Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Kimi Raikkonen gets a warm welcome at Ferrari

    'Hilarious' 2014 pre-season already begun

  • Pic admits 2014 Caterham seat not secure
  • Ricciardo thinks Vettel yet to peak
  • Gonzalez reveals Pirelli test seat offer
  • Raikkonen receives warm Ferrari welcome on his return to Maranello New
  • Ferrari unveil their V6 turbo saying farewell to engines and hello to power unit New
  • Video: Presentation of the new Ferrari power unit New
  • Whitmarsh: Magnussen a risk New
  • Allison praises Ferrari engine approach New

'Hilarious' 2014 pre-season already begun
(GMM) After a controversial 2013, Pirelli has moved to allay fears about its tires for next year's world championship.

Before the Tweet was deleted, German driver Nico Rosberg on Thursday told his more than 400,000 followers about a 320kph "toilet paper" moment during Pirelli's private 2014 tire testing in Bahrain.

The DPA news agency said Mercedes – testing its 2013 car in the island Kingdom alongside Red Bull, Ferrari and Toro Rosso – wrapped up its activities in Bahrain in the wake of the failure.

According to France's, Pirelli did not immediately want to divulge any details, insisting the testing is "private" and the information "confidential".

The Italian marque did confirm, however, that "incidents can occur" during testing.

Later, as the news about the latest exploded Pirelli spread throughout the F1 world, Pirelli said the offending tire had been a "prototype".

Pirelli added that the tire on Rosberg's car had only previously been tested "in the laboratory", and "will not be proposed again".

"Thus, the safety of the tires which will be supplied for the next championship is not in question," F1's official supplier added in a media statement.

In fairness to Pirelli, its tires are having to be vastly different to those supplied to teams in 2013, due to the high-torque demands of the new turbo engines.

Jenson Button, now the most experienced driver on the F1 grid, thinks all the changes are going to make official winter testing next month "hilarious".

"It will be cold, the tires aren't going to work, the cars probably won't work either," he is quoted by the Independent newspaper.

Some teams, however, are relishing the F1 revolution, after Red Bull utterly dominated the now-concluded era where V8 engines were frozen and aerodynamic development was key.

"Being able to build the engine and chassis together is definitely a nice advantage," Ferrari's new technical director James Allison said on Thursday, as the Italian team's new V6 'power unit" was launched at Maranello.

"Other teams cannot do the same and this year, like never before, installing the new power unit in the car's chassis will be a complex operation," he added.

Allison is referring to the contrast between teams like Ferrari and Mercedes, who are both chassis and engine manufacturers, and 'customer' outfits like his former employer Lotus, who simply buy an engine from Renault.

"I've got direct experience of that from my time at Lotus: it's true the engine supplier tries to meet your demands, but it's never the same thing as happens here, where there is a historical culture relating to a common task of defining and developing the design of the new car," he said.

Pic admits 2014 Caterham seat not secure
(GMM) A month ahead of official pre-season testing for 2014, Charles Pic has admitted his future remains far from certain.

It has been rumored in recent days and weeks that, ahead of the new season, the Lagardere-backed Frenchman's sponsorship haul might not be as strong as that of his 2013 teammate Giedo van der Garde.

At the same time, there have been rumors Caterham might be considering a new driver to replace 23-year-old Pic, such as the Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson.

And Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, who has been looking to return to the grid after losing his Sauber seat at the end of last year, was spotted at Caterham's UK factory this week.

Pic admitted his future is not secure.

"Given the nature of the driver market at the end of the season," he told France's Auto Hebdo, "I knew that the decision would not be taken quickly.

"Small teams in particular wait for the decisions of their more competitive rivals," added Pic.

"For me it would be logical to stay at Caterham, but you can never be sure about anything in formula one.

"The contract with Caterham is my first priority, but there are other options," he revealed.

"Honestly, at the end of the season, we saw that the main problem was not the drivers, but the financial situation."

Pic is surely referring to the fact that, while he struggled alongside Dutchman van der Garde in the closing stages of 2013, Caterham was already working hard on its all-new project for next year.

"The main problem was that we had to do the season with last year's car," he said, "and we were the only team in this situation."

In an identical car, however, van der Garde had got the upper hand by the last few races.

"This was his debut season," said Pic, "so it seems logical that he made progress.

"But prior to India, I was regularly in front of him, and with a significant advantage.

"In the last three races Giedo had more success than me, but that was because I had a lot of mechanical problems," he argues.

Pic said he feels he performed well enough in 2013 to deserve to keep the seat, but there are other factors in play, and "mainly financial" ones.

"I'm optimistic," he insisted, "because myself and the team need stability."

Ricciardo thinks Vettel yet to peak
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel's new teammate thinks the reigning quadruple world champion is still getting better.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo is replacing Mark Webber at Red Bull, but he said recently he hopes to be more competitive alongside Vettel than his retiring countryman.

"As strong as Mark is," 24-year-old Ricciardo is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace, "Seb was better.

"That was evident in the last two years.

"He (Vettel) is still very young, so we can ask the question of whether they were both at their peak when they were together," he added.

Indeed, he thinks Vettel – who is two years older than Ricciardo – is still improving, despite his obvious dominance as the 2013 season concluded.

"I don't think he has reached his peak, which is a little scary for the other drivers, because he has been impressive," said Ricciardo.

"In fact, the more he wins, the more confidence he gets, and the easier it is for him."

Despite that, team boss Christian Horner is excited to see how Ricciardo – who is moving to Red Bull from the junior team Toro Rosso – fares alongside Vettel.

"I think Daniel is very fast," he said. "Let's see how fast he really is."

Horner said he doubts Ricciardo will clash with Vettel, despite the increasingly fractious relationship between the dominant German and Webber in past years.

"I think the relationship will be very different than it was with Mark," he said.

"Mark was at his peak when Sebastian came to the team, but Daniel is much younger and still learning. He will learn from Sebastian. The dynamics will be very different," added Horner.

Ricciardo, while insisting that he wants to beat Vettel, acknowledged that it might be a task too far when considering the world champion's top form.

He told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "If the car is good and he wins, that's what everyone expects of him.

"But no one is expecting me to come into the team and be the number 1 driver. That takes a little pressure from me," said Ricciardo.

"I want to come in and learn from the best, and then we'll see what happens.

"If you could offer to me right now that I'm second behind him at the end of the season but with the same number of wins, then I might accept that.

"But if he's world champion and I'm fifth, I'll just say 'f**k!" he grinned.

"I am prepared for a big challenge, but I am not prepared for him to kick my ass.

"I do hope I am closer to him than Mark was, but I don't want to promise all these big things and then be sh*t. We'll see what happens, but I am definitely positive," added Ricciardo.

Gonzalez reveals Pirelli test seat offer
(GMM) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Marussia's reserve and occasional Friday practice driver in 2013, has revealed he has been offered a role as Pirelli's F1 tester.

Like his countryman Pastor Maldonado, Gonzalez is sponsored by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA.

But he told the El Universal newspaper: "I have received an attractive offer to be Pirelli test driver in the coming season.

"First there are other options that I would like to explore, so fortunately, I can make a decision about the offer in February or March, as I really want to stay in formula one," Gonzalez added.

"I think in two years I will accept the offers to race in categories such as in the US and Europe, but at the moment I prefer to wait and stay."

Gonzalez has a low profile in the F1 paddock, with most observers believing his sponsor dollars talk louder than his talent.

He confirmed that sponsorship is crucial to the fate of all F1 drivers, with the exception of the very top teams.

Marussia team boss John Booth, however, insisted: "He has nothing to prove.

"Perhaps he is lacking a little bit of consistency, but he is a formula one driver and he knows what he's doing," said the Briton.

"He has helped us a lot," added Booth.

Raikkonen back at Ferrari

Raikkonen receives warm Ferrari welcome on his return to Maranello
Kimi Raikkonen made his first appearance at Maranello since being signed to return to Ferrari. He was received enthusiastically by his new colleagues.

Raikkonen was at Maranello to reacquaint himself with the team which spent three seasons with, until 2009, winning the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship in the process.

The Finn was warmly received by Ferrari staff, many of whom he knew from his first stint with the team. He met with team principal Stefano Domenicali, senior engineers and his newly appointed race engineer Antonio Spagnolo.

Raikkonen was also given a tour of the Maranello facilities, including the team’s simulator, which have been upgraded since 2009. He was also shown the 2014 car and given a preliminary seat fitting during the course of his visit.

Ferrari reported, “It was an opportunity to go over the current state of play on the design of the 2014 car, as well as a chance for Kimi to meet up with many old friends who, in a few weeks time will once again be his team mates."

After being paid to leave Ferrari at the end of 2009, and make way for Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen took a break from Formula 1 before returning in 2011 to drive for Lotus. He won two races for the black and gold team.

He missed the final two races of the 2013 season due to a back injury which required an operation. At the same time Raikkonen revealed that Lotus had not paid him any money for his services, prompting the decision to sort out the recurring back problem which had returned to afflict him.

Raikkonen will partner Fernando Alonso in the team, making it the most experienced driver pairing on the grid.

Ferrari unveil their V6 turbo saying farewell to engines and hello to power unit
The engine which Scuderia Ferrari will use in 2014 is called the 059/3. A three dimensional preview of the powertrain that will be fitted to the Maranello Formula 1 cars as from next year, was shown today to a select group of Italian and international media, in Maranello for the traditional pre-Christmas meeting with President Montezemolo.

“As a result of the 2014 regulations, we no longer talk of engines, but of power units," explained the Head of Engines and Electronics, Luca Marmorini. “It’s a very complex project and we have been working on it for the past two years. It’s a 1600 cc turbocharged internal combustion engine and only 100 liters of fuel can be used in a race, which means that the more efficient an engine, the more power it can use. Along with the turbocharger, there will be an electric motor, which will also act as a generator, allowing for the recovery of energy from the exhaust gasses. As was already the case, a second electric motor will recover energy from braking, although it will be able to put out almost double the power of the one currently in use. All the energy generated by the electric motors will be stored in a much bigger and more powerful battery pack than the current one, but it will still be fitted below the fuel cell. The electronic control system will be even more sophisticated to coordinate and manage all these new electro-mechanical devices. A new regulation, a fascinating challenge, which places great emphasis on energy recovery and on the efficiency of the power unit."

Marmorini called up on stage with him those who had coordinated the various areas of the project: Mattia Binotto (deputy head of engines and electronics,) Enrico Gualtieri (engine reliability,) Guido Di Paola (engine design,) Dave Salters (testing,) Daniele Zecchetti (advanced systems development,) Stefano Lovera (electronics) and Thierry Baritaud. Through them, Marmorini wanted to thank all the staff for their efforts on the 059/3, but above all to spur them on to give their utmost for what it is to come in the near future: the adventure of the new powertrain has only just begun.

The presentation, which was set up inside the logistics pavilion, got underway with a look back at the past, through photos, engines and the most important cars from over sixty years of the Scuderia’s Formula 1 history, before symbolically bringing together this year’s F138 and the Corsa Indianapolis, the single-seater that was produced in 1953 to take part in the Indianapolis 500 Miles, so that past and present led the way to the future.

Video: Presentation of the new Ferrari power unit
The engine which Scuderia Ferrari will use in 2014 is called the 059/3. This video contains a three dimensional preview of the powertrain that will be fitted to the Maranello Formula 1 cars as from next year.

Whitmarsh: Magnussen a risk
McLaren have taken a risk by promoting young hotshot Kevin Magnussen, team principal, Martin Whitmarsh has conceded.

Magnussen has been drafted in at the expense of Sergio Perez, the Mexican cast aside after just one year with the Woking-based outfit, and while the Dane impressed and won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title in 2013, it remains to be seen just how he will get on at the pinnacle of the sport. Furthermore, while McLaren have succeeded before with a rookie, and had no regrets after bringing in Lewis Hamilton back in 2007, the situation now is not the same.

“We did it with Lewis, but how many times in your career does that happen because we could have had egg on our face," Whitmarsh admitted to British newspaper, The Independent this week.

“The one thing I'll say – and I hesitate to say this thinking about it, but I'll say it – it was easier for Lewis because we pounded him with testing in a way you can't any more.

“So there's a risk, but we wouldn't be doing it unless we didn't think it would work out."

Magnussen tested for McLaren at Silverstone back in the summer and Whitmarsh added it was clear then that he had that certain ‘X-Factor’: “What was impressive was the consistency – there was not a single mistake," Whitmarsh recalled.

“I also happened to participate in the engineering debrief at the end of the day and he had a number of engineers around him and at least 20 on video conference.

“I sat there listening to his feedback, how clear and precise he was, the confidence, and realizing 'This guy is special'."

Allison praises Ferrari engine approach
James Allison has praised Ferrari's approach at the presentation of their new 2014 engine. Allison said it is an absolute advantage to have everything under one roof while also saying he's happy to have the blown diffusers banned.

“Being able to build the engine and chassis together is definitely a nice advantage for Ferrari," said Technical Director,James Allison at the presentation of the 059/3. “Other teams cannot do the same and this year, like never before, installing the new power unit in the car’s chassis will be a complex operation. I’ve got direct experience of that from my time at Lotus: it’s true the engine supplier tries to meet your demands, but it’s never the same thing as happens here, where there is a historical culture relating to a common task of defining and developing the design of the new car."

Ferrari is the only team which, since 1950, has year after year been able to make the most of this situation, which only occasionally has it shared with other constructors.

“We have worked side by side with our chassis colleagues over the years," added Head of Engines and Electronics, Luca Marmorini. “Precisely because we know there is no point in we engine engineers pushing too much emphasis on our single project if then it doesn’t adapt to a winning car. This is the case not just as far as the engine is concerned, but also relates to all the other elements of this powertrain which, as you can understand, is much more complex than in the past."

“All I can say is I agree with Luca," concluded James. “That argument also holds true for an element which, in recent years has been the centre of attention, namely the exhausts. Blowing them offered interesting technical challenges, but I have to say that, personally, I am pleased they have been eliminated and that we can go back to designing exhausts aimed at getting the most out of the power of the engine."

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