Mike Stevens | Apr 1, 2011

Daniel Ricciardo will sit out the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 season next month as his F1 duties take precedence.

Putting enormous pressure on Toro Rosso's race line-up this year, the Australian has been appointed by team owner Red Bull to drive on the morning of every initial F1 practice session.

He kicked off his duties in Melbourne, and will be back in action in Malaysia next weekend.

One week after that, the F1 circus heads to China, but 21-year-old Ricciardo is also scheduled to commence his 2011 Formula Renault campaign with the Red Bull-sponsored ISR team in Spain in mid-April.

"Unfortunately that means that I'm going to miss the first Formula Renault 3.5 race in Spain," he confirmed to ozracingwrap.com.au.

"It's great to get more F1 time, and I'm hugely grateful for the opportunity, but it just means I'm going to have to work a bit harder to win the title this year," he smiled.

(GMM)

 

Red Bull Exhaust Copycats 'A Pain' Admits Newey

Adrian Newey admits it is flattering but also "a pain" that the latest trend in F1 is to copy the exhaust layout on Red Bull's new RB7 car.

Sebastian Vettel easily won the 2011 opener from pole in Melbourne last weekend, but in second place was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, after the British team ditched its own complex 'octopus' exhaust system.

The RB7's designer Newey told UK newspaper Express that "some teams have copied" his exhaust; surely also a reference to Ferrari, Sauber and Williams.

But the most notable imitator has been McLaren, who according to Newey have "made a huge leap forward" after a dire winter.

"We think it (the exhaust) works for us," he told Reuters as he received an award in London. "It seems it also works for McLaren.

"It's a form of flattery but it's a bit of a pain if they then beat you with it," added the Briton.

To ensure Red Bull's superiority is not challenged soon, Newey said the team is working hard to race its KERS system next weekend in Malaysia.

"We will have it from now on," he told Express, referring to the team's decision to take it off the cars in Melbourne due to a reliability problem.

"It was actually a relatively trivial problem but KERS is a complicated system, we have been trying to develop the element of it that has been giving us a bit of trouble ourselves and we're not experts in that field," explained Newey.

(GMM)

 

'Far ahead' Red Bull Hard To Catch: Rosberg

Red Bull is "far ahead" and it will be very difficult for rivals including Mercedes to catch up.

That is the claim of Nico Rosberg, who after a promising winter campaign for Mercedes struggled for pace in the new silver W02 in Australia.

"We have to say that Sebastian (Vettel) and Red Bull are far ahead of everyone," he told Sport Bild.

"In the chasing field, we want to play a serious role and improve on our fourth place of last year."

The German marque's motor sport director Norbert Haug also admitted that catching up with Red Bull "will be difficult".

Also doubting Mercedes' ability to catch up by deploying aggressive car development is Helmut Marko, Red Bull's motor racing consultant.

"Very few teams can take a car and make it much more competitive -- besides us, only Ferrari and McLaren (can)," the Austrian told Sportwoche.

The first task for Mercedes will be to sort out the obvious problems seen in Melbourne, such as the malfunctioning KERS system.

"It was strange that it worked for McLaren but not for us," said Haug.

(GMM)

 

Hamilton 'A Topic' For Red Bull In 2012: Marko

Helmut Marko is not ruling out making a move for Lewis Hamilton, perhaps as imminently as in time for the 2012 season.

After a recent round of speculation, during which Red Bull team boss Christian Horner described Hamilton as a "great driver", the 2008 world champion insisted he is committed to McLaren.

But Hamilton also said in Australia: "Of course, I'm going to be in Formula One for some time, and you never know which way the wind will take you."

At Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel's future is firmly secure, but his current teammate Mark Webber - who had a dire start to the 2011 season in Melbourne - is signed up only to the end of the year.

"First we have to see how the season goes for Mark and what he decides," Red Bull's F1 consultant Marko told Sport Bild.

"Definitely with his aggression and his speed, Hamilton must always be a topic," the Austrian added.

"Our philosophy is to have the quickest drivers together in our team."

F1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone said he would be happy to see Vettel and Hamilton together at Red Bull.

"Both of them are a gift for Formula One, even more if they were in the same team," he said.

(GMM)

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