Alguersuari & Schumacher to race karts

Unable to find a race seat for his F1 return, Jaime Alguersuari has signed up for a season of kart racing.

Spain’s El Confidencial reports that the former Toro Rosso driver will combine his continuing role as Pirelli test driver with a seat in the powerful KZ kart category of the European championship.

“The truth is that I miss competition and so I will compete in what most resembles a Formula One car,” said the 22-year-old. “I don’t know if I will return to formula one but I don’t want to believe that my career is over at twenty two,” added Alguersuari.

It has also emerged that the newly re-retired Michael Schumacher is returning to kart racing, and will contest the WSK Euro Series race at Ialy’s La Conca circuit for Tony Kart.

Curiously, one of his competitors this weekend will be Max Verstappen, the 15-year-old son of his former Benetton teammate, Dutchman Jos Verstappen.

Source:GMM

Bad weather and car ‘holes’ for final winter test

Teams are concerned about a forecast of bad weather for the final week of pre-season testing, according to the German language Speed Week.

Last week, the ‘middle’ Spanish test ended with cold and wet conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya.

“I can’t remember having a full test day this cold,” said Australian Mark Webber.

More of the same is en route again to northeastern Spain. The last four days of testing before the season opener in Australia begins in Barcelona on Thursday, and on the morning of the opening day “it will start raining”, predicted correspondent Mathias Brunner.

The cold weather and rain is forecast to continue on Friday and possibly into early Saturday, with only the last day of running on Sunday so far looking sunny. As well as scanning the radar images, eyes this week will also be straining to catch a glimpse of rival teams’ final Melbourne-spec technical packages.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport has already spied conspicuous and mysterious ‘holes’ on the Sauber, Ferrari and Red Bull cars.

Sauber began the trend for nose inlets last year, and now the new Ferrari has a hole that resembles a shark’s mouth in the area beneath the nose of the car.

“And if you look closely,” said correspondent Tobias Gruner, “you can also recognise an intake on the Red Bull.”

Source:GMM

V6 to deliver less horse power, eighth gear – Renault

With the sophisticated ‘ERS’ energy recovery systems to complement next year’s V6 engines, F1 is not set to lose much horse power. That is the claim of Rob White, engine supplier Renault’s technical boss.

“Today’s engines produce around 750 horse power,” White, referring to the normally aspirated V8 units that will be used for the very last time in 2013, told Speed Week. “In qualifying, with the high performance (ERS) system, we will come very close to this value (with the turbo V6s),” he explained.

“In the race, with fuel consumption altering the objective, it will be at 550 to 600 hp,” added White.

Another change next year is the move from 7-speed to 8-speed gearboxes. Fans and promoters are, however, worried about the inferior sound of the new 1.6 litre units.

“The concern is unfounded,” White insisted. “The new engines are loud and the sound does justice to Formula One. “The glowing turbo is also a spectacle visually.”

White said F1’s engine makers are currently negotiating about possibly being allowed to test the V6 engines in the weeks before the usual February test period next year.

Finally, as the teams consider the higher cost of being engine customers in 2014 and beyond, White explained: “We hope to be able to balance the cost against the fact that we will have stable rules for at least seven years.”

Source:GMM

McLaren says Mercedes wooed Lowe with ‘exotic salary’

McLaren suspects its former technical director Paddy Lowe was lured to Mercedes on the promise of a “telephone number salary”.

“From time to time we have all done it,” managing director Jonathan Neale told reporters this week, after McLaren confirmed it has installed Tim Goss in Lowe’s former role, as the 50-year-old begins a period of ‘gardening leave’. “People are prepared to pay exotic salaries and wait 12 or 18 months, or longer in some cases. That’s the state of the market,” he said.

It is strongly rumoured that Lowe is headed to Mercedes, where multiple sources insist he will almost certainly replace team boss Ross Brawn.

“He (Lowe) has to think about number one,” Jenson Button, who has worked closely with Lowe since joining the Woking based team as world champion in 2010, said. Button denied Lowe’s departure is a personal blow.

“I didn’t come here because Paddy was here, I didn’t come here because Lewis (Hamilton) was here,” said the 33-year-old. “I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history, and – a word we always use, but it is the truth – its ‘strength in depth’.”

Having also lost star driver Hamilton to Mercedes, some have suggested McLaren’s similar failure to hang onto its top engineer is a major management error.

Neale insisted: “The reality is that if somebody rolls up and says ‘I don’t like being here, you are not paying me enough money’ or whatever, then even if you have a good contract, you don’t want them in the team anyway.”

So with Lowe looking set to oust Mercedes’ Brawn, could McLaren make a move for the former Ferrari technical director?

“Ross, by his own admission, would say he hasn’t achieved what he wanted to in the last few years,” answered Neale. “He is still a fantastic guy and still well respected through the industry — a great leader of men and a good technical guy.

“But it is about the chemistry and the blend,” he added.

Source:GMM

Domenicali: New Ferrari not quickest in field

Stefano Domenicali has admitted Ferrari will probably not field the fastest car at the 2013 season opener next month.

Indeed, based on the results of the opening two tests of the pre-season, most rivals and pundits think world champion Red Bull is still in the lead. Veteran correspondent Roger Benoit, of the Swiss newspaper Blick, ranks Lotus second in his early 2013 pecking order, followed by McLaren and then last year’s runner-up Ferrari.

“The target is to be close together with the leading cars,” Maranello based Ferrari’s team boss Domenicali told Reuters. “I would be very surprised if it (the F138) was the quickest at the first race. But if we are all close together in a couple of tenths, then the season is really long and everything is possible.”

Last year, Ferrari and Fernando Alonso fought back into contention after a dire start, and both the Spanish driver and Felipe Massa have said the F138 is on “a different planet” compared to what they had early in 2012.

Still, their 2013 machine will probably not be dominant, Domenicali warns.

“In Australia it is not the end of the championship, it’s just the start. We need to be careful and stay cool,” he added.

Source:GMM

Tost: Red Bull still best in 2013

Red Bull is still F1’s top team, according to Franz Tost.

Austrian Tost is the boss of the energy drink company’s Italian based second F1 team, Toro Rosso.

Asked to ponder the 2013 pecking order following two of the three pre-season tests in Spain, Tost answered: “The teams are close together, but by and large, not much has changed.

“Red Bull Racing will be the measure of all things in 2013,” he said in an interview with Speed Week. “Hopefully Toro Rosso will make a significant step forward,” added Tost.

Source:GMM

Prost hoping for 2014 French Grand Prix

Alain Prost, the quadruple world champion, is hopeful France host another Formula One race next season.

It has been five years since France last host an F1 race and both Magny Cours and Paul Ricard had been linked to hosting a 2013 Grand Prix.

“I still read in the press that there are opportunities for 2013,” Prost, who was involved in the talks, is quoted by France’s Sport24. “It is of course impossible. However, for 2014, there are possible openings (for France).

“There are a few grands prix in doubt but also many new projects considered by (Bernie) Ecclestone,” said Prost.

Source:GMM