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2 FEBRUARY 29 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk

IN THIS ISSUE

THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2810

“I am eager to fight for the title”

P4 Schuey upbeat on pace of new Mercedes challenger

P9

FORMULA FORD LEGEND RETURNS

Rick Shortle announces return after 25-year break

SKODA PLANS NEW IRC FABIA

P14

Czech outfit to develop S2000 replacement for 2014

P22

WHICH RACES TO WATCH IN 2012

MN’s guide to the best racing action of the season

P28

Historic race and rally news

12

Interview: Yves Matton

21

Insight:Racing events to watch 22 National racing calendar 24 Report:IRC Rally Azores 26 Report:BRC Rallye Sunseeker 28 SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 30 Sporting Scene round-up 32 Karting round-up 34 Letters/Comment/What’s On 36 Classifieds 38 Wanted: HRT to go fastest at the final F1 test. Just for the fun it would cause...

FORMOTORSPORT NEWS STAFF CONTACT DETAILS PLEASE SEE P37

Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355

BARCELONATESTINGTIMES

Day one POS DRIVER

Asterisk denotes 2011 car

TEAM TIME LAPS

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m 23.265s 79 2 Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1m 23.440s 97 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m 23.590s 114 4 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m 23.618s 76 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m 24.100s 75 6 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m 24.150s 51 7 Sergio Pérez Sauber 1m 24.219s 66 8 Bruno Senna Williams 1m 25.711s 97 9 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m 26.035s 31 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m 26.809s 7 11 Charles Pic Marussia* 1m 28.026s 121

Day two POS DRIVER

TEAM TIME LAPS

1 Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1m 22.608s 112 2 Sergio Pérez Sauber 1m 22.648s 85 3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m 22.891s 104 4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m 23.180s 87 5 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m 23.639s 50 6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m 23.806s 120 7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m 24.555s 82 8 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m 25.738s 117 9 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m 26.605s 69 10 Charles Pic Marussia* 1m 27.343s 108

Day three POS DRIVER

TEAM TIME LAPS

1 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m 22.391s 106 2 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m 23.384s 127 3 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m 23.582s 99 4 Jenson Button McLaren 1m 23.918s 114 5 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m 24.433s 78 6 Mark Webber Red Bull 1m 24.771s 97 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m 24.771s 84 8 Paul di Resta Force India 1m 25.646s 83 9 Timo Glock Marussia* 1m 26.173s 108 10 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m 26.448s 70

Day four POS DRIVER

TEAM TIME LAPS

1 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m 22.312s 145 2 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m 22.561s 134 3 Paul di Resta Force India 1m 23.119s 101 4 Jenson Button McLaren 1m 23.200s 115 5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m 23.563s 103 6 Mark Webber Red Bull 1m 23.774s 85 7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m 23.792s 92 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m 23.843s 139 9 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m 26.968s 70

Button: Vettel is favourite

Red Bull had pr ob lems with car re liability

ByMatt James McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button believe that they will be within touching distance of Red Bull from the first race of the season.

The British aces have said that they are aiming to strike an early blow to rein in world champion Sebastian Vettel over the opening rounds of the fight for the 2012 crown. After completing 234 laps during the opening two days of the fourday test at Barcelona last week, Hamilton said: “We feel very comfortable and I amconfident that we can be at the front, fighting with the guys at the top.”

Button agreed that the duo can cut the advantage that Red Bull had last season, and thinks that the ban on blown diffusers is going to hurt the Milton Keynes-based squad: “There have been regulation changes and I still think Red Bull will be strong from the word go, but I don’t think they will have the advantage they had at the start of last year.” Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber completed less laps than the McLaren pair and the Australian’s attempt at a race distance run was thwarted by gearbox failure. It follows on from electronic problems that afflicted Vettel in the previous test at Jerez in Spain.

McLaren’s quick start Given the problems that have hampered Red Bull and the impressive long-run pace of the McLaren, world champion Vettel has expressed his concern that the Mercedes-powered team will prove

Button outpaced Webber in test to bemajor a thorn in his side during this season. Vettel said: “McLaren has looked very strong. I haven’t seen all the lap times yet, I have only had a couple of looks at the long runs that Lewis did – but they seemed to be quite interesting.

“I can only judge for myself and the feeling onmycar is fine, but I don’t knowwhether that is good enough. I think McLaren looks quite competitive so I think they will be strong straight from the beginning of the season.” His views were echoed by Button and Hamilton. Stevenage ace Hamilton ran for the first two days of the test while Vettel was in the Red Bull, before Button took over for the final two days and went up against Webber. Hamilton said hewas buoyed by the amount of laps he had been able to complete and that the preparation for the season wasmuch better than it had been 12 months ago. “Last year I think I struggled to do 30 laps. I think we struggled to do ten laps without the exhaust failing,” said the 2008 world champion. “I can’t remember the last time I did as many laps as I did in Barcelona.

“I was on used tyres for my long run and I think [Vettel] started with new tyres but generally he looked perhaps a little faster than us.” Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355

motorsport-news.co.uk FEBRUARY 29 2012 3

HEADLINE NEWS

Hamilton and Vettel pleased after strong form at Barcelona test

Photos: LAT

M c LAREN MEN POISED TO HALT VETTEL’S CHARGE

Despite admitting that Red Bull might have a slight edge, he added that the MP427 was better than he had expected. “The car has been behaving really well in high speed corners,” said the 27-year-old. “I think the baseline of our car is better than last year’s and the characteristics of the car is that it is better in high speed [turns]. At some stage wewill have some upgrades, so it will be even better.”

Button ran the final two days of the test and outpaced Webber on both days. He said that the team was understanding more andmore about the machine and it would be even better by the time the team got to the opening grand prix in Melbourne, Australia, onMarch 18.

“We have made a good step forward since the first test at Jerez in terms of understanding the car more, and also the reliability is much better than we had in Jerez,” said last year’s title runner-up. “There will definitely be something new to come for Melbourne. Wewill have an update on the car at the first race. It is not a completely straightforward update as it is not about bolting downforce on to the car – it is slightly more than that.”

Red Bull storm While the McLaren drivers racked up 463 laps between them, Red Bull’s track time was cut short myWebber’s failure on Thursday. That meant that the team was restricted to 365 laps in total. Webber said hewas unconcerned about the failures and that he expected

Vettel (right) reckons McLaren will be fast the car to perform well when the team got to Australia.

“We have a few plates spinning but that is how [technical head] Adrian Newey likes it at this time of year,” said Webber. “We could have done with a bit more [track time], but everybody is in the same boat. You always want to do 20 or 30 more laps each day, but in the end the guys worked hard and have done a great job. Weare a very ambitious team and we want to keep improving.”

The seven-time grand prix winner also acknowledged that McLaren would be a threat at the start of the season: “I think McLaren looks pretty well prepared, but we have seen it in the past where people are not very organised and arrive at the first race very organised. That means we will just focus on ourselves.”

Red Bull has pushed back the dates of its final four-day test. Most teams will run in Barcelona from March 1-4, while the Milton Keynes team will join a day late and then stay on for an extra day afterwards when it will share the track with only Ferrari. It has been switched for logistical reasons.

Ferrari in a flap While Red Bull andMcLaren have had a relatively trouble free start to the testing programme, Ferrari has struggled and former world champion Fernando Alonso has admitted that the team isn’t able to judge how the F2012 stacks up to the rest of the grid in terms of pace.

“At the moment, we don’t knowwhere we are,” said the Spaniard. “I think maybe we are not the fastest but

Hamilton was impressed with the pace of his MP4-27

RED BULLVS McLAREN

(seconds)

IFFERENCE

TIME D

-1.000 -0.900 -0.800 -0.700 -0.600 -0.500 -0.400 -0.300 -0.200 -0.100 0.000 +0.100 +0.200 +0.300 +0.400 +0.500 +0.600 +0.700 +0.800 +0.900 +1.000

KEY

BUTTON HAMILTON

The graph shows how fast McLaren was compared to Red Bull on all four days of the Barcelona test

Hamilton was 0.325s off the pace from Sebastian Vettel

Button takes over, and his best lap is 0.853s faster than Webber

DAY 1

DAY 1 TUESDAY DAY 1 TUESDAY DAY 1 TUESDAY DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1

TUESDAY

Lewis slipped even further back behind Vettel increasing the gap to 0.915s

DAY 2

DAY 2 WEDNESDAY DAY 2 WEDNESDAY DAY 2 WEDNESDAY DAY 2

WEDNESDAY

TESTING DAYS WEDNESDAY TESTING DAYS TESTING DAYS TESTING DAYS DAY 2 WEDNESDAY

TESTING DAYS

DAY 3

THURSDAY

Button is quicker than Webber again, this time by 0.574s

DAY 4

FRIDAY

definitely we are not the slowest – so we need to wait and see, especially in the final test.” He admitted that the car was unstable on the exit of corners and that was something that needed addressing before Melbourne. Alonso also said that it would take some clever thinking to outsmart Red Bull and halt Vettel’s march to a third consecutive world crown.

“Red Bull seems competitive,” he said. “They will always be there, soMcLaren and Ferrari need to invent something and be a bit more creative to beat Red Bull and that is what both teams did. McLaren and Ferrari have chosen different solutions, different philosophies that are maybemore complex. However, wewill see the results in Australia andmore importantly [at the end of the season] in November.”

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER UPBEAT ON MERCEDES FORM ON PAGE FOUR