Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Updated)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Hamilton hopes he doesn't get demoralized by Vettel a 4th straight year

    Ferrari 'calm' despite troubled start – Gene

  • FIA sticks with telemetry supplier despite continued issues
  • Hamilton: Vettel won’t run away with it
  • Testing resumes at Duxford after de Villota crash New
  • Why Porsche’s recent comments are a major warning for F1 New

Ferrari 'calm' despite troubled start – Gene
(GMM) Despite a mixed start to the 2013 campaign for Ferrari, test driver Marc Gene insists the mood at Maranello is "calm".

Spaniard Alonso won in China earlier this month, but before that he retired after a crash in Malaysia, whilst last weekend in Bahrain his victory hopes collapsed due to an ultra-rare DRS rear wing failure.

"It's the first problem of its kind on this system seen in the three years during which it has been used," the Italian team revealed in a media statement.

Because of those problems, and despite having a much more competitive car this season than in 2012, Alonso is already 30 points off reigning champion Sebastian Vettel's title lead.

But Spanish test driver Gene, who travels to all the grands prix with Ferrari, said this week: "Despite what happened the other day, the atmosphere at Maranello is calm.

"It was an unusual problem that has never happened before and won't happen again," he is quoted by EFE news agency.

Gene said he is confident Ferrari will overcome its early-season setbacks and fight back.

"I think this year we will fight until the end for both championships," he said in Madrid.

"Red Bull is the benchmark, and Lotus is the other team that is very strong, but we also do not forget about Mercedes.

"The nice thing about this season is that there are many teams fighting for the top positions," added Gene.

Asked about Dr Helmut Marko's claim this week that Red Bull fears Lotus more than Ferrari in 2013, Gene insisted that the reigning champions "should be scared of Ferrari".

"I think this is just psychological warfare," the 39-year-old insisted.

FIA sticks with telemetry supplier despite continued issues
The FIA has decided to stick with the current supplier of its Formula 1 electronic marshalling system for now, despite further troubles at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Formula 1 drivers have been left without cockpit warning lights for the opening four grands prix of the season, because the FIA's new supplier Riedel had not got the system working reliably enough.

AUTOSPORT has learned that in the wake of the problems, serious thought was given to reverting to last year's supplier EM from the Spanish Grand Prix if there were not signs of progress being made at last weekend's event in Bahrain.

In the end, the FIA was satisfied that the marshalling lights and GPS aspects of the electronic system had improved enough to be up to standard.

And although the telemetry system, which controls the cockpit warning lights, was not good enough to be used – it was better than it had been at the first three grands prix.

The FIA has confirmed that Riedel will now be given further time to sort out the remaining issues with the telemetry. Autosport

Hamilton: Vettel won’t run away with it
Lewis Hamilton insists that Sebastian Vettel won't be able to simply run away with the 2013 F1 title, despite the defending champion winning for the second time this season in Bahrain.

Vettel has lifted the crown for the past three years and is hot favorite to retain his crown this year, having moved ten points clear in the title race with his success at the Sakhir circuit.

However, Hamilton – who has two podium finishes so far since his move from McLaren to Mercedes – insisted that Vettel wasn't going to have it all his own way and that his own team were amongst those ready for the challenge.

"Seb always seems to win in Bahrain, so that was no real surprise for us," he was quoted by The Sun. "I don't think it will be the same for Seb in all the races plus Red Bull have seemed to struggle in some qualifying sessions.

"The Bahrain GP could turn out to be one of the worst grands prix for us because we had a lot of problems with the car. We were on the back foot all weekend, so to come away with a fifth place when I started in ninth, was really pleasing.

"I turned a negative into a positive and now had two thirds and two fifths. When I was joining a new team, I thought it would be a lot worse than that."

While Hamilton has enjoyed a strong start to life at Mercedes, former team McLaren has endured a more trying run so far in 2013, with drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez clashing on track in Bahrain.

Hamilton however praised his former team for the way in which it had dealt with the incident both during and after the race.

"They had a good battle," he said. "That's the good thing about Martin [Whitmarsh], he allows his drivers to race. That's what he has always done from the time that I was there. He doesn't change in that respect.

"As long as we are all racing together, effectively and with respect for one another, it's not a concern for me. We're there to race, we just have to remember what is best for our teams and take care that we don't take each other out."

Testing resumes at Duxford after de Villota crash
(GMM) Formula one testing has resumed at the Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire, UK.

There has been no F1 running at the Imperial War Museum facility since Mario de Villota was seriously injured, and lost an eye, in a crash whilst testing for Marussia last July.

But an unnamed team was in action on the runway at Duxford on Friday, and the local Haverhill Echo newspaper said more test days are booked for next Wednesday and also in May, June and August.

On Friday, Spaniard de Villota said in Madrid that she thinks Fernando Alonso will win this year's world championship.

"Soon everything will line up for him and he will not have so much bad luck; for me he is the most complete driver on the grid — the perfect combination of talent, passion and work," she is quoted by the EFE news agency.

Why Porsche’s recent comments are a major warning for F1
This week German car maker Porsche revealed it was considering entering Formula 1 as the makers of the famous 911 model look to move back into high level motor-sport.

In the end the company opted to enter a prototype design into the Le Mans series for 2014, reports link current Red Bull driver Mark Webber to the project, however Porsche’s comments that F1 was “not logical" due to a lack of relevance to its road cars was a stark warning for F1 bosses and here’s why.

Not long ago F1 was dominated by the major car makers, Honda, Toyota, BMW to name a few, now however only Mercedes is left as the only mass production car maker to have a fully operational F1 team. Some will also point out that Ferrari and McLaren produce road cars, but the type of high performance super-cars they produce do make being in F1 relevant.

Some of the car makers remain in F1 as engine suppliers with Renault supplying engines to 4 teams and Mercedes to 3 teams, and it is as engine suppliers that has the like of Honda and possibly Toyota interested in a return to the sport.

The fact however that none of the car makers are not yet signaling a future return as a full works team is worrying albeit still understandable given the current economic climate. But the major car makers are still participating in motor-sport entering touring car championships and the Le Mans style endurance series.

When asked specifically why F1 was not logical for Porsche, the company’s Chief Executive Wolfgang Hatz’s response is what will disappoint F1 bosses most.

“There is a lot of publicity around politics and tires, but not so much about the engines and chassis. The aero, too, is incredible, but so extreme that it cannot result in any development in our road car understanding," he added.

In other words, modern F1 is no longer relevant to car makers. When Hatz speaks about the publicity around tires of course that has not always been the case, but for Pirelli, one of the world’s biggest makers of tires for all vehicles, to hear companies that they would look to do business with, say that they are having too big an influence on F1 for them to enter will be disappointing.

F1 has been much more road relevant in the past, much of the modern car design with monocoque chassis’, traction control, suspensions etc came from F1. The switch to smaller engine units and the invention of KERS that will one day, I believe, be on all road cars does mean that F1 can still bring new technologies to road cars in the future, but what F1 is missing is what the Le Mans series in-particular offers.

Car companies are investing in new greener technologies, and in the Le Mans series fuel consumption is one the biggest factors in the racing, so by entering Le Mans and other endurance races, any advances made in fuel technologies and safety in sports cars are much more applicable to road cars.

That is the biggest difference now between sports cars and F1, safety in modern F1 is so good and has been now for quite some time, the technological advances that could be applied to road cars have been applied and because the gains that can be made mechanically are greater in sports cars, Formula 1 is not as relevant as before.

Overall the major warning for F1 seems to be that with rising competition from sports cars and the still depressed economic climate, more work needs to be done to make the sport greener, the costs involved certainly need to be addressed and the reputation F1 has commercially need to be altered, all that added together should make the pinnacle motor-sport in the world more accessible and more appealing to the world’s car makers. Pure F1

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