Mike Stevens | Jan 18, 2012
  • Williams confirms Senna for 2012
  • Button to debut 2012 McLaren
  • Petrov in talks for Caterham third driver role
  • No Jerez debut for 2012 Marussia car
  • Long Williams stint 'not ideal' admits Rosberg
  • Modern F1 contracts worthless says Liuzzi
  • 1996 champion Hill to be TV pundit
 

Williams confirms Senna for 2012

Williams has announced Bruno Senna as Pastor Maldonado's race teammate for the 2012 season.

"That's right, I will not be driving the Williams this year," veteran Rubens Barrichello, who had hoped to contest a 20th consecutive season, told his masses of Twitter followers in Portuguese.

"I wish my friend Bruno the best of luck."

Senna, whose uncle Ayrton died at the wheel of a Renault-powered Williams in 1994, will make his track debut with the famous British team at Jerez on 9 February.

It is believed the 28-year-old is bringing millions in sponsorship to the team.

"I want to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today," he said.

"Knowing people have chosen me to bear their name gives me even more motivation to create good memories for them."

(GMM)

 

Button to debut 2012 McLaren

Jenson Button will give McLaren's 2012 car, the MP4-27, its official track debut at Jerez on 7 February, the British team has announced.

On the same day as the winter pre-season kicks into gear, it is believed Felipe Massa and Mark Webber are also scheduled to be debuting the new cars of McLaren's likely championship challengers, Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

McLaren said 2009 world champion Button, runner-up behind Sebastian Vettel for last year's title, will also drive on the second of the four-day test, before Lewis Hamilton takes over.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso thinks Jerez and the subsequent winter tests - and even the season opener in Australia in mid March - will be too early to gauge the likely pecking order in 2012.

"Many regard the tests as they do the races, but it will not mean much. We will have to wait until the races in Malaysia or China to really know whose car is good or not," Alonso is quoted in the Spanish media.

His Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali broadly agrees.

"It's too early," the Italian is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "We will not see the true potential of the cars for the first time until Saturday in Melbourne, not before.

"During the tests we - like all the other teams - will be trying not to show everything about the speed of our car," Domenicali said

(GMM)

 

Petrov in talks for Caterham third driver role

Vitaly Petrov is in talks about becoming Caterham's third and reserve driver in 2012.

Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that the Russian's manager, Oksana Kosachenko, visited the former Team Lotus outfit's Hingham (UK) headquarters last week.

27-year-old Petrov has been dropped by Renault (now Lotus) after his first two seasons in the sport.

It has been rumoured that the race seat alongside Heikki Kovalainen at Caterham might be up for grabs for 2012, but Turun Sanomat said it is now likely that Jarno Trulli's contract will be honoured.

The report said Petrov would be the third driver in 2012 before coming into consideration for a race seat next season.

Caterham's third driver in 2011 was Indian Karun Chandhok, who is now looking for a similar role elsewhere to split his time between F1 and the FIA's new world endurance sports car championship this year.

(GMM)

 

No Jerez debut for 2012 Marussia car

Marussia's 2012 car will not debut at the opening test of the official pre-season early next month.

It was rumoured on Monday that technical consultant Pat Symonds had said at the weekend that the former Virgin team's new single seater will appear only at the second February test, at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

The news has now been reported by France's L'Equipe.

Mercedes GP will also wait until Barcelona to debut its new car, the W03.

"We believe that the decision to run the car at the second winter test is the optimum compromise for our design and development programme," team boss Ross Brawn said last month.

(GMM)

 

Long Williams stint 'not ideal' admits Rosberg

Nico Rosberg has admitted his four-year tenure at Williams was "not ideal".

At the age of 20, the German made his F1 debut with the famous British team in 2006, leaving only for Mercedes GP four full seasons later.

This year, he will spend a third consecutive season as the great Michael Schumacher's highly respected teammate, while still looking to add a single race victory to his tally of now more than 100 grand prix starts.

With 20 fewer races than Rosberg on the odometer is his countryman Sebastian Vettel, who is today a back-to-back world champion and winner of 21 grands prix and 30 poles.

Does that annoy Rosberg?

"I have no regrets," he said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport. "I am completely convinced it was right to go to Mercedes and to stay here."

But the German magazine's interviewer reminded Rosberg, whose father Keke won 5 races and a title within his career-span of 114 starts, that at the end of 2007 McLaren expressed interest in teaming him alongside Lewis Hamilton.

"There was the interest, but Frank (Williams) would not let me go," revealed Rosberg.

"Certainly being four years at Williams was not ideal - it could have been a bit shorter. But particularly the last season there was a springboard for me.

"Since then I have been always seventh in the standings and made some others aware of me."

(GMM)

 

Modern F1 contracts worthless says Liuzzi

Stung twice in as many years, Vitantonio Liuzzi has admitted that today's F1 contracts are effectively worthless.

At the end of 2010, the 30-year-old Italian was ousted by Force India with a season to run on his contract.

And now, Liuzzi looks likely to depart HRT, despite the former Red Bull and Toro Rosso driver insisting he has a full two years to run on his current deal.

"At the moment everything is very vague," he told the Italian website 422race.com.

"The main problem is that the team have no budget, so they are evaluating the way to get the money to have two drivers.

"For sure they would like to keep both me and Pedro (de la Rosa), but we are still in standby," added Liuzzi.

He acknowledged that while he is "fully" involved in HRT's 2012 plans right now, the situation could change at "any minute".

"Currently the deals (in F1) are worth very little, because a young driver with money can always come and buy the seat," said Liuzzi. "That's how it works."

A last-minute backup plan for the Italian could be a third driver role at another team, but it is also believed he might be eyeing a role in a series outside F1 - perhaps sports cars.

"We are evaluating," he admitted, "because it's a decision to make.

"For sure when the situation changes at the last minute it isn't easy to find places in top teams.

"I'm open to new challenges, because it has always been part of my career."

(GMM)

 

1996 champion Hill to be TV pundit

1996 world champion Damon Hill will return to the F1 paddock in 2012 as an expert television commentator.

The 51-year-old has signed up with Sky as part of the broadcaster's new split British broadcasting deal with the BBC.

Hill will appear on-screen as a pre and post-race expert at ten of the 20 Grands Prix, including the season opener in Melbourne.

"It's a few years since I stopped driving but I've never stopped looking at F1 and never lost interest. It's a sport that I love," he said.

(GMM)

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