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DATE News (chronologically)
02/05/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

02/05/13
  • The new Toro Rosso with drivers Ricciardo and Vergne
    Toro Rosso reveals cautious car for 2013
  • Defiant Mercedes begins push for winning ways
  • Mercedes cloud remains above Nick Fry's head
  • Schu staying in Mercedes 'family' - Brawn
  • Bosses 'fools' to overlook Kovalainen - Hamilton
  • Wolff to 'keep an eye' on Williams' Bottas
  • Symonds hopes Marussia takes on Caterham in 2013
  • Contender Bianchi to test Force India at Jerez
  • Pujolar promoted to Chief Race Engineer at Williams
  • Hamilton, not bad, just different New
  • Rolex becomes Australian GP title sponsor New

Toro Rosso reveals cautious car for 2013
(GMM)  Toro Rosso on Monday unveiled a cautious evolution of its 2012 car for Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne to race this season.

With a FIA-sanctioned 'vanity panel' on the front nose, the new STR8 no longer features the 'double floor' of 2012, and the exhaust is notably conventional.

"I just wanted to create a sound base rather than get bogged down in details," technical director James Key, formerly of Sauber, was quoted by Speed Week.

Referring to the conventional exhaust, the Briton added: "I don't mean that this area is unimportant, I just don't want us to be too focused in one area and forget the big picture."

After the launch in the Jerez pitlane ahead of Tuesday's test action, Key continued: "We now have a starting point on which to build upon, step by step."

With the 2012 STR7, featuring innovative undercut sidepods or 'double floor', Faenza based Toro Rosso finished last year's championship ahead only of the three backmarker teams.

In 2013, the Red Bull-owned team wants to finish sixth.

So, explaining why he has scrapped the 'double floor', Key is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: "I would not say that this concept was totally wrong.

"But it was not delivering on what the engineers initially promised, and the development potential was limited."

Hamilton with his new Mercedes W04
Defiant Mercedes begins push for winning ways
(GMM)  Defying reports he is not earning much more money after his Mercedes move, Lewis Hamilton has apparently kicked off 2013 by buying a EUR 23 million private jet.

And a new bulldog, Roscoe.

"I've even asked Bernie Ecclestone for a paddock pass and, fingers crossed, he'll give me one," the smiling Briton told reporters at Jerez.

There, in southern Spain on Monday, the 2008 world champion got his first ever taste of a formula one car other than a McLaren.

It was, however, only a pre-test filming day on promotional Pirelli tires, and at one point Hamilton ran out of fuel and had to return to the pits.

He is not expecting the new 'vanity-paneled' W04 to be an early winner, but he is already pushing for changes.

"The steering wheel has twice as many buttons as last year and I've already got rid of some," said Hamilton.

Some have scoffed at his decision to jump ship from almost race-winning certainty at McLaren bound for Mercedes, an outfit with apparent turmoil in the ranks of upper management and having won just a single grand prix in three years.

As for the critics, Hamilton insisted: "Everyone has got an opinion but I think they should just keep it to themselves.

"It is my decision; it is nothing to do with any of these people who are commenting on it.  I feel good about it and that is all that matters."

Also feeling good on Monday was Nico Rosberg, who is well placed to give early comments on the W04, having been Michael Schumacher's teammate at the Brackley based team since 2010.

"Wow, it immediately felt right -- no problems at all," said the German.

"This was not the case in recent years."

Team boss Ross Brawn also felt moved to defend the new silver single seater, following initial reports that it features almost no innovation.

"Some probably need to take a closer look," he said.

"There's a lot of innovation under the skin which I'm pleased about," added Brawn, revealing that a "very interesting new front wing" will be tested on Tuesday.

Some reports, however, said that while Red Bull and particularly Sauber are pushing the boundaries with ultra-slim sidepods, Mercedes may even have taken a backwards step.

"The looks are deceptive," Brawn is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.  "Our sidepods have been reduced in width, but maybe not as much as Sauber," he smiled.

Mercedes cloud remains above Nick Fry's head
(GMM)  Nick Fry, Mercedes' chief executive, was present on Monday for the launch of the team's 2013 car.

But with the new guard refusing to outright deny speculation McLaren's Paddy Lowe could be making a switch for 2014, a dark cloud hangs above Briton Fry's head.

"He has long been a key member of the team," insisted team boss Ross Brawn, whose own future has been up for discussion in recent times.

But Brawn insisted on Monday that his own position is not in question at least for "the foreseeable future".

As for his old Honda and Brawn GP colleague Fry, he admitted: "This week we announced a new sponsor, a new partner (Blackberry), and Nick was very much involved in that.

"I'm sure he will continue to be involved in the team, but maybe in a different capacity," said Brawn.

Toto Wolff, the Brackley based team's new 30 per cent owner and director, insisted he is in no mind to make "hasty decisions".

"I've only been at work for a few days," he is quoted by Speed Week, "so it's really too early to say anything.  I need more time.

"What the team needs, above all, is stability.  We have a tough season behind us and a very important one in front."

Nico Rosberg, who has been a Mercedes race driver since the beginning of the project in 2010, said he has not felt the effects of the apparent shake-up.

"Those with the main responsibility for the development of the new car are still the same," said the German.

"In this way we have stability."

Schu staying in Mercedes 'family' - Brawn
(GMM)  Ross Brawn on Monday confirmed reports Michael Schumacher is staying in the Mercedes "family" after his retirement from racing.

Germany's Sport Bild reported that the 44-year-old F1 legend has been signed on in an ambassadorial role by the German marque's parent Daimler.

"He will still be part of the family," confirmed team boss and friend Brawn at Jerez on Monday, "but in a different capacity."

Speaking to the German news agency DPA, however, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm would not confirm the reports.

And a Mercedes spokesman said he would not respond to speculation.

Bosses 'fools' to overlook Kovalainen - Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton on Monday branded those who overlooked Heikki Kovalainen for a 2013 race seat "fools".

Caterham has swept out last year's driver lineup - Finn Kovalainen and Russian Vitaly Petrov - in favor of the well-sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

When asked about the demise of his former McLaren teammate, Hamilton said on Monday: "When my flight landed and I was driving to Jerez, I thought about what a great pity it is that Heikki is not here.

"When I think about the drivers that are here, they (team management) must be fools if they prefer them over Heikki," he is quoted by the Finnish website mtv3.fi.

"I think Heikki is a high quality driver, very experienced and deserves a place," the 2008 world champion added.

Wolff to 'keep an eye' on Williams' Bottas
(GMM)  Toto Wolff, Mercedes' new co-owner and director, has admitted he will be keeping an eye on rookie Valtteri Bottas' progress in 2013.

Before switching to Mercedes, Austrian Wolff had the very same role at Williams, where last year Finn Bottas, 23, was groomed for a future race seat as reserve driver.

Now, as the youngster steps up to race, Wolff has jumped ship.

But Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper quotes Wolff as saying: "I am still involved as an investor of Valtteri's, and of course he is my friend.

"Didier Coton however is looking after his contracts and the business side, and Mika Hakkinen is also involved," he revealed.

"I'm very happy for him (Bottas) and I will be keeping an eye on how he gets on.

"You don't just take off your blue shirt (Williams) and put on a white one and leave everything behind.  I am still fond of the Williams family and a hope they do well."

Symonds hopes Marussia takes on Caterham in 2013
(GMM)  Pat Symonds is confident Marussia can finally compete head-to-head with Caterham in 2013.

Since F1's small new teams arrived in 2010, Caterham has been consistently the best, finishing the lucrative tenth spot in the championship at every attempt.

Former Renault technical chief Symonds, however - who is now back in F1 full-time after the 2009 'crashgate' scandal - is confident he is presiding over a competitive project for the coming season.

"We hope to do a respectable job this year," he told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper correspondent Livio Oricchio.

"Even without KERS, we beat Caterham on several occasions in 2012 and now for the first time we have a long development program planned.

"We have also designed our car completely in the wind tunnel for the first time," Symonds insisted.

"We have KERS now, so it's a realistic goal to stay ahead of them (Caterham) this year."

Racing one of Marussia's 2013 cars - to be unveiled at Jerez on Tuesday - will be Briton Max Chilton, while reports say the other cockpit has been secured by Brazilian Luiz Razia.

Team official Graeme Lowdon told Oricchio that 23-year-old rookie Razia has not been signed, but another voice from inside Marussia on Monday said the Brazilian was due to arrive at Jerez in the evening.

Symonds is hoping the MR02 is born well.

"Our pilots are completely inexperienced, so if many changes are needed," he said, "it will be a problem.

"If it's born well, everything will be easier for everyone."

Jules Bianchi
Contender Bianchi to test Force India at Jerez
(GMM)  Jules Bianchi has emerged as the hot favorite to complete the 2013 grid.

The team's reserve driver last year, he has been called up to test the new Force India at Jerez this week.

As Paul di Resta recently launched the VJM06 alone at Silverstone, team officials confirmed that Frenchman Bianchi, 23, is a leading candidate to be the Scot's teammate.

And, referring to Ferrari's development 'academy' driver, that team's boss Stefano Domenicali said earlier this month: "We are currently trying to find him a role in formula one and when we have some news, we will let you know."

Force India has confirmed reports Bianchi will drive the VJM06 at Jerez on Friday.

"Jules will be able to provide the team's engineers with further comparison feedback between last year's car and the VJM06," said the Silverstone based team.

Pujolar promoted to Chief Race Engineer at Williams
Xevi Pujolar moves up into the newly created position of Chief Race Engineer, overseeing all aspects of race car performance within trackside operations. Xevi has been with the Williams F1 Team since 2003 and after spending the 2010 season as Senior Race Engineer at Hispania F1 he returned to Williams ahead of the 2011 season to become Race Engineer to Pastor Maldonado. Xevi remained in this role for two seasons which included helping steer Pastor to an historic victory in last year’s Spanish GP.

Xevi will be supported during the 2013 season by Andrew Murdoch and Jonathan Eddolls who will be the Race Engineers for Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas, respectively. Andrew has been with Williams since 2006 in the role of Performance Engineer, working alongside Xevi during the 2012 season to engineer Pastor. Jonathan joined the Williams F1 Team in 2003 as part of the graduate training program and has since risen to the position of Senior Performance Engineer where he worked on Bruno Senna’s car during the 2012 season. Jonathan took on the position of Race Engineer to Valtteri Bottas during first practice sessions last season, a successful partnership that will now continue into 2013.

Commenting on the new race operations line-up Mike Coughlan, Williams F1 Team Technical Director, commented; "2013 will be an important year for Williams and I’m pleased to announce a refreshed technical team that has the talent to help move us further up the grid. Xevi has proven himself to be a highly capable and experienced race engineer and his promotion to Chief Race Engineer was a natural progression. Jonathan and Andrew have been key members of our race operations team for a number of years and this experience will prove valuable as they step up to Race Engineer. We made good progress in 2012 and will be looking to achieve further success in 2013."

Hamilton: not bad just different
Lewis Hamilton concedes it will take him a bit of time to adjust to his new Mercedes after putting in his first laps at the Jerez circuit on Monday.

Having taken the covers off the W04 at the Spanish track, Hamilton got down to business as he drove the car for promotional filming.

"It was not too bad, it just felt like driving a different car," the 28-year-old told Sky Sports News.

"I am not sure what else to say.

"There is a lot going on, a lot of new controls I am getting used to and so much information coming in and just trying to get on top of it.

"The steering settings that I had before are very different on this car and there are a lot more buttons as well. So utilizing those and understanding the set up changes that they make - the dif settings.

"All the calls are different - they use different terminology on top of that and the car brake bias has six settings instead of the three I used to have so there is a lot of different stuff going on.

"I've driven the simulator a few times, but this was the first time I got to get a feel for it and also the tires weren't the right tires."

The Brit, however, did run into an early hiccup as he stopped out on track during the filming.

"We just ran out of fuel," he explained. "It is a procedure we take."

The most important question for Hamilton, though, is whether this W04 is a car that can fight for race wins and the world title.

"I can't really say," he said.

Rolex becomes Australian GP title sponsor
Rolex has become the title sponsor of the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, with the leading luxury watchmaking brand backing up its newly-signed Formula 1 partnership. Taking place from March 15-17, the event will again kick off this year's World Championship.

"This announcement is super news for Rolex, Melbourne and Formula One," said Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One group. "Given Rolex was only recently announced as our Official Timekeeper, we are delighted they have chosen to become title sponsor of the first race and to begin our global partnership with such an impact."

The Albert Park street circuit currently holds a contract to host the Australian grand Prix until 2015, although tensions have recently arisen over the cost of staging the race.

Emirates Airlines has also been revealed as a global F1 partner on a five-year deal.

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