Mike Stevens | Apr 3, 2012
  • Struggling Red Bull the 'surprise' of 2012 - Brundle
  • Perez eyes move to 'big team' in two years
  • Button received Ferrari 'offer' last year
  • No chequered flag yet for French GP revival
 

Struggling Red Bull the 'surprise' of 2012 - Brundle

Martin Brundle has described Red Bull's lack of pace as the biggest surprise of the 2012 season so far.

After consecutive world championships with Sebastian Vettel, the energy drink-owned team was universally tipped as the pre-season favourite for yet another F1 title.

But McLaren dominated in Australia before Ferrari and Sauber surprisingly set the pace recently in Malaysia.

Former F1 driver Brundle admitted the struggling RB8 was the surprise of the opening salvo in 2012, but he also acknowledged that the turnaround might have been predicted.

"When you look at how the regulations have changed, it's almost like they were designed to slow the Red Bulls down," the Sky television commentator told the website of the BBC programme Top Gear.

"Doubling the torsional stiffness of the front wings, the way Red Bull were 'flying' their car down the track with lots of rake, nose close to the ground, exhausts helping to sort the high rear ride height out, it's all been taken away from them," added Brundle.

An unnamed engineer at Red Bull has admitted the team was caught on the hop in the winter pre-season, when it became clear McLaren was better prepared for the new rules.

"McLaren came with a (exhaust) system on the edge of legality," the engineer told Germany's Auto Bild, "and it was declared legal by the FIA.

"So (Adrian) Newey had to adapt," he added, referring to Red Bull's last-minute decision to change tack at the very end of the pre-season test period.

The message coming from the Milton Keynes based team, therefore, is that Red Bull is playing catch-up.

"We need to understand the car better," admits team advisor Dr Helmut Marko, "which is why for the next race (in China) we will have hardly any new parts."

So until he's back at the front, F1's formerly-dominant Vettel - who lashed out at backmarker Narain Karthikeyan recently in Malaysia - needs to adapt.

Asked if the German was justified in calling his Indian rival an "idiot", Brundle insisted: "No.

"That's just an angry man who hasn't got a front-running car at the moment. He's just frustrated."

(GMM)

 

Perez eyes move to 'big team' in two years

Sergio Perez insists he is "100 percent" committed to Sauber, but revealed he would like to be with a "big team" within two years.

After his strong second place in Malaysia recently, and amid Felipe Massa's struggle for form at Ferrari, speculation has linked Mexican Perez with an imminent move to the famous Maranello based team.

He is already the cream of Ferrari's development driver 'academy' and linked with an eventual move to the Italian squad.

"I think we have to assume that Massa won't be there in 2013," British commentator Martin Brundle told the BBC programme Top Gear's website.

But at present, 22-year-old Perez insists it is all hot air.

"There is nothing (to the rumours)," he is quoted by the EFE news agency. "I am one hundred percent committed to Sauber, and it's probably the same with Ferrari and Massa.

"We're just focused on having a great season," added Perez.

He admitted however that his goal within two years is to be "in a big team".

Perez acknowledged that Sauber was criticised for "lacking aggressiveness in the strategy" at Sepang, including when his engineer advised him to 'be careful' in his attack on the eventual winner Fernando Alonso.

"They could have risked more," he said, "and my team was criticised, but it was an important result. The conditions were difficult and we could have lost everything."

(GMM)

 

Button received Ferrari 'offer' last year

Jenson Button reportedly received an "offer" from Ferrari before re-committing last year to the McLaren team.

The Brazilian news agency Agencia Estado said the Briton held talks with Ferrari prior to October last year, when his new 'multi-year contract' with his famous British employer was announced.

Estado said Ferrari courted Button, 32, as a potential replacement for struggling Felipe Massa, who is now tipped to be succeeded in 2013 by Sergio Perez.

Asked to comment, Button said: "I was happy to know that my work was respected.

"I had a listen to what some of the other teams could offer me."

The revelation in the Brazilian press follows Button's comments last week about Fernando Alonso.

"If Lewis (Hamilton) wasn't in formula one, I personally feel it would be exciting having Fernando as a teammate," he told the Daily Mail.

"Is he the fastest in the sport? Probably not, and he would probably say the same, but he is very intelligent.

"One of the ways in which we are (similar) is in terms of wanting a team of people around us. We need that support to really achieve.

"So yeah, he'd be exciting to work with, to work with and to be an enemy, which I'm sure he would be," added Button.

(GMM)

 

No chequered flag yet for French GP revival

France's return to the 2013 Formula One calendar is not quite at the finish-line.

Many expected prime minister Francois Fillon's visit to the Paul Ricard circuit last Friday to coincide with an announcement about the revival of the French grand prix next year.

Some think that was indeed the intention, but ultimately a couple of details were missing at the last hurdle.

The first was the identity of the host circuit that will annually alternate the race date, amid reports Belgium's Spa Francorchamps is not yet ready or able to agree.

"The Formula One management has approved the plan without indicating who would be the other country," Fillon is quoted as saying in local reports.

Another problem is on the financial side, with Fillon admitting that - politically - there can be no direct government subsidy other than a mere "bond".

The difference between a deal and no deal between Bernie Ecclestone and the Le Castellet organisers, then, is "about two million euros", Fillon revealed.

"The formula one organisers' proposal is reasonable enough," he said, "but we have to make them remove the 'enough'," he added.

"Symbolically it would not be acceptable (for the government) to subsidise a Grand Prix," he said, "as was the case in the past with Magny Cours."

Magny Cours, the former French GP venue, reacted with shock and anger, accusing the prime minister of "bias in favour of Le Castellet", where temporary grandstands will have to be erected to host spectators.

On the other hand, Magny Cours has "all the facilities, infrastructure and expertise needed to organise such an event", insisted Patrice Joly, president of the conseil general of the Nievre department.

"Contrary to what you would expect from the head of government, the prime minister strives to implement a solution based on partisan considerations and personal issues away from the general interest," he added.

(GMM)

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