Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

Liuzzi says F1 contracts are not worth the paper they are written on

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Modern F1 contracts worthless says Liuzzi
  • Button to debut 2012 McLaren
  • No Jerez debut for 2012 Marussia car
  • Long Williams stint 'not ideal' admits Rosberg
  • Red Bull Racing picks up Sonax sponsorship
  • Pirelli to be more aggressive in 2012 New
  • Williams F1 Confirms Bruno Senna for 2012 New
  • Q & A with Bruno Senna New
  • Q & A with Damon Hill New

Modern F1 contracts worthless says Liuzzi
(GMM) Stung twice in as many years, Vitantonio Liuzzi has admitted that today's formula one contracts are effectively worthless.

At the end of 2010, the 30-year-old Italian was ousted by Force India with a season to run on his contract.

And now, Liuzzi looks likely to depart HRT, despite the former Red Bull and Toro Rosso driver insisting he has a full two years to run on his current deal.

"At the moment everything is very vague," he told the Italian website

"The main problem is that the team have no budget, so they are evaluating the way to get the money to have two drivers.

"For sure they would like to keep both me and Pedro (de la Rosa), but we are still in standby," added Liuzzi.

He acknowledged that while he is "fully" involved in HRT's 2012 plans right now, the situation could change at "any minute".

"Currently the deals (in F1) are worth very little, because a young driver with money can always come and buy the seat," said Liuzzi. "That's how it works."

A last-minute backup plan for the Italian could be a third driver role at another team, but it is also believed he might be eying a role in a series outside F1 — perhaps sports cars.

"We are evaluating," he admitted, "because it's a decision to make.

"For sure when the situation changes at the last minute it isn't easy to find places in top teams.

"I'm open to new challenges, because it has always been part of my career."

Button to debut 2012 McLaren
(GMM) Jenson Button will give McLaren's 2012 car, the MP4-27, its official track debut at Jerez on 7 February, the British team has announced.

On the same day as the winter pre-season kicks into gear, it is believed Felipe Massa and Mark Webber are also scheduled to be debuting the new cars of McLaren's likely championship challengers, Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

McLaren said 2009 world champion Button, runner-up behind Sebastian Vettel for last year's title, will also drive on the second of the four-day test, before Lewis Hamilton takes over.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso thinks Jerez and the subsequent winter tests – and even the season opener in Australia in mid March – will be too early to gauge the likely pecking order in 2012.

"Many regard the tests as they do the races, but it will not mean much. We will have to wait until the races in Malaysia or China to really know whose car is good or not," Alonso is quoted in the Spanish media.

His Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali broadly agrees.

"It's too early," the Italian is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "We will not see the true potential of the cars for the first time until Saturday in Melbourne. Not before.

"During the tests we – like all the other teams – will be trying not to show everything about the speed of our car," admitted Domenicali.

No Jerez debut for 2012 Marussia car
(GMM) Marussia's 2012 car will not debut at the opening test of the official pre-season early next month.

It was rumored on Monday that technical consultant Pat Symonds had said at the weekend that the former Virgin team's new single seater will appear only at the second February test, at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

The news has now been reported by France's L'Equipe.

Mercedes GP will also wait until Barcelona to debut its new car, the W03.

"We believe that the decision to run the car at the second winter test is the optimum compromise for our design and development program," team boss Ross Brawn said last month.

Long Williams stint 'not ideal' admits Rosberg
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has admitted his four-year tenure at Williams was "not ideal".

At the age of 20, the German made his formula one debut with the famous British team in 2006, leaving only for Mercedes GP four full seasons later.

This year, he will spend a third consecutive season as the great Michael Schumacher's highly respected teammate, while still looking to add a single race victory to his tally of now more than 100 grand prix starts.

With 20 fewer races than Rosberg on the odometer is his countryman Sebastian Vettel, who is today a back-to-back world champion and winner of 21 grands prix and 30 poles.

Does that annoy Rosberg?

"I have no regrets," he said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport. "I am completely convinced it was right to go to Mercedes and to stay here."

But the German magazine's interviewer reminded Rosberg, whose father Keke won 5 races and a title within his career-span of 114 starts, that at the end of 2007 McLaren expressed interest in teaming him alongside Lewis Hamilton.

"There was the interest, but Frank (Williams) would not let me go," revealed Rosberg.

"Certainly being four years at Williams was not ideal — it could have been a bit shorter. But particularly the last season there was a springboard for me.

"Since then I have been always seventh in the standings and made some others aware of me."

Red Bull Racing picks up Sonax sponsorship
Red Bull Racing has joined forces with Sonax, Germany’s No. 1 car care specialist, which has become an Official Supplier to the team.

Sonax has been involved with Formula One for a number of years and provides a range of premium car care products in more than 100 countries. Using the company’s products, the team will work to ensure its cars, driven by Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, look pristine every time they leave the Formula One garage.

Christian Horner commented: “Good presentation is vitally important in our business and we value partnerships that enhance and promote this. Sonax has an excellent reputation and is a leading manufacturer in its area; their high quality products are second to none and it’s great to be able to use them within Red Bull Racing. We welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them throughout the season."

Manfred Hoffmann, Owner and Managing Director of Sonax GmbH commented: “We are looking forward to working with Red Bull Racing. We have more in common than simply a passion for motorsports and cars. Red Bull’s lifestyle character and innovative strength inspires young fans, which will be the main focus of Sonax’s communications. The partnership with Red Bull Racing will bring the brand closer to young supporters. Sonax enjoys great popularity among motorsport fans who care deeply for their cars – and this co-operation, between the No. 1 in motorsports and the No. 1 in car care, will help both loyal and potential Sonax customers to trust the right brand."

Pirelli to be more aggressive in 2012
(PVM) Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery is satisfied that his company delivered on the mandate given to his organization to spice up the sport with creative use of tire technology and plans to be more aggressive going into 2012.

Hembery told Sky Sports, “We were asked to bring something a bit different to the sport for 2011. We were given the challenge of creating tires that degraded, tires that had a high wear rate, so that we could force some pit-stops. We feel that at the end of the season we had delivered very much that."

“It’s funny because at the start of the season we were being criticized for being maybe too aggressive and at the end for being too conservative. In reality, a lot of that was to do with drivers and the teams getting used to the tires and modifying the set-up to maximize what we gave them," reflected the Pirelli director of motorsport.

Looking to this season Hembery said, “Going forward we have to be a little bit more aggressive going into 2012, we’ve changed three of the compounds we used last season, the soft, medium and the hard, and the peak performance between them will actually be a lot closer, which will lead onto improved strategy. That’s the plan anyway. We don’t know of course what the cars will be like; we’ll find that out in a few days time when we start up in Spain with our winter test program."

2011 tyre selection
2011 Pirelli Tire Range

“The cars should have had a bit of a change with the blown diffusers going away and in-corner speed should be lower, but you never know. These guys that design these cars are the best in the world, they come up with some amazing ideas and maybe that’s not going to be true and we find that the cars are very similar to 2011. But our intention of course is to try and replicate what we did, try to make it quite aggressive and do our bit to make the racing quite exciting," predicts Hembery.

One of the early characteristics of the Pirelli tires was the amount of marbles they generated as they wore down. This was addressed to a certain degree as the season progressed.

Hembery explained, “We did make some changes to make a slight improvement to that. You always get marbles, little bits of hot, molten rubber. What usually happens is that it builds up on the outside of the corners – where you have the rubber wear built-up under braking and it gets thrown off the tire as you go around the corner."

Marbles on the tyre of the Renault R24. Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, 9 May 2004.

“We had at some races, Malaysia was probably the worst example, where rubber was building up on the straight part heading into the corner, that’s something that we’ve tried to make an improvement on, but that’s very hard to simulate when we’ve only got one test car going on its own so you don’t really create enough laps to evaluate that."

“We’ll try to do something, but unfortunately if you want tires that wear, the rubber’s got to go somewhere and all you can do is try to change the mechanism of that wear to make the bits that come off the tires slightly smaller so that they don’t create such an effect. We will keep working on that, I’m not going to say we have a solution because we won’t know until we go racing again, but at the end of the day, we had the most overtaking in the history of the sport last year," concluded Hembery.

Williams F1 Confirms Bruno Senna for 2012
Williams F1 today confirmed that Bruno Senna will contest the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship for the Williams F1 Team. The appointment finalizes the team’s line up for this year following confirmation in December that Pastor Maldonado will enter his second season in Formula One as a Williams race driver. Bruno will make his debut with the Williams F1 Team in Jerez on 9th February at the first of the winter tests.

Frank Williams, Team Principal, said, “Bruno only started racing when he was 20 years old but quickly proved his talent in F3 and GP2. In a tightly fought 2008 GP2 season, Bruno finished second in the Championship with notable victories in Monaco and Silverstone, the latter in the wet. The circumstances of Bruno’s two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver. We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car."

Bruno commented, “I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers. The team has a great heritage and I hope I can help write a good chapter in their history. The evaluation process has been intense and methodical but the time I have spent in the factory has demonstrated that the team has great people and all the resources needed to achieve better things this season.

“It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton. Hopefully we can bring back some memories and create some great new ones too. I also want to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today. I am very proud to be Brazilian and more motivated than ever to demonstrate what I can do. Ever since I first sat in a go-kart I never wanted to do anything else."

Q & A with Bruno Senna
Q: Now you’ve been confirmed as a Williams driver, what are your thoughts heading into 2012?
I’m really happy to be a part of a team with such a fantastic heritage. I am very proud that Williams has chosen me to race in what will be an important year for them. Everyone is extremely motivated for 2012 and it is great to be part of that motivation. It is true that they didn’t have the best season last year, but it is clear that the team is on a new path and everyone is pulling together to ensure that this year is a better one. I really hope that I can demonstrate what I can do, not only for the team, but for myself. It’s going to be interesting to see what we can achieve together.

Q: What are your objectives for the 2012 season?
It’s difficult to set objectives before the season starts, but I intend to push the car 100% to the limit to get the maximum performance we can from it.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Renault engine having raced with it last season and what do you think Renault can bring to Williams in 2012?
After a few races with the Renault engine in 2011, I’ve learnt a great deal about it. It is a very good unit with good drivability, which is another positive step forward for the team. As a driver, you need to have every weapon available to you operating at its optimum in order to put in competitive times throughout the race. I’m sure we can develop the car even further with the Renault engine and it will be interesting for me to be able to give the team feedback applying my previous experiences.

Q: What do you make of your new team mate, Pastor Maldonado?
Pastor is a great driver. I’ve raced against him in GP2 and we always get along well. He’s been a very tough opponent in the past and he is going to be even tougher now we are both in the same car. We’ll certainly be trying to beat each other, but as teammates we’re going to work together to move the team forward.

Q: Can you talk us through what you have been working on at the factory so far?
I’ve been at the Williams factory in Grove both before and after Christmas being really put through my paces in the simulator, on the track and in the gym. We’ve also done some evaluation work on the track (but not in an F1 car). The main purpose was for the team to evaluate me and to understand how to get the best out of me as a driver. But it’s also been really useful for me as it familiarizes me with all the procedural things, such as learning the layout of the steering wheel before I get into the real car. When we start testing I won’t need to think about that so I’ll just be able to get on and drive the FW34.

Q: So you have had an opportunity to work with your new engineers?
I think we’ve started off really well and now I’m looking forward to working with them more over the season. The relationship between a driver and engineer is something that few people can understand. You need mutual respect, to understand each other well and know how to work together in order to really gel from the start. That relationship and continuity can make such a difference to your overall performance.

Q: What started your career in motorsport?
I was a motorsport fan from a young age and of course there has been a great influence from my uncle, but ever since I first put my feet into a go-kart I never wanted to do anything else. I’m very privileged to be able to do what I love, as to race in Formula One has always been my dream.

Q: You were once quoted as saying that, given the chance to drive any legendary Formula One car from the past, you would choose the 1993 active-suspension Williams. How important is it to you to now be a part of a team with such a motorsport heritage?
The team has an amazing history and walking around the museum just makes me drool! I’ve seen many of these cars on track and always wondered how it would feel to actually race them. I’ve never been in one, so I think it would be good to get a run in the active ride car at Goodwood, just to get a feel!

Q: You have considerable support from Brazil, can you tell us about that?
I feel very proud to be Brazilian right now. Knowing I have such great support behind me, people who have been there since the start, gives me such a great feeling. Knowing people have chosen me to bear their name gives me even more motivation to create good memories for them.

Q: Your uncle, Ayrton, raced for Williams. How significant is it for you to be joining the team?
It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle drove for. Quite a few of the people still here actually worked with Ayrton and I’m happy that they are now giving me the chance to prove myself here. Hopefully we can bring back some good memories and create some great new ones too.

Q: Fast forward to this time next year, what achievements would you be happy with?
I hope that by the end of 2012 we can say we extracted 100% of the performance from the Williams-Renault FW34, whatever that may be. That is the most important thing. I just want to get the maximum possible out of the car and make the most of this opportunity. It is such an important year for both the team and myself as it will help shape my future. I hope that future will be long and successful, and it all starts here.

Q and A with Damon Hill
During his visit to SkyHQ on Tuesday following the announcement that the 1997 World Champ is joining the Sky Sports F1 team, Sky Sports grabbed a few words with Damon Hill about the year ahead and his old rival Michael Schumacher…

Well, you managed to keep this news quiet!
"Did we? Well, it was first discussed around Christmas and I just considered it too good an opportunity not to take up. It was very straightforward, really. Even though it's a few years since I stopped driving, I've never stopped looking at F1 and never lost interest. It's a sport that I love.

"The timing was also extremely appealing. Until recently, I've been very much involved in the BRDC [the British Racing Drivers' Club] and focused on our work there. But I'm now freed up from that [Damon stood down as president of the BRDC in April after five years in the role] and able to follow the circus again during what is a very exciting time for the sport."

You're impressed with the current crop of drivers then?
"In my view, because of the amount of young talent coming through, F1 is now more competitive than it has ever been before. There's so much talent and so much strength in depth."

And 2012 will be critical year for so many of them…
"Yes, but that's true of almost every year. In most other sports, opinions are all that matter. In F1, with every car now carrying a computer, a driver knows that he is being is tested and watched at every moment. You are judged after every lap and everything you do is analyzed – what work you do in the gym, your state of mind, the lines you take on a track. There's just no hiding place at any moment."

You mentioned your role with the BRDC. Presumably returning to Silverstone in July will be a special occasion for you?
"It's not without reason that the British Grand Prix takes place in mid-season. We should be very proud that Great Britain continues to play such a disproportionate role in what is a truly global sport: Bernie is British, we have had British world champions, and the majority of teams are still based in Britain. It's a true asset and, with all due respect to France, which is still the home of the FIA, I do still consider F1 to be ours."

How will you fit in as part of the Sky Sports F1 team?
"I'll be a pre-race and post-race pundit rather than a race co-commentator. I was a commentator for the Hungarian GPs some years ago [2007 and 2008] and I must admit, I don't envy their job. It's much easier to have something to say after the race when the dust has settled.

"The commentator, on the other hand, has a critical role all through the race because he is the link between the audience watching at home and what is happening on the track. Their job is absolutely crucial because they have to create and convey the excitement…"

No pressure on David and Martin then!
"Don't worry, they know their jobs better than anyone. They are great commentators in what is a very strong team."

Final question. Are you ready for all those questions asking you about what it's like to commentate on Michael Schumacher?
"I am! And my answer will always be the same: I have a lot of respect for Michael on and off the track, there is no rivalry between us. But there's also no way that I am not going to mention Michael Schumacher at some point during the season!"

Leave a Reply