Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • McLaren's Bubble Nose

    New rule solves tire test dilemma – Hembery

  • Glock not worried about surgery setback
  • Swollen nose not a quick trick – Button
  • More of the same as Webber flies in Spain
  • Vettel admits 'problems' with Alonso in 2010
  • Liuzzi in Barcelona as HRT's plans develop
  • Alguersuari predicts 'much better' season for STR
  • Marko warns STR drivers to fear ousting
  • Perez jumped chicane for shock testing time
  • Heidfeld wants more powerful driver 'lobby'
  • Heidfeld's test marred by lingering cold
  • Bahrain 'very happy' with delayed GP date deadline
  • Suzuka inks new GP deal for 2012
  • Another Malaysian chief eyes F1 night race
  • FIA eyes track changes to increase F1 overtaking

New rule solves tire test dilemma – Hembery
(GMM) Changes to the rules in 2011 solve Pirelli's dilemma about how to continue developing its F1 tires.

The Italian marque used a 2009 Toyota and testers Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa and Romain Grosjean to develop this season's tires, but decided that the car is now too old to be useful to the latest generation of single seaters.

The World Motor Sport Council on Tuesday approved a rule tweak so that experimental tires can be tested by the teams during Friday practice sessions at grands prix.

"Without this potential opportunity we would be unable to test with a current car and would be relying solely on a previous generation vehicle," said Pirelli's Paul Hembery in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, he admitted he was not happy on Tuesday after hoping for warmer weather to prove the durability of the tires to concerned teams and drivers.

"It's even colder than the last time we were here," the Briton told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Glock not worried about surgery setback
(GMM) Timo Glock insists his appendicitis mere weeks before the start of the 2011 season has not overly affected his preparation.

"The operation has put me back two to three weeks," he told the DPA news agency, "but as I was previously training hard, it won't be much of a problem."

It was faintly hoped the German would be well enough to drive in Barcelona, but Virgin has confirmed that teammate Jerome d'Ambrosio will do all the running this week.

Germany's Bild newspaper, however, said Glock will be at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, but will do no driving.

"Timo's feedback would obviously have been extremely beneficial here, but it's more important that having recovered well from his operation we don't take any risks as we need him to be fighting fit for the opening race," said team boss John Booth.

McLaren's Bubble Nose

Swollen nose not a quick trick – Button
(GMM) McLaren has confirmed that the radical swollen nose fitted to the MP4-26 in Barcelona on Tuesday will not be raced this season.

"The equipment was for testing purposes only," said the British team.

Jenson Button smiled as he told Auto Motor und Sport: "Unfortunately it's not a new trick that's going to make us faster."

There are grave concerns about McLaren's readiness for the looming 2011 season, with BBC commentator and former team driver Martin Brundle describing the car as "a mess".

"It didn't slow down," he told the Telegraph after seeing the car in action on the Spanish track recently. "It didn't turn in. It couldn't get the power down. Clearly they have a fundamental issue."

Officially, Button hailed the team's "progress" on Tuesday, but he then told reporters that he is not expecting to win a third consecutive Australian grand prix.

"I would be surprised if we can match the Red Bull and the Ferrari when we get to Melbourne," he admitted.

He is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat: "If we have the third fastest car at the opening race, it will be a good start to the season."

More of the same as Webber flies in Spain
(GMM) After topping the times in the field-leading Red Bull, Mark Webber told reporters in Barcelona that he is tiring of their stale questions.

"It's a bit like a stuck record," said the Australian when asked if his relationship with his teammate Sebastian Vettel is now better.

"I hope that when I am 70-years-old, people will not still be asking me whether I like Sebastian," he added.

More interesting is the RB7, and ever-hardening predictions that it is even quicker than the also-impressive new Ferrari.

"Not much has changed since last week," said Webber.

But Renault's Nick Heidfeld said he thinks Red Bull is sandbagging: "I think they are still not showing something."

Webber denied that charge but admitted that he expects to be riding at the front in Australia in a fortnight.

"Yes, we have a good car," he said on Tuesday.

Vettel thinks the same but is similarly cautious.

"The test results are difficult to read," the reigning world champion is quoted by La Stampa newspaper.

"For now we are very pleased with the reliability and the performance."

Vettel admits 'problems' with Alonso in 2010
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has revealed a less than rosy relationship with his 2010 championship rival Fernando Alonso.

"We did have some problems," the German said in an interview published by La Stampa in Italy.

"But the event was judged by outsiders wrongly, and Fernando and I have since spoken and our relationship is now good.

"Two people can have different ideas but still respect each other," insisted the 23-year-old German.

Asked, however, whether the Spaniard congratulated him after winning last year's title, Vettel answered simply: "No.

"Nothing in Abu Dhabi. In Monte Carlo (for the FIA prize giving) he shook my hand.

"That's normal," the Red Bull driver explained. "If you win, others are disappointed and some need 5 minutes to move past it, others two weeks," said Vettel.

In 2011, their relationship might be further strained, after Vettel admitted he covets Alonso's Ferrari race seat.

Asked about those rumors, he answered: "I have a contract with Red Bull this season and an option for 2012. After that, you never know what can happen.

"Right now I'm happy where I am," insisted Vettel.

And asked who he thinks his main contenders will be in 2011, the reigning world champion said: "Massa and Alonso are looking strong. Then McLaren and Mercedes."

Liuzzi in Barcelona as HRT's plans develop
(GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi is reportedly already in Barcelona, will be confirmed as HRT's second race driver on Wednesday, and his 2011 car the F111 will make its track debut on Friday.

That is the information of La Gazzetta dello Sport, but to another Italian publication – Autosprint – the 29-year-old Liuzzi was confirming nothing.

"There is no contract signed, but HRT wants an experienced driver and I am available," Liuzzi is quoted as saying by Dutch website

Alguersuari predicts 'much better' season for STR
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari has admitted he still has a good feeling about the 2011 season.

Leading observers and drivers are predicting a big step forward for the Toro Rosso team this season with its innovative car.

"I think this year will be much better," Spaniard Alguersuari, who ranked 19th in last year's championship while the Red Bull-owned team was just ninth, said in an interview with El Pais.

"My feeling with the new Toro Rosso is very good," he added.

Some observers have predicted that the STR6 is so good that it is even better than the impressive Renault R31.

"We cannot expect to be ahead of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren," acknowledged Alguersuari, "but we can beat Force India and Sauber.

"Actually, if we can be between 12th and 14th on the grid and finish the championship ahead of those teams, we would be satisfied," he added.

Marko warns STR drivers to fear ousting
(GMM) Helmut Marko has bluntly admitted that he has no qualms about ousting drivers.

Feeling the pressure in 2011 will be Marko's Red Bull-sponsored Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, as Daniel Ricciardo knocks on the door of a fully fledged Toro Rosso race seat.

"If there is no more potential for a successful grand prix career, we separate," Marko is quoted by Blick newspaper when musing the possibility of a driver change.

Although not yet 21, Alguersuari insisted he is used to the pressure.

"You live and die with your own pressure," the Swiss publication quoted him as saying.

It is rumored that Buemi is actually the more likely of Toro Rosso's current pair to depart.

"There is no excuse for my weak end to the (2010) season," admitted the Swiss. "But in 2011 we will see a new, toned Buemi who is also stronger in the head.

"Under normal circumstances, I will have Jaime under control!" he added.

Perez jumped chicane for shock testing time
(GMM) For a fleeting moment on Tuesday, the F1 world considered a surprise new contender for the 2011 championship.

In the closing moments of Tuesday's test day in Barcelona, the name Sergio Perez leapt to the top of the timesheets, 1.4 seconds faster than Mark Webber in the mighty Red Bull.

"To do that time would have been impossible," admitted Sauber's technical director James Key, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

"Sergio had a slow car in front of him and took a short-cut."

The Mexican rookie's best legitimate time was still good enough for fourth place, with Key insisting he could have gone another few tenths quicker.

Sauber's C30 was featuring a new front wing and striking heat towers on the sidepods.

Perez, 21, said he is looking forward to Melbourne and targeting a top ten finish, as well as his highly rated teammate Kamui Kobayashi.

"It is my goal to beat him as soon as possible," he said. "He is a fast guy with a year more experience, knowing what you need to drive a racing car fast."

Heidfeld wants more powerful driver 'lobby'
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld would like F1's driver trade union to have more power.

Until returning to the grid last year, the German veteran was the chairman of the safety-oriented Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

But with drivers now concerned about excessive Pirelli tire wear and too many buttons and distractions in the cockpit, Heidfeld admits they are not always listened to.

"Unfortunately we don't always have the most powerful lobby," he is quoted by Welt newspaper.

"If the FIA and Bernie have some ideas to improve the show, they can usually push them through," added Heidfeld, 33.

Heidfeld's test marred by lingering cold
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld sat out the afternoon test session at Barcelona on Tuesday with a lingering cold.

A few days earlier, the German revealed his illness but said he was nonetheless scheduled to drive on the first and last days of the final pre-season test this week.

Actually, the R31's settings had to be switched over to teammate Vitaly Petrov at the lunch break.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that Heidfeld has now been sick for a week.

"I thought I would be over it by now, but the cold will not go away," confirmed the 33-year-old. "I didn't feel good in the car in the morning (on Tuesday)."

The report said Renault is now scheduling to have Heidfeld back to the car on Thursday afternoon, before he drives all day on Friday.

"When I sit back in the car, the new package will be complete," he said. "What I have tried already, felt alright."

Bahrain 'very happy' with delayed GP date deadline
(GMM) The boss of Bahrain's F1 circuit has admitted relief about an extended deadline for the rescheduling of the 2011 race.

Bernie Ecclestone said recently that he and FIA president Jean Todt agree that if the postponed event is to be rescheduled this season, the new date must be firmed by the time of the opening Australian grand prix late this month.

The only way for that to be formalized by Melbourne would have been a decision of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Tuesday.

Instead, the FIA body announced that Bahrain now has until 1 May for a new date to be arranged.

"I am very happy that we have been given more time by the FIA to accomplish our national goals, so that we may hopefully stage our grand prix later this year," circuit boss Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa told the Gulf Daily News.

"When things get better, we will do what we can to be back on the race calendar," he added, referring to the political situation in Bahrain.

"While it is important for us to have our race, our complete concentration right now must be on a national dialogue."

The Bahrain Motor Federation could not be reached for comment, but it is believed some of their officials were in Paris on Tuesday.

Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary wrote on Tuesday that the delayed rescheduling deadline "will do nothing to alter the perception that the whole affair has been handled messily".

Suzuka inks new GP deal for 2012
(GMM) Suzuka will continue to host the Japanese grand prix beyond this October’s race.

Last October, the boss of the Honda-owned Mobilityland company admitted that its formula one race at Suzuka is "only marginally profitable".

Honda pulled its team out of F1 at the end of 2008, while Toyota and Bridgestone have also left the sport, as has the other Japanese venue Fuji.

But the Japan Times and the Kyodo news agency both reported on Tuesday that the grand prix will take place in 2012 after a new agreement was reached between Mobilityland and F1 authorities.

Another Malaysian chief eyes F1 night race
(GMM) Another boss of the annual Malaysian grand prix has admitted Sepang should host a night race.

The circuit's boss Razlan Razali said last month that running a race under lights before the contract expires in 2015 could boost spectator numbers.

"Maybe this will attract a bigger crowd as the weather at night will be cool," he said.

Now, Sepang chairman Mokhzani Mahathir has told AFP news agency that the night race idea is "interesting".

In 2008, he had ruled out the idea as too expensive to implement.

But he told reporters on Tuesday: "In Qatar (for MotoGP) and Singapore, we see it works.

"I think a night race will be interesting. The F1 race at night will be cooler," added Mokhzani.

FIA eyes track changes to increase F1 overtaking
(GMM) The FIA has formalized its push to increase overtaking in formula one by looking closely at the design of circuits.

Influential figures including Sir Jackie Stewart and FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh have recently said circuit design is the best way to minimize processional grands prix.

And the Daily Mail on Tuesday said Williams technical director Sam Michael "recently voiced his opposition to all chicanes, remarking they should be banned".

Late last year, foreign media sources quoted FIA president Jean Todt as saying that "From now on, before a new circuit is approved, we will evaluate the potential for the spectacle as well as the safety".

The FIA's World Motor Sport Council met in Paris on Tuesday, and later said in a statement: "The Circuit Design Group is examining grand prix circuits to identify the possibility of increasing the opportunities for overtaking."

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