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

  • Razia (L), Dillmann and Valsecchi (R) on the GP2 podium last year in Bahrain
    Happy Razia says Marussia race seat 'a dream'
  • Ecclestone tips Vettel to beat Alonso again
  • Marko pushing to keep winning Red Bull team together
  • 'No issue' if Lowe leaves McLaren - Button
  • Ecclestone hints Mercedes can live without Brawn
  • Raikkonen Unsure Of Future
  • 'New tires should suit my style' - Button
  • TW Steel becomes Official Timing Partner to Sahara Force India New
  • Ferrari strengthens its position with Hublot, Kaspersky and TNT New
  • Ferrari boss demands better start to 2013  New
  • CEPSA and Scuderia Toro Rosso renew Sponsorship Agreement New

Happy Razia says Marussia race seat 'a dream'
(GMM)  Luiz Razia, a 23-year-old Brazilian, looks set to secure the Marussia race seat for 2013 recently vacated by salaried driver Timo Glock.

Brazil's Globo said Razia, the 2012 GP2 runner-up, had secured the place "after months of negotiations".

"The official announcement will be made on February 5, during the presentation of the new car" at Jerez, said the report.

Razia, who linked to the report on his official website, is quoted as saying: "We have managed to close (the deal) at the last minute.  The important thing is that I have got what I have worked for over 11 years, since karts.

"It really is the fulfillment of a dream for me."

Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat said Razia has at least $15 million in backing.

"I have always raised the flag of Brazil, but we have only European investors in this project," said the driver.

Despite the Globo report and Razia's comments, the driver's management did not confirm the deal when contacted by the British broadcaster Sky.

"At the moment we have made no decision," a spokesman said.

Marussia said on Thursday that its confirmed rookie, Max Chilton, will debut the team's new MR02 car at Jerez next Tuesday, when "the rest of the testing schedule will also be communicated".

Meanwhile, a Dutch media report said Giedo van der Garde is close to securing the second race seat at Caterham, alongside Frenchman Charles Pic.

Ecclestone tips Vettel to beat Alonso again
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has tipped his friend Sebastian Vettel to win a fourth consecutive world championship in 2013.

"I see it in this order: Vettel, Alonso, Button and Hamilton," he told the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The F1 chief executive said he was curious to see how Mercedes' sweeping changes for this season will make a difference, and said McLaren has a "better chance" to win the 2013 title compared to last year.

"Many will not share my opinion," said the 82-year-old Briton, "but I think McLaren is now better balanced and Button has the potential to be even better."

Ecclestone also expects a good season for Ferrari.

"Ferrari will be strong, I have no doubt," he said.  "But they need to start well -- they can't wait for five or six races and then emerge," added Ecclestone, referring to Ferrari's poor start to its 2012 campaign.

He also did not sound sorry that HRT has folded.

"In formula one, there should only be the best, not teams that have difficulties," said the F1 'supremo'.

"I think there should be ten teams at the most.  It's the ideal number to manage the championship well."

Meanwhile, having officially confirmed the Nurburgring in its July 7 calendar slot, Ecclestone admitted turmoil behind the scenes at Italian grand prix host Monza.

Recently, amid a management controversy, the historic circuit's chief Enrico Ferrari was stepped down.

Ecclestone admitted he doesn't "understand what's really going on", but praised the departed Ferrari's role.

"Thanks to him, Monza had a favorable economic treatment compared to all the other European races," he said.

"On the continent, no race is as cheap as the grand prix of Italy," Ecclestone reiterated.  "He was tough in business, but competent, straightforward, clean."

Ferrari's successor is Fabrizio Turci.

Ecclestone said: "I do not know and do not envy him.  Without Ferrari it will be more complicated, because Enrico was a key man."

Marko pushing to keep winning Red Bull team together
(GMM)  Red Bull is constantly pushing to keep its winning team together.

Having confirmed this week that team boss Christian Horner is staying put for several more years, Dr Helmut Marko is now turning his attention to other contracts.

But not his own.  Regarded as energy drink magnate Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man on F1 matters, the coarse and outspoken Austrian Marko said his pact with his billionaire boss was "settled with a handshake".

So would he commit right now to at least another five years at Red Bull?

"Yes, something like that," Marko, a doctor of law and former driver, told Kleine Zeitung.

But as for members of the ultra-successful Milton Keynes based team who have signed up in black ink, Marko admitted that he looks "every six months at all the major contracts" and attempts to renew "those that should be extended".

Undoubtedly, he is referring to key figures like Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Newey, but the latest speculation had been about Briton Horner, Red Bull's 39-year-old British team principal who had been linked to Ferrari.

Marko said only: "There are not many (in F1) who do not try to poach staff from Red Bull."

'No issue' if Lowe leaves McLaren - Button
(GMM)  Just like Sergio Perez is shaping up to emulate Lewis Hamilton, McLaren can also live without technical director Paddy Lowe, Jenson Button said on Thursday.

"People move on," said Button, who after Michael Schumacher's return to retirement is now the most experienced driver on the entire formula one grid.

Although still at McLaren in 2013, Lowe was conspicuously absent on Thursday as McLaren launched its new car, amid rumors he is on the brink of switching to Mercedes.

Button, though, said the Woking based team will cope no matter what happens.

"Like with Lewis, it was a big shock initially, then you regroup and train someone else up to be in that position.

"We've got to wait and see what happens.  Paddy has to decide.  It's going to be hanging in the air, if there are rumors about somebody moving on.

"Whatever he decides I won't have an issue with it," he insisted.

Indeed, the 33-year-old said he is "damn excited" about 2013; his fourth consecutive year at McLaren, and his first without Hamilton as his teammate.

"It's strange," Button said, attempting to explain his excitement.  "Maybe it's because I know the direction we are taking with the car.

"Or it's because it's a fresh start and a new teammate."

That new teammate is Mexican Sergio Perez, who at 22 is stepping into former world champion Hamilton's cockpit.

Button was quick to compare his two McLaren teammates.

"It's good to see he (Perez) has really been getting into the spirit of McLaren and spending a lot of time here, either doing sponsor activities or developing his relationship with the team," he said.

"When Lewis and myself were here together we never used to see each other.  It used to be one day in the simulator and out the other."

As for the chromium car they will be racing, the MP4-28 appears almost identical to its predecessor, but the real differences are actually significant.

First, there is a 'step' nose, even though it's not visible, as McLaren has taken up the FIA's option of installing a laminate 'modesty panel'.

Tim Goss, McLaren's engineering director, said the panel "weighs practically nothing".

But when Lotus unveiled its 2013 car with a clearly visible 'step' in the nose, technical director James Allison said the laminate would weigh too much and have no performance benefit.

"I don't understand that," Goss is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"The cover is not only because of appearance; a smooth surface is aerodynamically always better than a split level."

Also unlike Lotus, McLaren has overlooked the option of a 'passive' double-DRS system for its 2013 car.

Goss admitted his team had "experimented" with the concept, ultimately concluding that the potential advantage is quite small.

"Three teams tried to develop such a system for racing last year," he explained, "and none succeeded."

But a major difference between the 2012 McLaren and the new MP4-28 is Ferrari-style 'pull-rod' front suspension; a concept not seen in formula one since early last decade.

"Naturally, you look at the ideas of the competition, but to be honest, when Ferrari did it, we asked ourselves 'Why on earth would they do that?'

"Only a long investigation showed that it is quite useful.  The aerodynamic benefits outweigh the potential problems," said Goss.

Ecclestone hints Mercedes can live without Brawn
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has suggested Mercedes can cope without its current team boss Ross Brawn.

It has been rumored Briton Brawn could be pushed out of the Brackley based team altogether, or confined to a merely technical directorship, in the wake of the arrival of Austrian chiefs and shareholders Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda.

Ecclestone told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt: "They have got Toto there and they have got Niki.  That will probably be enough."

So far, Wolff has said Mercedes wants Brawn - in a "technical role" - to stay, but also in question is the future of the team's chief executive, Nick Fry.

Already departed, after a 22-year Mercedes tenure, is Norbert Haug.

"I think the system at Mercedes needs to work," Wolff told cityam.com.

"If you have more good people it is not bad news but I think everybody needs to understand what his role and position is."

Raikkonen Unsure Of Future
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen revealed that he is focused on the 2013 season and has not thought about switching teams.

The Finn enjoyed a fine comeback season last year, claiming a race victory in Abu Dhabi and performing consistently.

This has seen him linked with one last big move, but he insisted that he has not considered his options:

“I’m not really thinking beyond this season at the moment, but I’m sure there will be talk before the end of the year,”
He went on to claim that he is excited for the new season and that the engine regulation changes in 2014 could provide more excitement:

“I enjoyed my comeback to F1 last year and there’s no reason to say I shouldn’t enjoy the 2013 season too,

“I know there will be big changes to the cars and regulations for 2014, so who’s to say that won’t be exciting?”

.'New tires should suit my style' - Button 
Jenson Button believes Pirelli’s softer tire compounds will be better suited to his driving style throughout the 2013 campaign, with the McLaren man hoping to capitalize on the wider temperature operating windows which are being predicted.

Button, who won three Grands Prix around his tire heat-up issues last year, says although the compounds look aesthetically similar to their initially complicated 2012 predecessors, the new characteristics should in theory benefit his on-track efforts.

"The tires are very different in 2013," Button told the gathered media at the launch of the MP4-28, including GPUpdate.net. "I’m sure they look very similar to most of us but the feeling is very different. The idea behind the tire is to have a tire that works a lot easier in terms of temperature, has a wider range and degrades more.

"Hopefully we’ll be seeing more pit-stops which I think we'll enjoy. I feel that this should work better for my style of driving and for how the MP4-28 works."

Reflecting upon his 2012 struggles, Button is confident that the evolutionary nature of the MP4-28 chassis will be of benefit when deciding which setup route to take.

"When the tire is on a knife’s edge, I struggled to get it working and up to temperature," the 2009 World Champion added. "We know that now, you get an understanding of where you can and can’t take the car. I don’t feel that this car will be any different in terms of the direction, the feel and the limits of the car."

Button will get behind the wheel of the MP4-28 for the first time at Jerez next Tuesday, completing the opening two days of the test before Sergio Perez takes over.

TW Steel becomes Official Timing Partner to Sahara Force India
Sahara Force India is proud to announce the beginning of a multi-year partnership with TW Steel, which sees the Dutch watchmaker become the team’s Official Timing Partner.

The global lifestyle brand known for being ‘Big in Oversized Watches’ was unveiled as a team partner at the launch of Sahara Force India’s 2013 challenger, the VJM06, at Silverstone Circuit this morning.

The recognizable ‘two-dots’ logo of TW Steel, will feature prominently on the team’s major brand platforms including the car, the drop-down timing monitors used in the garages and on the sleeves of the drivers' race suits. 

As part of its commitment to Sahara Force India, TW Steel will produce an official team watch range for retail world-wide. The brand will use this new global partnership as a marketing platform to engage consumers through the 6000 retail outlets currently selling the brand in over 100 countries worldwide.

Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India: “The partnership with TW Steel is the perfect way to begin the 2013 season and we are delighted to welcome them to the Sahara Force India family. With the global reach of Formula One, our unique positioning in the Indian market place and our shared ambition for success on the track, I am sure that the relationship will bring big rewards for both TW Steel and Sahara Force India.”

TW Steel CEO and co-owner, Jordy Cobelens: “I’m naturally very excited to be partnering with Sahara Force India. We know the merits of being involved with a team competing in Formula One and the brand awareness that brings. Our new partnership represents a relationship where both parties are keen to bring success to each other. Sahara Force India has such a strong following around the world, notably of course in India, a key growth opportunity we’ve targeted for TW Steel’s on-going development. I’m excited to have our brand working with such fantastic entrepreneurs as Dr Vijay Mallya and Mr. Subrata Roy Sahara.  Like TW Steel they’ve showcased their ambition and proved they like to make bold statements. We have lots of synergy and we look forward to being a part of the team’s progressive journey both on and off track.”

Ferrari strengthens its position with Hublot, Kaspersky and TNT
At a key time for Formula 1 and when the global economic picture is very difficult, Ferrari is still right on target on the commercial front. This morning, it announced the arrival of its first Chinese sponsor, Weichai Power, which is part of the Weichai Group, a top one hundred company in China, with a presence in Europe, North America and South East Asia: it will be a Scuderia partner for at least four years.

The news on the commercial front does not stop there however. Hublot, which since last year has been the Official Timekeeper and Watch Supplier to Ferrari, has strengthened its ties by becoming an Official Sponsor of the Scuderia. The relationship between these two prestigious marques is extended both in terms of time – the agreement now goes on for longer – and in terms of reach, as it will cover the whole range of the Maranello company’s activities, including the Ferrari Challenge, which it has sponsored since 2012.

Another partner strengthening its relationship with the Scuderia is Kaspersky Lab. The Russian company, a European leader in the field of anti-virus solutions and one of the main suppliers globally in the area of IT security for the end-user, is consolidating the presence of its branding with the team and, at the same time, increasing the level of technical collaboration with the company. Finally, it should be noted that TNT has also moved on from being an Official Supplier to be a Sponsor of the Scuderia: the energy drink’s logo has already been seen on the cars at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

“China, Russia and Brazil: I think we can legitimately claim with satisfaction to have bucked the current trend in sponsorship, not only as regards Formula 1, but also when looking at sport in general,” Stefano Domenicali told www.ferrari.com. “These are significant achievements, which alongside the vital support of our long time partners such as Philip Morris and Shell and more recent ones like Santander, strengthen our position going into what will be a very demanding season, from every point of view.”

Ferrari boss demands better start to 2013
The Scuderia, who unveiled the new F138 at Maranello on Friday morning, missed out on the 2012 title in heartbreaking fashion as Sebastian Vettel's charge back through the field in Brazil saw Fernando Alonso beaten to the prize by just three points.

The Spaniard's title charge was ultimately undermined by a slow start to the season, and a lack of qualifying pace throughout the year.

But Domenicali hopes things will be different in 2013.

After seeing the wraps come off the team's new challenger, which does not feature the stepped nose that became the norm in F1 last season, Domenicali said: "The key objective is to immediately deliver a competitive car to the drivers.

"Unfortunately in recent seasons we have not been able to get to the start of the season right on top of what we are doing like our competitors.

"We need to be competitive from the start of the season."

And Domenicali feels the team have already moved past their 2012 disappointment.

"We have come from a season which was very difficult from an emotional point of view. To come second at the last race is always difficult," he said.

"But we have already forgotten those things which left us with regret last year and we have started improving on the positive aspects of 2012 such as reliability and strategy during the races.

"There are plenty of things that allow us to look forward to the new season."

Alonso will again be partnered by Felipe Massa in 2013 as the Brazilian starts his eighth year with the team.

CEPSA and Scuderia Toro Rosso renew Sponsorship Agreement
CEPSA and the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula 1 team are pleased to announce they have renewed their official sponsorship agreement, which will be effective for the 2013 season.

CEPSA started this sponsorship in September 2011 and now reaffirms its commitment to Formula 1. 2013 will therefore be the third year that the energy group has been a partner of the team.

CEPSA’s brand will be again visible on the Australian driver Daniel Riccardo’s and the French driver Jean-Eric Vergne’s race suits and on the nose, rear wing and rear wing endplates of the cars. A new feature of this year’s world championship will be CEPSA’s product placement in the pit box.

CEPSA’s Co-Chairman, Santiago Bergareche, remarked that: “CEPSA is a proud supporter of the Scuderia Toro Rosso, which represents a major leap forward in our international expansion and the best possible showcase for technology and innovation at the very highest level of motor sport. We believe that Scuderia Toro Rosso shares many of our values and we look forward to enjoying a successful and mutually beneficial partnership throughout the year.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal, Franz Tost, commented that “having CEPSA another season on board means a lot to Scuderia Toro Rosso. CEPSA is one of Spain’s leading companies and, just like Formula 1, it is expanding its operation all around the world. Although closer to home, we and CEPSA will both enjoy performing in front of their home crowd. The team has continued to expand over the past year in terms of our facility in Faenza, so we are in better shape than at any time in our eight year history. Here at Scuderia Toro Rosso, we are keen to repay the confidence CEPSA has shown in us.”

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