Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • The Mercedes car is the shortest in F1

    Volkswagen says no to F1 foray

  • Vettel says 'wow' after Perez 'quick lap'
  • Webber coy, Gene says Red Bull 'scary'
  • Mercedes is shortest car in 2011 field
  • De la Rosa happy because McLaren return 'not easy'
  • Too early to write off McLaren – de la Rosa
  • Liuzzi hopes for 'long' HRT tenure
  • Drivers want rear wing and rain tire changes
  • Kovalainen eyes Schumacher guru Balbir Singh
  • Barrichello happier than ever in longest F1 career
  • Glock back with doctors after Barcelona visit
  • Pirelli two-stop strategy 'impossible' – Sutil
  • Lotus reliability still concerns Trulli
  • Pepe Jeans renew with Red Bull
  • Oris Increases Sponsorship of AT&T Williams

Volkswagen says no to F1 foray
(GMM) Volkswagen has delivered a fresh blow to speculation the German giant is eyeing a foray in formula one.

The dominant Red Bull Racing had positioned as an ideal carmaker partner for the Wolfsburg-based group, but Ulrich Hackenberg ruled out F1 as well as NASCAR.

"Nothing for us," the brand's head of technical development is quoted by Reuters, referring to both premier motor racing classes.

"I should know what I am talking about, since it would come out of my budget."

It is, however, rumored that VW could announce a foray in the world rally championship at the Dakar rally celebrations later this month.

Perez has been fast in the new Sauber

Vettel says 'wow' after Perez 'quick lap'
(GMM) After skipping a chicane to set a fast lap earlier this week, Sauber rookie Sergio Perez on Thursday leapt to the top of the times on merit.

The Mexican was doing a full qualifying simulation on low fuel and a new set of super soft Pirellis, but world champion Sebastian Vettel was nonetheless impressed.

"Wow, that was a quick lap," the Red Bull driver is quoted as saying by Blick newspaper.

The lap time, faster than the field-leading Ferrari and Red Bull, was also the fastest time seen all year at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"I don't think I could have done that time," Force India's Adrian Sutil told Auto Motor und Sport.

The German added: "At the front are Red Bull and Ferrari. Toro Rosso look good, and Sauber have also been very fast."

Red Bull thought to be scary fast

Webber coy, Gene says Red Bull 'scary'
(GMM) The hide-and-seek continued in Barcelona on Thursday as F1 observers try to decipher the hierarchy for the start of the 2011 season.

Accused of sandbagging, Red Bull's Mark Webber told Autosprint: "We have no time for that. We already have enough to do."

The Australian also towed the line about it being impossible to rank the strength of the 2011 field, but at the same time mused that he thinks the Ferrari is the best car.

"I point to Red Bull," Ferrari's Felipe Massa shot back. "They won the titles last year but I hope Mark Webber is right."

Italian reports say Ferrari has never unveiled so many pre-season developments as have been seen on the 150 Italia car in Spain this week.

"No one knows today how scary Red Bull are going to be," said the Italian team's Spanish test driver Marc Gene on La Sexta television.

Mercedes is shortest car in 2011 field
(GMM) Mercedes' 2011 car is the shortest on the grid, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Bild newspaper has therefore christened the W02 the 'mini Mercedes' after learning that the wheelbase is 9cm shorter than the Red Bull, 5 than the Ferrari and a whopping 27cm smaller than McLaren's MP4-26.

The silver car has been heavily upgraded for this week's Barcelona test and the looming start of the season, with Nico Rosberg admitting he has felt real progress.

Michael Schumacher drove the upgraded car on Thursday.

"We know the Red Bulls are very strong and they are the ones we need to look at," said the seven time world champion. "We are certainly not quite in this position, but I never expected to be at this stage.

"The season is long," Schumacher added, "and there is a big question mark as to who is coming behind Red Bull, and I hope we play a sufficient role in that."

De la Rosa happy because McLaren return 'not easy'
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa on Thursday said he is happy to return to the role as McLaren's main test and reserve driver.

It means Gary Paffett will no longer travel to the grands prix following 40-year-old Spaniard de la Rosa's abortive return to racing with Sauber last year.

He has also spent time as Pirelli's test driver and coveted the HRT race seat for 2011, telling reporters in Barcelona that it was a "very difficult" winter.

But in the absence of a race seat, de la Rosa says he is back at home.

"It is not nice to think that the chances of racing again are remote, but the role I have now is the closest thing to that.

"In reality it is not easy to get to return to a team that you have left, so for me it's doubly gratifying because it's what I wanted.

"They reopened the door to me which doesn't always happen in formula one," he added.

"I have to say I saw it pointless to be with another team. After all the teams I've been with, and with my last experience with Pirelli and Toyota, which was very good and I learned a lot, plus my experience with Sauber, I had no desire to go anywhere else."

Too early to write off McLaren – de la Rosa
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa insists it is "too early" for anyone to write off McLaren ahead of the 2011 season.

It was actually the British team's own race drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button who had admitted the MP4-26 is not currently a title winner.

That earned the rebuke from boss Martin Whitmarsh on Thursday that the entire F1 world needs to "wait and see how the season unfolds".

De la Rosa, newly returned to his former post as McLaren's main test and reserve driver, agreed: "It is too early to draw conclusions.

"It does appear that a couple of teams seem to be stronger than the others, but until Australia you can't really say anything.

"There are two weeks to go and in this game that's a lot. Let's be cautious," he is quoted by Spanish media.

"Let's see what we have and how we can develop it."

Liuzzi hopes for 'long' HRT tenure
(GMM) With HRT's stop-start debut season in memory, Vitantonio Liuzzi on Thursday would not reveal the length of his new contract with the Spanish team.

No fewer than four drivers competed for Hispania last year as the team struggled for survival financially.

"We are looking ahead to the future, but we'll see," Italian Liuzzi is quoted by the Spanish website

When asked the duration of his 2011 deal, he added: "I hope it's as long as possible."

The 29-year-old also made clear he rates his new teammate Narain Karthikeyan, despite some saying the Indian has only secured the drive due to his links to sponsor Tata.

"He is a very fast driver and has been in many categories; he is very versatile," said Liuzzi.

The F111 car will finally be launched on Friday.

"It is faster than the other one and I think the reliability is better than last year too. It will be a difficult start but we will know the car better as the season progresses," said Liuzzi.

Drivers want rear wing and rain tire changes
(GMM) Proposed amendments to the new adjustable rear wing rules were not adopted during a meeting this week in Barcelona.

Finland's Turun Sanomat said the Grand Prix Drivers' Association expressed great concern during the meeting with technical bosses and team chiefs.

"But the amendments did not receive unanimous support," read the report.

The report said one proposed amendment was that the rear wings can only be adjusted during the races, with drivers therefore able to concentrate solely on driving in practice and qualifying.

Turun Sanomat said Red Bull was in favor of that change, but Ferrari was not.

"We see a chance to do something now so that we don't just talk about something (an incident) after it has happened," Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen said.

Another concern raised by the drivers was the performance of Pirelli's rain tires.

"Most drivers agree that we have to improve the grip," Felipe Massa is quoted by El Mundo.

"Because if we have a grand prix like last year in Korea, it would be difficult to do the race," said the Ferrari driver.

Kovalainen eyes Schumacher guru Balbir Singh
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen is considering teaming up with Michael Schumacher's former fitness guru.

Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that the Lotus driver has split with his physiotherapist Petri Lehikoinen.

The report said Schumacher proposed that Kovalainen start working with Indian Balbir Singh instead, whose last job in F1 was alongside Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India.

Kovalainen reportedly met with Singh in Barcelona on Thursday.

"Singh is one of the candidates but I haven't decided what to do," he said.

Barrichello happier than ever in longest F1 career
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello insists he is not yet thinking about retirement.

Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher, who is now well into his second formula one career, has contested nearly 40 fewer grands prix than the record-setting Brazilian.

But speaking ahead of his eighteenth consecutive season, he told Finland's Turun Sanomat that he is enjoying F1 like never before.

"What touches me the most is the feeling of how competitive I am after more than 300 grands prix," said Barrichello, 38.

"Five years ago I complained that the holidays were not long enough, but now just a week after a break I feel the desire to race again," he said.

"My wife is terrified that I will never stop!" laughed the former Ferrari and Brawn driver, who now races for Williams.

Glock back with doctors after Barcelona visit
(GMM) After spending Thursday as a spectator at the Barcelona test, Timo Glock returned to Switzerland.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that the Virgin driver, who has sat out the entire test following an appendectomy, will be back with the doctors on Friday to have stitches removed.

The report said German Glock walked slowly in the Circuit de Catalunya paddock before commenting: "The wound has not completely healed."

But he insists there is no chance he will miss the season opener in two weeks.

"No, the (stitches) procedure will be no problem," said Glock, who this week returned to some light fitness training on a bicycle.

"Every grandma overtook me!" he joked to Bild newspaper.

"At home the weather is so good but I can't do anything, so I came here as a distraction," he said before leaving Barcelona.

"I've lost two days of testing, which hurts," said Glock, who joked that "sneezing" hurts even more.

Pirelli two-stop strategy 'impossible' – Sutil
(GMM) Adrian Sutil has reinforced the view that three or even four-stop pit strategies will be commonplace in 2011.

The Force India driver did a race simulation at the Barcelona test on Thursday.

"We tried to do a two stop strategy," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "but it's impossible."

He lamented the extreme degradation of the Pirelli tires and noted that "the only positive is that it's the same for all".

Ferrari's Felipe Massa has a slightly different view.

"With a fresh set of tires I can immediately feel the grip, which was different for me with Bridgestone," the Brazilian is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo.

Massa acknowledged, however, that there will be "three or four" pitstops per race.

Lotus reliability still concerns Trulli
(GMM) With his tumultuous 2010 season behind him, Jarno Trulli has admitted he is still concerned about reliability.

The Italian veteran completed only a handful of laps in the new Team Lotus T128 in Barcelona on Thursday.

"At the moment we have many things that are not right and that give rise for concern," he is quoted by the Dutch website

"We have a lot of problems for the first race and in this respect the cancellation of Bahrain is for us very welcome," added Trulli.

He insists, however, that he is still confident.

"We have many new parts for this year and also many things we can do to improve during the season, so let's wait quietly.

"I'm sure there is still a lot to come before the first race. I am confident about taking part in the middle of the field this year," added Trulli.

Pepe Jeans renews with red Bull
Red Bull Racing is set to maintain the style that helped it achieve two world championships, with today’s announcement that Pepe Jeans will continue as the team’s official team clothing partner, with an extended and increased deal for 2011.

Pepe Jeans, which has over 200 stores worldwide, will have a greater presence with the team during the coming season, with enhanced visibility on the new RB7, as well as on the driver’s helmets and team clothing. It is the second year that the clothing brand will partner Red Bull Racing, as it seeks to help the team stay ahead of the pack in style, as well as on track.

Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal said: “We’re delighted to continue and extend our relationship with Pepe Jeans; the company’s youthful and forward-looking philosophy fits perfectly with Red Bull Racing’s. Pepe Jean has a long history in Formula One and we’re pleased that they will once again take their place among our select group of premium Team Partners."

Oris Increases Sponsorship of AT&T Williams
AT&T Williams is pleased to confirm that its long-term official watch partner, Oris, has extended and upgraded its sponsorship of the team ahead of the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Established in 1904, Swiss-based Oris designs and manufactures precision timepieces from dress watches to performance sports instruments. All Oris watches incorporate their hallmark red rotor as an integral element of the design mechanism.

Oris and Williams entered into partnership in 2003 and have subsequently enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship which has led to four renewals over the past eight years. Today’s announcement provides for greater branding opportunities for Oris across team inventory and assets. The Oris logo will maintain its position on the car’s front wing endplates as well as on team uniform, while it will also now feature on the FW33’s nose and have greater prominence on driver overalls, gloves and helmets. All new for 2011 will see the lollipop operator’s firesuit branded with the Oris logo and their red rotor displayed on the lollipop itself.

On the upgraded agreement, Oris’ Executive Chairman, Ulrich W. Herzog, commented, “The prestigious world of Formula One has proven to be the perfect platform to promote Oris. As a purely mechanical watch brand, we at Oris can fully identify ourselves with this competitive racing environment and the commitment to quality and success which drives the AT&T Williams team. They work hard to achieve results and this practical ethos reflects our own mission statement: real watches for real people."

Sir Frank Williams, Team Principal of AT&T Williams added, “It always gives me great pleasure when one of our existing partners renews their engagement with the team, and even more so when they decide to upgrade. It means we're delivering on their commitment and providing a return on their investment. Oris is one of our longest-standing partners and we are thrilled that they have extended their relationship with the team for a second time. We very much look forward to continuing our relationship with them in the season ahead and returning their support with success on the track."

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