Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
Alexander Rossi and Ma Qing Hua confirmed as reserve Caterham drivers
|Alexander Rossi's F1 career could be over before it starts - nothing good comes out of being a backmarker running with last place team|
- Mercedes better than McLaren for driver 'focus' - Hamilton
- Winter leaves F1 'unprepared' for 2013 season
- Struggling Caterham remove dubious exhaust
- Pirelli wants new F1 contract soon
- Kovalainen, not Petrov, in running for Razia's seat
- Grosjean 'did not learn' from 2012 mistakes - Villeneuve
- Former friends Hamilton, Sutil to meet
- Williams opts to remove 'illegal' exhaust vane
- McLaren confirms Lowe joining Mercedes New
Alexander Rossi and Ma Qing Hua confirmed as reserve Caterham drivers
Alexander Rossi and Ma Qing Hua have today been confirmed as Caterham F1 Team’s Reserve Drivers, joining Race Drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde in the team’s driver line-up.
As Reserve Driver, Alexander comes with a large amount of experience and success in junior formula. He will continue the development he has made with Caterham F1 Team since first driving for the team at the 2011 Abu Dhabi Young Driver test and building on the Test Driver role he fulfilled in 2012, making his F1 debut in Barcelona in the Spanish Grand Prix FP1 session. As part of his 2013 Reserve Driver role Alexander will be taking part in a number of FP1 sessions throughout the season, building on the experience he has gained with the team since 2011.
Ma Qing Hua is a new addition to the Caterham F1 Team driver roster and will drive in the Chinese Grand Prix FP1 session for Caterham F1 Team as part of his Reserve Driver program in 2013. In addition, Ma will be racing throughout the forthcoming season with Caterham Racing in the GP2 series, giving him the opportunity to compete against some of the best young talent in motorsport whilst being fully integrated into the F1 environment.
Ma already has FP1 experience on his CV, having driven in four Friday practice sessions in 2012. He first competed in motorsport in 2005 in the Asian Formula Renault Challenge, and in Italian F3000, and since then he has competed in various series including A1 Grand Prix and the British Formula 3 Championship.
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal of Caterham F1 Team: “I’m very pleased to welcome Ma into our team. Alexander continues his development with us into 2013 and his promotion is a reflection of the investment we are making in him for the future”.
“Ma joins us with previous F1 experience from 2012, and will play a key role in helping our GP2 team achieve their 2013 goals. We are looking forward to helping him develop his talents, both in the F1 and GP2 environments, and giving Chinese fans a figurehead to support on track throughout the year ahead.
“As Reserve Drivers, both Alexander and Ma will attend every race with us and will be driving in a number of FP1 sessions to continue their development. One of the main challenges facing young drivers moving up to F1 is the sheer number of people they have to interact with compared to any other level of their motorsport career. They go from a small number in Formula Renault 3.5 to more than 15 in F1, across engineering, performance, reliability, engine, KERS, strategy, communications and marketing. The program we have devised for Alexander and Ma will allow them to immerse themselves completely in the F1 environment throughout 2013, preparing them for the day when they take the next step up to the ultimate level.”
Alexander Rossi: "After many discussions this winter with Caterham F1 Team regarding my 2013 program, today’s announcement brings me even closer to my goal of racing in F1.
|Alexander Rossi and Ma Qing Hua|
“2013 will be my third season with the Caterham family and I’ve built solid relationships within the whole team. My goals from the Friday practice sessions that I will drive this season is to fulfill the team’s runplan for each session, work closely with everyone and learn as much as possible, always being ready for the next opportunity. As Caterham F1 Team’s Reserve Driver I will attend all F1 events, allowing me to integrate fully within in the team technically, commercially and from a sporting perspective in F1, best preparing me for the next step.
“I want to thank Caterham shareholders Tony and Kamarudin for their complete support and Team Principal, Cyril Abiteboul for the trust he has placed in me to carry out these duties. I plan to make the most of this season and the opportunities afforded to me so I’ll be best prepared for what comes next.”
Ma Qing Hua: “I am very excited about joining the Caterham family and would like to thank everyone at Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing for giving me the chance to race in GP2 and to extend my F1 experience.
“Both teams have everything they need to keep growing in the right direction and I am looking forward to playing an important role in helping them achieve what they’ve set out to this year. I know the fans at home will be really excited to see me race in GP2 and with the F1 work I also have ahead of me, China can be proud that it continues to have a driver involved in motor racing at the very highest level.”
Mercedes better than McLaren for driver 'focus' - Hamilton
(GMM) Mercedes is better than McLaren at putting "the focus on the driver", Lewis Hamilton has claimed after moving teams for the first time after six years in formula one.
It is believed one of the reasons the 2008 world champion decided to leave McLaren is because Mercedes was offering a lighter deal in terms of the team's non-driving expectations.
"We still have sponsors, sponsors' appearances and filming days," he told reporters at the final Barcelona test on Thursday.
"There is not a huge difference. (Just that) the focus is on the driver, the driver's performance, the driver being ready for the job at hand.
"That's one thing I'm noticing is a little bit better here," added Hamilton.
Winter leaves F1 'unprepared' for 2013 season
(GMM) The F1 world was ruing the cold and wet Barcelona weather on Thursday, as the last days of pre-season testing began a fortnight ahead of the 2013 season opener.
"I do wonder why we come here to test every winter," Pirelli's Paul Hembery is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"In the past we have talked about going to Bahrain. Maybe that makes more sense," he said.
With more bad weather forecast, Hembery's frustration was widespread in the paddock.
"Teams have never gone into a new season so unprepared," said Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.
Agreed Sauber designer Matt Morris: "It's virtually impossible to size up the opposition."
One reporter told team newcomer Sergio Perez he seems "nervous" about a lack of dry running and understanding of the new McLaren.
"I wouldn't say nervous," he insisted, "I'm just a little disappointed I didn't get more time on a dry track before we go to Melbourne.
"We're not fully prepared for the first race," the Mexican admitted to O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, "but I'm sure everyone in the paddock is in the same condition."
Ferrari's Massa added: "It's what we have, these are the rules -- what can we do? We have to make the most of it."
Mark Webber was fastest at the end of day one in Barcelona, and he said Red Bull's weather forecast is for better conditions on Sunday.
"But still nothing like Melbourne," said the Australian, "and not much like the conditions we will get at most other races."
Ferrari's Felipe Massa thinks it will be clear "a lot of teams are competitive" once the season finally kicks off.
"The Red Bull is definitely a very good car," he said. "Also the Lotus and McLaren.
"A podium in Australia would be fantastic," the Brazilian added.
Struggling Caterham remove dubious exhaust
(GMM) Caterham has followed Williams' lead by removing a dubious solution for its Coanda-effect exhaust from its 2013 car.
Williams tweaked the specification of its FW35 as last week's testing concluded, and on Thursday - as the final days of running in Barcelona began - it was clear Caterham was also now fielding a more conventional design.
In the green car, Frenchman Charles Pic ended Thursday's running a half-second behind the Marussia.
In Speed Week, technical expert Gary Anderson said the black and red Lotus is offering drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean "outstanding" traction.
"In that respect," he said, "the Caterham is the opposite of a Lotus."
Pirelli wants new F1 contract soon
(GMM) Pirelli is pushing hard for an early decision about whether it will remain F1's official tire supplier beyond 2013.
Now towards the end of its existing three-season deal, the Italian marque has made clear it wants to stay.
But "Time is pressing on," motor sport director Paul Hembery is quoted by Britain's Sky.
And according to Italiaracing, the fluent Italian speaker added: "The negotiations are ongoing and there is progress, but nothing conclusive.
"For sure we should not be here in June or July, talking about how things are going," said Briton Hembery.
Kovalainen, not Petrov, in running for Razia's seat
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has emerged as a surprise contender to keep his formula one career alive in 2013.
Ousted by Caterham, the Finn is reportedly in talks with Marussia about replacing the Brazilian Luiz Razia, whose F1 debut is on the skids over delayed sponsorship payments.
MTV3, the Finnish broadcaster, is citing 'several credible sources' in reporting that 31-year-old Kovalainen is in with a shout of becoming Max Chilton's teammate.
Multiple other media sources are reporting the same, based on swirling rumors in the Barcelona paddock that Razia will not be driving the Cosworth-powered Marussia this week.
"Nothing is certain until it is certain," said MTV3 commentator Oskari Saari, "but that discussions are taking place is a fact."
Saari added that it is "quite possible" Kovalainen will test the new MR02 on Saturday.
Britain's Sky reports that Kovalainen has already had a seat fitting at Marussia's factory, and is offering to race in 2013 for free.
"We have to do what is best for the whole team," Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon said.
"If there are changes it will be for the good of the team."
It has also been rumored that Narain Karthikeyan and Jules Bianchi are possible contenders for Razia's seat.
Meanwhile, Vitaly Petrov's manager Oksana Kosachenko was in the Barcelona paddock on Thursday, sparking rumors of a Russian team-and-driver lineup for 2013.
But Kosachenko said: "We've already seen the Russian presence of the team diminish.
"The Russians on the team are almost gone," she told f1news.ru, "Nikolai Fomenko stopped going to the races. The Russians are actually only the owners and the license holders.
"This year, Vitaly will not be in formula one," Kosachenko confirmed.
Grosjean 'did not learn' from 2012 mistakes - Villeneuve
(GMM) Romain Grosjean, denounced by Mark Webber last year as the 'first lap nutcase', insists he has changed for the better ahead of the 2013 season.
But 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve doesn't think so.
"The only reason he has the chance of winning is because he has an incredible car," French Canadian Villeneuve, who has been signed up by F1's new French broadcaster Canal+ for 2013, said.
"His only problem is that he does not learn from his mistakes," the former Williams and Sauber driver is quoted by France's RMC Sport.
"I found all of last year's nonsense amazing," continued Villeneuve. "He didn't change from the first to the last race.
"It's a shame because he is a very fast driver."
Of the other F1 drivers, outspoken Villeneuve admitted that his favorite is Fernando Alonso.
"The best car is certainly Adrian Newey's Red Bull. But apart from Alonso, there is no driver capable of driving at the limit of the car the whole race.
"When Vettel does, he makes mistakes," said the 41-year-old.
"The only standout is Alonso.
"After him, maybe Lewis Hamilton. He is no longer at McLaren, with his family, and so he is not protected any more, but he is a fighter so it will be very interesting," added Villeneuve.
Former friends Hamilton, Sutil to meet
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Thursday sounded keen to patch up his broken friendship with returning F1 rival Adrian Sutil.
As German Sutil's career was in tatters amid the Eric Lux assault affair, long-time friend Hamilton refused to appear as a witness at the trial.
Sutil, now 30, is returning to the grid after a one-year absence with Force India this year, and both the German and Hamilton are testing this week in Spain.
"I emailed him a couple of times and I emailed him a while ago saying that I heard that he could get the seat and that I hoped he would because he deserved it," Hamilton told reporters in Barcelona.
"I also emailed him on the way here as soon as I found out, saying congratulations, and that I was happy for him. I haven't heard back from him but I'm sure at some stage we will get to talk," added the Mercedes driver.
Sutil was fined EUR 200,000 and given an 18-month suspended sentence for the assault, and as he exited F1 he denounced Hamilton as a "coward".
Asked about his relationship with Hamilton, he said on Thursday: "I haven't spoken to him. I have no relationship with him.
"For sure I will meet up with him, but I don't know what will happen," added Sutil.
Williams opts to remove 'illegal' exhaust vane
Williams has removed the exhaust vane that was present on the launch version of its FW35 chassis, with governing body the FIA recently declaring the concept illegal.
The Grove-based squad's latest contender featured a split vane concept inside its exhaust tunnel at last week's penultimate pre-season test in Barcelona, aimed at better directing the airflow over the floor area to further exploit the Coanda effect.
Along with rivals Caterham, which launched its new CT03 with a single exhaust vane, Williams felt certain that its design approach was legal, but the FIA quickly made its stance known and deemed it to be a breach of the technical regulations.
Williams, which ended the opening day of the final test in fourth place with Valtteri Bottas, had previously stated that a change would have little effect on performance.
McLaren confirms Lowe joining Mercedes
McLaren's Sam Michael has confirmed the widely expected news that former Technical Director Paddy Lowe will move to rivals Mercedes in 2014. After 20 years as a member of the Woking-based squad, Lowe is due to join the Silver Arrows from the start of next year and will see out the 2013 Formula 1 campaign on gardening leave.
"I think first of all, Paddy has been with the team for almost 20 years and is a fantastic guy and a great asset to McLaren, but he has taken his choice to move to Mercedes and we wish him all the best," Michael told Sky Sports on Friday, with McLaren not revealing the identity of Lowe's new team when his exit was announced.
Reiterating Jenson Button's comments earlier in the week, Michael eased concerns that Lowe's exit could signal the start of a struggle at McLaren. In response to the situation, Tim Goss has been promoted to the role of Technical Director.
"We have looked at things internally and restructured and now Tim Goss is Technical Director and he is the one that has been responsible for a lot of the technical design and development of the previous McLarens over the last two years and then four years ago and six years ago - so Tim is extremely experienced," Michael added. "One of the great things about McLaren is that strength in depth is something we have a lot of."
Lowe will be joining a reinvigorated Mercedes outfit, which is now overseen by former Williams Executive Director Toto Wolff. The 50-year-old's switch casts an element of doubt over Team Principal Ross Brawn's position, who recently stated: "With a lot of additions I want to see how things go before I make a long-term commitment."