- Caterham Reveals CT03 Race Car
- Button stuns rivals with Jerez pace
- Hamilton crashes new Mercedes
- Toro Rosso duo in running for Webber's seat
- Ecclestone confirms only 19 races for 2013
- Cosworth not as good as Mercedes, Ferrari - Hulkenberg
- Dennis 'fine' with defectors who don't 'bleed McLaren'
- Senna swaps F1 for Le Mans in 2013
- Marussia confirms Razia for 2013
Caterham Reveals CT03 Race Car
Feb.6 (GMM) When Caterham unveiled its 2013 car in the Jerez pitlane, observers immediately spotted the 'step' nose and a new, brighter livery.
"Cool!" said Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde when asked what he thinks of the new green hue.
"Last year it was a little too dark, which sometimes didn't look good on TV," he told Dutch magazine Formule1. "We have had a good response so far."
The next most noticeable feature of the CT03 is its nose, still 'stepped' as in 2012 despite the FIA allowing teams to smooth it with a 'vanity panel' in 2013.
"This is the package we will bring to Australia," technical director Mark Smith is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.
Van der Garde was happy with his first day of work on Tuesday.
"It feels different (compared to the 2012 car)," said the 27-year-old, who last year completed the championship as Caterham's Friday practice driver.
"The front feels good, gives me a good feeling. But so far the back is not to my liking.
"I have nothing to complain about. We knew in advance that our expectations are not too high and we would not suddenly be right in the middle of the pack."
But Caterham has not sent out the best message of financial health by ousting its highly rated salaried driver Heikki Kovalainen.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Finland's MTV3: "Kovalainen deserves to be in formula one in his own right.
"It's a shame that the financial situation is requiring teams to have drivers with a budget, but unfortunately that's the way formula one has been for at least 30 years."
However, Caterham team boss Cyril Abiteboul insisted: "Our team is in a healthy position.
"We are still a small team," he is quoted by Blick newspaper, "but our goal is to be the most efficient team in formula one."
According to one publication, the CT03 is not lacking in innovation, with one aspect of its exhaust solution already raising eyebrows.
"There is one feature of the Caterham's exhaust that I don't think will be there when we get to Melbourne," Lotus' James Allison said.
Racecar Engineering magazine said the feature in doubt is a 'flow-conditioner' in the exhaust channel, which may fall foul of technical regulation 5.8.4.
Button stuns rivals with Jerez pace
Jenson Button and McLaren have fired the opening salvo of the 2013 world championship, stunning rivals with the pace of the new MP4-28 at Jerez.
Despite a technical problem, by the end of Tuesday's action Briton Button was almost a second clear of the rest of the field, headed by Mark Webber in the new Red Bull.
"I was surprised when I saw the (laptime on the) dash," Button said, "but the time doesn't mean anything."
Perhaps not, but the competition was nonetheless impressed.
"I could have gone at Red Bull's pace, but not Button's," Felipe Massa, who was otherwise happy with Ferrari's new F138, is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo quoted Massa as saying Button's pace was "incredible".
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has won the last three titles on the trot, but it was Button who won the last race of the season last November.
Australian Webber, therefore, admitted Red Bull has work to do.
"We're not having a grand prix tomorrow, thank god, so we'll work hard," he said.
"We don't know all the variables (of Button's lap), but it was definitely very, very strong," Webber added.
"(1 minute) 18.8 is really not a slow lap at Jerez with Pirelli tyres."
Lotus' Romain Grosjean, whose technical boss James Allison on Tuesday said the new black E21 is "swift", commented: "It (Button's lap) is a very fast time.
"But it's only winter testing," the Frenchman is quoted by Finland's MTV3 broadcaster.
Some wondered if Button had used DRS throughout the lap, but he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "All the teams have agreed to use DRS only on the two straights."
It was a less impressive start for Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg getting in only 14 laps before an electrical problem caused a fire.
The German therefore held back a definitive analysis of the W04, but insisted: "I can guarantee you it (the car) will be a big step forward."
Massa hailed the 2013 Ferrari by saying it is on "another planet" compared to the team's slow start last season, but at least one trackside observer was not impressed.
"It is not as catastrophic as last year," commentator Marc Surer told Speed Week, "but if you watched Massa today you could see he was having to make a lot of movement with the steering."
Grosjean was happy with his car, telling O Estado de S.Paulo Lotus has "another good car" on its hands, while Nico Hulkenberg was musing whether Sauber will - yet again - have the 'surprise' package of the season.
"Maybe it's a little early to say that," said the German, "but it was a positive day."
2012 runner-up Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, spent Tuesday training on a road bicycle in a desert country, moving Niki Lauda to tell RTL he "cannot understand" the Spaniard's decision to sit out Jerez.
Hamilton crashes new Mercedes
On his first day of official running in 2013, Lewis Hamilton crashed the new Mercedes.
The 2008 world champion had done a few filming laps in the silver W04 on Monday, but Wednesday was his first real day of on-track work in the wake of his six years as a McLaren driver.
Briton Hamilton sped over the gravel at the end of the back straight, hitting the tyre wall head-on.
A team spokesman said the cause was a braking problem.
"He managed to slow the car with the front brakes but was unable to avoid the barrier. Lewis is fine," he said.
It is another blow to Mercedes, after Nico Rosberg's debut running on Tuesday was cut short by an electrical fire.
"This is really annoying," chairman Niki Lauda is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
"Yesterday we lost almost the whole day of testing, today again ..."
Toro Rosso duo in running for Webber's seat
Jean-Eric Vergne has revealed he is still in the running to move up to Red Bull's championship-winning team in 2014.
The Frenchman, who last year debuted for the energy drink company's junior squad Toro Rosso, said he and continuing teammate Daniel Ricciardo are potential candidates in the event Mark Webber does not stay beyond his contract this year.
"If we do a good job, maybe one of us will go to Red Bull, provided there is a free space," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe. "It would be great, but it's only in the corner of our minds," added the 22-year-old.
Needing to impress in 2013, a lot is therefore riding on Toro Rosso's new STR8.
"Without going into detail," Vergne is quoted by the French news agency AFP, "there were many things missing with the car of last year.
"It was difficult to drive and mechanically they could not resolve it.
"If you listen to the other teams, all the drivers think they have the best car, that they are the best and they will win all the races. So I won't go there," he smiled.
Ecclestone confirms only 19 races for 2013
Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that F1's 2013 schedule will feature only 19 rounds.
Until New Jersey's demise, this year's calendar was set to have twenty grands prix.
Ecclestone, the F1 chief executive, opened up the twentieth slot to a potential new European venue, but he said on Tuesday that he could not now fill it "at this late stage".
"(I'm) disappointed it (the 20th race) didn't happen," he said in Dubai on Tuesday, where he announced the airline Emirates as a major new F1 sponsor.
"(But) you can't suddenly slot it in."
However, the 82-year-old Briton was quoted by the Gulf News as saying 20 is the ideal number for future F1 calendars.
"Twenty races is more or less what we should aim for in a season," he said.
Ecclestone said he was adamant Bahrain would host its grand prix as scheduled this year, because things seem "a little more peaceful" in the Kingdom in 2013.
Finally, he definitively dashed the hopes of a group of Canadian and American investors, who had hoped to buy up defunct HRT's assets and race this season.
Cosworth not as good as Mercedes, Ferrari - Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg is well placed to comment on the respective strengths and weaknesses of most of the current engine suppliers in F1.
When he debuted in 2010, the German's Williams was powered by a Cosworth, while last year he raced a Force India with a Mercedes V8.
And on Tuesday at Jerez, his brand new Sauber had a Ferrari engine.
Asked to nominate the differences, the 25-year-old said: "Mercedes has the most power at the top, but the Ferrari is very good in the mid range.
"Both engines are better than the Cosworth," he is quoted by Speed Week, "although in qualifying trim it was very strong.
"Unfortunately it (the Cosworth) was not so good with full tanks," added Hulkenberg.
F1's other engine supplier is Renault, who may have yet another customer for 2014.
Team boss Franz Tost told reporters at Jerez on Tuesday that he is considering swapping Ferrari for the French-made turbo power in 2014.
"We are in negotiations but no contract (is) signed so far," he said.
Tost said it would be an advantage for Toro Rosso to share an engine supplier with its sister team Red Bull.
"If you are racing with a Renault engine we would have the same gearbox as Red Bull, because this is possible from the regulation side," he said.
"We will use the synergies that the regulations will allow us to do."
Mercedes' new shareholder and director Toto Wolff, meanwhile, said on Tuesday he can imagine F1 getting another engine manufacturer on board for the turbo era.
So far, Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes are committed to the V6 rules, and Wolff is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace: "I think probably we will see a fourth one coming."
With HRT's demise, the only Cosworth-powered team left in F1 is Marussia. Boss John Booth admitted on Tuesday that he is in talks with suppliers about 2014.
Dennis 'fine' with defectors who don't 'bleed McLaren'
Ron Dennis has declared defiantly that McLaren can thrive without those who do not bleed 'rocket red' blood.
Still the 'supremo' of the entire company, Dennis declared this week that - with Martin Whitmarsh now in charge - he has now "moved on" from his F1-dedicated days.
But the Financial Times insists that Dennis, 65, is still firmly involved; consenting to Lewis Hamilton's departure and now musing the potential loss of McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe, also to Mercedes.
Dennis would not comment specifically, except to emphasise his beliefs about loyalty.
"You cut yourself, you bleed McLaren," he said.
"We're about winning, we care about how we win ... we want to win with the right principles, the right values.
"If people don't want to be part of that and want to go and do different things, then fine."
Referring to the proverb about grass being greener on the other side, Dennis continued: "(But) if they get the hosepipe and the lawnmower out, they can easily contribute to making the grass greener their side of the fence".
Senna swaps F1 for Le Mans in 2013
Bruno Senna is bowing out of formula one.
Despite hoping to find a new seat after being replaced at Williams by Valtteri Bottas, the Brazilian has been signed up for 2013 by Aston Martin's sports car team.
The David Richards-led Aston Martin Racing said Senna, 29, will "drive at each round of the WEC" this year. WEC is the FIA's world endurance championship, including the fabled Le Mans 24 hours.
Senna is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo: "Until 2009, I always had victories and podiums in the categories I passed.
"Since then, through a series of circumstances beyond my control, I did not have the same chance in formula one.
"The proposals offered to me this season also did not give me this possibility."
Marussia confirms Razia for 2013
Marussia on Wednesday finally confirmed reports Luiz Razia has completed the team's 2013 race driver lineup.
The 23-year-old Brazilian, runner-up in last year's GP2 championship, will mark the news by testing Marussia's newly-launched MR02 car at Jerez on Wednesday.
The 2013 vacancy, now filled by Razia, opened up recently when Marussia split with Timo Glock, citing the need for a sponsored driver.
"Together with Max (Chilton), we are fielding a young but incredibly ambitious pairing and we look forward to seeing what they can achieve," said team boss John Booth.
When it was called Virgin, Razia was the team's reserve driver in 2010.