Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Kubica confirms Mercedes simulator run reports
  • F1 shouldn't panic over Pirelli deadline – Domenicali
  • Hard racing 'should not be punished' – steward Salo
  • Caterham not affected by owner's football woes – report
  • F1 sticking with troublesome telemetry supplier
  • McLaren not yet thinking about 2014 – Whitmarsh
  • Red Bull hopeful Ricciardo says Vettel 'nice'

Kubica confirms Mercedes simulator run reports
(GMM) Robert Kubica has confirmed reports he has tested at the wheel of Mercedes' driver simulator.

We reported recently that the Pole, who also tested the German marque's DTM car over the winter, headed to Mercedes' F1 factory at Brackley for a run in the simulator, having earlier been "spotted … at the airport in London".

The team, whose F1 drivers are Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, has declined to comment.

But former BMW and Renault driver Kubica confirmed: "Yes, it's true, I was there.

"But I will not tell you how many times I've been there or how many laps I did," he is quoted by Speed Week correspondent Mathias Brunner.

"It's not right that every time I am seen at Heathrow, I'm on the way to Brackley," the 28-year-old insisted.

Kubica, contesting the second-tier world rally championship in 2013, has been out of F1 since his near-fatal early 2011 rally crash, which has left him with restricted movement in his right arm.

The 2008 Canadian grand prix winner said his push to return to F1 is going well.

"Driving at Barcelona would be possible now," he is quoted as saying, "but not Monaco."

F1 shouldn't panic over Pirelli deadline – Domenicali
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali insists F1 should not panic over the unknown identity of next year's official tire supplier.

In Bahrain recently, Pirelli's Paul Hembery denied Bernie Ecclestone's claim that a new contract for the Italian marque is "all done".

"Time is of the essence, I would suggest now," he said instead, amid rumors Korean company Hankook might be interested in a 2014-16 FIA tender.

Hembery added: "I don't particularly want to give deadlines but there is a time scale."

Amid strong criticism within the paddock this year of Pirelli's highly degrading 2013 tires, however, Ferrari team boss Domenicali urged against alarm.

"We can't race without tires unless we return to the time of the Flintstones," he is quoted as joking to Brazil's Totalrace.

"I know that Pirelli has given clear signs of wanting to be with us in the future, which is positive, because there is no championship without tires," added Domenicali.

"I am confident the situation will be resolved in the coming weeks."

Hard racing 'should not be punished' – steward Salo
(GMM) Mika Salo has gone some way to confirming reports FIA stewards are being lenient on F1 drivers' on-track behavior in 2013.

We reported recently that, in a secret winter meeting, it was agreed that stewards would impose less penalties this year in a bid to encourage more wheel-to-wheel racing.

The ex-driver representative on the stewards panel in Bahrain last time out was former Sauber and Ferrari driver Salo.

The Finn told MTV3 broadcaster: "We saw really good racing in Bahrain.

"I encourage just this kind of hard fighting, which should not be punished.

"(Jenson) Button was angry when (Sergio) Perez hit him, and yes, of course, it could have spoiled both their races.

"But while Perez drove pretty aggressively, it was good racing," added Salo.

Also going unpunished was Fernando Alonso, despite the fact his overtaking-aid 'DRS' rear wing flap was stuck open.

Usually, illegal deployment of DRS would attract a penalty, but Salo said: "It was a technical problem, so we had nothing to investigate.

"We were not asked to, and none of the other teams said anything about it. Actually, while he (Alonso) had a great chance to win, the fault spoiled his race."

Salo also commented on the form of his countryman Kimi Raikkonen, who is in a strong position in the world championship, with his Lotus making good use of Pirelli's heavily-degrading tires.

"Kimi stopped one time less than the others, but I think the other teams will not take long to also learn to use the tires.

"I doubt Lotus will have this advantage for too long," he added.

Caterham not affected by owner's football woes – report
(GMM) Team owner Tony Fernandes' struggling football club will not affect his formula one team Caterham, an insider has insisted.

Britain's Sun newspaper said the relegation of Queens Park Rangers from the top tier English Premier League will "cost the West London club millions in lost TV revenue and sponsorship".

But journalist Ben Hunt insisted: "Staff at the Caterham F1 team … have been assured the football club's plight has nothing to do with the F1 team."

An insider said: "The two businesses have always been run separately, so QPR's relegation will not affect the formula one team.

"We would never look at the money reportedly spent on the football club and think that should be matched with us, or at Tony's airline, AirAsia, because the money comes from different pots."

Having never scored a point, Caterham looks even to have dropped behind usual rival Marussia so far in 2013.

F1 sticking with troublesome telemetry supplier
(GMM) F1 is sticking with its telemetry supplier, despite constant problems so far in 2013.

The sport switched to a new supplier over the winter, to handle the telemetry link between race control and the cars.

The new system – supplied by Riedel – controls the allowed deployment of DRS, marshal flag warning lights in the cockpit, GPS and other functions, but it has not been working well so far.

"But," reported Autosprint's Alberto Antonini, "the FIA has confirmed the continuation of the same telemetry system, in the hope that the 'bugs' can be resolved."

McLaren not yet thinking about 2014 – Whitmarsh
(GMM) McLaren is refusing to write off the 2013 season, despite lagging a huge 86 points behind the lead of the constructors' championship after just four races.

Having gambled on a radical new car for the new campaign, McLaren is now trailing its top-four rivals and even Force India, while leading driver Jenson Button is a mere tenth in the drivers' points.

But even though the sweeping rules changes for 2014 are looming large, including the switch from V8 to V6 power, boss Martin Whitmarsh said he is reluctant to call time on 2013 and move the team's focus to a fresh start for next year.

"Maybe I'm wrong," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe, "but I refuse to think about 2014.

"I want us to be competitive, I want us to return to the front and to go to every grand prix thinking that we can win."

However, even teams much closer to the top in 2013 – like back-to-back China and Bahrain pole sitter Mercedes – are already beginning to think about 2014.

Toto Wolff, the Brackley based squad's new co-owner and director, told F1's official website that resources are starting to be switched towards 2014.

"We're already working on 2014," he said, "and we'll gradually raise the percentage of people working on next year's car.

"I would say that in May we will reach a point where more than 50 per cent will work on the 2014 car."

Moreover, Wolff said Mercedes' approach to the second half of 2013 will not be unique.

"There is no doubt that at a point in the summer everybody will switch their main resources to the 2014 car, as this is a very complex and complicated machine," he explained.

"Of course it all depends on where you are in the standings. Those who are fighting for the title will of course concentrate longer on this year's car."

Red Bull hopeful Ricciardo says Vettel 'nice'
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo insists he would get along well with Sebastian Vettel if he is signed by Red Bull for 2014.

In the wake of the 'Multi-21' team orders affair, many believe the relationship between teammates Vettel and Mark Webber is now untenable.

Indeed, with 36-year-old Webber's contract expiring, Red Bull has already hinted that Kimi Raikkonen and Ricciardo are potential candidates to replace him.

Dr Helmut Marko said this week that Red Bull has "two very good juniors" in training for the main team at Toro Rosso, "and Ricciardo is currently the better one".

Like Webber, 23-year-old Ricciardo is Australian, but he has suggested he will not similarly clash with German Vettel.

"I have been out for dinner a few times with Sebastian," Ricciardo told Germany's Sport Bild.

"We're both still young, and he's pretty nice for a German," the Australian joked. "Maybe it would be slightly different between us if we were teammates."

Another bone of contention between Webber and Vettel at present is the team orders issue, with Vettel saying after ignoring the team in Malaysia that his teammate didn't "deserve" to win.

"I also want to win, which is why I'm in formula one," Ricciardo insisted.

"I want to be the best.

"However, if a point comes in a season when he has clearly kicked my butt, then I would play by his rules."

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