Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

01/23/14

  • Jenson Button says goodbye to Papa Smurf

    Button says goodbye at father's funeral

  • Tougher Pirellis means heavier cars in 2014
  • Frijns considered for Caterham race seat
  • Ericsson, Brack bringing millions to Caterham
  • Smedley won't be Massa's race engineer at Williams
  • Sirotkin still Sauber test driver
  • Hungaroring Spokesperson Says Track Needs Renovations
  • Bahrain F1 Grand Prix Confirmed As Second Night Race
  • Kobayashi reveals Ferrari wanted him to stay New
  • Williams reveals 'anteater' nose for 2014 New

Button says goodbye at father's funeral
(GMM) Jenson Button has said goodbye to his father John at a funeral in Monaco.

The McLaren driver was famously close to his dad, who died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 70 just over a week ago.

Britain's Daily Mail newspaper photographed Button, 34, talking at the picturesque Saint Devote church with his first F1 boss, Sir Frank Williams. Monaco's Prince Albert also attended the funeral.

"He was such a big part of my life, I'm going to miss him so, so much," Briton Button told his almost 1.7 million Twitter followers last week.

"I love you Papa Smurf, you'll forever be in my heart."

Tougher Pirellis means heavier cars in 2014
(GMM) The mandatory minimum weight of F1 cars will be raised by 1 kilogram for 2014, Italy's Omnicorse reports.

That is because Pirelli, having controversially grappled with failures throughout last season, has advised that their new tires need more reinforcing Kevlar to cope with the higher torque of this year's new turbo V6 engines.

The report tipped the rule tweak, raising the minimum weight to 691kg, to be promptly ratified by the World Motor Sport Council.

Omnicorse also claims that Caterham has followed McLaren and Ferrari's lead in designing its 2014 car around innovative pull-rod front suspension.

Frijns considered for Caterham race seat
(GMM) Caterham's team boss has tipped its new reserve driver Robin Frijns to rise to the very top of formula one.

Dutchman Frijns' F1 career to date, however, has been a struggle, as although very highly rated he lost his similar role at Sauber last year amid the Swiss team's financial troubles.

But he has been snapped up by Caterham for 2014, with team owner Tony Fernandes admitting 22-year-old rookie Frijns was even considered for a race seat.

"Robin has the pure speed," Caterham team boss Cyril Abiteboul is quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "He has already made a big impression on our engineers during his hours in the simulator.

"Robin definitely has the talent to advance to the top of our sport."

Team supremo Fernandes, meanwhile, called Frijns – the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 champion – "the most exciting young driver out there at the moment".

He said the Dutchman was considered for a race seat in 2014 "but in the end we decided to be cautious".

Ericsson, Brack bringing millions to Caterham
(GMM) Marcus Ericsson is bringing more than EUR 11 million in Swedish sponsorship to Caterham this year, the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat claims.

While the popular, experienced and feisty Kamui Kobayashi can put just $1 million of his fans' money on the table, and agree to drive for free in 2014, the little-known Ericsson has been referred to as a fully-fledged 'pay driver'.

But until now, the source of his backing has not been clear.

Finnish correspondent Heikki Kulta cited 'sources' in reporting that Ericsson is bringing 100 million Swedish Krona, or just over EUR 11 million, to Caterham.

Kulta said Ericsson, 23, has compiled the backing with the aid of well-known former Indy driver and fellow Swede Kenny Brack.

Smedley won't be Massa's race engineer at Williams
(GMM) Felipe Massa will not be reuniting with his usual race engineer in 2014.

There has been speculation that, because both Brazilian Massa and his well-known, long-time race engineer Rob Smedley are moving from Ferrari to Williams, they might reunite in their old working relationship at the Grove based team.

But it is believed Briton Smedley, who has been at Ferrari for ten years and is famous for his big-brotherly radio banter with Massa, has accepted an engineering role with greater responsibility at Williams.

Indeed, Williams confirmed that Massa will work directly with Andrew Murdoch this year, who was the Lotus-departed Pastor Maldonado's race engineer in 2013.

"I get on very well with Felipe," Massa's new Williams teammate, Finn Valtteri Bottas, said.

"He's a very nice guy and a great driver."

Meanwhile, Brazil's Globo reports that, having failed to find a race seat for 2014, rising Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr is now targeting a reserve and Friday seat at Williams.

"Unfortunately it (finding a race seat) did not work for financial reasons and due to my little experience," said Nasr, who finished last year's GP2 championship in fourth place.

"So the plan now is to try to be third driver in a middle team."

He said a place at Williams, working alongside his countryman Massa, would be "positive".

"With another Brazilian there I think it would make the exchange of information easier, so it is something that could happen. It is open," Nasr admitted.

Sirotkin still Sauber test driver
(GMM) Sergey Sirotkin still has a place at Sauber.

Earlier this week, reports emerged that questioned the Russian teen's test seat with the Swiss team.

That was because the well-backed Dutchman Giedo van der Garde arrived from Caterham to be Sauber's "test and reserve driver".

Publications including the Swiss newspaper Blick wondered: "What happens now with Sirotkin?", referring to the youngster who earlier was set to take a race seat as part of a Russian rescue deal for the Hinwil based team.

When asked about the apparent conflict between Sirotkin and van der Garde's test roles, a Sauber spokesman said: "Sergey is test driver, Giedo is test and reserve driver."

Hungaroring Spokesperson Says Track Needs Renovations
The Hungaroring racetrack near Budapest, Hungary "has to make urgent renovations ahead of the F1 grand prix on July 27," according to the SID. The Hungaroring was built in 1985, and a track spokesperson said that its "asphalt surface, curbs, drainage system and electronics are outdated."

To make the race go ahead as planned, the Hungaroring's operator "has to reach an agreement with Hungary's government about the financing of the renovation in a timely fashion."

Track spokesperson Agnes Kovacs said that "talks on the issue have already progressed." The renovation costs are expected to be around $4.1M.

Bahrain F1 Grand Prix Confirmed As Second Night Race
The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix on April 6 "will be a night race." The Singapore Grand Prix in September is held at night and Bahrain "will become the second evening race"

Kobayashi reveals Ferrari wanted him to stay
Kamui Kobayashi has admitted that Ferrari "are not really happy" with his decision to turn down another season of sportscar racing and resurrect his F1 career at Caterham.

After being dropped by Sauber and then missing out on a seat on the grid completely for 2013, the popular Japanese driver was picked up by Ferrari to drive for their factory team in the World Endurance Championship.

Kobayashi, who finished on the podium four times in the WEC, also drove Ferrari's 2009 F1 car in a street demonstration in Moscow, although he infamously crashed in the rain-hit event.

Speaking after his deal with Caterham was confirmed, Kobayashi, who has revealed he is driving for free in 2014, told Sky Sports F1that while he received a "good offer" to stay at the Scuderia, his desire to return to racing at the top level was too strong.

"I have to say they're not really happy about my decision. But I said to Stefano [Domenicali], 'This is my dream, to be in Formula 1, and I think this is the last chance to be a race driver'," Kobayashi said.

"He gave me a good offer but unfortunately I had to decide this way. This is all my decision and definitely I had to say to Stefano thanks for all the support last year. It was a very great experience for me but I'm here for Formula 1, not for driving GT."

When asked by Ted Kravitz if he had seen his Caterham discussions as a final throw of the F1 dice, the 27-year-old replied: "If I missed this year, I think it was over and that's why I tried to take this opportunity."

Caterham's decision to appoint Kobayashi as their experienced driver alongside Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson meant that Heikki Kovalainen, who had been in the running for a return to race duties at the team, was overlooked despite the Finn still carrying out test driver duties for the outfit last year.

Team co-owner Tony Fernandes denied the fact that Kobayashi comes with some budget – the Japanese eventually raised around €8million from donations – was the factor that swung the decision the former Sauber driver's way, instead insisting that an exciting fresh face was what the backmarker outfit needed.

"No, it was six and half a dozen," the Malaysian businessman told Sky F1 about the deliberations between Kobayashi and Kovalainen.

"That's why we are so late, because yours truly here couldn't make a decision. It's no secret that I have a very fond affection for Heikki but in the end when we weighed up everything we just thought Kamui brought a new spark to the team.

"We wanted to shake it up a bit and not go for what everyone expected. He's a bit do-or-die, we may have more crashes, but he'll fight all the way and we thought that just might bring that little bit of spark to the team."

Williams reveals 'anteater' nose for 2014
Williams on Thursday gave the world its first real look at the kind of unseemly nose solutions that will adorn the cars in 2014.

Solutions along the lines of Williams' are expected up and down the pitlane in 2014, as teams make the most aerodynamically of the new, lower maximum nose height, inserted in the rules for safety reasons.

But many think the FIA has gone a step too far when it comes to pushing teams into producing 'ugly' cars.

"One of the team bosses said a couple of months ago he hated what the front of his car looked like," former driver turned broadcaster Martin Brundle is quoted by the Telegraph.

"I can't use the word he used to describe it. We can't seem to get them elegant at the front."

Williams Press Release Williams released the first images of its 2014 challenger: the Williams Mercedes FW36. The FW36 is one of the most technologically advanced Formula One cars produced by Williams. It is the culmination of more than two years research and development by the team's technical departments in Grove and it incorporates the power unit from the team's new partner, Mercedes-Benz.

"There's a lot more technology on the cars this year," says Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds. "We've had turbo-charged engines in F1 before; what's different this time is that it is much more than just an engine change, it is a completely different system. We've gone from a slightly hybridized normally aspirated engine to a fully integrated hybrid power unit with novel technology at its heart."

To meet the challenges of the new power unit, Williams signed the deal with Mercedes Benz High Performance Powertrains midway through last season. The team received the first CAD (Computer-Aided Design) data for the power unit at the end of May, at which point the detailed design of the FW36 could begin to be finalized.

"This is the first time that Williams has worked with Mercedes in F1 and we've been very impressed," says Symonds. "Their professionalism and commitment have been notable and we're as confident as we can be that the power unit will be competitive."

The design phase of the FW36 was completed by mid-September, by which time the team had found solutions to the major challenges presented by the regulations. Cooling, weight, a new gearbox and aerodynamic changes are just some of the areas of focus.

"Overall the cars will need more cooling this year," says Symonds. "The demands on water and oil cooling may be slightly diminished, but the ERS system is significantly more powerful and hence needs more cooling. We also have to cool the charge air from the turbocharger compressor which requires a substantial intercooler."

The FW36's gearbox ran on the dyno for the first time at the beginning of November, before running with the full power unit several weeks later. It's the first eight-speed gearbox in Williams' history.

"We finished the gearbox relatively early," says Symonds. "It's completed a lot of running on the test rig and at Mercedes HPP in Brixworth, but you can't take reliability for granted. It's a completely new 'box and it has to cope with a lot more torque than was the case with the V8."

The weight of the car, when combined with the FIA's ever more stringent crash tests, has been another challenge of the 2014 rules. But the FW36 was one of the first cars to pass its crash tests prior to Christmas.

"The build of the new car has gone remarkably smoothly," says Symonds. "But it's been a challenge to get the car down to the weight limit. It's been achievable, but it hasn't been easy because the new power unit is heavier than the outgoing V8."

The launch-spec aerodynamic package was finalized in the first week of December, with an upgrade package for Melbourne's season-opener signed off in early January.

"F1 is still going to be an aerodynamic formula in 2014," says Symonds. "There are some significant changes: the nose is lower than last year and the front wing is narrower, which means the end plates are now more shrouded by the front tire. The rear wing isn't as deep as last year and the beam wing below it is no longer permitted, and we've also lost the ability to use the exhaust to enhance aero performance."

Until the car begins testing next week the team won't know how its design solutions will translate onto the track, but Symonds is confident that Williams has done enough to move up the grid after a disappointing 2013 season.

"I'm confident that we'll be closer to the front aerodynamically than we were last year," says Symonds. "Our ambition for the year ahead is to have a strong 2014 season."

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