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DATE News (chronologically)
04/15/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday (UPDATED)  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

04/15/13
  • Whitmarsh says Pirelli tires are painful
    F1 tire situation 'painful' - Whitmarsh
  • McLaren should have signed Hulkenberg, not Perez - Brundle
  • Boullier plays down Grosjean's troubles
  • Explosions mark countdown to Bahrain 2013
  • F1 rookies set for extra Friday tires, good news for Rossi
  • Alonso 'just the best' - Weber New
  • Williams will survive if Wolff pulls out New
  • Whitmarsh: Perez needs to toughen up New
  • Moss: Female drivers lack aptitude New

F1 tire situation 'painful' - Whitmarsh
(GMM)  Some members of F1's travelling circus admitted their frustration at the end of the Chinese grand prix.

"It's quite excruciating," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by the Telegraph, "trying to save tires non-stop from start to finish.

"It feels painful, and however bad it is for me, it must be a lot worse if you have to drive like that."

He is referring to the new situation caused by Pirelli's rapidly-wearing 2013 tires.  Some hail the new era that stands in stark contrast to a decade ago, when quite often the pole sitter would be predictably unchallenged to the checkered flag.

Others, however, say F1 is racing away from racing itself.

"Balance of power?  At the moment that's a bit of a joke," said world champion Sebastian Vettel on Sunday when asked his thoughts about the respective strength of the teams.

"It doesn't have much to do with racing, if all you're doing is going easy on the tires.

"If you lose five seconds per lap just because of the tires, that doesn't have much to do with the skill of the driver or how good is the car," he told SID news agency.

Indeed, throughout the Shanghai race, drivers and engineers could be heard on the radios wondering if they should go wheel-to-wheel with their rivals, or simply stick the plan of a strategy based on nursing tire life.

"Previously you could attack," said Vettel, "but now, when it comes to fights, you're a bit in the dark.  Twice today I didn't try to defend myself, because it would have just been shooting myself in the foot."

1997 world champion turned TV pundit Jacques Villeneuve agreed: "I saw a few corners of action and then everybody taking care of their tires.

"That's not real racing," he said on Canal Plus.

According to Niki Lauda and Bernie Ecclestone, the situation could change after Sunday's Bahrain grand prix, with Pirelli reportedly taking a different tack for the European season and beyond.

Told that the status quo is difficult for the spectators to understand, Chinese grand prix winner Fernando Alonso said: "It's the same for us (drivers) too!"

Lauda is quoted by APA news agency: "You have to wonder if it's necessary for the tires to be so on the limit, when everyone has to go in the box just after starting a race.

"It's so complicated, especially for the spectators."

McLaren should have signed Hulkenberg, not Perez - Brundle
(GMM)  Even amid McLaren's competitive slump, the spotlight is shining ever more brightly on Sergio Perez.

The young Mexican was signed by the British team to replace Lewis Hamilton this year and beyond, but some linked the deal with his commercial ties to billionaire Carlos Slim.

He struggled notably in China, admitting it "wasn't my best weekend in terms of pace".

Perez also got caught up in on-track incidents, most notably with Kimi Raikkonen, who screamed 'What the hell he's doing?' after being run wide and colliding.

When the Finn discussed the incident in the green room prior to mounting the podium, third-placed Hamilton agreed: "He (Perez) was all over the place."

Martin Brundle, a former McLaren driver turned British commentator, is quoted by Speed Week as suggesting Nico Hulkenberg would have been a better pick for 2013.

"I still don't understand why McLaren didn't sign this guy (Hulkenberg) up," he said.  "His talent is abundantly clear.

"I would have signed him ten times before (signing) Perez," added Brundle.

For now, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is backing his new 23-year-old driver.

"In terms of the (Raikkonen) incident, I said to him (Perez), 'You have to be out there racing'.

"That means sometimes you've got elbows and you've got to be robust without being dirty."

Boullier plays down Grosjean's troubles
(GMM)  Lotus boss Eric Boullier has backed Romain Grosjean to bounce back from a bad start to the 2013 season.

Last year, while often showing lightning speed, Swiss-born Grosjean became known as F1's 'first lap nutcase', following a series of incidents that culminated in the first race ban issued by the FIA for many years.

Lotus, however, gave the 26-year-old another chance, but so far in 2013 - whilst keeping out of trouble - Frenchman Grosjean has been struggling for pace.

At the same time, in the sister E21, Kimi Raikkonen is already a 2013 winner and a mere 3 points from leading the drivers' championship.

Grosjean has been bemoaning a mystery cause of his woes beneath the skin of his black and red racer, in China dropping from sixth on the grid to just ninth at the flag.

"What is the problem?" he is quoted by France's RMC Sport.  "My driving style?  The tires?

"I do a lap, the car works, I do another, it does not.  We need to understand the reason for this inconsistency," added Grosjean.

Boss Boullier, however, is confident Grosjean and his engineers will find a solution soon.

"He didn't manage to perfect his car with the tires and so he's had a little more trouble (in China)," he said.

"But it is nothing dramatic; everything will go back to normal.

"He just needs to get it working perfectly with his team and his engineer, without losing too much time," added Boullier.

"He will get there, there's no problem."

Explosions mark countdown to Bahrain 2013
(GMM)  Explosions near the F1 track in Bahrain have marked the travelling circus' quick march from China to the island Kingdom.

AP news agency said 'a series of explosions', including a gas cylinder that set a car ablaze but injured no one, set the tone in Bahrain on Sunday, one week before formula one's most controversial annual race.

Bahrain authorities, however, have pledged "adequate" security for the grand prix, which has been under a cloud since the 2011 edition had to be cancelled due to clashes between the government and protesters of the regime.

Albeit expecting there to be some trouble this weekend, Force India deputy boss Bob Fernley said he is not overly worried.

"You'd be a bit foolish to think there's not going to be some sort of protest and things like that," he told Reuters.

"If formula one activates some protests and they want to get things off their chests, that's good as well."

But last year, after a petrol bomb incident, Fernley ruled that Force India would sit out a late practice session so that team members could safely travel from the circuit back to the hotel before nightfall.

Recalling the incident, Fernley said in Shanghai: "Once we'd got over that initial hiccup, we were fine."

F1 rookies set for extra Friday tires, good news for Rossi
Formula 1 teams running rookie drivers like American Alexander Rossi (Caterham reserve driver) during Friday morning practice are set to get an extra set of tires from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards.

Pirelli has proposed to supply an additional set of tires, built to the same construction as the current race rubber but using a more durable compound, for any team running a rookie driver on Friday mornings.

Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery told AUTOSPORT, "For the first half-hour on Friday, nobody is running and they all just sit there looking at an empty track, so we suggested some tires that you are only allowed to use in the first half-hour or something like that.

"It would be a compound that gives you as many laps as you need on the assumption that you run a rookie driver."

"We can do it from Spain as it's relatively easy," he said.

"It would be based on the structure of the current tire, but a completely different compound.

"We can do it from Barcelona but the detail is something that needs to be sorted out with the teams and Charlie Whiting."

Alonso 'just the best' - Weber
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso is the best driver in formula one today.

That is the claim of Willi Weber, the former manager of F1's great Michael Schumacher, the seven time world champion and winner of a record 91 grands prix.

Sebastian Vettel might be the reigning triple world champion, but two-time title winner and Spaniard Alonso is better, Weber told sportradio360.de.

"He's consistent, he's a driver who doesn't talk much, he's always on the pace and makes the best of everything, in every situation, whether inside or outside of the car.

"For me at the moment he's just the best," added Weber.

Once nicknamed 'Mr. 20 Percent', Weber said he also rates Vettel but advises the German to resist the temptation to follow Schumacher and Alonso to Ferrari.

"Right where he is he has the best team, the best car.  I don't know where he wants to go but I could not advise him to do anything other than extend his contract by ten years," he added.

Williams will survive if Wolff pulls out
(GMM)  Williams will survive if Toto Wolff withdraws his major stake in the famous British team.

That is the vow of Claire Williams, who is founder and boss Sir Frank Williams' daughter and the new deputy principal of the Grove based team.

Austrian Wolff bought into Williams in 2009, but over the winter he also became a co-owner of F1 rival Mercedes.

Because of his new management role, Wolff no longer works at Williams, but he has vowed to end the 'conflict of interest' by finding a buyer for his team stake.

He has pledged to do it responsibly.

"I cannot just go into the market and say 'who wants to buy these (Williams) shares' and that's it," he told Reuters.

"If I sell, I have to find somebody who is responsible enough, who is coming in for the sport, who understands how the team functions, hopefully a sponsor," added Wolff.

"And this is not so easy to find somebody who is suitable."

Time could therefore be on Williams' side, but Claire Williams insists that - no matter what ultimately happens - the health of the team is not at risk.

"Toto is a big shareholder and he's a great shareholder," she said.

"If he feels there's conflict then he has to make the decision in the best interests of his position and we would respect that.  But we'll wait and see what happens.

"We are doing a good job on the commercial front," Claire Williams added.

"We are financially stable and have a good healthy budget to go racing with.  We're not complaining about that and there aren't concerns that we aren't going to be here next year."

Wolff's wife Susie is a Williams test driver.

Whitmarsh: Perez needs to toughen up
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh believes that new-signing Sergio Perez needs to increase on-track aggression levels after the first three races of the 2013 Formula 1 campaign, explaining that the Mexican has been "very polite" to his rivals this season.

Perez, who switched from Sauber at the end of last year, has two points to his name after the first three flyaways, ending a seven-race drought in Malaysia. As the season progresses, Whitmarsh is hoping to see the 23-year-old adopt a more forceful nature.

"I think he's been very polite so far this year; I think he needs to toughen up," Whitmarsh explained to reporters after the Chinese Grand Prix. "I think he's been generous in allowing people to get past him. He was a bit more robust here."

Perez was involved in a collision with Lotus driver Kimi Räikkönen at Shanghai, leading the Finn to complain over his team radio. Whitmarsh, however, reckons his driver found a better balance between aggression and caution prior to the contact.

"I think it was robust," Whitmarsh said of Perez's defense. "I've seen people weave more than he did, if that's the assertion. He was just doing his job and he was racing. You've got to be out there racing and that means sometimes you've got elbows. It's right that you've got to be robust, without being dirty. I think he was robust."

Perez finished 11th in last Sunday's 56-lap race, while team-mate Jenson Button picked up the Woking-based outfit's biggest points haul of the season in fifth.

Moss: Female drivers lack aptitude
Stirling Moss has claimed that female drivers will never succeed in Formula 1 as they 'lack the aptitude'.

The motorsport legend was speaking in an interview for a BBC documentary on women in motorsport.

"We've got some very strong and robust ladies, but, when your life is at risk, I think the strain of that in a competitive situation will tell when you're trying to win," Moss said. zzzz

"The mental stress I think would be pretty difficult for a lady to deal with in a practical fashion.

"I just don't think they have aptitude to win a Formula 1 race."

The last female driver to appear in F1 was Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify a Brabham in three attempts in 1992.

There has not been a woman on the F1 world championship grid since Lella Lombardi's final grand prix start in the 1976 Austrian GP.

Susie Wolff is currently a development driver for the Williams team and has aspirations of becoming its official reserve. Yahoo! Eurosport UK

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