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

  • (L to R) Bernie Ecclestone with his ex-wife Slavica and daughters Petra and Tamara
    Fry plays down reports of new flawed Ferrari
  • Senna left F1 to pursue 'wins and podiums'
  • Sutil 'happy and grateful' for Force India chance
  • Lotus liked for being 'natural team' - Lopez
  • Bottas 'tingling' before 2013 car debut
  • Old flame 'tried to blackmail Tamara Ecclestone' over love secrets'
  • Bahrain hoping for near-record turnout at F1 race
  • 'Russia will be ready for F1'
  • Second test for Ferrari, first for Alonso
  • Randstad and the Williams F1 Team Renew Partnership New
  • Ferrari signs UPS as logistics partner New
  • Williams FW35 launch video New
  • Pastor Maldonado targets more consistency New

Fry plays down reports of new flawed Ferrari
(GMM)  Pat Fry has contradicted reports Ferrari is heading into the 2013 season with another fundamentally-flawed formula one car.

Last year, the famous Italian team had a memorably bad start to the championship with the F2012's initial configuration.

Felipe Massa, however, sounded much happier with the new F138 at Jerez recently, and he set the fastest lap of the entire test week, although some reports say his body-language gave away the real story of the car's early potential.

Indeed, Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport quotes a Ferrari source as suggesting "We have a problem" in the area of the car's exhaust, adding: "It's not something we cannot solve."

Technical director Fry, however, is quoted by Spain's Marca sports newspaper as insisting: "In most areas, we are where we expected to be."

In terms of performance, he says Jerez was actually about "understanding" the F138, with Ferrari to begin to explore the car's actual speed this week at Barcelona, before unveiling a big package of updates "in the third (test) week".

Fernando Alonso has now ended his intense winter fitness training schedule and will drive the F138 on the first three days in Barcelona this week, handing over to Massa on Friday.

Fry says it's too early to imagine the 2013 pecking-order.

"So far, nothing has drawn special attention," he is quoted as saying.  "The other cars, like ours, are a continuation of the end of last year.

"There will be more data for a better comparison later on," added Fry.

And hinting that Massa's week-best Jerez time should not be read into, he explained: "With different tire compounds and fuel loads, it is very easy to do a good time in pre-season testing."

Senna left F1 to pursue 'wins and podiums'
(GMM)  Bruno Senna has suggested he preferred to bow out of formula one than run around at the back of the grid with Caterham or Marussia.

Dropped by Williams after a single season together in 2013, the former Lotus and HRT driver announced this month that he has been signed up by Aston Martin's Le Mans sports car team.

"I want to make progress, not go back in my career, so it would not be easy to go to a smaller team like Caterham and Marussia," the 29-year-old Brazilian told Radio Bandeirantes.

"Last year was a year of learning, and that would have been the basis to progress, and with those teams (Caterham and Marussia) I would not have had that opportunity.

"At Force India and Williams the possibilities were becoming increasingly complicated, so we decided to look for another winning program.

"I'm not in formula one to play a supporting role, in my career I always had wins and podiums, and that is what I like to do," Senna, whose uncle was the great Ayrton Senna, continued.

He confirmed that his Brazilian backers did make proposals for 2013 to Caterham and Marussia, but not for as much money as they would offer to bigger teams.

"We sent a proposal but, of course, with a lower value than a top team, because my supporters are serious and the image (for the sponsors) is not the same no matter the team," Senna said.

Sutil 'happy and grateful' for Force India chance
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil is "very, very happy" Force India is giving him a chance to shine by his former team Force India at Barcelona this week.

"He's very, very happy this is taking place," the German's manager Manfred Zimmermann is quoted by DPA news agency.

Sutil, now 30, spent his entire five-year F1 career with the Silverstone based team until 2011, when he lost his seat at the end of the season in the wake of the Eric Lux assault affair.

He is now a contender to return to the grid this year, with Force India confirming he will test alongside rival Jules Bianchi as the second pre-season test takes place this week.

The team said Sutil will drive on day three (Thursday) in Barcelona, before handing over to the Ferrari-linked Frenchman Bianchi.

"No, it's not a shoot-out," a Force India spokesman told Reuters.

Sutil told Bild newspaper: "I am happy and grateful that Force India is giving me this chance."

Spain's Marca sports newspaper said Sutil's backers are offering the team EUR 8 million in sponsorship.

Lotus liked for being 'natural team' - Lopez
(GMM)  Lotus is happy to let Kimi Raikkonen just be himself, owner Gerard Lopez has revealed.

En route to his first victory since returning to F1 last year, the laconic Finn told his race engineer Simon Rennie in Abu Dhabi to "Just leave me alone, I know what I'm doing."

Lopez told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper: "Kimi is Kimi.  It was just what he felt at that moment.

"Kimi is certainly the most honest guy in F1.  That's why so many people find him so refreshing.

"We don't want our drivers to come out of a mould -- they are what they are and they say what they say.

"I believe that is why Lotus is appreciated as we are.  We are a natural team," said Lopez.

Lotus memorialized Raikkonen's radio outbursts with t-shirts and memorabilia, but the 33-year-old world champion of 2007 does not look back with any particular fondness on Abu Dhabi.

"I'd rather fight for the championship, but it didn't happen," he is quoted as saying.

Told how popular his Abu Dhabi radio messages were, Raikkonen added: "I just try to do my thing.  It was just something that happened during the race -- it wasn't planned in advance.

"I'm not the biggest fan of the instructions," he confided.

Bottas 'tingling' before 2013 car debut
(GMM)  Valtteri Bottas has admitted he is "tingling" ahead of the debut of his 2013 race car.

After teammate Pastor Maldonado drives the new FW35 on day one in Barcelona, rookie Finn Bottas will get his first taste of the 2013 Williams on Wednesday.

Unlike every other F1 team, the Grove based team did not debut its new car recently at Jerez.

"I believe we made the right decision," 23-year-old Bottas told Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"It was our plan all along to bring the new car only to Barcelona, in order to give us more development time in the wind tunnel," he added.

Bottas admitted the anticipation is therefore great, insisting "I would be lying" if he denied he is "tingling" ahead of the debut of his first F1 racer.

He said: "Personally I have big expectations, and the entire team believes that we now have a better car than last year."

Old flame 'tried to blackmail Tamara Ecclestone' over love secrets'
Tamara Ecclestone's former boyfriend tried to blackmail her out of £200,000 by threatening to sell her "intimate secrets" to the Press, a court heard yesterday.

Derek Rose, 33, allegedly teamed up with Jakir Uddin, 20, a media student, to email demands to Miss Ecclestone's agent, Dana Malmstrom.

Rose dated billionaire Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone's 28-year-old daughter when she was 17, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

William Boyce, QC, prosecuting, told jurors Uddin, allegedly posing as Rose's representative, emailed Ms Malmstrom to say "one of the biggest tabloids" had made him a "life-changing offer" for a kiss-and-tell story.

Mr. Boyce said: "They were effectively saying, 'Give us £200,000 or we will sell intimate secrets to a tabloid newspaper'."

The email was sent in November 2011 when Channel 5 was showing Billion $$ Girl, about Miss Ecclestone.

In the message, Uddin allegedly said that due to the show Rose had been "inundated with offers" from tabloid newspapers and TV companies to talk about Miss Ecclestone. He allegedly added: "We was (sic) approached by one of the biggest tabloids with a life-changing offer of £200,000 to disclose all."

Mr. Boyce said Uddin asked if she would sign an agreement with Rose – who changed his name from Jonathan Ketterman – so that "at no point in his life can, or will, he speak to the Press about Tamara or her family".

Mr. Boyce told the jurors: "You can see what's being threatened."

Miss Ecclestone told the jury that when she was told about the alleged plot by a journalist at a charity event she asked if it was Jonny Ketterman.

"I thought it was him partly because Jonny had sold a story on me previously," she said.

Mr. Boyce said Miss Ecclestone had dumped Rose after he sold a lurid story about her to a newspaper for £10,000 in 2002, although he denied being the source.

Rose of Camden, north London, and Uddin, from Birmingham, deny blackmail. The trial continues. UK Daily Express

Bahrain hoping for near-record turnout at F1 race
Bahrain is hoping for a near-record turnout at this year’s Formula One Grand Prix despite continued violent unrest and political turmoil in the Gulf kingdom.

The 2011 race was cancelled after a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests but last year’s went ahead despite international pressure on the sport not to go and concerns for the safety of teams and personnel.

Organizers said in a statement yesterday that they had started their official 60-day countdown to the April 21 race at the Sakhir circuit under the slogan "Imagine Your Moment".

"There is always a special moment or two for whoever attends the Bahrain Grand Prix, be it on the track or off of it, and we would like all the fans to ‘Imagine Your Moment’ and feel the excitement of our upcoming Grand Prix," declared circuit chief executive Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Last year’s grand prix took place under the more controversial slogan ‘UniF1ed - one nation in celebration", which drew accusations that the island’s authorities were using the race to make a political statement.

The Bahrain International Circuit said last year’s race attracted "up to 70,000 people" and they expected to exceed that due to the growing popularity of the sport in the Middle East.

"BIC hopes to come close to matching its biggest-ever turnout to the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend of 100,000 fans in 2010," the statement said.

The Grand Prix will be the fourth round of the 19-race championship and is the biggest sporting event hosted by the strategically-placed country that serves as a base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

'Russia will be ready for F1'
Sochi will be ready to stage a round of the F1 Championship in November 2014, according to Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Russia's 2014 Winter Olympic host city, has confirmed.

"After the Olympics, Sochi will host the Formula One race in November," Anatoly Pakhomov told Russia's RIA-Novosti news agency.

"The construction of the racing circuit is on schedule," he added.

"The Krasnodar region administration do not have the right for any kind of failure in this project as the country's prestige is at stake," he insisted.

"In the event of any problems we would definitely receive all the required help from our neighbors and state."

Deputy governor of Krasnodar region Nikolai Buturlakin revealed that almost 50 percent of the new F1 track in Sochi's Olympic park was finished in line with the timetable set out in the schedule.

In a deal signed in 2010 Russia is due to host a leg of the F1 series from 2014 to 2020 using infrastructure built for the Games including a stretch of public roads.

Buturlakin said that the overall cost of the racing track and associated infrastructure construction would likely reach eight billion rubles ($266 million).

"Of course it's an expensive project," he said.

"However, taking into consideration all the deferred incomes, which the region and the country will earn from this project, they will definitely cover all the expenses.

"We understand the importance of this project as staging of Formula One races is like the membership in the elite club for Russia.

"It's a very special status and a very special pride for the country to stage this race."

This month President Vladimir Putin met F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone in Sochi and assured him that Russia would be ready to host F1 races in the Russian resort after the Winter Olympics.

Along with the 2014 Games and the 2018 World Cup, the staging of F1 races is at the centerpiece of Putin's plan to make Russia a globally-respected host of international sporting events. Planet F1

Second test for Ferrari, first for Alonso
Formula 1 continues its winter residency in Spain, when the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, hosts the second pre-season test session starting on Tuesday. The four day test, from 19th to 22nd February, will give Scuderia Ferrari the opportunity to confirm its findings from the week spent in Jerez and hopefully, move forward in terms of understanding and performance: pretty much the same goals as the ten other teams, albeit with one added element, the first on-track appearance of 2013 for Fernando Alonso.

The Spanish double world champion will have a direct effect on the week’s events, as the crowds will flock to the circuit to see their hero in action, creating a noisy buzz that’s unusual for testing.

In light of the total twelve days of testing, to allow the Spanish to complete his training program, two weeks ago the team had decided to opt for Felipe Massa and Pedro de la Rosa for the first session in Jerez. Fernando has therefore maximized the time available and tackled the task with great dedication, performing a focused physical preparation worthy of the best Olympic athlete by alternating between gym sessions, running and biking.

Now Fernando is ready to slip into the cockpit of the F138 and benefit from all the work of Felipe and Pedro in Andalusia. This week it will be the Brazilian to sit out for the first three days, with the handover from his team-mate scheduled on Friday.

After driving in Jerez, Massa declared to be optimistic but cautious: the F138 is a much better starting base than the F2012 and only a constant development work will say if it will be better than the competitors’ cars as well. The Brazilian even stated he was more impressed with Jenson Button’s lap times but the fact that Felipe set the quickest time of the four days had already been seized on by observers as a sign that the Prancing Horse will gallop away with the title.

However, in Maranello, the culture of not paying attention to speculation, focusing on one’s own tasks and working hard means that preparing for another week of testing has been occupying everyone’s time to the full, without any distractions. 2013 is the last season run to the current rules and after a long period of stability in the regulations, the performance levels between the teams inevitably closes up, so a positive start in Jerez is just that, a positive start and nothing more.

While time spent in Jerez was useful, the Circuit de Catalunya is reckoned to be a more realistic test of how a car really performs, with aerodynamics, the key to modern F1 performance, playing a more important role here.

Therefore, the Scuderia Ferrari job sheet for the four days includes more tire testing, on a track surface that is more representative of what lies ahead in terms of degradation and pace, while aerodynamically, the engineers will continue gathering data, as well as already introducing some new elements and updates, as part of a relentless development program that began even before the F138 turned a wheel.

Randstad and the Williams F1 Team Renew Partnership
The Williams F1 Team is pleased to announce it has renewed and upgraded its current sponsorship agreement with Randstad, the global recruitment company. The new contract has secured Randstad’s partnership with Williams for its eighth consecutive year.

As in previous years, Randstad branding will appear prominently on the car’s engine cover and cockpit surround, whilst also appearing on the front and back of all the team’s apparel. In addition Randstad branding will also appear on the drivers’ caps.

Frans Cornelis, CMO of Randstad, commented; “The Williams F1 Team demonstrates that success in Formula One relies on the commitment of a talented team performing to the best of their ability. This is also true for employees at Randstad and together we share the core value of striving for perfection.”

“Randstad is one of our longest standing partners and very much part of the Williams F1 Team family” commented Sir Frank Williams, Williams F1 Team Principal. “Strong partners are fundamental to success in Formula One and together we are looking forward to the next two seasons ahead.”

Ferrari signs UPS as logistics partner
Ferrari has joined forces with global package delivery company UPS ahead of the 2013 season, a deal which sees the brand become the team's logistics partner.

The multi-year agreement will not only cover the Formula 1 side of Ferrari's operations, but also the racing activities of the Corse Clienti, including the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Championship.

UPS is set to 'gradually integrate' its services to Ferrari's setup, a process which will result in the company managing the outfit's freight transportation on a global level.

Williams FW35 launch video
The FW35 launched on 19th February 2013. Hear from Sir Frank Williams, Pastor Maldonado, Valtteri Bottas and the team as the excitement builds.

Pastor Maldonado targets more consistency
Pastor Maldonado  is targeting a more consistent challenge at the front of the grid this season with Williams.

Having won last year's Spanish Grand Prix, Maldonado struggled to deliver strong results on a regular basis despite some impressive qualifying performances. Following the launch of the new FW35 in the pit lane at the Circuit de Catalunya, Maldonado said the key for the team to become title contenders was to maximize the car on a more consistent basis.

"Starting my third season with Williams is important for both myself and the team," Maldonado said. "We've been working hard to develop the car and improve our performance. Last year we won a race and were competitive, but this season we must be even more competitive which I believe is possible. Consistency will be our aim to close the gap to the teams in front.

"There are a number of changes this season; I have a new Race Engineer and a new team-mate in Valtteri [Bottas], but there is a nice atmosphere right now as we are all competitive and know each other well. Being part of the Williams family is very special as a driver and I want to thank Frank for not only giving me the opportunity to drive for him, but also to deliver a win. My goal is to help take the team back to the top."

Maldonado's new team-mate Bottas said he was excited about getting to test the new car ahead of his first season in Formula One.

"It feels great to now be promoted to race driver with Williams this season," Bottas said. "It's a big step and I'm really looking forward to it. I have been doing a lot of training, meeting with my engineers and working in the simulator in preparation; so I feel ready. We know we have improved our car from last season but I am looking forward to seeing how it compares on track. We have a busy test program ahead but I'm really excited. The moment the start lights go out in Melbourne is a moment I have been building towards my whole career."

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