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Latest F1 news in brief
  • No confirmation yet for new Aus GP deal
  • Ecclestone admits F1 breakaway possible
  • BMW-Sauber chiefs ponder title tilt
  • Hamilton has 'different mindset' - Kubica
  • Schu falls off motorbike again
  • Gascoyne hopes Force India is final stop

No confirmation yet for new Aus GP deal
(GMM)  Ron Walker and Bernie Ecclestone, the central players in talks about the future of the Australian grand prix, are both silent in the face of reports that Melbourne's contract is to be renewed through 2015.

Both, however, are in London, where the negotiations are undoubtedly now in full swing.

But the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), of which Walker - the renowned Melbourne businessman - is chairman, would not expand on the unconfirmed reports, while F1 chief executive Ecclestone's office said the 77-year-old is unavailable for comment.

The Melbourne newspaper The Age claims that two issues are central to the finalization of a deal -- the local Victorian government's refusal to host races after sunset, and Ecclestone's request for a substantially higher annual promotion fee.

Ecclestone admits F1 breakaway possible
(GMM)  Despite refusing to admit responsibility for the 'breakaway' rumors, Bernie Ecclestone concedes that splitting with the FIA is a possible solution to formula one's current troubles.

The F1 chief executive initially sided with his former friend and ally of 40 years, Max Mosley, when a British tabloid newspaper exposed the FIA president in a sadomasochistic romp with prostitutes.

Since then, however, 77-year-old Ecclestone has come under immense pressure from elsewhere, including Mosley's key adversaries who have used his allegedly Nazi-themed sex antics as ammunition.

Ecclestone also revealed that Jewish investors, who control much of the money flowing into formula one, are unhappy with Mosley.

"They say the FIA shouldn't let somebody like Max represent them," the Briton said in an interview at the weekend with The Times.

Ecclestone admits that taking F1's ten teams, sponsors, promoters and TV broadcast deals to a separate series - probably to be called 'GP1' - is one possible outcome.

"At the moment what we are trying to do, to keep sponsors happy, is say we can't break away, but it could well be that that will happen," he said.

Ecclestone and the teams are currently pushing for a new Concorde Agreement with the FIA, but Mosley is refusing to agree to their terms and the previous contract has lapsed.

It is clear that Ecclestone and Mosley fundamentally disagree about F1's income.

"If Max comes back and says we should give more money to teams, I will tell him to mind his own bloody business," Ecclestone said.

He accuses Mosley of "time-wasting" because the FIA has no commercial investments in the sport.

But Ecclestone warns: "All they've got is money that comes from formula one.  If there was no formula one, the FIA would be in serious trouble." 

BMW-Sauber chiefs ponder title tilt
(GMM)  Team founder Peter Sauber doubts that BMW-Sauber is ready to challenge for the 2008 titles.

While heralding the Hinwil based team's breakthrough win at Montreal just over a week ago, the Swiss urges caution on expecting too much more too soon.

"The fact is that Ferrari and McLaren are still a little faster than we are," he wrote in a column for the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"And those teams are not going to want to be making as many mistakes as they have until now," Sauber added.

Robert Kubica took the lead in the drivers' standings by four points in Canada, while teammate Nick Heidfeld's second place closed BMW-Sauber to within three points of Ferrari's constructors' championship lead.

Sauber said: "Of course this is a boost to our motivation, but we need to just keep looking to the next race.  At the end of the season we will see where we are."

The Hinwil based team's technical director Willy Rampf, however, admits that winning the championship cannot be ruled out.

"Of course you think about it," he is quoted as saying by the Credit Suisse emagazine.

"When you come out of the seventh race of the season with a result like ours, then you begin to get such ideas.  But you've got to be realistic too," Rampf said.

Hamilton has 'different mindset' - Kubica
(GMM)  Robert Kubica has revealed that he is no longer as close to formula one rival Lewis Hamilton as he once was.

23-year-old Kubica, who snatched the lead of the drivers' championship from the similarly aged Hamilton in Canada a week ago, has known his new title challenger since their karting days.

But although they are often cited as contemporaries and friends, Kubica played down their closeness in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

"We have had similar careers and there is mutual respect," Kubica said.

"But I have the impression that we embarked on our adventure in F1 with a different mindset and this has made us lose a bit of contact.

"And he doesn't know how to play poker," Kubica joked.

The poker reference is significant; Kubica's closest F1 ally is Fernando Alonso, with whom he often whiles away downtime during GP weekends.

Alonso, of course, fell out spectacularly with Hamilton and McLaren team chiefs in 2007.

Some commentators have also contrasted Kubica's "basic needs" out of life with Hamilton's growing extravagance.

While Hamilton's recent exploits involved attending movie premieres, holidaying with pop stars and attending the MTV music awards, former grand prix driver Martin Brundle observes that Kubica only wants "a roof over his head, food and a fast racing car".

Kubica even brushed off La Stampa's invitation to describe his burgeoning talents at the wheel of a F1 racer.

"Rather than talents, to me it is more important to focus on your weaknesses and try to improve them," he insisted.

Schu falls off motorbike again
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has suffered yet another fall as he continues his foray into the world of professional motorcycle racing.

The 39-year-old, who retired from Ferrari with a record seven formula one titles under his belt in 2006, hit the pavement while practicing with his IDM machine at Germany's Sachsenring circuit, the newspaper Bild said.

Gascoyne hopes Force India is final stop
(GMM)  Mike Gascoyne is hoping that Force India is his final destination in F1.

The Briton was once the highest paid engineer in the paddock, and can list McLaren, Sauber, Jordan and Renault amongst his former employers.

Gascoyne, 48, was sacked as Toyota's technical director two years ago, only then returning to formula one with the backmarker Spyker team, which became Force India for 2008.

He has, however, retained his reputation as a forceful leader whose presence usually coincides with his team's increase in competitiveness.

Gascoyne was cheekily asked if he is therefore already plotting his next move.

"People tell me that I bring a team forwards but then go before the first win comes," he is quoted as saying by Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell.

"But there are always more teams who want to be at the front and that is why there are always people coming around the corner with offers.

"Hopefully this was the last time," he smiled.

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