Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Mark Webber in the slow Red Bull

    Struggling Red Bull the 'surprise' of 2012 – Brundle

  • 'New' HRT not in third F1 season – Gracia
  • 'F-duct' saga to continue into China
  • Death amid 'BloodyF1' protests in Bahrain
  • Perez eyes move to 'big team' in two years
  • Raikkonen return impresses champions Lauda, Fittipaldi
  • Button received Ferrari 'offer' last year
  • Pressure mounts to cancel Bahrain
  • Horner defends Vettel’s Malaysia remarks
  • Marussia F1 Team partners with UK2.NET
  • Toni Cuquerella, new Technical Director for HRT

Struggling Red Bull the 'surprise' of 2012 – Brundle
(GMM) Martin Brundle has described Red Bull's lack of pace as the biggest surprise of the 2012 season so far.

After consecutive world championships with Sebastian Vettel, the energy drink-owned team was universally tipped as the pre-season favorite for yet another F1 title.

But McLaren dominated in Australia before Ferrari and Sauber surprisingly set the pace recently in Malaysia.

Former F1 driver Brundle admitted the struggling RB8 was the surprise of the opening salvo in 2012, but he also acknowledged that the turnaround might have been predicted.

"When you look at how the regulations have changed, it's almost like they were designed to slow the Red Bulls down," the Sky television commentator told the website of the BBC program Top Gear.

"Doubling the torsional stiffness of the front wings, the way Red Bull were 'flying' their car down the track with lots of rake, nose close to the ground, exhausts helping to sort the high rear ride height out, it's all been taken away from them," added Brundle.

An unnamed engineer at Red Bull has admitted the team was caught on the hop in the winter pre-season, when it became clear McLaren was better prepared for the new rules.

"McLaren came with a (exhaust) system on the edge of legality," the engineer told Germany's Auto Bild, "and it was declared legal by the FIA.

"So (Adrian) Newey had to adapt," he added, referring to Red Bull's last-minute decision to change tack at the very end of the pre-season test period.

The message coming from the Milton Keynes based team, therefore, is that Red Bull is playing catch-up.

"We need to understand the car better," admits team advisor Dr Helmut Marko, "which is why for the next race (in China) we will have hardly any new parts."

So until he's back at the front, F1's formerly-dominant Vettel – who lashed out at backmarker Narain Karthikeyan recently in Malaysia – needs to adapt.

Asked if the German was justified in calling his Indian rival an "idiot", Brundle insisted: "No.

"That's just an angry man who hasn't got a front-running car at the moment. He's just frustrated."

'New' HRT not in third F1 season – Gracia
(GMM) Martin Brundle has admitted he is surprised HRT is still struggling so much at the start of its third season in formula one.

Better known then as 'Hispania', the Spanish team was founded by Adrian Campos after former FIA president Max Mosley opened up three new places in pitlane for the start of the 2010 season.

But last year, the team's second group of owners – the Carabante family – passed the baton yet again to Thesan Capital, who have rebuilt HRT in the wake of the management and infrastructure that was brought by former boss Colin Kolles.

Even so, the highly respected British commentator and former grand prix veteran Martin Brundle is surprised that Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan are struggling so much with the team's Cosworth-powered 2012 car.

"Somebody's got to be at the front, somebody's got to be at the back," the Briton told the BBC motoring program Top Gear's website.

"(But) the HRT is particularly poor at the moment, and it confuses me why in year three it's worse than it was in year one."

Carlos Gracia, an FIA vice-president and head of Spain's motor racing federation, doesn't fully agree.

Speaking to the sports newspaper Marca, he explained that veteran de la Rosa faces a "handicap" as the Spaniard races with HRT this year.

"He knows where he is; in a brand new team, although some people believe it is their third year.

"They have begun again, but it seems that they are in a situation where they have only just started and yet they have to clean up the image of the other years.

"That's his handicap, but the team will have credibility because of Pedro and also because of a good business investment," added Gracia.

'F-duct' saga to continue into China
(GMM) The 2012 'F-duct' controversy looks set to keep running for now.

"It's not over yet," confirmed Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko to Germany's Auto Bild.

In Australia and Malaysia, the threat of results protests hung over the opening races of 2012, due to some teams – chiefly Red Bull and Lotus – questioning the legality of the aerodynamic innovation on Mercedes' 2012 car.

Until now, the FIA has declared that the system – working in unison with the driver-operated DRS – is fully legal.

But it has emerged that Lotus technical director James Allison has come up with another argument against the technology that will be posed to the FIA's Charlie Whiting ahead of scrutineering for next weekend's Chinese grand prix.

It is believed that while Ferrari is on Red Bull and Lotus' side at present, Mercedes-powered McLaren is currently staying out of the debate altogether.

Death amid 'BloodyF1' protests in Bahrain
(GMM) Now less than three weeks before the island kingdom is scheduled to host its return to formula one, bitter protests and violence have once again erupted in Bahrain.

Witnesses claim a 22-year-old man who was filming the firing of tear gas on protesters was shot and killed by state-supporting militia on Friday.

The death – reportedly the first since last year's troubles forced the cancellation of the 2011 race and test – intensified the clashes and calls for the forthcoming grand prix to be axed.

The government has denied it is responsible for the death.

"The ministry of interior will do all it can to find the criminal and bring him to justice," a spokesman is quoted as saying by the Times of London.

The ministry also confirmed that Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has been arrested.

He had said last week: "We are going to use the opportunities that a lot of journalists are there (for the grand prix) and we are going to protest everywhere."

The protests, however, continued.

"We (object to) holding a sports race that belittles the sacrifices of our children and ignores our suffering and wounds," said a video statement posted on the internet by a protester.

"Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims."

And on Twitter, the hashtags #BloodyF1 and #noF1 are being used to protest against the race and link to graphic photos and videos purporting to depict government violence.

Perez eyes move to 'big team' in two years
(GMM) Sergio Perez insists he is "100 per cent" committed to Sauber, but revealed he would like to be with a "big team" within two years.

After his strong second place in Malaysia recently, and amid Felipe Massa's struggle for form at Ferrari, speculation has linked Mexican Perez with an imminent move to the famous Maranello based team.

He is already the cream of Ferrari's development driver 'academy' and linked with an eventual move to the Italian squad.

"I think we have to assume that Massa won't be there in 2013," British commentator Martin Brundle told the BBC program Top Gear's website.

But at present, 22-year-old Perez insists it is all hot air.

"There is nothing (to the rumors)," he is quoted by the EFE news agency. "I am one hundred per cent committed to Sauber, and it's probably the same with Ferrari and Massa.

"We're just focused on having a great season," added Perez.

He admitted however that his goal within two years is to be "in a big team".

Perez acknowledged that Sauber was criticized for "lacking aggressiveness in the strategy" at Sepang, including when his engineer advised him to 'be careful' in his attack on the eventual winner Fernando Alonso.

"They could have risked more," he said, "and my team was criticized, but it was an important result. The conditions were difficult and we could have lost everything."

Raikkonen return impresses champions Lauda, Fittipaldi
(GMM) Two former champions have admitted they are impressed with how Kimi Raikkonen has re-adjusted to formula one after two years off the grid.

Niki Lauda, the plain-speaking triple world champion, hailed F1's 2007 title winner for driving "as though he had never been away" in the early phase of his return this season, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Emerson Fittipaldi, the double champion of the 70s, agrees.

"I am surprised that it has taken no time for Kimi to be back at the top of his form," said the Brazilian.

"Michael Schumacher is on form this year too, but it took him two years to get back in the groove. Kimi was on it from the very first test," he added.

Fittipaldi, meanwhile, had some advice for Raikkonen's Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean, who despite showing promise is yet to see the checkered flag in 2012 after a collision in Melbourne and a spin in Malaysia.

"(It's) the same advice I'd give any driver, especially a young one: first you have to finish, then you can finish first," he said.

Button received Ferrari 'offer' last year
(GMM) Jenson Button reportedly received an "offer" from Ferrari before re-committing last year to the McLaren team.

The Brazilian news agency Agencia Estado said the Briton held talks with Ferrari prior to October last year, when his new 'multi-year contract' with his famous British employer was announced.

Estado said Ferrari courted Button, 32, as a potential replacement for struggling Felipe Massa, who is now tipped to be succeeded in 2013 by Sergio Perez.

Asked to comment, Button said: "I was happy to know that my work was respected.

"I had a listen to what some of the other teams could offer me."

The revelation in the Brazilian press follows Button's comments last week about Fernando Alonso.

"If Lewis (Hamilton) wasn't in formula one, I personally feel it would be exciting having Fernando as a teammate," he told the Daily Mail.

"Is he the fastest in the sport? Probably not, and he would probably say the same, but he is very intelligent.

"One of the ways in which we are (similar) is in terms of wanting a team of people around us. We need that support to really achieve.

"So yeah, he'd be exciting to work with, to work with and to be an enemy, which I'm sure he would be," added Button.

Pressure mounts to cancel Bahrain
Pressure is mounting on F1 to cancel this month's Bahrain GP after demonstrators protested against the race resulting in clashes with the police.

On Sunday, dozens of protesters demonstrated in the streets of two Shia villages, Abu Saiba and Tubli. Police reportedly fired tear gas on the crowds and arrested demonstrators.

The protests were aimed specifically against the April 22nd Bahrain GP, which F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is insisting will go ahead.

According to Aljazeera, a youth dressed in a white death shroud and a black hood was filmed reading a statement that said: "We (object to) holding a sports race that belittles the sacrifices of our children and ignores our suffering and wounds.

"Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims."

Demonstrators have also been using Twitter to get their message across with a campaign devoted to seeing the Formula One grand prix cancelled.

"Stop, my blood is flowing" and "Race over blood" were two slogans posted on Twitter while hash-tags saying "BloodyF1" and "NoF1" are also being used.

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that one protester was killed this weekend when, according to his cousin, he was shot when "militia members in an unmarked car opened fire on him." Planet F1

Horner defends Vettel’s Malaysia remarks
Christian Horner has moved to dispel those claiming Sebastian Vettel should receive a sanction for his actions against Narain Karthikeyan in the Malaysian Grand Prix. After making contact while lapping the HRT driver, Vettel suffered a puncture and subsequently labeled his rival ‘cucumber’ and ‘idiot’.

There have been mixed opinions over the clash, with many onlookers claiming the moment was Vettel’s fault, although FIA race stewards at Sepang handed Karthikeyan with a post-race time penalty of 20 seconds. As well as his vocal criticism of the Indian, Vettel also directed a finger signal towards the lapped driver.

“These guys get a microphone shoved in front of him just after he's effectively lost a fourth place position and of course he was annoyed, he vented his frustration," Red Bull Team Principal Horner told Sky Sports. “But it's one of those things. I think that any driver in that situation would be totally annoyed with the situation."

Karthikeyan strongly denied any responsibility but has said been quoted as saying that both men should put the issue behind them. Regardless, the moment left Vettel pointless in Malaysia and he heads to China only sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.

Marussia F1 Team partners with UK2.NET
After a positive start to the 2012 Formula 1 season, with strong performances in the opening two races, the Marussia F1 Team is pleased to announce a new Official Partnership with UK2.NET.

UK2.NET is one of the biggest and fastest growing web hosting companies in the UK. Accredited by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the company provides domain names, web hosting, dedicated servers, VPS cloud hosting and ecommerce solutions to its customers. Some of the recent advancements to its products and services include a new UK based data centre, 24/7 live online support and new product packages to cater for a wide range of customers – those new to the web and even the savviest of developers.

The Marussia F1 Team is now in its third year of competition but the strength of its overall package for 2012, demonstrated in Australia and Malaysia over the past two Grand Prix weekends, reflects the team’s desire to take a significant step towards its longer-term ambitions. Aligning itself with businesses at this stage in their development is precisely how UK2.NET has been able to develop such an expansive customer base and rate of growth.

Andy Webb, CEO, Marussia F1 Team
“We are very pleased with the solid start we have made to the 2012 season, both in performance and commercial terms. Our Partner portfolio continues to expand at an encouraging rate and we are delighted to help UK2.NET take advantage of the opportunity to benefit from an association with a team and sport that is in a continuous state of rapid growth and development. This is exactly the kind of environment in which UK2.NET has flourished and we look forward to working together as we aim to keep driving the team forward in every area."

Martin Baker, Managing Director, UK2.NET
“We’re very excited to partner with the Marussia F1 Team for the 2012 Formula 1™ Season. Both of our businesses are constantly striving for technological advancements and innovation, on the race track and in the board room, and we are looking forward to working together to maximize the potential of both companies. The Marussia F1 Team is similar to the start-ups we support – they are a young team with ambitious plans for the future. Our customers have similar aspirations and we support them by providing world-class hosting solutions to complement their businesses."

Toni Cuquerella, new Technical Director for HRT
Engineer Toni Cuquerella assumes, as of today, the role of Technical Director of HRT Formula 1 Team. Cuquerella, besides being at the head of technical development, will continue to exercise his role as the maximum figure of engineering on the track.

Since Geoff Willis left the team in September of 2011, the position of Technical Director has not been occupied. The decision was then made for the development of the F112 to take place at the team’s technical office in Munich, at the hands of Holzer Group and the Chief of Aerodynamics, Stephane Chosse, under the supervision of the, until last February, Technical Coordinator Jacky Eeckelaert.

With the F112 put on the track, it’s now time to work on its development and evolution and so, the naming of a person to lead this project is necessary. And no one better than Toni Cuquerella, with his experience in Formula 1 and his praiseworthy work at the fore of HRT, to take it on.

The appointment of the Spanish engineer at the head of the technical department is a new step in the new management’s desire to centralize and take control of all the activities related to the design and development of the car. This will optimize the coordination of the different departments, helping to meet the set targets, and also rationalize resources.

Toni Cuquerella, Technical Director: "The role of Technical Director implies a great amount of responsibility in terms of coordination and decision making. That’s why I’m very proud that the management considers me to be the most adequate person to carry it out. Until now there was a lot of dispersion from within the technical team and that had its repercussions in the concept and quality of the F112. My priority is to solve the current car’s problems to then develop it to its maximum potential, whilst also unifying and expanding the technical department, but I’m confident that we have a good work base and a clear direction to advance and have a good project for the future".

Luis Perez-Sala, Team Principal: "Toni Cuquerella has been a key figure in the team since its inception and, above all, in this new stage. The transition from the previous project to this one hasn’t been easy and a lot of work has been carried out that without vital figures such as him wouldn’t have been possible. The position of Technical Director was vacant and the development of the F112 was carried out at the technical office in Munich. But now, with the car already on the track, it was important to take control and count on someone influential at the head of the technical office. And because of his experience, judgment and knowledge, Toni’s profile fitted in perfectly".

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