Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • New Toro Rosso 'ridiculously fast' – Hamilton
  • Red Bull eyes Nissan for future KERS development
  • Glock confident of 'quick recovery' after surgery
  • Lauda tells Vettel about F1's 'wild dogs'
  • Crashgate's Piquet rules out F1 return
  • Politician rebukes Alonso after speed limit jibe
  • Rosberg to receive 2011 Bandini trophy in June
  • Pirelli hits back at F1 tire criticism

New Toro Rosso 'ridiculously fast' – Hamilton
(GMM) Two more leading formula one drivers believe Toro Rosso is set for a strong season in 2011.

The Swiss newspaper Blick recently christened the small Faenza based team's new Ferrari-powered STR6 a "Wunder Auto" after a good showing in testing.

"Toro Rosso looks reasonably strong in terms of consistency," agreed Jenson Button last month.

At an event at Dunsfold Park aerodrome on Tuesday, Button's McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton said teams such as Renault, Williams and Force India had also produced solid cars for 2011.

"And the Toro Rosso looks ridiculously fast," said the Briton, having earlier used exactly the same description for Red Bull's pace-setting RB7.

A few days ago, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said similarly that Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso had made "significant progress" since last year.

Hamilton added: "They could be the most interesting one to watch."

At the same time, both Button and Hamilton acknowledged the tough start to the life of McLaren's new MP4-26, reckoning that Red Bull and Ferrari are out front at present.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is quoted in the German press: "Ferrari have made a very strong impression. It looks close between them and us."

As for McLaren and Mercedes, he added: "It looks as though they are having a bit of trouble."

Red Bull eyes Nissan for future KERS development
(GMM) One area for technical collaboration between new F1 partners Red Bull and Infiniti in future is the energy-recovery technology KERS.

In the announcement earlier this week about the 2011 and 2012 sponsor deal, the official statement earmarked "future technical collaboration" between Red Bull and Infiniti, Nissan's luxury brand.

The most obvious area for cooperation would come in 2013, when the FIA is expected to open up the KERS regulations and Red Bull can tap into Nissan's expertise in battery technology.

"I think that it is an exciting development for us," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is quoted by

"Obviously the benefit of the battery know-how won't come in until 2013, whatever the regulations are.

"It opens up R+D resources on battery development which would never have previously been available to RBR as chassis maker," he added.

Glock confident of 'quick recovery' after surgery
(GMM) Timo Glock has revealed he is expecting a "quick recovery" from a sudden bout of appendicitis.

Virgin boss John Booth revealed on Tuesday that the team's German driver was only expected to stay another 24 hours in a Swiss hospital following "routine" surgery.

"To ensure a swift recovery, it is unlikely that he will take part in next week's test in Barcelona and that Jerome (d'Ambrosio) will run on all four days instead," said Booth.

Glock, 28, commented from hospital that he is "very happy" with the success of the operation "and about my quick recovery".

"It's a shame that I'll probably miss the tests in Barcelona," he said, although he was sure he would be fit for the season opener in Melbourne later this month.

"Without an appendix I'm certain to be faster -– I mean, it must have weighed a few grams at least!" he joked.

Booth admitted it is possible Glock will be well enough to drive in Barcelona, with Virgin's program kicking off next Tuesday.

"We will make a final decision early next week," he said. "We look forward to having Timo back with us very soon."

Lauda tells Vettel about F1's 'wild dogs'
(GMM) Niki Lauda has given Sebastian Vettel an entertaining insight into the "wild" behavior of F1's past champions.

In a joint interview, new reigning world champion Vettel asked triple title winner Lauda if the reputations of some of the sport's legendary drivers as "wild dogs" off the track were deserved.

"I will tell you the truth," Lauda answered Vettel in the Red Bulletin feature, according to German language reports.

"The best example is 1984 at the Portuguese grand prix, which was crucial for the world championship for myself and (Alain) Prost.

"My fitness guy Willi Dungl told me there was a blonde Italian woman constantly asking about me. I went to see her immediately.

"As I'm a polite person, we went out for dinner on Friday and she asked if we could eat together again on Saturday.

"I told her we couldn't eat together but she could come between 8 and 10 o'clock to my room.

"I told her I need to sleep at ten because the next day I needed to be world champion. She said okay and was gone at ten minutes before ten. I slept like a god," grinned Lauda.

He continued: "My dear teammate Prost was in the garage in the morning and was grinning to himself. I asked what he was smiling about.

"He said, can you believe it, last night I caught Stephanie of Monaco. I was relieved," said Lauda, "now it's 1-1 before god and it's time to race.

"A few hours later I was world champion for the third time," said Lauda.

He admitted that the "morality" of today's F1 stars "is maybe better".

Crashgate's Piquet rules out F1 return
(GMM) Nelsinho Piquet has admitted he has closed the door on formula one.

The Brazilian's grand prix career ended in shame after one and a half seasons two years ago, after being ousted by Flavio Briatore and then triggering the 'crashgate' scandal.

Piquet, now 25, admitted to O Estado de S.Paulo that there were some early efforts to stay in F1 after that.

"I talked to the guy who bought Toyota," said Piquet, referring to Serbian Zoran Stefanovic who attempted to set up a team with some of the assets of the departed Toyota.

"Bernie was helping me too. I talked to him (Stefanovic) until the new year, I thought he was serious.

"It was after that I said, 'Ok, I'm realistic, enough'. My dream was not to be just a part of F1, for the glamour — I wanted to do it right and be champion.

"It didn't happen," added Piquet.

As for returning to F1 one day, he explained: "That's very complicated, even for such a guy as Michael Schumacher. So it's not so easy to think about it.

"Do I want to get back out there and face the same garbage and politics? No. F1 is spectacular to watch on TV, but now I'm only thinking about NASCAR."

As for his then teammate Fernando Alonso's involvement in the crashgate scandal, Piquet concluded: "No. What happened was not his fault."

Politician rebukes Alonso after speed limit jibe
(GMM) A leading Spanish politician has rebuked Fernando Alonso after the Ferrari driver criticized a new road law.

Alonso said earlier this week that it will be "difficult to stay awake" when he returns to Spanish highways with a new speed limit of 110kph.

"To reduce fuel consumption there are other measures that are much more effective than this one," he added.

According to the sports newspaper Marca, Spain's deputy prime minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba hit back: "In the United States they do a maximum of 110 and I've never seen them driving whilst asleep."

Rosberg to receive 2011 Bandini trophy in June
(GMM) Nico Rosberg will be this year's winner of the prestigious Bandini trophy.

The Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini is an ongoing tribute to the leading Italian driver of his period, who was burned to death in an accident at Monaco in 1967.

The last three winners were the highly rated Lewis Hamilton (2010), Sebastian Vettel (2009) and Robert Kubica (2008).

Organizers confirmed that Mercedes driver Rosberg will receive the trophy in Bandini's hometown of Brisighella, which is close to Toro Rosso's Italian headquarters, on June 5.

And according to Auto Sprint magazine in Italy, it is possible Rosberg will drive the 12 kilometers between Faenza and Brisighella in a Mercedes F1 car, or possibly the F1 safety car.

Other Bandini winners include Felipe Massa (2007), Mark Webber (2006), Fernando Alonso (2005), Michael Schumacher (2003), Jenson Button (2001) and Jarno Trulli (2000).

Pirelli hits back at F1 tire criticism
(GMM) F1's new official supplier Pirelli has hit back at the criticism about its 2011 tires.

Drivers, including world champion Sebastian Vettel this week, have admitted concerns with the severe degradation of the 2011 Pirellis.

The marque hit back in the form of a statement published by Italian news outlets.

"The increased degradation is a feature specifically requested by the teams and the organizers to improve the show," the Italian language statement reads.

"This is an opportunity for the sport, not a problem," added Pirelli.

"What must be said is that we have not run with optimum conditions in the official winter testing, both in terms of temperatures too low and the track conditions.

"We hope that in Barcelona for next week's test there are the conditions to allow everyone to verify the real performance of our tires," the statement added.

"We will continue to work closely with the teams and pay great attention to their feedback," said Pirelli.

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