Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Paul Ricard – exiting final corner

    De la Rosa not sure of Sauber seat for Valencia

  • Ferrari to wait longer before 2012 focus switch
  • Red Bull preparing for blown exhaust ban – Marko
  • PM targets Paul Ricard for French GP revival
  • Button to mark 200th grand prix in Hungary

De la Rosa not sure of Sauber seat for Valencia
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa has revealed he has "no idea" if he will be called up by Sauber to race on the streets of Valencia this weekend.

The veteran Spaniard, who is McLaren's reserve driver, was called up at the last minute in Canada almost two weeks ago when Sauber regular Sergio Perez fell ill after Friday morning practice.

Sauber managing director Monisha Kaltenborn this week then said that although Mexican rookie Perez, 21, is now fully recovered from his Monaco qualifying crash, 40-year-old de la Rosa is once again on standby.

"I am being constantly asked if I'm going to race in this (European) grand prix, and actually I don't have the faintest idea," said de la Rosa on Wednesday.

"I would like to clarify that I am McLaren's reserve driver and indebted to them before any other team.

"Whatever happens depends on if McLaren lets me, and actually I don't want to speculate as I find it a lack of respect for Sergio Perez, who has said he is perfectly well," he added.

Ferrari to wait longer before 2012 focus switch
(GMM) Ferrari has decided to wait until after July's three grands prix before possibly switching its focus to the 2012 season.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali said in Canada two weeks ago that the Italian team will make a decision about the success of this year's campaign after Silverstone, where the FIA's hot exhaust blowing ban takes effect.

But Germany's Speed Week is now reporting that Ferrari, buoyed by stronger performances recently at Monaco and Canada, will now wait until after Valencia, Britain, the Nurburgring and Hungary before deciding if the current 150 Italia car should continue to be aggressively developed.

Ferrari's chief designer Nikolas Tombazis confirmed: "We have made quite a lot of progress over the past few months and I believe that was visible in recent races and we hope that trend will continue.

"How well these next few races go will decide whether or not we feel we are still in with a chance of fighting for the championships this year, even if we are quite a long way behind in the points," the Greece-born engineer added.

Red Bull preparing for blown exhaust ban – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull's preparations for the FIA clampdown on so-called 'hot' exhaust diffuser blowing are well advanced, Dr Helmut Marko has warned.

Marko said on Austrian television Servus TV that he regards the clampdown as a move against Sebastian Vettel's dominance, after Red Bull pioneered and perfected the technology for its RB7 car.

But team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right-hand man on F1 matters warned: "We would not be Red Bull if we did not already have ideas about how to mitigate the effect (of the ban)."

Off-throttle hot-blowing will be effectively banned from Silverstone next month, and on Tuesday it emerged that the FIA has immediately banned teams from running highly aggressive engine maps in qualifying and then switching to a more reliable race mode for the grand prix.

Marko has compared the FIA's moves with the end-of-season banning of double diffusers and F-ducts, noting that "This time it (the ban) seems to be in a hurry.

"I would say it is about (the dominance of) Red Bull," he charged.

But the Austrian thinks McLaren will be similarly affected by the clampdown because "they copied our system very well", while Ferrari "never really got it under control".

Marko, meanwhile, predicted Renault – with unique front-exiting exhausts – to be hit particularly hard.

But Renault's technical director James Allison responded: "Some teams will lose more and some teams less; it is hard to know exactly what relative loss we will suffer."

Meanwhile, a FIA spokesman explained that the immediate engine-mapping clampdown is because the spirit of the 'parc ferme' rules was being exploited.

Charlie Whiting's technical note to the teams on Tuesday insisted that cars "should be raced exactly as they qualified".

Paul Ricard – 1978 French GP winner Mario Andretti

PM targets Paul Ricard for French GP revival
(GMM) The French prime minister has confirmed high-level efforts to revive the country's formula one race.

FIA president and Frenchman Jean Todt revealed recently that "many people … at the highest levels of government" are pushing to end France's three-year hiatus since Magny Cours stopped hosting its annual event.

We reported on June 7 that the most likely venue for a reinstated French grand prix is Paul Ricard at Le Castellet, a circuit with close links to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

At the same time, the Journal du Dimanche said French PM Francois Fillon has appointed countryman and Renault team boss Eric Boullier to help with the efforts to organize the event.

"It's true that I have put together a team," the L'Equipe sports daily quoted Fillon as having told the Var Matin newspaper on Tuesday.

"It (the team) is led in particular by one of my former colleagues Gilles Dufeigneux, working with the French motor sport federation, the FIA and also Eric Boullier and the director of Le Castellet, Gerard Neveu," confirmed the prime minister.

The last grand prix at Le Castellet, which has since been redeveloped as the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track, was won by Alain Prost in 1990 before the French event moved to Magny Cours.

Paul Ricard location

Button to mark 200th grand prix in Hungary
(GMM) Jenson Button intends to celebrate his 200th grand prix next month in Hungary, the scene of his first formula one race win in 2006.

F1's official website lists the 2009 world champion as having "entered" 198 grands prix, meaning his double centenary could technically be marked at his home event at Silverstone.

But the typical practice is for the sport to only count grands prix that drivers actually start.

Button, 31, did not start in Monaco in 2003 after a practice crash, while in 2005 at Indianapolis all the Michelin runners pulled into the pits after the formation lap.

"I only count my race starts," the Briton confirmed to Roger Benoit, the veteran correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"So my 200th will be on the 31st of July in Hungary," confirmed Button.

On August 6, 2006, then contesting his 113th grand prix at the wheel of a Honda, Button recorded his first formula one win at the Hungaroring.

Only Jarno Trulli (118) and Rubens Barrichello (123) took longer than Button to become grand prix winners, while with 179 races under his belt Nick Heidfeld is still trying to join them.

Only 11 F1 drivers have contested more grands prix than Button, with current rivals Rubens Barrichello (310) and Michael Schumacher (274) topping the list.

The Briton will climb to eighth on the all-time list by the end of the 2011 season, by surpassing the records of Alain Prost (198), Jean Alesi (201) and Nelson Piquet (203), and equaling Andrea de Cesaris' 208.

Fellow ten-time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger retired after his 210th grand prix.

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