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Mike Stevens | Feb, 08 2012 | 0 Comments
  • 'Step noses' still the hot topic at Jerez
  • Lotus frustrated with 'reactive ride height' ban
  • Exhaust blowing saga not over yet - Lotus
  • Teams say F1 officials to decide on Bahrain return
  • Raikkonen not Lotus team owner - Boullier
  • Sauber's Key headed for Le Mans with Lotus
  • Alguersuari ready for F1 comeback 'opportunity'

'Step noses' still the hot topic at Jerez

Amid the European cold snap, Franz Tost admits he was worried Toro Rosso might be late for its own car launch.

The STR7 was unveiled on Monday in the Jerez pitlane, a day ahead of its testing debut.

"When the trucks left Faenza on Saturday night I was worried we would not arrive in time," La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes the relieved team boss as saying.

Ultimately, it turned out well, although Daniel Ricciardo - one of Toro Rosso's new Red Bull-backed rookies - was not overly impressed with the car's looks.

"It's not exactly beautiful," said the Australian, referring to the now notorious 'stepped' noses on the 2012 cars, "but I'd rather have a quick car than a pretty one."

Actually, designer Giorgio Ascanelli is worried the STR7's nose might not be ugly enough.

"I think we could have made it more aggressive," said the Italian, "but in the end we had to homologate the car before we could test it."

Arguably more ugly is the nose on Sauber's new C31, but Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi isn't so sure.

"You think it's ugly?" he told reporters at Jerez. "If everybody has the same style of car then it's not ugly. Only the McLaren is different, so we will see."

On McLaren, Kobayashi might have a point.

Of the eight 2012 cars seen so far, all of them have a 'step' except the McLaren. And Pedro de la Rosa has hinted that the new HRT will also feature the unattractive solution.

"Like almost everyone one else we have had the idea to have as much area under the car as possible. The regulations force us to do what we have done," Sauber designer Matt Morris is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Said Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary: "It begs the question -- have McLaren got it wrong?

"Were they 'sandbagging' - faking - at last week's launch? Have they got it right and everyone else got it wrong?"

McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe is confident: "We have always had a different philosophy than the others for the front of the car," he is quoted by Blick newspaper.

Two 2012 cars with 'step' noses - Lotus and Sauber - made their track debuts on Monday, ahead of official testing which begins on Tuesday.

Lotus' technical boss James Allison thinks the E20 is the "most beautiful ugly car" seen so far.

"It feels great in first and second gear," smiled Kimi Raikkonen, referring to the running for 'filming purposes'.

Agreed Sauber's Kobayashi: "I obviously can't make serious judgements on the car because we had just a promotional day and were running only demo tyres."



Lotus frustrated with 'reactive ride height' ban

Eric Boullier has admitted frustration with the FIA's decision to ban reactive ride height systems.

Lotus looked to have stolen the march with the clever technology ahead of 2012, but when the other teams started asking the governing body for approval, the FIA closed the avenue altogether.

"We invested time and money and always kept the FIA informed of our progress," team boss Boullier is quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It was frustrating, but it will not impact on our performance," he insisted.

The Finnish broadcaster MTV3 quoted the Frenchman as elaborating: "It took a lot of time to get the system in place -- a couple of years in fact.

"We are not stupid so we checked the progress with the FIA at all stages. We believed it was beneficial, but the benefit would not have been massive," he added.

The benefit also would not have been immediate, as explained by technical boss James Allison.

"We would not have used it in the car from the very start," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "For us, it was part of the development programme."



Exhaust blowing saga not over yet - Lotus

F1's 'blown exhaust' saga may not be over, according to Lotus team officials.

"For us, it is clear that the exhaust gases may not be used to alter the car's aerodynamics," said team boss Eric Boullier.

He is referring to the FIA's ban on diffuser exhaust blowing, and the fact that major teams including McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull are being highly secretive of their 2012 solutions.

"We may see some strange things at the back of some cars which we will have to discuss, but let's see," Boullier said at Jerez ahead of the opening group test.

The problem, team technical boss James Allison explains, is that while the 2012 rules are much clearer, some loopholes may still exist.

"The area in which the exhaust can be located is still relatively large," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Therefore, there are grey areas.

"Our position at the moment is that there is no controversy, but we are watching very closely how far the competition is going and how much the FIA will allow," added Allison.



Teams say F1 officials to decide on Bahrain return

Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn has admitted the Swiss team will return to Bahrain this year if F1 officials say so.

She is referring to the fact that, despite the island Kingdom's scheduled return to the calendar in April, there are reports the situation inside Bahrain is not yet stable.

"We are not in a position to judge it too well," Sauber's managing director is quoted by Europa Press, "so we have to trust the FIA and the commercial rights owners.

"If they believe it is right to go there, we definitely will."

Agreed Lotus team boss Eric Boullier: "It is not an easy topic. We are currently awaiting comments from the FIA about whether or not to go there."

Team owner Gerard Lopez added: "What I have heard is that there are a number of guarantees in terms of what will happen, so if things look good there is no reason why we shouldn't go."



Raikkonen not Lotus team owner - Boullier

Eric Boullier has slammed rumours Kimi Raikkonen is a shareholder in the Lotus team.

It was reported that the 2007 world champion's retainer this year was subsidised by owner Genii granting the returning F1 driver a small slice of the Enstone based team.

"He has no shareholding. It is complete nonsense," Boullier is quoted by Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"Raikkonen has a two-year contract as driver," he added. "Genii Capital holds 100 per cent of the team."

Boullier also dismissed suggestions Raikkonen, whose teammate is the reigning GP2 champion Romain Grosjean, is Lotus' obvious number one driver.

"There is no such thing in the contract," he said.



Sauber's Key headed for Le Mans with Lotus

Sauber's departing technical boss James Key appears headed for Lotus.

On the eve of its 2012 car launch, the Swiss team announced that it will not replace the departing Briton Key, who has accepted an offer to work in the UK.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said it is rumoured Key is headed for Lotus.

Not the Enstone based F1 team, however, but sponsor Group Lotus' motor racing programme, including Le Mans.

Sauber managing director Monisha Kaltenborn denied the Hinwil based team cannot afford to replace Key.

"If we look back 20 years, the team have always lacked funds," she insisted.

Kaltenborn defended the bare look of the 2012 car's livery.

"We are in negotiation with new partners so I am quite confident our livery will look different by the time we hit the first race," she said.

As for Key, "For some time both sides had the feeling that things were not working any more, and what has happened is the outcome," La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes Kaltenborn as saying.



Alguersuari ready for F1 comeback 'opportunity'

Jaime Alguersuari has admitted he was "hurt" by Red Bull's late decision to oust him from Toro Rosso.

The 21-year-old announced this week that, amid speculation he might rescue his career with the reserve role at Mercedes, he will in fact be missing entirely from the F1 paddock in 2012.

In a Spanish-language statement, he admitted the career interruption was "unnecessary".

"At the Brazilian grand prix, my continuity (at Toro Rosso) was confirmed verbally.

"After this confirmation by Red Bull and STR, we turned down a very good deal.

"A few days later, Toro Rosso sent me to the headquarters of (sponsor) Cepsa, and at a dinner I talked about my relationship with Toro Rosso and Cepsa with a script written at Faenza.

"No one has ever explained to me why, having fulfilled the expectations asked of me by the team, improving from 2010 and beating my teammate, I am stopped in December with no time to get a good position in 2012," said Alguersuari.

He insisted, however, that he is not giving up on F1.

"I am thinking only of F1," he said. "I am 21, have played 46 grands prix, I'm not a rookie driver anymore.

"Yes to formula one, but not at any price.

"I contacted (HRT team boss) Luis Perez-Sala, my friend and former mentor, in December, but we both agreed -- HRT does not have a car for me and I cannot spend everything at my age struggling to improve a car that far behind.

"Williams? That option never even occurred to me as nowadays they only want drivers who pay.

"In January I had discussions with one of the best teams that could be decisive in my future. I was received with great affection and respect and we have opened a path.

"For obvious reasons I cannot reveal the nature of our intention, but what I can say is that I will devote myself body and soul to F1 in 2012.

"I will prepare myself, with no contractual relationships with anyone, to be ready and available for any opportunity that arises."


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