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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Price of Brawn backing rising - Fry
  • Quitting F1 won't save Merc money - official
  • Reports of Donington's waning F1 hopes continue
  • No BMW 'option' on Vettel for 2011 - Horner
  • Teams rush to speed up diffuser development
  • Bernie not sure if Alonso-Ferrari deal done
  • Bernie likens F1 dispute to Jewish conflict
  • No KERS for Renault at next two races
  • Mallya does not fear Mercedes withdrawal

Price of Brawn backing rising - Fry
(GMM)  With every passing race and success, the price of sponsoring the Brawn team rises, chief executive Nick Fry has admitted.

It is reported that Sir Richard Branson wants to make an announcement about ramping up his Virgin brand's exposure at the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

But it also emerges that the British billionaire is considering whether he wants to become the title or naming backer now that the cost has increased.

"All the potential sponsors ring up on a Monday morning and say, 'oh my god, the price has gone up again,'" Fry told London's Times newspaper.

"We've got between 20 and 25 companies talking to us either about sponsorship or some wanting to buy into the team.  Ross and I need to come to the correct decision, not the quick decision," he said.

It is therefore clear that it is Branson, and not team chiefs Fry and Ross Brawn, who is pushing the Barcelona schedule.

"We will talk again in Barcelona and let you know," the Virgin founder told reporters last weekend in Bahrain.

Fry acknowledged: "Richard has made an offer.  The issue for us is whether or not it is the best offer we can get."

Quitting F1 won't save Merc money - official
(GMM)  Even if Mercedes was to pull out of formula one, it would not save its struggling parent Daimler money, an official said on Tuesday.

"We look into our formula one commitment every year.  But even if we dropped out now, we wouldn't be saving a cent because the contracts are long-term," Daimler chief financial officer Bodo Uebber is quoted as saying by German press.

But he pointed out that Daimler has "no sacred cows", meaning that a future withdrawal from formula one cannot be ruled out.

Daimler reported a net loss of US $1.7bn for the recent January-March quarter.

Reports of Donington's waning F1 hopes continue
(GMM)  Reports about Donington's British grand prix woes have continued into a new week.

Recently, it was reported that the debenture funding scheme was severely delayed, Donington's racing license had been revoked, track operator Simon Gillet was being sued by the landowners, and that the council planning permission for the F1 works was in danger.

On Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper reported that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone claims "that the funding for those developments, due to come from the debenture sale of ... corporate seats and underwritten by the investment bank Goldman Sachs, has now been withdrawn".

The report said the news casts "fresh uncertainty" over the 2010 race.

A spokeswoman for Donington told the Telegraph: "The shareholders have made a commitment to this project, and we will make further details available shortly."

No BMW 'option' on Vettel for 2011 - Horner
(GMM)  Christian Horner has dismissed speculation that Sebastian Vettel could be lost to the BMW-Sauber team in less than two years.

The German two-time GP winner, 21, is under contract to Red Bull for both this year and next, but is believed to retain links with BMW.

Vettel made his formula one debut for BMW-Sauber in 2007, leading to suggestions that the Swiss-based team may be able to recall the German once his current contract expires.

But Red Bull team boss Horner categorically denied that BMW retains an "option" on Vettel's services.

"Definitely not," the Briton said in an interview with Germany's Sport Bild.

"They could have had him, they did have an option on Sebastian, the condition being that they give him a race cockpit for the 2008 season.

"In the middle of 2007 they let him go to the Red Bull family, to Toro Rosso, and they lost their rights to him," Horner explained.

Teams rush to speed up diffuser development
(GMM)  The 'double' diffuser scheduled to be added to the Red Bull package at Monaco will not be the definitive version, team boss Christian Horner has revealed.

Red Bull Technology designer Adrian Newey was absent from a second consecutive grand prix last weekend, as he worked on modifying the unique rear of the RB5 to accommodate the newly legalized concept.

But to Germany's Sport Bild, Horner insisted that the Monte Carlo specification will only be the "first stage" of Red Bull's diffuser.

"The final version is planned for the race at Silverstone," he revealed.

A similar story is also emerging from some of the other teams that only recently questioned the legality of the 'double' diffuser concept at the Court of Appeal.

Ferrari's interim double diffuser will appear at the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

"In terms of development, the situation gives you massive possibility for future development, but it will take time," team boss Stefano Domenicali said.

"But at least the first prototype should be ready for the next race," he added.

Renault already has a double diffuser running on the R29, but more refined specifications are in the pipeline, Flavio Briatore has revealed.

"Our first version is not what we believe is the best.  In Barcelona we will have another step and I am sure in Monte Carlo we will have a big one," the Italian said.

Bernie not sure if Alonso-Ferrari deal done
(GMM)  Contrary to his hints of the past, Bernie Ecclestone insists he is now not so sure that Fernando Alonso will move to Ferrari in the near future.

It is widespread paddock speculation that the Spanish driver is scheduled to move to the famous Italian team either next year or in 2011.

But despite previously reinforcing the rumors, F1 chief executive Ecclestone now says: "They have told me that Alonso hasn't signed anything with Ferrari."

"They told me that I got it wrong," the Briton is quoted as saying at a gathering with Spanish reporters this week.

Ecclestone, however, did confirm that the Spanish bank Santander is moving to Ferrari next year.

Referring to Santander chief Emilio Botin, the billionaire said: "A long time ago we talked about it and I said it was logical: Ferrari is red, the same color as your bank."

Ecclestone added: "As for Alonso, if he goes to Ferrari it would be because they think that he can be champion, not because of a sponsor."

Occasional Ferrari test driver Marc Gene says his countryman Alonso, 27, would be welcomed by the Maranello based team.

But he told the Spanish newspaper 20 Minutos: "The press keeps on saying it (the Alonso rumors), but if you ask me I say Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa are great drivers."

Bernie likens F1 dispute to Jewish conflict
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has likened F1's perennial Concorde agreement dispute to one of the world's longest-running political conflicts.

The most recent Concorde, a tripartite contract which governs F1's commercial aspects, expired at the end of 2007.

While the terms for a new one are hashed out, the sport's commercial arms, the FIA and the teams are instead bound together by a non-binding 'memorandum of understanding'.

It is almost permanently hinted that a new Concorde is nearing ratification, but F1 chief executive Ecclestone said: "It's like Israel and the Palestinians -- always about to reach an agreement but never quite signing it."

The 78-year-old reportedly made the comments during a meeting with the Spanish press this week.

No KERS for Renault at next two races
(GMM)  Renault, whose boss Flavio Briatore is a staunch critic of the controversial technology, has reportedly decided not to use KERS at the next two grands prix.

The information was reported by the German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

The next two grands prix take place in Europe: first at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, and subsequently in late May on the famous streets of the Principality Monaco.

Mallya does not fear Mercedes withdrawal
(GMM)  Dr Vijay Mallya is not concerned that a withdrawal from formula one of Mercedes-Benz could leave his Force India team without an engine supplier.

The Silverstone based team switched at the end of last year from Ferrari to Mercedes customer power.

"We have a five-year contract with Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines and I don't see any reason why that should not be fulfilled," Indian billionaire Mallya told the German website motorsport-magazin.com.

He insisted there is a clear separation between Mercedes as a works partner of McLaren, and the German marque's role as a formula one engine supplier.

The possible implication is that, even if Mercedes should pull out, it could keep supplying customer engines.

"I have no knowledge of the internal situation, but I have no doubts that Mercedes will fulfill the contract," said Mallya.

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