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DATE News (chronologically)
07/04/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Anthony Hamilton (R) was dropped by his son Lewis (L) and now Paul di Resta
    Di Resta splits with manager Hamilton - report
  • Horner denies Vettel has Ferrari contract
  • Haug slams young driver test uncertainty
  • Raikkonen used to 'really good steering' in F1
  • Vergne sure 'things will get better'
  • Hembery hits back at Pirelli quality doubts
  • 2013 Schumacher decision due within weeks - Brawn
  • Massa almost back to his best now - Smedley
  • Gracia calls for 'prudence and respect' for de Villota
  • Formula 1's penalty system set for an overhaul
  • F1 stars show De Villota support
  • McLaren: Aero and suspension upgrades worth ‘more than a tenth’

Di Resta splits with manager Hamilton - report
(GMM)  Paul di Resta has split with his manager, London's Telegraph newspaper reports.

Anthony Hamilton, the father of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, also no longer manages his McLaren-driving son.

Journalist Tom Cary said Force India driver di Resta's split with Hamilton Snr "happened some weeks ago" and "was not planned".

Cary added that the "situation between the pair remains delicate".

26-year-old di Resta, who has been linked with a move to Mercedes next year, was available for comment, as was 56-year-old Hamilton.

"The reasons for the split remain unclear," said Cary.

Horner denies Vettel has Ferrari contract
(GMM)  Christian Horner, the boss of formula one team Red Bull, has scotched reports star driver Sebastian Vettel is set to switch to Ferrari.

Numerous reports and sources have claimed double world champion and German Vettel, who turned 25 this week, has signed a 'pre-contract' that could lead to him moving to Ferrari in 2014.

"I can't see that," Horner is quoted by British newspapers, "because all contracts have to be declared with the Contract Recognition Board for a kick-off.

"I've also spoken to Sebastian about it, and he has made it quite clear he hasn't had any dialogue and hasn't signed anything with Ferrari, but I guess the rumor mill will always continue."

Horner dismissed the rumors as simply a part of formula one life.

"I think most of our team has been going to Ferrari at some point this year, whether it be Adrian (Newey), Mark (Webber), Sebastian, even myself at one stage was supposed to be going," the Briton smiled.

And after Vettel recently said he is happy at Red Bull alongside Australian Webber, Horner indicated the driver pairing is indeed likely to stay the same for now.

"They drive the car in a similar manner and it's important for us to have two drivers who do push each other to get the best out of each other," he said.

"So I'm sure over the next few weeks we'll sit down and talk about the future with Mark."

Haug slams young driver test uncertainty
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has slammed as "ridiculous" the situation surrounding this year's young driver tests.

The traditional late-season session scheduled for Abu Dhabi in November was called into doubt earlier this year due to the particularly arduous back-end of the 2012 calendar.

A test at Silverstone in July was scheduled instead, but Bernie Ecclestone reportedly threw a spanner in the works by reminding teams he has control of the venue in the dates surrounding the British grand prix.

Haug, German carmaker Mercedes' motor racing chief, said the continuing uncertainty is "ridiculous".

"Frankly, it's pretty ridiculous to waste time on such things," he is quoted by Germany's motorsport-magazin.com.

Raikkonen used to 'really good steering' in F1
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has played down a reported spat with Lotus, insisting he is only pushing the team to improve its steering system.

It has been claimed the former McLaren and Ferrari driver has repeatedly rejected Enstone based Lotus' efforts to tailor the E20 car to Raikkonen's precise needs.

"It's just because in other years I drove cars with really good steering," German reports quoted the 32-year-old as telling the Italian magazine Autosprint.

"There are a few things on which we can continue to work and improve.  That's the only reason (for the reports)," said the 2007 world champion, who according to reports has been in the middle of a team dispute.

Raikkonen insisted that, in fact, the atmosphere at Lotus is "cool and relaxed", and run by people who "want to race and not have too much politics".

He clarified he is not therefore criticizing Ferrari, who reportedly ended the contract with Raikkonen a year early in late 2009 because of the politics surrounding the arrival of Fernando Alonso and Spanish sponsor Santander.

"I felt good with them," he insisted.

"I won a world title and I have no feelings at all towards them, neither good nor bad.  I'm happy with what I have.

"Things probably could have gone better, but what does it matter now?

"I know the reasons why I didn't stay, but I don't want to talk about it now.  As I said, I don't have problems with anyone."

He denied he opted to leave F1 rather than accept an alternative offer from McLaren because of a money dispute.

"That's not true," Raikkonen said.  "The real reason is that I didn't see any need to sign for a number of months.

"I wasn't desperate or willing to do anything to stay in F1," he added.

Vergne sure 'things will get better'
(GMM)  Jean-Eric Vergne is sure "things will get better" for him in formula one.

The 22-year-old has struggled in 2012 since entering the sport as a rookie.

And given the way Toro Rosso's owner Red Bull swept out its previous drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, Frenchman Vergne is now the subject of speculation he may be the next youngster without a job.

"One of the things you have to learn in formula one is the very heavy workload; there are many things to learn and understand," he told Spain's El Confidencial.

"The tires, for example, are difficult to understand.  The results have not yet come but I am progressing step by step with each grand prix -- things will get better," said Vergne.

He said it has surprised him how different formula one is compared with motor racing's formative categories.

"Each category is a step higher, but this (F1) is unlike anything," said Vergne.

"I have never felt like a rookie anywhere else, but in F1 you are fighting against guys who have been there for 10 or even 15 years, of course making it more complicated.

"You can not achieve the same technical knowledge in other categories."

The big risk, however, is that Toro Rosso's apparently backwards step in 2012 could ultimately be blamed on its drivers.

"This year there have been changes in the area of the exhausts," Vergne explained.  "Some teams have already developed their systems but we are the last.

"Right now it's not working well for us but we're working on it, and when we solve it we will be there again," he insisted.

Vergne said Red Bull has not imposed certain goals or deadlines for his first season on the grid.

"There are no goals except trying to learn as much as possible and to do some good things in the car.

"And, yes, maybe Daniel (Ricciardo) has some more experience and I have to work harder to catch him, but it should not be a problem," he said.

Hembery hits back at Pirelli quality doubts
(GMM)  Paul Hembery has hit back at claims F1's championship 'lottery' in 2012 could be because Pirelli is supplying tires with inconsistent quality.

The rumor has been rumbling around the paddock, and Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko last week admitted he suspects there are in fact "serious differences" between what should be identical sets of tire compounds.

First, Pirelli's F1 chief Hembery ruled out the theory the Italian marque might be deliberately mixing up tire quality in order to shake up the results.

"We don't decide how they're distributed (to the teams), it's an process that is done randomly," he insisted to Spain's El Confidencial.

But what about the more realistic suggestion that an odd tire here and there is not the same quality as the others?

"The possibility is very low due to our quality controls," said the Briton.  "Each tire can be traced to the day it was manufactured, the process, the ingredients.

"In terms of consistency, we have the most advanced quality control systems in the world," added Hembery.

Not only that, he said no one in pitlane has actually complained formally.

"I have not received any comments from any team, or anything indicating a problem with the consistency of the tires.

"In fact, we've had compliments.  That is all I can say, unless someone shows us something we can look into," said Hembery.

When it was put to Hembery that some drivers - including some world champions - have indeed complained to the media, he hit back: "We get reports from each driver and each team after each race.

"No one has made any comments.  We cannot solve problems that no one has raised," he insisted.

"Human error can occur, of course, but we have very elaborative systems of control, not only x-ray but others that I can't even talk about because they're top secret.

"All I can say is that the quality is exemplary.  In fact, we have had no tire failures at all, which we are told is something new in formula one," Hembery said.

2013 Schumacher decision due within weeks - Brawn
(GMM)  Whether or not Michael Schumacher stays at Mercedes beyond this year should be decided within the next six weeks, team boss Ross Brawn has revealed.

The 43-year-old's contract runs out this year, in which he has so far performed more strongly than in 2010 and 2011 but suffered a spate of technical failures and incidents.

It has been suggested Mercedes protege Paul di Resta, currently at Mercedes-powered Force India, is the most likely candidate to replace the seven time world champion.

"We will make a decision this summer," said team boss Brawn at the FOTA fan's forum at Williams' team headquarters on Tuesday.

"We know it is coming and we have to make a decision soon.  I think in the next six weeks or so we will have to think about what we want to do next year."

With Schumacher's contract running out, the major complication for Mercedes is that its apparent top pick as replacement, Scot di Resta, already has an agreement in place for 2013.

But Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley said the Silverstone based team would not stand in his way.

He said on Tuesday: "We would not get in the way of the career of a driver but there would have to be commercial agreement in place."

Massa almost back to his best now - Smedley
(GMM)  Felipe Massa is now almost back to his best form, the Brazilian's race engineer Rob Smedley insists.

31-year-old Massa's form was so low earlier this season that some seasoned pundits were predicting Ferrari would have to oust him long before his contract expires at the end of the year.

But, for the first time in 2012, Massa was back in the decisive 'Q3' qualifying segment in Monaco and Canada, and then last time out in Valencia Ferrari hailed his strong performance despite a tumultuous race.

"Right now, going into Silverstone, there is very little that Felipe is lacking for him to be back where he was (in the past) in terms of driving and confidence in the car," Briton Smedley, who is famously close to the diminutive Brazilian, said.

"In terms of his pace in these recent races and the way he was driving and his confidence, he is a different driver to the way he was at the start of the season," Smedley added.

"So, we are missing very little, maybe a tiny one per cent to make it all start happening for us."

More generally, Ferrari's rate of progress this season has been little short of sensational after a nightmare start for the F2012, with Fernando Alonso now clearly leading the drivers' points standings.

"I think our chances are good at Silverstone this weekend, even if it's no secret we still need to develop and have a quicker car," said Smedley.

Gracia calls for 'prudence and respect' for de Villota
(GMM)  Spain's motor racing federation has vowed to help get to the bottom of the incident involving seriously injured female test driver Maria de Villota.

But Carlos Gracia, president of the RFEdA, expressed caution in light of rampant speculation following the 32-year-old Spaniard's impact with a team truck whilst 'straight-line testing' Marussia's 2012 car in the UK on Tuesday.

De Villota is currently in hospital with reportedly "severe facial and head injuries".

Amid some reports she was fighting for her life and unconscious for a long time after the morning incident, Marussia confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that di Villota was conscious in hospital.

"Right now, the only important thing is the health status of Maria, and in this sense we call for the greatest prudence and respect," Gracia told the Spanish sports newspaper AS.

"We have heard lots of things in the last hours but there should not be speculation about something so serious."

Reports in Spain said de Villota underwent emergency surgery for a skull injury, thereafter regaining consciousness and the ability to move her limbs.

"I have direct information from the family and now we can only say that it will take longer before we have an accurate forecast," Gracia added.

He did reveal, however, that his officials have already commenced efforts to understand the circumstances of Tuesday's accident.

"We have asked the FIA to open up all the information to know what has happened in this test," he said.

"We also want the Marussia team to offer its version of events," added Gracia.

"I insist that now the main thing is Maria's recovery, but we also need to know what has happened, especially for the necessary measures so that something like this is not repeated."

Writing in the Telegraph, Tom Cary repeated speculation that the incident was caused by inexperienced di Villota being caught out by the Marussia's anti-stall system.

But another British journalist, the Times' Kevin Eason, said the crash had "baffled Marussia team executives".

He also said de Villota "was well enough last night" to phone her father Emilio, a former F1 driver.

Formula 1's penalty system set for an overhaul
Formula 1's driver penalty system is set for an overhaul, after it emerged the FIA is discussing changes to the way punishments are handed out.

Derek Warwick, who has acted as an FIA drivers' steward, said the validity of the current regulations had been discussed during a recent meeting of the stewards' council in Paris, and that "a few changes might be coming" as a result.

"We had a council meeting in Paris which I headed with Charlie [Whiting] and came away with some good ideas," Warwick told AUTOSPORT at the FOTA Fans' Forum at the Williams factory on Tuesday night.

"Whether anything can come of them and they can be introduced, I don't know - this is all a new process, we didn't use to have these meetings. Charlie will go away, analyze it and make recommendations. There might be a few changes coming along in the next few months or year.

"There is a code out there but I don't always agree with it - a drive through is too harsh a penalty for some incidents and not harsh enough for others. There is still room for tweaking.

"There were a few ideas to come out of the meeting with all the permanent stewards which were quite interesting. Charlie will produce an agenda and give it to Jean [Todt], but whether they can be introduced next year I don't know yet. This is all new, we didn't used to have these meetings."

Although Warwick could not disclose the exact details of the rules in discussion, he used the example of a drive through equating to different time losses at different circuits as part of the reason the rules were being reviewed.

"There are penalties inherited over time. Is a drive through at Canada, where you lose about 15s, the same as one at somewhere like Abu Dhabi for example?," he said.

"They all average out eventually, but I think we are always looking at changes." More at Autosport.com

F1 stars show De Villota support
Charles Pic, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, to name just a few, have shown their support to Maria de Villota following her accident.

The Spaniard sustained head and face injuries following a shunt during a straight line test at Duxford Airfield on Tuesday. Her injuries were initially described as "life-threatening" but Marussia later confirmed that she was "conscious and medical assessments are ongoing".

She was reportedly unconscious for 15 to 20 minutes, but regained consciousness and was talking prior to being transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Several of the 32-year-old's Formula One colleagues have sent their best wishes with her Marussia team-mate Pic admitting he was "very affected".

"I am very affected by what happened to Maria...and I sincerely hope she will heal quickly. All my thoughts are for her and her family," the Frenchman said via his Twitter account.

McLaren's Jenson Button also took to the social networking site and said: "Terrible accident for Maria De Villota. My thoughts are with Maria and her family at this very difficult time."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso added: "I just got home and found out Maria's accident, we called the family and hopefully we will know more soon! All my energy with you!"

Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo tweeted: "Let's put Maria De Villota in our hearts today."

Very few details have emerged about the accident, but there have been claims that the anti-stall mechanism on the car kicked in as she approached a makeshift pit area, suddenly propelling her into the truck.

McLaren: Aero and suspension upgrades worth ‘more than a tenth’
Sam Michael says McLaren will roll out upgrades expected to be worth more than a tenth of a second per lap at the British Grand Prix this weekend – although doesn’t believe the team has as big a performance gap to make up on Red Bull as the two rivals’ respective Valencia pace suggested.

Although Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso ultimately triumphed against the odds last time out in Spain it was Red Bull’s apparent big step forward that proved the most ominous story of the weekend, with Sebastian Vettel qualifying on pole by three tenths of a second and then in the race pulling a second-a-lap clear prior to the safety car and his retirement with a Renault alternator failure.

Michael, McLaren’s sporting director, believes the Woking team’s own relative traditional underperformance around the streets of Valencia was more of a factor in Red Bull’s superiority, rather than the world champion’s floor upgrades, and is confident Silverstone’s high-speed sweeps will help swing the balance back in its favor.

“I think that it probably has some circuit-specific nature to it. It hasn’t been a track that we’ve been traditionally very good at, Valencia, and if you look forward to Silverstone this weekend it definitely fits more in line with where McLaren’s car strengths are,” he said in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in on Wednesday. “However still they did take a step forward but I don’t think it’s as big as the pace as Sebastian showed in that first stint and we’ll be looking to correct that in Silverstone.

“If you look back to Barcelona, we were I think almost six tenths in front of them before we took the penalty [with Lewis Hamilton] so looking at the type of track that Silverstone is we’re hoping for a repeat of that.”

He doubted whether Red Bull had really found a second in pace in car performance alone on the back of one upgrade package, but that Silverstone nonetheless would provide definitive proof of whether that is really the case or not.

“To find a second a lap in Formula 1 through changing some barely secondary parts on the top surface of the floor, which we know that they’ve changed, to give a second a lap in Formula 1 would be pretty impressive,” Michael said. “But when we arrive at Silverstone we’ll find out if that is the case, but I’d be pretty surprised if they maintain a second a lap gap on the rest of the field. It was very impressive pace but ultimately we’ve seen that throughout this year, if you get the tires working properly and you fall into that window then you can generate some enormous amounts of grip. We’ve seen that probably four or five times this year and Sebastian was definitely bang on the tires in that first stint. So I think it was reflective of that rather than the car upgrade.”

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