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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Jules Bianchi
    Ferrari wants Bianchi to 'prove his worth'
  • Di Grassi waiting for Pirelli decision
  • Nielsen moves from Caterham to Toro Rosso
  • Rosberg faster than Vettel - Perez
  • 2014 rules require more testing - Domenicali
  • Ferrari says Red Bull deserves F1 success
  • New Ferrari to look similar to 2012 car - boss
  • Alonso didn't choose de la Rosa - Domenicali
  • Alonso and Massa no 'dream team' - Domenicali
  • Mercedes and Toro Rosso to unveil 2013 car at Jerez on February 4th
  • Rosberg, not Hamilton, to debut new Merc New
  • Alonso tips Hamilton to win for Mercedes  New
  • Alonso toughest Ferrari teammate of all - Massa New
  • De la Rosa to be Ferrari reserve in 2013 New
  • Rosberg, not Hamilton, to debut new Merc New

Ferrari wants Bianchi to 'prove his worth'
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali has refused to expand on his confirmation that Ferrari is trying to give Jules Bianchi's F1 career a boost.

Announcing that Frenchman Bianchi will continue to enjoy Ferrari's support in 2013, Domenicali was widely quoted as admitting the Italian team is "trying to find him a role in formula one".

It is believed Ferrari's efforts could be linked to rumors Force India is in talks about switching from Mercedes to Ferrari customer engine power.

"Last season," Domenicali is now quoted by Finland's MTV3 broadcaster, "Jules was Force India's third driver.

"Now we are trying to find a solution for him in which he is able to grow and prove his worth.

"I cannot offer any more information," he added at Ferrari's annual winter media event at Madonna di Campiglio.

French F1 commentator Jean-Louis Moncet wrote on his Auto Plus column that the price for renting sixteen turbo V6 engines from an engine manufacturer in 2014 is "around 20 million euros" per team.

"Obviously," he quoted a source, "there will be negotiations between each team and manufacturer about whether or not there will be (for example) a sponsorship agreement between them."

Di Grassi waiting for Pirelli decision
(GMM) Lucas di Grassi has admitted his future depends in part on Pirelli.

Since losing his race seat after a single season at Virgin (now Marussia) in 2010, the Brazilian has been a key test driver for F1's official tire supplier.

Whether or not he will continue in that role longer term, the 28-year-old is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace: "At the moment they are deciding whether they will continue (in F1) for three more years or not.

"After that (decision) they will establish a position.

"But other than that," added di Grassi, "I'm still talking to three teams about being a test driver and helping them with the development side," he added.

He said Pirelli's 2013 tires will be notably different compared to last year.

"This year the tires are a bit softer overall, so they will be a little easier to work with as they get fewer blisters," said di Grassi.

"The shape is also a little squarer to increase the contact area, but this will not influence the tires much.

"But we will probably go back to having more pit stops. The teams were starting to understand the tires a little better, so they were having fewer stops," he explained.

Nielsen moves from Caterham to Toro Rosso
(GMM) Just over a year after switching from Renault to Caterham, Steve Nielsen will now become Toro Rosso's new sporting director, the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat reports.

Briton Nielsen only moved to Caterham in December 2011.

Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo said this week he is confident about the Red Bull-owned team's 2013 plans.

"But even if they tell me it (the 2013 car) is the best thing since sliced bread, I'm not going to get too excited until I drive it and feel comfortable myself.

"But we've definitely got good expectations," he told the Faenza based team's website.

Toro Rosso finished the 2012 season in ninth place, ahead only of F1's non-scorers Caterham, Marussia and HRT.

Rosberg faster than Vettel - Perez
(GMM) Nico Rosberg is the "fastest German" in formula one, according to new McLaren driver Sergio Perez.

Mexican Perez, who has switched from his 2012 employer Sauber, told Sport Bild he thinks Mercedes' Rosberg - the winner of one grand prix - is ultimately quicker than reigning three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

"In terms of pure speed, Nico Rosberg is the fastest German," Perez is quoted as saying.

"But Sebastian is the more complete driver and a great champion," the 22-year-old added.

Perez told Sport Bild he intends to push to beat Vettel and all other adversaries for the 2013 drivers' title.

"I am 100 per cent sure that the McLaren will be better than my Sauber," he said, "which is why I need to set high goals.

"They (McLaren) have the money, they have the people."

And Perez says he is already better than he was early last season, when only a driver mistake stopped him winning in Malaysia.

"If I could do that race again, I would win it," he insisted.

2014 rules require more testing - Domenicali
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali has urged F1 to consider relaxing its strict in-season testing limits as teams ready for the introduction of radical new engine rules for 2014.

At the team's annual winter media event in the Italian Dolomites, O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper quoted Ferrari boss Domenicali as saying making manufacturers track test their new turbo V6s only in the few weeks before the 2014 championship is a "risk".

"Let's meet to discuss the issue," Domenicali is quoted as saying by Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio. "We need to test some more."

Oricchio also said that, for superstitious reasons, it is unlikely Ferrari will officially name this year's car F2013.

Ferrari says Red Bull deserves F1 success
(GMM) Red Bull deserves its success in formula one, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali insists.

There had been appearances of bad blood between the title contenders of late, particularly with Dr Helmut Marko suggesting Spaniard Alonso is more focused on politics than winning.

"I can assure you that Fernando is focused on his performance," Domenicali told reporters at the annual media event at Madonna di Campiglio.

"And to those who take a dig at him in the hope that they can find a weak point, all I can say is that we'll reply on the track, with facts and by trying to be the best," he added.

It has been suggested Red Bull's meteoric success in the past years is difficult for Ferrari to swallow, given the Maranello team's long and rich history, and the fact today's dominant force is the maker of an energy drink.

"Besides," Domenicali is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, "it's only been three seasons, not a lifetime, and when that run stops, then everyone will remember the winning runs of Ferrari, McLaren and Williams."

He denied Red Bull is being 'protected' by Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, but Domenicali did suggest: "Red Bull represents an investment in the sport of F1 and in motor sport in general. As a company, they are doing a lot for the sport.

"But there are other companies who have been doing just as much for much longer. We have to make sure that continues."

However, Domenicali said no one can begrudge Red Bull its success.

"Even if I do not like to speak directly to our adversaries, Red Bull is a team that is structured very well and won deservedly," he is quoted by Tuttosport.

"But I think that three years of consecutive successes are enough," he smiled.

Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper said Ferrari will give its 2013 car a brief track debut at Fiorano when it is launched on 1 February, before moving to Jerez for the start of the official test pre-season the following week.

New Ferrari to look similar to 2012 car - boss
(GMM) Ferrari's new car will look similar to the 2012 model, team boss Stefano Domenicali has admitted.

Indeed, that will be the trend up and down the grid this season, as teams handle the complicated transition to the radical new V6 engine rules for 2014.

"From an aesthetic point of view," Domenicali said when asked about the 2013 Ferrari, "it won't be very different from the 2012 car."

But La Gazzetta dello Sport quoted him as saying there are "interesting developments" in the exhaust area, while Ferrari is now pushing "the boundary of the regulations" harder than before.

2013, Domenicali admitted, will be arguably tougher than ever before.

"Since the budgets and manpower are limited by the rules," he is quoted by Tuttosport, "this is a very delicate task."

He is referring to the need to focus almost simultaneously this year on winning the 2013 world championship with a 2012-like set of rules, and preparing for the all-new turbo era.

"I'm also assuming that some teams in the summer of 2013 will abandon the development of their (2013) project or severely restrict it, if the title is out of reach.

"Since I assume that we will be fighting for the title, this is not a possibility for us," said Domenicali.

Alonso didn't choose de la Rosa - Domenicali
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali has denied Fernando Alonso pushed for the hiring of fellow Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa as Ferrari's new simulator driver.

With his 2012 race employer HRT now folded, it is rumored de la Rosa had to start looking around for a new job because McLaren - where he served as the British team's highly respected and long-time test driver - was unimpressed with the 41-year-old's continual departures.

And his arrival at Ferrari may have been helped by the 'Alonso factor', as they are both Spaniards and - ironically - were friends at McLaren during the notorious 'spygate' scandal.

Indeed, de la Rosa's new Ferrari role has triggered suggestions Alonso is having an increasing influence on the shape of the fabled Maranello team.

"We took the decision as a team," team boss Domenicali insisted, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We needed to make a jump in quality in that (simulator) area, and Pedro met our requirements perfectly.

"Then, if he does get on with both Fernando and Massa, that's even better! We can therefore avoid confusion (in the team)!" he smiled.

Alonso and Massa no 'dream team' - Domenicali
(GMM) While praising Felipe Massa's recent return to form, Stefano Domenicali insists Ferrari's driver pairing is deliberately no "dream team".

At the Italian team's annual media event at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort on Wednesday, boss Domenicali was asked yet again about rumors Ferrari might pluck Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull to join Fernando Alonso.

"A dream team is fantastic if it is correctly managed, but at the moment we are not looking at that, because we want to ensure the team is as well balanced as possible," he said.

"You have to be very careful, not just in formula one, but in sport in general, because sometimes putting together all the number ones can lead to more negatives than positives."

That might be interpreted as a slight against Massa, but it is true the Brazilian has not always been in top form since his recovery from a 2009 head injury, and the arrival at Ferrari of Spaniard Alonso.

"I think the toughest part of Felipe's career is now behind him," said Domenicali.

"Personally, there was a lot of pressure on me regarding possible changes, but in the interests of the team, I preferred to wait and today, I'm convinced that keeping Felipe in the Ferrari family was the right decision."

Mercedes and Toro Rosso to unveil 2013 car at Jerez on February 4th
Lewis Hamilton's first Mercedes car will be unveiled the day before the start of winter testing, at Jerez on February 4.

The team's 2013 challenger, the W04, will be launched at the southern Spanish circuit on the Monday afternoon, with Toro Rosso to unveil their STR8 later in the day at the same venue

Expectations surrounding Mercedes are higher than ever this season following the spectacular coup of luring Hamilton from McLaren, although the 2008 World Champion has already ruled out a title challenge in year one.

Hamilton will be joined at Jerez by new team-mate Nico Rosberg, who stays on at Brackley for a fourth straight year, and Team Principal Ross Brawn to show off the W04 and conduct media interviews.

Car launches
McLaren - January 31st, venue to be confirmed.
Force India - February 1st, Silverstone.
Ferrari - February 1st, Maranello.
Sauber - February 2nd, Hinwil.
Red Bull, February 3rd, Milton Keynes.
Mercedes, February 4th, Jerez.
Toro Rosso, February 4th, Jerez.

Rosberg, not Hamilton, to debut new Merc
(GMM) Nico Rosberg, not team newcomer Lewis Hamilton, will give Mercedes' 2013 single seater - the W04 - its track debut at Jerez early next month.

The German squad announced on Thursday that the new car will be launched at Jerez on February 4.

On that same day - the day before official winter test action begins at Jerez - Rosberg will give the car its 'shakedown' debut, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports.

The short 100 kilometer test will take place with demonstration Pirelli tires, the report added.

Alonso tips Hamilton to win for Mercedes
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Thursday said he is sure Ferrari will not repeat its dire start to last year's world championship in 2013.

"Considering that the regulations are similar to last year," he told reporters, "there is no doubt that we have improved in several areas.

"In 2012 there was a question about the car, but this year we do not have to worry about being two and a half seconds behind," the Spaniard added at the Madonna di Campiglio media event.

As for his 2013 rival, Alonso acknowledged the achievements of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel but insisted he thinks Lewis Hamilton is better.

"I don't know who will be the main adversary," he is quoted by AS newspaper, "as it will be the strongest team and car, with the greatest luck and all the other factors.

"If you ask me who is the strongest driver it is Hamilton. It is a personal opinion, nothing to do with politics or psychological warfare.

"I'm not saying Vettel is not strong, in 2011 his performance was fantastic, although it is true that his car was much faster."

Alonso, however, repeated his claim that he thinks Briton Hamilton - his McLaren teammate of 2007 who this year has moved to Mercedes - is stronger than Vettel.

"I'm sure he (Hamilton) can win this year, he is a super driver who has won with whatever car he had in all the different years.

"I am sure that with Hamilton, Mercedes will be stronger and will win races this year."

Alonso toughest Ferrari teammate of all - Massa
(GMM) Felipe Massa on Thursday admitted Fernando Alonso has been his toughest Ferrari teammate.

Since becoming the Maranello team's race driver in 2006, the Brazilian has been paired with champions Michael Schumacher as well as Kimi Raikkonen.

But, in the wake of his 2009 head injuries, Massa's toughest time has been alongside Spaniard Alonso, so much so that he was almost ousted by the Italian squad before his form resurgence late last season.

"Alonso has probably been the most difficult if you look at the figures," he told reporters at Madonna di Campiglio on Thursday.

"But all three drivers were very strong and that's the truth. But maybe Fernando has been the most difficult and the one I've suffered with the most.

"I hope not to suffer any more," added Massa.

According to Spain's Diario AS, he was asked by reporters if he thinks Alonso was the very best driver of 2012, even though Sebastian Vettel won the title.

"I think that given we did not have the best car in qualifying, even if things were better in the races, Fernando did a great championship," said Massa.

"He did really an excellent job and finished almost with the same points as Vettel with a faster car; especially in the last six or seven races it (the Red Bull) was much faster.

"But Vettel was also strong last year. Both did a perfect championship," he added.

De la Rosa to be Ferrari reserve in 2013
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa will be Ferrari's official reserve driver at grands prix this year.

Earlier, the Italian team announced that the 2012 HRT driver - 41-year-old Spaniard de la Rosa - will be a development driver this year, working especially in the Maranello simulator.

But according to Spain's AS newspaper, team boss Stefano Domenicali has confirmed that the former long-time McLaren test driver will also be Ferrari's official reserve in 2013.

"I hope this (replacing Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa) doesn't have to happen, but he could be a (race) driver in the event that it is necessary," said the Italian.

"But mainly we want (him) to be focused on the development work," added Domenicali.

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