Chilton happy with Formula One debut

Max Chilton has said he is happy with his F1 debut. The 21 year old British driver finished 17th at the Australian Grand Prix, a full lap behind his team-mate Jules Bianchi after a collision with the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde caused him into an early pitstop.

“It was great beforehand because all the crowd were cheering my name on the parade lap,” Chilton said. “I enjoyed that.

“Overall, I was happy with the job I did and the car, and I can now tick off the fact I have done an F1 race and brought the car home. That was the goal. It’s good to get the race under my belt, even if it was less than straightforward, and we now know where we stand relative to the competition.

“I hit the blue flag period (waved to back markers), and it was a bit of a battle to recover the ground I lost,’

“Obviously you don’t want to be messing up other people’s race, but there is a bit of an art to it and you learn when to go off line. It is one of those things you don’t know until you’ve done a race.”

Chilton has revealed that the team are confident ahead of the next race in Malaysia. Having managed to get on the podium in GP2 last season Chilton is looking forward to next weekend’s Malaysian race.

“We are confident,” Chilton continued. “Although the race had its frustrations, I feel like I’ve learned a lot I perhaps wouldn’t have learned otherwise and that will be useful experience over the next few races.

“I am looking forward to Malaysia now so I can roll all that back into my racing and be able to take the fight to the midfield pack.

“I was in Malaysia last year in GP2 and I managed to get on the podium, so I know the track in the wet and dry.”

Grosjean: Something felt wrong with my car

Romain Grosjean has said he thinks there might have been an underlying issue with his Lotus during the Australian Grand Prix.

Whilst his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen won the race, Grosjean finished in 10th position having qualified just one place behind his Finnish team-mate.

“Something felt wrong with my car,” Grosjean said. “I have to sit down with the team and analyze where this issue came from.

“It felt so good all weekend until the race itself. But, in the end, the race was long and quite difficult for me.

“We know that Albert Park can be a tricky circuit and the weather has certainly not helped today. It’s been a great weekend for the team with Kimi’s win so it’s clear there’s pace in the car. Let’s hope I can unlock that pace too next weekend in Sepang.”

Hulkenberg disappointed at having to sit out Australian GP

Nico Hulkenberg has said he is disappointed that he was unable to race at the 2013 Formula One season opener.

The German driver had qualified in 11th position however hydraulic problems coupled with a qualifying session that took place just six hours prior to the actual race start meant he was unable to get his car fixed in time.

“I’m bitterly disappointed about what happened today,” Hulkenberg explained. “But at the same time I’m not blaming anyone. Things like this happen in racing.

“What is particularly bothering me is the fact that I lost all this mileage today, which is so important particularly at the beginning of the season. It would have given me a lot of valuable data and information for the next races.

“Obviously, Melbourne is not a good place for me. It was my third grand prix here and the third time that I leave this place empty handed. The only good thing is that the next race takes place next weekend.”

Webber: I had KERS and telemetry issues

Having qualified on the front row of the grid alongside his team-mate, Mark Webber eventually finished sixth at his home race in Melbourne. According to the Australian, he suffered from telemetry and KERS issues which did not help his race.

“We had a lot of telemetry issues on the grid and absolutely no idea what the car was doing in terms of KERS, in terms of clutch and all sorts of stuff,” Webber revealed. “The guys were quite nervous with that and I was too. We didn’t really have much of an idea in terms of getting information back to the pits.

“We lost KERS as well for the majority of the first half of the race.

“We had a very difficult first pitstop. It was slow. We ticked a lot of boxes in a negative fashion in the first half of the race. But it can go like that.”

However Webber acknowledged that even if he had not had gremlins during the race, it was unlikely he would have won the race.

“Today, even if we’d got everything right, we were probably going to get outdone by two-stop people,” Webber said. “The race would’ve been very, very difficult for us even if we’d had a smooth day.

“Fair play to Kimi and his guys. You’ve got to take your hat off when someone outperforms you.”

Vettel happy with third place at Australian GP

Sebastian Vettel is happy with third place at today’s Australian Grand Prix.

“We can be happy with today,” Vettel said. “Clearly we wanted more, when you start from pole you want to win. I am not worried – we have to admit sometimes that other people are faster.

“We were the third fastest car in the race today.

“After a good start and first two-three laps the tyres were falling apart – we couldn’t go as long as other people.

“I knew Fernando passed us at the stop. I didn’t know where the other car had come from. I never saw him so it was a little bit of a surprise.

“We have to be happy today. We have good points. It was good fun, tricky with tyres, but I’m happy to be on the podium.”

Mercedes-bound Lowe to miss 2013 opener

Having sat out the launch of the new MP4-28, McLaren’s technical director Paddy Lowe will now not travel to Australia for the 2013 opener.

The news continues the saga of Lowe’s uncertain future, with the Guardian newspaper claiming on Monday that a move to Mercedes for the 50-year-old is “a done deal”.

“He will join the team in time to oversee the massive (rule) changes for 2014,” said journalist Paul Weaver.

Weaver explained that Lowe will remain under contract to McLaren this year, but he will be on so-called ‘gardening leave’ in order to protect the Woking based team’s technical secrets.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn insisted recently that his position is safe, but Weaver thinks Lowe could eventually take over “unless Mercedes make significant progress” in the near future.


Pirelli surprises F1 with Melbourne ‘supersofts’

Pirelli has surprised the F1 world by revealing an aggressive selection of tyre compounds for the start of the 2013 season. The big surprise is the choice for the Melbourne opener, as Pirelli opts to supply to teams the ‘supersoft’ and ‘medium’ compounds.

“These (supersoft) tyres offer great grip, but have a short life,” noted O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio.

Indeed, this is the “first time that Pirelli has nominated the softest compound” for Australia, the Italian marque announced.

Last year, Pirelli supplied the soft and the medium compounds to teams in Australia.

“The full step in the compound choice should ensure a performance gap between the cars that allows strategy to come into play,” added Pirelli in a media statement.

There is also an all-new selection for April’s Bahrain grand prix; the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ compounds, compared to the 2012 selection of soft and medium.

Paul Hembery said the idea is to shake up the team’s growing knowledge of Pirelli’s tyres.

“We found that by about the middle of last season, the teams had adjusted almost a little too well to our compounds,” said Pirelli’s motor sport director. “So, in close consultation with the FIA, we have made the task more difficult,” he is quoted by Speed Week.


Melb gov’t ‘shouldn’t complain’ about F1 deal – Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has hit back at the latest controversy surrounding the cost of Melbourne’s annual grand prix.

After reportedly seeing secret documents, local media this week revealed for the first time that the government pays a more than $30 million race fee to the sport, which increases by 5 per cent every year until the end of the contract in 2015.

Tourism minister Louise Asher said those figures are “too high”.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone hit back on local 3AW radio: “Maybe it’s not a true figure.

“It (paying) is up to them, isn’t it? I can’t make them sign a contract, they do it of their own free will. (But) they shouldn’t complain after they sign.”

Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott commented: “Melburnians have got to realise major events don’t grow on trees.

“They cost a lot of money to stage,” he told the Herald Sun.


F1 race news: France, Thailand and Australia

Despite the French government ruling out financial support, Paul Ricard could still be in the running to revive the country’s defunct grand prix.

Le Parisien said the Le Castellet project had already anticipated the government’s decision when it framed its EUR 30 million budget. The report also said a private overseas investor, as well as F1’s chief executive and Paul Ricard owner Bernie Ecclestone, could step in.

“We would have appreciated a few words of support and encouragement,” Paul Ricard director Stephane Clair is quoted by L’Equipe, “and we are disappointed, but it (the government’s decision) was completely expected.”

Clair said an early September race date would make sense.

“After the summer break, the F1 teams would be ready to contest three grands prix consecutively — Belgium, France and Italy,” he said.

Ecclestone is tipped to present the draft 2013 calendar to the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council for approval on Friday.

“I can quite imagine a grand prix de France in 2013,” Clair insisted.

RMC Sport said Paul Ricard officials are set to meet with Ecclestone in London this week.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that the Kingdom of Thailand has “struck an initial deal” to host a formula one street race in 2014. The report said sports minister Kanokphand Chulakasem and an official representing Red Bull co-owner Chalerm Yoovidhya met with the F1 chief executive in Singapore last weekend.

“It will be a night race like the Singapore grand prix,” said Chulakasem.

In other grand prix host news, the state major events minister Louise Asher has said the Victorian government is “not comfortable” with the current cost of Melbourne’s Australian grand prix.

“My aim is to negotiate something that will cost the taxpayer less,” she told the Herald Sun.