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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Glitch halts new Red Bull's debut
  • French government gives Renault 3bn euros
  • Donington denies debt reports
  • New helmet design for Vettel
  • Bourdais confirmed for Le Mans, Sebring
  • Vettel gained weight ahead of 2009 season
  • Vettel plays down fears of driver 'strike'
  • Hockenheim dilemma leaves Bernie 'unhappy'

Glitch halts new Red Bull's debut
(GMM)  A gearbox problem limited the track debut of Red Bull's newly-launched RB5 single seater to just 14 laps on Monday.

At Jerez, Sebastian Vettel was at the wheel for a series of mostly installation laps before the car broke down.

A statement issued by the energy drink-owned team confirmed that the gearbox was the culprit, despite car designer Adrian Newey on Monday revealing that the gearbox internals were the only major carry-over components from last year's RB4.

"We stopped the car as a precautionary measure because the gearbox oil temperature was beginning to rise," team boss Christian Horner confirmed, on the same day that it was revealed that the French company Total is Red Bull's new lubricants supplier.

Again in German Vettel's hands, the RB5 will be back in action at the Spanish venue on Tuesday morning.

Monday's curtailed shakedown, however, was also interesting in light of speculation about the RB5's rear diffuser, amid the controversy surrounding Toyota and Williams' designs.

Every time Vettel returned to the Jerez pits, a mechanic covered the rear of the car with a custom wing-diffuser sheath.

French government gives Renault 3bn euros
(GMM)  The French carmaker Renault, who contest the formula one world championship with a team based at Enstone (UK), will receive a government cash injection amid the global financial crisis.

As well as Peugeot-Citroen, Renault is to receive 3 billion euros, in exchange for the manufacturers' pledge to keep factories open and workers in jobs, French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced.

"This is not a gift.  It is not a subsidy.  It is a loan offered at an interest rate of 6 per cent," Sarkozy insisted.

Donington denies debt reports
(GMM)  Donington Park boss Simon Gillett has denied reports that the 2010 British grand prix venue is in debt to the tune of 76m euros.

The Financial Mail last weekend said accounts just filed at Companies House also showed a 14m euro loss for 2008 and the view of an auditor that the track may not be ready to host formula one from next year.

But chief executive Gillett said work on the grand prix upgrade continues at the Leicestershire venue and that the accounts for 2008 have not even been filed.

He told the Press Association that the reports left him "confused as to where certain publications have sourced their 'facts' and figures".

Sebastian Vettel and his new helmet
New helmet design for Vettel
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel will sport a modified helmet livery for the 2009 season.

The 21-year-old German, who has switched to Red Bull from the energy drink company's junior team Toro Rosso, revealed the tweaked colors at the launch of the new RB5 before debuting the car at Jerez on Monday.

2008 Monza winner Vettel's new helmet retains its basic design in the Red Bull-tin colors of chrome and blue, but now features personalized flashes of yellows, purples and pinks.

He told reporters on Monday that his target for this year is to deliver Red Bull Technology's second win.

"Obviously it's not correct to say I am going to win the world championship, I prefer to stay on the ground and work hard," he said.

Bourdais confirmed for Le Mans, Sebring
(GMM)  Peugeot on Monday confirmed that Sebastien Bourdais, to race full-time in F1 with Toro Rosso in 2009, will also contest the famous Le Mans 24 hour race in June.

It was reported at the weekend that the 29-year-old Frenchman would race at Le Mans this year for the seventh time in his career.

Peugeot also said Bourdais will contest the forthcoming Sebring 12 hour race with the diesel-powered 908 HDi prototype in late March, with BMW-Sauber test driver Christian Klien part of the team for the other Peugeot entrant.

Vettel gained weight ahead of 2009 season
(GMM)  Like his teammate Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel has also counted himself out of the calorie-counting regimen of many of their formula one rivals ahead of the 2009 season.

With heavy KERS systems complicating the current car-plus-driver weight minimum of 605 kilograms, many grand prix stars have revealed their quest to shed pounds in the race to improve car setups by having more chassis ballast to play with.

But the German newspaper Bild on Monday revealed that 21-year-old Vettel's 174 centimeter frame currently weighs in at 64 kilograms.

When asked about the weight-loss trend ahead of the 2009 season, he said: "I weigh 67 kilos with all my race gear on, and in the winter enjoyed many full dinner courses."

And to the Rheinische Post publication, Vettel admitted: "(Since the end of 2008) I have put on four kilos."

Former grand prix driver and German-language commentator Christian Danner said the FIA should step in to counter the trend for skinnier grand prix drivers.

"New rules should be implemented urgently," he told Bild.  "It is not right that formula one drivers should be dieting like ski jumpers."

Vettel plays down fears of driver 'strike'
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has scotched suggestions that Albert Park may be silent in late March due to the dispute over driver Superlicenses.

FIA president Max Mosley last week confirmed that no driver currently holds a valid Superlicense for the 2009 season, as the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) is taking issue with the rising costs of the mandatory credential.

At the launch of Red Bull's new RB5 car at Jerez on Monday, 21-year-old Vettel revealed that he is a GPDA member and fully backs the disgruntled statement released by the body a few days ago.

But he played down fears that the dispute could affect next month's season opening grand prix, despite Mosley warning that no driver will be permitted to exit the Melbourne pitlane if they do not possess a new Superlicense featuring his signature.

"No, I do not see that, because we do want to drive," Vettel is quoted as saying by the Rheinische Post publication on Monday.

The German driver, who won the Italian grand prix last year, confirmed that his license will cost "a little more" than 80,000 euros for 2009.

He said: "Everyone should be careful how they treat this issue, because no-one wants the headlines to say that the drivers are going to strike.

"That has never been said, only that we are not happy with the situation.  We are open to cooperate with the FIA.

"What happens in the future, we will have to wait and see," Vettel added.

Hockenheim dilemma leaves Bernie 'unhappy'
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he will be disappointed if Germany's Hockenheimring circuit falls off the formula one calendar.

As the track annually alternates hosting the race with the Nurburgring, Hockenheim was not due to reappear on the calendar until 2010.

But circuit bosses have said that without a discount in F1 chief executive Ecclestone's promotion fee, the already loss-making event will not be able to be organized for next year.

Apparently referring to the circuit redevelopment of 2002, the 78-year-old billionaire told Germany's Sport Bild: "It is some time ago that I was involved with a large investment into the Hockenheimring.

"I will be unhappy if it disappears from the calendar," Ecclestone added.

It is reported that the circuit will make a final decision about the 2010 event in mid March.

Ecclestone said the responsibility for subsidizing sports events should fall on the state, as is the case for the organization of the Olympic Games.

"It is very much in the interests of a country to keep one of the top brands of sport," he added, hinting that there is no need for him to back down.

"We have more people who want races than we can do in any one season," the Briton is quoted as saying by the German magazine.

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