- Toro Rosso reveals cautious car for 2013
- Hamilton watches Rosberg debut 2013 car
- Defiant Mercedes begins push for winning ways
- Mercedes cloud remains above Nick Fry's head
- Bosses 'fools' to overlook Kovalainen - Hamilton
- Ousted Kovalainen 'can come back' - Salo
- Horner 'happy' with Webber after Marko spat
- Report - a Sauber 'spy' at Red Bull?
- F1 'not a sport' as Petrov bows out - manager
- Ecclestone 'super impressed' on Sochi visit
- Symonds hopes Marussia takes on Caterham in 2013
Toro Rosso reveals cautious car for 2013
Toro Rosso on Monday unveiled a cautious evolution of its 2012 car for Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne to race this season.
With a FIA-sanctioned 'vanity panel' on the front nose, the new STR8 no longer features the 'double floor' of 2012, and the exhaust is notably conventional.
"I just wanted to create a sound base rather than get bogged down in details," technical director James Key, formerly of Sauber, was quoted by Speed Week.
Referring to the conventional exhaust, the Briton added: "I don't mean that this area is unimportant, I just don't want us to be too focused in one area and forget the big picture."
After the launch in the Jerez pitlane ahead of Tuesday's test action, Key continued: "We now have a starting point on which to build upon, step by step."
With the 2012 STR7, featuring innovative undercut sidepods or 'double floor', Faenza based Toro Rosso finished last year's championship ahead only of the three backmarker teams.
In 2013, the Red Bull-owned team wants to finish sixth.
So, explaining why he has scrapped the 'double floor', Key is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: "I would not say that this concept was totally wrong.
"But it was not delivering on what the engineers initially promised, and the development potential was limited."
Hamilton watches Rosberg debut 2013 car
Having shown darkly-lit 'sneak preview' images on its website that triggered a server meltdown, and scheduling a launch event for the afternoon, photographers at Jerez scrambled on Monday morning to take the first unofficial shots of Mercedes' new W04.
At the same time, Lewis Hamilton was being filmed for promotional purposes trackside, as he captured Nico Rosberg's debut laps on a Blackberry mobile phone -- a gratuitous plug for the team's new on-car sponsor.
His 2013 teammate, Rosberg, was lapping on the day before official test action begins, after Mercedes booked the Spanish test circuit for a filming day.
Michael Schmidt, the correspondent for the specialist German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, was one of those at Jerez getting an early first glimpse at the silver car.
"The first impression is disappointing," he said.
"At first glance the car seems quite conservative, with long and relatively crude sidepods.
"With a first look we could not see any major innovations."
Meanwhile, Germany's Sport Bild is reporting that Michael Schumacher has been signed up by Mercedes parent Daimler as a brand ambassador.
Defiant Mercedes begins push for winning ways
Defying reports he is not earning much more money after his Mercedes move, Lewis Hamilton has apparently kicked off 2013 by buying a EUR 23 million private jet.
And a new bulldog, Roscoe.
"I've even asked Bernie Ecclestone for a paddock pass and, fingers crossed, he'll give me one," the smiling Briton told reporters at Jerez.
There, in southern Spain on Monday, the 2008 world champion got his first ever taste of a formula one car other than a McLaren.
It was, however, only a pre-test filming day on promotional Pirelli tyres, and at one point Hamilton ran out of fuel and had to return to the pits.
He is not expecting the new 'vanity-panelled' W04 to be an early winner, but he is already pushing for changes.
"The steering wheel has twice as many buttons as last year and I've already got rid of some," said Hamilton.
Some have scoffed at his decision to jump ship from almost race-winning certainty at McLaren bound for Mercedes, an outfit with apparent turmoil in the ranks of upper management and having won just a single grand prix in three years.
As for the critics, Hamilton insisted: "Everyone has got an opinion but I think they should just keep it to themselves.
"It is my decision; it is nothing to do with any of these people who are commenting on it. I feel good about it and that is all that matters."
Also feeling good on Monday was Nico Rosberg, who is well placed to give early comments on the W04, having been Michael Schumacher's teammate at the Brackley based team since 2010.
"Wow, it immediately felt right -- no problems at all," said the German.
"This was not the case in recent years."
Team boss Ross Brawn also felt moved to defend the new silver single seater, following initial reports that it features almost no innovation.
"Some probably need to take a closer look," he said.
"There's a lot of innovation under the skin which I'm pleased about," added Brawn, revealing that a "very interesting new front wing" will be tested on Tuesday.
Some reports, however, said that while Red Bull and particularly Sauber are pushing the boundaries with ultra-slim sidepods, Mercedes may even have taken a backwards step.
"The looks are deceptive," Brawn is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "Our sidepods have been reduced in width, but maybe not as much as Sauber," he smiled.
Mercedes cloud remains above Nick Fry's head
Nick Fry, Mercedes' chief executive, was present on Monday for the launch of the team's 2013 car.
But with the new guard refusing to outright deny speculation McLaren's Paddy Lowe could be making a switch for 2014, a dark cloud hangs above Briton Fry's head.
"He has long been a key member of the team," insisted team boss Ross Brawn, whose own future has been up for discussion in recent times.
But Brawn insisted on Monday that his own position is not in question at least for "the foreseeable future".
As for his old Honda and Brawn GP colleague Fry, he admitted: "This week we announced a new sponsor, a new partner (Blackberry), and Nick was very much involved in that.
"I'm sure he will continue to be involved in the team, but maybe in a different capacity," said Brawn.
Toto Wolff, the Brackley based team's new 30 per cent owner and director, insisted he is in no mind to make "hasty decisions".
"I've only been at work for a few days," he is quoted by Speed Week, "so it's really too early to say anything. I need more time.
"What the team needs, above all, is stability. We have a tough season behind us and a very important one in front."
Nico Rosberg, who has been a Mercedes race driver since the beginning of the project in 2010, said he has not felt the effects of the apparent shake-up.
"Those with the main responsibility for the development of the new car are still the same," said the German.
"In this way we have stability."
Bosses 'fools' to overlook Kovalainen - Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton on Monday branded those who overlooked Heikki Kovalainen for a 2013 race seat "fools".
Caterham has swept out last year's driver lineup - Finn Kovalainen and Russian Vitaly Petrov - in favour of the well-sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.
When asked about the demise of his former McLaren teammate, Hamilton said on Monday: "When my flight landed and I was driving to Jerez, I thought about what a great pity it is that Heikki is not here.
"When I think about the drivers that are here, they (team management) must be fools if they prefer them over Heikki," he is quoted by the Finnish website mtv3.fi.
"I think Heikki is a high quality driver, very experienced and deserves a place," the 2008 world champion added.
Ousted Kovalainen 'can come back' - Salo
Former F1 driver Mika Salo has tipped Heikki Kovalainen to return to the grid in the future.
Finn Kovalainen is the latest victim of the ever-increasing influence of the 'pay driver' in F1, with Caterham replacing its entire 2012 lineup in favour of the heavily sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.
When the news about Dutchman van der Garde broke, the Finnish press tried and failed to extract a comment from Kovalainen, who was paid by Caterham for the past three seasons.
Some interpreted that as a clear sign that the 31-year-old former McLaren and Renault driver knows his F1 career is over, but Salo insisted: "I don't think so.
"I think he can still come back," the 46-year-old, now a commentator for Finnish television, told the broadcaster MTV3.
"It often happens that there are new, young drivers, but their song can be short if they make a lot of mistakes.
"That's when people start looking around again for an experienced professional," added the former Ferrari and Sauber driver.
"Heikki had long negotiations with Caterham," Salo revealed, "but in the end they chose money over skill."
Horner 'happy' with Webber after Marko spat
Boss Christian Horner has played down the significance of an apparent spat between Mark Webber and the team's outspoken Dr Helmut Marko.
Recently, Austrian Marko suggested Red Bull's main allegiance is to triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, because of Australian Webber's inconsistent form.
Webber, who on Sunday attended his seventh consecutive Red Bull launch, had hit back that it has been clear "for a long time" that he is not part of Marko's "agenda".
Asked about the apparent inequality implied by Marko's comments and Webber's reaction, the 36-year-old driver said on Sunday: "They know I need 100 per cent support.
"You cannot win a world title with only 90, you need 100, and we're going into 2013 with this in place, and I'm comfortable with that," Webber added.
British team principal Horner, who co-owns a GP3 team with Webber, insisted the incident with Marko does not mean Red Bull is not "happy" with its full driver pairing.
"If we weren't happy with Mark then we would never have signed him to be with the team for this year," he said.
Horner added: "As we all know, Helmut can be a little outspoken at times with his comments but he is entitled to his opinion, and sometimes these things can be misinterpreted as well."
Report - a Sauber 'spy' at Red Bull?
Tongue in cheek, a German specialist publication has wondered if there is a Sauber spy in the house at world champions Red Bull.
After Swiss team Sauber surprised the world with its ultra-slim sidepods and a half-'stepped' nose for its newly launched C32, Auto Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt noticed that Red Bull's new RB9 - which broke cover on Sunday - "has the same characteristics".
Actually, Red Bull insisted the RB9 is a simple "evolution" of its title-winning predecessor, while Adrian Newey argued the whole concept of a 'new' car is now outdated.
"It's a car in transition, as are all the cars -- development is key," he said.
The team insisted one of the biggest changes is the new purple hue to the livery, marking the official beginning of the Infiniti title sponsorship.
In essence, it was difficult for observers at the Milton Keynes launch to make a real assessment -- photography was banned, and those in the audience squinted to make out the RB9's details in the clever lighting before the car was covered up once again.
Newey did reveal that the change in the 'step' nose for 2013 is a compromise between the unseemly 2012 rules and the FIA's allowance of a so-called 'vanity panel' this year.
"We have a vanity panel," he confirmed, "but it doesn't extend very far forward otherwise it becomes unjustifiable in weight."
Shortly after the launch, the RB9 was loaded into a transporter bound for Jerez, where Mark Webber will be at the wheel for the opening action on Tuesday.
F1 'not a sport' as Petrov bows out - manager
Vitaly Petrov's manager admits Caterham was the Russian's "only possibility" to stay in formula one this season.
"We knew this a few days ago, about the decision of the team, which we have to respect," Oksana Kosachenko, referring to Dutchman Giedo van der Garde's deal for 2013, is quoted by R-Sport.
"I wouldn't say we didn't expect it."
Kosachenko said she will now look at what other options there are, such as a test driver seat for 28-year-old Petrov.
"We have a few offers for Vitaly to stay in F1 and around the paddock, so we have to decide what is the best for him," she said, adding that a race seat outside F1 is "likely not" an option.
She expressed disappointment in Russian companies and also the organisers of the new Russian grand prix, which will take place in Sochi in 2014.
"We have to do something to promote the Sochi grand prix, and this is a bad mistake they are doing," said Kosachenko, indicating the race organisers turned down her request for sponsorship.
Lamenting the sport's current situation, she added: "Formula one is really expensive at the moment.
"Actually it isn't a sport at the moment, it's tending to be a show, and I believe that we have more and more and more rental drivers."
Ironically, Petrov was initially branded a 'pay driver' when he debuted in 2010, but Kosachenko argues: "I believe that a driver who has shown his possibilities in formula one within three years deserves to be supported."
Ecclestone 'super impressed' on Sochi visit
Bernie Ecclestone on Monday was on the spot at Sochi, the scene of next year's inaugural Russian grand prix.
There had been some doubt about whether the resort city would host its first ever formula one race on schedule, following reports construction had stopped.
"It's a fantastic track," Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, was quoted on Monday by the local R-Sport news agency.
"I was here before the building work started on the track and I was already impressed then," he added. "Now I'm super-impressed with what's going on here."
Ecclestone, 82, met on Monday with Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak.
Kozak acknowledged that Sochi's concurrent preparations for the 2014 winter olympics had presented challenges to the scheduling of the grand prix.
"But we've solved all those problems and entered, in my view, the final straight," he said.
Symonds hopes Marussia takes on Caterham in 2013
Pat Symonds is confident Marussia can finally compete head-to-head with Caterham in 2013.
Since F1's small new teams arrived in 2010, Caterham has been consistently the best, finishing the lucrative tenth spot in the championship at every attempt.
Former Renault technical chief Symonds, however - who is now back in F1 full-time after the 2009 'crashgate' scandal - is confident he is presiding over a competitive project for the coming season.
"We hope to do a respectable job this year," he told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper correspondent Livio Oricchio.
"Even without KERS, we beat Caterham on several occasions in 2012 and now for the first time we have a long development programme planned.
"We have also designed our car completely in the wind tunnel for the first time," Symonds insisted.
"We have KERS now, so it's a realistic goal to stay ahead of them (Caterham) this year."
Racing one of Marussia's 2013 cars - to be unveiled at Jerez on Tuesday - will be Briton Max Chilton, while reports say the other cockpit has been secured by Brazilian Luiz Razia.
Team official Graeme Lowdon told Oricchio that 23-year-old rookie Razia has not been signed, but another voice from inside Marussia on Monday said the Brazilian was due to arrive at Jerez in the evening.
Symonds is hoping the MR02 is born well.
"Our pilots are completely inexperienced, so if many changes are needed," he said, "it will be a problem.
"If it's born well, everything will be easier for everyone."
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