Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
Spanish team HRT's car made in Germany
- Button replaces 'crooked finger' with 'W for winner'
- Modern F1 car amazes Salo at Suzuka
- Raikkonen to be 'surprise of season' - de la Rosa
- Williams 'not far' from top teams - Maldonado
- Herbert continues steward role for Sepang
- Massa gets new chassis for Malaysian Grand Prix
Spanish team HRT's car made in Germany
(GMM) Former boss Colin Kolles and his Greding-based company is no longer involved, but there remains a strong German input with the struggling team HRT.
A report in the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper reveals that the new Cosworth-powered F112 car, which failed to qualify in Melbourne last weekend, was designed and built in Augsburg, a city in the south-west of Bavaria.
It is there that, since November 2011, the Holzer-Gruppe company has been frantically building up the Cosworth-powered cars for Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan.
"Under our management almost everything has been made here in Bobingen," said Gunther Holzer.
"For the wind tunnel we used the Mercedes facility in Brackley (UK)," he added.
Eight of F1's 12 teams are based in England, with the others either in Italy (Ferrari and Toro Rosso) or Switzerland (Sauber).
HRT uses Williams' gearbox.
"We wanted to go our separate way, not like almost everyone else who are all within a few miles of Oxford," said HRT chief executive Saul Ruiz de Marcos.
The team's longer plan is to be solely based in Madrid, but for now Holzer will lead the development of the F112.
"For the start of the European season in Spain we are planning the first improvements to the car," said Marcos.
Holzer explained: "The car is designed first for safety and so is heavy compared to the competition. For the future we are focused on making it lighter."
Before the lighter car debuts in Barcelona, HRT faces three more challenges - Malaysia, China and Bahrain - at which the sport's 107 per cent rule will be a major hurdle.
"The goal is to qualify, there is no other," admitted de la Rosa. "Race reliability is something else we need to work on, but first we have to qualify."
Button replaces 'crooked finger' with 'W for winner'
(GMM) Jenson Button has dreamed up a new victory salute, after growing weary of last year's "crooked finger".
McLaren's Button, who beat reigning double champion Vettel to victory last week in Melbourne, admitted last year that the German's winning salute had started to grate his nerves.
"He keeps doing that," Button grimaced a year ago, demonstrating Vettel's awkward index-finger salute that always followed the Red Bull driver's latest pole or victory.
"It would be alright if it was straight."
At one point, just after yet another Vettel pole, the young German saluted the ranks of photographers with his finger, and Button jokingly attempted to bite it off.
So, after winning in Albert Park ahead of Vettel in the 2012 opener last weekend, Button unfurled a new salute.
Asked if Vettel will now get sick of the two-handed 'W for winner' gesture, Button smiled: "Hopefully he will.
"I actually did the 'W' with a water bottle in my hand, which didn't really work very well," said the Briton.
"I'm sure we will sometimes see the crooked finger but hopefully not very often this year."
Modern F1 car amazes Salo at Suzuka
(GMM) Mika Salo - a former Ferrari, Sauber and Toyota race driver - has admitted his surprise at how F1 technology has moved on since he retired in 2002.
The now 45-year-old Finn got back at the wheel of a modern grand prix machine last weekend at Suzuka, during the Ferrari Racing Days event.
"The power came as no surprise," he told the broadcaster MTV3, "but the grip was quite unbelievable.
"It was almost contrary to the laws of nature, how hard you could be pushing on sixth or seventh gear in a corner.
"I would have needed many more days to really get back on terms with it," said Salo. "I have to admit there is no way I could do a race right now.
"Secondly, my fitness really is not enough -- I have such a sore neck and hands now that I could barely carry my bag at the airport," he added.
Raikkonen to be 'surprise of season' - de la Rosa
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen is still up to the task of performing at his best in formula one.
That is the claim of Pedro de la Rosa, who in 2006 was the famous Finn's race teammate at McLaren just before Raikkonen - now 32 - switched to Ferrari and won the world championship.
The so-called 'iceman' has been out of F1 for two years and on his comeback in Australia last week dropped the ball with a miserable qualifying performance.
It has emerged Raikkonen came into the pits to change the tint of his helmet visor, and could not get back out for a crucial final qualifying run.
According to Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Raikkonen described the incident as "a little f*ck up", and a day later had to be reminded on the radio about the meaning of blue flags.
De la Rosa, however - who was a mere spectator in Melbourne after failing to qualify with HRT - said Sunday in Australia was "a fantastic race performance by Kimi".
"Kimi is a phenomenal talent and definitely one of the best drivers I have ever seen," the Spaniard is quoted by another Finnish newspaper, Turun Sanomat.
"Kimi and his team (Lotus) look really competitive. My guess is that they will be the biggest surprise of the season," added de la Rosa.
Williams 'not far' from top teams - Maldonado
(GMM) From the depths of 2011, Williams is now 'not far' from the pace of F1's strongest teams.
That is the claim of Pastor Maldonado, who in the newly Renault-powered and Mike Coughlan-designed FW34 qualified eighth and was pushing Fernando Alonso for fifth in the race when he crashed out of Sunday's season opener in Melbourne on the last lap.
It indicated a major turnaround for the formerly championship-winning team that collapsed to a dismal ninth place in last year's points standings.
Venezuelan Maldonado hopes last Sunday was indeed the start of a Williams resurgence.
He said this weekend in Malaysia "should be interesting".
"McLaren and Red Bull look strong, but we are not far away," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat.
"We were very close to (Red Bull's) Mark Webber in the first and second stints," said Maldonado.
"I think we are faster than Ferrari, Sauber and Force India," he added.
Maldonado's last-lap crash in Australia cost Williams a full ten points -- double the team's tally of the entire 2011 season.
"We need points in the future," he acknowledged, "but we are also now more relaxed now."
Herbert continues steward role for Sepang
Former F1 racer Johnny Herbert will resume the role of 'driver steward' in Malaysia, having undertaken the responsibility at Albert Park last weekend.
Prior to this year's curtain raiser in Melbourne, Herbert was the driver's representative at both the Australian and Indian events last season. Before leaving the sport at the turn of the millennium, the 47-year-old collected a total of three race victories.
The FIA has used the aid of a driver for its decisions since the beginning of 2010.
Felipe Massa gets new Ferrari chassis for Malaysian Grand Prix
Felipe Massa will be given a new chassis for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix as his Ferrari team bids to get to the bottom of his troubles in Australia.
The Brazilian had a disappointing weekend in Melbourne - being comprehensively outqualified by team-mate Fernando Alonso and enduring an incident-filled race before his retirement.
Although the team continues to have faith that Massa can turn his situation around, the outfit has elected to change his chassis with immediate effect – so for this weekend in Sepang he will race with chassis number 294 - to see if it was a factor in his performance.
A statement on the team's website said: "This choice was taken to clear up any doubts about the unusual performance of his car during the weekend at Albert Park." Autosport