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DATE News (chronologically)
09/03/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday  
  • Red Bull Ring getting ready for late June race
    Ricciardo deal 'at least' three years - Marko
  • F1 work for 2014 Austria GP begins
  • Minister says Monza race 'untouchable'
  • Button not denying new three-year deal imminent
  • Name tweak for F1 track in Barcelona
  • Buemi admits 2014 F1 return unlikely
  • Massa insists future brighter than a year ago
  • Tost comments on Daniel Ricciardo’s 2014 move to Red Bull
  • Watson: No merit in regulation overhaul 

Ricciardo deal 'at least' three years - Marko
(GMM)  F1's 'silliest season' has taken a big step towards sanity, as Red Bull finally confirmed Daniel Ricciardo will replace Australian countryman Mark Webber in 2014 and beyond.

Austrian media reports said the 24-year-old has inked a minimally three-year deal.

"Continuity is important to us," Dr Helmut Marko said on Red Bull-owned Austrian television Servus TV.

"The contract is therefore for at least three years, as Daniel was not only the youngest candidate but also the one with the most potential."

Champions Kimi Raikkonen and perhaps even Fernando Alonso were reportedly considered for the plum seat alongside Sebastian Vettel, but team boss Christian Horner said the Red Bull-groomed Ricciardo was ultimately a "very logical choice".

"We could have taken an experienced driver, somebody guaranteed to deliver to a relatively known level," admitted designer Adrian Newey.

"Or equally we could take on a much younger driver in the hope that they'll develop to a very high level."

He said the decision was similar to Williams' deliberations at the end of 1992, when the new champion Nigel Mansell departed.

"We could stick with Riccardo Patrese or take a punt on a young driver called Damon Hill who was our test driver at the time," said Newey.

"I think it's good to bring young blood in and give promising drivers a chance."

On the other hand, Red Bull's decision might be interpreted as a nod to German Vettel's increasing influence at the team, as he looks set to win a fourth consecutive world championship this year.

Indeed, the German newspapers Welt and Bild both described Ricciardo as a "nobody".

And Marko admitted Vettel had a say.

"It is a team decision, so of course Sebastian was asked for his opinion," he said.

The timing of Tuesday's announcement was also odd, according to the Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary.

He said it came "in the middle of football's transfer deadline frenzy", and also with many of the sport's top journalists at the London premiere of the new F1 film Rush.

"Perhaps Red Bull did not want the publicity," said Cary.  "The Austrian-backed team have been criticized in some quarters for being too conservative with their choice."

Red Bull, however, insist Ricciardo is not a 'number 2', and that he will enjoy equal status and machinery alongside Vettel.

But Dr Helmut Marko also acknowledged that, coming to the champion team from Red Bull's midfield runner Toro Rosso, Ricciardo will take some time - "three to five races" - to steadily adjust and get up to full speed.

For Ricciardo, the news finally becoming official was a big relief.

"It was a bit of a wait," he grinned on Servus TV.

"I've made sure I had my phone with me all the time!"

Marko insisted Ricciardo's current teammate, the similarly Red Bull-groomed Jean-Eric Vergne, had also been in the running.

"When they knew Mark Webber was leaving us, both of them upped their game," he said.

"Unfortunately, there can only be one.  But Jean-Eric will have another opportunity next year at Toro Rosso.  He is also slightly younger -- he just needs to have patience," added Marko.

F1 work for 2014 Austria GP begins
(GMM)  Work to prepare the former A1-Ring for its return to the formula one calendar next year has begun.

Now owned and rebuilt by the energy drink company, the Austrian grand prix circuit in Styria is now called the Red Bull-Ring.

Austrian radio ORF said construction work to get the venue ready for formula one next year is now underway.

A spokesman for the Red Bull Ring operator Projekt Spielberg GmbH confirmed the report.

It was announced in July that Dietrich Mateschitz and Bernie Ecclestone had agreed a provisional deal to return F1 to Austria on July 6 next year.

Kleine Zeitung newspaper subsequently reported that the 2014 race will in fact take place a week earlier than that, on June 29.

The same newspaper now reports that an embankment on the front straight is currently being removed.

Minister says Monza race 'untouchable'
(GMM)  The immediate future of the Italian grand prix is secure.

That is the claim of the Lombardy minister Antonio Rossi, rejecting reports historic Monza could be the victim as Bernie Ecclestone seeks to further expand the F1 calendar beyond Europe.

"The formula one grand prix in Monza is untouchable," he is quoted by Tuttosport.

"Not only because it is an engine for the economy of Brianza, but also because of Expo 2015," said Rossi.

Indeed, he said the Autodromo Nazionale, in the Villa Reale park, will play a role as Milan hosts the next Universal Exposition, Expo 2015.

Button not denying new three-year deal imminent
(GMM)  Jenson Button has not denied suggestions he is on the cusp of signing a new three-year deal to stay at McLaren beyond 2013.

The 2009 world champion counted himself into the 'silly season' recently when he revealed that team boss Martin Whitmarsh is yet to take up an option on his current deal.

Red Bull has subsequently confirmed Daniel Ricciardo as Mark Webber's successor at Red Bull, but Ferrari still has an opening alongside Fernando Alonso for 2014.

Asked about the fabled Italian team, Briton Button answered: "I should say 'never say never', as all the drivers do.

"I don't like to predict the future," he is quoted by Italy's La Repubblica, "and Ferrari is legendary, but so too is McLaren."

Indeed, the Woking based team is this week celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Limited in September 1963.

"Why should I change?" 33-year-old Button asked rhetorically.

Actually, Button's age is perhaps the best argument that, if he does harbor a desire to wear red, he should jump at the opportunity now.

With Mark Webber's exit to Le Mans, Button will be the oldest driver on the grid next year.

Asked if that bothers him, Button insisted: "No, because age is not important, what is important is whether you're losing your speed or your reflexes or your reaction time.

"We do all of those tests and if anything I am improving, not to mention that I have more experience and strategic intelligence."

Asked specifically about the rumors of a three-year extension, which would take Button well into McLaren's new Honda era, he said: "(I will stay) as long as I feel competitive."

Name tweak for F1 track in Barcelona
(GMM)  The Spanish grand prix venue in Barcelona has undergone a name change.

Since it was built in 1991, and began hosting the Spanish grand prix the same year, the track has been called Circuit de Catalunya.

But after a new sponsorship deal with the Barcelona City Council was agreed recently, the track will now be known officially as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The news, reported in Spanish newspapers including El Mundo Deportivo and the sports daily Marca, was confirmed by circuit president Vicenc Aguilera.

Buemi admits 2014 F1 return unlikely
(GMM)  Sebastien Buemi has admitted his career will probably stay on its current course in 2014.

Daniel Ricciardo has been signed by Red Bull's champion team for at least three years, and the other energy drink-owned F1 squad, Toro Rosso, looks likely to field Jean-Eric Vergne alongside rookie Antonio Felix da Costa next season.

It means that if former Toro Rosso driver and current Red Bull reserve Buemi, the 24-year-old Swiss, wants to return to the grid, he will have to do so at a non-Red Bull team.

"The doors are still open," he told Brazil's Totalrace, "but nowadays it is very difficult because of the financial situation.

"It is not easy when they (teams) are looking for (drivers with) money."

For the last couple of years, Buemi has split his time between serving as the Red Bull reserve at grands prix, and racing for Toyota in endurance sports cars.

He said: "My goal is to return to formula one, obviously.

"But I am very happy to be here," said Buemi, referring to Toyota, with whom he finished second in this year's fabled 24 hour Le Mans race.

"It's a great car, we are in a big fight, and I'm doing my best to succeed here.

"I am happy with the situation here at Toyota and what I'm doing with Red Bull, so why not go on like this for another year?" said Buemi.

Massa insists future brighter than a year ago
(GMM)  Felipe Massa insists he has the necessary speed to keep his seat at Ferrari beyond 2013.

The Italian team is openly considering replacing the Brazilian, who joined Ferrari as Michael Schumacher's teammate in 2006, at the end of the season.

The leading candidates are reportedly former team champion Kimi Raikkonen, the German hopeful Nico Hulkenberg, or perhaps even Jenson Button.

But 32-year-old Massa, who has ruled out clinging on to his F1 career at a small team, insists he has a strong chance of staying put.

"The situation last year was worse than this year," he told Brazil's Totalrace, "because my performance (in 2012) was well below what I could do.

"So it was much more difficult.  This year, I have had a good performance in almost every race."

Massa said only the actual results have been lacking - he is 84 points behind teammate Fernando Alonso - because of a roll-call of "several things" going wrong in qualifying sessions and the races.

"Many things have happened," he repeated, "but if they had not, the championship would look very different because of the points that I should have.

"Now we just have to end these problems and put things in place for the second half of the season," added Massa.

Tost comments on Daniel Ricciardo’s 2014 move to Red Bull
“Congratulations to Daniel, although we would have liked to keep him, because he is a talented driver who has done a great job with Scuderia Toro Rosso. At the same time, we are very pleased to see him make this move, which means he will follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Vettel.

"When Dietrich Mateschitz acquired the team that became Toro Rosso, his stated aim was that it should be the final step in the training of young drivers, with the eventual goal of graduating to the “senior” team.

"Daniel’s move thus vindicates the work of the Red Bull Young Driver Program and also proves that we at Toro Rosso have given him a good racing education.

“Daniel already knows his new team, having tested for them a few times and I am sure he will soon feel at home there next year – they won’t even have to change the Australian flag on the side of his car!

“As to who will replace Daniel at Toro Rosso in 2014, we will now look at all our options and make a decision at a later date, as there is no immediate need to rush."

Watson: No merit in regulation overhaul
Five-time Grand Prix winner John Watson says there is "no merit" in the significant regulation changes that are to be introduced for the 2014 campaign, with the current V8 engines moving aside in favor of 1.6-litre, turbocharged V6 units.

The Briton, who raced during the first turbo era in the 1970s and '80s, believes not only the sport's less established teams, but also those with larger operating budgets, will struggle to cope due to the increased costs of the new powertrain technology.

"I think it’s a big folly," Watson explained during an interview with GPUpdate.net. "I just hope it isn’t the first step to taking the key brick out of a building and having Formula 1 collapse. The uplift in cost is going to be very significant indeed. It’s going to hurt the teams at the bottom end of the scale very much, and even some of the teams that are currently fairly well funded.

"I can’t honestly see any specific merit in the regulation change. In conjunction with the aerodynamic [modifications], every element of a car next year will have no resemblance to what we’ve got this year – other than it will have four wheels!"

Watson added that he also holds concerns over reliability, with the new engines – set at a season-long allocation of five per driver – yet to be trialed away from test beds.

"Another part of it is, will the engines be as reliable? There will only be five of them per season," he went on to explain. "They may not be as highly stressed in terms of the mechanical aspects, but these are highly complex power units with KERS and turbos. You’re putting together an awful lot of new technology and, while it might be working on an engine test bench, you [then have to] put it into a race car with the constrictions of cooling around that, plus the whole aerodynamics and dynamics of the cars.

"And, in my opinion, there will not be enough pre-season testing to give teams the opportunity to develop these products to a level that they would like. I suspect the restriction on testing, although it has been relaxed, is going to be an issue. And as a by-product, there will be even less time available for test drivers and third drivers."

Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault are the three engine suppliers available for 2014, with Honda returning the following year as part of a McLaren tie-up. But although Watson views the Japanese manufacturer's comeback as a positive for Formula 1, he says a better response was needed to warrant the overhaul.

"Honda is coming back in 2015 and that’s good news," he said. "But if maybe three manufacturers were coming in, then I’d say at least the cost of this adventure can be spread around them. Maybe three years down the road its value will be proven."

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