01/24/12 Updates shown in red below.
Kimi in 2009 with Ferrari
Return to full speed will take 'a while' – Raikkonen
- Hamilton says no to Sutil trial appearance date
- Details of 2012 Ferrari emerge in Italian press
- Report – 2012 Marussia car 'not revolutionary'
- New Toro Rosso duo admit Red Bull seat target
- Boullier heralds ‘positive’ Raikkonen comeback
- Marussia delays new car until final test New
- D’Ambrosio becomes Lotus reserve driver New
Return to full speed will take 'a while' – Raikkonen
(GMM) There was much excitement in the F1 world on Monday when Kimi Raikkonen returned to a circuit at the wheel of a grand prix car.
813 days after he stepped out of his 2009 Ferrari for the last time, the former world champion began a two-day re-acclimatization test at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit.
Returning to the sport with Lotus in 2012, the 32-year-old Finn on Monday did about 300 kilometers at the wheel of the team's 2010 Renault car equipped with demonstration Pirelli tires, enjoying a loophole in F1's now tightly-limited test regulations.
"There is a lot to get used to," a media statement quoted him as saying. "I'm happy because I was pretty quick to get back in the groove."
And Raikkonen is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "Of course it will take a little while (longer)."
Added Lotus' trackside operations engineer Alan Permane: "Kimi was on the pace we expected straight away."
18-time race winner Raikkonen, the 2007 title winner and twice the championship runner-up (2003 and 2005), spent the last two years in the world rally series after Ferrari replaced him with Fernando Alonso.
"We had several options for this year," the Finn revealed.
"I did a bit of Nascar in the past year and since I had a lot of fun racing other people again I decided to go back.
"And if you want to go racing then formula one is the highest level and so that's where I wanted to go the most," added Raikkonen.
He said he is not worried about coming back to motor sport's premier category after two whole seasons away.
"If you compare 2009 with the coming season, probably the biggest difference will be the tires," said the Finn, whose last experience in F1 was on Bridgestone's control tire.
"I don't think there is a big difference with the cars."
When asked how he has changed himself since 2009, he replied typically: "I don't know — I was two years away."
Hamilton says no to Sutil trial appearance date
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has told a Munich court he is not available to testify next week at friend Adrian Sutil's assault trial.
A court spokeswoman confirmed last week that it was "mandatory" the 2008 world champion appear as a witness on the opening day, 30 January.
Former Force India driver Adrian Sutil is charged with injuring Lotus team executive Eric Lux during a private party in Shanghai last April to celebrate Hamilton's grand prix victory.
The BBC reports that Hamilton's lawyer told the judge the 27-year-old Briton wants to cooperate but has commitments on 30 January, which is two days before McLaren plans to launch its 2012 car.
The report said the trial could either be rescheduled or Hamilton "will be excused".
The Telegraph insists Hamilton did not receive a "formal request" from the Munich court but that his lawyer contacted the judge following last week's media reports.
McLaren has confirmed the accuracy of the latest developments, according to Reuters.
Details of 2012 Ferrari emerge in Italian press
(GMM) Details of Ferrari's unlaunched 2012 car have emerged in the pages of Italian specialist publications.
On Tuesday, Autosprint publishes drawings by technical illustrator Giorgio Piola of Maranello's latest creation, with some parts – including the sidepods – reportedly "inspired by (the) McLaren" of last year.
The weekly said the car, to likely be named F12 or F2012, also has "many other features that should make it really extreme", as ordered by Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali last year.
"Some people called it (the car) bad after seeing the shapes, probably because of the hump on the nose," read a report at Autosprint's auto.it website.
"But the final version should be smooth."
The magazine also says Ferrari has innovated to exploit the safety regulations for crash structures, producing a wing-like aerodynamic effect with the sidepods.
Another all-new feature for Ferrari – breaking a philosophy of more than a decade – is the Red Bull-style pull-rod suspension, and an engine cover rear 'hole' also similar to Adrian Newey's title-winning 2011 design.
The car's exhausts reportedly exit even higher than the new regulations dictate, possibly so the gases flow onto the main element of the rear wing.
This feature may not be seen – possibly for reasons of secrecy – on the initial launch version displayed by Ferrari on 3 February.
La Gazzetta dello Sport, meanwhile, said the 2012 Ferrari has "long, low and narrow" radiators and sidepods, with a lower seating position for the drivers.
Report – 2012 Marussia car 'not revolutionary'
(GMM) Marussia's 2012 car is "not revolutionary", according to a German-language report.
The former Virgin team will not give its new single seater its official track debut until Barcelona — the second winter test of the forthcoming 2012 pre-season.
That news raised expectations that the car, headed technically by the highly rated former Renault man Pat Symonds, could be a radical departure from the cars that finished the 2010 and 2011 seasons dead last.
Writing in the German-language Speed Week, Peter Hesseler cited Symonds in saying that the 2012 Marussia "will have little in common" with its Virgin predecessor.
But Symonds reportedly thinks the team's spot at the very bottom of the constructors' standings means the priority is a new car with "high quality" rather than innovation.
The goal for 2012, therefore, is to move into the midfield.
International media reports, meanwhile, say the former Renault team – now Lotus – has got its 2012 single seater through the FIA's mandatory crash tests.
The news means the car is now ready to make its official track debut in Kimi Raikkonen's hands at Jerez early next month.
New Toro Rosso duo admit Red Bull seat target
(GMM) Toro Rosso's new drivers have admitted a seat at senior team Red Bull Racing is an obvious target for the future.
Mark Webber's contract expires at the end of this season.
For 2012, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne have replaced Red Bull rookie team Toro Rosso's former lineup of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.
"Of course I'd be happy to drive for Red Bull — that's the big goal of all the Red Bull juniors.
"If we do everything right and we get the right results, then perhaps we will succeed in a year or two or three," Australian Ricciardo told Austrian Servus TV.
He admitted his half-season with HRT is an advantage over Frenchman Vergne, whose first grand prix will be the Melbourne season opener in March.
"I think it will be perhaps a little easier for me to get into the season, but the advantage will not last long.
"I'm sure it will help me but there is a lot of testing before Melbourne and we'll both be prepared," said Ricciardo.
On the plus side for Vergne, he is known for having an extremely feisty racing style and is highly rated by Red Bull's influential Dr Helmut Marko.
Known in the paddock as 'Jev', Vergne said he will not lose focus by eyeing Webber's seat prematurely.
"Since my karting days I've always had the philosophy to think only of the present. For example, I've never thought about formula one, but only the season I was in.
"In 2012 I drove for Toro Rosso; 2013 does not interest me now. I will give my best and then we'll see what comes up."
Boullier heralds ‘positive’ Raikkonen comeback
Eric Boullier, Team Principal and Managing Director of the newly-named Lotus F1 team, was satisfied with Kimi Raikkonen’s comeback run on Monday. In a bid to reacclimatize, the Finnish Champion of 2007 drove a 2010 Renault car in Valencia.
“I must say, today was very positive," Boullier commented. “You can see that the whole team is pleased with Kimi’s feedback and Kimi himself seemed very happy to be back behind the wheel. He got the feel of the car very quickly and it’s good to see him building a strong relationship with the team. Obviously, the R30 is different to the new car, but he is clearly excited to get started at the first test in Jerez. Our team is made up of true racing people and Kimi fits into that very well."
Also eyeing over proceedings was Trackside Operations Engineer Alan Permane.
“The day went pretty much as we planned, which is great," he said. “Kimi was on the pace we expected straight away. He completed around 300 kilometers (185 miles), going through three sets of tires. It leaves us with four sets for tomorrow (Tuesday), meaning we can run a bit longer.
“We worked on getting him comfortable in the car, giving him a feel for the setup changes and helping him get to know his engineers. It’s always great to work with a top driver who is not just quick, but professional, and Kimi has all of those characteristics. His feedback is excellent, his requests are concise and to the point. We look forward to a good season with him."
Lotus has told GPUpdate.net that Raikkonen’s Race Engineer for the 2012 season is expected to be confirmed within the next two weeks.
Marussia delays new car until final test
Marussia will not introduce its new car until the final pre-season test in Barcelona, GPUpdate.net has been told. Furthermore, the squad has revealed that its plans have changed and that it will no longer be attending the first winter gathering in Jerez.
This year’s car is an all-new project, as 2012 marks the first time that the Marussia (formerly Virgin) contender is not designed solely with CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) technology; instead, the team is now using a wind tunnel and running in a technical partnership with McLaren.
“We have taken the decision today that we will not attend the first test in Jerez, taking place from 7-10 February," Team Principal John Booth told GPUpdate.net. “We had been looking to take part in that test with the 2011 MVR-02 for the purpose of providing Charles (Pic) with some valuable running to assist with the preparation for his debut season. This was with a view to introducing the new car, the MR01, at Barcelona two weeks later.
“As our Technical Consultant Pat Symonds has stated publicly, the MR01 will be almost entirely 'new', with very little carryover from 2011. The new car also has some interesting and complex mechanical concepts and it is taking time for us to get to grips with these.
“Unfortunately our program has slipped and there seems little point in fielding the new car before we can optimize the run plan for it. For that reason we have decided to commence our on-track testing by attending the second test in Barcelona with the MVR-02. We then aim to introduce the MR01 at the third test in Barcelona on 1 March."
Booth stresses that, under the current circumstances, the revised schedule is most practical.
“Whilst this is not ideal, and not the timescale we had intended to work to, we will at least get some important running with the new car ahead of Australia and hopefully gain more constructive track time than we might otherwise have achieved, had we rushed the car out for the second test," he concluded.
Alongside the aforementioned Pic will be Timo Glock, for his third consecutive F1 campaign with the team. Also confirmed on Tuesday was the news that 2011 Marussia driver JérÃ´me d’Ambrosio has become the reserve pilot of LRGP.
D’Ambrosio becomes Lotus reserve driver
Jerome d’Ambrosio has become the official reserve driver for Lotus ahead of the 2012 Formula 1 season. The Belgian newcomer of last year joins the team formerly known as Renault alongside Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, having been replaced at Marussia Virgin Racing by Frenchman Charles Pic.
D’Ambrosio joined F1 in 2011, finishing the year ahead of more experienced team-mate Timo Glock. His career is backed by Genii Capital, the Luxembourg-based investment company which is a co-owner of Enstone-based Lotus.
“It’s a great feeling to be joining the Lotus F1 Team," the 26-year-old said on Tuesday evening. “It’s an exciting next step in my career. I have contested a complete season in F1 as a race driver for a smaller team, where I learnt a lot about Formula 1. Now I have the opportunity to work with one of the top teams with great potential for my future development.
“With my recent race experience, I know I can make a valuable contribution. Of course, I would love to be racing, but racing with a top team. Being associated with Lotus should be more beneficial and this is the choice I have made. This opportunity is one I couldn’t afford to miss. My desire to get back in a race seat in the future is motivating me to do the best job possible in my new position."
He has been welcomed by Team Principal and Managing Director Eric Boullier, who owns the DAMS outfit with which d’Ambrosio competed in the 2010 GP2 season.
“To have a third driver who is highly motivated, fresh and talented and who contested the full 2011 season is highly beneficial for us," says Boullier. “In Jerome we have someone we know well who integrates beneficially with the squad. He impressed as reserve driver for us in 2010 and at the end of that year he made a strong showing in the Young Driver Test. He also showed strongly in his rookie season as an F1 race driver. I am looking forward to working with Jerome again and think he is a perfect addition to our driving strength."
D’Ambrosio will step into the 2012 Lotus if Raikkonen or Grosjean are unable to race.