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Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Button to be #1
    F1 experts say Button new McLaren 'number 1'
  • Lack of 'respect' harmed Kovalainen - Gascoyne
  • Bianchi still 'waiting' on Force India decision
  • Ecclestone awaits 'amusing' $100m trial appearance
  • Wolff unlikely to remain driver manager
  • Sauber F1 Team renews partnership with CERTINA
  • Pirelli: 2013 tires an improvement New

F1 experts say Button new McLaren 'number 1'
(GMM)  Jenson Button has de-facto 'number 1' status at McLaren this year.

That is the view of F1 experts and former drivers Martin Brundle and Sir Jackie Stewart, despite team boss Martin Whitmarsh's claim that Sergio Perez will enjoy full equality at the British team as he replaces Lewis Hamilton from 2013.

"That is the mentality in our team," the McLaren chief told British broadcaster Sky.  "They will have equal treatment.  I think that competition in the team is good."

But F1 legend and triple world champion Stewart said: "It's not a question of equal footing this year.

"You've someone in Jenson who knows the business and who has been there, seen it and done it," he is quoted by the Daily Express.  "He has to see himself as number 1."

Former McLaren driver turned top television commentator Brundle agrees: "With Lewis' departure, Jenson takes the lead of the team.

"He can now concentrate on that role and I think he will grow into it," he is quoted by Speed Week.

Lack of 'respect' harmed Kovalainen - Gascoyne
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen harmed his chances of staying in formula one beyond 2012 by demonstrating a lack of "respect" to Caterham.

That is the claim of Mike Gascoyne, the team's former technical boss who now oversees the technical operations of the entire Caterham Group.

After three years at the back of the grid with Caterham, Finn Kovalainen - now managed by IMG - attempted to secure a better seat for 2013 but ultimately now faces dropping out of formula one altogether.

Gascoyne confirmed speculation Caterham is considering replacing the 31-year-old with a so-called 'pay driver'.

"We realize what the game is," he told the motor sport news website crash.net.  "People (teams) boom and bust easily.

"We have come in and done a very steady job compared to other new teams and have been professional, but we've taken a step back and said 'Ok, we are not going to get there straight away, we need to manage our budgets, manage investment and build up our resources so we are here for the long term'," Gascoyne said.

It is believed the favorites to become Frenchman Charles Pic's teammate this year are Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna.

"It is actually a great shame," Gascoyne said.  "Heikki is a very talented driver but, last year, his management did not handle him very well and he has not done himself any favors.

"He has had three years with Caterham, was paid well, and he should have shown more respect about that."

Bianchi still 'waiting' on Force India decision
(GMM)  Jules Bianchi is still in the running to become Paul di Resta's teammate at Force India in 2013.

At the weekend, Scottish driver di Resta admitted he is "surprised" the Silverstone based team is taking so long to make its decision.

Reportedly, 2012 reserve driver and Frenchman Bianchi is a leading candidate.

And according to French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet, the 23-year-old's chances have just stepped up a notch.

In his Auto Plus column, Moncet wrote that Force India will switch from Mercedes to Ferrari power in 2014, with Sauber having now signed a Mercedes engine deal.

Part of Force India's Ferrari deal could be that the Nicolas Todt-managed and Ferrari-contracted Bianchi is placed in the race seat, with immediate effect.

"I am waiting," Bianchi, who at the weekend won Felipe Massa's karting event, told the French-language RMC Sport in Florianopolis.

"It has been quite a hard winter this time because I haven't known what I am doing (next).  We have a chance, and it's a good one.

"We'll wait and see what Force India will decide."

Also waiting on the final pieces of the 2013 grid to take shape is Bruno Senna, who has been linked with the other remaining race seat, at Caterham.

"For 2013, it is still unclear," the Brazilian, also in Florianopolis, is quoted by Totalrace.

"We are in the game but it is not easy to know where I'll end up even if I imagine that it will not take long for the pieces to fit together.

"I hope everything goes well," added the former Williams driver.

"We are looking at all the options, both inside and outside of formula one."

Asked if Force India is one of those options, Senna answered: "I am talking to the teams that still have seats free."

Ecclestone awaits 'amusing' $100m trial appearance
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone thinks a forthcoming $100m trial will be "amusing".

The F1 chief executive and others, including convicted bribe recipient Gerhard Gribkowsky, are being sued by the sport's former co-owners Constantin Medien over the sale of F1's rights to CVC some years ago.

Constantin claims the manipulation of the sale cost it more than $100 million.

Ecclestone, who may also be prosecuted by German authorities for allegedly bribing Gribkowsky, told the Telegraph he is prepared to appear at the Constantin Medien case to testify.

"I wish they would bring it forward," he told leading F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.  "It's going to be amusing.  Sure I am looking forward to it."

Sylt said Ecclestone has been approached with an offer to settle.

"All this is about finding a way to get money," Ecclestone, 82, confirmed.  "It is as simple as that.

"(Constantin shareholder) Dieter Hahn had some intermediary, who is a friend of ours, to talk to me about 'you know you should settle, you don't want to go to court'.  I'm not settling," he insisted.

"The judge will settle the case.  I can't see that it could go any other way than in my favor."

Wolff unlikely to remain driver manager
(GMM)  Toto Wolff, a shareholder and director of the Williams team, doubts he will continue his role of driver manager.

That is despite the Austrian's latest charge, Valtteri Bottas, having successfully risen through the ranks to make his formula one debut in 2013.

But Wolff told Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell that 22-year-old Finn Bottas is more an exception than the rule.

Rather, "If you now need 100,000 for a national karting season, and 250,000 euros for international, then eventually the level (of the drivers) will drop."

But Wolff said he hopes drivers with little money but big talent will still be able to rise through the ranks in future.

A current example, he said, is Bottas.

"He never had much money, but he always had support, just because he was good," Wolff insisted.

But actually, he said managing motor racing drivers is a "thankless job".

"If the target fails," said Wolff, "everything's the fault of the manager.  If everything goes smoothly, you never know what happens -- some drivers are champions of short memory."

He said he has no plans to repeat the Bottas project with another young talent.

"If you have to put two million on the table for GP2, then driver management makes little sense," said Wolff.

Sauber F1 Team renews partnership with CERTINA
The Swiss sports watch brand CERTINA is to continue as a Premium Partner of the Sauber F1 Team, taking forward a longstanding and intensive partnership. The CERTINA lettering will appear on the sidepod wind deflectors as well as on the helmet visors of both drivers. CERTINA will also be providing its precision sports timepieces to drivers Nico Hülkenberg (DE) and Esteban Gutiérrez (MX) as well as the entire race team.

“CERTINA has always been strongly committed to cutting-edge technology,” says Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO of the Sauber F1 Team, “and that’s an ideology we share. Since 2005, we have also been united by an enduring partnership that embraces common values such as innovation and efficiency. These are key factors behind the upturn in the Sauber F1 Team to which CERTINA has made a definitive contribution.”

Adrian Bosshard, President von CERTINA, corroborates this: “After an eight-year partnership with the Sauber F1 Team, we are delighted to be continuing to make use of this dynamic and innovative Formula One platform. The Team’s professional work ethic and typical Swiss mindset are the perfect match for our brand.”

Pirelli: 2013 tires an improvement
Pirelli's motorsport boss Paul Hembery believes this year's Formula 1 tires will not give teams the same headaches that the 2012 rubber caused at the start of last season.

The Italian manufacturer has changed the compounds and the structure of this year's tires in the hope of continuing to spice up the show.

This comes off the back of an unpredictable start to the 2012 season, in which there were seven different winners in the first seven races.

Teams got their first taste of the 2013 tires in practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix last year.

Although Pirelli has admitted it is planning to retain an aggressive concept, Hembery reckons that with rules remaining similar, teams will face less problems in adapting to the new rubber.

"Because the cars are staying relatively stable, the teams are coming from a pretty solid platform in understanding what they are working with," Hembery told AUTOSPORT.

"We are changing the structure of the tires, changing all the four compounds and being more aggressive, and that will possibly create some challenges initially.

"But we don't foresee the issues that they had in 2012, when the car changes were so dramatic."

Hembery admitted that people were right to criticize Pirelli for being too conservative in some races in the latter part of 2012, and he is confident that the problem will not arise again in 2013.

"The rules haven't changed, so we are not going to follow exactly the same format," he said. "We are trying to be more aggressive this season.

"There were some races where we were criticized - probably correctly, actually - that we were a little bit too conservative.

"And often when we are conservative it doesn't help the Q2 teams. It creates probably more issues for them because they are missing a little bit of downforce."

Hembery also confirmed the tires trialed in Brazil have not been modified for the start of the season.

"No, no changes. We used last year's compound in Brazil, but the structure had feedback that was more or less in line with what we had in testing, which is positive." Yahoo! Eurosport UK

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