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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 news briefs: Friday
  • Credit crunch good for F1 - Irvine
  • Di Grassi 'deserves F1 seat' - Symonds
  • Briatore flies from Singapore to Paris
  • Keke Rosberg disappointed with Piquet
  • Plans for Donington GP move ahead

F1 news briefs: Friday
(GMM)  Williams and Ferrari have both been voted a 2008-9 'CoolBrand'; an annual UK compilation of the most iconic brands.

The list is compiled from a shortlist of 1100 brands by marketing professionals and the public.

Williams is among the top 55 CoolBrands, but Ferrari is at number 13, although beaten by the likes of Aston Martin, iPhone, YouTube, Google and Rolex.

CoolBrands' chief executive Stephen Cheliotis said of Williams: "Its independent and passionate stance has enabled it to grow its enthusiastic base of supporters and admirers."


British grand prix venue Silverstone on Thursday celebrated its 60th birthday at the Northamptonshire track.  "It is testimony to British motor sport that Silverstone is still going strong," said British Racing Drivers' Club president and 1996 world champion Damon Hill.


Mark Webber's retirement from the Singapore grand prix with a broken gearbox may have been caused by a passing tram, his team Red Bull Racing suspects.

The British magazine Autosport quotes boss Christian Horner as saying static electricity produced by the tram could have caused the gearbox to select two gears at once.

"A tram line runs beneath the track at that corner (13) and it seems as if static from a passing tram at the very moment Mark was in the corner passed through the ground," he said, explaining that Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel encountered a similar problem earlier that weekend with his near-identical car.

Credit crunch good for F1 - Irvine
(GMM)  1999 formula one runner-up Eddie Irvine believes the global financial crisis will be good for the sport.

"It will level the playing field off a little bit.  Money hasn't made the show any better, it has made it worse," the retired former Ferrari and Jaguar driver, 42, told Sky News.

He reasons that if the big-spending manufacturers are forced to throttle back, the on-track competition will therefore close up because the smaller teams become more competitive.

"The sponsorship deals are subsidized by car manufacturers.  You're going to see the spend come back and it has to come back because it has been madness for years," the Ulsterman said.

Irvine said he is an admirer of championship leader and countryman Lewis Hamilton, but recalls how just a year ago the Briton threw away a big title lead.

"It was like he took his brain out and said 'let's have an accident'.  This year will be different.

"Lewis will have learned from what happened, but you have to remember he was only 21 then and you remember what you were like at 21!" Irvine added.

Di Grassi 'deserves F1 seat' - Symonds
(GMM)  Amid speculation about Nelson Piquet's future at Renault, the team's Pat Symonds says test driver Lucas di Grassi "deserves to be in F1".

Renault boss Flavio Briatore this week answered "we will see" when asked if 23-year-old rookie Piquet has done enough to keep his seat in 2009.

At the same time, engineering chief Symonds told Britain's Autosport magazine that Piquet's Brazilian compatriot di Grassi, a standout performer in GP2 this year, has impressed him.

"He's really good," the Briton continued, following di Grassi's recent three day test at Jerez.

Symonds said of di Grassi's late start in the F1 feeder series in 2008: "If the championship had started when he came back, he would have walked it."

Speculation is rife that di Grassi is the most serious contender to debut for Renault next year, particularly if the experienced Fernando Alonso stays put.

The 24-year-old insists a decision has not been made.

"I don't know where all the rumors come from but I can guarantee you that nothing has been said to me," di Grassi said.

Briatore flies from Singapore to Paris
(GMM)  Amid strengthening speculation that Fernando Alonso is to stay at Renault next year, the Spaniard stayed behind in Singapore this week for a vacation with his team boss Flavio Briatore.

Briatore, 58, was then due to fly to Paris for the French capital's famous Motor Show, after a meeting with the Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn.

"We will talk about our plans for 2009, investment.  And the new structure of Renault Sport," the Italian is quoted as saying by gazzetta.it.

Briatore has announced that he will be backed by a new team director in 2009.

"I will no longer have a 360-degree role," he said.  "I have already identified a director for the daily management of the team, so that I can concentrate on the most important things."

He denied that his interests in football, including co-ownership of the London club Queens Park Rangers, are beginning to overtake formula one.

"What really matters is Renault," Briatore insisted.  "My life is here, football is just a wonderful hobby."

Briatore's first priority is to convince the team's former double world champion Alonso to stay.

"Fernando has not presented himself to anyone, I think he is happy to stay," Briatore insisted, "but we will talk about it more at the end of the season.

"What can we offer him?  An innovative car and a shuffling of the cards that plays in our favor."

Briatore said Renault's struggles in 2007 and 2008 were caused by the switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tires.  "Then Alonso returned to us and has motivated everybody again," he added.

"We had to renew our entire aerodynamic area, and then wait for 40 new people to integrate.  Now we are ready to start again with the right people; young and capable.

"In F1, there are cycles," Briatore goes on.

"In the difficult moments, Carlos Ghosn did not seek to lower the budget, but the sport is not just about money, otherwise Toyota would win every grand prix."

He admits that Alonso's win last Sunday was aided by the deployment of the safety car.

"But it should be noted that, when the safety car went away, our car was the fastest on the track, as we had been on Friday as well," Briatore said.

Keke Rosberg disappointed with Piquet
(GMM)  Keke Rosberg, F1's world champion of 1982 and now a commentator, has expressed disappointment with Renault rookie Nelson Piquet's formula one season.

"Something is wrong there," Finn Rosberg, whose German born son Nico was the GP2 champion in 2005, is quoted as saying by Express.

"Piquet seems to be achieving nothing at all," the 59-year-old told the German newspaper.

"A guy who was pretty strong in GP2 must be doing more.  I don't understand it," Keke Rosberg said.

However, he dismissed wild conspiracy theories that Renault chiefs ordered 23-year-old Piquet to crash in Singapore last weekend.

The Brazilian's ideally-timed crash brought out a safety car, allowing teammate Fernando Alonso to climb to the top of the podium.

Plans for Donington GP move ahead
(GMM)  Application for the $175m plans to upgrade the Donington Park circuit for the 2010 British grand prix has been declared "valid" by the local council.

The news from the North West Leicestershire District Council means that final approval can now be made, perhaps by the end of the year, according to the Derby Evening Standard newspaper.

Skepticism about Donington's grand prix deal has been rife recently, particularly following the departure of joint CEO Leo Gill and other key figures.

Another possible setback is the council's ordering of an environmental impact assessment.

"We have been working closely with the track owners and planning consultants," said council cabinet member John Bridges.

"I am confident that, if we continue working together, we be able to make a decision by the end of the year."

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