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DATE News (chronologically)
04/18/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday (UPDATED)  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

04/18/13
  • Bahrain race still on
    Peace in Bahrain as divisive race goes ahead
  • Domenicali can imagine Bianchi with 'other teams'
  • Kovalainen did not burn Caterham bridge - Salo
  • Marko denies Mateschitz threatened F1 exit
  • De la Rosa could have signed 2013 Mercedes deal
  • F1 teams will be 'vigilant' in Bahrain
  • Strict curfew for Ferrari team in Bahrain New
  • Lotus has active suspension working best - Mercedes New
  • Drink champagne on Bernie and raise money for a good cause New
  • Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: violent protestors at Formula One race are 'terrorists' New
  • Rain forecast for Bahrain New

Peace in Bahrain as divisive race goes ahead
(GMM)  Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone, F1's most powerful figures, say this weekend's controversial Bahrain grand prix is going ahead.

Responding to calls anti-government clashes within the island Kingdom should cause the cancellation of the race, FIA president Todt said in a letter: "It is our firm belief that sport, and the grand prix, can have a positive and healing effect in situations where conflict, social unrest and tensions are causing distress."

Also quoted by the Daily Mail newspaper in Britain, F1 chief executive Ecclestone insisted "it is now too late to make any changes to the calendar".

While Ecclestone will attend the race, the fact the FIA president is staying away has attracted criticism.

An FIA figure is quoted by Speed Week: "Our president is angry.

"It is being said that he is not coming because he is scared, but his response is that his son (Nicolas) is there and so too are many other people he loves and respects."

Indeed, it appears the concerns and criticism made by some actually might not reflect the true situation in Bahrain.

"The situation in Bahrain is calm," said Andrea Cremonesi, the correspondent for Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The images of violence or protests that land in the newsrooms across the world almost every day are in stark contrast to what you actually witness when first landing in Bahrain."

Mathias Brunner, the correspondent for German-language Speed Week, agrees: "Bahrain is in transition, and many people are unhappy with their situation.

"But it is simply not true that formula one has moved into an area of civil war."

Speed Week's FIA source said some other journalists, "mainly from the UK", have "an agenda".

But even the Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy reports this week: "Friendly people, quiet streets, and the only cocktail in sight is not a Molotov but served in a crystal glass with ice and a slice."

Domenicali can imagine Bianchi with 'other teams'
(GMM)  Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has admitted he would like Jules Bianchi's impressive start to his F1 career to lead him to "other teams".

The rookie Frenchman has been a surprise standout of the 2013 season so far, having been drafted in at the eleventh hour to replace Marussia's ousted Luiz Razia.

23-year-old Bianchi, who remains under contract to Ferrari's driver development 'academy', admitted recently: "For sure they (Ferrari) look at what I am doing."

He told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport this week that Ferrari has been impressed so far.

"Yes, people seem to have more interest in me now.  And of course I know some people from Ferrari are watching what I am doing and have told me that they like it so far."

Ferrari team boss Domenicali is among them.

"I think he's having a great season," the Italian admitted when asked about Bianchi.

"In the first three rounds, he has had an incredible pace considering the car he has," Domenicali is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"I hope he can keep it up because I am sure he can show his full potential, not just with his team but also in the future with other teams," he added.

Kovalainen did not burn Caterham bridge - Salo
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen's return to formula one is an example of not burning one's bridges.

That is the claim of the Finn's compatriot Mika Salo, a former formula one driver who has this week commented on Kovalainen's return to Caterham.

31-year-old Kovalainen was dumped by Caterham at the end of last season as 'pay drivers' Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde arrived.

But the Finn returned to the paddock recently as a guest of Caterham team owner Tony Fernandes, and on Wednesday it was announced he will drive in Friday practice in Bahrain and Barcelona in his new role as team reserve.

"Definitely, it proves that in formula one you should never burn the bridges behind you," former F1 driver and fellow Finn Salo, who will be the driver steward in Bahrain this weekend, told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"I did 111 grands prix in my career with seven teams, they know and trusted me, and I never allowed myself to criticize them," he explained.

The fact Kovalainen did not criticize Caterham in the wake of his 2012 departure has now led him back to the team.

"The point for Heikki is that he is back in the garage and also retaining the feel of a formula one car," said Salo.

"You never know what else might happen: you see what is happening at Red Bull and, if somebody leaves, everybody knows who it will be," he added, undoubtedly referring to the 'Multi-21' affair and Australian Mark Webber.

Marko denies Mateschitz threatened F1 exit
(GMM)  Dr Helmut Marko has scoffed at reports Red Bull could quit formula one over the 'Multi-21' team orders affair.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, owner Dietrich Mateschitz was furious when Sebastian Vettel ignored his bosses orders in Malaysia, triggering Mark Webber's anger and a slew of negative publicity.

Billionaire Mateschitz reportedly told the Milton-Keynes based team that a repeat of the team orders mess could result in him pulling the plug on F1 altogether.

"Nonsense.  There's nothing to it," Mateschitz's right hand man Marko told Bild newspaper.

Nonetheless, the affair dubbed 'Multi-21' continues to cause headaches for Red Bull.

A photo of Webber dining with Red Bull's arch-enemy Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso in Dubai was posted on the drivers' Twitter feeds, triggering another wave of rumors.

Marko said: "It's nice that there are at least two friends in formula one."

Pedro de la Rosa, a Ferrari test driver, suggested the entire saga is a storm in a teacup, playing down suggestions Webber could quit Red Bull sooner rather than later.

"No," the Spaniard told Marca sports newspaper.

"How are you going to leave a team that is giving you a great car like that one?"

De la Rosa rubbished the conspiracy theory about Red Bull sabotaging Webber's RB9 in China last weekend.

"There is no sabotage," he insisted.  "His teammate didn't follow a team order.  He (Vettel) apologized.

"The fuel (situation in qualifying in China) was a mistake, and it's happened elsewhere before.

"I would like to be in his (Webber)'s skin.  I don't see the controversy.

"It would be a problem if he wasn't in a position to win races," he added.

De la Rosa could have signed 2013 Mercedes deal
(GMM)  New Ferrari tester Pedro de la Rosa has revealed he could also have signed for Mercedes or McLaren for 2013.

The 42-year-old Spaniard left his role as McLaren's respected test and reserve driver at the end of 2011 to return to the grid with HRT.

When HRT folded at the end of last season, de la Rosa was snapped up by Ferrari as the Maranello based team vows to develop the best driver simulator in F1.

But it is rumored that his old McLaren teammate, Lewis Hamilton, also pushed hard for Mercedes team management to sign de la Rosa as test driver for 2013.

"It's true," de la Rosa confirmed to Marca sports newspaper.

"Lewis has also confirmed it, otherwise I wouldn't say," he insisted.  "I don't want to say any more, but I talked seriously about being at Mercedes.

"It is also true that the first person I called when I signed for Ferrari is Martin Whitmarsh, because of the relationship that I have with McLaren.

"He was surprised and said 'It looks like we were too slow'," said de la Rosa.

Asked how he ultimately made up his mind between Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, he revealed: "I said in my head that if I am continuing in F1 as a test driver, I want to be at Ferrari.

"Otherwise it was more of the same; I had done it.

"Mercedes was attractive because the team is changing and it is a challenge, but McLaren would have been more of the same -- an organization in which everything works already."

Asked which personal link - Fernando Alonso, Pat Fry or Santander's Emilio Botin - ultimately tipped the scales in Ferrari's favor, de la Rosa answered: "I don't know, honestly.

"I think you should ask them."

F1 teams will be 'vigilant' in Bahrain
Several Formula One teams insist they won't be taking any additional security measures for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Protests in the Middle Eastern country have once again flared up ahead of this weekend's race and there have been calls from British MPs to cancel the race.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Bahrain has written a letter to Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone stating: "We request you cancel the Grand Prix.

"It is likely to attract as much negative publicity as last year."

Andy Slaughter, chairman of the Group, wrote: "Since April 2012, many more people including children have lost their lives and the whole country exists in fear and intimidation.

"Last year's race was held under conditions of martial law. Three hundred protesters were arrested, some spending months in jail.

"I think most democratic-minded people would be appalled if you allowed the Bahrain leg of the Formula 1 championship to go ahead amidst the most atrocious human rights violations."

The race, though, is set to go ahead and many teams are already en route to the Gulf country for the fourth race of the 2013 calendar.

According to BBC Sport, most teams won't be taking extra security measures despite the ongoing protests.

"The team will be vigilant and take sensible precautions, but otherwise we are approaching this race in the same way we do all races," Red Bull told the public broadcaster.

McLaren stated: "The team will be staying very near the circuit, at a hotel that has very good security, and we feel that no extra security measures are therefore necessary for us."

Williams added: "We are adhering to our normal security measures in Bahrain and just using usual common sense, nothing more."

Mercedes said: "The safety of our employees is our highest priority and we will follow the guidance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) concerning travel to the region.

"We have taken similar measures to those we used last year but would ask for your understanding that we do not wish to go into specific details." Planet F1

Strict curfew for Ferrari team in Bahrain
(GMM)  Ferrari has ordered members of its formula one race team to avoid the streets of Bahrain this week, Speed Week's Mathias Brunner reports from the island Kingdom.

Brunner said the Italian team has told its mechanics and the other few dozen members of its travelling race team to either be at the F1 circuit or holed up in the Regency Intercontinental hotel.

Even visits to restaurants, bars and coffee houses are strictly prohibited for Ferrari staff in Bahrain, Brunner added, with the only exception being short cigarette breaks.

Brunner wrote: "The situation in the city is quiet and relaxed."

Lotus has active suspension working best - Mercedes
(GMM)  The secret of Lotus' speed in 2013 is an hydraulically-controlled active suspension system, Germany's specialist Auto Motor und Sport reports.

Last month, we reported that, under the skin of Mercedes' new W04 car, a system known in the German squad's garage as 'Fric' was legally mimicking otherwise outlawed electronic active suspension.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that it is Mercedes engineers who therefore believe they have uncovered the secret of how Lotus' E21 is looking after Pirelli's highly-degrading tires so well in 2013.

"We believe that their integrated chassis (system) is working best of all," said Mercedes' Aldo Costa.

Auto Motor und Sport said not only Mercedes, but also Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Williams and Sauber have been working on similar technology.

It links the four corners of the car hydraulically, balancing the car during braking and accelerating, and adjusting the balance as the fuel load lessens during a race.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn admitted: "Lotus has the simplest, but probably the best system."

The news could also explain Romain Grosjean's struggle versus Kimi Raikkonen so far in 2013.

Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt said the 'Fric' systems are notoriously difficult to tune.

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez admits: "The suspension tuning window is very small, and we get it right more often with Kimi than with Grosjean."

This is due to the drivers' respective driving styles, with Frenchman Grosjean reportedly preferring understeer to Raikkonen's oversteer.

Drink champagne on Bernie and raise money for a good cause
Speed legend John Surtees is inviting enthusiasts to buy £45 tickets for a champagne reception at the Brooklands Team Challenge two-hour endurance kart race at Mercedes Benz World at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey on June 25.

Up to 35 four-person teams will compete in Daytona DMax karts at the event, which raises money for the Brooklands Museum Trust and the Henry Surtees Foundation.

Guests at the reception will drink Mumms champagne provided by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and will get the chance to win a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre for six people in an auction organized by Malcolm Barber of Bonhams.

Other auction prizes include a pair of Felipe Massa's 2013 racing gloves, a Ferrari jacket signed by John Surtees and a Maserati Experience prize, which makes a chauffeur-driven Maserati Quattroporte available to the winner for a whole day in London.

Nearly 30 teams have already entered. For entries or reception tickets contact Sharon Bowness at sharon@henrysurteesfoundation.com

Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: violent protestors at Formula One race are 'terrorists'
The Feb 14 Youth Coalition, an underground movement, this week embarked on a week-long campaign entitled 'volcanic flames', as part of their condemnation of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Slickly-produced videos have appeared on YouTube of the protesters blocking main roads with tires before setting fire to them, sending the ordinary public travelling in their cars scattering to safety.

It is incidents such as those that anger Alzayani.

But the man behind the track that this weekend stages its ninth running of the event has no qualms with those who peacefully call for reform in this troubled Gulf island kingdom.

"I am totally against violence. No matter what cause you have you have no right to disrupt the normal process of life," said Alzayani, speaking in a select briefing with a handful of international media.

"That is not democracy, that is terrorism. There are no two ways about it.

"Whether you do that hiding behind human rights, politics, religion, it's just wrong to do it.

"The country and the constitution allow people to protest in a civil, non-violent way, and that is being done, which is sanctioned by the police, going from point A to point B at a certain time of the day.

"That happens anywhere in the world, and I have no problem with that.

"But to go along and extend that to blocking roads, burning tires, or attacking police and civilians, the minute you do that you cross the line.

"You have no right to impose that on others."

After the race was withdrawn from the calendar in 2011 following anti-government demonstrations that led to the deaths of many people, the event last year returned under a cloud.

One person was killed the week before the grand prix, and another during the week itself as police and protesters clashed on a daily basis, as the event went ahead against a taut backdrop.

One year on, and the build up towards the event, and the atmosphere surrounding it, is far less volatile, although protests still occur.

Alzayani appreciates that attention on Bahrain and the race is always likely to be heightened, in particular whilst the protest movement targets an event that is the country's most important in any year.

Alzayani added: "Our job is to make sure the event passes smoothly. We do our part, and whatever happens outside the track, somebody else is responsible for.

"I personally think it's safe to do the race, there is no problem.

"We have five per cent who don't like it, but the majority do, and we cater for the majority.

"I don't see any reason why we should worry about it (the trouble). Obviously, it would be nice not to have it.

"If it's there then we are just going to have to adapt and live with it. We managed to do so last year, and we're back here this year.

"And we'll be here in 2014, '15 and '16, and hopefully onwards."

One human rights activist yesterday claimed that since the race was first staged in 2004 it has run at a loss, and the promised economic returns and infrastructure have failed to materialize.

Alzayani categorically refutes the suggestion, adding: "The intention of the track was never to be a profit-making organization.

"We know to be in Formula One is very expensive, but our intention has always been to promote Bahrain internationally.

"We've been very successful in doing that judging by the number of viewers of our race, and the exposure of Bahrain as a nation.

"The Grand Prix Development Board has issued an economic study on every race since we started, and the benefits to the economy far exceed what it costs to host the event.

"So whoever says there are no benefits has to look at the macro-picture and not the micro-picture.

"For us, the success of the event is how much it contributes to the nation, not what it brings to the BIC's. The Telegraph

Rain forecast for Bahrain
There is a slight chance of rain during the Bahrain GP with drops expected on Friday.

Although the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend usual takes place in the heat, this weekend the drivers will have to contend with rain as well.

Rain is expected during both Friday practice sessions with 'heavy rain' in the morning and 'light' showers in the afternoon.

The rain, though, won't have an effect on the temperature with a high of 28'C forecast.

Meanwhile, sunshine and only sunshine will be on the cards for Saturday and Sunday with the temperature expected to reach a high of 29'C.

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