Mike Stevens | Feb 23, 2012
  • Expert thinks Lotus playing down chassis crisis
  • Mercedes eyes new two-year deal for Schumacher
  • Mercedes wing innovation called 'W-duct'
  • Renault engine better than Cosworth - Bottas
  • Toro Rosso's driver shakeup too late - Keke Rosberg
  • Trulli reveals Ferrari offer
 

Expert thinks Lotus playing down chassis crisis

Lotus is grappling with a major problem less than one month before the start of the 2012 season.

The former Renault team has sensationally abandoned this week's Barcelona test and returned to its Enstone headquarters, after an unspecified chassis fault was detected on the new E20 car on Tuesday.

"We'll put the right measures in place and we will be able to fix the problem before next week," said technical director James Allison.

But Gary Anderson, formerly the designer of Jordan and Jaguar cars, believes Lotus is playing down the problem.

"You would have thought they could have fixed it overnight -- chassis are made of carbon fibre composite so you'd be looking to bond new strengthening parts on," he told the BBC.

"In my experience, if you can't do it in 24 hours, I don't think you can do it at all. I wouldn't be surprised if this meant they needed a new chassis, which would make it touch and go for the first race."

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport thinks Lotus did not experience the fundamental problem at Jerez last week because the Circuit de Catalunya is a much more demanding circuit.

Meanwhile, Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel was Tuesday's fastest as the second of three group tests began, but he admitted Lewis Hamilton - in the new McLaren - was also impressive.

"Ferrari is a bit of a secret at this stage and nobody knows whether they are really good or really bad," admitted the German.

(GMM)

 

Mercedes eyes new two-year deal for Schumacher

Mercedes is eyeing a new two-year contract extension for Michael Schumacher, according to the major German newspaper Bild.

The seven time world champion, having returned to F1 with the famous German marque in 2010, has not decided whether or not to continue his comeback beyond this season.

"Bild knows that Mercedes wants to keep him," said the newspaper, after the Brackley based team's new W03 car was launched in Barcelona.

The report said Mercedes has decided to offer Schumacher, 43, a new two-year deal through 2014.

"Before we talk to any other candidate, our first contact will definitely be Michael," confirmed team boss Ross Brawn.

Schumacher commented: "I'll decide when the time is right."

(GMM)

 

Mercedes wing innovation called 'W-duct'

Paddock insiders already have a name for Mercedes' new front wing innovation -- 'W-duct'.

We have reported that the German marque has already tested the F-duct style concept at the front of its newly-launched W03 car.

The Finnish broadcaster MTV3, describing the system as 'W-duct', has provided some detail as to how it works.

When the car is being driven in a straight line, air flows into the tip of the silver car's nose and is dispersed in a W-like pattern across the length of the front wing.

But when the car is cornering, the air flows more predominantly to one side or the other, improving the balance and handling.

Unlike the driver-operated rear wing F-duct, which was banned for 2011, Mercedes' system is entirely passive and requires no moving parts, and is therefore legal.

Meanwhile, team boss Ross Brawn on Tuesday defended Mercedes' strategy of employing numerous technical bosses, including Aldo Costa, Bob Bell and Geoff Willis.

"How it works is a mystery to me," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told Die Welt newspaper, "but Mercedes must know what they're doing."

(GMM)

 

Renault engine better than Cosworth - Bottas

Valtteri Bottas has given some insight into Williams' decision to switch to Renault power for this year.

For the past two years, the famous British team has been independent UK marque Cosworth's highest profile customer.

But for 2012 the Grove based team has switched to Renault, the maker of world champion Red Bull's engines, as well as fellow customers Lotus and Caterham.

"The Renault engine is more powerful," revealed Williams' test driver Bottas.

"It is also smaller in size, which is good for the aerodynamics, and has a lower fuel consumption," he told the MTV3 broadcaster.

The 22-year-old Finn, who is managed by Williams co-owner Toto Wolff, will drive the FW34 on Wednesday at the Barcelona test.

He will also contest 15 of this season's Friday morning practice sessions.

"This season will definitely be better than the last," said Bottas, "when it was Williams' poorest in history."

Cosworth still supplies the struggling Marussia and HRT teams.

(GMM)

 

Toro Rosso's driver shakeup too late - Keke Rosberg

Jaime Alguersuari has told his fans he "will return" to formula one despite not having a seat on the 2012 grid.

Along with Sebastien Buemi, who moved to Red Bull's reserve role, Spaniard Alguersuari was dumped by the energy drink company's rookie team Toro Rosso.

A Barcelona native, the 21-year-old's fans showed their support by displaying banners as the Circuit de Catalunya test began on Tuesday.

"I did nothing wrong, but I wasn't killed either," Alguersuari told the Italian magazine Autosprint. "I'm only 21 and I did my best with the equipment I had."

One of the men who replaced Alguersuari, Daniel Ricciardo, backed Red Bull's decision to make a clean-sweep of the Toro Rosso lineup for 2012.

"The only reason they kick you out is if you are not performing. And then you probably don't deserve to be world champion," the Australian is quoted by The Sun newspaper.

"That's just the business we're in."

But Keke Rosberg, the 1982 world champion and Mercedes driver Nico's father, criticised Red Bull for not giving Alguersuari a fair chance.

"They (Alguersuari and Buemi) had been there for three years and they (Red Bull) didn't think they would go all the way to the top, so I understand if Red Bull wants to do something else.

"What I don't understand is why the decision was made so late, when there was not anything else available for them.

"If someone says in June that they no longer need your services the following year, that's fair. Then you have the time to find a new job.

"Buemi would probably have found something, if he'd have had more time," added Rosberg.

(GMM)

 

Trulli reveals Ferrari offer

Jarno Trulli has revealed he was offered a seat at Ferrari some years ago.

After fifteen consecutive seasons in formula one, the 37-year-old Italian has lost his Caterham race seat to the well-backed Russian Vitaly Petrov.

2004 Monaco grand prix winner Trulli, 37, drove since 1997 for Minardi, Prost, Jordan, Renault and Caterham's former guise Lotus.

Writing in his New York Times blog, correspondent Brad Spurgeon said Trulli was made the Ferrari offer while he was racing for Toyota between 2005 and 2009.

Trulli reportedly told Italy's Autosprint magazine that Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali's predecessor, the now FIA president Jean Todt, made him the offer.

"Nobody knows this, but at this point I think I can publicly thank Jean Todt for having been one of the few top team managers to consider me during my career," he said.

"I won't tell you when exactly -- I was racing for Toyota and I was doing very well. But I had signed a rather long contract with the Japanese, and in my career I've always honoured my commitments.

"In 15 years of F1 I've never needed lawyers," added Trulli.

Trulli left Renault for Toyota at the end of the 2004 season, driving for the carmaker until it pulled out of formula one at the end of 2009.

Rubens Barrichello left Ferrari at the end of 2005, replaced by Felipe Massa. Michael Schumacher retired a year later, replaced by Kimi Raikkonen.

At Ferrari, Frenchman Todt handed over to Domenicali at the end of 2007.

(GMM)

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