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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE #2
Photo of Rossiter hitting his mechanic this morning added to right.

02/07/13 Updates shown in red below.

  • Dedicated Hamilton still 'disappointed' with debut
  • 'Nutcase' Grosjean not targeting 2013 title
  • Ecclestone summons small teams to London
  • Brawn wants testing tweaks for 2014 engines
  • Whitmarsh pushed for Marussia seat for Kovalainen
  • Next Red Bull youngster pushing for Toro Rosso seat
  • Berger backs sweeping changes at Mercedes
  • Jerez 'empty' without hero Alonso
  • 2013 Williams to have 'vanity panel' on nose
  • Perez instantly feels MP4-28's potential
  • Caterham F1 Team Announces Partnership With McGregor
  • Mechanic hit by driver in pitlane clash New
  • Whitmarsh: F1 needs an Agreement New

Lewis Hamilton
Dedicated Hamilton still 'disappointed' with debut
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton proved his dedication to Mercedes on Wednesday by revealing he gave his legs a deliberate "thump" when his rear brakes failed at Jerez.

On his first official day of running after switching from McLaren for 2013, the British driver skidded over the gravel at full speed and thumped into the barriers head-first.

"If I had turned the car around, the whole side of the car would have been broken," the Briton is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Actually, according to Bild newspaper, only the EUR 100,000 front wing was smashed.

Asked if he saw a positive from Wednesday's brief running, Hamilton smiled: "Yes -- I'm alive."

Dedicated yes, but the 2008 world champion confessed to being "disappointed", particularly after the W04's debut on Tuesday was marred by Nico Rosberg's fire.

"The team have to go and look at the design and make sure it doesn't happen again," said Hamilton, "but I have total confidence they will do that."

The breakages are one thing, but Hamilton said the W04 also needs more pace.

"I need more aero for sure," he said.  "Coming from a McLaren that had incredible downforce, you definitely notice the difference."

After the crash, he spent some time trackside, being impressed by his 2013 rivals.  "The Red Bull and the Lotus look good," he said.

So good was the Lotus on Wednesday that Romain Grosjean went faster even than Jenson Button's impressive Tuesday time.

"It's just a little better everywhere," the Frenchman, referring to the new black E21, said.

Also trackside, technical expert and broadcaster Gary Anderson was impressed with the Lotus.

"You can see that the steering wheel and the front tires are working together very well," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"We're going to get a better idea at the next test in Barcelona, but a good car is good everywhere," he added.

Also musing Grosjean's pace, Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg admitted to Auto Motor und Sport: "That's very quick."

Elsewhere in Wednesday's pecking order, Sergio Perez began his acclimatization to his new McLaren.

"It was much more different than I expected," the former Sauber driver said, "but we are going in the right direction.

"I could tell straight away that this car has good potential.  I could feel it.  It's a very complete car.  I'm happy with the car I've got."

Ferrari's Felipe Massa was eighth, just behind Perez, and reports indicate the new F138 was recording higher than expected temperatures.

"Journalists did not have access to the Brazilian driver," O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio said.

He said the new Ferrari was "visibly" not handling as well as the Lotus, McLaren and Red Bull.

"It is undeniable that Ferrari has dropped behind these three teams," added Oricchio.

'Nutcase' Grosjean not targeting 2013 title
(GMM)  After Jenson Button stunned his rivals with the pace of the new McLaren on Tuesday, Lotus' Romain Grosjean went quicker still as a second test day came to a close at Jerez.

But Frenchman Grosjean - banned at Monza last year and written off as a "first lap nutcase" by Mark Webber - insists he is not getting carried away with the tantalizing potential of the new black E21.

"The world title is not my goal," the 26-year-old is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"In 2013, I particularly want to be consistent.  I know that the speed is there, in me.  But in some situations I have to be more patient," added Grosjean.

Ecclestone summons small teams to London
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has summoned the chiefs of F1's smallest teams to his London headquarters.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said representatives of Marussia, Caterham, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso have been invited to the meeting on Thursday.

With HRT now folded and other small teams ousting salaried drivers in favor of 'pay drivers' for 2013 and worrying about the cost of buying an engine in 2014, the meeting follows speculation F1's smallest teams are buckling under the pressure of financial problems.

"The situation is serious," said German correspondent Michael Schmidt.

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, however, said he is not concerned.

"We have always had these phases, and formula one has always found its way out of them," he is quoted as saying.

Referring, however, to Thursday's meeting with Ecclestone, journalist Schmidt continued: "There is much to discuss.

"It's quite possible he (Ecclestone) will remind them of an old idea: throughout the paddock the words 'customer car' are doing the rounds again."

Brawn wants testing tweaks for 2014 engines
(GMM)  Ross Brawn is calling for F1's engine suppliers to be allowed to do some early testing ahead of the 2014 season.

The Mercedes team boss said it is a risk to stick to the current plan, which would involve manufacturers and teams running all-new turbo V6s for the first time mere weeks ahead of the next world championship.

"We are looking for a solution," he is quoted by the Dutch magazine Formule1.

"I'm not saying we need testing with the new engines this year, but maybe the first test days can be brought forward.

"For the engine supplier, it's a difficult task," added Brawn.

Red Bull's Christian Horner agreed that some tweaks for the pre-2014 test program would be "logical".

But Lotus' technical director James Allison is not so sure.

"Is it possible to get ready in three tests?  Yes," he answered rhetorically, saying simulation and dynamometer technology in F1 has become sufficiently advanced.

Whitmarsh pushed for Marussia seat for Kovalainen
(GMM)  McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has admitted to trying to keep Heikki Kovalainen on the F1 grid.

Finn Kovalainen, a McLaren driver in 2008 and 2009, has dropped out of formula one after Caterham replaced him for the forthcoming season with heavily sponsored Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde.

Lewis Hamilton, Kovalainen's former teammate, said he thinks team bosses are "crazy" to have overlooked the highly rated 31-year-old in favor of pay-drivers.

At around the same time - just before Marussia announced Luiz Razia as Max Chilton's 2013 teammate - Whitmarsh said he made efforts to help Kovalainen to secure that seat.

"I spoke with Heikki on Tuesday, when I thought about trying to help him with regards to Marussia," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

McLaren has a technical collaboration in place with Marussia.

Next Red Bull youngster pushing for Toro Rosso seat
(GMM)  Portugal's Antonio Felix da Costa is knocking on the door at Toro Rosso.

That is the admission of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who like Daniel Ricciardo will race in formula one for the Red Bull-owned team for a second consecutive season in 2013.

But, with Red Bull traditionally using Toro Rosso as a driver development team, undoubtedly next in line for a Faenza-made cockpit is da Costa.

The 21-year-old has been singled out as a potential champion in this year's Formula Renault 3.5 series.

After that, the next logical step for Felix da Costa would be Toro Rosso.

"I'm not too worried," Vergne is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"I am confident that I will have the performance.  We definitely have a better car this year compared to last year, and also I'm a better driver, more experienced, and that combination automatically gives you better results."

As for Felix da Costa's likely candidature for a Toro Rosso seat in 2014, Vergne answered: "I see no problems with that.  That's how it works at Red Bull.

"I've been in the same position.  Antonio is a good driver.

"If he keeps doing a good job, he deserves to be in F1 and, following the policy of Red Bull, if one of us - me or Daniel - is good enough to be in the first team (Red Bull Racing), that will leave a free seat at Toro Rosso," he added.

Berger backs sweeping changes at Mercedes
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has backed the recent sweeping management changes at Mercedes.

Since the end of the 2012 season, Norbert Haug has been ousted, Lewis Hamilton has taken Michael Schumacher's place in the cockpit, and new chairman Niki Lauda has bought a 10 per cent stake in the Brackley based team.

Moreover, Toto Wolff has switched his allegiance from Williams to Mercedes, taking up the role of executive director and control of a 30pc stake.

The next change could be the arrival for 2014 of McLaren's highly rated technical director Paddy Lowe.

"I think Mercedes had to change something," Berger, the former F1 driver and BMW and Toro Rosso official, told Austrian Servus TV.

"The performance and results in the past few years were not good enough.  They won a race last year, but the bottom line for Mercedes was not enough."

Berger also said the driver pairing of Hamilton alongside Nico Rosberg is "definitely" better than before, but ruled out returning from retirement himself to add yet another new face at Mercedes.

"I don't think I want that stress again," said the former BMW motor sport director and Toro Rosso co-owner.

"If you want to do formula one, whether as a driver or a manager, you can only do it with a full program.

"One should never say never, but I feel very comfortable with what I'm doing now," added Berger.

Jerez 'empty' without hero Alonso
(GMM)  Jerez is struggling without Spanish hero Fernando Alonso.

The 2012 runner-up and Ferrari driver elected to sit out the opening test of the pre-season in favor of cycling training in a hot country -- possibly the Canary Islands.

His absence has led to mostly "empty grandstands" as the rest of the formula one world tests at Jerez in southern Spain, Brazil's Globo reports.

"We have 25 to 30 per cent more journalists this year," Jerez's media boss Raul Zarzuela said.

"Everyone wants to see the new cars -- it's almost like a grand prix," he added.

But "The absence of Alonso has hurt the interest here (in Spain)," Zarzuela admitted.  "We (Spain) are in (economic) crisis, of course, but it only costs 10 euros for the whole day."

2013 Williams to have 'vanity panel' on nose
(GMM)  The FW35 is yet to see the light of day, but it will almost certainly feature a 'vanity panel' rather than a stepped nose.

Alone amongst the rest of this year's field, Williams has delayed the debut of its 2013 car until Barcelona later this month, choosing instead to run with last year's car at Jerez.

But already up and running is the tweaked 2013 livery, while the 2012-specification FW34 also appeared noticeably different for another reason in Pastor Maldonado's hands on Wednesday.

Brazil's Globo pointed out that the FW34 was fitted with a smooth nose, unlike the unseemly 'step' that featured throughout last year's championship.

This year, the FIA is allowing teams to use a 'vanity panel' to conceal the regulated height difference between the monocoque and nosecone, but some teams - notably Lotus and Caterham - have opted to keep the stepped feature.

Perez instantly feels MP4-28's potential 
Sergio Perez says he felt ‘good potential’ from McLaren’s new MP4-28 as soon as he left the pit lane at Jerez on Wednesday, with the Mexican getting his 2013 testing program underway at the Spanish circuit. The 23-year-old notched up 81 laps on his way to seventh on the timesheets, 1.5 seconds off Romain Grosjean’s lead pace.

"The feedback is good straight away," he said. "When I drove out of the garage and did the first laps I knew that this car has good potential. We don't know how competitive we are, but the car feels quite good.

"We've got a lot of work to do during the next five days (of testing) that we have. We have to keep our heads down as I think we are going in the right direction. Today we managed to do a good program and hopefully we can do the same over the next five days for the start of the season."

Perez went on to explain that it is almost impossible to compare the MP4-28 with Sauber’s 2012 car due to the new Pirelli tires and the unique nature of the Jerez circuit, but admitted that McLaren is in good shape mechanically and aerodynamically.

"It's difficult for me to compare the cars right now because we have different tires and Jerez is a very different type of circuit," he added. "But I think the mechanical grip is good and also the aero is very complete, so I'm happy with the car I've got."

Perez will hand the MP4-28 chassis back to new team-mate Jenson Button on Thursday, before stepping into the cockpit again for the final day of the Jerez gathering.

Caterham F1 Team Announces Partnership With McGregor
Caterham F1 Team launched its CT03 2013 racecar on the first day of testing and one addition to the car’s striking new livery is McGregor, the Dutch fashion company that traces its roots back to New York in 1921, which has joined the team as an Official Partner. The McGregor logo now appears on the CT03 2013 race cars and across all of the Caterham F1 Team’s branding platforms.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal, Caterham F1 Team: "We are all very pleased to welcome McGregor into Caterham F1 Team. McGregor is not new to Formula One and if they have no doubt of the value that our sport can deliver to their brand, their expectations of the value their activation of this partnership will deliver will be just as high. Securing an Official Partnership with McGregor is a great testimonial for us, for all the hard work that we continue to do to build our platform on track and at the factory, to the benefit of the Caterham brand and all of our partners.

“Giedo will be racing in car #21 in 2013 which neatly ties in with McGregor’s denim lifestyle range, Twenty One By McGregor, and we are all excited about helping to activate the plans McGregor have to engage F1 fans and their consumers throughout 2013.”

Jan Paul ten Hoopen, McGregor’s Managing Director: "We’re proud to be the official clothing partner of one of the most ambitious Formula 1 teams. Caterham F1 Team – just like McGregor – are associated with drive, enterprise, passion for detail and a great chance of success in the future.

“This partnership will enable us to place our continuous international growth on the fast track whilst giving our brand image a powerful boost.

“We are looking forward to presenting the new Caterham by McGregor collection during the Monaco Grand Prix this year. Thanks to our strong distribution network this collection will be made available worldwide online via www.mcgregor-fashion.com as well as in Europe through our own McGregor stores and selected stockists such as Galleries Lafayette, Printemps, El Corte Ingles, Coin, Breuninger, Bijenkorf and Galleria Innovation.”

Mechanic hit by driver in pitlane clash
(GMM)  James Rossiter, Force India's simulator driver, crashed into a mechanic on Thursday morning at Jerez.

The 29-year-old Briton, with F1 experience under his belt from the Honda and Super Aguri days, was asked to step into the new VJM06's cockpit to improve the correlation of data between the virtual and real worlds.

German publication Auto Motor und Sport's live website text coverage of the test action said Rossiter hit the jack-man during a practice pitstop, sending him "high" into the air.

"According to initial information," read the live ticker, "the mechanic is doing well.

"He's sitting in the Force India motor home to recover from the shock."

Whitmarsh: F1 needs an Agreement
As Bernie Ecclestone prepared to meet with the F1 teams, Martin Whitmarsh urged his rival team bosses to stop the in-fighting and agree a new Concorde Agreement.

With just over a month before the start of the new season, Formula One is without a Concorde Agreement as it expired at the end of last season.

To date the teams have failed to reach a consensus on a new deal, leaving the sport in limbo.

"We're good a creating crises in our sport and we're good at not sorting them out," Whitmarsh told ESPNF1.

"We need to have somebody come out and say 'peace in our time', wave a bit of paper and say 'here's a new Concorde Agreement'. But I'm not sure everyone is motivated to do it."

The McLaren team boss added that the teams cannot blame Ecclestone for all their troubles, rather they should take responsibility and work together.

"At the moment Bernie's doing a fantastic job for the owners. We can criticize Bernie, but he's doing his job better than we're doing.

"On behalf of his employers, that money is coming out of our sport. As you can imagine, that is deeply frustrating for some of us in the sport but that's exactly what Bernie should be trying to do.

"If the teams aren't cohesive enough to work together to claim a larger share of that then they've got to blame themselves.

"I've certainly tried quite hard in that area and clearly not been as successful as I'd like to have been. Bernie's pretty good at moving the pieces around the board, isn't he?" Planet F1

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