Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
|No night race for Melbourne|
- Race boss rules out Melbourne night race
- Tost wants winter testing in Middle East
- Prost worried 2013 could be Red Bull whitewash
- McLaren electronics causing trouble in Melbourne
- Maldonado struggles with 'undriveable' FW35 New
- Ralf Schumacher announces retirement New
Race boss rules out Melbourne night race
(GMM) Australian grand prix boss Andrew Westacott has ruled out organizing a Melbourne night race.
Recently, from the paddock of the final winter test in Barcelona, drivers Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, and team boss Christian Horner, called on the Australian promoters to install floodlights so that the action can be held after dark in future.
Bernie Ecclestone has been pushing for it for years, because the season opener could be beamed live to the bulk European audience at a better hour.
But Westacott is quoted by Speed Week: "How are we going to do that?
"We are in the middle of a city park, not to mention the huge cost to set up the lighting. And it wouldn't just be for the track, but for basically the entire park.
"It's unthinkable," he added.
Tost wants winter testing in Middle East
(GMM) Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost has called on F1 to abandon winter testing in Europe.
The Austrian admitted he would prefer the pre-season runs to be staged in "Abu Dhabi, Bahrain or Abu Dhabi -- as long as the track is licensed by the FIA".
"At least we would have better weather," Tost is quoted by Speed Week.
He said the recent winter running in Jerez and Barcelona, Spain, was "absolutely useless", due to the cold and wet weather.
"None of the (collected) data can be used for the (racing) season," said Tost.
"This year, only two days at best were reasonably acceptable," he added.
Traditionally, F1 teams have ruled out returning to non-European testing on the basis of cost, but Tost insisted that the better weather "would be worth it".
Meanwhile, Speed Week said Tost hinted that Antonio Felix da Costa - the latest cream of Red Bull's junior driver program - could get some Friday morning running later in 2013.
Prost worried 2013 could be Red Bull whitewash
(GMM) Alain Prost is worried 2013 could be a Red Bull whitewash.
The general consensus in the Melbourne paddock is that - while Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes all look competitive - Red Bull continues to lead the pack by a margin.
Quadruple world champion Prost told France's RMC Sport: "I hope there is no team or driver that crushes the opposition, as was the case two years ago with (Sebastian) Vettel.
"I'm a little worried about it, because - to me - the Red Bull looks very good."
Meanwhile, when asked to nominate a most dangerous rival for Red Bull in 2013, team boss Christian Horner told Spanish television Antena 3: "Fernando Alonso."
McLaren electronics causing trouble in Melbourne
(GMM) F1 cars' standard electronic units, supplied by a McLaren subsidiary, are causing problems in 2013.
As the electronic control units (ECU) were upgraded ahead of the turbo V6 debut next year, teams struck trouble during recent testing.
McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) reacted to the bugs, but in Melbourne on Saturday, the telemetry links between the cars and FIA race control failed.
It meant drivers had to revert to watching trackside flags rather than cockpit lights, while race director Charlie Whiting was unable to automatically disable the cars' DRS systems, according to Auto Motor und Sport.
Meanwhile, a Melbourne power outage caused chaos among F1's international television broadcasters in the crucial buildup to qualifying -- which ultimately was delayed due to bad weather.
Maldonado struggles with 'undriveable' FW35
Pastor Maldonado described the Williams FW35 chassis as ‘undriveable’ after being knocked out of the opening qualifying session in Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.
While team-mate Valtteri Bottas narrowly made it through to the next Q2 phase, Maldonado was left below the cut in 17th place after an off-track excursion at Turn 12, prompting him to liken the team’s current struggles to its disastrous 2011 season.
"I think we’re back to where we were two years ago, with the condition of the team," a dejected Maldonado told the gathered media in the Melbourne paddock. "We need to work very hard to sort the problems. The car is undriveable at the moment.
"In the wet conditions we were slow and in the dry we were slow as well. The pace for tomorrow seems to be better for us but our qualifying pace was very bad."
Maldonado will start Sunday's 58-lap Grand Prix on the ninth row of the grid, just ahead of Sauber's Esteban Gutiérrez plus the Marussia and Caterham drivers.
Ralf Schumacher announces retirement
Ralf Schumacher has announced his retirement from racing with immediate effect. The German has been racing in the DTM series for the past five seasons and was set to continue in 2013, but he will now take up a management role at Mücke Motorsport.
"I've been thinking a great deal about my future during the last few weeks and have reached the conclusion that I am better able to support the extensive changes at Mercedes-Benz in a management role than at the wheel," said the 37-year-old.
"I am very grateful for more than two decades in professional motor racing and the last five years with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM. We have plenty of young, up-and-coming talent in our squad of drivers and I am happy to make way for them so that I can concentrate fully on my new responsibilities in the management team at RSC Mücke Motorsport."
Schumacher made his Formula 1 debut with Jordan back in 1997, having won the 1995 Macau Grand Prix and claimed the 1996 Formula Nippon title. He drove for Jordan, Williams and Toyota in the top echelon of motorsport, claiming six victories over an 11-year period. After the 2007 season he quit the sport and switched to DTM, where his best result stands as a second place finish at the Red Bull Ring in 2011.
Pascal Wehrlein will take the place of Schumacher this season. The 18-year-old German has a strong connection with Mercedes and drove for Mücke Motorsport in last year's Formula 3 Euro Series alongside title-winner Daniel Juncadella.