- Red Bull and McLaren lead 2012 field - Sauber
- FIA rejected push for 60kph pit speed limit - report
- Perez admits possibility of Ferrari future
- HRT hoping to debut 2012 car on Sunday
Red Bull and McLaren lead 2012 field - Sauber
Red Bull and McLaren have the quickest cars - according to some - as F1 teams prepare for the final pre-season test before Melbourne.
That is the view of Sauber designer Matt Morris, despite the Swiss team's Kamui Kobayashi setting the fastest overall time at last week's Barcelona test.
"The top teams are yet to show their hands," read a report in the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.
Morris agrees with that assessment.
"If we are to believe our own analysis then Red Bull and McLaren are in front, there is a question mark about Ferrari, and behind them is a very close group of several teams.
"I think the gaps between those in this central group will be smaller this year," he added.
The F1 world's real gaze this week will however be on the apparent title contenders, with Lewis Hamilton quoted by the SID news agency as saying: "Maybe Red Bull are a bit quicker than us."
But McLaren's team boss Martin Whitmarsh revealed: "We will have a fairly substantial (update) package in Barcelona this week.
"We assume Red Bull will do the same," he added.
Unlike last year, however, there will be no last-minute technical sensation that determines the pecking-order for the start of the season.
Sauber's Morris explains: "There will be nothing spectacular; the rules don't allow it any more."
But he admitted that the best-funded teams will continue to tinker at the edges, as demonstrated by McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull who have so far run several different exhaust configurations in the wake of the blown diffuser ban.
Morris said: "Any modification in this area is an expensive pleasure, while before we (Sauber) do anything, we have to be sure that it is clearly better."
FIA rejected push for 60kph pit speed limit - report
F1's governing body reportedly rejected a push to lower the in-race pitlane speed limit from 100 to 60kph for 2012.
The latest edition of Italian magazine Autosprint said FIA president Jean Todt made the decision after reviewing the widespread lower speed limits in other major series, including Le Mans, GT1 and Nascar.
It was said the change would have a major impact on race strategy this year.
But in the wake of the Autosprint report, Britain's BBC claims the FIA in fact rejected a push by the teams to lower the speed limit to 60.
Race director Charlie Whiting reportedly "told them he feels there is no need to make the change as there is no evidence that the current arrangement is unsafe", according to the broadcaster.
Instead, the 2012 rules state that the race limit is 100kph at most races, but that the speed "may be amended by the stewards following a recommendation from the FIA F1 safety delegate".
Perez admits possibility of Ferrari future
Sergio Perez has admitted the possibility he could be paired with Fernando Alonso next year at Ferrari.
The famous Italian team has put Felipe Massa on notice, with Mexican Perez - currently driving for Ferrari-powered Sauber - at the head of Ferrari's driver development programme.
At the same time, however, Red Bull's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel regularly declares his desire to one day race a Ferrari.
"Ah, yes," Perez told the Spanish sports daily Marca.
So who is the real front-runner for Massa's seat?
"We will see," he insisted, "as ultimately it depends on this year, which for me is very important."
Perez, 22, admitted at least that he is a leading candidate.
"Yes, but this season is yet to even start and everything changes very fast in a year. There are many things that are yet to have been seen," he said.
"For me, Ferrari is the greatest team for which all the drivers dream of one day winning the championship but ... let's see. I would love to be there some day."
Perez acknowledged that Spaniard Alonso, Ferrari's much-loved number one, would be a difficult teammate.
"Very difficult, I would say Alonso is the most difficult on all of the grid to have as your teammate, I respect him a lot," he insisted.
Reportedly on the cusp of a top seat, Perez is nonetheless still fending off suggestions he is a 'pay driver', due to his strong backing by the Mexican sponsor Telmex.
"In these days you do depend more on your support," admitted Perez, "but I believe the talent remains the priority.
"Even with the drivers having support, I don't think there are any bad drivers on the grid.
"I was criticised a lot for coming with the Telmex money, but if you look back, a driver who wins five races in GP2 and loses the title by 10 points will normally go in F1 the next year.
"It (Telmex) is an influence, but to say it's why I'm here is not fair," he insisted.
HRT hoping to debut 2012 car on Sunday
HRT is hoping to get one-up on its tail-ender rival Marussia by at least running its 2012 car before shipping it to Australia.
Marussia, formerly Virgin, has announced that after failing an FIA crash test, it will be unable to run its new Cosworth-powered car at the final Barcelona test this week.
"Of course it's a shame," German driver Timo Glock told the DPA news agency, "but safety comes first."
HRT's 2012 single seater, however, has - despite a similar delay - at least now satisfied the FIA's safety rules and is therefore allowed to run at the Circuit de Catalunya if able.
Indeed, in the Barcelona paddock this week, the HRT motor home is present.
But team figures Pedro de la Rosa and boss Luis Perez Sala have admitted that, while now homologated, the 2012 car is not quite ready to be tested.
"The truth is that, today, the goal is to try to debut on Sunday," de la Rosa is quoted by the Diario Sport newspaper. "If not, we would have the possibility to do a test on Monday."
The FIA has already declared that testing on Monday - the day after the final official Barcelona test ends - is not allowed because that would be the week before Melbourne.
But HRT is yet to do its allowed filming day, team boss Perez Sala is quoted as saying on Wednesday.
"We are in the construction phase of the car and it would be great to have it ready for Sunday," added de la Rosa.
The former McLaren test driver also revealed that HRT's new car is designed to run KERS, unlike the 2012 Marussia.
"It is designed to use it, but the team has decided to start the season without (KERS)," said de la Rosa.
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