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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday (Update) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Jean Todt
    Todt to 'think about' rule changes - Marko
  • Paid F1 'app' to debut in June - Ecclestone
  • F1 return still 'impossible' for now - Kubica
  • Renault situation 'not acceptable' - Grosjean
  • No 'hara-kiri' between Mercedes teammates - Wolff
  • Fun and games with Red Bull and McLaren
  • Massa has 'freedom of headspace' at Williams - Smedley
  • Raikkonen: Ferrari is not stupid
  • Pirelli confirms 'progress' with F1 2015 prototype tires New
  • Andretti: Fernando Alonso could leave Ferrari New

Todt to 'think about' rule changes - Marko
(GMM)  Jean Todt has vowed to "think about" some of Red Bull's criticisms of the current rules.

That is the claim of the reigning world champion team's Dr Helmut Marko, who said one of his concerns was how harshly Daniel Ricciardo was punished following the pitstop incident in Malaysia.

"Poor Daniel did nothing wrong," he told Austrian Servus TV.

When the Australian driver was released from a pitstop with a loose wheel, he had to serve an in-race penalty but then also a ten-place drop on the grid for the subsequent Bahrain grand prix.

Marko insists: "There is a constructors' championship and a driver's championship -- as a team we should have had points deducted, or a fine.

"In my eyes it was not even an unsafe release.  As Daniel drove out he said 'Hello, my wheel is loose' and so we pushed him back.  There was no danger."

Another of Marko's concerns is the new and unseemly noses, after the FIA changed the rules over the winter for safety reasons.

But in Australia, the first-lap incident between Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi showed that the new layout might be even more dangerous in the event of one car 'submarining' underneath another.

And Marko claims that Esteban Gutierrez's rollover shunt in Bahrain, when he was struck by Pastor Maldonado, was also caused by the new front noses.

"You can see that the nose is so low that it can go underneath the other car, lift it up and roll it over," he said.

"Unfortunately we cannot change it during the season because it is about the chassis, but we need to respond as quickly as possible for next season," Marko insisted.

"Maybe we can do something at the same time for the aesthetics of these noses," he added.

Marko said he spoke with FIA president Todt about his concerns in Bahrain.

"He took a position on various issues and promised that he would think about carrying through with the requested changes," he revealed.

Paid F1 'app' to debut in June - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has agreed to race formula one into the digital age.

Early this week, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali urged the F1 chief executive to embrace the internet, as the "young generation" does not want "to see an entire race for one and a half hours".

A report by the Bloomberg news agency said the official F1 website is only the 39th most popular among rival sports, worryingly outpaced by the likes of Egyptian soccer and American entertainment wrestling.

The report said chief executive Ecclestone has until now resisted embracing the internet to protect the huge revenue stream of exclusive television rights.

Now, Bloomberg reports that F1's media strategy will get a modern facelift as quickly as June of this year.

The report said the sport will have a new website and 'app' that offers subscription-only video options, improving on the current three minute race highlights edit put to music.

"We're planning a new app; it's a decent-size project," Ecclestone confirmed.  "It's something that we are working to get right."

The 83-year-old warned, however, that television will continue to be the "mainstay" of F1 coverage.

And he said fans will be charged for the new 'app'.

"We don't do things for free," said Briton Ecclestone.

F1 return still 'impossible' for now - Kubica
(GMM)  Robert Kubica has revealed his physical limitations are still standing in the way of his return to formula one.

The Pole, now 29, was regarded as one of the most talented drivers in F1 ahead of his sixth season.

But in the 2011 pre-season, he was almost fatally wounded in a rally crash that has left him with only limited mobility in his right arm and hand.

Kubica now drives competitively in the world rally championship, and he has dabbled with circuit racing with a highly-competitive DTM test, and regular stints at the wheel of Mercedes' sophisticated F1 simulator.

But there are also things he can no longer do.  Germany's Welt newspaper reports that, once right-handed, Kubica has had to learn to write with his left hand since the crash.

He even prefers to drink a cup of coffee with his left hand nowadays.

"The limitations have made my life more difficult," Kubica admitted.

The most difficult of all, he said, is that a return to F1 is currently "impossible".

"Not now.  With my limitations, it is impossible, but maybe one day I will be there again," he said.

The only problem, he said, is that the small F1 cockpits make it difficult for him to turn the steering wheel in the way he needs to -- with his elbow and shoulder rather than his forearm and wrist.

"Some tracks are not a problem," Kubica explained, "like Montreal and Barcelona.

"But the hairpin in Monaco, with my hand, is not easy."

Renault situation 'not acceptable' - Grosjean
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean is apparently becoming more and more frustrated with the situation at troubled Lotus this season.

Before the season, video footage circulated on the internet depicting the Frenchman slamming his hand on a tool bench as the serious problems with the new E22 car became clear.

Grosjean played that down.

"It was a joke with the mechanic and a camera took the picture and it went everywhere," he explained at the time.

But now at the post-Bahrain grand prix test, after teammate Pastor Maldonado suffered Renault "power unit-related" issues on day one, Grosjean's mileage on day two was limited to just 16 laps, again with "power unit failure".

The 27-year-old is sounding increasingly frustrated.

"I hope Renault will improve in terms of reliability and performance," he is quoted by France's Auto Hebdo, "because today was not acceptable.

"We are expecting more," Grosjean added.

"Renault has said that in China and Barcelona there will be changes, so we wait."

No 'hara-kiri' between Mercedes teammates - Wolff
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been told the 'rules' for their future wheel-to-wheel battles.

The Mercedes pair thrilled the F1 world last Sunday with their duel for victory in Bahrain, despite bosses urging them to "bring both cars home".

It was rumored that the team denied the drivers ignored team orders for appearance only, and would quietly curb that sort of behavior behind the scenes ahead of future races.

The fight in Bahrain was also timely for F1's 'show', in the wake of hefty criticism of the controversial new rules.

"I am so happy the race was so well received by the fans," said German Rosberg, "because the welfare of the sport is very important to me.

"In my eyes, the criticism of the new regulations was very unfair, especially so early on, and the negativity was getting louder and louder.

"For me, there was no better way to silence it than to deliver one of the most exciting races in the history of formula one," he added.

But team director Toto Wolff insists Bahrain was not simply a one-off.

"They can fight against each other," he told Sport Bild magazine, "so long as there are no harakiri-manoeuvres.

"So you're not driving with the same aggressiveness against your own teammate as you would against the others," Wolff explained.

He said Mercedes' attitude to 'team orders' is important, given that both Hamilton and Rosberg are conferred equal status inside the Brackley based team, whose W05 car is currently utterly dominant.

"We are here to race," said Wolff, "we have two really good drivers who can win races and deserve to be world champion."

Christian Danner, a former driver turned commentator, says Mercedes' approach will be welcomed by many.

"Mercedes is very dominant," he told German television n-tv, "but in contrast to what we have seen over the years with Ferrari and Red Bull, Rosberg and Hamilton can race freely.

"This is not only a very brave decision, but also the right decision for the sport," he applauded.

Fun and games with Red Bull and McLaren
Red Bull Racing has announced that it has appointed Dan Fallows as its Head of Aerodynamics at Red Bull as it has failed to convince Peter Prodromou not to head off to McLaren. Prodromou thus begins his six months of gardening leave, which means that he will not be able to join McLaren until the start of October, which will be too late to have an real impact on the 2015 car. However, McLaren has responded to Red Bull’s announcement by saying that Fallows also has a contract with McLaren!
“Dan Fallows has a legally binding contract with McLaren, and the matter is now in the hands of our lawyers,” said McLaren racing boss Eric Boullier.

In January, at the launch of the McLaren MP4-29, the team’s chief executive stated that “we’ve made some very important key additions who’ll have a significant input into our future momentum – we’re incredibly pleased and excited to have hired the likes of Peter Prodromou and Dan Fallows, both from Red Bull Racing, and Ettore Griffini and Ciaron Pilbeam from Lotus, as well as more than a dozen top-level engineers from among the best teams in Formula 1″.

Fallows graduated from Southampton University in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1996. He immediately joined Lola Cars, where he spent four years working in the aerodynamic department before joining Jaguar racing in 2001. He stayed for four years before moving to Dallara for a year but then returned to Milton Keynes in January 2006 as an aerodynamic team leader, According to his Linkedin page, he left Red Bull Racing in February this year and the suggestion is that Red Bull has made him an offer that he cannot refuse during his period of gardening leave. While there might be a case for enticement, if Fallow has changed his mind and wants to work at Red Bull Racing, there is not much that can be done to stop him, although he (or Red Bull racing) will need to pay damages if the case goes to court. The problem is that it very difficult for a judge to quantify the damage that has been done and so any financial settlement is unlikely to be huge. Joe Saward

Massa has 'freedom of headspace' at Williams - Smedley
Felipe Massa now has the "freedom of headspace" at Williams to achieve his full potential, according to head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley.

Both Massa and Smedley have moved to Williams this year after eight years working together as driver and race engineer at Ferrari. Smedley believes Massa is in a better state of mind since switching teams and is performing on a higher level as a result.

"It's no secret that I know Felipe Massa very, very well," he said. "I know him inside-out and I can tell you that he is a very, very good driver. He's been given the freedom of headspace here to do what he's paid to do and he's delivering."

Smedley believes Massa is capable of giving Williams the motivation it needs this year.

"Without making too many comparisons to the past, which I don't particularly want to do, I think that Felipe now is very relaxed, incredibly experienced and there is a maturity about him and he carries that maturity well. He understands the job that he has to do here, which is not just about driving the car but it's about driving the people as well.

"He can do that. He's a mature guy, he's a sensible guy, but he's able to motivate people well and in the right direction. He's had some very good teachers in that area and I would cite Michael Schumacher as being one of them. Now his time has come, it's his time to do that and he's picked up the baton very well." ESPN F1

Raikkonen: Ferrari is not stupid
The Scuderia has struggled in the first three grands prix of 2014, managing a best finish of fourth while Mercedes has dominated at the front.

Raikkonen, who won a race for Lotus last season but has yet to finish above seventh this year, said he had confidence Ferrari could turn its poor form around.

"At least on paper [Bahrain] was the hardest track for us but we have some new parts coming and hopefully we improve," Raikkonen said.

"We know what we have to do. The people are pushing 100 per cent, but it takes time. That's the fact.

"We are not stupid people, we have good things going on.

"Unfortunately right now it's not the prettiest thing when you look at the end of the race, but I have belief in the team that we can turn it around.

"I've been with this team and other teams having a hard time and I'm sure we can get it right."

Raikkonen was still happier with the set-up of his F14 T in Bahrain, despite another difficult race in which he was hit twice and complained that racing the Mercedes-engined cars was like being in "a different class".

"I think we improved the car - it feels nicer," added Raikkonen, who is missing this week's in-season Bahrain test, but will drive on both days at Barcelona after the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

"The feeling is better but obviously the results don't show that.

"We have a lot of work to do and we can only push forward. I'm sure we can be stronger in the next race." Yahoo Eurosport UK

Pirelli confirms 'progress' with F1 2015 prototype tires
Pirelli boss Paul Hembery has revealed the Italian tire-maker made 'useful' progress this week in Bahrain while trying out a 'number of solutions' with F1 2015 in mind.

A total of eight new constructions and six new compounds were tested during the two days at the Sakhir Circuit, split between Caterham on Tuesday then Mercedes and Williams on Wednesday.

“Only one variable was tested at a time, so if a new compound was being tested, then the construction would be the current one (and vice versa). The teams alternated prototype runs with baseline runs on the existing tires, for comparison purposes,” Pirelli explained.

The 250 experimental tires brought to Bahrain, distinguished by being free from any color stripes on the sidewall, were 'exclusively' designed with 2015 in mind.

Over the course of the two days, Pirelli completed a total of 110 laps and around 595 kilometers with its experimental tires, in ambient and track temperatures that were a lot hotter than those experienced during last weekend's race, the third round in the 2014 F1 World Championship.

“The opportunity to test with the current cars is something that we have always wished for and it was vital to have this written into the regulations this year. We made useful progress throughout both days of the prototype tire test, trying out a number of solutions with 2015 in mind, in demanding conditions,” Hembery confirmed.

“Having accumulated this valuable data over two days, we will now analyze it carefully to assess the best development direction for the next in-season test in Barcelona, where we expect to see further evolutions in car performance.”

The Barcelona F1 in-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya will take place after next month's Spanish Grand Prix, running from May 13-14.

Andretti: Fernando Alonso could leave Ferrari
Mario Andretti believes Fernando Alonso could walk away from Ferrari due to their current performance.
Andretti told gpupdate.net “Ferrari cannot be fighting for the final point. It’s not good for Ferrari and it’s not good for Formula 1.”

“For some reason or another Ferrari needs to be in the battle. Mercedes is an iconic brand, no question, but when it comes to motor racing and Formula 1 especially Ferrari is the yardstick somewhat. They need to be up front. But they know it. You can tell that everyone is frustrated, beginning with Luca di Montezemolo. I think the drivers are using every bit of restraint not to express themselves. You can’t really criticize, as we all know…”

“They have a job ahead of them. I think the whole package needs help. You could see in Bahrain that Force India, Red Bull and Williams are all definitely ahead of them. I don’t know how quickly they can recover, but there’s a lot of work for them to do. From that standpoint, I hope that they can pull something out of the hat.”

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