much more comfortable and confident about fighting with any of the other teams," added Hamilton.  "I'm really surprised with how the car behaves in the fast corners.

"I think the base is much better than what we had last year, especially in that area."

His teammate Jenson Button is also sounding confident, targeting at least a podium in Melbourne next month.

"If we are there or thereabouts at the start of the season then it's 100 per cent game on for the title," he is quoted by the Mirror.

New Schumacher contract 'absolutely possible' - Zetsche
(GMM)  Dieter Zetsche has admitted it is possible Michael Schumacher will still be a Mercedes driver in 2013.

At the end of his initial three-year F1 comeback contract, the 43-year-old's existing deal runs out this season.

There has been speculation Mercedes has offered him a new two-year contract for 2013 and 2014.

"There is no contract at the moment," team boss Ross Brawn was quoted on Sunday by the Daily Star, "but we are open minded."

Zetsche, the chairman of German marque Mercedes' parent Daimler, agrees: "He is still the icon of motor racing.

"If his performance and his interest is still there, then a continuation would be an absolutely attractive possibility," he told this week's Sport Bild, to be published on Wednesday.

Schumacher has said there is no timetable for any talks, but Zetsche revealed: "We will get together during the season and see what the interest is on both sides."

1980 world champion Alan Jones told GMM last week that, if he was running the Mercedes team, there are also purely financial reasons to re-sign Schumacher.

"If you pay him ten million then most likely he would bring in 20 million," said the Australian, "because of who he is and what he has done in his career."

Exhausts 'the key' to tech success in 2012
(GMM)  As was the case in 2011, the exhausts look set to remain the key to technical success this season.

"I don't know if it's the key," said Sauber's Sergio Perez, "but of course the exhaust is the area of greatest potential for improvement.

"That's where we are focusing the most time in this preseason," he is quoted by Spain's Marca newspaper.

After the deliberate and off-throttle blowing of exhaust gases for aerodynamic effect was banned after 2011, teams are still looking for the optimum solution for the new set of rules.

"The cars this year are very difficult to drive," Fernando Alonso is quoted as saying, amid reports Ferrari ended the recent Jerez and Barcelona tests with vastly different positions for the exhaust exits.

When asked about it, the Spaniard said it was an usual question for the media to pose.

"I can only say that we are continuing to work on the best configuration of the car for Melbourne," he said this week.

Marca, meanwhile, said McLaren has three pre-set exhaust outlet positions for possible use in 2012, while Red Bull has also been experimenting this winter.

Top team or nothing for 2013 warns Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber has warned he will quit formula one if he cannot find a top seat for 2013.

The 35-year-old Australian is the only prominent member of the leading Red Bull team who does not currently have a contract beyond this season.

It is rumored Dr Helmut Marko wants to replace him for 2013 with either Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne, triggering rumors Webber could be a potential replacement for Felipe Massa at Ferrari.

"The only possibility is if Massa decides to leave Ferrari, or Ferrari decides to leave Massa.  There could maybe be an opening there," 1980 world champion Alan Jones told GMM.

But if Red Bull and Ferrari both pass up Webber, his options for 2013 appear limited.

"I'd need something competitive," Webber told the Australian news agency AAP on Tuesday.

He warned that he would not consider sliding down the grid to a less competitive team.

"It's pretty clear that I've earned my stripes on the way through so I won't be doing that on the other side -- going the other way," said Webber.

"Being competitive, being at the front, is certainly a big, big factor of me staying very hungry and motivated."

And so hungry is the 2011 Brazilian grand prix winner that, according to F1's official website, the already-lean and tall Webber has lost weight ahead of this season.

"I am no light version -- I've just lost some kilos, that's all," he confirmed.

'Impossible' to make friends in F1 - Vergne
(GMM)  Relations remain cool in the Toro Rosso garage, but rookie Jean-Eric Vergne is not expecting to be friends with any of his other rivals in 2012.

The Frenchman said recently that although he and Toro Rosso teammate Daniel Ricciardo may be fighting it out for a 2013 Red Bull seat, they need to work together to push the Faenza based team forwards this year.

But outside the Toro Rosso garage, 21-year-old Vergne is not hoping to make friends in formula one.

"With Daniel and I it's going well, we've known each other for a long time," he told the L'Equipe sports daily.

"He is someone I get along well with and it's a pleasure to work with (him).

"We can be friends, but otherwise it's impossible to be friends with the F1 drivers -- unless you know you will be always in first place with the best car.

"For me, it's inconceivable to be friends with someone you want to beat," added Vergne.

Still a lot of work to do, Alonso repeats
Fernando Alonso has reiterated that Ferrari is in need of much progress in order to return to winning ways in the 2012 Formula 1 season. The Spaniard was speaking on Monday at the Jarama circuit on the outskirts of Madrid.

At the second of three pre-season test sessions last week, Alonso commented in Barcelona that Ferrari is behind where it had hoped to be by this point; his sentiments were echoed by team-mate Felipe Massa, who rated the Scuderia’s current level as ‘more than five’ on a scale of one to ten.

“We are continuing with development,” Alonso said on Monday. “Maybe we are only taking small steps forward, but they are coming constantly. There is still a lot of work to do but, as of today, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be ready for the first race.

“There are only four more days of testing and we will have to also make use of the first Friday at a race weekend to continue with development, but the car is reasonably complex and needs time, as was the case over the first eight days. It is definitely too early to say where we are compared to the others. Red Bull is very strong, but that’s hardly a surprise.”

Ferrari had planned to run in Barcelona between Friday of this week and next Monday, although F1 governing body the FIA has informed both the Italian team and World Champions Red Bull that a private run on Monday is not allowed; both outfits have now reverted to the standard Thursday to Sunday arrangement.

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