Mike Stevens | Jul 4, 2011
 

HRT hopes Ricciardo deal with Red Bull 'just the start'

Daniel Ricciardo's F1 race debut is due to a "collaboration deal" with Red Bull Racing, the Spanish team HRT has revealed.

The Australian rookie, 22 on Friday, will switch from being Toro Rosso's Friday driver (Red Bull's junior team) to a full race cockpit with HRT at Silverstone next weekend.

It was believed that a Toro Rosso driver would be moved aside this mid-season for Ricciardo's debut, but both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi have impressed sufficiently to stay with the Faenza based team for now.

Hispania (HRT) is therefore Red Bull's plan B.

"This agreement is a reward for all the hard work Hispania has shown since we started in Formula One," said team owner Jose Ramon Carabante.

"We're proud that the Formula One world champion team has trusted us in their effort of developing their drivers. Let's hope that this is just the start of a fruitful relationship."

It is believed that Narain Karthikeyan will sit out Silverstone, but HRT is yet to formally announce Ricciardo's teammate for the British Grand Prix.

Indeed, the Spanish team said both Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi remain "official drivers" for 2011, with sources telling the media that Karthikeyan will be in the cockpit for the inaugural Indian grand prix in October.

Red Bull, meanwhile, confirmed that Ricciardo will split his new F1 racing duties with his season in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

But he will not be able to continue driving for Toro Rosso on Fridays, causing French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet to speculate that Red Bull's next up-and-coming youngster Jean-Eric Vergne will take over that role.

(GMM)

 

Webber Moving Closer Top Vettel's Pace: Horner

Mark Webber took a big step towards closing the gap with his teammate Sebastian Vettel at Valencia last weekend.

That is the view of Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who in the past days has admitted it is "very, very likely" Australian Webber, 34, will be offered a new contract for the 2012 season.

The reigning champions have reportedly toyed with the idea of signing Lewis Hamilton or perhaps Nico Rosberg but have instead decided to stick with Webber for at least another year.

Webber has struggled to match runaway championship leader Vettel's pace in the dominant RB7 so far this season but at Valencia qualified on the front row and was only narrowly beaten to second place by Fernando Alonso.

"I think it was the closest I have been (to Vettel) for a while," Webber said. "I think it's getting better."

Webber has admitted to struggling to adjust following the departure of long-time tyre supplier Bridgestone.

"It was the best race of the season from Mark in terms of the performance from the tyres," Horner, referring to

Webber's podium at Valencia, is quoted by France's L'Equipe.

"He has never been this close to Seb (in 2011) and he controlled it well. I hope he will stay on his (Vettel's) heels because it's no secret that he has had problems with the tyres this year.

"Now he understands them better," revealed Horner. "Just look at the difference in this race; for 90 percent he was 4-5 seconds from Seb. I hope this result gives him great confidence for the future."

Webber won last year's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, famously scowling on the radio afterwards that it was "Not bad for a no.2 driver".

"The characteristics of the (Silverstone) circuit have suited us well in past seasons. The test will remain if it's the same this time around," he said on Thursday, no doubt referring to the FIA's blown exhaust clampdown.

(GMM)

 

V6 engines will still sound like F1 - FIA

Formula One engines will still sound good in the wake of the current V8 era, the governing FIA has insisted.

The unique noise produced by powerful high-revving engines has been an issue each time the regulations substantially changed, including when V8 engines became mandatory at the abolition of the V10 era for 2006.

But the proposed switch in 2013 from V8 to 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo engines caused unprecedented angst, including from Bernie Ecclestone and the majority of his race circuit promoters, who threatened to boycott F1 if the cars sounded like "tin cans rattling".

A compromise has been reached in the form of a 1.6 litre V6 turbo engine, producing 15,000rpm rather than the 12,000 proposed for the inline-four rules, to debut in 2014.

But in a media document on Thursday, the FIA denied the rev increase for V6s was in deference to the sound debate.

"This parameter has been updated from 12,000 to 15,000rpm to allow engineers more flexibility in power and energy management," read the statement.

"However, as a consequence of the new architecture and the change in rev-limit, the engine will sound different, but will remain representative of Formula One," claims the FIA.

The governing body also insists that the V6 engines will not use more fuel than under the defunct four-cylinder plan.

"The fuel flow limit will stay the same," read the document. "The challenge will be even bigger than originally planned and will therefore enhance the technological lead of Formula One."

(GMM)

 

F1 needs two US races on east/west coasts - Whitmarsh

Formula One needs the US but Martin Whitmarsh has admitted he would have preferred a pair of races on the east and west coasts.

After Indianapolis hosted America's most recent Grand Prix in 2007, the sport will return to the USA next June to race on a bespoke circuit in the capital of Texas.

But Austin is in the United States' central south rather than on the eastern seaboard featuring New York, or the west close to Washington or California.

"America doesn't need us, but we need to conquer it," Whitmarsh, not only boss of McLaren but also the F1 teams alliance FOTA, said during a fan's forum on Thursday at the British team's Woking factory.

"Maybe we need to have two races a year and a proper marketing programme. We have to conquer America -- that's a five-year programme. We've got to be on the east coast and the west coast.

"It's a big enough market and an important enough market to have two races and we should be over there.

"I have nothing against Texas and I hope it's a very successful race, but the natural hinterland for us is the east coast and the west coast. Long Beach and around New York; those are the places where we're going to create interest in F1," added Whitmarsh.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn agrees: "That (the east and west coast) is the commercial and business side."

And Force India's deputy team principal Bob Fernley added: "The west coast and the east coast are the natural homes for F1 in America."

(GMM)

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