Latest F1 news in brief - Friday (Updated) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
'I take the final decision' at Red Bull - Marko
|Marko, "I have final say"|
- Pirelli still listening to teams' feedback - Bottas
- Brawn warns more changes could hurt Mercedes
- Next Red Bull junior 'very close' to F1 debut
- Williams clarifies reports of financial loss
- Mercedes would offer Kubica F1 test
- HRT buyer to run cars in BOSS New
- Sauber bringing new rear wing to Spain New
- 'It's going to be hard to catch Vettel' - Raikkonen New
'I take the final decision' at Red Bull - Marko
(GMM) In the wake of the 'Multi-21' team orders debacle, an important question has emerged at Red Bull -- who is really in charge?
On the one side is team boss Christian Horner, who co-owns a GP3 team with Australian Webber, and who called Sebastian Vettel "silly" in Malaysia for refusing to follow the famous order.
But not only have the sort of team orders that should have delivered victory to Webber now been scrapped by Red Bull, it seems the Australian driver's very future at the team could soon end.
Some suspect the increasingly strong influence of Dr Helmut Marko, the Vettel-aligned, right-hand man of Austrian countryman and team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Horner found the need this week to insist that Marko actually has "no operational responsibility or input" into how the team is run, and is just "an advisor".
But Spain's El Confidential claims that, mere weeks ago, Marko gave a very different account of his role at Red Bull.
"I am a director of Red Bull Racing alongside Christian and Mateschitz," he is quoted as saying.
"Whatever happens in the team comes to me and, if necessary, I take it up to the owner (Mateschitz), so I take the final decision."
Pirelli still listening to teams' feedback - Bottas
(GMM) Williams rookie Valtteri Bottas thinks Pirelli remains receptive to F1 teams' feedback about the 2013 tires.
This year's Pirelli rubber has been the most controversial paddock topic of the 2013 season by far, as teams grapple with the Italian marque's heavily-degrading and difficult-to-understand product.
Amid the controversy, and the paddock din, the decision was made to drop the 'soft' tire compound from the Bahrain allocation, while a tweak to the 'hard' compound has been made for Barcelona and beyond.
Among the gripes has been the claim that the 2013 tires has altered the very nature of the racing.
"I think that has happened sometimes," agreed Finn Bottas.
"In China, for example, I concentrated only on my race because I knew my strategy was different and there was no point trying to fight for positions," he told Brazil's Totalrace.
"You have no chance and sometimes it's even better not to compete. That's not cool," he added.
"But I think that Pirelli has heard the teams and acted accordingly. Already in Bahrain they decided to take another compound, and this should be repeated in the future."
Indeed, it is believed Pirelli is still toying with the idea of a tweak to the 'soft' compound.
Brawn warns more changes could hurt Mercedes
(GMM) Ross Brawn has warned Mercedes against making more big changes to the team that could result in a performance dip.
It was believed McLaren's 'gardening leave' technical director Paddy Lowe was set to replace Brawn as the Brackley based team's boss in 2014.
And, following the recent departure of Norbert Haug and the arrival at Mercedes of new shareholders Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, it has been rumored that further staff changes at the team's UK headquarters could now follow.
Brawn, however, warned that more upheaval could actually hurt the team.
"You must always look to improve ... without damaging what you have, which is very easy to do. It's a very delicate evolution," he is quoted by Sporting Life.
Back-to-back 2013 pole sitter Mercedes has produced a better car this year than its predecessor, off the back of major changes to the engineering lineup 12 months ago.
But Brawn warned that more changes now could actually result in a step backwards.
"Changes were made back then which were painful at the time, and were part of the reason why we had a poor second half to last season," he said.
"We have now a very motivated group of people, and we're starting to put the things in place they need.
"You can always look to add to it and tune it to improve, but you mustn't damage what you already have," he added.
Like most teams, Mercedes will unveil a package of improvements next weekend in Barcelona, the first European race of 2013 following the initial 'flyaway' period.
Brawn said no one should expect the changes to result in immediate wins.
"We've two drivers who have taken the equipment and done what they have (pole position) on the last two Saturdays," he is quoted by the Sun newspaper.
"But I don't think we have the equipment yet to be the strongest in the race."
Next Red Bull junior 'very close' to F1 debut
(GMM) The latest cream of Red Bull's junior driver program insists he is ready to step up to formula one.
With Mark Webber's contract at Red Bull Racing set to expire, it is now strongly rumored that fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo is in pole position to replace him.
That would leave a vacancy at Red Bull's second F1 team, Toro Rosso.
The obvious favorite for that seat is Antonio Felix da Costa, a 21-year-old from Portugal.
Currently a frontrunner in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, da Costa has already been drafted into Red Bull's F1 program, replacing Sebastien Buemi as reserve driver in China while the Swiss was racing sports cars in the UK.
And it seems likely da Costa will be the Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve once again in Singapore, when Buemi will be racing in the US.
"I am very happy with this strategy," the Portuguese told APA news agency.
"This is a key year -- we're very close to formula one now and my goal is clearly to be there next year.
"For this I want to win the (Renault) world series. The timing is perfect and I feel very well prepared."
Da Costa is, however, already trailing three drivers in the points standings, including McLaren youngster Kevin Magnussen and Caterham driver Charles Pic's brother Arthur.
As ever with Red Bull's junior program, then, the pressure is on.
"After a weak season (with a junior driver)," Dr Helmut Marko warned this week, "we end the cooperation."
Da Costa said: "I have had to deal with pressure from day one. It only makes me faster."
Williams clarifies reports of financial loss
(GMM) Williams has played down reports it suffered a financial loss last year, insisting instead that it is gearing up to expand.
Listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, the British team this week revealed a pre-tax loss of almost $8 million last year, having turned a profit in 2011.
But spokesman James Francis said the financial report could not include almost $15 million in formula one income.
"If that figure had been included we would have turned a loss into a profit," he told the Oxford Mail.
"It would have been a smaller profit (than 2011), but a lot of investment has happened."
The Williams spokesman said building work on a new research and development department is still scheduled to start.
The team is yet to score a point in 2013.
"There is still a way to go for the team to get to where we should be," said Sir Frank Williams, "but improvements on previous seasons are evident."
Mercedes would offer Kubica F1 test
(GMM) Mercedes says it would be willing to give Robert Kubica a formula one test.
The German marque this week declined to comment on reports the Pole has been driving at the wheel of Mercedes' sophisticated F1 simulator at Brackley.
But Kubica, 28, did confirm the reports, prompting shareholder and chairman Toto Wolff to admit on Friday that the former BMW and Renault driver is "helping" Mercedes.
"If there's any chance of getting him back in a DTM touring car or F1 cockpit, we'd love to do it," he told the BBC.
"Any team would love to have a Robert Kubica."
Wolff clarified, however, that Kubica - whose right arm is still injured in the wake of his near-fatal 2011 crash - is now mainly focused on rallying.
"He is somebody I have known for 10 years but it's absolutely his call how he wants to help us and his main focus is rallying," he said.
HRT buyer to run cars in BOSS
HRT's Formula 1 cars will return to action after owner Teo Martin reached an agreement to run two of them in the BOSS GP series.
Martin, a Spanish businessman and scrap yard owner, bought the assets of the defunct HRT team after the Spanish squad folded at the end of last year.
Among that, Martin acquired two 2011 chassis with all the required equipment to operate them.
Martin has now reached a deal with businessman Carlos Molla to field the two cars in the championship. Work is already underway to get the cars ready before the end of May.
The BOSS GP series field comprises, among others, old Formula 1, CART and IndyCar cars.
Sauber bringing new rear wing to Spain
Sauber will be bringing a range of aerodynamic upgrades to next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, including a new specification rear wing. After a largely trying start to the 2013 campaign, the Hinwil-based outfit has set its sights on a double points finish.
"We have some further aero updates, including a modified rear wing, and we will be evaluating these during Friday practice," explained Tom McCullough, Sauber's Head of Track Engineering. "Qualifying is particularly important here as overtaking can be difficult in the race. Our target for the race is to finish with both cars in the points."
'It's going to be hard to catch Vettel' - Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen says Lotus has to work twice as hard as it rivals if he is to stay in contention for the championship this year.
Raikkonen is currently second in the title race, 10 points off championship leader Sebastian Vettel, with three podium finishes since the start of the season. However, Raikkonen is not getting carried away and says Lotus needs to start outperforming Red Bull if he is going to stand a chance.
"For sure it's an okay start and we're in a better position that this time last year, but there's a long season ahead and it's too early to say if we can fight for the championships right to the end," Raikkonen said. "It's going to be hard to catch Sebastian if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We'll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up."
Raikkonen said Lotus needs to focus on qualifying pace to start taking the fight to rivals Red Bull.
"To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are," he added. "It's no secret that we want more speed from the car in qualifying; it's so tight up there at the front and we really need to be on the first two rows to fight for victories every time. It's good to be able to start the European season where we are as this is when you see teams starting to push on with lots of new parts for the cars.
"It's still early days, but to have scored strong points since the start of the year is obviously better than not having them. We need to keep scoring points in the same way; even if it's a bad weekend for us, we need to keep finishing as well as we can. That's how we will fight to the end of the season."