Latest F1 news in brief

  • Bad weather spoils Todt's Epsilon Euskadi visit
  • FIA allows engine reliability fix for Ferrari
  • Button becomes first freeman of hometown Frome
  • Todt backs more cost cuts so new teams can 'survive'
  • Rosberg insists car changes also good for him
  • F1 should 'wait' before assessing Schu comeback – Todt
    Todt plays down Hamilton behavior in 2010
  • 'Matured' Sutil now feels ready for success
  • Schumacher drives 2010 Mercedes at Rockingham

Bad weather spoils Todt's Epsilon Euskadi visit
(GMM) Bad weather on Tuesday prevented Jean Todt from visiting the headquarters of hopeful 2011 formula one team Epsilon Euskadi.

The FIA president was in Spain for meetings with government and motor racing officials, and had been due to fly to Azkoitia in the Basque Country to inspect the team's facilities after it expressed interest in racing next year.

But local reports said strong winds at Madrid's Torrejon de Ardoz airport halted the flight, and the Frenchman's itinerary was too tight for a rescheduling.

However, Spain's Diario Sport newspaper insists that Todt already supports Epsilon Euskadi's F1 project, after many years of knowing its principal and F1 veteran Joan Villadelprat.

"Todt knows very well that Epsilon has first class facilities," read the report.

The newspaper added that Todt will attempt to inspect the facility at a later date.

"First of all I want to thank Mr. Todt and Mr. (Carlos) Gracia … for their interest and their willingness to organize this visit and the efforts until the last minute that the meeting take place," said Villadelprat.

"It was important to present the project to the president of the FIA, both as regards to the possibility of entering formula one and for other projects in the automotive field we are working on," he added.

FIA allows engine reliability fix for Ferrari
(GMM) Ferrari's proposed tweaks to its F1 engine design were approved by the FIA ahead of the Spanish grand prix.

We reported last month that, after several engine problems for both the works team and its customer Sauber so far in 2010, the Italian team would ask permission to work on the design on the grounds of reliability.

It has been rumored that the main problem was isolated to the area of the pneumatic valves and air consumption, with the remedy qualifying for an exemption from the engine development 'freeze'.

Ferrari confirmed on Tuesday that it "requested and received authorization from the FIA to make some changes within the framework of the current engine regulations and these modifications will be fitted to the engines to be used in Spain".

Looking ahead to his home race in Barcelona this weekend, Ferrari-powered Pedro de la Rosa told Spain's El Pais that he was confident the Maranello based marque was on top of the situation.

"I'm not worried at all, they're going to fix it," said the Sauber driver.

Button becomes first freeman of hometown Frome
(GMM) Jenson Button returned on Tuesday to his birthplace of Frome, England, where he became the first ever freeman of the hilly country town in Somerset.

The reigning world champion, and current championship leader, took a McLaren formula one car to the ceremony but joked he was confused about what the honorary title bestowed him.

"I don't really know what I can do with it," the 30-year-old, accompanied by his mother Simone, is quoted as saying by the Telegraph.

"But it's pretty special nonetheless," he added, before touring the three schools he attended in Frome and learning that a footbridge he used to play on as a child will be renamed 'Jenson Button Bridge'.

About 2,500 Frome residents – a tenth of the town's entire population – attended the event, where Button received a framed scroll from the mayor.

And his mother, divorced from Button's grand prix travelling companion and father John, recalled how she came up with her son's name in early 1980.

"It was me who looked out of the hospital window and saw a lovely car, a Jensen Interceptor, and called him after it, just changing the e to an o," she told the Daily Express.

Todt backs more cost cuts so new teams can 'survive'
(GMM) Costs in formula one must be further cut so that the sport's newly arrived teams do not fall at the first hurdle, Jean Todt said on Tuesday.

While announcing that he is pushing for KERS to return to the grid in 2011, the FIA president vowed to support new teams Virgin, Lotus and HRT, on the same day he intended to visit the Spanish headquarters of hopeful entrant Epsilon Euskadi.

"We must ensure the survival of those teams who have just entered the championship," the Frenchman is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"That doesn't mean I'm thinking about a spending cap for each team. There are many ways to reduce costs," added Todt.

A report in El Universo newspaper said Todt is hoping the reintegration of KERS will make F1 "the ambassador of new technology" and entice sponsors to return.

He admitted that Ferrari is never likely to support budget caps but said "there is obviously great disparity" in the funding of the current teams.

He also said drastic changes to the aerodynamic regulations must accompany the sport's new engine formula for 2013.

Spain's Diario Sport quotes Todt as saying: "These (current) rules give excessive prominence to aerodynamics and make overtaking too hard.

"Unless there are difficult weather conditions, then the car in front stays there throughout the race and this is mostly due to the aerodynamics," said Todt.

Rosberg insists car changes also good for him
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has hit back at suggestions that Mercedes' heavily updated car for Barcelona could adversely affect his performance.

After teammate Michael Schumacher notably struggled at the wheel of the W01 during the first four races of his F1 comeback, the package has been significantly altered ahead of this weekend's Spanish grand prix.

In particular, the longer wheelbase is touted to better suit the seven time world champion's driving style, even though Rosberg – second in the world championship – was comfortable and competitive with the original specification.

Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary wrote last week that the changes could "upset Rosberg" and cost him "the chance to compete for the world title".

But Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper quotes Rosberg as saying: "Why would the new car only be better for Michael?"

He denied that he enjoys a car with understeer and predicts that more front grip will "suit me as well".

F1 should 'wait' before assessing Schu comeback – Todt
(GMM) Jean Todt has become the latest pundit to call for Michael Schumacher to be given more time to impress on his F1 comeback.

After the opening four races of 2010, many vocal members of the world of grand prix racing expressed disappointment and criticism of the seven time world champion's performance.

But FIA president Todt, who is a close friend of the 41-year-old German's after his long former career as Ferrari team boss, expressed a different attitude during a visit to Spain on Tuesday.

"Just with his presence, there are a lot of people going to the circuits this year; the interest in the championship has grown considerably," he is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"As for his results, I'd say it's too early to judge. Don't forget that he has returned from a long period of inactivity," added Todt.

In the pages of Spain's El Pais, the Frenchman is quoted as also saying: "Even a great champion needs a good car to be competitive", while in Diario AS Todt reportedly added that Schumacher's return demonstrates "that he still has the same passion for racing".

"It's no secret that Michael and I are friends so I would rather see him at the wheel of a F1 car than a motorbike which is much more dangerous.

"When we are closer to the end of the season we will know more about whether Schumacher's performance was the same as before. We have to wait," said Todt.

Schumacher's long time manager Willi Weber, albeit originally advising his former protégé against returning in F1, also thinks the winner of 91 grands prix has "presented himself well" so far in 2010.

"That he was not going to drive all the others into the ground was always clear," Weber told, "even though the race in Shanghai was not satisfactory.

"But I think that no later than 2011, Michael will be back up the front," he added.

Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima thinks the main problem for Schumacher at present is the tires.

"The tire of 2006 was developed mainly by Schumacher," the Japanese told Switzerland's Blick. "Now that the front tire is a lot weaker, it doesn't really fit his style."

Todt plays down Hamilton behavior in 2010
(GMM) It is Lewis Hamilton's existing "image" that has depicted him as an overly aggressive driver, according to FIA president Jean Todt.

Addressing Spanish media on Tuesday, the Frenchman was asked about the McLaren driver's behavior in the Shanghai pitlane two weeks ago, following several other incidents so far in 2010.

Hamilton is still very unpopular within Spain, and Todt noted that the 25-year-old "has an image that is perhaps more unfavorable than others due to his coexistence with Alonso" at McLaren in 2007.

The Frenchman then refused to answer when asked if Hamilton is treated preferentially by the FIA.

"In the (China) pitlane, it was not just Hamilton but Vettel was also there," said Todt. "I don't know if you can say he is any different in terms of behavior than the others, and it is the stewards who must decide."

'Matured' Sutil now feels ready for success
(GMM) Adrian Sutil now feels fully comfortable at Force India and is more prepared than before for success.

The 27-year-old German has been with the Silverstone based team since its days as Midland and Spyker, but he engaged in talks with rival teams prior to committing in 2010.

But Sutil told that he is "glad in hindsight that I extended the contract".

"After four years, I have a great influence on the team. In the first year with Spyker it wasn't working out but today I feel very comfortable."

Mid last year, the team's Mercedes-powered car was very competitive at certain circuits, with his then teammate Giancarlo Fisichella performing strongly before switching to Ferrari.

Sutil admits he wasn't ready to lead the team with a quick car.

"I was thrown into the deep end with a good car and didn't know how to deal with the opportunity to have podium finishes.

"I often felt too much pressure and wanted things too quickly and as a result I made silly mistakes.

"It is a learning process and I have learned," Sutil confirmed, after out-qualifying his current teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi on every occasion so far in 2010.

"I feel that as a driver, I have matured," he added.

Schumacher drives 2010 Mercedes at Rockingham
(GMM) While Ferrari and Toro Rosso have been running cars recently in Italy, Michael Schumacher was at the wheel of the 2010 Mercedes at Rockingham.

The combined oval and road course circuit is located in Northamptonshire, about an hour's drive from Mercedes' F1 headquarters, where the 41-year-old German has been this week to look over the updated W01 for the Spanish grand prix.

Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm confirmed to the DPA news agency that the seven time world champion did drive at Rockingham this week for team filming purposes.

The circuit was reportedly closed for the session and Schumacher is said to have covered about 100 kilometers.

"We are looking forward to evaluating the impact (of the car developments) on our pace whilst remaining conscious that this is very much a first step in improving our competitiveness," said team boss Ross Brawn before travelling to Barcelona.

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