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Archive for January, 2013

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez talk about the 2013 season and new McLaren MP4-28

By Berthold Bouman

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez talk about the 2013 season and new McLaren MP4-28 - pHOTO: McLarenJenson Button: “This year’s car is the best we’ve ever made.”

After McLaren unveiled the new 2013 contender, the McLaren MP4-28, it’s time to see what drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez think about the 2013 season and the new car.

For Button, it will be his fourth season with McLaren and he now understands the ins and outs of the McLaren team. The biggest change for the 2009 World Champion is his new team mate, Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez.

“It’s always interesting and inspiring to begin working with a new face, and it already feels like a very positive working relationship,” Button said about the Mexican driver. “I know from personal experience that it can feel initially daunting when you walk into the McLaren Technology Centre for the very first time, but I also remember how quickly I was made to feel at home and how welcoming I found the whole McLaren family. I’m sure Checo already feels very much at ease here.”

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez - Photo: McLaren

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez – Photo: McLaren

Button admitted McLaren were strong last season, but not strong enough to race for the ultimate goal, the 2012 crown, won by Sebastian Vettel. But this season it will be different, the Briton said.

“I’ve seen just how closely everybody has been working together on this car, and I think we’ve got the basis for a very strong season,” he said, adding, “We’ll be working extremely hard during the pre-season to ensure we go to the first race with bullet-proof reliability. Operationally, too, I think we’ve learned and developed from last year, and that will help us run a much smoother and stronger campaign.”

Although he hasn’t driven the MP4-28, has absolutely no doubts about the performance of the new car, “This year’s car is the best we’ve ever made — I know the engineers have left absolutely no stone unturned in wringing every ounce of performance from every available area. I cannot wait to get behind the wheel and attempt to carry forward the incredible legacy that lives beneath the skin of every single man and woman who works at McLaren.”

Sergio Perez: “I am fully aware of the steep slope ahead of me.”

Perez is not a rookie anymore after a two-year stint with the Swiss Sauber team, but driving for McLaren is quite something else he reckons. “For me, this is a great day. In fact, every day this year has been great: I’ve been working hard with my new team to get everything ready for the start of the 2013 season — and it’s been an incredible journey to get to know this incredible organisation.”

He still has a lot to learn he admitted, “Of course, I am fully aware of the steep slope ahead of me: it has already been an intense couple of weeks, getting to grips with a new team, meeting my engineers and mechanics, learning new ways of working and, of course, learning all about a brand new car — something I’ll need to do with just six days of on-track testing. It’s a big challenge!”

But he also said he will need some time to adapt to his new team and car, “Although I’ve been racing in Formula One for the past two seasons, every racing car is different and it always takes a little time to adjust. Firstly, I’ll need to understand the different characteristics of the car; secondly, I’ll learn how to best work with my engineers to make the car suit my personal driving style. It’s going to be an interesting and exciting journey.”

Pre-season testing will start on February 5 at the circuit of Jerez in Spain.

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez during the launch of the McLaren MP4-28

McLaren unveils MP4-28, the sum of 50 years experience, expertise and passion

By Berthold Bouman

McLaren unveils MP4-28, the sum of 50 years experience, expertise and passion - Photo: McLarenMcLaren is the second team to reveal their new car for the 2013 season: the MP4-28. The unveiling ceremony took place at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking today under the watchful eyes of drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, and Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh.

After a parade of historic McLaren race cars, it was time to show off the 2013 contender. When the covers came off, the big question was of course: does it have a stepped nose? No, like last year, the new car has the same very smooth high nose, as it is a sophisticated evolution of last year’s car.

McLaren unveils MP4-28 the sum of 50 years experience, expertise and passion

The McLaren MP4-28 at the McLaren Technology Centre

Jenson Button said about the MP4-28, “It might look similar to some of you, but under the skin, this is so, so different.” Certainly different is that the McLaren now has a pull-rod front suspension, just like the 2012 Ferrari.

In a statement McLaren commented on the new car, “The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 is the logical culmination of everything we’ve ever done: it’s the sum of 50 years’ experience, expertise and passion.”

“The MP4-28 isn’t merely a refinement of last year’s seven-race-winning car, it’s a deep and sweeping re-design of an already successful chassis in several key areas — most notably around the nose and front suspension, the sidepod profiles and the rear bodywork.”

More reports to follow …

More about the 2013 car launches here

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez unveil the McLaren MP4-28 – Photos: McLaren

Ferrari news – New car to be named F138, Zanardi visits Ferrari’s headquarters

By Berthold Bouman

Ferrari news - New car to be named F138, Zanardi visits Ferrari's headquarters - Photo: FerrariNew Ferrari to be named F138

Ferrari just couldn’t wait to reveal the name of their 2013 car, and today announced the car will be named … F138, and not as one would expect, F2013. But the Reds had pretty good reasons to change the name of their 2013 contender.

In a statement Ferrari said, “The name of the fifty-ninth car built by Ferrari to compete at the highest level of motor sport derives from a combination of the current year and the number of cylinders, partly to mark the fact that this will be the last year that the V8 engine configuration will be used in Formula One, bringing to an end what will be an eight year career.”

“With its fifty-eight previous cars, the Scuderia is the only team to have taken part in every year of the championship and holds all the records in terms of titles won (31; 15 Drivers’ and 16 Constructors’), Grand Prix wins (219), pole positions (207), and fastest race laps (228).”

Ferrari will unveil its 2013 car on Friday February 1 in Maranello, Italy. View the complete launch schedule here.

Pedro de la Rosa will also test the F138 at Jerez

Not only Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso will be at the wheel of the F138 during the first testing days in Jerez, also Pedro de la Rosa, who joined the team as test driver, will be behind the wheel.

Pedro de la Rosa will also test the F138 in Jerez - Photo: Ferrari

Pedro de la Rosa will also test the F138 in Jerez – Photo: Ferrari

“I’m starting a new phase of my life: for a driver it’s important to work with the big teams, especially because you can learn from the best engineers and professionals in this sport. I am proud that Ferrari had faith in me, especially as it means I will be able to help a Spanish champion, in the shape of Fernando Alonso,” de la Rosa said.

About the Ferrari team the Spaniard said, “I can say that, at least once in your life, you have to go to Maranello. I’m not talking about the factory, but rather the city: it’s there that you start to understand the difference between a team like Ferrari and all the others, because you already feel as though you are pretty much within the company. Every restaurant, bar or person on the street has something red, it’s really impressive.”

De la Rosa will be in the car on February 8, and he is already looking forward to it. “I’ve seen the new car in the factory, as it is being prepared for the first test,” he said. “I am very happy to be able to test it and honestly I had not expected that. It’s a unique opportunity to begin to understand how the car works and how I can help with the work in the simulator.”

Alessandro Zanardi visits Ferrari’s headquarters

Italian racing driver and Paralympic gold medal winner Alessandro Zanardi paid an unexpected visit to the Ferrari headquarters in Maranello yesterday, where he was allowed to take a peek at the department where the new F138 takes shape.

The Ferrari mechanics who are still working to get the car ready for Friday’s launch ceremony, posed with Zanardi, who lost both his legs during a near-fatal accident in the US Champ Car Series in 2001.

“It was a very exciting evening for me,” said Zanardi who also visited his friend Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali. “The thing that struck me the most when I went into the department where the new car was being built, was the smell, the same I used to smell when I went to the Chip Ganassi team headquarters in America. There too the car was red, but it definitely wasn’t a Ferrari!”

Zanardi had never been at the Maranello factory before and said, “I know many of the guys who work at the Scuderia from a long time ago, but this was my first time in Maranello and it was a great experience. Finally, I can claim to have got my hands on a Red car!”

And he added, “It’s true that these days, the top teams are pretty big, just like a real average-sized company, but at Ferrari, I could see there was still that passion for the job that only comes with a love of racing. Then, thinking back to how nice was the tortellini and cold cuts of meat, you can imagine what a great evening it was, without any regrets about breaking the rules regarding my diet!”

Ecclestone – Bid to take over HRT too late for 2013 entry

By Berthold Bouman

Ecclestone - Bid to take over HRT too late for 2013 entry - Photo: HRTYesterday, Autosport reported a group of American and Canadian investors want to take over the HRT Formula One team, but according to Bernie Ecclestone the new investors may have to wait until 2014 to conquer a place on the grid.

According to the Autosport report, Scorpion Racing do have the go-ahead from Ecclestone, but it is understood the sport’s governing body, the FIA, will not allow the new venture on the 2013 grid, as the 12th slot for 2013 was closed off after it became apparent HRT had been liquidated.

Scorpion Racing are hoping to complete the buy-out in a few days, and want to use two updated HRT F111 cars this season.

However, Ecclestone fears it is too late to get the new team up and running in time, and he said, “I’ve spoken to them and told them to get in touch with the FIA and ask for an entry.”

And the FOM CEO added, “They want to buy all the bits from HRT, then form a company and ask for an entry, but I personally don’t think it will happen. It’s all a bit too late. Maybe they could do it for next year.”

Ecclestone - Bid to take over HRT too late for 2013 entry - Photo: HRT

The HRT F111 in the factory in Madrid – Photo: HRT

Meanwhile, Timo Glock, who agreed to leave the Marussia Formula One team and will this season drive for BMW in the German touring car championship DTM, has criticized Ecclestone for his modus operandi. According to the German the Formula One funding model as pursued by Ecclestone is ‘starving’ the smaller teams.

Glock left Marussia as they want to contract a paying driver, Glock agreed as the team’s future was in danger. To GMM Glock said, “I learned the hard way that it is extremely difficult for a small team to come out of the cellar. The top teams get a lot of money from Ecclestone, starving the small teams a little bit.”

About the phenomenon of paying drivers in the sport he said, “There have always been pay drivers. I won’t say that they have no talent. Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez have proved that you can have good partners behind you and drive fast as well. It’s perfectly legitimate.”

“But it’s too bad that Formula One is increasingly developing in this direction.”

Webber looking forward to exciting season, dismisses Marko’s criticism

By Berthold Bouman

Webber looking forward to exciting season, dismisses Marko's criticism - Photo: InfinitiWebber not impressed by Marko’s criticism

Mark Webber again dismissed the criticism of Red Bull Racing’s controversial advisor, ex-Formula One driver Helmut Marko. The 69-year old Austrian recently said Webber is Red Bull’s number two driver, and also hinted Webber should play a supportive role this season.

“For four years, Vettel and Webber have driven together in our team. Sebastian was runner-up once and champion three times. The statistic speaks for itself. There is no reason to think the balance of power will change,” Marko said earlier this month.

Webber, however, was not impressed and at the time rebuked that he had no intention to play second fiddle at the successful Austrian outfit. “I’m there for myself to get the best results possible and to do that I need to be part of the team. So, no, I’m not going there thinking of [myself] in a supporting role at all,” he said.

Asked about the war of words with Marko, Webber was certainly not impressed and said on his personal website, “Look, everyone at this level has their own agendas and it’s been evident for a long time now that I’ve never been a part of Marko’s.”

Webber is looking forward to exciting 2013 season

During the winter stop Webber had a 40cm long titanium rod removed from his leg, and the surgery went smoothly, the Australian said. “My recovery was exceptional. I had a few weeks off from my normal training schedule but I was able to ease myself back into it by the first week of January and now I’m back into it properly.”

Mark Webber is looking forward to the 2013 season - Photo: Infiniti

Mark Webber is looking forward to the 2013 season – Photo: Infiniti

Asked about his expectations for the 2013 season he commented, “I’m sure we’ve got another exciting and challenging season ahead, and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out of the gates strongly; you might get an inkling from pre-season testing to the form book but it’s only when we arrive in Melbourne for the first race that the gloves really come off.”

He’s also looking forward to drive the latest creation of Red Bull’s designer Adrian Newey, the RB9. “I’m certainly looking forward to getting my hands on the RB9 and I also have a new race engineer in Simon Rennie,” Webber said, adding, “It’s going to be important to have a solid pre-season with him after spending some six years with Ciaron Pilbeam who I had a long and enjoyable relationship with, but he’s no longer with the team.”

But he refused to make any predictions about the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, his home race. “I’m looking forward to starting the season in Australia having prepared very well for it over the past two months. But it’s clear there’s no point getting too far ahead of yourself, so it’s a case of taking each week, test and race as it comes.”

The Red Bull RB9 will be unveiled on February 3, in the team’s factory in Milton Keynes, Great Britain. Then the new car will be transported to Jerez, Spain, where the first pre-season testing days will take place, starting on February 5.

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean talk about the Lotus E21

By Berthold Bouman

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean talk about the Lotus E21 - Photo: Lotus F1Kimi Raikkonen — “2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013.”

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean unveiled the Lotus 2013 contender today at their Enstone headquarters, both Lotus drivers were optimistic ahead of the 2013 season. Raikkonen recently signed up for another year with the Anglo-French outfit, and he feels pretty good after a successful 2012 campaign.

Asked about his second season with Lotus he said, “Last year was my return to Formula One and it went pretty well. This year will be my second with Lotus F1 Team and my eleventh season overall in Formula One so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect. I’m sure it will be an exciting season and I’m sure there’ll be lots to talk about.”

Kimi Raikkonen - Photo: Lotus F1Raikkonen is adamant he can still learn as a driver, but he feels he’s not a rookie anymore, “I don’t think you ever stop learning, but there is less to learn than if you’re a rookie. I don’t think I could say I’m a rookie. We had new tracks last year; that’s always something nice to learn and for me best learnt on the tracks themselves. There will be a new car which we’ll want to develop and get working at its best. There are always changes in the sport; some small, some big. Generally everything’s pretty similar, and the feeling of racing on track is pretty familiar.”

Of course the Finn has set some targets for the 2013 season — he will do the best job he can — but he has no idea if the new Lotus E21 is a winner or not. “I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible. We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best car. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013,” he said.

The 2007 World Champion thinks it is possible to win another title, but does Lotus have what it takes to win a championship? “Yes, I think they do,” he said, and added, “Clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships. Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team have beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.”

What does he think of his team mate, Romain Grosjean? We had a pretty good relationship last year and it’s clear he’s fast and motivated. On track we were pretty close to each other at times but we didn’t have any issues. It’s good when you have a team mate who’s fast and works hard. I think we should be fine in 2013.”

Romain Grosjean — “I want to score a lot of points for the team.”

Romain Grosjean - Photo: Lotus F1After a very eventful 2012 season, Grosjean is looking forward to another year with Lotus. It wasn’t always easy for the Frenchman in 2012 as he was heavily criticized about his controversial first lap accidents, but he thinks 2013 will be different.

“It’s clearly different for me this year. I have much more experience in Formula One and even if I knew the team before, I now know how to work with the engineers much better on the technical side. I also know all the tracks and understand better the various challenges of a season,” he said.

Asked about his objectives for this season he replied, “I can clearly say I want to score a lot of points for the team — everybody knows that — but I think it would be wrong for me to say I want to finish in a particular position in the championship. I really want to jump out of the car as many times as possible thinking that I did a good job.”

About the new E21 Grosjean said, “All through last year, the feedback given about the E20 was interpreted by the development team for the E21. This means there’s a lot of information from me and Kimi which went into this car. It’s difficult to say after the season ‘we would like this or that’ for next year. I think it’s more about the work done during the whole season; discussing this or that, or an idea about this or that. After twenty races you know more-or-less what has been good with the car and what hasn’t. Hopefully we’ve made the right calls for this year.”

And finally, with 2012 in the back of his mind, does Grosjean have something to prove this season? “I think everyone is waiting to see if I’m able to be consistent, which is where I was lacking a little bit last year. I know it and I’ll do everything I can to prove to people that I’m able to achieve this goal!”

Formula One: Photo Gallery Lotus E21

By Berthold Bouman

Formula One: Photo Gallery Lotus E21 - Photo: Lotus F1Lotus was the first team to show off their 2013 contender, the Lotus E21. Compared to last year the car has a completely redesigned front and rear wings, it has the Coanda-style exhaust system, and, according to Technical Director James Key, “The devil is in the detail, and the detail of this car adds up to a significance amount of performance.”

All Photos: Lotus F1

Lotus unveils E21, aiming for at least third place in Constructors’ Championship

By Berthold Bouman

Lotus unveils E21, aiming for at least third place in Constructors Championship - Photo: Lotus F1During a live broadcast on the team’s YouTube channel, Lotus kicked off the season by presenting their 2013 contender: the Lotus E21. First thing that grabs the attention is the stepped nose, Lotus elected not to cover up the stepped nose although the 2013 regulations allow a ‘vanity’ or ‘modesty’ panel to smooth the nose.

The E21 is an evolution of the E20 and Technical Director James Allison commented, “The rules in 2013 are very, very similar to those in 2012 so you can expect a lot of family resemblance from 2012. But as always in Formula One the devil is in the detail, and the detail of this car adds up to a significance amount of performance. So it’s a mixture: there are some neat new ideas in there and a lot of pushing of the same sort of concepts we have been working on for a few years.”

About being the first team to unveil their car he said, “The whole team here has been working heart and soul on this thing for a long time. But first to launch is nice … there’s a lot that’s go in to it and it’s going to be an exciting car.”

All Photos: Lotus F1

Kimi Raikkonen commented after he unveiled the car together with Romain Grosjean, “We’ve tried to improve on all areas and for sure if we qualify higher up then it will help us win more races. But it’s the whole package which we want to be faster and hopefully we have done that.”

Asked about Lotus’ aim this season Team Principal Eric Boullier said, “Third place is at least an achievement we would like to have this year. We obviously expect to build on the momentum from 2012. Stability in the regulations, both drivers I think more eager than ever and 500 people here at Enstone who delivered quite a nice car and are really keen to do better than 2012. So we will fight everything we can to be in the top three.”

Launch video Lotus E21 by Sky Sports

More reports to follow …

Susie Wolff to expand her role as development driver for Williams

By Berthold Bouman

Susie Wolff to expand her role as development driver for Williams - Photo: Williams F1The Williams Formula One team confirmed Susie Wolff will continue her role as development driver for the Grove-based team, and her level of involvement will even be increased in 2013. Wolff joined the team led by Sir Frank Williams in April 2012 and she spent a lot of time in the team’s simulator to develop the FW35, Williams’ 2013 contender.

Wolff will also do more in-car testing this season, and will be the first to drive the FW35 at Idiada next month, and will do the majority of the aerodynamic testing this season. Mike Coughlan, Williams’ Technical Director commented about Wolff and her role within the Williams team, “Susie has proved herself to be a valuable addition to our driver roster and her feedback during simulator sessions is second to none.”

And he added, “As a result we will be stepping up her role this year and I’m looking forward to the progress we can make with Susie’s input in conjunction with that of Pastor [Maldonado] and Valtteri [Bottas].”

Susie Wolff to expand her role as development driver for Williams - Photo: Williams F1

Susie Wolff – Photo: Williams F1

Wolff said in a Williams statement, “I really enjoy my time working with Williams and feel very much at home here. Last year was a valuable experience and I certainly feel that I’ve developed a lot as a driver.”

About stepping up her role as development driver she said, “Increasing my role this year will further this progression and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the FW35 for the first time next month.”

“I’m showing that women can play a role at the top-level of motorsport and would like to thank Sir Frank Williams and the whole of the technical team for the trust they continue to show in me.”

Susie Wolff-Stoddart was active in the German DTM touring car championship for seven years before she decided to move to Williams. In 2003 she won the BRDC Rising Star of the Year Award, and was nominated for the BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award in 2003 and 2004.

Timo Glock secures 2013 DTM drive with BMW after Valencia test

By Berthold Bouman

Timo Glock secures 2013 DTM drive with BMW after Valencia test - Photo: BMW MotorsportAfter a successful test in Valencia, Spain, Timo Glock secured a race seat at the BMW DTM team for the 2013 season. Glock, who agreed to leave the Marussia Formula One team earlier this week, will be BMW’s eighth driver and will race alongside current DTM champion Bruno Spengler (CA), Augusto Farfus (BR), Joey Hand (US), Andy Priaulx (GB), Martin Tomczyk (DE), Dirk Werner (DE) and Marco Wittmann (DE).

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt commented on Glock’s appointment, “We are delighted to have Timo Glock back at BMW Motorsport. Over the course of his career, Timo has proven on more than one occasion how valuable he is to any team, thanks to his driving ability and open manner.”

And he added, “The fact that he is now returning to the BMW family six years after leaving his role as test driver for the BMW Sauber F1 Team makes this appointment all the more pleasing. I am confident Timo will take no time at all to find his feet in the DTM and will give the fans a lot of pleasure.”

Timo Glock in the BMW M3 DTM car at Valencia - Photo: BMW Motorsport

Timo Glock in the BMW M3 DTM car at Valencia – Photo: BMW Motorsport

Glock is looking forward to the new challenge, “I had a fantastic time in Formula One, but am now looking forward to battling for victories again with my old friends at BMW Motorsport. That is the approach I shall be taking to the challenge of the DTM. I am obviously aware I will have to adapt to a few areas. Not all former Formula One drivers have found their feet immediately in the DTM.”

The 30-year old German driver, who spent five years of his race career in Formula One, had no problems adapting to the BMW M3 DTM car , “As someone who has spent many years driving in single-seaters, it was obviously very different for me to suddenly find myself in a car with a roof over my head. Fortunately the BMW M3 DTM made it very easy for me to adapt. The same goes for the members of the BMW Motorsport team, who welcomed me with open arms.”

About the past three years with Marussia he commented, “It was not always easy to spend three years in Formula One regularly watching other drivers from behind who were sometimes doing a worse job than me, but were still way ahead as they were in better cars. You want to finally be back challenging at the front of the field again and are hungry for good results. This hunger became more intense over the winter. Now is the right time for me to make a change. I am really up for the DTM!”

Asked about his goals for his debut season he said, “Even though I will initially have an awful lot to learn, I would obviously like to be in the points and, where possible, challenge for podiums. Augusto Farfus showed in 2012 what can be achieved as a rookie. That is driving me on. I want to get the very maximum out of my package and claim the best results possible for BMW.”

The DTM season starts at May 5 at the German Hockenheimring, and will end on October 20 on the same circuit. This season there are ten races, and one show event scheduled.

BMW completes first test at Valencia, Timo Glock happy with BMW M3 car

By Berthold Bouman

BMW completes first test at Valencia, Timo Glock happy with BMW M3 car - Photo: BMW MotorsportsBMW also successfully completed their first test of the 2013 season in Valencia, Spain. While Mercedes gave Robert Kubica a taste of their DTM car, BMW also had two special guests today: Formula One refugee Timo Glock and touring car driver Thomas Biagi.

Regular BMW works drivers Bruno Spengler (CA), Augusto Farfus (BR), Andy Priaulx (GB), Martin Tomczyk (DE) and Marco Wittmann (DE) were on duty at the wheel of the BMW M3 DTM the past three days at Valencia. Also new BMW team MTEK was present at the 4.005-kilometre Circuit de la Comunitat, unfortunately today’s test session was interrupted by heavy rain this morning.

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said, “Everyone at BMW Motorsport and all of our teams were desperately looking forward to the first test of the year. Our new team, BMW Team MTEK, enjoyed its first outing and Marco Wittmann took to the track as a regular DTM driver for the first time.”

About his guest drivers he commented, “Timo Glock and BMW Sports Trophy winner Thomas Biagi also made their debuts at the wheel of the BMW M3 DTM. That was a successful start to our preparations. However, we still have a lot of work ahead of us before the DTM season-opener on 5th May. At any rate, it is nice the new season is gaining momentum.”

Timo Glock happy with BMW M3 car - BMW Motorsports

Timo Glock felt at home at the BMW DTM team

After a long winter stop, 2012 DTM Champion Bruno Spengler was more than happy to get behind the wheel of his BMW again, “As soon as I stepped out of the plane in Valencia, I was immediately looking forward to getting back in the car after the long break. It was a very special feeling to drive out of the garage with the number one on my car for the first time. On the opening few laps it felt as though I had never got out of the car after the 2012 finale in Hockenheim.”

Glock, who agreed to end his contract with the Marussia Formula One team, was positive about his run with a, for him, unknown car. “My first impressions of the BMW M3 DTM were very positive. It did not take me long to get used to the car, and I came to understand it better with every lap. The fact that we were able to test in all conditions, from wet to dry, was perfect,” said the 30-year old German.

He felt very much at ease at the BMW DTM team, and a very relaxed Glock said, “I have been given a sensational welcome by everyone in the BMW Motorsport team, and even knew a few people from my time as a test driver for the BMW Sauber F1 Team.”

For the other guest driver Biagi, his outing in the BMW M3 was a dream come true. “Ever since I first heard that BMW Motorsport was returning to the DTM, I have dreamed of one day driving this BMW M3 DTM. That dream came true today. I knew I would enjoy this moment. But now, after 66 laps at the wheel of this unbelievable car, I’m simply speechless,” said the Italian driver.

And he added, “I would like to say a big thank you to BMW Motorsport for giving me this chance, and for the great support that privateers like me receive through the BMW Sports Trophy.”

Neither Glock nor Marquardt have made any comments about a possible BMW race seat for 2013, but BMW will compete with eight cars this season, if this test went well for Glock, surely Marquardt will find a place for him in one of his BMW teams.

All Photos: BMW Motorsport

Photo Gallery: Kubica completes first day of testing Mercedes DTM car

By Berthold Bouman

Photo Gallery: Kubica completes first day of testing Mercedes DTM carEx-Formula One driver Robert Kubica completed his first test in the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé on 24th January 2013 at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo. During this first test session in the world’s most popular touring car series, Kubica had to get accustomed to the handling characteristics of a racing car with which he was totally unfamiliar. He covered 114 laps, which equates to 456.570 kilometres, of the 4.005km circuit where he has posted so many test kilometres in Formula One in the past.

The 28-year old Kubica said about his first day of testing, “My first day of testing in a DTM car was great fun and I learned a lot about the series and the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. The first installation lap was in the dry, then a few heavy showers of rain came down and we had to wait for the track to dry out.”

And he added, “All in all, it was a good experience, getting to know the car in different weather conditions. I was able to get to grips with the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé and felt very comfortable in the car, even though after my long break it meant adjusting to the high downforce that a state-of-the art DTM race car produces. I’m very pleased with my performance on this first day of DTM testing and had no problems whatsoever in the car.”

All Photos: Daimler-Benz

Brawn dismisses rumours, still firmly in charge of Mercedes F1 team

By Berthold Bouman

Brawn dismisses rumours, still firmly in charge of Mercedes F1 team - Photo: DaimlerRoss Brawn has dismissed rumours that his position as Team Principal of the Mercedes Formula One team could be in doubt, and today confirmed he’s still in charge of the famous German Silver Arrows team. Mercedes has recently hired Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda to reinforce the management team, but there are no plans to replace Brawn.

“I am the team principal and I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters,” Brawn said today. “Toto is coming in and that’s a whole other side of the business that I don’t want to get involved in. I don’t want to get involved in, on a day-to-day basis, the commercial activities and I don’t want to get involved with the support we need to give Daimler on a day-to-day basis.”

And the Briton added, “There are a lot of things that Toto will be doing that are complimentary to what I’m doing in terms of running the team, but you have to have one reference. Everybody knows that the only way a racing team would work is to have one reference, and I’m that reference.”

Brawn, who previously has worked for Benetton and Ferrari and helped Michael Schumacher winning the Formula One crown seven times, said Mercedes wants ‘a long-time commitment’, and that is exactly why he stays as Team Principal. Apparently, Mercedes is trying to lure McLaren’s Technical Director Paddy Lowe to the team to succeed Brawn when his time has come.

Brawn dismisses rumours still firmly in charge of Mercedes F1 team - Photo: Daimler

Ross Brawn has no intention to leave the Mercedes team

“It’s like my succession plan at Ferrari. When I decided I was going to stop at Ferrari, we built a succession plan and I am part of that, I’ve talked to Paddy, we know the situation. I’m planning on being here for a very long time.”

Actually, Brawn isn’t really happy with all the media attention, “I think it’s a bit disappointing that it’s got into the media, because that’s disturbing for the team. I want our guys focused completely on doing the best job they can for this coming season.”

And he added, “It’s a really exciting time here and Lewis [Hamilton] is now spending some time here at the factory and there’s a huge buzz about the place for the coming season. That’s what we want to maintain and unfortunately those things are in the nature of the business, but they are distractions for people and I have to do the best that I can to make sure people don’t get distracted!”

Formula One: 2013 Car launches and pre-season testing schedule

By Berthold Bouman

Formula One: 2013 Car launches and pre-season testing scheduleThe 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship finally gets on its way with pre-season testing starting on February 5 at Jerez, Spain; three test sessions are scheduled in February and March. (see schedule below)

All teams bar Marussia have also announced their official launch date, Lotus will be first next Monday, and Williams will reveal their new car just ahead of the second test session which will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

Most teams have again opted for a more modest approach, and will unveil their 2013 contender during the first testing days of the season in Jerez. Only Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull will throw a real big party to celebrate the unveiling of their new car, but the smaller teams like to spend that money on the car itself, and not on the sponsors, VIP’s, photographers and reporters.

Formula One 2013 Car launches and pre-season testing schedule - Photo: Lotus F1

There were just a few changes in the regulations and it is therefore not likely that the 2013 cars will be much different from last year’s generation, most cars will actually be an evolution of the 2012 design. But there is one change the fans will welcome, teams are allowed to cover up the ugly stepped nose with a small piece of laminate — nicknamed a ‘modesty’ or ‘vanity’ panel — to smooth the nose section.

2013 Car Launches

January  28    Lotus          Online          View photos       E21
January  31    McLaren        Woking          View photos       MP4-28
February  1    Ferrari        Maranello       View photos       F138 
February  1    Force India    Silverstone     View photos       VJM06 
February  2    Sauber         Hinwil          View photos       C32          
February  3    Red Bull       Milton Keynes   View photos       RB9 
February  4    Mercedes       Jerez           Spain             W04 
February  4    Toro Rosso     Jerez           Spain             STR8 
February  5    Caterham       Jerez           Spain             CT03 
February  5    Marussia       Jerez           Spain             MRV02
February 19    Williams       Barcelona       Spain             FW35

Pre-season testing days

February 5-8                 Jerez            Spain
February 19-22               Barcelona        Spain
February 28 - March 3        Barcelona        Spain

Pirelli aiming for more tyre degradation and more pit stops in 2013

By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli aiming for more tyre degradation and more pit stops in 2013Pirelli is aiming for more tyre degradation and thus more pit stops in 2013, the Italian company announced today during the presentation of the Formula One 2013-spec tyres. The Italian tyre supplier completely revolutionised the P Zero dry weather tyres, but also the Cinturato wet weather tyres.

The tyre compounds will in general be softer, the structure of the tyres will be more flexible, and the shoulders of the tyres have been reinforced. Pirelli aims to improve the performance and to increase the thermal degradation to ‘open up more strategic options’ for all teams.

“The 2013 season continues the philosophy adopted by Pirelli last year in evolving the original 2011 range of Formula One tyres,” Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said.

At the start of the 2012 season teams had difficulties understanding the tyres, but as the season progressed teams could use their experiences to make the tyres last longer, which resulted in less competition.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery - Photo Pirelli

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery

“The goal is to continuously set new challenges for the drivers and to ensure that all the teams start the new season on a level playing field when it comes to the tyres. Through accumulating more information with each Grand Prix last year, the teams eventually fully understood the tyres, after a spectacular start with seven winners from the first seven races,” Hembery explained.

“The result at the end of the year was races with less competition and sometimes only one pit stop. This phenomenon was also observed in 2011, disappointing many fans and prompting some of the teams to ask us to continue developing our tyres further this year, in order to provide a fresh challenge with something different,” Hembery added.

Pirelli is now aiming for two to three stops per driver per race, which would make races even more attractive according to a statement issued today. Pirelli also promised to be more aggressive with the tyre allocations towards the end of the season.

Also new is that the sidewall of the hardest tyre will be orange marked, instead of silver, which will make it easier for the fans to spot the difference with the medium compound, white marked tyres.

Hembery doesn’t think teams will encounter problems getting the tyres at the correct working temperature like at the start of the 2012 season, “We don’t envisage that happening because the cars are so much more closely related to the previous year’s cars. Taking that out of the equation will certainly assist the teams, but they will have to get used to a little bit more degradation than they were at the end of last year.”

Just as last year, each car will have 11 sets of tyres available for the weekend, made up of six sets of the harder and five sets of the softer compound. The performance gap between each rubber compound will be more than half-a-second per lap, which, according to Pirelli, will ’encourage overtaking throughout the race’. Teams will get their first taste of the new tyres during pre-season testing, which starts on February 5 in Jerez, Spain.

Timo Glock to test BMW M3 DTM car in Valencia this week

By Berthold Bouman

Timo Glock to test BMW M3 DTM car in Valencia this week - Photo: Marussia F1After his sudden departure from the Marussia Formula One team, Timo Glock will this week test a BMW M3 DTM car . The 30-year old German driver will test the BMW M3 on the Circuit de la Comunitat in Valencia, Spain.

In a statement BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said, “We are pleased to be able to offer Timo Glock the opportunity to get to know our BMW M3 DTM in Valencia. Timo has demonstrated his driving ability over many years, particularly in Formula One. It is made all the nicer by the fact that he is, to a certain degree, returning to his roots in testing for BMW Motorsport.”

Glock, who yesterday hinted he already had made some plans for the future, was of course happy with the opportunity given by BMW. “I have fond memories of my time with BMW Motorsport and am very excited about testing the BMW M3 DTM,” said Glock. “Furthermore, I am bound to see a few familiar faces in Valencia from my previous time with BMW. I am really looking forward to it,” said the German.

Glock and BMW already worked together in 2000 and 2001, and won the Formula BMW ADAC title in 2001.

Glock will test BMW M3 DTM car this week - Photo: Marussia F1

Glock is a very experienced driver, he drove for Jordan four times in 2004 to replace Giorgio Pantano, and then spent one year in the American Champcar Series in 2005 — where he finished the season in eighth place — before he tried his luck in the GP2 series in 2006 and 2007. In 2007 he not only won the GP2 title, but he also re-started his Formula One career in 2007, as he was also appointed as the official test driver of the BMW Sauber Formula One team.

In 2008 Glock moved to the Japanese Toyota Formula One team, and did a pretty good job as he finished tenth in the Drivers’ Championship in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 he started his three-year stint with Marussia, then Virgin Racing (2010), and later Marussia Virgin Racing (2011).

Yesterday Marussia and Glock announced they would part company although he had a valid contract until the end of 2014.

Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes Formula One management team

By Berthold Bouman

Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes F1 management teamMercedes today announced Toto Wolff will join the Mercedes Formula One team, and together with Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda he will be guiding the team to more success. The Austrian entrepreneur will acquire ‘a significant minority interest’ in the German team, according to a Mercedes statement.

Mercedes announced triple World Champion Lauda will also acquire a stake in the German Silver Arrows team. Wolff’s arrival is part of the reorganisation of the Mercedes F1’s management team. Wolff will become executive director of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd, and will replace Norbert Haug, who left at the end of 2012 as he was held responsible for the lack lustrous past three seasons.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars and Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG said in a statement, “As an entrepreneur, investor and motorsport manager, Toto Wolff has proven that this sport runs in his blood; at the same time, he is also well aware of the economic necessities of the business. With Toto Wolff, we have gained for our Formula One team not only an experienced motorsport specialist, but also a long-standing enthusiast of the Mercedes-Benz brand.”

Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes F1 management team - Photo: Williams F1

Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes F1 management team – Photo: Williams F1

“Together with him and Niki Lauda, we will further develop our motorsport activities and guide our Silver Arrows into the next era.”

Wolff, who will retain his shares in the Williams Formula One team, commented about this new challenge, “Mercedes is one of the most important participants in motorsport worldwide. I am not only a big fan, but also a longstanding friend and enthusiast of the brand. I am looking forward to the challenge and, along with preparing for a successful racing season, also want to focus on the targeted promotion of new talent.”

“I am leaving Williams on good terms and I will miss the team and friends I have made there. I’d also like to wish Frank and the whole of Williams the best of luck for the future”, Wolff added.

Timo Glock leaves Marussia, new driver to be announced in due time

By Berthold Bouman

Timo Glock leaves Marussia, new driver to be announced in due timeMarussia today announced Timo Glock will, by mutual consent, leave the team with immediate effect. The 30-year old German driver joined Marussia, then named Virgin Racing, at the end of 2009, and according to the UK-based squad Glock played an important role in the development of the team’s car.

Team Principal John Booth said, “Timo has made a very significant contribution to our team over the past three seasons, helping us to develop our package to the point where, for a large proportion of the 2012 season, we were holding 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship.”

“Timo is a fantastic driver and he has been a very popular member of the team.”

Glock said in the official statement, “I have had three excellent years with the Marussia F1 team, during which I had the chance to actively participate in building and developing the team in its endeavours to succeed within the Formula One World Championship. I would like to wish the team good luck in navigating this next period and thank everyone for the great times we shared and the support I have received.”

About the next step in his racing career he said, “Although it is not the path I expected to be taking, I am in fact very excited about what the future holds in terms of my own career and I hope to comment on that very soon.”

Timo Glock leaves Marussia after three years - Photo: Marussia F1

Timo Glock leaves Marussia after three years – Photo: Marussia F1

Glock had a contract until the end of 2014, but nevertheless decided to quit. Although the Marussia statement didn’t address the reason why he left, Booth hinted commercial factors were behind Glock’s exit. “Our team was founded on the principle of benefiting from proven experience whilst also providing opportunities for young emerging talent to progress to the pinnacle of motorsport. Thus far, this philosophy has also been reflected in our commercial model,” Booth said.

And he further explained, “The ongoing challenges facing the industry mean that we have had to take steps to secure our long-term future. Tough economic conditions prevail and the commercial landscape is difficult for everyone, Formula One teams included.”

Which of course could mean that Glock will be replaced by a paying driver who will race alongside Max Chilton, who has an impressive sponsor portfolio. At the end of 2012 it became clear Marussia needed more funding, as they lost tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship, which is said to be worth some 10 million Euro.

Booth thanked Glock for his work with the Marussia team, “We would like to thank Timo for working with us to reach this decision, especially as he had a valid contract, and also for the contribution he has made to our team. We wish him all the best for his future and I would like to congratulate the next team acquiring the services of such a competitive, professional and experienced racer.”

Asked about Glock’s replacement Booth said, “We will provide an update regarding the completion of our driver line-up in due course.”

This also means there are now not two, but three race seats available for this season as Force India and Caterham also still have to announce their second driver.

Massa hoping to fight for 2013 title, McLaren and Red Bull main rivals

By Berthold Bouman

Massa hoping to fight for 2013 title, McLaren and Red Bull main rivalsJust like his team colleague Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa is determined to make the most of the 2013 season. The Brazilian driver had a difficult first half of the 2012 season, but found more speed in the second half, and was given another chance at the Ferrari family.

The Brazilian is confident ahead of this season, and is even aiming to fight for the title, “It’s always nice to start the year in Campiglio. Skiing and seeing everyone smiling is a great prelude to the season and I hope it is also a good sign for a championship in which I want to be a contender. I consider what I did in the second half of last year as training for this season and I want to be 100% competitive!”

“It was vital for me to change my approach, not so much in terms of understanding the car better or the tyres, but getting a better understanding of myself, believing in my ability, even when so many people said I’d lost it. I took to the track trying to find a sense of calm and especially trying to enjoy myself and that helped a lot in regaining my self-confidence,” Massa explained.

Not only does he hope to be a contender for the 2013 title, he also hopes Alonso will help him in the same way he helped the Spaniard the past seasons. “We are fighting for two titles and I am sure the team will help me if it turns out that my situation was the same as the one that meant Fernando was a contender these past years. I remember when Kimi was my team-mate and how much we helped one another from one season to the next,” said Massa.

Felipe Massa feels at home in the snow - Photo: Ferrari

Felipe Massa feels at home in the snow too – Photo: Ferrari

And he added, “It’s the same with Fernando, it’s team work, while the harmony between us is a help, as it would be in any job. In Australia we start over from zero and it will all depend on my ability and on the way the championship pans out. I hope to get off to the best possible start and my aim is always to carry the Brazilian flag onto the highest step of the podium.”

About Ferrari’s new car, which will be unveiled on February 1 in Maranello, he said, “We must wait and see the new car on track and right from the second test, we will have some indication, but it won’t be until Australia that we will know if we have done a good job.”

About Ferrari’s main rivals he was clear, “Vettel is definitely one of our main rivals, but McLaren also finished last year with a very quick car and the stability of the regulations means they too will be contenders. In any case, I am confident in my team and I am sure Ferrari will be in the hunt!”

Alonso ignores politics, but Hamilton still strongest rival this season

By Berthold Bouman

Alonso ignores politics but Hamilton still strongest rival this seasonDuring Ferrari’s annual ‘Vrooom’ press meeting at Madonna di Campiglio in Italy, Fernando Alonso said he doesn’t want to be involved in politics. He reacted on recent remarks from other drivers and said, “I don’t think I am good at politics, I just drive the car. Some recent remarks have surprised me, but I can’t see the sense in them.”

The Spaniard said Lewis Hamilton, who moved from McLaren to Mercedes this season, is still his main rival, “Why do I say Hamilton is the strongest? Because it’s what I think, it’s my personal opinion and there is nothing political in that. Lewis has always won races ever since he has been in Formula One, even in years like 2009, when he had started the season with a car that was two seconds off the quickest.”

The 2005 and 2006 World Champion thinks Mercedes is ready to win more races this season, “When you look at what happens on track, you are well aware of what he [Lewis] is doing, that’s a fact. Last year, Rosberg won in China, therefore I expect that this year, Lewis in a Mercedes can win more than one race.”

And of course triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel will also be a strong contender for this year’s title. “There have been periods, like in 2011, when his performance level was fantastic and he was definitely the best,” said Alonso about the German.

Fernando Alonso at the 23rd Vrooom meeting - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso at the 23rd Vrooom meeting – Photo: Ferrari

But Alonso can’t look into the future, “As of today, it’s impossible to say who will be our strongest rivals in 2013. Who will have the best car, who will have done the best job of preparation and had the best development, who will be the luckiest: there are so many factors which go to make the strongest combination of driver and team.”

The man from Oviedo, Spain, reckons the exhaust development will once again play an important role this season, “It’s true it’s not as important as two years ago, but we saw last year that it still played a significant role and that everyone worked on it a great deal.”

He’s also confident the Pirelli tyres won’t cause any problems in 2013, “The tyres are not as critical, unless there is a specific problem, as for example we had with the hardest compound in 2011: they are the same for all the teams and, if they are within the mean point, they won’t make the difference, neither for the better nor for the worse.”

But Alonso, like Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, has one wish for the future: less races, and more testing. “Twenty races is a lot and it’s not easy to maintain a maximum performance level, both physical and mental, for the whole year. Maybe it would be better to have one or two fewer races and a few more test sessions,” he said.

Testing will start on February 5, in Jerez, Spain.

Domenicali: Ferrari’s goal is to win the 2013 World Championship

By Berthold Bouman

Domenicali: Ferrari's goal is to win the 2013 World ChampionshipDuring a press meeting in Madonna di Campiglio Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said winning the 2013 title is the ultimate goal of the Maranello-based team.

Earlier this month it was announced that Ferrari had split the design teams, one team will be working on the 2013 car, and the other team will work on the 2014 car, while Nicolas Tombazis continues as Chief Designer.

“The 2013 season will be a complex one from many points of view,” said Domenicali. “We face a few changes on the technical front which will have a significant impact on all areas of the company, not just in terms of design, but also when it comes to the investment and infrastructure required to develop the new engine,” the Italian team boss explained.

The 2013 car is currently being tested in the Cologne-based wind tunnel originally build for the Toyota Formula One team, as Ferrari is rebuilding their wind tunnel in Maranello. “Our aim is clear, to win and the priority is still that of giving our drivers a car that will be competitive right from the very start. The development of the 2013 car began in the Cologne wind tunnel and is ongoing,” said Domenicali.

Earlier this month Domenicali said Ferrari will not suffer a repeat of their 2012 testing troubles. “What happened to us last year in the first winter test in Jerez, will not happen to us this year, because we are now sure that the wind tunnel gives us no more surprises,” he said. Ferrari experienced problems with their wind tunnel last year, as the results in the wind tunnel could not be replicated on track, the reason Ferrari will use the Toyota wind tunnel until their own wind tunnel has been completely rebuilt.

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa

Domenicali is confident Felipe Massa will be at the front of the field this season and help Ferrari to clinch the title, “Personally, there was a lot of pressure on me regarding possible changes, but in the interests of the team, I preferred to wait and today, I’m convinced that keeping Felipe in the Ferrari family was the right decision.”

The annual Vrooom meeting in Madonna di Campiglio - Photo: Ferrari

“His performance in the second half of the season contributed significantly to our second place in the Constructors’ classification: for the team that is a strong point and for Fernando, it provides further impetus to try even harder.”

About Ferrari’s star driver Fernando Alonso he said, “His strength as a champion and his great fighting spirit is a guarantee for himself and for the team: our responsibility is to give him a car with which he can make the most of his abilities and his killer instinct.”

Domenicali also dismissed the usual rumours about Sebastian Vettel joining the Reds in the future, “I think our President has already commented on this subject several times: a dream team is fantastic if it is correctly managed, but at the moment we are not looking at that, because we want to ensure the team is as well-balanced as possible.”

About the criticism aimed at Alonso he remarked, “As usual, there are people who try and stir up the politics, believing they will provoke a reaction, but I am deaf to these things and I believe Fernando is totally focused on his performance, while I can assure you that the team will give its answer on the track, with deeds, not words!”

Pedro de la Rosa joins Ferrari

Pedro de la Rosa joins Ferrari - Photo: FerrariCertainly good news for Alonso’s compatriot Pedro de la Rosa, who was left without a drive after the demise of the Spanish HRT team. The Spaniard will join Ferrari as a development driver, and will spend a lot of time in the simulator. He will also be involved in technical, racing and commercial activities.

“We decided to add de La Rosa to our group of drivers mainly to strengthen one area, namely work in the simulator, which with the current regulations regarding testing, is becoming ever more important,” Domenicali said today in Madonna di Campiglio.

De la Rosa said about his new job, “It is amazingly motivating to be working for a team like Ferrari, not just because of what it represents in the history of Formula One and motoring in general, but also because it will be a completely new and very stimulating experience for me.” And he added, “I really hope I can get to work as soon as possible and to help in the development of the car.”

Video: Wrooom 2013 – Relaxing in the snow

Kovalainen plays down rift with Caterham’s technical boss Gascoyne

By Berthold Bouman

Kovalainen plays down rift with Caterham’s technical boss GascoyneHeikki Kovalainen has played down the criticism of Caterham’s technical boss Mike Gascoyne, who recently commented that it was the Finn’s lack of respect for the team that had harmed his chances to secure a race seat with Caterham for this season.

The rift started after Kovalainen had said in an interview conducted by Autosport that he believed the limited funding he has is the biggest hurdle in fiding a seat for this season, and also complained thay his recent driving had gone unnoticed.

“Of course we’re working flat-out to see if we can do something about it, but the problem is the results that I’ve had over these last two or three years have not been enough to get in a top car, and then the average teams are in a situation now where they have to take pay drivers, and that rules out the second half of the grid,” Kovalainen said to Autosport.

And he added, “It’s a tricky situation that I’m in now, although people say you’ve driven well, you’ve done a good job, the fact is that 15th or 16th or 17th on paper that is not as good as someone who’s been sixth or seventh or eighth. It was slightly surprising, I thought after last season and the last couple of years I thought I’d be in a better position on the market.”

Heikki Kovalainen - Photo: Caterham F1

Heikki Kovalainen – Photo: Catherham F1

Gascoyne last week reacted on Kovalainen’s complaints and stated money indeed plays an important role, and admitted Caterham is considering to replace Kovalainen by a pay driver. “We realise what the game is. People [and teams] boom and bust easily,” he said. “We have come in and done a very steady job compared to other new teams and have been professional, but we’ve taken a step back and said ‘Ok, we are not going to get there straight away, we need to manage our budgets, manage investment and build up our resources so we are here for the long term’.”

Gascoyne, however, thinks there are other reasons the 31-year old driver still hasn’t secured his seat at Caterham, “It is actually a great shame, Heikki is a very talented driver but, last year, his management did not handle him very well and he has not done himself any favours. He has had three years with Caterham, was paid well, and he should have shown more respect about that.”

The rift continued today as Kovalainen played down Gascoyne’s comments. “I have always had a good relationship with him,” he said, adding, “My relationship with him will continue even now. Mike is a seasoned professional and he and I have worked together for a long time.”

The Finn also stated the current negotiations only concern him, Tony Fernandes and Cyril Abiteboul — Caterham’s new Team Principal — and Gascoyne has nothing to do with it. About his future he said, “At the moment, the negotiations are continuing and I am not thinking about anything other than Formula One. First, let’s finish playing the game until the end.”

“Then, when we know the outcome, [we will] think about what to do next.”

Jackie Stewart: Jenson Button should be McLaren’s number one driver

By Berthold Bouman

Jackie Stewart: Jenson Button should be McLaren’s number one driverAfter Lewis Hamilton decided to move to Mercedes and was replaced by Mexican Sergio Perez, there have been speculations about who should play the leading role at McLaren in 2013. Sir Jackie Stewart said in an interview with Press Association that he believes 2009 World Champion Jenson Button would be the perfect candidate for that role.

McLaren have stated both drivers will get equal treatment as Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh last week said, “They will definitely have equal treatment; that’s how we operate. I think that dynamic, that competition within the team is good and we’re here to win world championships so both drivers want to be part of that.”

Stewart, however, said, “It’s not a question of equal footing this year. You’ve someone in Jenson who knows the engineers, telemetry people, knows the business, and who has been there, seen it and done it.”

The triple World Champion is adamant Button is able to win the title again, “So I think he can do it again with the right equipment, and there cannot be a better supplier of that equipment than McLaren.”

About McLaren he said, “They are about as good as they come. They’ve got the facilities, so many assets, so yes, he can do it if the car is good enough and he is psyched up enough. He no longer has to keep up with Lewis and that’s a mental thing, so he has to see himself as the number one driver, and that McLaren are depending on him.”

378 Sir Jackie Stewart - Photo: Williams F1

Sir Jackie Stewart – Photo: Williams F1

But Stewart also hinted Button should now score more wins, and he thinks consistency is the key to be the number one driver, “When he wins races they are beautifully controlled races, you just know he is not going to fly off the race track or make huge errors of judgement. He is very solid. Whether he has what it takes to be a serial winner, the jury is still out because he hasn’t done that yet.”

Indeed, it will be interesting to see whether Button will be faster than Perez to begin with, and whether he can use his vast experience to take on a leading role in the McLaren team. Of course not just Perez will be a formidable opponent for the Briton, but also triple World Champion Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel will give him plenty of opposition, as well as Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who was second in last year’s championship.

Testing for the 2013 season will start on February 5, at the Jerez circuit in Spain. McLaren will launch its 2013 contender on January 31, but still have to announce where the unveiling will take place.

Sergio Perez targets 2013 crown in first year with McLaren

By Berthold Bouman

Sergio Perez targets 2013 crown in first year with McLarenSergio Perez aims to win the 2013 Drivers’ Championship with his new employer, the McLaren team. For the 22-year old Mexican, who left the Sauber team last year, it is a dream come true, he said in an interview with Sky Sports, “As soon as you walk through these doors, you see these great cars and there is so much history with this team that you immediately feel great. It’s a dream come true to drive for this team.”

And he added, “I’m here to give everything I can, to do my very best in every single race, inside and outside of the car, and to work with this great family at McLaren. When you come to McLaren, this [winning the World Championship] must be your target, otherwise you shouldn’t join McLaren. Everybody here is working for that goal and I’m coming here to do the same.”

Perez was hired to replace Lewis Hamilton who will drive for Mercedes this season, and ‘Checo’ as his nickname is, was impressed by the welcome he got from McLaren’s staff. “It takes some time to realise that you are driving for the best team in the world, that you are part of the best team,” he said.

“It makes me feel very proud to be part of such a great family, everybody is so warm — such a close family. And everybody enjoys, loves working for McLaren.”

Martin Whitmarsh welcomes Sergio Perez - Photo: McLaren

Perez currently lives in Switzerland, but has no plans to move. “I won’t move to the UK,” he was quoted saying by Reuters. “But I will be here very often with the team, close to the team. My main responsibility and my main goal is to win races, to be 100 percent fit … so it’s extremely important to reduce the travelling as much as possible and be focused on the team.”

About his new team mate 2009 World Champion Jenson Button he said, “I think he’s quite a nice guy, a very open guy as well, like me. He’s always with his family around, a bit like me as well, so I expect to have a good relationship with him although you never know. But I see Jenson as a very open guy.”

But Perez also admitted he has a lot to learn, and to win his first race for McLaren means he will first have to beat Button, “It’s very difficult to tell you in which race I will beat Jenson and have my first win. I have to get myself ready and get myself as ready as possible for the first race and score as many points as possible from the first race onwards.”

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said both drivers will get equal treatment within the team, “People like to have that debate but the fact is Jenson has got the advantage in terms of he knows the team, he’s got the experience and he’s been world champion.”

And he added, “So he’s got a lot of things going for him, and he’s also a great driver. But Jenson will be very generous. I know him very well, he’ll be generous in his time, his opinion, his guidance, but when they pull out the garage Jenson will want to beat Sergio; when Sergio pulls out of the garage he’ll want to beat Jenson!”

Perez started his Formula One career at the Swiss Sauber team in 2011, but a serious accident at Monaco meant he was sidelined for a few weeks, he was back in time for the European Grand Prix in Valencia, and scored 14 points that season.

In 2012 Perez was able to display his real talent in the very fast Sauber car, and took three podium places, scored 66 points, and finished 10th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Sergio Perez visits the McLaren Technology Centre – Photos: McLaren