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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Bernie approves USF1 project for 2010
  • USF1 to begin carmaker engine talks for 2010
  • Stewart now willing to 'help' RBS amid crisis
  • A1 boss still interested in F1 foray
  • Brawn 'optimistic' of Honda team survival
  • Boats to boost Valencia ambience in 2009
  • Raikkonen friends with Guns N' Roses rocker
  • Drivers will pay for licenses - Raikkonen

Bernie approves USF1 project for 2010
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has given the 'USF1' concept the thumbs-up, British principal Peter Windsor admitted during the launch of the American formula one team on Tuesday.

"He said, 'Great, get it done,'" Windsor, a former team manager and now full-time grand prix reporter and writer, said of his conversation with the sport's influential chief executive.

The main media interest about USF1 so far has been the possible identity of the two American-born drivers to occupy the cockpits next year.

Racing great and 1978 world champion Mario Andretti joined the USF1 broadcast and insisted his 21-year-old grandson Marco would be an ideal candidate.

But Marco, who tested for Honda a couple of years ago and is currently testing his IndyCar in Florida, commented: "It would be risky because it's such a new team, that's all I would say."

It also emerges that Scott Speed, the most recent American to contest grands prix, has "no interest" in leaving his current NASCAR career to return to F1, the Californian newspaper Berrynessa Sun claims.

Graham Rahal, the son of Bobby Rahal, was also mentioned by the USF1 chiefs on Tuesday.

Windsor, and his USF1 partner Ken Anderson, confirmed that the former $48m FIA entry bond barrier to starting a team is no longer required, while admitting that the global recession is actually a help to their plans for a low-budget, small-staffed team.

"For those out there that say, 'Where's all the money?  Where's the huge facility?  Where's the money pouring out of the sky?' ... that isn't going to happen with USF1," Windsor, who has only sought investors wanting to buy small portions of the team, explained.

USF1 to begin carmaker engine talks for 2010
(GMM)  Principals of the newly-launched USF1 team will commence talks with every carmaker in the sport about a supply of engines in 2010, Ken Anderson has revealed.

The American engineer, setting up the Charlotte-based outfit with British reporter Peter Windsor, said on Tuesday that they will shop around for the best deal but are not expecting to have trouble finding a technical partner.

"(For) every manufacturer in formula one now, their biggest market is the United States, the only exception to that being Renault," he said.

Anderson admitted that the engine talks, as well as negotiations about possible US-born drivers next year, have not begun yet.

"We will be sending out proposals to all the manufacturers currently in formula one and let them know we are here," he said.

Stewart now willing to 'help' RBS amid crisis
(GMM)  Sir Jackie Stewart may be about to change his tune amid pressure to relinquish his lucrative ambassadorial contract with the struggling British bank Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The triple world champion has an ongoing multi-million euro deal in place to travel the formula one calendar as an RBS representative, but those arrangements have become highly controversial in light of the global financial crisis and the British government's involvement.

Stewart said this week: "I am sorry these people are losing their jobs but I signed a contract and have done my bit.  I have two years more to run."

Tennis' Andy Murray is also sponsored by RBS, but he is quoted as hinting that he may be willing to renegotiate because "the bottom line is I want to help".

In a new report in the Scottish newspaper The Herald, Stewart indicated his disappointment about the criticism and hinted he may now be willing to talk.

"I'm happy to help the RBS at the moment and I am in the process of drawing up a proposal, which will be of significant interest to them, but I'm not at fault when it comes to directors taking decisions or politicians meeting bankers," the 69-year-old said.

A1 boss still interested in F1 foray
(GMM)  The boss of the open wheeler series A1GP admits he is still interested in fielding a formula one team.

South African millionaire Tony Teixeira has been linked in the past with buying Super Aguri, Spyker, Toro Rosso and - most recently - Honda, but he has expressed reservations about the sport's tightening customer car rules.

But the website of the British magazine Autosport now claims that Teixeira remains interested in F1, having bought land near the new Algarve circuit in Portugal.

He wants to base A1GP at Portimao and admits that "eventually it could house an A1/F1 office" with the backing of the Portuguese government.

Teixeira insists that things have moved on since he lost interest in F1 due to the customer car dispute.

"Today I'm in a completely different situation.  I've built my own cars and designed my own chassis.  I have my own factory.  So I'm not a customer boss.  I can now build my chassis and run with a Ferrari engine.  I'm now the same as everyone else," he said.

Teixeira said he would use his F1 team to place the champions of his A1 series.

Brawn 'optimistic' of Honda team survival
(GMM)  Despite the looming proximity of the 2009 opener, Honda team boss Ross Brawn is still optimistic the Brackley based outfit will be in Melbourne.

Departing owner the Honda Motor Co. this week expressed pessimism about the sale, but team principal Ross Brawn - linked with a management buyout - is quoted as insisting "there is still good reason to be optimistic".

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport also reports that the 2009 car has been successfully modified to fit a Mercedes-Benz engine, with the first installment to the German manufacturer already paid.

Brawn explained: "We only need the green light and then we can go."  By the Swiss newspaper Blick, he is also quoted as explaining that when he is given the green light, the team will arrange to travel to the final test sessions of the pre-season.

Rumors, meanwhile, persist that Nick Fry may no longer be part of the plans for the management buyout.  Auto Motor und Sport speculates that his departure could be a signal that Fry's former Prodrive boss David Richards might join the management of the team's new guise.

Boats to boost Valencia ambience in 2009
(GMM)  A small detail could ramp up the ambience at the next European grand prix in Valencia.

Last year's inaugural race on the street circuit was not the most memorable in terms of wheel-to-wheel action, and despite the harbor-side location the event even lacked the yacht-lined atmosphere of Monte Carlo.

Evidently, however, the latter fact was caused at least in part by the early closing of the circuit's swing bridge, which on one hand prevented boats from entering the harbor area after Tuesday of grand prix week, and on the other locked the boats into the area for the duration of the entire event.

But promoter Jorge Martinez Aspar, of Valmor Sports, told the Spanish news agency Europa Press that the bridge will be opened daily beginning this year so that boats can enter and exit the port.

"Our objective is that the fans are comfortable, have easy access and enjoy the spectacle," he said.

Raikkonen friends with Guns N' Roses rocker
(GMM)  Ferrari driver and former world champion Kimi Raikkonen has revealed in an interview that he is friends with a legendary American rock singer.

47-year-old Axl Rose is the iconic Guns N' Roses front man, and has known Raikkonen since the Finnish racer's days at McLaren, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said.

In the booklet of the band's latest album Chinese Democracy, Axl Rose thanked Raikkonen.  "I don't know why, but we know each other quite well," Kimi said.

"We've been together several times, the first time was years ago and he has also come to Finland to meet with me," the 29-year-old added.

Drivers will pay for licenses - Raikkonen
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has played down the possibility that F1 drivers may travel to Australia next month without valid Superlicense credentials.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), of which Ferrari's 2007 world champion is not a member, has asked all drivers to hold off paying the mandatory FIA fees for now amid a dispute over their rising expense with the governing body.

Three unnamed drivers have reportedly already paid up, and 28-year-old Raikkonen has now explained that it is unlikely the drivers will travel to Melbourne next month with the standoff still ongoing.

FIA president Max Mosley has warned drivers who do not want to pay the fees to either sit out grands prix or switch to a more affordable series.

Raikkonen told Italy's Corriere della Sera: "Everyone is more or less happy to pay the license, it's just that the price should be reasonable.

"This is the only problem, nobody wants to quarrel with anyone," he added.

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