- Caterham dumps Trulli for Petrov
- Gascoyne to attend 'most' races in new Caterham role
- Salo 'surprised' Ferrari kept Massa for 2012
- 'Difficult moment' leaves F1 without an Italian
- Whitmarsh sure nose concept not McLaren mistake
Caterham dumps Trulli for Petrov
Caterham on Friday finally confirmed speculation that Vitaly Petrov will replace Jarno Trulli in 2012.
It has been rumoured Petrov, the Russian driver ousted by Lotus (formerly Renault) after two seasons, was waiting on his sponsors to decide whether or not to pay out veteran Trulli's contract.
37-year-old Italian Trulli, permanently in F1 since 1997 and the 2004 Monaco grand prix winner, said mere days ago that he expected to race this season.
He tested Caterham's 2012 car at Jerez last week.
"It was not an easy decision to bring Vitaly in to replace Jarno, but it was one we made to ensure that we give fresh impetus across the whole team and with a realistic eye on the global economic market," said team boss Tony Fernandes.
The Malaysian businessman said an "agreement" was reached with Trulli to end his contract, "but he will always be part of our family".
"I understand the decision the team has made and I want to wish to the whole team the very best of luck for the season ahead," said the former Minardi, Prost, Jordan, Renault and Toyota driver.
Petrov, 27, had a seat fitting at Caterham's Hingham factory on Friday and will test the car in Barcelona next week.
Gascoyne to attend 'most' races in new Caterham role
Mike Gascoyne has handed over day-to-day control of the Caterham team's technical operations.
The former Lotus outfit announced that Briton Gascoyne - a founding member of the Tony Fernandes-led team and a long-term prominent figure in the paddock - has become chief technical officer of the whole Caterham Group.
That group now involves a GP2 team as well as the niche Caterham road car company, which was acquired by Malaysian millionaire Fernandes last year to solve the Lotus naming dispute.
The news means Mark Smith will "lead the F1 team's technical division day to day and will increase his presence at races", a media statement read.
Caterham said Gascoyne, formerly with Renault and Toyota, "will continue to attend races", "adding his wealth of experience and knowledge to the team when it is required."
Gascoyne clarified on Twitter that he will be at "most" Grands Prix.
"Mark Smith is exactly the right person to step up to the broader role he will now be taking on in the F1 team," the statement quoted him as saying.
Salo 'surprised' Ferrari kept Massa for 2012
Former Ferrari driver Mika Salo has admitted he was "surprised" his former team opted to honour Felipe Massa's contract for 2012.
The Finn, who raced at the famous Maranello team for a time in 1999 after Michael Schumacher broke his leg, said Fernando Alonso is the "clear number one" nowadays.
"I don't think Massa will be staying after this season," former Sauber and Toyota driver Salo, who attended last week's Jerez test, told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.
"I was surprised that he was allowed to continue this year."
Salo, 45, said there is a similar pecking-order at Red Bull, where Sebastian Vettel last year utterly dominated his teammate Mark Webber.
He also commented on McLaren's duo, comprising two world champions.
"If McLaren has a good car then the drivers will be taking points off one another - that's not something that will happen in the other teams.
"On the track, (Lewis) Hamilton is the fastest but not quite as smart as (Jenson) Button in the races."
Salo sees less of a close battle at Lotus this year, where his countryman Kimi Raikkonen is returning to F1 alongside GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.
"Kimi should be much faster than Grosjean," he said, "who is only there because (Eric) Boullier is his manager."
As for Williams' line-up of Pastor Maldonado alongside Bruno Senna, Salo said: "I think this is one of the worst pairings. Both are susceptible to mistakes.
"Senna had few good races last year but faded badly by the end.
"Maldonado is a bit of a hothead, so I don't see it being a good year for them.
"For (test driver) Valtteri Bottas there could be a good opportunity to get a race."
'Difficult moment' leaves F1 without an Italian
Rubens Barrichello on Saturday said it is "sad" another established F1 veteran, Jarno Trulli, has lost his race seat.
After 19 consecutive seasons, Barrichello is poised to switch to Indycar in 2012, while Trulli - who made his debut in 1997 and is a Monaco grand prix winner - has lost his seat to Vitaly Petrov.
"Money is dominating everything," said Barrichello, with Caterham even admitting that the "global economic market" influenced the decision to replace Trulli with the well-backed Russian.
And with F1 now not boasting an Italian driver for the first time since the end of the 60s, Trulli lamented that no one is poised to succeed him.
"During a crisis as we have in our country, I can't see how a youngster can find the help needed to be considered by any team," he told the Ansa news agency.
"I knew of the difficult economic situation that would force the (Caterham) team to look for a driver with adequate backing," added the 37-year-old.
Also lamenting the new dearth of Italian drivers, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali admitted: "It's a difficult moment for our sport, partly for external reasons."
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said former Lotus driver Petrov is bringing a "double digit" sum in the millions to Caterham for Trulli's 2012 seat.
Whitmarsh sure nose concept not McLaren mistake
Martin Whitmarsh has played down fears McLaren has made a crucial mistake by overlooking the 'step nose' trend that will dominate the 2012 grid.
With the new Mercedes having now broken cover, and Pedro de la Rosa revealing that HRT's 2012 car also has a step nose, famous British team McLaren is all alone in keeping a smooth aerodynamic line from the end of the monocoque to the tip of the nose.
Every other team has decided that the best solution to the new rules forcing a lower nose is to plough ahead with having as high a chassis as possible, in order to maximise the flow of air underneath the car.
"I've asked our technical guys if they are sure that we have done the right thing and they have told me not to worry," team boss Whitmarsh is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
He admitted there is an obvious aerodynamic benefit to the 'step nose' solution.
"But we have a lower centre of gravity, more freedom in the suspension geometry, and a more comfortable seating position and a better view for the driver," added Whitmarsh.
The main reason for McLaren's decision is that, having already gone a different route to Red Bull at the front of the car last year, a 'step' nose would have required a wholesale design philosophy change.
"This car is an evolution," confirmed Whitmarsh.
"In terms of radical innovations that are visibly obvious, I'll have to disappoint - these rules just don't leave that sort of room any more."