- FIA tells Williams exhaust solution illegal
- Danica Patrick not good enough for F1 - Marko
- New Ferrari 'ok' says Alonso
- Sutil, Bianchi shape up for Barcelona 'shootout'
- Williams not replacing Gillan, Wolff
- No Mercedes DTM seat for Kubica
FIA tells Williams exhaust solution illegal
F1's governing body has told Williams its exhaust solution for the newly-launched FW35 is not legal.
It was already believed a similar solution for the Coanda-effect exhaust on Caterham's 2013 car definitely falls foul of this year's rules.
But Williams' chief designer Mike Coughlan said in Barcelona on Tuesday, where the team's new Renault-powered car was revealed and tested for the first time, that he was confident the FW35 complied.
In fact, the two solutions were very similar, but the Williams one more cleverly exploited a loophole about aerodynamics-influencing apertures.
The FIA's Charlie Whiting was at the Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday, and according to Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt, "it was rumoured Williams had got the FIA's blessing" before revealing its solution.
"It may be a technicality," Mercedes' Ross Brawn is quoted as saying, "but if you read the rules word for word, Williams is on the safe side."
But Schmidt reported: "This is not the case."
Schmidt even quoted Whiting as saying both the Caterham and the Williams solution indeed "violate" the rules.
A Williams spokesperson confirmed: "The team spoke with the FIA this morning, which is when they gave us their view.
"The team are now seeking further clarification on this and a decision as to whether this design will be carried forward will be made before the first race."
Danica Patrick not good enough for F1 - Marko
Danica Patrick has leapt back into the motor racing headlines by becoming the first woman to secure pole for the 2013 Nascar opener at Daytona.
Previously, the highly popular 30-year-old American, who is stealing the show at the pinnacle of US motor sport, has insisted she has little interest in exploring her options in formula one.
But could more doors open now?
"For ten years," said triple world champion and Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda, "I've told Bernie Ecclestone he's dopey for not getting a woman into formula one.
"If we could get a woman into the top six, you would immediately have twice as many fans in front of the TV," he is quoted by Bild newspaper.
Lauda, however, questioned whether Patrick is the right woman for the job.
"It has to be said that the technical level in the US does not compare to the level in formula one. This is also reflected in the drivers," he said.
"The last American who had success in Europe was Mario Andretti -- and that was in my day!" exclaimed the 63-year-old.
Dr Helmut Marko, the outspoken driver manager at world champions Red Bull, also questioned Patrick's credentials.
"You have to look at Danica's results in the road races," he said. "It's not enough."
Indeed, there are no female drivers among Red Bull's current flock of young development drivers, whose ultimate aim is to earn a place at the junior team Toro Rosso.
"We are looking for drivers based on performance, not by quota," Marko insisted."
World champion Sebastian Vettel added: "First of all, hats off to Danica for her achievements. But motor sport in the US just has a completely different culture."
New Ferrari 'ok' says Alonso
After his first day at the wheel in 2013, Fernando Alonso on Tuesday had a stiff neck and a cautious round of optimism about the new Ferrari.
The Spaniard said he was "reasonably pleased" with his day of work in Barcelona, which left him third on the timesheet and a hundredth ahead of his 2012 title rival Sebastian Vettel.
The psychological war may also have begun on their first head-to-head this year, with Alonso cheekily overtaking Vettel on the narrow pitlane entry as the test day officially concluded at 5pm, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick.
Alonso then told reporters the F138 was "ok" and "more or less" what he expected based on the car he raced to the podium in Brazil last November, and Felipe Massa's feedback after the initial Jerez test.
"This car is a continuation of the previous one," he said, after posing with the red car featuring the sticker of new team sponsor UPS.
"I did not have any surprises, which is a good thing because last year we were a little surprised, and not in a positive way," added Alonso.
"We need to be optimistic and think we will fight this year for the championship if we improve the car a little bit."
At the very top of the times was Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, but earlier in the day he had a gearbox issue.
"The basis of the car is much, much better (than the 2012 one)," said the German, "but we are having a few too many reliability problems at the moment."
Sutil, Bianchi shape up for Barcelona 'shootout'
Barcelona will this week host a head-to-head 'shootout' for the final race seat on the 2013 grid.
Just like Williams weighed up Jenson Button versus Bruno Junqueira in 2000, and Nick Heidfeld versus Antonio Pizzonia in 2005, this time it will be Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi fighting for a single place at Force India.
In 2013, however, the situation is a little different, given that driver sponsorship and their links to manufacturers will also play a role in the ultimate identity of Paul di Resta's teammate.
The well-connected French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet said he is "worried" about Bianchi ahead of the shootout, because the Ferrari-linked 23-year-old has "no budget".
In Auto Plus, Moncet quoted a source as saying: "Jules is certain to drive with Force India in 2014.
"But for 2013, with more than an eye on budgets, Sutil or (Narain) Karthikeyan have a better chance, unless Ferrari contributes financially for Jules."
Actually, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims Bianchi does actually have a budget - EUR 4 million - and a higher one than that offered by Sutil's backers.
He also has the Ferrari link, but German correspondent Michael Schmidt claims another factor in play could be Sutil's link with Mercedes; the German manufacturer that currently supplies Force India's engines.
In short, the talks about Force India's turbo V6 supplier for 2014 and beyond will be key.
Schmidt claims Mercedes is charging about EUR 21 million for its V6, while Ferrari is asking only 17 million.
But a rumour in the Barcelona paddock on Tuesday is that Mercedes could be throwing in a gearbox deal as well, which could play in German Sutil's favour.
Williams not replacing Gillan, Wolff
Williams is not planning to replace Mark Gillan, the chief operations engineer who was credited with helping the team recover its lost form in 2012.
Gillan left Williams late last year, but at the time the Grove based team did not say if it intended to recruit from elsewhere to fill the vacancy.
"You have to remember," said chief designer Mike Coughlan on Tuesday, "there's a lot of people moving forward in their careers."
Coughlan had been asked by Britain's Sky Sports if Williams were now actively on the market to replace figures like Gillan, and the Mercedes-defector Toto Wolff.
"We look at it as one door closing, another door opening," Coughlan continued, "and a tremendous opportunity for some young people.
"What you may lose in experience, you certainly make up for in dedication," he added.
Asked again if Williams is looking to directly replace Gillan or Wolff in the short term, Coughlan insisted: "No, not at all."
No Mercedes DTM seat for Kubica
Robert Kubica has been left out of Mercedes' lineup for the German touring car series DTM in 2013.
Last month, the Pole tested one of the German marque's cars, with Toto Wolff saying it was a "proper test in a proper race car".
"Let's see how it goes," said Mercedes' new motor racing director.
While now successful in lower-tier rallying, former Renault and BMW driver Kubica is still unable to drive a powerful single seater due to the limitations of his right arm, which was almost severed in an early 2011 rally crash.
Mercedes announced on Wednesday that it has entered six DTM cars in the 2013 series, but none of them will be raced by Kubica.
Instead, Mercedes' lineup features Ralf Schumacher, Gary Paffett, Roberto Merhi, Christian Vietoris, Robert Wickens and newcomer Daniel Juncadella.
The marque said F1 driver Nico Rosberg will mentor the youngsters.
"I am looking forward to following their progress this season and can maybe give the young guns a tip or two," he said.