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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Horner OK with Webber
    Horner 'happy' with Webber after Marko spat
  • F1 'not a sport' as Petrov bows out - manager
  • Ousted Kovalainen 'can come back' - Salo
  • Force India eyeing Bianchi, Sutil, Kobayashi or Senna?
  • Team, not Alonso, makes Ferrari's decisions - boss
  • Mercedes signs deal with Blackberry
  • Toro Rosso renews with Cepsa as new car launches

Horner 'happy' with Webber after Marko spat
(GMM)  Boss Christian Horner has played down the significance of an apparent spat between Mark Webber and the team's outspoken Dr Helmut Marko.

Recently, Austrian Marko suggested Red Bull's main allegiance is to triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, because of Australian Webber's inconsistent form.

Webber, who on Sunday attended his seventh consecutive Red Bull launch, had hit back that it has been clear "for a long time" that he is not part of Marko's "agenda".

Asked about the apparent inequality implied by Marko's comments and Webber's reaction, the 36-year-old driver said on Sunday: "They know I need 100 per cent support.

"You cannot win a world title with only 90, you need 100, and we're going into 2013 with this in place, and I'm comfortable with that," Webber added.

British team principal Horner, who co-owns a GP3 team with Webber, insisted the incident with Marko does not mean Red Bull is not "happy" with its full driver pairing.

"If we weren't happy with Mark then we would never have signed him to be with the team for this year," he said.

Horner added: "As we all know, Helmut can be a little outspoken at times with his comments but he is entitled to his opinion, and sometimes these things can be misinterpreted as well."

F1 'not a sport' as Petrov bows out - manager
(GMM)  Vitaly Petrov's manager admits Caterham was the Russian's "only possibility" to stay in formula one this season.

"We knew this a few days ago, about the decision of the team, which we have to respect," Oksana Kosachenko, referring to Dutchman Giedo van der Garde's deal for 2013, is quoted by R-Sport.

"I wouldn't say we didn't expect it."

Kosachenko said she will now look at what other options there are, such as a test driver seat for 28-year-old Petrov.

"We have a few offers for Vitaly to stay in F1 and around the paddock, so we have to decide what is the best for him," she said, adding that a race seat outside F1 is "likely not" an option.

She expressed disappointment in Russian companies and also the organizers of the new Russian grand prix, which will take place in Sochi in 2014.

"We have to do something to promote the Sochi grand prix, and this is a bad mistake they are doing," said Kosachenko, indicating the race organizers turned down her request for sponsorship.

Lamenting the sport's current situation, she added: "Formula one is really expensive at the moment.

"Actually it isn't a sport at the moment, it's tending to be a show, and I believe that we have more and more and more rental drivers."

Ironically, Petrov was initially branded a 'pay driver' when he debuted in 2010, but Kosachenko argues: "I believe that a driver who has shown his possibilities in formula one within three years deserves to be supported."

Ousted Kovalainen 'can come back' - Salo
(GMM)  Former F1 driver Mika Salo has tipped Heikki Kovalainen to return to the grid in the future.

Finn Kovalainen is the latest victim of the ever-increasing influence of the 'pay driver' in F1, with Caterham replacing its entire 2012 lineup in favor of the heavily sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

When the news about Dutchman van der Garde broke, the Finnish press tried and failed to extract a comment from Kovalainen, who was paid by Caterham for the past three seasons.

Some interpreted that as a clear sign that the 31-year-old former McLaren and Renault driver knows his F1 career is over, but Salo insisted: "I don't think so.

"I think he can still come back," the 46-year-old, now a commentator for Finnish television, told the broadcaster MTV3.

"It often happens that there are new, young drivers, but their song can be short if they make a lot of mistakes.

"That's when people start looking around again for an experienced professional," added the former Ferrari and Sauber driver.

"Heikki had long negotiations with Caterham," Salo revealed, "but in the end they chose money over skill."

Force India eyeing Bianchi, Sutil, Kobayashi or Senna?
(GMM)  Four drivers appear to be prominently in the running for the last race seat on the 2013 grid.

Strangely in the ultra-professional world of F1, Force India launched and debuted its new car, the VJM06, at Silverstone on Saturday with only one race driver under contract -- Paul di Resta.

"Whoever does that is surely having problems," mused veteran Swiss F1 correspondent Roger Benoit, who writes for Blick newspaper.

When asked the obvious question about the missing race driver, deputy boss Bob Fernley immediately admitted that Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil are candidates.

"Jules is a significant candidate, along with Adrian," he said.  "And a few others.

"I think we shouldn't close any doors off."

Could one of the significant others be Bruno Senna, the former HRT and Williams driver?  According to one rumor, Scot di Resta has confided to some that his teammate this year will be the well sponsored Brazilian.

Another rumor is that Japanese Kamui Kobayashi, despite already counting himself out of the running for 2013, is now back in the frame with new sponsors.

The biggest betting money, however, is on Frenchman Bianchi, the Nicolas Todt-managed rookie who was Force India's reserve driver last year.

His place might also be bundled with a Ferrari engine deal for 2014.

"If we'd had an ideal world," said Fernley, "we'd have liked to run Jules for two years as a third driver.

"What's happened with the Nico (Hulkenberg) departure is that it's just taken us out of our comfort zone in terms of where we were wanting to plan going forward."

Force India has said it plans to unveil the name of di Resta's 2013 teammate ahead of the second test in Barcelona later this month.

Team, not Alonso, makes Ferrari's decisions - boss
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo has moved to play down the 'Jerez controversy' by insisting Fernando Alonso is not in charge at Ferrari.

First, some suggested that Alonso - Ferrari's undisputed number 1 - had hand-picked Spanish countryman and former McLaren colleague Pedro de la Rosa as his test driver for 2013.

Then, it emerged that de la Rosa would be standing in for Alonso as this week's official test action begins at Jerez.

"Decisions are taken by Ferrari, not Alonso," insisted di Montezemolo, Ferrari's imperious president.

Alonso, meanwhile, explained that he needs the break.

"After the end of the last championship, a very hard championship, we had many promotional activities," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint, "and also in the first half of January I was travelling a lot for a number of commitments.

"So as it was not possible to be ready for the first test, we decided to use that time for physical training in a hot country," Alonso added.

He played down the importance of his Jerez absence.

"The first test of a season is to get a general impression, there is no real work aimed at performance, so I don't think I am missing a lot.

"I will still be in contact with the team and will be informed about everything, even from a distance.

"But these are the last weeks in which you can relax, because it will then be flat out until November," said Alonso.

Montezemolo agrees: "Attention will switch to the performance (of the car) for the Barcelona test, which is why Fernando will start then."

According to Spain's AS newspaper, Alonso added: "Anyway, at Ferrari we are very fortunate to have other guys who are like an extension of each of us.

"With Felipe and Pedro it is almost like we are all the same person."

Meanwhile, world champion Sebastian Vettel explained on Sunday that he intends to get up and running in the new Red Bull at Jerez this week.

"Testing is limited," said the German.

"But Jerez is different in that it is a circuit you don't race on so I don't think you miss a lot if you don't test there."

At Jerez, a dry and sunny - albeit windy - week of weather is forecast for the opening test, with Speed Week's Mathias Brunner saying only "a few harmless clouds" are dotting the skies.

And before the circuit kicks into action, McLaren and Toro Rosso have been checking the running systems of their new cars at the Idiada test facility, according to El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

Mercedes signs deal with Blackberry
As the new Silver Arrow, the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 W04, completes its first laps this morning at the Jerez circuit in Spain, the team is delighted to announce a significant new partnership agreement with BlackBerry (NASDAQ: RIMM, TSX: RIM).

As the Official Mobile Computing Partner for the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, BlackBerry will collaborate with the team on technical and marketing opportunities. The new BlackBerry 10 platform will deliver tools and services for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS and fan engagement will be improved through the joint development of apps. BlackBerry 10 smartphones will also be used by the team so they can 'keep moving' throughout the Formula One season.

The new partnership sees the iconic BlackBerry branding featured prominently on the chassis and headrest of the F1 W04 Silver Arrow, the racesuits of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and on the team's racewear kit. As the Official Mobile Computing Partner, BlackBerry and MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS will be working closely together to develop the team's use of the BlackBerry 10 platform at the team's headquarters and at each Grand Prix.
Ross Brawn, Team Principal at the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team commented: "On the day that our new Silver Arrow, the F1 W04, is launched, we are very pleased to announce our partnership with BlackBerry. We are looking forward to embracing the new BlackBerry 10 platform at both a technical and operational level, as well as collaborating with the team at BlackBerry to bring new mobile innovation to MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. It is especially pleasing to be able to launch this exciting partnership today as our latest Silver Arrow takes to the track with BlackBerry branding."

Frank Boulben, Chief Marketing Officer at BlackBerry, said: "Formula One is all about precision engineering, design and innovation - three values that mirror the approach that's gone into creating BlackBerry 10. It is a natural fit for BlackBerry to partner with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team to deliver value through technical and marketing collaboration. We have built BlackBerry 10 to keep people moving, and we believe the essence of this will be delivered at many levels through our partnership".

Toro Rosso renews with Cepsa as new car launches
Abu Dhabi-owned energy firm Cepsa has renewed its sponsorship agreement with the Toro Rosso team for the 2013 Formula One season.

It will be the third year the team has been sponsored by the Spanish company. Cepsa's logos will be visible on the nose, rear wing and rear wing endplates of the team's 2013 car, which was due to be launched in Spain on Monday evening.

Jean Eric-Verge and Daniel Ricciardo will drive for the team again this season.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said: "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.”

Meanwhile, Italian safety equipment manufacturer OMP Racing has renewed its deal with the team for another year. The deals follow Toro Rosso's renewal with Nova Chemicals last week.

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