Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Jenson Button tells Hamilton to get real

    Button tells Hamilton to stick with McLaren

  • Coulthard disappointed as Aus GP debate rolls on
  • Todt tells Bernie to forget noise and think green
  • Chandhok still hoping to race in India
  • Costa, Heidfeld, defend Pirelli amid criticism
  • HRT car to have Barcelona update – owner
  • Buemi says Toro Rosso 'among first five' teams
  • Rosberg 'would love' long Mercedes stay
  • Alonso says 'not many' faster than Massa
  • F1 drivers to discuss Japan reaction on Friday
  • F1 driving just as complex in past – Berger
  • Yamamoto to be Virgin reserve at first three GPs

Button tells Hamilton to stick with McLaren
(GMM) Jenson Button has advised Lewis Hamilton to stick with McLaren in the long term rather than risk "a surprise" by moving elsewhere.

With McLaren's 2011 car not expected to challenge for victory in Australia this weekend, it has been rumored that Briton Hamilton might look to switch to Red Bull at the expiry of his contract late next year.

But countryman Button, Hamilton's current teammate and five years his senior, told British reporters: "Lewis is going to be racing in formula one for a lot longer than I am.

"It's his decision but I think he feels very much at home within this team and it might be a surprise going somewhere else.

"It would be a very different environment for him, but I don't think he's thinking like that (about leaving McLaren)," added Button, who won the title in 2009, when Hamilton was the reigning champion.

Button, 31, said he is also looking at a future with Woking-based McLaren.

"I feel very at home here but I haven't thought about that far into the future," he insisted.

"I'm racing with one of the best teams in the world. This has to be the best place to be to fight for a world championship.

"I haven't doubted that. We all go through difficult times and this winter hasn't been perfect for us. But when times are tough people always say it makes you stronger," said Button.

Coulthard disappointed as Aus GP debate rolls on
(GMM) The Victorian government has played down the prospect of the under-fire Australian grand prix being moved to a permanent circuit outside of Melbourne.

As speculation continues about the race's future beyond its 2015 contract, Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker recalled recent plans for a purpose-built facility at Avalon, an airport 50 kilometers south of the city.

Bernie Ecclestone said recently he regretted not pushing organizers to build such a venue ten years ago, before the cost to taxpayers of hosting the race on the temporary Albert Park layout became such an issue.

"Now that Mr. Ecclestone has raised the issue again, maybe we might go to Avalon and look at the plans," Walker told reporters in Melbourne.

But tourism minister Louise Asher said those plans are too expensive.

"I am told that a purpose-built track would cost around $300 million, and that's not $300 million that the government has got," she told the Age.

"Part of the reason for securing the GP was the city location, and that's part of the reason it is here," she added.

David Coulthard on Wednesday admitted he is disappointed about the ongoing saga surrounding the Australian grand prix and its future.

"Every time I come down here we see all the anti-grand prix debate, and we don't get that anywhere else in the world," he told SEN radio.

Jean Todt (R)

Todt tells Bernie to forget noise and think green
(GMM) Jean Todt has reportedly dismissed Bernie Ecclestone's fears about formula one losing its roar in 2013.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone revealed recently he is "at loggerheads" with the FIA president about the 1.6 liter, four-cylinder turbo engine plans championed by Todt.

Todt, however, said it is important to accept the change due to F1 needing to be greener.

"Already I hear about the noise, but that's evolution," he is quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Two decades ago, you had a 12-cylinder engine, now you have only 2.4 liter V8 … I think it's very important that F1, being the pinnacle of motor racing, takes on board the evolution of society," insisted Todt.

"It will be definitely greener, with the introduction of more technologies in the future."

Chandhok still hoping to race in India
(GMM) Karun Chandhok has admitted he is hoping to be on the grid this year when India makes its formula one bow.

The Indian has signed up as reserve driver this year with Team Lotus, and will begin his duties this weekend when he takes part in initial practice on Friday.

Before the deal was revealed, however, his father Vicky admitted Chandhok "wants to get a (reserve) slot with the idea that he gets to race at the Indian grand prix" in October.

Asked if he is still hoping to race in India, 27-year-old Chandhok told the Deccan Herald on Wednesday: "Heikki and Jarno are the main drivers and the team has its own plans.

"I might, I might not, only time will tell."

Costa, Heidfeld, defend Pirelli amid criticism
(GMM) Two prominent figures in the F1 paddock have defended the sport's new supplier Pirelli amid widespread criticism of its 2011 tires.

"Let's be frank," said Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa when asked about the criticisms, particularly the extreme degradation of the compounds.

"Pirelli only started work in August and in six months developed safe tires," he told Italy's Corriere dello Sport.

However, Costa acknowledged that the "consistency and performance" of the tires requires more development, but is sure it is "only a question of when".

Nick Heidfeld, who played a leading role in the development of the tires as Pirelli's first F1 tester, also defended the Italian marque.

"The criticism is of course justified if you compare the tires with those of recent years," he acknowledged.

"But considering that Pirelli only knew since the summer that they have to build a formula one tire, they have done a very good job," the German told

HRT car to have Barcelona update – owner
(GMM) HRT's 2011 car will be upgraded ahead of the Spanish grand prix in May, team owner Jose Ramon Carabante has revealed.

The news is noteworthy given that the struggling Spanish team went through its entire debut season in 2010 without updating its car — not even for the unique Monaco race that usually requires special wings.

But amid the latest rumors of financial strife and engineers walking away, Carabante told the Spanish daily Marca that "We plan to have a serious aerodynamic package in Barcelona prepared by Geoff Willis".

He also insisted that even though the F111 was not tested in the winter due to parts delays, "the two cars are going to be on the grid in Australia".

"Give us a break is the only thing we ask. We will take the name of Spain all over the world with pride," said Carabante.

"This year we did the car ourselves. The Dallara chassis last year was not as reliable as it should have been and the F111 is totally knew.

"We said we would, and we did, gaining credibility," he insisted.

Buemi says Toro Rosso 'among first five' teams
(GMM) Sebastien Buemi is predicting a competitive start to the 2011 season for Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso.

The STR6 impressed not only with its pace but also its innovative 'double floor' concept in recent winter testing.

When asked if the optimism has been misplaced, driver 22-year-old Buemi told Swiss paper Le Matin: "No, honestly it looks pretty competitive.

"We seem to be among the first five teams, based on the hierarchy of the winter testing.

"But since the regulations have changed significantly, the scope for development is strong at the beginning of the season, so things may have changed seriously by Australia," he warned.

However, his cautious optimism about the STR6 is amid growing pressure from within the team, with promising reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo to be in action in Melbourne alongside Buemi early in Friday practice.

"Ricciardo has earned this chance," said Toro Rosso's former co-owner Gerhard Berger, according to Austria's Kleine Zeitung.

"If the two race drivers do not do enough, I hope Ricciardo gets the chance to step in for one of them," he added.

Rosberg 'would love' long Mercedes stay
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has signaled a long tenure in formula one with Mercedes.

The 25-year-old showed impressively alongside the returning seven time world champion Michael Schumacher last year, and for 2011 the W02 car is expected to be better than its predecessor.

And German Rosberg, the son of Finland's 1982 world champion Keke, said he is happy with Brackley based Mercedes GP.

"It's a dream to drive for Mercedes and the Silver Arrow and to work with Ross Brawn and Norbert Haug," he told the German newspaper Welt.

"That is something very special, and I would love it if we had a long-term future together," added Rosberg.

Alonso says 'not many' faster than Massa
(GMM) Fernando Alonso neatly sidestepped the issue when asked if he would welcome Sebastian Vettel as a new Ferrari teammate.

Even though Vettel has now signed to stay at Red Bull for the next four seasons, the reigning world champion has admitted he would like to switch to Ferrari one day.

At famous Italian marque Ferrari, Felipe Massa had a difficult 2010 season and is expected to drive for his career this year.

Asked if he would object to having Vettel alongside him at Ferrari, Spaniard Alonso told Welt newspaper: "I have never thought about it.

"In principle I drive the same against any teammate and right now it's Felipe."

Asked if he respects his current Brazilian teammate, Alonso told the German newspaper: "Felipe is a great challenger for me. I don't think there are many drivers who are faster than him.

"After all, when he crossed the line in Brazil in 2008, he was the world champion for a few seconds, so he has to prove to no one how fast and talented he is."

However, Massa had a poor season in 2010, but Ferrari's technical director Aldo Costa told Corriere dello Sport that doesn't mean he is now the number two.

Asked if the 29-year-old can keep up with Alonso in 2011, Costa answered: "I hope so, because we need two strong drivers.

"But we are only going to find out now that the races are starting," he added.

F1 drivers to discuss Japan reaction on Friday
(GMM) Formula one drivers will discuss an appropriate reaction to the Japanese disaster during their meeting on Friday.

Numerous members of the F1 circus have expressed shock and sadness at the recent and unfolding earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

"On Friday we will discuss in the driver's meeting how we can help," revealed Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi, according to Blick newspaper.

F1's devastated Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi said: "We need to stay together and we need help from all over the world."

F1 driving just as complex in past – Berger
(GMM) The current formula one drivers' cockpit workload is no higher than in the past, according to former ten-time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger.

Many drivers, including GPDA director Sebastian Vettel who has threatened a strike, have expressed concerns about having to use KERS at the same time as adjusting the new moveable rear wing on track in 2011.

The latest concerns have been raised by Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, who thinks the adjustable wings should be disallowed in practice and particularly qualifying, as they are likely to be deployed between most corners.

Bt Austrian Berger, who contested more than 200 races between 1984 and 1997, told Kleine Zeitung: "We had to adjust the differential, traction control, fuel mixture, turbo boost, power brakes, active suspension …

"So nothing has changed; the complexity of driving in our time was also at least as great," he added.

Yamamoto to be Virgin reserve at first three GPs
(GMM) Virgin has signed up Sakon Yamamoto as a reserve driver.

The 28-year-old Japanese's deal is for Melbourne and the subsequent two grands prix, the Marussia-sponsored team announced on Wednesday.

Yamamoto has contested 21 grands prix since 2006 with Super Aguri and Spyker, and most recently with HRT last year.

"Sakon will spend the weekends observing the race drivers and attending all engineering meetings to ensure he is up to speed should there be an occasion where a last minute substitution is required," said Virgin team boss John Booth.

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