Hulkenberg plays down ongoing Ferrari rumours

Nico Hulkenberg has played down continuing suggestions he has merely ‘parked’ at Sauber for a year, before possibly switching to Ferrari in 2014.

Told that the rumours are still abounding in the paddock, the German driver said: “It doesn’t concern me at all.

“I don’t talk about the contents of my contracts and, anyway, I haven’t even done a single race for Sauber yet,” said the 25-year-old, who has moved from Force India to Ferrari-aligned Sauber for 2013.

He continued: “Of course I hear the speculation, and it’s even a form of recognition, but the whole thing leaves me completely untouched,” Hulkenberg is quoted by the SID news agency.

“I am concentrating completely on the coming season and, first of all, Melbourne.”

Told, however, that a driver of his rising stature and potential must be targeting a future seat at Ferrari, he answered: “But it doesn’t mean I will (go).”

Source:GMM

Rossi rules out F1 switch

Valentino Rossi has ruled out switching to F1. Some years ago, the MotoGP legend flirted with a change of codes, conducting a series of tests with Ferrari.

Now 34, the Italian said: “Unfortunately, F1 is a thing of the past for me.

“I’m too old, the train has left already,” he told Italy’s Sky broadcaster. “While I’m competitive, I’ll stay on bikes.”

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

Massa: New Ferrari ‘much better’ than 2012

Felipe Massa has clarified his recent assessment that the 2013 Ferrari is “on a different planet” compared to last year’s red car.

Although the Brazilian struggled for much of last season, the Maranello team and Fernando Alonso recovered sufficiently so that the Spaniard was a title challenger right until the last lap.

So if the F138 is “on a different planet”, why then are commentators saying Red Bull, Lotus and possibly McLaren are currently looking better in pre-season testing?

Asked about the ‘planet’ comment, Massa told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper: “Yes, I said it, but I was comparing it (the F138) with what we had at the beginning of last year’s testing.

“This (2013) car is good,” he added, “but still ‘green’. When we develop it, we will see.

“I have seen people doing good times, like Red Bull, Lotus McLaren. As far as we can talk, we will have a package of new components here (in Barcelona) next week and then in Melbourne. But we are in a much better condition than in 2012,” said Massa.

Source:GMM

Alonso: New Ferrari is ‘OK’

After his first day at the wheel in 2013, Fernando Alonso on Tuesday had a stiff neck and a cautious round of optimism about the new Ferrari.

The Spaniard said he was “reasonably pleased” with his day of work in Barcelona, which left him third on the timesheet and a hundredth ahead of his 2012 title rival Sebastian Vettel.

The psychological war may also have begun on their first head-to-head this year, with Alonso cheekily overtaking Vettel on the narrow pitlane entry as the test day officially concluded at 5pm, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Alonso then told reporters the F138 was “ok” and “more or less” what he expected based on the car he raced to the podium in Brazil last November, and Felipe Massa’s feedback after the initial Jerez test.

“This car is a continuation of the previous one,” he said, after posing with the red car featuring the sticker of new team sponsor UPS.

“I did not have any surprises, which is a good thing because last year we were a little surprised, and not in a positive way,” added Alonso.

“We need to be optimistic and think we will fight this year for the championship if we improve the car a little bit.”

At the very top of the times was Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, but earlier in the day he had a gearbox issue.

“The basis of the car is much, much better (than the 2012 one),” said the German, “but we are having a few too many reliability problems at the moment.”

Source:GMM

Fry plays down reports of new flawed Ferrari

Pat Fry has contradicted reports Ferrari is heading into the 2013 season with another fundamentally-flawed formula one car.

Last year, the famous Italian team had a memorably bad start to the championship with the F2012’s initial configuration.

Felipe Massa, however, sounded much happier with the new F138 at Jerez recently, and he set the fastest lap of the entire test week, although some reports say his body-language gave away the real story of the car’s early potential. Indeed, Germany’s Auto Bild Motorsport quotes a Ferrari source as suggesting “We have a problem” in the area of the car’s exhaust, adding: “It’s not something we cannot solve.”

Technical director Fry, however, is quoted by Spain’s Marca sports newspaper as insisting: “In most areas, we are where we expected to be.”

In terms of performance, he says Jerez was actually about “understanding” the F138, with Ferrari to begin to explore the car’s actual speed this week at Barcelona, before unveiling a big package of updates “in the third (test) week”.

Fernando Alonso has now ended his intense winter fitness training schedule and will drive the F138 on the first three days in Barcelona this week, handing over to Massa on Friday.

Fry says it’s too early to imagine the 2013 pecking-order.

“So far, nothing has drawn special attention,” he is quoted as saying. “The other cars, like ours, are a continuation of the end of last year. There will be more data for a better comparison later on,” added Fry.

And hinting that Massa’s week-best Jerez time should not be read into, he explained: “With different tyre compounds and fuel loads, it is very easy to do a good time in pre-season testing.”

Source:GMM

Rosberg: New Ferrari ‘quite good’ at Jerez

Ferrari appeared to find its way with the new F138 car following a difficult start at Jerez. That is the summary of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, who told Germany’s Sport Bild he noticed Felipe Massa struggling with the new red car at the beginning of the first winter test.

“On the first two days,” he said, “the Ferrari did not look good.”

But Brazilian Massa ultimately went on to set the fastest laptime of the entire four-day test.

“Obviously, they found a solution to the problem,” Rosberg surmised, adding that the 2013 Ferrari ultimately seemed “quite good”.

But perhaps not as good as the Red Bull or McLaren, he added.

“They drove as though on rails,” said Rosberg.

Ferrari’s early struggles could be explained by a delay to the F138’s development programme, caused by the push to the death for the 2012 title.

“If we talk about the aerodynamics of the F138,” technical director Pat Fry is quoted by Russia’s f1news.ru, “we started about three months later than we would have liked. We will do everything to make up for this delay,” he added.

Fry referred to a stream of forthcoming “innovations” for the new red and black car. One of them may be a mysterious hole beneath the nose tip that emerged in the final moments of the Jerez test.

“We will see at the next test in Barcelona if the hole is there or not,” read a report in Italy’s Autosprint.

Source:GMM

Ferrari denies Alonso nursing rib injury

Ferrari on Friday denied rumours Fernando Alonso is nursing an injury.

Most suspect that the Spaniard is sitting out the Jerez test this week so that the new F138 car can be ‘shaken down’ by Felipe Massa and Pedro de la Rosa ahead of Alonso’s debut on the much more representative Barcelona track.

But one or two whispers in the Jerez paddock this week suggested Alonso may have injured a rib whilst karting last month.

However, as the double world champion is currently running and cycling in Dubai and happily posting photos to Twitter to prove it, a Ferrari spokesperson said on Friday: “It’s obvious how hard Fernando is training at the moment.

“This rumour (about the injury) is utter nonsense and totally untrue,” Ferrari added.

Source:GMM

Smoky start to de la Rosa’s Ferrari career

Pedro de la Rosa’s Ferrari career got off to a smoky start on Friday morning, as the first test of the 2013 pre-season wraps up in southern Spain.

Taking over from Felipe Massa at Jerez, as Fernando Alonso trains in Dubai, the team’s new development driver and Spaniard de la Rosa was on only his second installation lap when he “stopped on track”.

Ferrari’s official Twitter did not mention, though, that the 41-year-old Spaniard had to step out of the new F138 car amid clouds of white smoke. And photographs of the car, taken after it smoked to a halt between turns 7 and 8, showed extensive burn damage at the rear.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reported that the cause of the problem was a transmission fault, which is currently being repaired.

“It will take a while to hit the track again,” confirmed Ferrari.

Source:GMM

‘Downbeat’ Massa fastest in new Ferrari

Felipe Massa emotions were in the brazing zone on Thursday, despite putting Ferrari’s new F138 on top of the test timesheets at Jerez.

“It means nothing,” said the Brazilian. “Several teams have very quick and well balanced cars and so I am 100 per cent keeping my feet on the ground.”

Indeed, those at the southern Spanish circuit also sensed Massa’s caution: a British Sky reporter saying he seemed “downbeat”.

And Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt agreed: “Satisfaction looks different. Felipe Massa sat on his stool in the Ferrari tent for his press conference and conveyed little enthusiasm.”

Although much quicker than the Briton, Massa recalled Jenson Button’s “incredible” fastest lap of the opening day.

“With the hard tyres, the first day of testing, with the dirty track and everything else … it was a really fast lap.

“I did not have the car to do that on the first day,” said Massa.

“If we are to be in that position at the first race then we need to work — a lot.”

World champion Sebastian Vettel, returning to work with Red Bull on Thursday, also sounded sceptical about Massa’s Thursday pace: “Today we left the laptime-hunting to others,” he is quoted by Bild newspaper.

Even Fernando Alonso, training in Dubai at present, seems none too interested in Massa’s progress. “I have not talked to him,” Massa confirmed after Thursday’s running.

But the Spaniard wrote on Twitter: “Obviously I’m following the test with the team and I have mails with all info.”

Writing for O Estado de S.Paulo, Livio Oricchio thinks the current pecking order could be Red Bull slightly ahead of McLaren, followed by Lotus and Ferrari.

Massa agrees that Red Bull is keeping its cards close to its chest, “as they always do”.

Lotus, however, is not hiding its optimism. “The car looks fast,” said team owner Gerard Lopez, according to Finland’s Turun Sanomat, after Kimi Raikkonen ran in the E21 for the first time on Thursday.

“We had a fast car last year but this seems even better,” he added.

Finally, Mercedes had a good day at last, with Nico Rosberg putting in a gargantuan 148 laps in the new W04, which on Tuesday and Wednesday failed spectacularly.

“It really put a smile on everybody’s face,” said the German, who was second fastest.

Source:GMM