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DATE News (chronologically)
09/04/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

09/04/12
  • Grosjean
    F1 pundits say Grosjean ban hard but fair
  • Open cockpit action 'inevitable' after Spa crash
  • Big lead over Hamilton is 'good news' - Alonso
  • Button 'disappointed' Hamilton revealed McLaren secrets
  • Four drivers lining up for Grosjean's Monza seat
  • Lotus will not race double-DRS 'device' at Monza
  • McLaren eyes FIA's new electric series New
  • BMW rules out F1 in 'medium term' New
  • Kubica stopped Lotus talks 'months ago' - Boullier New
  • Lotus picks d'Ambrosio for Monza New

F1 pundits say Grosjean ban hard but fair
(GMM)  The F1 fraternity has backed the governing FIA after Romain Grosjean was banned from contesting this weekend's Italian grand prix.

On the face of it, the race suspension for a first-corner crash may seem harsh, especially as the last driver to be banned was Michael Schumacher in 1994.

But Frenchman Grosjean has been involved in seven similar incidents in the 12 races of his return to F1 so far.

And Sunday's crash at Spa could have left Fernando Alonso - whose hands and head were only narrowly missed by Grosjean's flying Lotus - seriously injured.

"It's better to punish him before someone gets hurt," Australian Mark Webber is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari agrees.

"The ban looks fair," he said in his BBC column.  "Obviously it is a hard decision but we are dealing with safety."

Alguersuari acknowledged the rumor the FIA came down hard on Grosjean to make "an example" of him.

"I don't know about that, but all I would say is that we have to be serious when we talk about these things and we should be proud of the FIA for doing such a good job on improving safety," said the official Pirelli test driver.

But another former driver turned commentator, veteran David Coulthard, admitted he "felt a little sorry for Romain" when he heard about the ban.

"I think the stewards must have taken into account all the other opening-lap incidents he has been involved in this year and decided enough was enough," he wrote in the Telegraph.

"If that's the case then fair enough.  Romain is a good driver, a popular driver, and hopefully he will come back a better one."

Open cockpit action 'inevitable' after Spa crash
(GMM)  Sunday's terrifying first-corner crash at Spa Francorchamps has reopened the debate about whether the sport's days of open cockpits are numbered.

Paddy Lowe, McLaren's technical director, thinks Fernando Alonso's lucky escape after Romain Grosjean's flying Lotus only narrowly missed the Spaniard's hands and head on Sunday means that action is now "inevitable".

He is quoted by the Herald Sun as acknowledging that the drivers' exposed head is the last "big" safety issue for formula one.

Lowe is part of the working group that is looking into whether closed cockpits, shields, forward roll-hoops or canopies are the right solution to the problem.

"I think 2014 is intended (for introduction), as we started the project a year ago," he said.

However, it has been suggested the FIA might have to admit that the benefits of better head protection might be outweighed by its disadvantages, such as reduced driver visibility.

"Ideally a driver wants nothing in the way," said Lowe, "but in the same way as you drive a road car or even the old VW camper van with the centre pillar, you just get used to it, don't you?

"We found that as long as the pillars don't get too big it is something you can get used to."

Big lead over Hamilton is 'good news' - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has singled out Lewis Hamilton as a greater threat to his title chances than Sebastian Vettel.

Being smashed out of Sunday's Belgian grand prix by Romain Grosjean's flying Lotus means Spaniard Alonso lost the chance to break the all-time record for the number of consecutive points finishes.

"I'm sorry to have lost that possibility, but after all Michael (Schumacher) is the record man," the 30-year-old is quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Patience -- we will try in the next 24 races," Alonso joked.

The Ferrari driver also insisted it is "not a problem" to have seen his 40-point lead in the championship dwindle to just 24, even though it is "disappointing".

"We knew that it (the lead) would not always stay the same," Alonso said.

Alonso's closest challenger is now Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, but the Spaniard said the 24-point gap to his German rival is "not a problem".

"We have seen in the last two grands prix that McLaren is strong.  Hamilton is probably the most dangerous opponent, so that he is 47 points behind is good news."

Button 'disappointed' Hamilton revealed McLaren secrets
(GMM)  Jenson Button has revealed he is "disappointed" Lewis Hamilton gave away McLaren secrets last weekend at Spa.

In trying to show his million Twitter followers why he was so much slower than the sister McLaren in qualifying, Hamilton published a highly-confidential telemetry image that also contained sensitive information about ride heights and acceleration rates.

The 2008 world champion was reportedly scolded behind closed doors for the breach, although team boss Martin Whitmarsh and communications chief Matt Bishop have been trying to play down the affair.

"Very surprised and, yes, disappointed," Button answered when asked how he feels about the Hamilton incident.

"We work so hard to improve the car and to keep things like that secret and private.  I didn't want to see it on Twitter.  It was the whole telemetry from qualifying."

Button also said he thought Hamilton was making an irrelevant point about the 6 tenth top-speed difference between the new and old wing specifications.

"He (Hamilton) should be gaining it back in the corners because he's got more downforce on.  And I was eight tenths quicker in qualifying anyway," Button insisted.

Gary Anderson, a former F1 technical chief who now works for the British broadcaster BBC, said the fact Hamilton opened a "cupboard" of McLaren secrets to the world "shows how naive" the Briton is, and "how little he understands the big picture".

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe played down the damage.

"The data in there isn't any great use to anyone, so I don't think there is much damage done," he said.

But the BBC cited an unnamed engineer who said rival teams could 'work out how McLaren were running their car' from the telemetry sheet.

Former long-time McLaren driver David Coulthard wrote in the Telegraph: "Teams go to great lengths to protect that sort of information.

"I remember when I started out there used to be bin hokers who would go through the rubbish bins of rival teams on a Monday after a race, searching for just such telemetry.

"Nowadays everyone has shredders in their motor homes and high-tech security on their computers.

"It's another lesson learned for Lewis, I'm afraid."

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari added: "I would never do something like this because it is a kick in the teeth to confidentiality, to yourself and to your team, who are all working so you can do your best and the company can improve."

Four drivers lining up for Grosjean's Monza seat
(GMM)  At least four drivers could be in the running to race the banned Romain Grosjean's black and gold Lotus at Monza this weekend.

F1 veteran turned IndyCar driver Rubens Barrichello is desperate to break back into his favorite category, and has admitted his interest in Grosjean's seat to his 1.7 million Twitter followers.

"People are asking (whether) if Lotus called me to race in Monza, would I go?  The answer is YES," said the 40-year-old.

Team boss Eric Boullier has confirmed that official reserve Jerome d'Ambrosio is "80 per cent" assured the seat.

But Jaime Alguersuari, the official Pirelli test driver, told Spain's AS sports newspaper that he is also "ready to race in Monza".

"I'm ready to race, of course I am.  It (Lotus) is a big team with possibilities -- I would climb into the car tomorrow, no problem."

Asked if he has a real chance of being called up by Lotus, Alguersuari answered: "I don't know, I have no idea how things are, but I am here and ready to do anything."

And reports in the German-language media said former Force India driver Adrian Sutil might be another outside chance for the drive.

Meanwhile, Ferrari is definitely not on the lookout for a stand-in driver for Sunday's Italian grand prix, despite championship leader Fernando Alonso admitting the Grosjean crash had left him with a sore shoulder.

"Today I woke up with no pain," he told his million Twitter followers, "and 200 per cent ready for Monza!"

Lotus will not race double-DRS 'device' at Monza
(GMM)  Lotus' double DRS-inspired "device" will remain on the back-burner for yet another grand prix.

The Enstone based team wanted to qualify and race the device at Spa last weekend, but Lotus changed course due to Friday's practice washout.

And according to French sources sport24.com and autohebdo.fr, team boss Eric Boullier has also ruled out fitting the straight-line speed-boosting concept to the E20 cars for Sunday's Italian grand prix.

Sport24.com said the decision was made because of the "characteristics" of the Monza track, which is the highest speed circuit on the calendar requiring an unique low-downforce setup.

Auto Hebdo said Lotus is now expected to try to race the 'device' for the first time in Singapore later this month.

Without the device, Kimi Raikkonen finished third at Spa-Francorchamps.

"We couldn't use it because Friday was such bad weather," said the Finn, "but it's better to be third than not to finish."

McLaren eyes FIA's new electric series
(GMM)  McLaren could get involved in the FIA's new electric-only open wheeler series Formula E.

The series, featuring cars powered only by lithium batteries, will debut in 2014 and race in the centre of cities.

"Who knows, we might pop up in it," Martin Whitmarsh, boss of the famous British formula one team McLaren, told Reuters.

"I think it's a good initiative and we'd be delighted in whatever form to be involved with it."

Asked if that means there will be an electric McLaren team on the Formula E grid, Whitmarsh confirmed: "At some point, yes.  But that's not at the moment."

BMW rules out F1 in 'medium term'
(GMM)  BMW has ruled out returning to formula one in the "medium term".

"There are currently no plans," said the German carmaker's motor sport director Jens Marquardt, whose predecessor was the well-known F1 figure Mario Theissen.

BMW, having collaborated first with Williams and then Sauber between 2000 and 2009, pulled out of formula one three years ago.

"In July of 2009, a very clear decision was made," Marquardt told the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.

"This (decision) stands.  We are very well positioned in terms of our motor sport program and this is not going to change at all in the medium term."

BMW returned to the premier German touring car series DTM this year.

Kubica stopped Lotus talks 'months ago' - Boullier
(GMM)  Lotus boss Eric Boullier has revealed there is little chance Robert Kubica will return to F1 with the Enstone based team.

The Pole was a Renault (now called Lotus) driver ahead of the 2011 season, when he was seriously hurt during a minor rally in Italy.

For months afterwards, Frenchman Boullier said the team was supporting Kubica's quest to return to F1, but there were rumors of a subsequent falling-out.

Boullier told the Daily Mail's World of F1 blog: "He (Kubica) stopped contact with us months ago."

It emerged last week that Kubica is still pushing to recover his driving fitness, having reportedly tested a works Ford world rally car.

Boullier insisted: "I cannot make any assumptions about anything because I am not in contact with him anymore."

Lotus picks d'Ambrosio for Monza
(GMM)  Belgian Jerome d'Ambrosio will contest this weekend's Italian grand prix in the place of Romain Grosjean.

There was speculation Lotus might overlook its official reserve driver for the Monza seat, after team regular Grosjean was given a one-race ban by the FIA for causing the spectacular first-lap crash at Spa last Sunday.

Rubens Barrichello, Jaime Alguersuari and Adrian Sutil were speculatively linked with the one-off cockpit, but it now emerges that 2011 Virgin driver d'Ambrosio, 26, will race the competitive black and gold E20.

"We know that Jerome is well integrated into the team and that he did a good job when he drove the E20 at the Mugello test," said team boss Eric Boullier.

"Now he has the challenge of a grand prix at the challenging circuit of Monza, in a car which is capable of finishing on the podium."

D'Ambrosio said: "I will hand the wheel back to Romain after Sunday's race and I hope that this one showing in Italy will allow me to show my capabilities fully."

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