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

  • Kaltenborn with Bernie
    Pirelli wants 2014 tests in Middle East
  • Too early to assess new Mercedes - Brawn
  • Kaltenborn enters pay debate
  • Emirates announces five-year, 15-race sponsorship deal with F1
  • Ross Brawn will call shots on pit wall
  • Hakkinen: Mercedes slower than I expected
  • Alonso named Marca Espana ambassador New
  • Pirelli reveals early compounds New
  • Glock: Marussia to struggle with rookies New
  • Consistency key for Grosjean New

Pirelli wants 2014 tests in Middle East
(GMM)  F1 could be heading to the Middle East for pre-season testing next year.

Pirelli's Paul Hembery said the Jerez circuit, the scene of last week's opening test of the 2013 pre-season, is no longer suitable for winter running.

"It is not a good reference," he told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, "because of the condition of the asphalt."

He is referring to the extreme abrasiveness of the Spanish circuit's surface, which has apparently become even worse than before in more recent times.

"I think next year maybe we should go to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi," added Hembery.

The good news, however, is that Pirelli is basically satisfied with the outcome of the Jerez test, where the Italian marque's 2013 tires were put through their paces.

"The drivers and engineers gave us positive feedback," said Hembery.

"It seems we have achieved our goals of having faster tires that reach optimum grip more quickly, and have a wider window of peak performance.

"Our intention was to offer greater mechanical grip, thus reducing the importance of aerodynamics.

"This leads us to predict that there will be less difference between the performance of the big and the middle-sized teams," he added.

F1 heads to Spain's Circuit de Catalunya for the second test next week.

Too early to assess new Mercedes - Brawn
(GMM)  It is too early to say just how good the new Mercedes is, according to team boss Ross Brawn.

After an up-and-down first test for the new silver W04, former double world champion Mika Hakkinen admitted he suspects the car is "not exactly up to the speed I expected them to be".

"I don't see them competing too much this year," the Finn is quoted by the Sun.

When asked a similar question by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes team boss said his first impression of the performance of the W04 was "good".

"We still have work to do on the degradation of the tires.  But the problem is that Jerez in the winter is not very representative," added the Briton.

"The numbers are promising.  The downforce is as the wind tunnel predicted, as is the behavior of the car."

Asked if the team will have to wait until Barcelona to know exactly how the W04 is shaping up, Brawn answered: "Maybe later.

"It can also be very cool in Barcelona.  We will probably only be able to say in Australia and Malaysia."

Brawn also confirmed that - with top technical minds including Aldo Costa, Bob Bell and Geoff Willis all now working for Mercedes - the team already has a design team working exclusively on the 2014 car.

"Ferrari announced a while ago that they have two teams working on the 2013 and 2014 cars and that is what we have also done," he said.

"We have even gone so far that we have selected the most promising of several concept proposals.

"The transition (of development between the 2013 and 2014 projects) will be smooth, not from one day to the other."

Meanwhile, with Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff shaking up Mercedes' management amid rumors McLaren's Paddy Lowe is being courted, Brawn insisted his top job is actually not in danger.

"I am settled," he is quoted by the Mirror.  "I have got no problems."

Kaltenborn enters pay debate
Not for the first time in recent history there is growing unrest at the direction the sport is going, not least as circuits struggle to meet the financial demands of supremo Bernie Ecclestone, and as the teams towards the back of the grid take on pay drivers.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh recently expressed his sadness at the way "the numbers have crept up" with regard to pay drivers, and that many are not good enough to be in F1.

Whitmarsh, however, further highlighted the fact the teams have collectively not done enough over time to drive a harder bargain with Ecclestone and ensure they receive a greater share of the spoils.

From Kaltenborn's perspective, she feels it is up to the teams to force down costs, thus rendering discussions about pay drivers moot.

"All these discussions about pay drivers have lost ground a bit for me," said Kaltenborn on F1's official website.

"What we see is that many partners or sponsors support drivers from the very beginning. A good example is Sergio (Perez, formerly with Sauber and at McLaren).

"He has been part of the Escuderia Telmex, which is a racing school.

"They have been supporting him from the very beginning, and it is natural that when he enters the pinnacle of motorsports, they come along.

"You have so many top drivers out there who have also brought along their partners who have supported them right from the beginning.

"You don't talk about pay drivers in lower series because it is normal a driver has partners that support him.

"So why not use the same standard in Formula One? Then you wouldn't have all these pay driver discussions.

"Sure, it would be good for Formula One to look more closely at the costs. We have to do something.

"Over the years we see the economic climate is also getting to us, and not just to the smaller teams, but the whole sport.

"In this environment we cannot expect to always have a high level of income from the commercial rights holder. We really have to find a way to react to this."

Kaltenborn readily concedes, however, it is "worrying" if experienced drivers are making way for pay drivers, as has been the case at both Caterham and Marussia over the winter.

"That would not be a good development because Formula One needs to have the best drivers and not necessarily the ones with the money," added Kaltenborn.

"But then one also has to be fair to the young drivers coming in and not immediately label them as pay drivers.

"There has always been fluctuation on the grid and nobody was harping on about pay drivers.

"Everybody who comes into Formula One is on a high level and if there are only a limited number of seats, then of course every team is looking for the best option. Who wouldn't?" Sporting Life

Emirates announces five-year, 15-race sponsorship deal with F1
Emirates airlines announced a five-year sponsorship deal with Formula One on Tuesday in the latest sign of the growing influence of the oil-rich, Gulf nations on the sport.

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says the Dubai-based airline's sponsorship deal includes 15 races this season starting in Malaysia. It will not sponsor the Australian, Monaco, Bahrain or Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Ecclestone did not disclose the value of the sponsorship deal.

"I'm obviously very proud to be associated with Emirates, the sort of brand that should be with us and us with them," Ecclestone said at a news conference in Dubai. "We like to feel we are associated with the top corporate (brands), which we are obviously are with Emirates. The teams will benefit. It lifts everyone in Formula One."

The deal is part of Emirates efforts to spread its reach globally and is just the latest sponsorship deal involving a major sport. It already is an official partner with FIFA and recently signed a five-year deal with the ATP which begins this year. It also comes days after new five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Paris Saint-Germain, the big-spending French soccer team that signed David Beckham.

"This is an exciting global opportunity to align two world-leading brands," said Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates chairman and chief executive. "The ambition, cutting-edge technological standards and worldwide reach of Formula One go hand in hand with Emirates' vision and ambition."

Emirates is also the latest Gulf company to lend its name to Formula One, which is popular in a region known for its love of fast cars. Gulf Air sponsors the Bahrain Grand Prix and Etihad the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Bahrain Mumtalakat, a sovereign wealth fund based in Bahrain, also has 42 percent stake in F1 constructor the McLaren Group. ESPN.com

Ross Brawn will call shots on pit wall
Ross Brawn will retain control of the Mercedes F1 team from the pit wall at race weekends this season, according to executive director Toto Wolff.

After it was announced that Wolff was joining the team's management alongside Brawn and non-executive director Niki Lauda, rumors emerged that Brawn could be edged out. Brawn and Wolff played down the stories, which also linked McLaren's Paddy Lowe as a possible replacement for Brawn, and the team principal has now said that he intends to stay.

"I'm very settled so I've got no problems at all on that front," Brawn said during testing in Jerez.

Wolff added that Brawn would be calling the shots at race weekends this year, with Lauda taking a backseat.

"On the pit wall everything will remain the same," Wolff said. "I think it would be totally wrong for Niki to get involved on the pit wall and equally for me. It is Ross's call and Ross's decision that is the team's decision."

Asked to clear up the exact role of Lauda, Wolff added: "He's a non-executive chairman, so that means he chairs the board and he's in a non-executive function. He guides us and steers us and gives us support, and where it's needed he gets involved." ESPNF1

Hakkinen: Mercedes slower than I expected
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen does not expect Mercedes to be fighting at the front of the field this season, explaining that the Brackley-based team's new car is slower than he had anticipated. Following the opening test at Jerez, the Finn instead expects Lewis Hamilton's former outfit, McLaren, to set the pace.

"I have a strong feeling that McLaren is in top form this year," Häkkinen said during an interview with the BBC on Tuesday. "As we saw at testing in Jerez, the Mercedes wasn't as fast as I expected them to be, so I don't see them competing too much this year."

Despite his initial thoughts on the 2013 pecking order, Häkkinen backed Hamilton's switch to Mercedes, arguing that it was a suitable moment for the 2008 World Champion to seek a new challenge.

"Lewis has been with McLaren for so many years and I think, for him, it was time to change," Häkkinen commented. "It's just a job to be honest. There are no emotional feelings about it, you are there to win, you are racing with the team and you do your maximum for the team. Lewis has now moved to Mercedes and that is going to be interesting because his team-mate Nico Rosberg is also a very quick driver."

Mercedes is approaching its fourth campaign since returning to the sport as a full works team in 2010. Courtesy of Rosberg's dominant weekend performance, the outfit managed to claim its first victory in 57 years at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.

Alonso named Marca Espana ambassador
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso was named an Honorary Ambassador of Marca Espana on Tuesday. The organization, made up of Spanish companies and Public Administration bodies, is dedicated to strengthening the image of the country.

Alonso was inaugurated by Felipe and Letizia of Spain, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, at the Santander headquarters in Madrid. The Ferrari driver has just returned from a training camp in Dubai and will drive the new F138 in Barcelona next week.

Pirelli reveals early compounds
Pirelli has revealed the compound combinations it will be bringing to the first four rounds of the 2013 Formula 1 campaign, with the Italian manufacturer gearing up for its third season as sole tire supplier since returning to the sport in 2011.

For the opening race weekend in Australia, the Super Soft and Medium compounds will be used, while a less aggressive selection of Medium and Hard has been made for Malaysia. The Soft compound will be brought to China and Bahrain, but will be used in conjunction with the Medium tire at Shanghai and the Hard tire at Sakhir.

All 24 drivers will receive six sets of the harder compound and five sets of the softer compound for each Grand Prix weekend, while Pirelli will also bring four sets of its Intermediate tire and three sets of its Full Wet tire for damp conditions.

Races 1-4 tire compounds:
Australia: Super Soft (Red), Medium (White)
Malaysia: Medium (White), Hard (Orange)
China: Soft (Yellow), Medium (White)
Bahrain: Soft (Yellow), Hard (Orange)

Glock: Marussia to struggle with rookies
The 30-year-old German Timo Glock raced for the squad from 2010-12, but was released from his contract a year early last month because the team's financial situation required it to sign a second pay-driver to partner Max Chilton.

While Glock has subsequently secured a DTM race seat with BMW, his Marussia drive has been taken by last year's GP2 Series runner-up Luiz Razia.

"It's definitely not going to be easy for them, especially in testing, where you need to be able to make the right decisions in pinpointing the weaknesses of the car," Glock told AUTOSPORT.

"That's something that only comes from experience.

"There's a lot of pressure on Luiz and Max to get up to speed with the car quickly.

"That's the critical part; knowing that perhaps the simulation you have brought to a track isn't quite accurate and being able to make a forward step from there."

Glock understands the need for Marussia to find a more secure financial footing as it attempts to score its first world championship point and improve on the 11th spot it took in last year's constructors' standings.

He believes this is crucial if the British outfit, which competed under the Virgin banner in 2010, is to achieve its potential.

"Generally they just need to find a way of getting more financial support so that they can move forwards and develop," Glock said.

"The bigger teams won't stop developing and that's what makes it so hard for the smaller teams to catch up. The bigger teams bring updates to every race while the smaller teams have updates maybe every five or six races.

"At least they've definitely moved forward with the car. It's quicker this year. It's all about developing, about how they get on with KERS."  Yahoo Eurosport UK

Consistency key for Grosjean
Romain Grosjean has highlighted consistency and patience as key areas which he needs to improve on this season.

The Lotus driver endured a mixed campaign in Formula One in 2012 as he regularly had the pace to give the frontrunners a run for their money, but sadly didn't see the checkered flag too often.

The Frenchman was involved in too many incidents that led to eight retirements while he was also banned for one race.

Lotus, though, are backing their man to come good this season as they feel the potential is there for all to see.

Grosjean is eager to prove them right and he believes he knows exactly how to turn his fortunes around.

"I have worked on a lot of things since last season. It's difficult to pick out one," he is quoted as saying by Press Association Sport.

"It's no secret, but consistency is what I've been asked for. The speed is there, as it has always been, but the consistency has not always been good.

"So it's about finding the right balance, about making the right move when I have to make a move, sometimes being a bit more patient when I am in the car, and finishing more races.

"That's what I'm working on, and I hope it's going to pay off."

Lotus finished fourth in the Constructors' standings last year and they have high hopes of moving up the grid this campaign.

First signs during the pre-season test in Jerez last week suggest the new E21 will be among the front-runners as Grosjean topped the timesheets on day two.

"Compared to last year the car is not that much different in terms of design and philosophy, but it's a little better in all areas," the 26-year-old said.

"It has a good baseline, although we have a few things we want to work on in Barcelona (in next week's second test).

"It will be good to get Kimi's [Raikkonen] feelings to see if they are as the same mine and whether he wants to go in the same direction in terms of set up.

"But the feelings I have are even better than at the start of last year, which is a good point to start with.

"Let's hope it continues to be the case and it's quick, although the real answer will be in Melbourne." Planet F1

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