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Verstappen impresses Toro Rosso as he tests 2012 car

Max Verstappen had his first proper F1 test at Adria Raceway in Italy today, at the wheel of a 2012 Toro Rosso STR7.

The Dutchman had previously driven a Red Bull demo car in straightline running at Rockingham, and on the streets of Rotterdam, but this was his first proper circuit lappery.

He ran a total of 148 laps, more than enough to fulfil the 300kms superlicence requirement, so if the FIA is happy he will be able to do FP1 sessions later this year.

Describing the test, the team said: “The track was still damp in the morning after overnight rain and Verstappen’s first few runs were done on Intermediate tyres, but conditions improved enough for him to switch to slicks later in the day. He did a mix of short and long runs as well as trying his hand at other features of a race weekend, such as pit stops and start launches.”

“I was looking forward to my first drive in a Formula 1 car on a proper race track and I really enjoyed it,” said Verstappen. “It was a good opportunity to work with Xevi, who will be my race engineer next year, as well as having a chance to get used to all the buttons on the steering wheel. I think it went well and I can’t wait to get back into a Formula 1 car as soon as possible.”

Sporting director Steve Nielsen said: “Max did a very competent job, giving the impression he has been driving a Formula 1 car for quite a while, not like someone on their first day behind the wheel. He made no mistakes all day, seemed confident and once he was told something he remembered it. In general, he coped very well with this first test.”

Race enginee Xevi Pujolar added: “Max started his run on Intermediates and got up to speed, making no mistakes. We worked through various procedures that make up a race weekend. He was very focused and precise and learned quickly, without having to ask many questions. Once we were able to fit slicks, he got used to the car in the dry and built up his speed, while we tried various fuel levels, replicating both qualifying and race trim, doing a mix of short and long runs. For a first day, it was very impressive.”

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Ecclestone confirms Greece in frame for F1 event

Greek F1 Track Plan

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that he’s still considering a street race in Greece, despite the troubled economic state of the country.

The proposed race, which would be backed by private funding and run by promoter Dielpis, has been in the planning stages for some time – as far back as 2009 – although little has been heard recently. It might be given the Mediterranean GP name, which has been trademarked by FOM.

“The Greeks are keen,” Ecclestone told CNN. “They want me to go and see the Prime Minister or the mayor. We will have to find out if they have got any money.”

The venue is the Keratsini-Drapetsona municipality, some six miles to the west of Athens. Track architect Athanasios Papatheodorou said: “The Prime Minister himself has supported fully the initiative for organising F1 races and is looking forward to the instruction from the relevant international federations to realise the Dielpis F1 project.

“The greatest benefit for our country would be giving to the world the opportunity to see the most historical port of the Mediterranean sea. And our experience at organising big events, such as the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, is a big credential for us.”

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Verstappen has first F1 run in RB7 at Rockingham

Max Verstappen has had his first F1 outing today at Rockingham – still some 35 days short of his 17th birthday.

The Dutchman drove the Red Bull RB7 demo car, with which he will make his first public appearance at the Rotterdam street event this weekend. The car will be in Toro Rosso rather than Red Bull livery in Holland, and today’s run was mainly to get him familiar with the controls.

Verstappen has to complete 300kms of proper F1 running in order to get a superlicence that will allow him to do FP1 sessions in the current car at the end of the season.

 

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Mercedes has to tread a narrow line, says Alonso

Fernando Alonso is sympathetic towards the plight of Mercedes as the team tries to juggle the interests of both drivers while trying to allow them to put on a show for the public.

The Spaniard agreed that it was difficult for a team to get it right all the time.

“I don’t know exactly the situation, so it’s difficult to talk for another team,” said Alonso. “They’ve been racing fantastically well all through the season and we’ve been saying how good they were fighting and how good the team was letting them fight, Bahrain for example was a fantastic fight and fantastic race that everyone enjoyed.

“Now it’s true that maybe they touched a little bit today and there will be some talks about this. It’s difficult, if one team lets the drivers fight, until they don’t touch, it’s fantastic, when they touch that team are not any more good. It’s a very narrow line to try to make everyone happy. They’re leading the championships, both championships, with big margins, so they are doing something good. Apart from the problems they can have, they are dominating everything. As I said from outside it’s difficult to judge any other team.”

Meanwhile Alonso doesn’t believe that Daniel Ricciardo is potentially in the title fight, despite his run of good results: “I don’t think so. Obviously he’s doing an amazing job, he’s surprising everyone, but the Mercedes advantage – yesterday 2s in front of everybody else, before or later when they finish the race they will keep increasing their advantage. If one of the rest can do [anything], at the moment it’s only Ricciardo. So we’ll see.”

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VIDEO – First onboard lap of Sochi with Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel drove an Infiniti road car around Sochi today, and here is a video of his lap.

The German clearly likes the venue, judging by his smile: “It is great to be back in Sochi and the venue has been transformed since I was last here when it was really just a construction site. Having driven the full circuit for the first time in the Infiniti Q50 today, it’s an interesting layout with a good mix of high speed corners and technical sections. It’s going to be a huge challenge in a Formula One car for sure and I’m really looking forward to coming back in October.”

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VIDEO – Nico Rosberg responds: “I prefer to just keep it internal…”

Nico Rosberg has responded via his video blog to the comments of Lewis Hamilton – by not responding.

“Definitely one of the more difficult video blogs today, the Spa race,” he said. “I’ve been told what Lewis said in the press, and the way he has stated his version of the events. All I can say is my view of the events are very different. But the thing is it’s just better that I don’t know give all the details of my opinion and things like that. I hope you respect that. I prefer to just keep it internal, you know.

“We had a very good discussion, an important discussion. When such things occur we must sit down and review them, and that’s what we did, and everybody gave his opinion, and now we need to move forward. There will be another discussion, for sure, because we need to see if we need to change our approach in the future, as we did in Hungary, and we will do that. The good thing is that we really have a great leadership in the team with Paddy and Toto, with the help of Niki, and that really is important in such situations. Therefore I’m confident that as always, we’re going to find back to our way, and then keep on fighting in Monza. On we go.”

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Nico Rosberg: “For me it wasn’t a risky situation…”

Nico Rosberg is adamant the collision with Lewis Hamilton at Spa was a racing incident, and says that he didn’t believe he was taking any risks.

Speaking at exactly the same time that Hamilton told British journalists about the post-race Mercedes team meeting, Rosberg himself declined to elaborate on what had happened behind closed doors.

“We had a discussion, as is important after such circumstances, because obviously what happened cost the team a lot of points,” he said. “And that is the main focus and the biggest issue with such a happening as today. And so yes we have of course discussed. Unfortunately I don’t want to go into any details, that wouldn’t be the right thing to do.”

Asked if it was an emotional meeting he added: “It’s important for us in the more difficult times to really discuss and reason, and I think as a team we’re always managing to do that, because we have a really strong leadership with Toto and Paddy foremost, and then with Niki who’s helping out. That is the big advantage that we have, this strong leadership.”

Regarding the collision, he said: “It was a racing incident, that’s the best way to describe that, and that is also the way that the stewards saw it.

“I was quicker at the time and there was an opportunity, and so I gave it a go around the outside, because the inside was blocked.

“I didn’t see any risk in overtaking or trying to overtake, and I tried. The opportunity was there, without DRS, because I was so much quicker, so I gave it a go. The inside was not possible, so IO tried round the outside. Should I have waited is very hypothetical, because who knows what happens afterwards? The opportunity was there, and for me it wasn’t a risky situation.”

Asked if he had a way of avoiding the collision he said: “There is always the way out of going off the track.”

On the podium Rosberg was booed by the crowd.

“In such an incident it’s natural for there to be varying opinions. That’s completely normal, I suppose, and I understand that the British people more often than not tend to be on the side of Lewis, and the Germans will be on my side more often than not, that’s the nature of the thing. To be honest I respect every opinion as long as it is made with proper preparation.”

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