Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Updated)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

Alonso accused of smashing Photographers camera


  • Vettel expects steward Jones to be fair in Spain
  • Photographer says Alonso smashed EUR 6,000 camera
  • New 'hard' tire splits paddock in Barcelona
  • Sainz Jr set for Toro Rosso test
  • 'No surprise' Caterham struggling in 2013 – Kovalainen
  • Wolff looked into buying Toro Rosso
  • Webber 'still focused on F1' career
  • Barcelona boss doubts alternation deal close
  • Amid Allison rumors, Montezemolo looks for 'quality people'
  • Long Beach's Pook joins New Jersey F1 project
  • Lotus F1 Team Keeping Time with Richard Mille
  • Button slapped with fine New
  • McLaren: no quick fix for car problems New

Vettel expects steward Jones to be fair in Spain
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has brushed off fears he might be the victim of unfair treatment this weekend in Spain.

The ex-steward on the FIA stewards' panel this weekend in Barcelona is 1980 world champion Alan Jones.

Earlier this week, the Australian warned his countryman Mark Webber to treat German Vettel as an "enemy".

"Seb has proved he can't be trusted," Jones told the Guardian.

The 66-year-old former Williams driver was referring to the 'Multi-21' team orders affair, adding that if Vettel disagrees with Red Bull's instructions, "he shouldn't have signed his agreement in the first place".

Title leader and reigning world champion Vettel, however, brushed off suggestions he might be treated unfairly by Jones this weekend.

"I was not aware of that," he told Kolner Express newspaper, referring to Jones' comments.

"But if Mr. Jones has taken the job as a steward, I am assuming that he is independent and neutral and so I expect no problems."

Vettel also rubbished rumors linking him with a move to Mercedes.

"I was surprised when I read it," he told reporters on Thursday.

"I don't read that much, usually just the headlines — it's pretty funny."

Photographer says Alonso smashed EUR 6,000 camera
(GMM) A photographer claims Fernando Alonso broke his EUR 6,000 camera whilst trying to take pictures of the Ferrari driver and his model girlfriend.

According to reports, the photographer complained that Spaniard Alonso reacted angrily and manhandled him during the incident in Barcelona ahead of this weekend's Spanish grand prix.

The photographer, who said he has complained to authorities, said witnesses also saw Alonso attack him and smash the camera against the ground.

"Let's see if through this complaint he learns to have more respect for the press," the photographer is quoted by La Repubblica.

"He is an example to millions of children? He knows perfectly well that he was not provoked."

New 'hard' tire splits paddock in Barcelona
(GMM) A big topic of conversation in Barcelona this weekend is Pirelli's new 'hard' compound tire.

While the Italian supplier claims it is a minor tweak, others are concerned the change will favor only some teams.

The team that lobbied hardest for changes is Red Bull.

"I think there was more talk than action from our side," world champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday.

"For sure there's a lot of attention and people trying to make up stories, but I think you could see the whole grid struggling with the tires.

"It's not a secret, it's not just us," he added.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa also confirmed that he "complained".

"I like this change," the Brazilian told Totalrace in Barcelona, "because before the hard tire was not exactly hard."

Red Bull's Mark Webber is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: "It benefits everybody if the working range is better and easier to get into."

What is also clear, however, is that some teams – especially Lotus and Force India – lobbied for the status quo.

"In general, when the tires are softer, we got them to work better," Kimi Raikkonen told Finland's MTV3, "but if your car is good, it usually works on any tire."

Force India's Adrian Sutil told Totalrace: "For sure some teams were pushing more than us for the new compound, because we were very comfortable with the old tire.

"But it's a new challenge and let's see who can get used to it quickly."

Sainz Jr set for Toro Rosso test
(GMM) After Antonio Felix da Costa, the next in line for a Red Bull-backed formula one future looks set to be Carlos Sainz Jr.

The Spaniard, the 18-year-old son of rally legend Carlos Sainz, is in pole position to drive for Red Bull's second team Toro Rosso in July's young driver test at Silverstone.

Marca sports newspaper said Sainz's debut has not been officially decided or announced.

Speed Week said Portuguese younger da Costa is the favorite to drive the championship-leading Red Bull RB9 at Silverstone.

Sainz Jr will begin his GP3 campaign this weekend in Barcelona, driving for the team co-owned by Red Bull driver Mark Webber and his team boss Christian Horner.

"If I do well this year it's a step forward," he is quoted by Marca, "but right now F1 is not the first goal.

"First I need to do well here (GP3), then there are other steps, like the (Renault) world series."

'No surprise' Caterham struggling in 2013 – Kovalainen
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen insists it is "no surprise" Caterham has struggled so far in 2013.

The Finn, who has been a leading race driver at the team since its Team Lotus inception in 2010, was dropped for 2013 in favor of pay-drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

31-year-old Kovalainen, however, is now back in a reserve and testing role.

He drove in Friday practice recently in Bahrain, and on Friday in Barcelona he will drive again, at the wheel of Frenchman Pic's car.

He said he hopes an upgrade package for the Spanish grand prix puts Caterham back ahead of usual rival Marussia.

"The car itself is basically the same as last year's," Kovalainen is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"The monocoque is the same, only the aerodynamics were modified. So it's no surprise the team has not gone so well, when you're putting an old car against the new ones."

Kovalainen confirmed that Caterham's approach to this year has been deliberate.

"The team is trying to stay – with the least possible effort – in the top ten this year and put more effort into next year," he said.

"The new car is being developed already.

"When the rules change so much, it's important for us to get started with the new car as quickly as possible."

Wolff looked into buying Toro Rosso
(GMM) Toto Wolff turned down Dietrich Mateschitz when the Red Bull magnate offered to sell him Toro Rosso.

Wolff, who subsequently bought into Williams and is now Mercedes' new co-owner and motor sport director, said billionaire Mateschitz made the approach in 2009.

"One day, Dietrich Mateschitz landed by helicopter and offered to sell me Toro Rosso," Austrian Wolff told the French news agency AFP.

"With my company in Vienna, we analyzed the business model of Toro Rosso, but having a private team doesn't work when you compare it to the hundreds of millions of euros spent by the manufacturers," he said.

Webber 'still focused on F1' career
(GMM) Mark Webber has played down reports he has already decided to quit formula one.

The British tabloid Daily Star claimed last weekend that the Australian "has told close friends" that 2013 is his twelfth and final season on the grid.

The report seemed to tie in with rumors Webber, 36, has agreed a deal to return to Le Mans next year with Porsche.

But he is quoted by Russia's "It (Le Mans) is an interesting category, but it's not for me.

"At the moment I'm still focused on formula one. There are always a lot of rumors, some strange ones, but I don't pay much attention to it."

Barcelona boss doubts alternation deal close
(GMM) Barcelona's F1 circuit chief has played down reports a deal whereby the city and Valencia will alternate the annual hosting of the Spanish grand prix is now close.

After Catalunya president Artur Mas said recently that "If Valencia can host the grand prix in 2014, there will be the alternation", it was reported that the contract details could be finalized this weekend.

But Barcelona's track boss Salvador Servia thinks that sort of deal would be "a mistake".

He also told local Rac1 radio that he thinks rushing to a deal this weekend is not possible.

"These contracts are 200 pages and, if we must change, it should be thorough," said Servia.

"For now, we have not received any notification," he said, adding that he thinks many race sponsors "would disagree" with the alternation plans.

Amid Allison rumors, Montezemolo looks for 'quality people'
(GMM) Having initially denied reports James Allison is heading to Maranello, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has hinted he might be warming to the idea.

The Italian team's lead driver Fernando Alonso, who worked with Allison at Renault when he won his titles mid last decade, said on Thursday that the 45-year-old Briton would be "welcome".

"We are working well and this year things are going much better so we are happy with what we have but it's always welcome, any extra help," said Alonso.

"(It's) no secret he's one of the top men here (in F1) and we will see what future he has."

When asked about Allison, Montezemolo is quoted by Italiaracing: "We're always looking around for quality (people) if the right opportunity presents itself."

More broadly, Allison's departure could spell trouble at Lotus, with some in the paddock suggesting that lead driver Kimi Raikkonen could now also jump ship.

"He (Allison) wouldn't have walked away from Lotus if everything was rosy and the team was well funded to bring the developments they need for the car," British broadcaster Sky's pit reporter Ted Kravitz said in Barcelona.

"I think they (Lotus) are going to go downhill from here."

Long Beach's Pook joins New Jersey F1 project
(GMM) Long Beach race founder Chris Pook has been signed up to help organize next year's inaugural formula one race in New Jersey.

On Thursday, amid skepticism the street race will ever take place, we reported that the project's chief marketing officer and chief financial offer have left.

But in a media statement issued after the publication of those reports, the 'Grand Prix of America' announced that Pook has now joined as 'special assistant' to organizer Leo Hindery.

Most recently, Pook – who brought F1 to Long Beach in the mid 70s – was linked with the sport's potential return to those same Californian streets.

But, now, Pook "will provide consultation with respect to all aspects of construction, planning and execution" of New Jersey's F1 race, the statement said.

"Chris has a history of great success in formula one, which I'm confident he'll bring to the grand prix of America race," Bernie Ecclestone is quoted as saying.

Lotus F1 Team Keeping Time with Richard Mille
Lotus F1 Team is proud to reveal internationally renowned watchmaker Richard Mille as Official Timing Partner to the team.

The two-year deal will see branding appear on the team’s 2013 Formula 1 challenger – the E21 – in addition to driver overalls from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards.

Furthermore, a limited edition wristwatch will be produced using the very latest lightweight materials; pairing the philosophies of both the team and Richard Mille in representing the pinnacle of cutting edge technology.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team:
“The 2013 season has seen Lotus F1 Team get off to a strong start on track, and it is highly satisfying to see that success recognized in our off-track endeavors with the announcement of Richard Mille as the latest name to join our strong portfolio of partners. As a team we are extremely proud of our brand identity, and the innovative approach adopted by Richard Mille in the design and manufacture of their wristwatches is certainly in keeping with our core value of standing out from the crowd."

Richard Mille, Chairman, Richard Mille Watches:
“Many people know the high degree of technical expertise, innovation and sophistication that one can find in Richard Mille watches, and no outfit could be better suited to our brand values than Lotus F1 Team. This mutual love for exemplary technique and refinement represents an asset for a strong and constructive partnership"

Button slapped with fine
McLaren driver Jenson Button was struck with a fine of €1000 (£845) for speeding in the pit lane during Friday's opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix. As per the current regulations, the outfit will now front the cost of the reprimand.

The 2009 World Champion, who was the only driver not to post a time in the session, clocked a speed of 86.3 km/h (53.6 mph), 26.3 km/h (19.1 mph) over the limit.

Earlier on Friday, it was confirmed that McLaren had used one of its curfew allowances, with staff working in the paddock during the eight-hour shutdown window.

McLaren: no quick fix for car problems
McLaren admits that fixing the problems on its MP4-28 is going to be a long-term project, as it further played down talk of a dramatic step forward in Spain this weekend.

The Woking-based team has introduced at the Circuit de Catalunya a heavily revised car, which features a new front wing, rear wing, sidepods, tweaked rear suspension uprights and other minor changes.

Sporting director Sam Michael said that with the team believing there were numerous factors that had contributed to its current plight, there was no quick fix that would get it immediately back to the front.

"We finished sixth in the last race and six or seventh is where our car has been, so we don't expect to go from sixth to the front row straight away," said Michael.

"That is why we have managed expectation, so people don't think that is what we are claiming to do.

"We know the bits we have to work on, we know where our issues are and we know what is in the pipeline. It is going to take time."

He added: "A bit of everything. The biggest mistake you can make when you are under performing is to concentrate on one magic bullet because you won't find it.

"It comes from a package of changes and that is what we are working on.

"These are the times when you learn most about racing cars because you are investigating multiple areas and the feedback that you get from that is very valuable for the team."

Michael revealed that the changes introduced were not just about improving downforce, as he hinted about a new 'platform' for Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

"Right now we have changed the way the platform works, and there are a lot of new parts coming [in the next races] based around that," he said.

"If you look at the philosophy we have had for the first few races then clearly it is not where we need to be. So we took a decision to change where we are operating a couple of months ago." Yahoo! Eurosport UK

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