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DATE News (chronologically)
04/17/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

04/17/12
  • Hamilton staying with McLaren
    Hamilton hints not intention to leave McLaren
  • China among best races in F1 history - report
  • Ferrari eyes big step forward for Barcelona
  • Grosjean 'not relieved' despite easing pressure
  • Wolff not Williams' new team boss
  • F1 journalists turn war reporters in Bahrain
  • Rivals must 'count on Mercedes' now - Rosberg
  • 'Results crisis, not Vettel crisis' - Danner
  • Tension mounts as Formula One heads to Bahrain New
  • Vettel must race 'Webber-spec' exhaust in Bahrain New
  • Ecclestone questions New York race for 2013 New

Hamilton hints not intention to leave McLaren
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has hinted again that he sees his future with McLaren.

Just prior to the new season, the 2008 world champion indicated he would like to renew his deal with the Woking based team in the early phase of this year.

Hamilton's current contract runs out at the end of 2012.

Asked by British publications if he is being persuaded by his boss Martin Whitmarsh to stay, the 27-year-old answered: "I don't need persuading.

"The team are doing fantastic.  I could not be happier in the team."

Also asked if it would be hard for him to leave the team he has spent his entire career with, Hamilton admitted: "Yeah.  I don't feel like walking away."

The Briton had a tumultuous 2011 season, but so far in 2012 he has appeared happy as he raced onto the podium at the end of every grand prix.

"Everything is better this year," said Hamilton.  "The team is better.  The car is better.  I am a lot better.  I have got my dad here (in China) and that is not fake; we have a real, real good bond now.

"Things are great and that's reflected in my performances."

Jenson Button, who already has a deal in place for 2013 and beyond, indicated he would like Hamilton to remain his teammate.

"It's good to have competition, it drives the team forward," said the 2009 world champion.

As for when the new deal might be done, Hamilton said the timeframe for talks is open "so long as it is before next year".

China among best races in F1 history - report
(GMM)  Statistically, the Chinese grand prix raced straight into the history books as one of the most exciting formula one events of all time.

"For me, we are having some of the best races in formula one history," agreed Jenson Button after finishing Sunday's Shanghai race behind Nico Rosberg.

Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that only three grands prix in the history of the sport played host to more individual overtaking moves.

The report said there were 72 passes in total on Sunday, not including the first corner of the race.  Seven of the moves were on Kimi Raikkonen on one lap, after the Lotus driver's Pirelli tires gave up the ghost.

Last year in Shanghai, there were 63 passes.  So far in 2012, there were more overtaking moves in China, Malaysia and Australia compared to the same races last season.

Canada 2011 still stands as the site of the most passes during a single grand prix, at 89.

In second place are the 1983 US grand prix and the 2011 Turkish grand prix (79 passes), followed by China last weekend.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh is celebrating the spectacle of the 2012 season so far.

"Who's going to predict who will win?" he said, referring to this weekend's grand prix in Bahrain.  "I won't.

"We've had three very different races and I think we are going to have potentially 20 very different races this year."

Ferrari eyes big step forward for Barcelona
(GMM)  Ferrari is looking ahead to Barcelona next month, as the famous Italian team plans to begin putting a difficult start to the 2012 season behind it.

Test driver Marc Gene, who is travelling to the grands prix this year, said the F2012 was "born well" but fell behind the other leading teams as the winter pre-season progressed.

"From here it will take time to improve it," he told the Spanish newspaper Diario Sport.

"The next big developments will arrive in Barcelona, although at every race the team is making improvements and we know already that the main problem is aerodynamics.

"It's a car that also has its virtues, as it adapts well to the wet and also warms up the tires well, but it is a car with a lot of 'drag'; we need better top speed and traction," said Gene.

He said, however, that with at least an eight-tenth per lap dry circuit deficit to the ultimate pace, the F2012 is not likely to step to the front of the grid even with a big raft of developments for the Spanish grand prix.

"I have to admit that it (eliminating the entire gap) would be the most dramatic improvement I've seen in the 13 years I have been in formula one.

"(Improvement) throughout the season is much more feasible.  I know that we are working on a very big package and even more positive is that we have the test at Mugello beforehand."

Gene said the best car in the field at present is the McLaren.

"That is the car that works best if you take together all the different elements.  Maybe not the fastest in qualifying, nor in the wet, but today it's the best car on the grid," he said.

Fernando Alonso said he is hoping the F2012 becomes "3 or 4 tenths" better at Barcelona.

"All the teams will bring updates," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat, "so if we could improve 5 or 6 tenths, while the others get only a couple of tenths, it will be better for us."

And Spain's Marca quotes Felipe Massa as saying: "I do expect a much better car in Spain; faster, better balanced and better traction."

Grosjean 'not relieved' despite easing pressure
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean insists he is not feeling "relieved" after the Chinese grand prix.

The Frenchman, who returned to F1 this year after an abortive start to his career in 2009, showed good pace in Australia and Malaysia but failed to see the end of even the opening lap.

In China, therefore, the pressure was on the reigning GP2 champion to finally record a result, and he duly finished sixth -- his first ever points in F1.

"Relieved?  No," the Swiss-born driver told RMC Sport.

"No, the work has just paid off.  There is no need to put your head on upside down after two races (in 2012).  We all know there are ups and downs in motor racing."

Nonetheless, 26-year-old Grosjean admitted it "felt good to fight with Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren (in China) -- it's great!"

Wolff not Williams' new team boss
(GMM)  Toto Wolff is not Williams' new team boss.

With co-founder Patrick Head and chairman Adam Parr both now gone and Sir Frank Williams stepping down from his own board, it is notable that Wolff was the famous British team's nominal leader in China.

For instance, the Austrian businessman - a director and 15 per cent shareholder - represented Williams at the team principals' meetings in Shanghai.

German-language media reports, however, insist that Wolff, whose wife is the team's new test driver Susie Wolff (nee Stoddart), has no ambition to succeed Sir Frank Williams, who turned 70 this week.

"If you ever see me on the pitwall," he is quoted by the Austrian news agency APA, "then you know that I have an ego problem."

40-year-old Wolff, however, said in China that Parr will have to be replaced eventually.

Last week, he championed the credentials of his countryman and former team driver Alex Wurz, who has been taken on for 2012 as a driver mentor.

"He is a fantastic man; a good driver, well connected and sees the big picture.  He (Wurz) still has a long F1 career," said Wolff.

F1 journalists turn war reporters in Bahrain
(GMM)  Two F1 journalists tried their hands at war reporting after touching down in Bahrain ahead of this weekend's controversial grand prix.

"I had a duty as an experienced journalist to see such an incident with my own eyes," said PA Sport's Ian Parkes, who filed a detailed account of a protest about ten kilometers from the capital Manama on Monday.

"We're journalists at end of day.  That's our job," he said, also referring to the Daily Mirror's Byron Young, who accompanied him to the non-F1 related protest.

Parkes detailed an account of violence in Bahrain, with Young revealing on Twitter that he "smelled Molotov cocktails and tasted teargas, wondering what the hell F1 is doing in Bahrain".

Parkes, however, said that when they returned to the capital Manama there was "normal life.  Virtually nobody here would know what has just occurred".

Bahrain's F1 track boss Zayed Alzayani said he thinks other journalists will see more 'normal life' when they arrive throughout this week.

"I think seeing is believing," he told the Bahrain news agency BNA.  "I just talked to (Red Bull's) Christian Horner and he has a team there already, and things are normal.

"They went out for dinner last night and everything is ok."

Staff working for Formula One Management have been in Bahrain for several days and "Bernie (Ecclestone) said everything is fine", added Alzayani.

The Times correspondent Kevin Eason is also already in Bahrain, and he said he counted more than twenty police vehicles on the highway to the Sakhir circuit.

"Protesters will be lucky to get near the formula one circus," he wrote, revealing that the military has been seen this week at Sakhir "complete with body armor and high-velocity weapons".

"No one here is taking a chance with the Bahrain grand prix," said Eason.

"We have not seen anything," agreed team member John Ayers, who along with Nathan Japp is helping to set up Red Bull's garage.

"There is obviously a lot of security around the circuit and you can see the big hotels where the VIP guests will be staying have stepped up their efforts.  They are really on their guard.

"Apart from that, it is all quiet," he explained.  "We have not seen or heard any disturbances, although we know things go on in the villages at night."

Rivals must 'count on Mercedes' now - Rosberg
(GMM)  Mercedes' rivals must now count the German team as a serious contender, Nico Rosberg has said after winning his first grand prix in China last weekend.

Shanghai was also the scene of the 26-year-old's first pole and the first works Mercedes victory for over half a century, but Rosberg warned that the W03 is not likely to dominate from now on.

"It's a really interesting season so far," he told Bild newspaper.

"Until now nobody has really known who is in front, and suddenly we are on top!

"But we can't think that we will drive around everybody at the next race.  We still have (tire) problems in the race, that's for sure, but the others also need to count on us now," said Rosberg.

"We are going to be fast in qualifying at all the races; that's our trump card.  And now we know that if we execute the race properly, then we can do it (win) again."

'Results crisis, not Vettel crisis' - Danner
(GMM)  It is wrong to say Sebastian Vettel has entered a period of "crisis" after winning two world championships on the trot.

That is the insistence of Christian Danner, a former grand prix driver who now commentates on German television RTL.

"It's a results crisis, not a Vettel crisis," he told the news agency DAPD.

He is referring not only to Red Bull's failure to win a race so far in 2012, but the fact former pole position-king Vettel was outqualified in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain by his teammate Mark Webber.

Webber, meanwhile, has out-scored Vettel at the last two races, and is eight points ahead in the drivers' standings.

Referring to 24-year-old Vettel, Danner insisted: "Great racing drivers, just like other great athletes, have always shown that they develop strongly even in defeat."

The finer detail of Vettel's season so far is that he has struggled so much with the race version of the RB8 car's exhaust layout that the team rolled out the pre-season specification for the German driver in China.

Webber, meanwhile, ploughed on with Adrian Newey's latest specification and performed better in Shanghai.

"There are some characteristics about the upgraded car that weren't particularly suited to his (Vettel's) style of driving which is to carry a lot of speed into the corner," team boss Christian Horner is quoted by Reuters news agency.

Tension mounts as Formula One heads to Bahrain
The Formula One circus has started to arrive in Bahrain for this weekend's controversial grand prix amid heightened security and against the backdrop of continuing rioting a few miles outside the kingdom's capital, Manama.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa was at the Bahrain International Circuit, his own creation, to inspect preparations, and the importance of the race to his kingdom's international prestige was underlined when he spoke of its "paramount economic, investment and cultural importance". Claims the race is not political were further underlined by the massive advertising internal campaign - "UniF1ed. One nation in celebration".

Teams have been given added protection as well as a list of no-go areas which Times journalist Kevin Eason said "appears to be much of the island, apart from Manama and the circuit".

"There is obviously a lot of security around the circuit and you can see the big hotels where the VIP guests will be staying have stepped up their efforts," Red Bull's John Ayers, who arrived in Bahrain last week, told Eason. "They are really on their guard. Apart from that, it is all quiet. We have not seen or heard any disturbances, although we know things go on in the villages at night."

Attempts to present a picture of tranquility will be tested today as demonstrators continue their attempts to use the race to publicize their cause. A rally is planned for a village near the international airport as the Formula One roadshow arrives in force. On Wednesday, when the bulk of teams and media are due to land, there are plans to hold blockades on the main road from the airport.

Perhaps the biggest test will come on Thursday when for the first time this year protesters say they will hold a rally in the capital. A splinter group has called for "three days of rage" starting on Friday and aimed directly at the grand prix.

There was a further blow to claims Bahrain was returning to normal with a statement on Monday by Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. "No one should be under any illusions that the country's human rights crisis is over," he said. "The authorities are trying to portray the country as being on the road to reform, but we continue to receive reports of torture and use of unnecessary and excessive force against protests." ESPNF1

Vettel must race 'Webber-spec' exhaust in Bahrain
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel's 2012 struggle looks set to continue for now.

It has emerged that, despite the reigning back-to-back champion preferring the launch version of the RB8, Red Bull has decided that Vettel will drive the latest specification of the car's exhaust layout in Bahrain this weekend.

In China, the team allowed Vettel to go back to the previous spec, while Mark Webber qualified better and finished higher with Adrian Newey's latest developments.

"He can't get the confidence he needs with the car," admitted Dr Helmut Marko on Austrian Servus TV, "and this makes him make uncharacteristic mistakes."

Nonetheless, Red Bull has decided that the 'Webber-specification' exhaust is the right way forward.

"We will go on with the Mark Webber car," Marko confirmed.

As for why the team's Australian driver feels more comfortable in the updated car, Marko surmised: "Mark is less sensitive to the (car's) behavior.

"He just needs four wheels, but it's different for Vettel," he said.

Ecclestone questions New York race for 2013
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt on whether New York will feature on next year's calendar.

The street race in New Jersey, amid the Manhattan skyline, was scheduled to join the 2013 calendar, and it emerged recently that construction of the main pit building is well underway.

But F1's chief executive said on Tuesday: "Maybe the New York race will be 2013.

"It's a when," Ecclestone told the BBC.  "2013 or 2014."

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