Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Adrian Newey

    'No dismissals' after Melbourne rear wing saga – Sauber

  • HRT to beat Lotus and Virgin by May – owner
  • Ricciardo to skip race for Chinese F1 duty
  • Red Bull exhaust copycats 'a pain' admits Newey
  • 'Far ahead' Red Bull hard to catch – Rosberg
  • Hamilton 'a topic' for Red Bull in 2012 – Marko

'No dismissals' after Melbourne rear wing saga – Sauber
(GMM) Peter Sauber has denied rumors the disqualification of the C30 cars in Australia cost technical director James Key his job.

Briton Key, who has been with the Swiss team only a year after switching from Force India, is ultimately responsible for the 3-5 millimeter rear wing breach that cost Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez their points in Melbourne.

Reports said the mistake, the result of poor construction quality control, could cost Sauber millions and 39-year-old Key his job.

The speculation stepped up further when, while the rest of the race team has stayed in Asia before Malaysia, team boss Sauber and Key returned to Hinwil.

"For me, the wounds are definitely far from being healed," the gutted Sauber told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Asked if there will be consequences for those responsible, he said: "I don't want to say anything about that.

"But I will send a clear message — there will be no dismissals."

Last year, Sauber ousted Pedro de la Rosa after Monza, so he was asked if a similar course of action would not be appropriate now for Key.

"They are two separate cases," said the 67-year-old.

At Hinwil, Sauber is busily constructing new upper rear wing elements that will be transported to Malaysia in hand luggage.

HRT to beat Lotus and Virgin by May – owner
(GMM) HRT failed to qualify after an embarrassing display in Australia, but owner Jose Ramon Carabante insists the Spanish team will be beating rivals Virgin and Lotus by May.

He confessed that the Melbourne debacle, where mechanics spent the official practice sessions cobbling together the F111 which ultimately fell outside the 107 per cent qualifying rule, was due to financial problems.

"If we had the budget of the other teams, we would have come to the first race of the season with 3,000 kilometers under the belt.

"But like last year, we began the development of the car too late due to the budget. We were closing (sponsor) agreements that in the end did not come," he explained in Spanish on Cadena Ser radio.

Carabante admits that a technical deal regarding 2011 with Toyota was "broken" at a late stage: "So we set a realistic goal with the budget that we had."

Revealing that HRT's budget for this year is EUR 45 million, he said the team's showing in Australia was an achievement.

"We did 11 laps with Liuzzi. If he had done 20, he would have qualified. Getting within 1.7 seconds without driving hardly at all is a miracle," insisted Carabante.

The team plans to have its 2011-spec front nose on the car in Malaysia, and Carabante said a whole "new aerodynamic package" will be fitted for May's Spanish grand prix.

"It will be enough to be ahead of Lotus and Virgin," he said. "Last year we were in a worse condition than now and we ended up ahead of Virgin with twice our budget, and behind Lotus due only to one accident."

He also reacted to the strong criticisms of HRT, nothing that for example he has "not read a single criticism of Virgin in the English press".

Ricciardo to skip race for Chinese F1 duty
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo will sit out the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 season next month as his F1 duties take precedence.

Putting enormous pressure on Toro Rosso's race lineup this year, the Australian has been appointed by team owner Red Bull to drive on the morning of every initial F1 practice session.

He kicked off his duties in Melbourne, and will be back in action in Malaysia next weekend.

One week after that, the F1 circus heads to China, but 21-year-old Ricciardo is also scheduled to commence his 2011 Formula Renault campaign with the Red Bull-sponsored ISR team in Spain in mid-April.

"Unfortunately that means that I'm going to miss the first Formula Renault 3.5 race in Spain," he confirmed to

"It's great to get more F1 time, and I'm hugely grateful for the opportunity, but it just means I'm going to have to work a bit harder to win the title this year," he smiled.

Red Bull exhaust copycats 'a pain' admits Newey
(GMM) Adrian Newey admits it is flattering but also "a pain" that the latest trend in F1 is to copy the exhaust layout on Red Bull's new RB7 car.

Sebastian Vettel easily won the 2011 opener from pole in Melbourne last weekend, but in second place was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, after the British team ditched its own complex 'octopus' exhaust system.

The RB7's designer Newey told UK newspaper Express that "some teams have copied" his exhaust; surely also a reference to Ferrari, Sauber and Williams.

But the most notable imitator has been McLaren, who according to Newey have "made a huge leap forward" after a dire winter.

"We think it (the exhaust) works for us," he told Reuters as he received an award in London. "It seems it also works for McLaren.

"It's a form of flattery but it's a bit of a pain if they then beat you with it," added the Briton.

To ensure Red Bull's superiority is not challenged soon, Newey said the team is working hard to race its KERS system next weekend in Malaysia.

"We will have it from now on," he told Express, referring to the team's decision to take it off the cars in Melbourne due to a reliability problem.

"It was actually a relatively trivial problem but KERS is a complicated system, we have been trying to develop the element of it that has been giving us a bit of trouble ourselves and we're not experts in that field," explained Newey.

'Far ahead' Red Bull hard to catch – Rosberg
(GMM) Red Bull is "far ahead" and it will be very difficult for rivals including Mercedes to catch up.

That is the claim of Nico Rosberg, who after a promising winter campaign for Mercedes struggled for pace in the new silver W02 in Australia.

"We have to say that Sebastian (Vettel) and Red Bull are far ahead of everyone," he told Sport Bild.

"In the chasing field, we want to play a serious role and improve on our fourth place of last year," added Rosberg.

The German marque's motor sport director Norbert Haug also admitted that catching up with Red Bull "will be difficult".

Also doubting Mercedes' ability to catch up by deploying aggressive car development is Helmut Marko, Red Bull's motor racing consultant.

"Very few teams can take a car and make it much more competitive — besides us, only Ferrari and McLaren (can)," the Austrian told Sportwoche.

The first task for Mercedes will be to sort out the obvious problems seen in Melbourne, such as the malfunctioning KERS system.

"It was strange that it worked for McLaren but not for us," said Haug.

Hamilton 'a topic' for Red Bull in 2012 – Marko
(GMM) Helmut Marko is not ruling out making a move for Lewis Hamilton, perhaps as imminently as in time for the 2012 season.

After a recent round of speculation, during which Red Bull team boss Christian Horner described Hamilton as a "great driver", the 2008 world champion insisted he is committed to McLaren.

But Hamilton also said in Australia: "Of course, I'm going to be in formula one for some time, and you never know which way the wind will take you."

At Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel's future is firmly secure, but his current teammate Mark Webber – who had a dire start to the 2011 season in Melbourne – is signed up only to the end of the year.

"First we have to see how the season goes for Mark and what he decides," Red Bull's F1 consultant Marko told Sport Bild.

"Definitely with his aggression and his speed, Hamilton must always be a topic," the Austrian added.

"Our philosophy is to have the quickest drivers together in our team," said Marko.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said he would be happy to see Vettel and Hamilton together at Red Bull.

"Both of them are a gift for formula one, even more if they were in the same team," he said.

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