Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Whitmarsh pressured

    Still no F1 commercial deal for Marussia

  • McLaren apologizes for Webber's ECU glitch
  • Pressure on McLaren 'captain' Whitmarsh – Coulthard
  • Quitting DTM right decision for Ralf – Coulthard
  • Defeat makes Lauda moan about Pirelli – Hembery
  • Heidfeld admits to badly missing F1
  • Hulkenberg to have new chassis in Malaysia
  • Higher temperatures will suit us – di Resta
  • McLaren 'not considering' 2012 car reprise New

Still no F1 commercial deal for Marussia
(GMM) The first race of the 2013 season came and went without Marussia signing a commercial agreement with the sport's owners.

In the days before Melbourne, team boss John Booth denied Bernie Ecclestone's recent claim that the F1 chief executive had agreed a new deal with the Banbury-based backmarkers.

"It's vital for Bernie because he won't be able to film us without it," Booth had said.

Sporting boss Graeme Lowdon has now told PA Sport that, now in the days before round two in Malaysia, Marussia is still yet to ink a new deal, whose main element is an agreement about how much CVC will pay the team in 2013.

"It does seem a little strange to treat one team so differently, but then again I don't work for CVC so I assume they have some reason for this," he said.

"The real question is: why us? We would argue we're a pretty good team and we're making good strides."

Lowdon claims that if the situation continues, sponsors may be deterred from backing Marussia.

"The other teams have an agreement (so that) will come into discussions with sponsors," he said.

"It unsettles them that we should be treated differently to other teams. There is a knock-on effect, there is no question."

McLaren apologizes for Webber's ECU glitch
(GMM) McLaren has apologized for an electronic glitch that affected Red Bull's Mark Webber during the Australian grand prix.

After the Australian driver had a bad start in Melbourne and also a KERS problem, team boss Christian Horner said: "You need to ask McLaren why the ECU didn't work".

McLaren subsidiary MES (McLaren Electronic Systems) mandatorily supplies electronic control units to every team in F1.

A new unit for 2013, in preparation for the radical new V6 engine rules next year, caused several problems in recent winter testing.

But Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, said earlier this week that Red Bull could have been responsible for the Melbourne glitch.

"You can also inflict ECU problems on yourself by how you set it up, but I will look into it," he said.

That investigation has now been done, and McLaren subsequently apologized to Red Bull in a media statement.

The Woking based company admitted there was a "software-related issue" with Webber's unit.

"That disrupted his preparations for the start of the race, for which Mark and the team has our apology. We are working together with them to prevent any recurrence," said McLaren.

Pressure on McLaren 'captain' Whitmarsh – Coulthard
(GMM) The buck will stop at Martin Whitmarsh if McLaren cannot quickly emerge from its early 2013 slump, according to former team driver David Coulthard.

Having lost team stars Lewis Hamilton and Paddy Lowe ahead of the new season, the Woking based team struggled markedly in Australia with the radical new MP4-28.

Whitmarsh, team boss, might ultimately shoulder the blame, Scot Coulthard wrote in a column for the Telegraph.

"You cannot escape the fact that there is pressure upon Martin Whitmarsh as team principal, for in the end, the captain of the ship is responsible for its navigation," said the 41-year-old, who drove for McLaren between 1996 and 2004.

"F1 is not a sport where people shy away from responsibility. Any evidence of a lack of commitment, lack of focus, or an inability to deliver consistently, is immediately addressed.

"Failure is not an option," Coulthard added.

There has been talk of McLaren scrapping the MP4-28 in favor of reverting to the winning 2012 car, but that cannot be done in the very short term.

"Am I excited for the next race (in Malaysia)? We certainly will not be quick," Jenson Button is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

On the possibility of the 2012 car returning to action later on, Whitmarsh is quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "Purely from a technical points of view, it would be possible."

As the pressure ramps up, Button backed his boss.

"Everyone looks up to Martin," he is quoted by the Daily Mail. "It's difficult to always be strong, but he is doing a bloody good job. There is no finger-pointing.

"We want to improve, but it is going to be a long journey for us I think."

Quitting DTM right decision for Ralf – Coulthard
(GMM) Retirement is the right option for Ralf Schumacher, according to former F1 rival David Coulthard.

Despite Mercedes signing him up to stay in the DTM series in 2013, 37-year-old Schumacher surprised the racing world late last week when he announced he is hanging up his helmet.

Schumacher, whose older brother is the famous seven time world champion Michael, is instead moving into management, taking up a shareholding in the RSC Mucke Motorsport team.

Also hanging up his helmet late last year was Coulthard, the 41-year-old who raced in the German touring car series alongside Schumacher at Mercedes since 2010.

"I was surprised (about Ralf Schumacher's decision)," Coulthard told the Kolner Express newspaper, "because I thought he wanted to stay on for another year.

"But I know from personal experience how hard it is to compete against these DTM guys. For me it (retiring) was right, and I think also Ralf has realized that it is time to go."

Defeat makes Lauda moan about Pirelli – Hembery
(GMM) Paul Hembery has hit back at Niki Lauda, after the famous Austrian lashed out at Pirelli in the wake of the 2013 season opener.

Lauda, the outspoken former triple world champion and now Mercedes chairman, had told Bild newspaper the tire situation in F1 is "absolutely stupid".

"90 per cent of the time no one understands what is happening in the races now," he claimed.

Pirelli's Hembery hit back: "Has Niki forgotten how boring the races used to be?

"It's always the same: we give the teams a new challenge, and if their driver doesn't win, they complain."

Heidfeld admits to badly missing F1
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld has admitted he is badly missing formula one.

The 35-year-old German contested 185 grands prix between 2000 and 2011, but now races a Le Mans prototype in the World Endurance sports car championship.

"I miss formula one incredibly," he admitted to the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper. "It is truly the ultimate.

"I would love to be sitting in a good car."

Heidfeld said the fact he now has more time to spend with his young family is "the only thing that makes me feel better" about no longer being on the grid.

Hulkenberg to have new chassis in Malaysia

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg will have a new car for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix after a fuel system problem prevented the German from starting last weekend's season-opener in Australia.

Sauber said in a preview for the race at Sepang that the car Hulkenberg qualified with in Melbourne had been sent back to the factory in Switzerland for a full examination and he would start with a new chassis for the second round.

Hulkenberg finished ninth in Malaysia last year with Force India and took the first points of his Formula One career at the track in 2010 when he finished 10th for Williams.

"It's a fast track with long high-speed corners, which should suit our car well," he said.

Higher temperatures will suit us – di Resta
Force India driver Paul di Resta believes that the VJM06 chassis will be well-suited to the high air and track temperatures expected in Malaysia this weekend, with the Scot optimistic that the team can improve on its impressive result in Melbourne.

A seventh and eighth-place result at Albert Park represented the Silverstone-based squad’s best-ever start to a season, and with both drivers having set their sights on a podium finish in 2013, di Resta is confident that the performance was not a one-off.

"I think our car is going to suit the warm weather," di Resta explained. "We’ve had a reasonably strong performance for the last couple of years in Malaysia, so I think we should go there feeling quite optimistic.

"We’ve got some things we need to pick up on and we can definitely make some improvements, but we’re in a good place to start the season. Also, we’ve seen already that we can make a stop less than some of our competitors so let's see if that remains the case in Malaysia."

When asked for his opinion on the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit, the former DTM Champion admitted that Sepang was one of his favorites on the calendar.

"I think it is one of the most complete tracks of the season," he added. "It was the very first of the new generation tracks and it has nice flowing sections, some slow bits, as well as high-speed chicanes. Along with Shanghai, it’s one of the tracks I enjoy."

In contrast, teammate Adrian Sutil, who led the season-opener in Australia on a number of occasions with his unique strategy, was a little more cautious about the team's chances this weekend.

"I don’t really know what effect the high temperatures will have as we haven’t had them in testing," he said. "It’s not my favorite track, but it depends on the car.

"If the car is quick and stable, you enjoy it more, but sometimes you really struggle with the balance, and then it's a real challenge – you need a lot of aerodynamic grip. I think the weather in Australia suited us quite well, so let’s see how Malaysia is."

McLaren 'not considering' 2012 car reprise
(GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has played down reports McLaren could end its crisis by pulling its winning 2012 car out of mothballs.

The famous British team, whose Jenson Button closed last year's campaign with a win in Brazil, was scrabbling for mere points in Melbourne as the shortcomings of the radical new MP4-28 became clear.

Given the depths of McLaren's problems, it triggered rumors McLaren could simply revert to its 2012 car, which could be easily converted to the similar new rules by tweaking the design for tougher wing load and impact crash tests.

Team boss Whitmarsh fuelled the speculation early this week by saying "Purely from a technical point of view, it would be possible".

But he is now quoted by the BBC: "All our efforts are currently focused on understanding this year's car, not considering last year's car.

"At the moment we have to work hard on this car," the Briton added.

"We know it has got some areas of high potential and we know it has potentially more downforce than last year's car. We just need to understand it and make sure (the performance) is accessible."

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