McLaren admits Lowe’s McLaren future uncertain

A notable absentee at the launch of McLaren’s 2013 car on Thursday was technical director Paddy Lowe.

Ross Brawn confirmed recently that Lowe, initially in talks with Williams, had discussed a possible future move to Mercedes. McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh told reporters at Woking, where the wraps were taken off the evolutionary MP4-28, that 50-year-old Briton Lowe is staying put for 2013.

“The future is less certain,” he admitted.

As for why Lowe is sitting out the launch, Whitmarsh said the technical director made the decision himself, to save the team the “embarrassment” of facing up to the recent controversy on the eve of McLaren’s fiftieth anniversary.

Lowe “doesn’t want to be a distraction,” Whitmarsh said. “At his own election he felt it was inappropriate to be here.

“He’ll be part of the team for the rest of this year,” he added.

McLaren has followed Ferrari’s lead by switching to a novel ‘pull-rod’ layout for the MP4-28’s front suspension.

Racing it in 2013 will be Jenson Button and new arrival Sergio Perez.

“The MP4-28 isn’t merely a refinement of last year’s seven-race winning car,” McLaren said in a statement, “it’s a deep and sweeping redesign of an already successful chassis in several key areas.”

Source:GMM

Sutil still hoping for 2013 F1 return

Just days before 2013’s pre-season testing begins, Adrian Sutil has revealed he is still not giving up on an F1 comeback this season.

Sutil was strongly rumoured to be returning to F1 with his former team Force India. However the long delay in the team announcing their full driver lineup has many believing that Sutil may not be given the raceseat after all.

Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmerman has said that he still believes Sutil will be racing this year. “Basically, we still believe in the 2013 comeback,” he said.

He also admitted to DPA news agency, however, that he is “not sure” if Sutil will have a cockpit to occupy for the forthcoming opening 2013 test at Jerez.

“At the moment we are waiting for the final decision, and of course we would prefer it sooner rather than later,” Zimmermann said.

As for whether Timo Glock’s shock departure at Marussia had contributed to the delay, Sutil’s manager said the events are “unrelated”, whilst acknowledging that the pay-driver situation was “significant for F1”.

Source:GMM

Kaltenborn excuses Frijns for Sauber criticism

Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn has hinted that new reserve driver Robin Frijns will get a Friday practice outing this season.

Earlier this week, 21-year-old reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion and Dutchman Frijns complained that he will “not have much to do” in 2013. He had told Dutch magazine Formule1 that he is not required by his new Swiss employer for the forthcoming winter test period, and it “looks unlikely I will be used during the Friday practice sessions”.

“And Sauber has no simulator so I can’t gain experience in that way,” added Frijns.

Kaltenborn reacted to Frijn’s comments by excusing his implied criticism.

“Robin is still young,” she told the Swiss newspaper Blick, “so we should not place his every word on golden scales.

“He said what he said, but he is also irritated because he has not yet found a place in GP2 for this season. The development (programmes) for the young drivers is a real problem,” Kaltenborn continued. “The best thing for each team would be to give every reserve driver at least one go on a Friday (practice session).”

Source:GMM

Nurburgring to host 2013 F1 race?

Nurburgring officials have reached an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone to host the German grand prix as scheduled in July – that is the claim of the German newspapers Allgemeine Zeitung and Rhein Zeitung, following a long-running ‘on again, off again’ saga surrounding the fortunes of the financially beleaguered Nurburgring.

Mere hours before the latest reports, which were confirmed by Rhineland-Palatinate state spokeswoman Monika Fuhr, F1 chief executive Ecclestone had admitted the Nurburgring’s future was still clouded.

“It’s all a bit messy,” he was quoted by the Daily Mail. “At the moment the race is on, off, on, off, but we’re doing our best to get it sorted.”

SID news agency said a race will definitely be held at the Nurburgring in July, although “it is unclear whether it will be (called) the German or the European grand prix”.

“It’s all a little bit political,” said Ecclestone, referring to the naming dispute between the Nurburgring-linked body AvD, and ADAC, a rival Hockenheim-linked German automobile club.

One report said ADAC had even submitted a proposal to host the race at the Nurburgring.

“It’s all a bit messy with different political groups fighting each other,” said Ecclestone.

SID reported that the news about the Nurburgring’s July 7 race will be announced at a press conference on Thursday.

Kolner Express newspaper said “government sources” had confirmed the media reports.

“This is good news for the region,” said state spokeswoman Fuhr.

Source:GMM

Marko: Horner is not leaving Red Bull

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko has refuted rumours that team boss Christian Horner could be headed to Ferrari in the near future.

Horner has recently visited Maranello and this has prompted rumours that he could be defecting to the scarlet-clad F1 team. This is despite the fact that several noted F1 figures were also present – including Bernie Ecclestone, Martin Whitmarsh and Niki Lauda – to discuss the Concorde Agreement with Luca di Montezemolo.

Marko told Sport Bild, “How could Christian be negotiating in Maranello if we’ve just extended his contract until 2017?”

Source:GMM

Ferrari call 2013 car F138

Ferrari will call its 2013 F1 car F138.

Until now, insiders have referred to the famous Italian team’s next contender as ‘664’ — its working project title. But following last year’s car F2012, there has been speculation Ferrari would not simply call its successor F2013 — perhaps because Fernando Alonso failed to win the title with the conventionally numbered ’12’, and because of the prominence of the unlucky number 13.

Ferrari, however, explained on Wednesday that the 2013 car is called F138 in deference to the year (’13) and the number of cylinders in the engine (8).

Indeed, 2013 is the final year of F1’s long-standing normally aspirated V8 rules, ahead of the sweeping change to turbo V6s for 2014 and beyond. Ferrari confirmed that the ‘8’ in the 2013 car’s title is “partly to mark the fact that this will be the last year that the V8 engine configuration will be used” in F1.

F138 will be launched at Maranello on Friday.

Before that, McLaren’s MP4-28 will be unveiled at Woking on Thursday, preceding a flurry of launch activity.

On the same day as Ferrari’s launch, Force India’s VJM06 will be revealed at Silverstone, before Sauber’s C32 is unveiled at Hinwil on Saturday. The next day, Red Bull’s RB9 will emerge at Milton Keynes, while over at Jerez – ahead of the week’s debut test action – Mercedes will launch the W04.

Then, as the engines begin to fire at Jerez on Tuesday, Caterham will launch the CT03. Williams’ new FW36 will not be seen until the second test, at Barcelona, while Marussia has not said when its 2013 car will be revealed.

Source:GMM

Glock: Ecclestone model starving small teams

F1’s funding model is ‘starving’ the smaller teams, Marussia refugee Timo Glock claims.

The 30-year-old German has had to leave F1 for the DTM touring car series for 2013, because Marussia need to replace him with a pay-driver.

“I learned the hard way,” said Glock, “that it is extremely difficult for a small team to come out of the cellar. The top teams get a lot of money from Bernie Ecclestone, starving the small teams a little bit. Finding partners to improve the budget is increasingly difficult,” he is quoted by Speed Week.

Indeed, the smaller teams are apparently becoming increasingly reliant on ‘pay drivers’ to boost their coffers, and it is expected that – like Glock – the next victim of this trend will be Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen.

“There have always been pay drivers,” Glock admitted. “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.”

He said Marussia in particular was caught out by the political wranglings of a few years ago, when small teams’ interest was sparked by former FIA president Max Mosley’s plans for a budget cap.

“The approach of building a car only with CFD could have worked if the budget cap had come in,” said Glock. “But it didn’t. We then determined early on that you can’t do it just with CFD, you also need the wind tunnel, and by then the collaboration with McLaren had come too late.

“Last year, we showed that we can make a step forward, and found more than 1.5 seconds (per lap). But in order to make the big step, you need double the budget.”

Der Spiegel reported last week that Marussia only managed to vacate Glock’s cockpit for 2013 after paying him his retainer.

He responded: “Then they know quite a lot, or more than I do. On contractual things I can’t say much. It’s mine and Marussia’s business only.”

As for whether he has closed the chapter on F1, having reportedly signed a three-year contract with BMW, Glock insisted: “Let’s wait.

“At the moment I’m focusing on what lies ahead. What happens in the next few years, we wait and see.”

Source:GMM

‘Scorpion’ team could rise from HRT’s ashes

A new F1 team could rise from the ashes of the failed Spanish outfit HRT.

Reports – including in the Spanish newspaper AS – claim a group of investors from Canada and the US want to enter this year’s world championship with an evolution of HRT’s 2012 car, featuring a Cosworth engine and Williams gearbox. The team is reportedly called Scorpion Racing, and the Press Association said it would be based at Silverstone and operate with equipment bought from HRT.

But there could be an issue with getting up and running for 2013, given that the official entry deadline for this season’s championship closed last November.

Bernie Ecclestone is quoted as saying: “I’ve spoken to them and told them to get in touch with the FIA and ask for an entry.

“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.”

The Press Association said the FIA did not want to respond in detail until it receives more ‘concrete’ information from Scorpion.

Source:GMM

Webber ‘not part of Marko’s agenda’

Recovered from an operation to remove a forty centimetre rod from his once badly broken leg, Mark Webber on Tuesday said he is ready to hit the track in 2013.

“Now I’m back into it (training) properly,” said the Australian.

But, back with Red Bull for another season, the 36-year-old also turned his attention to some recent criticism fired at him by the outspoken Dr Helmut Marko.

Marko, openly fonder of the team’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, aimed jibes at Webber’s alleged dips in form and struggles to cope with pressure.

Asked about that, Webber answered: “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.”

Source:GMM

Glock: Small teams ‘stuck in vicious circle’

Timo Glock has lamented the trend at the back of F1’s grid.

The salaried German has been dropped by Marussia mid-contract, with the backmarker team openly admitting it needs to replace him with a sponsored driver. 30-year-old Glock has switched to DTM with BMW.

“A few years ago,” he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, “if the gap (to the front teams) was one or two centimetres, now it is ten.”

Indeed, HRT has folded, Marussia has cleared space for a second pay-driver, and Caterham is yet to announce a teammate for Charles Pic — and it is unlikely to be the highly rated Heikki Kovalainen.

“As long as this model (in F1) continues, it will be increasingly difficult for the smaller teams to stay in the race,” Glock predicted. “And next year, with the new engines, then Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes will pull even further ahead.”

Needing ‘pay drivers’ simply to stay afloat but then suffering on track as a result, Glock said the smallest teams are “stuck in a vicious circle”.

Source:GMM