Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Raikkonen cool amid F1 comeback 'noise'
  • Buemi to also be Toro Rosso reserve in 2012
  • Button has built 'strong team' around him – Hamilton
  • Valencia to ask Ecclestone for lower F1 race fee
  • Mercedes no longer has McLaren team stake

Raikkonen cool amid F1 comeback 'noise'
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen insists the "noise" surrounding his return to formula one does not bother him.

On the one hand, the 2007 world champion's decision to leave his new world rallying foray to return to F1 with Lotus is big news, with his static seat fitting on Thursday arguably the headline of the day.

But there has also been some negativity, with some questioning his motivation, others noting he appears visibly unfit, and Gerhard Berger advising him to "lay off the vodka".

"There has been quite a bit of noise in the press about my comeback and there have been a lot of rumors," Raikkonen, 32, said in an interview distributed by Lotus F1 Team.

"It has no effect on me — sometimes you hear some nonsense and sometimes you hear nice things.

"I have never really looked at what people say or think. I do my own thing and as long as I'm happy with it then that's the main thing for me," he added.

Raikkonen said Thursday's visit to the Enstone factory was his first sit in a formula one car whilst wearing a race suit and helmet since his last race with Ferrari in 2009.

"It felt a bit odd at first because the cockpit seems a bit small, but that's normal — it feels a bit strange when you first step into the car but you quickly adjust.

"It will be nice to get back to racing," added the winner of 18 grands prix.

Buemi to also be Toro Rosso reserve in 2012
(GMM) Sebastien Buemi will also be Toro Rosso's official reserve driver in 2012.

On Thursday, energy drink Red Bull's main team Red Bull Racing announced that the 23-year-old Swiss "joins Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber" in the world championship-winning team's lineup this year.

No mention was made of Toro Rosso, Red Bull's Faenza based rookie team for which Buemi has raced since debuting in formula one in 2009.

But Toro Rosso has clarified that Buemi will also step in should his race successors Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo be unfit for action at any of the 20 grands prix this year.

"Although our sister team in Milton Keynes will be the Swiss driver's top priority, if for any reason, Scuderia Toro Rosso found itself short of a driver at a grand prix, then Sebastien would step into the cockpit for us," said the team.

Button has built 'strong team' around him – Hamilton
(GMM) A key to Jenson Button's success last season was his smart relationship with technical members of the McLaren team.

That is the claim of Button's teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was uncharacteristically beaten to the checkered flag as his team's most successful driver in 2011.

Despite criticism that he was entering "the lion's den" by becoming Hamilton's teammate in 2010, 31-year-old Button has been hailed "excellent" by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo after trailing only world champion Sebastian Vettel in the points standings last year.

Fellow Briton Hamilton, meanwhile, had a tumultuous season on and off the track, trailing Button by the end of the year by 43 points.

"Jenson is very quick and he's gathered a strong team of technicians around him," London's Telegraph quotes Hamilton as having told La Gazzetta dello Sport this week.

"I'd like to be ahead of him all the time, and I'm not happy if the opposite happens.

"However, psychologically it's absolutely not a problem. Besides, he's an open and cheerful guy who I get along with. It would be nice to fight for the 2012 championship with him — that's just up to McLaren," added Hamilton.

The Mercedes-powered team had a less than ideal start to 2011, experimenting with and then abandoning just before the first race a highly-complicated exhaust system.

Hamilton thinks Red Bull's 2012 car will again set the benchmark.

"It will be up to us to be able to surpass it," said the 2008 world champion. "From what I've seen, however, the new McLaren seems a lot better than last year's."

Valencia to ask Ecclestone for lower F1 race fee
(GMM) The government of Valencia will ask F1 chief executive to amend the current contract for the port city's street grand prix.

"Major events are no longer possible in the way that we have understood until now," said the government's vice president Jose Ciscar in media reports published by EFE and EP news agencies.

He is referring to Spain and Europe's worsening economic crisis, albeit acknowledging that asking Ecclestone for more favorable terms "could result in a penalty".

When asked if the penalty might cost Valencia more than simply fulfilling the current contract, Ciscar admitted he has not read the fine print.

But during a press conference, he said Valencia is working hard to cut costs amid rising debt and revealed that a "complete and thorough review" of major events will be conducted.

He said part of that review will include a letter to Ecclestone.

Ciscar agreed that the grand prix has "significant value" to Valencia but he said he nonetheless wants to "sit" with the organizers to "renegotiate".

El Pais newspaper said Valencia pays 21 million euros per race to Ecclestone's office.

The current contract runs until 2014.

"There are contracts that are signed and we have become accustomed to fulfilling what we agreed. But at the same time everything is subject to revision and we don't rule anything out," Ciscar insisted.

Mercedes no longer has McLaren team stake
(GMM) Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler no longer owns a share of the McLaren team, according to media reports.

McLaren, still powered by the marque's Brixworth-built engines, began its association with Mercedes in 1995, culminating in world championships and the German carmaker owning 40 per cent of the Woking based team.

But when Mercedes took over Brawn in order to have its own works team ahead of the 2010 season, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said the plan was for McLaren to buy back the stake.

"The McLaren Group will become a fully independent stand-alone corporate entity," McLaren confirmed.

But until last year, Mercedes still owned a minor share in the team.

Media reports this week, however – including in the Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport – revealed that Mercedes was no longer a McLaren shareholder as of 1 January 2012 following a "phased withdrawal".

But McLaren will continue to run Mercedes' V8 engine free of charge this year, before the famous British team must pay in 2013.

"It remains to be seen if, with the introduction of the new 6 cylinder (engine rules), the Woking team will chose to stay with Mercedes in 2014," said Tuttosport.

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