Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • De la Rosa returns 'home' to McLaren
  • New McLaren not ready to win title – Hamilton
  • Better mood at Mercedes as new package arrives
  • HRT will overtake Red Bull in '11 – Kobayashi
  • Now Williams following Red Bull's lead on exhausts
  • Rear wing rule changes possible after meetings
  • Liuzzi looks ahead with new F1 seat, manager
  • 'No match' in F1 for new Red Bull – Peter Sauber

De la Rosa returns 'home' to McLaren
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa is returning to McLaren as the British team's test and reserve driver.

After leaving his long-time role with the Woking based squad at the end of 2009 to return to racing with Sauber, the 40-year-old was hoping to stay on the grid this year with HRT.

But after HRT announced that Vitantonio Liuzzi will complete the 2011 grid, McLaren said de la Rosa will once again be in its garage this season.

"Of all the teams I've driven for in formula one, McLaren is the one that really feels like home," he said.

De la Rosa is therefore vacating his role as Pirelli's tire test driver, and the Italian marque is expected to name a successor.

McLaren said Gary Paffett, who also races in DTM, will remain a test driver in 2011 but no longer attend grands prix.

New McLaren not ready to win title – Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has admitted that McLaren's 2011 car is currently not good enough to win the world championship.

"That doesn't mean it won't become a world championship-winning car," he told reporters at the Barcelona test, after completing just 57 laps due to technical problems with the MP4-26.

Earlier, former McLaren driver and British commentator Martin Brundle described the car as "a mess".

"They (commentators) don't drive it so they don't know exactly how it is," the 2008 world champion hit back.

"I wouldn't agree with what he says. The car feels better than last year's car," insisted Hamilton.

But he reinforced teammate Jenson Button's admission that it is not up to speed with the pacesetters Red Bull and Ferrari.

"We definitely have the strength within the team to catch up," said Hamilton.

"It isn't as fast as others are, but two years ago we were two or three seconds off the pace and now we are maybe a second (behind)," he added.

Better mood at Mercedes as new package arrives
(GMM) Nico Rosberg sounded more confident after testing some of Mercedes' upgrade package for the start of the 2011 season.

Team figures had said the W02 is a second off the leading pace, insisting however that the launch model was "basic" and would be substantially improved.

Part of the race package was debuted by Rosberg in Barcelona on Wednesday, including a new exhaust layout and bodywork.

He was four seconds off world champion Sebastian Vettel's best time but Mercedes said the package performed "as predicted".

"We had glimpses that showed that the full package should be a big step," said the German driver.

Bild newspaper said that when Michael Schumacher drives the car on Thursday, it will also be featuring new front and rear wings.

"Then we will see the true strength of the car," said Rosberg.

Other German reports said the sidepods and brake ducts are also new. "I am hopeful because I know what other parts are still to come," confirmed Rosberg.

"I had plenty of fuel in the tank all day," he said after Wednesday's running when asked about the deficit to the Red Bull-owned cars at the head of the field.

"They are doing strong times. I don't want to say that we can beat them but we are going to improve," added Rosberg.

HRT will overtake Red Bull in '11 – Kobayashi
(GMM) The 2011 season will throw up some "funny moments" due to the Pirelli tire situation, according to Kamui Kobayashi.

"Maybe we will see a Red Bull being overtaken by a Hispania," Sauber's Japanese driver, referring to the extreme degradation of the tires seen in testing, told Auto Motor und Sport.

"If they're on older hard tires and Hispania have a brand new set of super-softs, it could happen," added Kobayashi.

"For the spectators it would certainly be a little confusing."

Meanwhile, Kobayashi welcomed the news about Suzuka renewing its grand prix contract for 2012, but admitted that Japan's F1 golden days are over.

"Motor sport is still a European sport," said Kobayashi, 24.

"In Japan, sumo and baseball are the most popular, even though when there was Senna and Prost, it was fashionable to go to the F1 races.

"But sadly those times are over," he acknowledged.

Now Williams following Red Bull's lead on exhausts
(GMM) Williams will become the next team to follow Red Bull's lead with the layout of its blown exhaust system.

After reportedly finding itself a few tenths behind the RB7 in initial testing, Ferrari is believed to have hastily copied the layout that is now being tested in Barcelona.

A similar upgrade has also been put together for Williams' FW33.

"We have played with all the different variations in CFD," the British team's technical director Sam Michael is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"The most efficient solution is Red Bull's," he concluded.

The German report said the FW33's similar layout will debut on Thursday.

It is believed that Mercedes' new layout, also tested for the first time this week, is a variation of both the Red Bull and Renault solutions.

Ferrari technical boss Aldo Costa denies that the 150 Italia's new version is a Red Bull copy.

"This package was planned well in advance," he insisted.

True or not, the Italian team has 80 team members in Barcelona this week, including senior engineers Costa, Nicolas Tombazis and Pat Fry.

Rear wing rule changes possible after meetings
(GMM) F1 drivers have raised concerns during a meeting with FIA officials at the Barcelona test.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association is now headed by Rubens Barrichello, but former president Nick Heidfeld said this week that he is concerned the drivers "don't have the most powerful lobby".

The German's comments follow concerns raised through the media about the extreme Pirelli tire degradation, as well as the increased workload created by KERS and the adjustable rear wings.

The Spanish sports daily AS reports that also with the involvement of team personnel, there are "many doubts" about the moveable wing in particular.

"It is speculated that changes to the rules may occur," added the report.

Liuzzi looks ahead with new F1 seat, manager
(GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi is looking to the future this week rather than back at a stop-start formula one career so far.

After being ousted by Force India despite having a 2011 contract, the 29-year-old Italian will complete the grid this season after signing a new deal with HRT just over a fortnight before the season opener.

Blick newspaper in Switzerland reports that he has been paid EUR 2 million in compensation by Force India.

He was asked by La Gazzetta dello Sport about the split.

"From my side, apart from many incidents of which many were not my fault, nothing went wrong.

"Only that I'm not the boss of the team and the one who puts the money in made another choice," said Liuzzi, referring to Vijay Mallya's decision to promote Paul di Resta.

"In any case, there is no reason to think about it anymore, and anyway we know that F1 is like that," he added.

As for his new adventure at the back of the grid with the so far untested F111, Liuzzi said: "In my F1 career I'm used to starting from scratch and we'll work twice as hard to find speed and reliability.

"I know full well that Rome wasn't built in a day," he added.

The first day of building will be the HRT car's debut late this week in Barcelona, and almost immediately after that the first race in Australia.

"Of course it's not a helpful situation; it's a bit like a puzzle where we have to put all the pieces together now."

Meanwhile, it emerges that Liuzzi is now working with a new manager, Enrico Zanarini, who is most famous for handling the careers of Eddie Irvine and Giancarlo Fisichella.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said Liuzzi has split with former Lotus boss Peter Collins, perhaps due to the Force India situation.

"With Peter, I worked for many years and I was fine with him; let's say I wanted to start a new era," said Liuzzi, who confirmed that in Zanarini "I think I'm with the right person".

'No match' in F1 for new Red Bull – Peter Sauber
(GMM) The usually reserved Peter Sauber spoke on behalf of the entire F1 community this week when he admitted to seeing "no match" for Red Bull's new RB7.

But Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport has published statistics showing that, based on recent pre-season testing, it is actually Ferrari with the best average lap time so far.

Red Bull is ranked just third, behind Mercedes, reinforcing the view that the reigning world champions are sandbagging.

McLaren is ranked behind Renault and Toro Rosso, and trailed by just over a tenth by Williams.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, fastest in Barcelona on Wednesday, is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper: "We have done a lot of laps without encountering major reliability problems.

"As for the speed, it seems fairly good, but I think we will have to wait until Melbourne or Malaysia or even China to really see where we are."

Apparently pressed that the RB7 is clearly a winning car, the German is quoted by Autosprint as responding: "How can you say that when it has not done a race?"

The Italian report claims that, over a single lap, the Red Bull is about six tenths clear of the nearest chasing car, Ferrari's 150 Italia.

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