Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Schumacher vows to fight for 2012 title
  • Relaxed Vettel will be better in 2011 – Sutil
  • Ecclestone wants to be Vettel's father-in-law
  • New teams to start 2011 without KERS
  • Five years after Newey, McLaren names new technical director
  • No KERS weight loss for Massa
  • Massa: Confident of a strong start
  • Ferrari launches F150 at Maranello

Schumacher vows to fight for 2012 title
(GMM) Michael Schumacher has vowed to try yet again in 2012 if he fails to win an eighth world championship this season.

Some have questioned whether the 42-year-old will ever be fully competitive after taking a three-year sabbatical, but some insiders are still convinced of his skills.

"The new Pirelli tires will suit Michael much more, particularly in the slow corners," Adrian Sutil is quoted as saying by Express newspaper in Cologne.

Schumacher's former championship nemesis Mika Hakkinen agreed: "Michael is definitely still one of the strongest in the field."

And a former teammate Jos Verstappen said: "A racing driver of Schumacher's caliber doesn't lose his talent. If he can get a car that suits his style of driving, he can go for the championship again, for sure.

"He may be 42 but he is still sharp," added the Dutchman.

But some detractors believe Schumacher will give up and return to retirement if he does not succeed with Mercedes in 2011.

But the record winner of 91 grands prix insists: "Look, we have a three year project.

"I want to perform and I'm going to put 100 per cent into it. And if that's not the case in 2011, then we will have to do it in the final year," he told F1 Racing magazine.

Schumacher will be testing Mercedes' new car, the W02, at Valencia next week.

Relaxed Vettel will be better in 2011 – Sutil
(GMM) Adrian Sutil has tipped Sebastian Vettel to be even better in 2011 now that he has won his first world championship.

German countryman Sutil, who drives for Force India, has been quoted this week as tipping his friend Lewis Hamilton as a serious title challenger in 2011.

But reigning constructors' champions Red Bull are widely tipped to still have the benchmark car this year, and Sutil thinks new drivers' title holder Vettel is all set for a stronger than ever campaign.

"Last year, Sebastian was very strong in qualifying against the supposed qualifying-specialist (Mark) Webber.

"Now, all the pressure is gone. After he was runner-up in 2009, everyone expected so much from him (in 2010) because the car was so strong," Sutil told Sport Bild.

"I expect him to move on now. He will be more relaxed and even better with a title in the bag."

Meanwhile, former ten-time F1 winner and team boss Gerhard Berger played down suggestions that the forthcoming period of testing will not be a reliable indicator of the competitiveness of the 2011-generation cars.

"A car that is fast now will stay fast for the season," insisted the Austrian.

Ecclestone wants to be Vettel's father-in-law
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he likes F1's new world champion so much he would be happy to be his father-in-law.

F1's chief executive has always admitted his affection for youngest-ever champion Sebastian Vettel, but he has now told a German newspaper he could imagine the 23-year-old being one of his daughters' boyfriend.

"I wouldn't mind it at all. He should give it a try and ask," Ecclestone joked to the Bild-Zeitung newspaper.

Ecclestone's daughters Petra (22) and Tamara (26) reportedly both have boyfriends, and Vettel's long-term girlfriend is student Hanna Prater, who he met at school in Heppenheim.

Said Ecclestone, 80: "He (Vettel) would be a good son-in-law. He's funny, normal, he has his goals and is working hard to reach them. I like him very much."

New teams to start 2011 without KERS
(GMM) Three teams will reportedly start the 2011 season without KERS.

The energy-recovery technology is returning to F1 this season in conjunction with a higher minimum weight and a fixed weight distribution.

But Auto Motor und Sport reports that all of the new-in-2010 teams – Team Lotus, Virgin and HRT – will be racing in Bahrain without a KERS boost button on board.

However, the report said Lotus' new TL11 car, to be launched on Monday, has been designed for a KERS system which will be fitted at some point during the forthcoming season.

Also designed to accommodate KERS for 2011 is the Cosworth engine that is used by Virgin and HRT as well as Williams, the famous British team that has designed its own battery KERS system.

Cosworth's business director Mark Gallagher said last year: "Our partners will be able to use KERS if they so choose."

Five years after Newey, McLaren names new technical director
(GMM) For the first time since Adrian Newey left five years ago, McLaren has appointed a new technical director.

When Newey – who penned the championship winning car at Red Bull last season – left McLaren, the British team said there was no urgency to replace him.

"The structure we have in place does not require that someone directly takes his position," said Ron Dennis in 2006.

"We do not see the necessity for a technical director."

Now, even though McLaren's press department insisted the news is not a "radical change", the team said Paddy Lowe has been promoted from engineering director to his new role of technical director.

Woking based McLaren said Lowe will do the same job as before but with "even greater levels of focus" including "new and innovative technical projects".

The move means that the 2010 car's chief engineer Tim Goss, who joined McLaren in 1998, becomes director of engineering.

"I used to be jointly responsible for the direction of our cars with Pat Fry," said Goss, referring to Fry who has moved to Ferrari.

No KERS weight loss for Massa
(GMM) Felipe Massa has revealed that he has not embarked on a weight-loss program ahead of the 2011 season.

Many drivers, including Massa's Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso as well as Rubens Barrichello, have said they are losing weight before having to race heavy KERS systems this year.

"I think I am the lightest driver on the grid so I don't have to worry about it as much as some of the others," Massa, who is believed to weigh less than 60kg, is quoted by Spain's Diario Sport.

As for the fact that he used Ferrari's KERS system in 2009, Massa denied that this will prove an advantage for him over Alonso, who joined the Italian team only last year.

"In 2009 I used the Ferrari and Fernando used the Renault (KERS), which was the same," said the Brazilian, referring to the fact that the basis of both systems was designed by Magneti Marelli.

"And I only used it for half a season, until my accident in Hungary," he added.

Massa: Confident of a strong start
Felipe Massa was present at Maranello on Friday, taking the covers off the new car, which he will drive for the first time on Saturday as part of a promotional outing for Ferrari.

However, the 29-year-old, who is gearing up for his sixth season with the Scuderia, is already under pressure to perform even before the first race of the Championship.

"You always feel pressure when you drive for Ferrari, but especially for me because last year was a difficult one," he said.

"So I would like to start this year with positive results, and I'm confident I will do this."

"It is very important for us and I am very motivated and excited," he said.

"I have followed the development of the car up until the first race and therefore I really am willing to start this new year.

"There are a lot of things to learn and understand as quickly as possible, new rules to take into account and this is an additional reason to commit myself to it, I am happy to start the tests this year and I hope this new car will live and grow as quickly as possible.

"It seems that since the end of last year there was a lot of time, but time goes quickly.

"Working on a car is not a simple task, but with the strength and work of our engineers and mechanics, I think it will be easy for me to learn all the new rules and have good results this season."

Ferrari launches F150 at Maranello (See also Home Page)
(GMM) Ferrari on Friday became the first team to reveal its 2011 car.

At the famous team's Maranello headquarters, ahead of a track debut at nearby Fiorano, the wraps came off the F150 — a tribute to Italian unification and featuring an Italian flag on the rearward-facing rear wing.

One front angle of the car reminded strongly of last year's championship winning Red Bull, but the rear of the car showed push-road suspension – unlike Red Bull's pull-rod – has been retained.

"As far as the looks are concerned the rules keep them (the 2011 cars) quite unaltered," said technical director Aldo Costa.

"The cars look like the ones from last year, but from a technical point of view they will be really different," he added, referring mainly to KERS and the double diffuser ban.

Designer Nikolas Tombazis, meanwhile, warned that the appearance of the car will change before it is raced in March.

"The entire body will be changed," he said. "We will have changes visually and also in performance for our first race."

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