Mike Stevens | Jan 17, 2012
  • Di Resta, Ricciardo, face 2012 with eyes on future
  • New Ferrari, Sauber, pass FIA crash tests
  • Mercedes also working on Lotus braking idea
  • Magny Cours pushing to be France GP venue
  • Sutil to Lotus rumours 'a joke' scoffs Lux
  • Alternating races 'good' idea for Spain - Ecclestone
  • Ferrari not ruling out future for Newey
 

Ricciardo, Di Resta, face 2012 with eyes on future

At least two F1 drivers have admitted to looking ahead to the 2012 season with a firm eye on the future.

Paul di Resta made his GP debut last year as the reigning DTM champion, having driven for Mercedes in the premier German touring car series.

He has been retained by Mercedes-powered Force India for 2012 but admitted he would snap up the chance to drive for the German carmaker's works team.

"I'd love to drive for them," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

"I've got great friends and great support at Mercedes-Benz. I've been part of their programme for six years and I'm still very close to them now.

"I never say never," added di Resta, 25.

"Right now I am a Force India driver so the focus is there. But in the future I want to be winning races and I'll make my decisions based on that."

Meanwhile, as he moves from HRT to Red Bull's rookie team Toro Rosso for 2012, Australian Daniel Ricciardo said he regards himself as an outside chance to replace his countryman Mark Webber for the 2013 season.

"It's a long time away and many things can happen between now and then, that's the reality," he told F1's official website.

"I understand very well the philosophy of Red Bull and, yes, one day I would love to race for Red Bull Racing, but that's all it is for now - just a bit of a goal."

(GMM)

 

New Ferrari, Sauber, pass FIA crash tests

Ferrari's 2012 car has now passed the mandatory FIA crash tests at the second attempt, according to multiple sources.

It emerged last week that the new car, codenamed 663, was due to undergo the tests at the CSI technical facility in Bollate, near Milan, last week after they were initially failed.

Sources said the monocoque, reportedly "much lighter" than its 2011 predecessor, had been reinforced with additional carbon sheets for the subsequent side-impact test.

Spanish reports including in the sports newspapers AS and Marca, citing Italian sources, said the second tests were passed.

The reinforcements made to the car will have an "almost negligible" affect on laptimes, the sources said.

Given the tweaked regulations for 2012, the news clears the way for the new Ferrari to make its official track debut early next month.

Marca newspaper said there are unconfirmed rumours the 2012 Ferrari features a "revolutionary" design with a "dolphin nose".

It will reportedly be driven on the opening day of the official Jerez test by Felipe Massa, before Fernando Alonso takes over for days three and four.

Ferrari's drivers will also equally share track time at the subsequent Barcelona test, added Marca.

It has also emerged that Sauber's similarly Ferrari-powered 2012 car, the C31, has passed its final FIA crash test for the rear structure.

The car will be unveiled at Jerez on the eve of the opening test.

And it is reported in the French press that Marussia's technical consultant Pat Symonds has said the former Virgin team's 2012 car will not be ready for the opening test of the pre-season at Jerez.

(GMM)

 

Mercedes also working on Lotus braking idea

Mercedes is the third team reportedly working on a copy of Lotus' innovative 'braking ride-height correction' system ahead of the 2012 system.

Shortly after news broke that the former Renault team had devised a passive and therefore legal system to stabilise a car's ride height under braking, reports emerged that Ferrari was "working on a similar system".

The BBC said last week that it believed the Italian giant was "the only other team to have contacted the FIA" about the concept.

But Italian reports, including on the Italiaracing website and the daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, claim Mercedes GP is also working to "quickly copy" the Lotus idea.

Mercedes does not intend to take its new car, the W03, to the first official test at Jerez early next month, instead opting for additional factory time ahead of the second session at Barcelona.

It is also rumoured that Red Bull experimented with a Lotus-style braking system back in 2010 but abandoned it.

(GMM)

 

Magny Cours pushing to be France GP venue

"The race is on" to be the venue of France's return to the F1 calendar.

That is the claim of French public television France 3, in the wake of reports suggesting the Paul Ricard circuit is poised to host the race in 2013.

But Magny Cours, the scene of the French grand prix for close to two decades until 2008, may also be in the running.

Le Journal du Centre quoted Patrice Joly, president of the conseil general of the Nievre department, as saying a theme park proposed for Magny Cours could raise enough money and develop the surrounding area in order to bring the grand prix back to the track.

Joly said the project, to cost EUR 50 million, would be completed by the summer.

Whether Paul Ricard or Magny Cours, Piero Ferrari - the only living son of the great Maranello marque's founder Enzo Ferrari - hopes France will return to the calendar soon.

"We must protect its (F1's) historic birthplace with certain Grands Prix such as the one in France or the races at Silverstone, Spa and Monza, where we always witness some fantastic racing," he said.

(GMM)

 

Sutil to Lotus rumours 'a joke' scoffs Lux

Eric Lux scoffed when asked if Adrian Sutil was ever really a contender to race for the Lotus team in 2012.

German Sutil has lost his Force India race seat after five seasons and is hoping he can rescue his embattled career by switching to Williams.

Earlier, however, the 29-year-old was linked with Lotus, the former Renault team now owned by Genii, the investment firm headed by Luxembourgian Lux.

Lux claims he was attacked by Sutil in a Shanghai nightclub last April, in an incident that will go to trial in Germany later this month.

"I realised in the elevator what had just happened and I thought to myself 'now you have three minutes to live'," Lux is quoted by the FAZ newspaper.

Sutil reportedly claims he was trying only to tip his drink over Lux's head after a verbal quarrel.

As for whether the driver was ever in the running to race for Lotus in 2012, Lux scoffed: "That would be a joke, right?

"At least he has now apologised to me," he added.

The Sutil camp argues Lux's injury was "completely unintentional", amid reports the German's friend Lewis Hamilton could be called to testify.

"I think there is enough evidence and witnesses for the court to take the view that Adrian did not attack someone," said manager Manfred Zimmermann.

In the meantime, Sutil's F1 career is in serious peril, although Zimmermann insists: "The trial will have no influence on Adrian's future.

"We expect the truth to come out during the hearing and, for us, it is important the incident is then concluded," he is quoted by DPA news agency.

(GMM)

 

Alternating races 'good' idea for Spain - Ecclestone

An annually alternating race date would be a "good" solution to Spain's F1 crisis.

That is the claim of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, amid reports both Valencia and Barcelona could drop their grands prix amid Europe's fragile economic situation.

Ecclestone said last year an alternating scheme was possible for Spain's two annual races, but Valencia reportedly turned down the opportunity when it was suggested by Barcelona race chiefs.

However, Catalonia government officials sounded open to the idea as recently as last week.

"What's been talked about more is that Barcelona would like to alternate with them (Valencia)," Ecclestone told the Financial Times.

"Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it's the way to go."

Spain's EFE news agency quotes Jose Ciscar, vice president of the Generalitat Valenciana, as saying the government is open "to any solution" after vowing to analyse the affordability of major events.

He admitted alternating with Barcelona could be "less burdensome" for Valencia.

(GMM)

 

Ferrari not ruling out future for Newey

Stefano Domenicali has hinted Adrian Newey might be targeted for a role at Ferrari - but the marque's president Luca di Montezemolo sounds less keen.

Ferrari team boss Domenicali was asked if Red Bull's highly respected designer Newey, whose cars have won the last two world championships, was on the Italian giant's shortlist.

"I think that Adrian Newey showed his capability in a fantastic way in the last couple of years," Domenicali agreed to Sky Sports News.

"But what he would like to do in the future, well we will see."

President Montezemolo, on the other hand, admits to being stung more than a decade ago when Ferrari showed interest in Newey, who at the time ultimately switched from Williams to McLaren.

"I have confidence in our technical staff," Montezemolo is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, "and furthermore the meeting I had with him (Newey) in 1997 was not exactly positive.

"The idea that his wife had of Italy was that of some kind of a third world country. But if he were available again and changed his ideas about our country then why not?" he added.

As for the man in Newey's driving seat - back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel - Domenicali thinks Fernando Alonso is ultimately a better driver.

But when asked about the young German, he added: "Never say never.

"Last season, with the pole positions and the number of victories that he achieved - in comparison, if you look at his achievements with the others ... so we will see," said Domenicali of Vettel.

(GMM)

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