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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Perez surprised by Pirelli tire wear
    Extreme tire wear 'an unpleasant surprise' - Perez
  • Force India has 'other priorities' than drivers - Senna
  • Sutil 'not nervous' ahead of crucial F1 test
  • Powerbokers Ecclestone, Todt, to meet Thursday
  • New McLaren 'adapted' for Button's style - Perez
  • Mercedes moving forward, says Hamilton
  • Vettel not worried by reliability issues

Extreme tire wear 'an unpleasant surprise' - Perez
(GMM)  'Pirelli' is the buzzword in the Barcelona paddock, as the F1 world gets to grips with the extreme degradation of the Italian supplier's 2013 tires.

McLaren's Sergio Perez was quickest in his McLaren on Wednesday, but he admitted to being surprised by how quickly the Pirellis were wearing out.

"I don't know what to say," the Mexican is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper.  "It is worrying and I hope it changes for the first race.

"It doesn't matter what you do, what talent you have," said Perez.

"It is an unpleasant surprise," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"The cool temperatures are making it worse; in Melbourne it will probably be better, otherwise we will be doing seven or ten pitstops."

Up and down the pitlane, the comments were similar.  Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo spoke of being shot with "rubber bullets" - the chunks of discarded 'marbles' as the tires wear - as he drove around the Circuit de Catalunya.

"I'm not sure if what the tires are doing is what they (Pirelli) had expected," said the Australian.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes boss Ross Brawn commented: "The wear is twice as high as last year."

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg added: "The tires have overshadowed everything.  After a lap the grip is going away."

No matter the tire situation, it's the same for everyone.  Teams, then, are more guarded than ever about their setups and technical solutions with just one more test after this week's running to prepare for Australia.

Red Bull is being highly secretive, with mechanics rushing to fit covers as the RB9 is wheeled backwards into the garage.

Bild newspaper suspects a "hacker" or a "virus" may have contributed to the world champions' glitches in the McLaren-supplied software so far this week.

Contemplating Red Bull's rivals, Dr Helmut Marko admitted: "The McLaren and Lotus look the best."

As ever in testing, reliability is a big factor, and on Wednesday Ferrari continued to raise suspicions about an exhaust design flaw, when Fernando Alonso suffered a failure.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen also had problems.  When asked what he did during his downtime, the laconic Lotus driver admitted: "I had a sleep."

Force India has 'other priorities' than drivers - Senna
(GMM)  Bruno Senna has revealed he was a contender to fill the second race cockpit at Force India this year.

"It's hard to understand what happened," said the former Williams driver, who has instead switched to Le Mans sports cars, where this week he tested his Aston Martin for the first time in Portugal.

"They (Force India) apparently have other priorities at the moment," he told Brazilian Jovem Pan radio.  "It seems the second driver has a second level of importance."

This week at Barcelona, Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi will undergo a 'shootout' for the final race seat on the 2013 grid.

But some see the contest as more a battle of which driver is better linked to an engine manufacturer, with Force India weighing up either Mercedes or Ferrari power for the new, more expensive turbo V6 era.

Senna explained: "We negotiated with them (Force India), but at a certain point, they disappeared and it seems that it was not just us that this happened to."

Meanwhile, Ferrari engine boss Luca Marmorini on Wednesday confirmed that it is possible Toro Rosso - who are weighing up a switch to Renault - could cease its relationship with the famous Italian marque at the end of 2013.

"A customer team is very important for an engine supplier," he is quoted by Speed Week, "but I do not know if we will supply Toro Rosso next year."

Sutil 'not nervous' ahead of crucial F1 test
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil insists he is "not nervous" ahead of his test with Force India on Thursday.

Billed by the media as a 'shootout' for the last race seat in 2013, German Sutil will drive the VJM06 at Barcelona a day before the other hot contender, Jules Bianchi, tests on Friday.

"I'm pleased to finally be back on a formula one track," Sutil, who bowed out of F1 after his assault conviction of 2011, is quoted by the DPA news agency.

"It's quite a while ago since Brazil 2011.  The anticipation is there, but I'm not nervous or anything.

"I don't think I have to prove something to the team," said Sutil, who spent his entire F1 career with the Silverstone based outfit.

"I don't know if this is really a fight for the (race) cockpit, so that's why I'm not worried."

He's not worried, but 30-year-old Sutil does know that Thursday is an important moment.

"I think it's my last chance to really have a future in formula one," he acknowledged.  "I think that with another year of waiting, the train will have departed.

"Then I would have to think about something else.  But I'm also experienced enough that I can only do what I always do, which is the best I can."

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims that Sutil actually reached agreement about 2013 with Force India back in December, before the negotiations between the Ferrari-linked Jules Bianchi became serious.

Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmermann said: "We do not blame the team.  They have always treated us fairly."

Powerbokers Ecclestone, Todt, to meet Thursday
(GMM)  F1 powerbrokers Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt are set to meet on Thursday, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The topic?  The unsigned 2013 Concorde Agreement.

Although F1 chief executive Ecclestone has inked bilateral financial agreements with all the teams, the signatures are still missing on the crucial pact between the teams, the commercial rights holder, and the FIA.

As the world championship belongs to the FIA, the Paris federation's president Jean Todt might not be too worried.

At the moment, with no Concorde in place, the FIA is completely free to dictate and change the rules and regulations, whilst still collecting the teams' entry fees.

According to German correspondent Michael Schmidt, Ecclestone might not be worried either.

Not having a tripartite agreement signed and sealed might be working in his favor at a timely moment.

The 82-year-old Briton's grip on power might seem under threat by the legal implications of the Gribkowsky corruption scandal, but at present - with no Concorde in place - he is perhaps the only man who can keep the entire circus working seamlessly.

New McLaren 'adapted' for Button's style - Perez
(GMM)  Sergio Perez was quickest in Barcelona on Wednesday, but he also admitted that Jenson Button still rules the McLaren roost.

Asked by Spain's AS newspaper to rate his adaptation from Sauber to McLaren, the young Mexican answered: "From zero to ten, I would say it is a 6 or a 7."

Perez said the "management style and philosophy" of Woking based McLaren and the Swiss team Sauber is fundamentally different, adding that his experienced teammate Button has the advantage of having being involved in the development of the new MP4-28 car.

"Jenson is obviously a very experienced driver and has put a lot into the car," he said.

"It is slightly adapted to his style, so it's up to me to adapt to that, but I'm sure I will be completely ready in Australia.

"In any case, I am delighted with McLaren.  All my life I've dreamed of being on this team, and from day one I have felt at home."

Perez, 23, played down the prospect that his relationship with McLaren could break down, just as it did with other Latin drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso.

"Every year, every race, there are different circumstances with the different drivers," he said.  "There have been other Latin drivers who have won championships here.

"Nationality means very little.  The most important thing is that you have the right circumstances and a good car.

"The car is very different from what I was used to, but it is competitive," he added.

Mercedes moving forward, says Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes are steadily moving forward after a productive day at the second pre-season test around the Circuit de Catalunya.

The Briton was the busiest man on track, completing 121 laps and clocking the fourth fastest time on a day when the 2008 world champion mainly focused on long runs and exhaust layout comparisons.

“We had a good day today and it was nice to get so many laps in,” Hamilton was quoted as saying in a Mercedes press release.

Mercedes have enjoyed a far more productive start to the second pre-season test in Barcelona compared to the first test at Jerez where Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg managed just 29 laps between them over the opening two days.

And while Rosberg had to cope with gearbox issues on the first day of the Barcelona test, he still managed 54 laps and set the fastest time of the session.

Hamilton’s best on Wednesday was a one minute 22.726 and came at the start of a ten-lap run on the hard tire.

“We’re making continual steps forward in terms of our understanding of the set-up and the tires. The hard compound work in particular was pretty good today, although all of the tires are showing degradation so looking after them isn’t easy,” Hamilton said.

2013 is an important year for Mercedes and for Hamilton. The German marque has largely failed to impress since making its return to the sport as a works team in 2010, prompting a management reshuffle in an effort to turn things around.

Vettel not worried by reliability issues
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has refused to dwell on the reliability issues suffered by his RB9 at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday, with the reigning World Champion causing one of two red flags at the Spanish Grand Prix venue this afternoon.

The German, who finished second on the timesheets to McLaren rival Sergio Pérez at the end of his second day at the wheel, racked up 84 laps around the technical problems and is remaining in a positive frame of mind about his new contender.

"We had some issues with reliability today and we couldn’t do as many laps as we wanted, but I think it’s better that this kind of thing happens today rather than in Australia," Vettel commented. "It was nothing disastrous, just small things that hampered us today.

"We stopped the car once as we saw a small loss of pressure. The second stop towards the end of the day caused a red flag and it took too much time to turn everything around, so we couldn’t get out again."

Mark Webber will take over the Red Bull cockpit on Thursday, with the Australian getting back behind the wheel for the first time since the first pre-season test at Jerez.

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