Mike Stevens | Mar 5, 2012
  • Lotus back on the pace after chassis problem
  • Williams leaves board of own F1 team
  • Webber backs Hamilton to bounce back
  • Brawn admits Mercedes 'slower than Red Bull'
  • Barrichello confirms Indycar move for 2012
 

Lotus back on the pace after chassis problem

Lotus has overcome a serious chassis flaw to lead the field as the final pre-season test began at Barcelona.

The former Renault team had to sit out last week's running at the Circuit de Catalunya as designers grappled to fix a problem with the front suspension mounting.

"The mounting of the suspension is now the strongest part of the car," an unnamed team member is quoted by SID news agency.

At the end of his return to action on Thursday, Romain Grosjean was quoted by France's Auto Plus: "It (the E20) feels the same, there's not much difference really."

Indeed, the revised car is 1 kilogram heavier, but the biggest issue is the four lost days of testing, which after an FIA clarification cannot now be made up.

"To miss four days is not ideal as suddenly we have to try to work twice as hard to catch up," continued Grosjean.

"It's true that it's not great, but it's not as problematic as it might have been."

He is referring to the fact that, so far, the Lotus appears intrinsically fast.

Asked if the E20 felt as good around Barcelona's demanding layout as it had at Jerez last month, the reigning GP champion enthused: "Yes, exactly the same.

"You can trust the car, push it, play with it.

"You can attack, and if you attack too much, you know what will happen -- if you have understeer, you know that by attacking less, you'll have less understeer.

"On this aspect, the car is very good."

1982 world champion Keke Rosberg told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 that while the Lotus looks as good in Barcelona as it had at Jerez, it is still not clear if it will be able to compete against F1's regular top teams.

Auto Motor und Sport quotes Grosjean as saying: "I think there are a couple of teams ahead of us -- Red Bull and McLaren look very strong.

"Behind them, it's a lot closer than it was before."

However, amid F1's now extremely limited track testing regime, there is no ignoring the four lost days of running.

Asked if he is ready for 2012, Grosjean said according to Finland's Turun Sanomat: "I have to be.

"Of course, the more time you have with your car, the better you feel. However, it is what it is.

"We have this four days prior to Melbourne and that's better than nothing," he added.

* Caterham had to replace Heikki Kovalainen with his teammate Vitaly Petrov on Thursday, as the Finn recovered at his nearby hotel with food poisoning.

(GMM)

 

Williams leaves board of own F1 team

Sir Frank Williams has stepped down from the board of his own formula one team.

Earlier this week, the Grove based team's 69-year-old founder, major shareholder and team principal named chairman Adam Parr as his future successor.

"If for whatever reason I couldn't come in to do my job, Adam would fill the gap," he told the British magazine F1 Racing.

On Friday, a team statement read: "Sir Frank Williams, founder and team principal, announced his decision to step down from the board."

He explained: "I turn 70 in April and I have decided to signal the next stage in the gradual but inevitable process of handing over the reins to the next generation.

"This is not as dramatic a move as it may appear: I shall continue to work full-time as team principal and I shall continue to attend all board meetings as observer," added Williams.

He will also have a Williams family member on the board, as his daughter Claire steps up to be director of marketing and communications.

Frank Williams said: "I am proud to say that she has fought hard to earn this appointment and of all the battles she has had to fight, the prejudices of her father were not the least challenging."

Late last year, the team's co-founder Patrick Head also stepped down.

(GMM)

 

Webber backs Hamilton to bounce back

Mark Webber has backed his rival Lewis Hamilton to bounce back in 2012.

McLaren's 2008 world champion had a tumultuous season on and off the circuit last year, but has returned having reunited with his girlfriend and with extra support in the form of Mika Hakkinen's former manager Didier Coton.

"It's normal for a sportsman or woman to go through some headwinds in their career -- particularly someone like him who had so much success so early, and he's black, and he's got interest, and he's got a girlfriend of profile," Red Bull driver Webber is quoted by the Sun newspaper.

"Let's hope he's strong but not too strong. As a competitor you hope he can realise his potential but clearly we still want to beat him," added the plain-talking Australian.

Despite winning the season ending Brazilian grand prix last year, Webber also had a less than ideal 2011 as his teammate Sebastian Vettel utterly dominated.

The 35-year-old, however, has lost a couple of kilos over the winter and insists he is ready for 2012.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone backs Webber to succeed.

"I think Mark will be the guy who will threaten him (Vettel) if anybody," the 81-year-old told The Australian newspaper.

"The last time I spoke to him about it, he was really motivated."

(GMM)

 

Brawn admits Mercedes 'slower than Red Bull'

Ross Brawn has admitted Mercedes' new 2012 car is not ready to take on the best teams in formula one.

"We are slower than Red Bull; we need to find more speed," the Briton plainly told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Other team figures for the German marque's Brackley outfit this week said the target for 2012 is third place, with the title not a realistic goal until 2014.

"On the positive side, our car is reliable and it's a step forward, but we are still not where we want to be," added Brawn.

He confirmed that the goal for 2012 is to finish behind the top title challengers.

"Third place, one better than last year," said Brawn. "Anything better than that, of course, is welcome."

He said Mercedes has been aggressive with the design of the W03, "But we have not reinvented the racing car".

"Red Bull has the advantage of building on a very good foundation."

(GMM)

 

Barrichello confirms Indycar move for 2012

Rubens Barrichello has finally confirmed reports he will race in America's premier open wheeler Indycar series in 2012.

After 19 consecutive seasons in formula one, the 39-year-old Brazilian makes the switch with the backing of the sponsor BMC Brasil Maquinas.

AP news agency said Barrichello, a winner of 11 grands prix with Ferrari and Brawn, has signed a one-year contract with the KV team.

"I'm loving the idea I'm going to be a rookie," he said. "That makes me young, and I'm loving that," he said.

Barrichello, meanwhile, explained the apparent contradiction of heading into the Indy 500 and other similar events this year having earlier promised his wife he would never race at high speed on dangerous ovals.

"What happened is we were watching an oval race and there was a crash and she looked at me and said 'You are never going to do that, right?'

"And I told her at the time, 'Of course not, don't worry'."

He said he ultimately won Silvana's backing, having initially considered skipping the five oval races.

But "I wouldn't feel comfortable sitting at home and watching someone else driving my car," explained Barrichello.

(GMM)

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