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

  • Luiz Razia
    Razia left out of Marussia's Barcelona test
  • Sutil hopes Mercedes helps for Force India seat
  • Hulkenberg changes shoes to fit in Sauber
  • McLaren struggling with 2013 car - Button
  • Pirelli plays down 'extreme' wear of 2013 tires
  • Canada GP contract delay over upgrade cost
  • Rosberg sure Mercedes can be race winner in 2013
  • Williams F1 Team and Oris Continue Their Long Standing Partnership New
  • Button fears he hasn't spent enough time in car as rain is expected at Barcelona on Friday New
  • Webber backs Red Bull's evolutionary approach New
  • Button: 2013 tires easier to understand New

Razia left out of Marussia's Barcelona test
(GMM)  Luiz Razia, Marussia's second race driver for 2013, has been left out of this week's testing in Barcelona.

The situation is causing alarm within Brazil's F1 media ranks, and raising doubts about whether the 23-year-old's new contract is now in doubt, or whether Max Chilton is simply the clear and favored 'number 1'.

Brazilian Razia was scheduled to run for two of the four days in Spain, but Marussia said the program was changed to exclude Razia because it "made sense to keep Max in the car for consistency".

"Max has done a great job over the last three days," team boss John Booth said on Thursday, "and we've certainly benefited from the consistency this has provided."

Obviously, the situation has triggered rumors.

"It is believed bureaucratic issues have hindered the payment of (Razia's) sponsorship to Marussia," read a report by the Brazilian news agency Agencia Estado.

Razia told O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio: "Sometimes we have to live with these situations.

"But I don't care whether I have the same number of (test) days as Chilton.  In the other series I've competed in, I haven't needed much time to get used to a car."

Veteran journalist Oricchio has another theory about Chilton's prominence.

"Friends in the paddock have told me that Max Chilton's father is acquiring a portion of Marussia at the end of each of the three seasons of his son's contract.

"It is known that their investment in Marussia is far greater than that of Razia."

Sutil hopes Mercedes helps for Force India seat
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso was Thursday's fastest in Barcelona, but he was giving little away to the media.

Livio Oricchio, the correspondent for Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, said the fact Ferrari is shielding the drivers from the press this winter is "angering" those in the media centre.

At any rate, the so-billed 'shootout' between Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi for the last seat on the 2013 grid is attracting more attention anyway.

Frenchman Bianchi is scheduled to drive the new Force India on Friday, but the weather forecast is for rain all day.

After a season on the bench, German Sutil impressed the Silverstone based team on Thursday with a time quicker than his potential 2013 teammate, Paul di Resta.

"It's obvious that I'm still quick and that's very important," he told reporters.  "Hopefully I'll get the drive ... what can I say?"

The 30-year-old, however, acknowledged that it's not a straight fight, as were Williams' 'shootouts' between Jenson Button and Bruno Junqueira in 2000, or Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia in 2005.

"There's a little bit of business behind it," said Sutil, alluding to his links with Mercedes and Bianchi's to Ferrari, regarding Force India's eventual choice of V6 engine supplier.

He admitted to F1's official website: "My relationship with Mercedes has always been good and hopefully they are heavily interested in having me in the car this season."

Deputy team boss Bob Fernley said on Thursday that the team's shareholders will make their decision probably at the weekend.

Sutil smiled: "They've been saying for a month that it happens in the next week.  Let's see who is on the grid in Melbourne," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

Hulkenberg changes shoes to fit in Sauber
(GMM)  Sauber has found a highly-technical solution to the problem of Nico Hulkenberg's oversized feet.

Earlier this month, we reported that the tall German's feet are a tight squeeze in the footwell of his new C32, and "The car cannot be rebuilt", Bild newspaper said.

Hulkenberg grappled with the problem at the recent Jerez test by literally cutting away at the heel and toe of his racing boots.

Now in Barcelona for the second week of testing, the 25-year-old told Auto Motor und Sport: "The problem was simply that we did not have the correct size (boot).

"We have the right shoes now, and they fit.  We did not need to change the chassis," he smiled.

McLaren struggling with 2013 car - Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button has admitted McLaren is grappling with its new car for 2013.

Unlike most other main rivals, notably Red Bull and Ferrari, McLaren - whose British driver Button won the 2012 finale in Brazil - did not simply 'evolve' last year's car for the new season.

Red Bull's outspoken Dr Helmut Marko said this week he didn't understand why McLaren changed so much between 2013 and 2013.

Mark Webber agrees: "This sport is hard enough - and the cars difficult enough to understand technically - without taking risks unnecessarily."

Indeed, things are going well in the Red Bull camp.

"I'm very happy with the car, with the balance, how it feels," Germany's SID news agency quotes world champion Sebastian Vettel as saying.

McLaren's contrasting philosophy, however, was that development of the 2012 concept was almost exhausted, and so a new base was necessary.

Button explained that, had the Woking team simply evolved the MP4-27, "I think after three or four races you would realize that you're at the end of the development curve with it".

The problem right now, though, is that McLaren is struggling to "understand where the car is".

Button continued: "At times it feels good, at others it doesn't."

There are whispers in the paddock that arguably the best-performing car at the present moment is the evolved Lotus.

Romain Grosjean did a four-stop race simulation on Thursday, and team boss Eric Boullier beamed afterwards that - towards the end of the faux race - the E21 seemed to be showing potentially grand prix-winning pace.

"It (Lotus' pace) certainly was not bad," Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg told Auto Motor und Sport.

"But Lotus was also good here during winter testing last year."

McLaren's Button thinks it's too early to say if there's a standout performer in 2013.

"I don't know," he said.  "All I know is that no one is massively standing out."

Pirelli plays down 'extreme' wear of 2013 tires
(GMM)  The alarm in the paddock about Pirelli's 2013 tires is growing louder with every day.

The latest shock is the performance of the new 'supersoft' tire, which - to the circus' collective surprise - will be supplied to teams in Melbourne next month.

Williams' Pastor Maldonado tried the compound in Barcelona on Thursday, and - according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport - it proved not only unpredictable and heavily-degrading, but also slower than the harder 'soft' variant.

But in truth, now is not the time for the sport to panic about the prospect of ten-stop pit strategies in 2013.

Sergio Perez had put voice to the alarm this week by flagging the "extreme" degradation of the new Pirellis, but he now notes: "We were also very worried about the tires last year.

"Then in Melbourne in warmer weather everything was much more normal," said the Mexican.

Indeed, F1 drivers tested the 2013 tires during practice in Brazil late last year, and there was no subsequent panicking.

"So," said Mark Webber, "we are optimistic that in Melbourne, on a much warmer track, the cars will slide less and we will not have the dramatic graining that we've seen here."

Lotus' Romain Grosjean did a four-stop race simulation in Barcelona on Thursday, while Australian Webber had to stop for tires five times when he conducted a race simulation.

But Paul Hembery, Pirelli's motor racing director, thinks that while Melbourne will be much warmer, the teams will also be smarter once the 2013 season actually begins.

"We believe we will see two to three stops in Melbourne," he is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo.

Pirelli's racing manager Mario Isola, speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais in Barcelona, agrees: "Perez is more scared than he should be.

"All we've done is try to slightly increase the spectacle of the racing, but we haven't done anything dramatic."

Perez's teammate, the veteran and former world champion Jenson Button, added in Barcelona: "The tire problems we are all having here are completely normal for these conditions.

"Barcelona has a rough surface, there are high speed corners, and it's cold.  What do you expect?

"Pirelli can't make tires tailored for winter testing," he insisted.

Canada GP contract delay over upgrade cost
(GMM)  A new deal for the Canadian grand prix could be delayed, as organizers discover the renovation of the ageing Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will cost more than expected.

Bernie Ecclestone has said he is happy to ink a new long-term deal for the Montreal race, so long as the track is brought up to standard with some renovations.

La Presse newspaper reports that the original estimate of the renovation was $25 million, but a source 'very close' to the discussions now reveals that the actual quote commissioned by the government has come back at $40 million.

The quote has reportedly forced a "reassessment", and the delay of a definitive deal with F1's chief executive for now.

Rosberg sure Mercedes can be race winner in 2013
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg thinks Mercedes' 2013 car is a potential winner.

The German won last April's Chinese grand prix, but thereafter the Brackley based team suffered a collapse in car development and fell badly off the pace.

New teammate Lewis Hamilton has been playing down expectations following the new W04's launch, but Rosberg - who has driven for Mercedes alongside Michael Schumacher since 2010 - is more outwardly confident.

"I just want to win races," he told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper, "and I am very confident I can do it pretty quickly with this car.

"We still need to catch up," the German, whose father is the 1982 world champion and Finn Keke Rosberg, warned.

So, to Spain's Marca newspaper, Rosberg played down hopes Mercedes could fly out of the box in 2013 and immediately start charging for the championship.

But asked if the W04 can ultimately win multiple races this year, he said: "It's what we want to do, but at the end of last season we lost a second a lap.  It's very difficult to make up that difference in one winter.

"You have to bear in mind that all the teams are improving their cars.  But I think we're much closer and the speed at which we can develop the car now looks very good.

"That's what we were not good at last year."

Ultimately, Rosberg said the real pecking order will only be known in Australia, the scene of next month's 2013 opener.

He does, however, expect Red Bull to lead the field.

"I think so, more or less," said the 27-year-old.  "For sure Red Bull is the team to beat."

Williams F1 Team and Oris Continue Their Long Standing Partnership
The Williams F1 Team is pleased to announce that its long-term Official Watch Partner, Oris, has again renewed and upgraded its sponsorship of the team ahead of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship.

This will be Oris' eleventh full season as an Official Partner of the Williams F1 Team, after entering into partnership in 2003 and having subsequently enjoyed a strong relationship.  For 2013, the Oris logo will feature on the cars' front wing and cockpit shoulders.  Oris will also continue its presence on the driver and mechanic overalls, driver gloves and driver helmets.

Oris has a heritage of over 100 years of watch manufacturing in Holstein, Switzerland and is the world's leading manufacturer of mechanical watches.  Its watch designs always incorporate a hallmark red rotor as an integral element of the design mechanism.  The Oris designers work with the latest technology at the cutting edge of watch making to meet the highest quality standards while remaining true to the company's characteristic designs.

Ulrich W. Herzog, Executive Chairman of Oris, commented; "The prestigious world of Formula One continues to be the perfect platform to promote Oris and renewing the partnership reinforces our support and commitment to the Williams F1 Team.  We at Oris identify ourselves with the competitive racing environment and the commitment to quality and success."

Sir Frank Williams, Team Principal of the Williams F1 Team, added; "It gives me great pleasure when one of our existing partners renews their engagement with the team, especially when it is one of the longest standing relationships in our sponsorship portfolio. We very much look forward to continuing our relationship with them in the season ahead and I'd like to thank them for their continued support."

Button fears he hasn't spent enough time in car as rain is expected at Barcelona on Friday.
The McLaren driver replaced his teammate Sergio Perez for the final two days of running at the Spanish track.

However, Button's track-time on Thursday was curtailed due to set-up and mechanical changes. He completed just 71 laps.

The Brit will be in action again on Friday but with rain forecast Button fears McLaren may be falling behind.

"It's going to be wet tomorrow so it's tricky," he said.

"I don't feel like I've had enough laps in the car and I think it's the same for Checo [Perez] as well.

"We're doing a lot of work to really understand the car in terms of the aerodynamics.

"We were doing a lot of rake work in the morning and it always takes a little bit longer than you expect. You lose a lot of time doing that.

"It's important for us if it helps us throughout the year to understand this car and its direction but it does limit your testing."

Asked whether he felt McLaren were behind in their preparations, he said: "In terms of laps completed and the testing that I have achieved, yes, I think we're behind on that.

"It's not been perfect and we know we've got a lot of work to do in terms of spending more time out on the circuit and understanding the car."

Webber backs Red Bull's evolutionary approach
Rival McLaren has made more dramatic changes for its new car, but Jenson Button said on Thursday it was struggling to understand the MP4-28 at present.

Webber believes that shows the worth of Red Bull's outwardly conservative design strategy.

"The most important thing is to know where you've come from. And we know what we've had," he said.

"To really start shooting in the dark is not really something that we're in the business of trying to do.

"It's hard enough technically to try and understand everything without starting to take uncharacteristic risks that you might not necessarily need to make with the concept of a car."

Webber added that there was a risk Red Bull's plan might turn out to be less successful in the long term.

"Adrian [Newey] and everyone have made the decisions that they think are right for RB9 at this point in February," he said.

"Let's see how the season unfolds." Yahoo Eurosport

Button: 2013 tires easier to understand
Although the rate at which tires lose performance has been a dominant theme of pre-season testing so far, Button said that there has been no problem understanding how to get the rubber working, unlike last year.

"This year is more difficult in terms of graining than last year, but in terms of understanding the tire it's a lot easier," he said.

"You can get it in its working range, and you know by lap three or four it's going to start graining.

"Compared to last season, it's more of a fair playing field.

"Last year there were teams who could the tires working but not know why. It was just because their cars worked with those tires.

"Other teams really had to fight to get those tires to work. They were really on a knife-edge.

"It took us six or seven months to really get a handle on the tires, like a lot of teams, whereas these tires are different.

"They're much easier to understand and easier to get in their working range."

But Red Bull's Mark Webber believes the revised tires still have potential to deliver 'random' results in another way.

He argued that the anticipated high number of pitstops and difficulty in finding grip increased the prospect of top teams tripping up.

"We know when you have multiple stops and a lot of degradation in the races, there's more chance for things to go wrong, so there can be mixed results," said Webber. Yahoo Eurosport

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