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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Paddy Lowe went for the cash grab
    McLaren says Mercedes wooed Lowe with 'exotic salary'
  • V6 to deliver less horse power, eighth gear - Renault
  • Bad weather and car 'holes' for final winter test
  • Alguersuari, Schumacher to race karts
  • Salo tips Raikkonen to fight for Melbourne pole
  • Susie Wolff eyes F1 super license
  • Ecclestone Says He Wants To Keep Australian Grand Prix In Melbourne New
  • Pirelli plays down degradation fears New
  • Button unfazed by Lowe's impending exit New 

McLaren says Mercedes wooed Lowe with 'exotic salary'
(GMM)  McLaren suspects its former technical director Paddy Lowe was lured to Mercedes on the promise of a "telephone number salary".

"From time to time we have all done it," managing director Jonathan Neale told reporters this week, after McLaren confirmed it has installed Tim Goss in Lowe's former role, as the 50-year-old begins a period of 'gardening leave'.

"People are prepared to pay exotic salaries and wait 12 or 18 months, or longer in some cases.  That's the state of the market," he said.

It is strongly rumored that Lowe is headed to Mercedes, where multiple sources insist he will almost certainly replace team boss Ross Brawn.

"He (Lowe) has to think about number one," Jenson Button, who has worked closely with Lowe since joining the Woking based team as world champion in 2010, said.

Button denied Lowe's departure is a personal blow.

"I didn't come here because Paddy was here, I didn't come here because Lewis (Hamilton) was here," said the 33-year-old.

"I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history, and - a word we always use, but it is the truth - its 'strength in depth'."

Having also lost star driver Hamilton to Mercedes, some have suggested McLaren's similar failure to hang onto its top engineer is a major management error.

Neale insisted: "The reality is that if somebody rolls up and says 'I don't like being here, you are not paying me enough money' or whatever, then even if you have a good contract, you don't want them in the team anyway."

So with Lowe looking set to oust Mercedes' Brawn, could McLaren make a move for the former Ferrari technical director?

"Ross, by his own admission, would say he hasn't achieved what he wanted to in the last few years," answered Neale.

"He is still a fantastic guy and still well respected through the industry -- a great leader of men and a good technical guy.

"But it is about the chemistry and the blend," he added.

V6 to deliver less horse power, eighth gear - Renault
(GMM)  With the sophisticated 'ERS' energy recovery systems to complement next year's V6 engines, F1 is not set to lose much horse power.

That is the claim of Rob White, engine supplier Renault's technical boss.

"Today's engines produce around 750 horse power," White, referring to the normally aspirated V8 units that will be used for the very last time in 2013, told Speed Week.

"In qualifying, with the high performance (ERS) system, we will come very close to this value (with the turbo V6s)," he explained.

"In the race, with fuel consumption altering the objective, it will be at 550 to 600 hp," added White.

Another change next year is the move from 7-speed to 8-speed gearboxes.

Fans and promoters are, however, worried about the inferior sound of the new 1.6 liter units.

"The concern is unfounded," White insisted.  "The new engines are loud and the sound does justice to formula one.

"The glowing turbo is also a spectacle visually."

White said F1's engine makers are currently negotiating about possibly being allowed to test the V6 engines in the weeks before the usual February test period next year.

Finally, as the teams consider the higher cost of being engine customers in 2014 and beyond, White explained: "We hope to be able to balance the cost against the fact that we will have stable rules for at least seven years."

Bad weather and car 'holes' for final winter test
(GMM)  Teams are concerned about a forecast of bad weather for the final week of pre-season testing, according to the German language Speed Week.

Last week, the 'middle' Spanish test ended with cold and wet conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"I can't remember having a full test day this cold," said Australian Mark Webber.

More of the same is en route again to northeastern Spain.

The last four days of testing before the season opener in Australia begins in Barcelona on Thursday, and on the morning of the opening day "it will start raining", predicted correspondent Mathias Brunner.

The cold weather and rain is forecast to continue on Friday and possibly into early Saturday, with only the last day of running on Sunday so far looking sunny.

As well as scanning the radar images, eyes this week will also be straining to catch a glimpse of rival teams' final Melbourne-spec technical packages.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has already spied conspicuous and mysterious 'holes' on the Sauber, Ferrari and Red Bull cars.

Sauber began the trend for nose inlets last year, and now the new Ferrari has a hole that resembles a shark's mouth in the area beneath the nose of the car.

"And if you look closely," said correspondent Tobias Gruner, "you can also recognize an intake on the Red Bull."

Alguersuari, Schumacher to race karts
(GMM)  Unable to find a race seat for his F1 return, Jaime Alguersuari has signed up for a season of kart racing.

Spain's El Confidencial reports that the former Toro Rosso driver will combine his continuing role as Pirelli test driver with a seat in the powerful KZ kart category of the European championship.

"The truth is that I miss competition and so I will compete in what most resembles a formula one car," said the 22-year-old.

"I don't know if I will return to formula one but I don't want to believe that my career is over at twenty two," added Alguersuari.

It has also emerged that the newly re-retired Michael Schumacher is returning to kart racing, and will contest the WSK Euro Series race at Ialy's La Conca circuit for Tony Kart.

Curiously, one of his competitors this weekend will be Max Verstappen, the 15-year-old son of his former Benetton teammate, Dutchman Jos Verstappen.

Salo tips Raikkonen to fight for Melbourne pole
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has been tipped to fight for pole in Australia next month, and the world championship in 2013.

"I am quite sure Kimi will fight for the championship," fellow Finn Mika Salo, now a commentator for the MTV3 broadcaster, said.

After two seasons in rallying, 2007 world champion Raikkonen returned to formula one with Lotus last year, finishing the championship third and winning in Abu Dhabi.

"Last year he was not able to consistently show good results all of the time, and the team made mistakes that should not be repeated," said former Sauber and Ferrari driver Salo.

"It is clear that the Lotus has now improved.  I have no doubt that, in Australia, Kimi will fight for pole position."

Susie Wolff eyes F1 super license
(GMM)  Susie Wolff has vowed to continue her "step by step" progress towards the F1 grid.

Last year just a development driver, Williams has ramped up the 30-year-old Scot's program for 2013, and earlier this month she was bestowed the honor of debuting the new FW35 during an aerodynamic test.

Revealing that Bernie Ecclestone is "massively pushing" for a woman to join the exclusively-male grid in the near future, Wolff said her next goal is to obtain an FIA super license.

That is the mandatory credential to be allowed to drive during a grand prix weekend, including holding the status as an official stand-in 'reserve' driver.

"Things are going well," Wolff, whose husband is the Mercedes shareholder and boss Toto Wolff, said.

"I think we are going step by step and, of course, the next step will be to get my super license," she is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"I don't want to come out and just say 'Yes, I want to be on the grid next year'," insisted Wolff.

"My plan is to get the license, have more time in the car, help the team as much as I can and just keep going step by step."

Ecclestone Says He Wants To Keep Australian Grand Prix In Melbourne
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "has offered to sign a contract 10 times longer than usual to keep" the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne's Albert Park, according to Peter Rolfe of the HERALD SUN. Ecclestone said, "We hope we're going to be in Melbourne forever, although we do get a bit of criticism and I don't know why. We're happy with Melbourne, and I'd be happy to sign a 50-year contract."

The Grand Prix Corp. said Ecclestone's wish to have the race at Albert Park for another 50 years was a "wonderful sentiment," but it didn't mean Melbourne could take it for granted. With the Australian Grand Prix contract to expire in '15, Ecclestone said that "he intended to travel to Melbourne for the first time in eight years to kick-start negotiations before next month's race."

But, in an apparent snub of the State Government, he said that "he would talk only" to Grand Prix Chair Ron Walker. Ecclestone said, "The only person I deal with is Ron Walker."

In an exclusive interview, Ecclestone also revealed that "other states had contacted him trying to snatch the race from Victoria when the current contract expired." But he said that he was "determined to keep the event in Melbourne." Herald Sun

Autosport's Sam Tremayne Ecclestone also "played down the significance of growing complaints about the cost of the race" after an Australian newspaper revealed the hosting fee was more than £20M ($30.3M) per year.

Asked what the fee secured, Ecclestone said: "To get a Formula 1 event, the same as anyone else in the world. Melbourne probably doesn't need to be put on the map, but that's what Formula 1 does for a city: it gets an awful lot more worldwide television coverage than other events Melbourne has." He added: "Whenever these sorts of things happen, I'm told don't be silly about that, it's just one or two people making noise." Autosport

Pirelli plays down degradation fears
Pirelli has downplayed concerns that the high levels of tire degradation could be a major problem this season.

Several drivers admitted that they were worried about how quickly the rubber wore off during the second pre-season test in Barcelona with McLaren's Sergio Perez saying it is "extreme" and "a big surprise".

However, Pirelli's Director of Motorsport Paul Hembery believes the weather had a big impact on the tires at the Circuit de Catalunya and is confident the rubber will last much longer at the Melbourne season opener.

"The teams experienced quite high degradation in Barcelona, and that was really down to the weather," he said in a Pirelli statement.

"The conditions we had in Barcelona are far from typical of the rest of the season, with much cooler ambient and track temperatures than we would normally race in, and even some rain on the final day. This put the tires outside of their usual working ranges, which led to problems such as graining.

"The conditions were particularly unsuited to the supersoft tire, due to the circuit layout and the roughness of the surface in addition to the cold temperatures. Coupled with the fact that teams are still making big set-up adjustments to their new cars and trying out our complete range of our tires to optimize the package, we saw levels of degradation that are not typical.

"Once we get to Melbourne the tires should be much more within their intended working range, which will eliminate the unusual amount of degradation that some teams have experienced."

Button unfazed by Lowe's impending exit
Jenson Button is confident that McLaren will remain a formidable team without the engineering qualities of Paddy Lowe, whose future departure from the outfit was announced on Monday. Tim Goss has taken on the role of Technical Director, while Lowe is expected to complete a move to rivals Mercedes for the 2014 campaign.

Button, who joined McLaren after his title-winning campaign of 2009, reiterated that one of the Woking-based squad’s key qualities is its ‘strength in depth’, with Lewis Hamilton and Lowe’s respective decisions to leave not causing undue concern.

"I didn't come here because Paddy was here and I didn't come here because Lewis was here," said 33-year-old Button. "I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history - its strength in depth. It's not about one individual, it's about the full team, and Paddy leaving is part of the sport. This team will succeed with or without Paddy in the future."

Button was also quick to wish Lowe well for his yet to be confirmed future career, describing an extremely pleasant working relationship with the 50-year-old.

"I really like Paddy," he added. "It has been good fun working with him over the past three years, not just in terms of a working relationship, but also as a friend because he is a good guy and a fun character. But things change and he wants a new challenge, so fair play to him. He has to think about number one. Good luck to him."

Meanwhile, Button has backed Goss to thrive in his new role as technical chief: "Having Tim in the position he is now in is fantastic. He was exceptional in his previous role and I think he will be in this role. He knows exactly what he is doing."

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