Latest F1 news in brief - Friday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
|Rosberg happy with his teammate|
- Rosberg happy to stay with Schumacher beyond 2012
- Allison thanks Lotus boss for allowing innovation
- Schumacher manager Weber now retired from F1
- Ferrari 'better than people think' - de la Rosa
- New Marussia car 'good' so far - Glock
- Valencia pays 2012 fee, Spain to alternate from 2013
- Two F1 journalists are Caterham board directors
- Williams revenue up New
- Two DRS zones for first race of 2012 New
- 2012 F1 rules changes at a glance New
Rosberg happy to stay with Schumacher beyond 2012
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has announced he would be happy if Michael Schumacher stayed at Mercedes beyond 2012.
Seven time world champion Schumacher's current contract runs out this season, and there has been speculation he could either stay or be replaced possibly by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg knows Hamilton well from their karting days, but the German indicated he would be happy to stay alongside Schumacher.
"It is quite possible that he will stay, and that would be a good thing," he told the DPA news agency.
"Technically, we complement each other well, which of course for the development of the car is always helpful," added the 26-year-old.
Rosberg, meanwhile, has received a ringing endorsement by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
"He's very talented and is capable of winning races. Let's hope he does this season," said the Briton.
43-year-old Schumacher, however, is not sure.
"Victory (in Australia) to me is unlikely," he said on his official website. "I see Red Bull in front.
"Behind them it will be tight, and you can be either hero or zero very quickly."
Allison thanks Lotus boss for allowing innovation
(GMM) James Allison has thanked his boss, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier, for pushing him to be creative with this year's E20 car.
The former Renault team had a troubled 2011 season, with the innovative front-exiting exhausts ultimately scrapped when the field raced ahead with the more obvious Red Bull-style exhaust solution.
Boullier may, therefore, have been sensible to request a more conventional approach to 2012.
But the new E20 is once again an adventurous design, and in pre-season testing it was quicker than any rival at both the Barcelona and Jerez circuits.
"I can only thank my boss," technical director Allison told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"He had every reason to demand from us a conservative car, but instead they encouraged us to continue to be innovative.
"You can get it right that way but there's also a lot of risk."
One major hiccup so far was the chassis suspension flaw, which cost Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean the entire middle Barcelona test.
Otherwise, the E20 is tipped to be a positive surprise of 2012.
"Its manufacturing is worlds better than the (2011) R31," said Allison. "There are fewer seams, gaps, edges."
The German magazine report said the secret is under the skin, after Lotus took a meticulous approach to aerodynamics for 2012.
"Anything that increases air resistance was eliminated systematically," he explained.
Schumacher manager Weber now retired from F1
(GMM) Famous former F1 driver manager Willi Weber has announced he is now retired from formula one.
Once known as 'Mr. 20 per cent' from his lucrative days as Michael and Ralf Schumacher's manager, the German is also no longer involved in the management of Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg's career.
He will turn 70 on Sunday, revealing to the DAPD news agency that the famous Schumachers will not be there to help him celebrate in Mallorca.
"When Michael is in Stuttgart we meet, but not to discuss formula one. I hope we continue like that for many years," said Weber.
Apart from that, he insists his F1 days are over -- even if Sebastian Vettel were to decide he needs a manager.
"No, not any more. Thank you, but for a long time I managed the best drivers in the world and that's enough for me," said the German.
Ferrari 'better than people think' - de la Rosa
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa has admitted he senses a little too much pessimism from the Ferrari camp.
Amid talk the famous team's new F2012 car is a flop and needs to be substantially redesigned, the La Gazzetta dello Sport daily wondered recently: "Let's hope it's just pre-tactics."
De la Rosa, the veteran Spanish driver for HRT, thinks there is an element of truth to that.
"They are better than people think," he told Cadena Ser radio.
"On the other hand I know that there are teams that are stronger, but I wouldn't rule out the podium -- I assure you," the 41-year-old insisted.
"What happens is you try to remove the pressure that is on you. As for me, I see Ferrari in a better shape than the sort of negative feeling that exists here in Spain.
"I think they have their problems like everyone else, but their car is faster than it seems."
It was Pat Fry, Ferrari's new technical director, who announced recently that the F2012 is not currently a podium contender.
"This is not something that goes through my head," Felipe Massa admitted to reporters in Sao Paulo this week.
"It is true we tested a type of exhaust and realized it was not the right thing. But last year everyone was 90 per cent sure we would fight for the title and then we did not.
"I won't hide that we are not 100 per cent satisfied with what we did in the three test sessions in Spain.
"But we have a very strong team and I have lots of faith in their capacity to be able to develop the chassis during the season," he added.
New Marussia car 'good' so far - Glock
(GMM) Despite a difficult winter for the Marussia team, Timo Glock is in a positive mood as he travels to Australia for the 2012 season.
The former Virgin squad struggled to get its new car through the FIA's mandatory crash tests, which according to new rules meant the MR01 was grounded throughout the official pre-season period.
Indeed, the Russian website F1News quotes technical consultant Pat Symonds as saying the "last two months were the most difficult of my 20 years in formula one".
Due to a testing loophole allowing some running on demonstration Pirelli tires, the Cosworth-powered car finally made its debut over two days of 'promotional filming' early this week at Silverstone.
"The basis is definitely good; the first test miles were really good," German Glock is quoted by the German-language Speed Week.
"The car did exactly what we expected from it. The data we recorded corresponded exactly to what we had calculated previously," he added.
The report said Glock will travel to Australia on Friday, with his 30th birthday set to coincide exactly with the start of the new season.
Symonds added: "There is still much to be done, but it is a long term project and so I hope that we move forward step by step."
Valencia pays 2012 fee, Spain to alternate from 2013
(GMM) Spain will host only one formula one race per season beginning in 2013, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has announced.
The country's current two hosts, Barcelona and Valencia, had already admitted the impact of the European crisis and said alternating a single annual race date was a possibility.
And there were rumors Valencia had not yet paid the race fee for this year's June street race.
"All is well and everything is paid," Ecclestone told Radio Valencia-Cadena Ser.
"There is no doubt there will be formula one at Valencia on June 24," said the Briton.
And Ecclestone said that from next year, there will be only one Spanish grand prix per season.
"Both Valencia and Barcelona have agreed that it is best to alternate, so now we are trying to choose the dates," he said.
As for whether the economic crisis is affecting him personally, the billionaire answered: "No, because I don't need or spend much money anyway."
Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez backed the news about Spain.
"It's better than having no races, which would be a pity," he told DPA news agency.
Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa said it is "normal" for each country to have one race per season.
"Having two is what is not normal," he insisted.
Two F1 journalists are Caterham board directors
(GMM) Two formula one journalists are on the board of the Caterham Group, the parent company of the Tony Fernandes-led team.
Team boss Fernandes announced the formation of the Group at the Brazilian grand prix on 27 November last year.
UK Companies House records show that Joe Saward and David Tremayne were appointed as directors just nine days later.
In the company filing, Briton Saward's occupation is listed as "journalist/consultant".
"The nature of Saward and Tremayne's roles in Caterham are as yet unknown, but one would assume Joe will announce something on his popular F1 blog during the next few days," Steve Davies, of the skiddmark.com website, said.
Williams revenue up
Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC has announced an increase in turnover from £90.8m to £102.3m, and pre-tax earnings of £9.8m, up from £8.2m. This is good news as it means that the team is at least financially stable, although it remains rather dependent on sponsorship from PDVSA, a deal which amounts to a considerable percentage of the total.
Chairman Adam Parr said: “The Group has enjoyed a strong performance over the last 12 months, in spite of continuing difficulties in the global economy. Our 2011 Annual Report shows strong results and our current cash position is excellent. At 29th February 2012, the Group held net cash of £29.2 million. We can therefore look ahead with confidence. We have made a number of new technical appointments that will strengthen our performance in Formula One and we are delighted with our new partnerships with Renault in Formula One and Jaguar on the C-X75 hybrid supercar project. Our new business developments across Williams Hybrid Power, Williams Advanced Engineering and the Williams Technology Centre Qatar are delivering promising results.”
Two DRS zones for first race of 2012
An extra DRS zone has been added for the Australian Grand Prix this year.
A single DRS zone was used during last year’s race, the first in which DRS was used.
This year drivers will have the opportunity to use DRS twice per lap, as Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara explained:
“Historically overtaking has been difficult in Melbourne, but this time there will be two DRS zones.”
Kamui Kobayashi said the unusual nature of the Melbourne track may not give an accurate impression of how competitive the team is in the first race of the year.
“The Albert Park circuit itself has a very nice layout,” he said. “The fact it isn’t a permanent race track, and therefore very slippery at the beginning of the weekend, doesn’t make the set up work for the first Grand Prix any easier, but to adapt to the improving grip level is a challenge for everyone.”
2012 F1 rules changes at a glance
The 2012 F1 season sees another raft of rules changes, tweaks and clarifications.
The extent of the revisions is not as great as it has been in recent years. Several of the alterations appear to be in response to specific situations which occurred last year.
Here’s a quick guide to how the F1 rules have changed in 2012.
In the races
Previously, drivers have been allowed to move off-line to defend their position and move back towards the racing line afterwards. When returning to the racing line while defending, they are expected to leave room for another car that might have appeared alongside them.
This requirement was not written in the rules before, but now it is enshrined in the rulebook. Article 20.3 of the sporting regulations says:
More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off‐line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.
Michael Schumacher, who was at the heart of a dispute over the rule in last year’s Italian Grand Prix, said: “It’s not really a rules change.
“It’s just a clarification and a precision rule for everybody to understand what exactly you’re allowed to do and not to do, and then for the FIA to take action in case somebody pushes the borderline too far.”
Following last year’s Canadian Grand Prix – which at four hours and four minutes was the longest F1 race ever – the FIA has imposed a maximum time limit on Grands Prix.
If a race is suspended, the total race time can now not exceed four hours.
The previous two-hour time limit on races that are not suspended still applies.
Lapped cars passing the safety car
Lapped cars will once again be allowed to pass the safety car. This rule was previously introduced in 2007 but was scrapped at the end of 2009.
As was the case when the rule was last enforced, lapped cars will only be allowed to unlap themselves if the clerk of the course allows them to.
The rule will reduce the chance of races restarting with lapped drivers in between the front-running drivers.
However it may also increase the length of safety car periods as the cars unlapping themselves must “proceed around the track at an appropriate speed”, according to the rules.
Lapped cars allowed to pass safety car in 2012
Rejoining at a restart
When an interrupted race is restarted, cars that were in the pit lane for any reason are now permitted to join the assembled grid in their race position.
Drivers are not allowed to leave the lines of the track without a good reason.
Previously, drivers have often cut chicanes in practice sessions in order to save fuel and time on their in-laps. Sebastian Vettel also did this in qualifying at Korea last year, but the practice has now been outlawed.
Another addition to the rulebook is that a driver can now use all of his allocated tires for the weekend on the first day of the event if they choose.
On the cars
The lowering of the noses at the front of the car for safety reasons has led to some strange-looking machines this year. Rosberg explains the changes in the video above and you can read more here:
F1′s generation of ugly cars should be a temporary sight
Exhaust-blown diffuser restrictions
In a bid to prevent teams blowing exhaust gasses into their diffusers to generate downforce, the rules now specify where the exhausts on the car should be.
Again, see the video for more and read more here:
How the 2012 rules will influence F1 car design
A car must have all its parts attached before leaving the pits before a race now.
In China last year Lewis Hamilton drove to the grid with part of his engine cover missing. This will now be prohibited.
The rules regarding testing have also been revised. New restrictions apply on what cars may be used.
If a team wishes to run a car outside testing or an event, such as for Michael Schumacher or Felipe Massa in recent times, the car must be significantly different to the Formula One technical regulations of the current, previous or subsequent year.
Promotional running is also allowed, but the car have to use special demonstration tires supplied by Pirelli.
Note also that the teams agreed to move three days of the pre-season testing allocation to May, when they will run at Mugello in Italy.
The teams must pass all FIA crash tests before participating in pre-season testing. We have already seen the consequences of this particular new rule.
Marussia and HRT fell victim to this over the winter, failing to get their cars through the tests in time to take place in any of the official pre-season tests.
This is a summary of the most significant changes in the F1 rules for 2012.
To read the regulations in full, which contain several other detail changes, you can download the PDFs for the Sporting Regulations and Technical Regulations from our F1 page.