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Latest F1 news in brief
  • RBS to depart Williams after 2010
  • New Force India makes Silverstone debut
  • Allmendinger possibly 'open' to USF1 switch
  • Schu invited to rescue Honda - manager
  • Stewart, Stoddart, muse future of F1 teams
  • New Toro Rosso set for debut next Wednesday
  • No test plans for USF1 in 2009

RBS to depart Williams after 2010
(GMM)  The struggling Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will withdraw its estimated 14m euro sponsorship of the British formula one team Williams at the end of next year.

The deal, one of the main sponsorships for the independent Toyota-powered team, began in 2005, and the current contract is due to expire after the 2010 season.

RBS was hit heavily by the global financial crisis, posting multi-billion losses and subsequently bailed out by the UK government.

"It is imperative that we respond to the reality of the situation we face and that we do so in an orderly way that respects the commercial agreements we have in place and the implications for our partners and the jobs they support," said the British bank's communications director Andrew McLaughlin.

He said Sir Frank Williams has been "supportive" in helping RBS reduce its costs - by as much as 90 per cent in areas such as hospitality - this year and in 2010.

RBS is the next in a line of recent lost sponsorships for Williams, including Lenovo, Petrobras and the multiple Icelandic Baugur brands.

But the Grove based team's chief executive Adam Parr said in a conference call: "No individual sponsor is make or break for us."

New Force India makes Silverstone debut
(GMM)  Ahead of its official debut on Sunday, Force India's new formula one car on Wednesday made its first appearance at a circuit.

The Mercedes-Benz powered VJM02 was shaken down at a private session at Silverstone (UK), before it is immediately transferred to Jerez for next week's group test.

Giancarlo Fisichella will drive the car initially in southwestern Spain, before handing over for the remainder of the test to his 2009 teammate Adrian Sutil.

"I'm itching to drive it," said Roman Fisichella, the 36-year-old veteran of 214 grands prix and three wins.

The pair admitted to the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times that the 2009 car's late debut is not ideal.

"Obviously, it does (make me nervous)," Fisichella said.  "We are late and I am a little bit worried."

Sutil added: "We have just eight days to test the car, four in Jerez and four in Barcelona.  We will try and make the most of it."

Allmendinger possibly 'open' to USF1 switch
(GMM)  A.J. Allmendinger, an American 27-year-old NASCAR driver, has refused to predict the future of his racing career.

The Californian, previously a Champ Car driver, has been one of several US-born drivers linked with the new USF1 formula one team, but reports said he is not interested in moving to the European based series in 2010.

But he subsequently clarified: "Something that I've learned in racing is that you never say no to anything, and you leave every option open that you can."

Allmendinger insisted that his priority at present in NASCAR "but I'm never going to shut the door on anything".

Schu invited to rescue Honda - manager
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher was invited to look into buying the embattled Brackley based formula one team, his long-time manager Willi Weber has confirmed.

It was reported earlier this year that the retired seven time world champion might be interested in looking into the Honda team, perhaps in collaboration with his former Ferrari colleague Ross Brawn.

"There was an enquiry," Weber confirmed to the Cologne newspaper Express, "but neither I nor Michael are going to take part in formula one in this way.

"Michael is happy with his life and - as far as motor racing is concerned - I am focused on (managing) the career of Nico Hulkenberg," Weber added.

It also emerged this week that Tony Teixeira, the boss of the A1 GP series, looked into buying the team following the Honda Motor Co.'s announcement that it is withdrawing from the sport.

"Because of the (economic) times, I cannot commit myself to this year's budget," he is quoted as saying by the Singapore newspaper New Paper.

Stewart, Stoddart, muse future of F1 teams
(GMM)  Sir Jackie Stewart does not expect the beleaguered Honda team to be rescued ahead of the looming 2009 season.

The former triple world champion, whose employer RBS on Wednesday announced its departure from F1 at the end of next year, believes the numerous reports and widespread speculation about Honda's future have "all come to nothing" in the midst of the global financial crisis.

"The motor industry is in one of the most perilous positions, because if people aren't buying cars, then it filters through every other branch of the business, and most motoring teams are having to cut their cloth and cling on to existing contracts in the knowledge that it simply isn't the right time to be persuading new sponsors to come on board," the Scot told The Herald newspaper.

While 69-year-old Stewart wondered about Honda's prospects, former Minardi team owner and boss Paul Stoddart told Reuters that he doubts the newly-announced USF1 team will get off the ground.

"I believe we are a year or two away from getting the costs (in F1) completely under control and I don't believe that new teams will come from the US, I think they will come from within Europe," the Australian said.

Stoddart, who in 2007 took the Minardi name to America for the Champ Car entry Minardi Team USA, also expressed doubts about USF1's plans to be based in the States.

And he said: "I personally can't see how they are going to pull a major sponsor or investor out of the US when there's no race (there).

"Very few Americans care terribly much about formula one ... and I certainly found it harder to get money over here than in Europe."

New Toro Rosso set for debut next Wednesday
(GMM)  Toro Rosso's 2009 car will be given its circuit debut next Wednesday, according to a report in the German specialist press.

Auto Motor und Sport claims the STR4, a Ferrari-powered version of the Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull car, is to be shaken down at the Adria circuit in northern Italy on March 4, with Sebastien Buemi at the wheel.

Team boss Franz Tost confirmed that the first single seater is nearing completion in the Faenza factory, with only the "upper arm of the rear suspension" held up due to a "problem with production".

On Thursday at Toro Rosso's Italian base, the Ferrari engine in the rear of the STR4 will be fired up for the first time.

Tost said he is happy with how the Newey chassis performed in Red Bull Racing's hands recently.  "It looks good," he said.

"I am very satisfied with what has been done so far.  We must be optimistic, but we will get a better idea at Barcelona (for the forthcoming test)."

Red Bull Racing's team boss Christian Horner confirmed that the car was debuted successfully.  "Compared with our rollouts of previous years, (this) was our best.

"There we no disasters," the Briton added.

No test plans for USF1 in 2009
(GMM)  USF1, the newly-announced American formula one team, has no plans to begin testing this year, it has emerged.

Despite principal Ken Anderson revealing that talks with manufacturers about an engine supply will shortly begin, the team is quoted as ruling out the possibility of hitting the test tracks until early in 2010.

"Even though we will sign an agreement with an engine manufacturer in the next months, this (agreement) will not begin until January 1 2010," a USF1 official is quoted as saying in French by sport24.com.

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