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Lotus breaks cover + Additional snap forensics by Lorenzo (11:00 GMT)
Given he had one of the most spectacular crashes in recent memory at Valencia 2010, he will fit the role for Superman perfectly.
Williams finds more money (GMM)
Felipe Nasr and his sponsor Banco do Brasil look set to become the next pieces of the puzzle for Williams’ promising campaign in 2014.
Having finished a woeful ninth of the eleven teams last year, the once-great British team seemed to have got the new season off to a solid start with its newly Mercedes-powered FW36 recently at Jerez. The car is set to be title-sponsored by the iconic Italian drinks brand Martini, raced by the long-time Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, and this week it emerged that Brazilian oil sponsor Petrobras has returned to the team.
Now, the next piece in the puzzle is believed to be GP2 frontrunner Felipe Nasr, whose surname oddly rhymes with that of his Brazilian countryman Massa. It was reported recently that the 21-year-old is believed to have signed an agreement to be Williams’ reserve driver in 2014, including Friday practice running at about half of the 19 grands prix.
And Germany’s Speed Week now reports that Nasr will bring about EUR 10 million to Williams in the form of his sponsor Banco do Brasil, a major Brazilian bank. However, when the Petrobras deal was unveiled in Rio yesterday, deputy team boss Claire Williams would not confirm the Nasr deal.
“I can’t comment on that,” she is quoted by Globo, “but for Brazil I’m sure it would be awesome. Formula one is a big market for Brazil; the people love sports and formula one in particular.
“So I guess to have another Brazilian in F1 along with Massa would be good for the sport and good for Brazil,” Williams added.
High confidence in Grove, and why not.. (GMM)
The mood at Williams is “completely different” compared to the same time last year. That is the view of Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas, as he prepares for his second campaign in formula one with the once-great British team.
Having slipped to ninth of the eleven teams in last year’s constructors’ standings, former multiple title winner Williams has invested heavily for 2014 and now features highly-respected names like Pat Symonds, Felipe Massa, incoming sponsor Martini and Mercedes power. Insiders believe the new FW36 appeared reliable and competitive at the recent Jerez test, and according to Bottas the Grove based team is in high spirits heading into the second test this week in Bahrain.
“It’s a good feeling to see that your team is in such good spirits,” he told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.
“The feeling now compared to this time a year ago is a completely different category. Now the spirit is really high, especially when all the major departments have new staff on duty.
“They’ve come from a variety of top teams like Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes, so our experience has increased. Things have gotten better since Pat Symonds came in — he put things on a better basis and hopefully it will show with the performance of our car as soon as possible,” said Bottas.
Bottas also sounded delighted with Williams’ new engine partner, with the team having switched from the now-troubled supplier Renault over the winter.
“From what I could see at the Jerez test, I’m happy that we chose Mercedes,” he said.
There are fears, however, that the new and highly complex ‘power unit’ technology, and the severe fuel limitations, will detract this year from the actual driving.
“The fastest driver will not win this year,” ex Williams and now Toro Rosso engineer Xevi Pujolar told Spain’s El Confidencial. “Now it [the winner] will be the one who is fastest in the most efficient way.”
Bottas agrees that technology will play a much bigger role in 2014, but: “Driving skills will still be the most important thing.”
Red Bull Rivals smell blood (GMM)
After four years of title-winning dominance, Red Bull’s rivals hope to be “back in the game” as the new F1 era kicks off in 2014. Even before Sebastian Vettel’s run began in 2010, Ferrari had already lost two consecutive world championships to McLaren and Mercedes’ former guise Brawn GP respectively.
Team president Luca di Montezemolo said the time for Ferrari dominance has come again.
“We dominated for five years, they (Red Bull) did it for four and I think now we must make sure we get back to winning,” he is quoted by Italy’s Tuttosport.
“I have utmost respect and praise for what they have done, knowing that today we all get back in the game. We’ll see,” he added.
Team boss Stefano Domenicali said the F14-T got off to a solid start at Jerez, but warned that Ferrari must now build on that momentum.
“It is impossible to start with a perfect car in a season where so many changes are made,” he is quoted by Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We still have much work ahead.”
In the Red Bull era, it is widely believed that F1’s most famous aerodynamicist Adrian Newey utterly mastered the rules. But the emphasis has switched to the new turbo and ERS-powered V6s for 2014, and Red Bull and engine supplier Renault struggled even to run the new RB10 at the first Jerez test.
Putting in lap after lap in southern Spain, on the other hand, was Mercedes.
“Reliability is the keyword for the first five, six races,” team chairman Niki Lauda is quoted by Osterreich newspaper, “Who is the best prepared will be furthest ahead,” he predicted.
The F1 circus has now moved to the island Kingdom of Bahrain for the second of the three pre-Melbourne tests.
“Jerez was an engine test,” said Lauda. “Now the real preparation begins.”
But he said the pecking order still will not be clear after the first week in Bahrain. “After the second week (in Bahrain) you can read a little bit more into it,” said Lauda. “Until then it is not only difficult, but also pointless.”
So Lauda insists it would be a mistake to write off Red Bull on the basis of Jerez. “You do tests to find problems,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said Mercedes has started on the right foot and is on target for its ultimate goal. “We want to be world champion as soon as possible,” Lauda is quoted by Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
“Whether it is this year or not, you cannot say yet. My personal goal is that it happens in the next two years. This is a hard goal, but that’s how it should be,” the former triple world champion and F1 legend added.
Lotus breaks cover
Here are the first images of the Lotus E22 (Autosport.com). Watch this space as our F1 forensics man, Lorenzo has a few comments on the car in Bahrain.
Over to Lorenzo…. (11:00 GMT)
Interesting solutions by Lotus for their E22, note the asymmetric nosecone pylons, shaped to channel air beneath the nosecone, and the vortex generator on the FW main plate.
Interesting details at the rear of the car, it seems that the cover engine is designed to run the Drag reduction Device (DRD).
What is very interesting is the shape of the bodywork at the rear, note how the exhaust pipe does not blow in the centre and the offset pylon. Also the engine cover bends upward, creating a wing shape to increase RW efficiency, in effect recreating a beam wing.
It is rumoured that Lotus have lost very little rear downforce from 2013 spec [edit by the Usher]
Red Bull woes continue in Bahrain (GMM)
Red Bull’s troubles seemed to have carried over from Jerez, as Sebastian Vettel struggled to get up to speed in the troubled RB10 on Wednesday. Two weeks after the Jerez calamity, the reigning world champions are back on track in Bahrain with designer Adrian Newey and Renault’s fixes in place.
However, over four hours into the first day of the second official pre-season test, German Vettel had not even turned a lap.
“The car was still being assembled,” said German correspondent Michael Schmidt. “New parts were still arriving from England,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
It is becoming clearer that many of Red Bull’s problems are not engine supplier Renault’s fault. On Wednesday, Renault-powered runners including Caterham and the Lotus were busily collecting laps.
The first public glimpse of the unique double-nosed 2014 Lotus, which also features an asymmetrically-positioned exhaust was seen.
“I’m not saying that we have solved all of our problems,” said Renault Sport’s Remi Taffin, “but we should have a firm grip on what held us back at Jerez. We now have a base on which to build. Bahrain is our first test.
“Yes we could still have some problems, but we should be able to build upon this basis,” he added.
Even Red Bull’s always-blunt Dr Helmut Marko was on Wednesday not pointing the finger of blame in Renault’s direction. “Even if there had been no problems with the power unit,” he said, “we would not have been running much in Jerez.
“It was our fault. Under the cover it was getting too hot, so we have brought two solutions here to Bahrain, which should help us.”
At about 2pm Bahrain time, Vettel emerged from the pits for an installation lap, and he soon followed it up with an initial run of four laps.
From the Usher’s Ledger – Newey’s RB10 is now slowly morphing into the RB10-B
More cooling required, more holes and getting hot!
Just in from Bahrain
One of our intrepid correspondents picked up a bit of radio traffic between Vettel and Rocky just before the car spun out of control and prematurely ended its testing.
Rocky: Remember Seb, what you promised Christian, you have to stay off the ERS button.
Seb: Yes, Yes, now let me drive.
Seb: Woo Hoo, this thing is much slidier than last year
Rocky: Slow down there champ, we’re still shaking down systems
Seb: Please, all last year it was “Seb the tires”, “Seb the electrics” and never was it a problem
Rocky: And don’t touch….
Seb: What could go wrong, I’ll only touch it a little bit….
‘Sound of shrieking tyres and breaking things‘
Seb: I’m alright, not so sure about the car
Rocky: Marko wants a word when you get back