Mike Stevens | Mar 8, 2012
  • US GP on schedule despite latest setback
  • Red Bull 'not faultless' as 2012 season looms
  • Alguersuari ready to return to F1 grid
  • Jordan says Hamilton should stay at McLaren
  • Montezemolo alarmed as Ferrari expects to 'suffer'
  • Pirelli to use 2010 Renault as new test car
 

US GP on schedule despite latest setback

Even amid the latest speed-bump, organisers insist they are still on schedule to host Austin's inaugural US Grand Prix late this year.

Circuit of the Americas backer Bobby Epstein is being sued by race founder Tavo Hellmund, but he did not want to talk about it whilst giving the Culturemap Austin publication a tour of the construction site.

"I'm not going to do that," he said.

What he was willing to do was insist that the circuit is pretty much "on schedule" for its mid November grand prix date.

"It's not so much a question of whether the construction will be complete," said Epstein. "It's really a matter of deciding whether to add another shift of workers and get onto a 24 hour schedule.

"We'll need to do that if we get a lot of rain. If it stays dry, we'll be fine."

In an official statement, Circuit of the Americas added: "Our focus remains positive.

"We are creating the most incredible entertainment and racing venue in the world, construction is on schedule and seat licence and suite sales are very strong."

(GMM)

 

Red Bull 'not faultless' as 2012 season looms

They are the reigning back-to-back world champions and the favourites heading into 2012, but Sebastian Vettel has admitted Red Bull is not perfect.

"Yes, last year was nearly faultless", the German is quoted by the Guardian newspaper.

But he admits he made mistakes.

"Fridays have been poor," said the world champion. "I made mistakes. I crashed the car."

Dr Helmut Marko elaborated: "He threw the car away four times unnecessarily."

Vettel, 24, continued: "We got the concentration back when it mattered but on Fridays you only have a couple of hours to prepare the car - so we can improve on that.

"We had a meeting in January and went over the things that we need to do better and you would be surprised. It was a long list. There were lots of points to improve."

Even heading into the fresh 2012 season, there are already new items on that list: Marko bluntly described the final day of pre-season testing, when Vettel did a paltry 23 laps and was dead-last, as "shit".

But amid rumours the team might have to scrap its Melbourne update package for now, the Austrian insists Red Bull collected "sufficient" data from Mark Webber's work last Saturday.

"We had three very good tests, but not perfect," Vettel admitted to RMC. "Sure, there were a few pieces here and there that worked less well than expected, but overall there were not too many surprises.

"I feel good with the car, it (Sunday) was no big deal."

McLaren's Jenson Button, however - runner-up to Vettel last season - is keen to ensure Red Bull feels as much pressure as possible heading into 2012.

"In the last two years we weren't able to (apply pressure) all that often," he is quoted by the Koln Express, "but I think this year will be different.

"I want to see how they are when they are feeling that pressure," the Briton added.

(GMM)

 

Alguersuari ready to return to F1 grid

Jaime Alguersuari has ruled out following his former Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Buemi to Le Mans.

The pair were axed at the end of last season, leaving Swiss Buemi with the reserve role at Red Bull and a one-off drive in the fabled Le Mans 24 hour race.

21-year-old Alguersuari, on the other hand, will remain in the paddock this year thanks only to his new British radio co-commentary role, amid rumours he could become Pirelli's test driver.

Le Mans, he insists, is not an option.

"No, that's avoiding F1," he told the BBC. "I am working for the radio and I will do some go-kart races to help with my physical training.

"Racing elsewhere is just starting another career. It's doing something that's not F1."

It is clear Alguersuari is keeping his diary clean in the event an opportunity arises to quickly return to the grid.

"In F1 you never say never. Anything can happen," said the Spaniard.

The BBC is also acutely aware of its acquisition's real ambition.

Radio 5 Live controller Adrian van Klaveren said: "We are going to make the most of Jaime's first hand experience right now knowing he could well be driving for one of the teams again in the near future."

Meanwhile, Alguersuari slammed his former bosses' explanations as to why he and Buemi were ousted.

"I respect the situation that they don't want my work anymore, but what they've said is absolutely not acceptable," he told the Daily Mail.

"They said we are good drivers, but we are not winners. It doesn't make sense if you give me a car that is not capable to be in the top ten."

(GMM)

 

Jordan says Hamilton should stay at McLaren

Eddie Jordan has advised Lewis Hamilton to stick with McLaren.

With the 2008 world champion's current contract coming to an end this year, he said recently he would address the issue of his future "sooner rather than later".

"After the first couple of races it's something we will probably want to get out of the way," said Hamilton last month.

For the moment, however, there is speculation, after Bernie Ecclestone said he doubts the 27-year-old will stay with the Woking based team forever.

The major German daily Bild then reported that Hamilton has been earmarked as Mercedes' 'plan-B' in the event Michael Schumacher does not stay in 2013.

But Jordan, a former F1 team owner and boss, believes Hamilton should stay put.

"Given their (McLaren's) resources and level of investment, can you tell me that Lewis would be better off in another team?" he said on Tuesday at a BBC event.

Jordan believes, however, that the famous British team can do a better job of handling Hamilton.

"I think - and this is in some way a criticism - that they will have learned from their mistakes last season," he said.

One remedy is the placement by Hamilton's management of Mika Hakkinen's former manager Didier Coton, and another is the driver's move from secluded Geneva to bustling Monaco.

Hamilton has also reunited with his girlfriend Nicole, and had a long winter break.

"McLaren appear to have given him a chunk of time off, to go away and to focus," former long-time McLaren driver David Coulthard said.

(GMM)

 

Montezemolo alarmed as Ferrari expects to 'suffer'

Luca di Montezemolo has reacted with alarm as Ferrari concedes it will not be a podium contender at the start of the 2012 season.

Despite a media ban, Fernando Alonso warned that he expects to "suffer" initially this year due to the famous Maranello based team needing to better understand its complex new F2012 car.

It is that comment that has raised the alarm of Ferrari's charismatic president Montezemolo.

"I hope that it is not true that we are going to suffer at the beginning, although Alonso is always very objective.

"I would like to understand why and above all understand how we can very quickly make the necessary changes," he reportedly said at the Geneva Motor Show.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he pointed his finger at the current regulations.

"I don't like this F1," said the 64-year-old. "The aerodynamics count for 90 per cent and only the Kers makes developments possible that can be used in the production of road cars."

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, meanwhile, is backing Ferrari to recover.

"I am convinced they will rise again soon and that a preliminary assessment can only be made after the first two or three (races)," he reportedly told Sky.

"I similarly think that McLaren will fight for the title. They could be the real surprise and it is already clear from the tests that they are very competitive," added the sport's chief executive.

(GMM)

 

Pirelli to use 2010 Renault as new test car

Pirelli will use the former Renault team's 2010 car for private track testing this year, the sport's official tyre supplier announced on Wednesday.

Until now, the Italian marque has tested with Toyota's 2009 car, the TF109, which was deemed now too outdated to use for the next generation of Pirelli tyre.

"The Toyota is no longer able to generate the same sort of forces that we need to simulate in order to meet the current requirements of Formula One," said motor sport director Paul Hembery.

Another reason is that the Toyota's fuel tank was not big enough to simulate a race-load of fuel, for the current regulations that came into force in 2010.

Pirelli said the Renault R30, originally raced by Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, will be run in plain black carbon, driven by a test driver whose identity will be revealed "later this month".

The car will be adapted to simulate this year's regulations, and run by Pirelli's own technicians, "with no team member connected to a current formula one team" in order to "ensure complete impartiality".

Pirelli said it will test four or five times this year, beginning in May, with an observer from each F1 team invited to attend.

(GMM)

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