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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Bad news for Lotus, Superfund 2010 entries
  • F1 news briefs on Thursday
  • Friday looms as the day F1 split
  • BMW undecided about KERS for Silverstone
  • Renault tells suppliers F1 exit possible
  • Kovalainen must perform to keep seat

Bad news for Lotus, Superfund 2010 entries
(GMM)  The Lotus Cars company has followed the Brabham family in distancing itself and threatening legal action against a proposed formula one team bearing its name.

It emerged last week that 'Team Lotus' could return to the grid next year in the form of British F3 team Litespeed, who said they were granted permission to use the name from rights holder David Hunt.

Hunt, who bought Team Lotus from the bankrupt outfit at the end of 1994, is the brother of the 1976 world champion James Hunt.

However, Lotus Cars Limited, the ongoing sports car maker that is based on the company founded by Colin Chapman in 1952, clarified on Wednesday that it is in no way associated with the prospective 2010 team.

"Group Lotus plc will take all necessary steps to protect its name, reputation and brand image," it said in a statement.

There was more bad news for a 2010 F1 hopeful on Wednesday, when it was rumored that Superfund, the Austrian investment company, may have been struck off the FIA's list due to the emergence of an unpaid debt relating to motor racing of nearly 4m euros.

F1 news briefs on Thursday
(GMM)  The Swiss senate has voted against an attempt to lift the country's more than 50-year ban on motor racing, including formula one.  The sport was banned in Switzerland after the Le Mans disaster of 1955.


Fernando Alonso and Luca di Montezemolo are apparently planning to meet at the Le Mans circuit this week, where practice for the famous 24 hour sports car race began on Wednesday.  According to the wildest speculation, Ferrari president Montezemolo, to officially start the fabled endurance event on Saturday afternoon, would field a three-car team featuring the Spanish double world champion, as well as contracted 2010 drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, in a breakaway world championship.


Sir Jackie Stewart turns 70 on Thursday, but the former triple world champion insists he is not about to retire.  The Scot's ongoing connection to formula one is as the Royal Bank of Scotland's sponsor ambassador, and he will be back in that role at the British grand prix next weekend.  "I've noticed what happens to a lot of other people when they do (retire) that the light goes out of their life and they suddenly feel old," he told Scotland's Herald newspaper.

Friday looms as the day F1 split
(GMM)  As the final 24 hours until the publication of the 2010 entry list beckons, the eight rebel formula one teams known collectively as FOTA met once again in London.

"I still believe that a reasonable solution can be found," Mercedes-Benz's Norbert Haug is quoted as saying by Germany's DPA news agency.

The current state of affairs as FOTA met on Wednesday was the ongoing stalemate between the body and the FIA, led by a seemingly equally obstinate Max Mosley.

Mosley wrote to FOTA this week, requesting that the unconditional status of the FOTA teams' entries be dropped, and McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh suggested to Auto Motor und Sport that the association's reply was "very constructive".

However, Mosley's demands were not met, raising the prospect that marquee names including Ferrari and McLaren will be left off the entry list when it is published on Friday.

But speculation suggests that, due to existing (albeit disputed) agreements, Ferrari and the Red Bull teams might actually be named on the FIA's June 12 document.

The possibility led Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali to issue a media statement late Wednesday, insisting that if a compromise with the FIA is not reached imminently "then the FIA will not be able to include Ferrari" on the list of confirmed 2010 teams.

Although it is more than seven months until the first race of next season, there is a risk that June 12 could be the day on which a split became inevitable.

"If ten (non-FOTA) teams are given an entry there's a major problem," Ross Brawn said in Turkey last week.  "So I hope – even if it's a holding position until we can sort this out – I hope there's a solution."

Domenicali agreed: "If you want to be sensible you can discuss whatever you want up until next year.  But we need to find a solution as soon as possible."

It is arguable in whose court the ball currently lies, but as it is the FIA president who proposes revolutionizing the rules, Italy's La Stampa newspaper observes: "Mr. Mosley risks passing into history as the man who destroyed formula one."

BMW undecided about KERS for Silverstone
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber has not decided whether to reintroduce its KERS system to race at the British grand prix next weekend.

Paradoxically, the German squad was one of the only to vote to keep the controversial technology in the sport in 2010, while at the very same time not using KERS in Turkey last weekend.

BMW also ran without KERS at Monaco and Barcelona, having opted instead to focus on aerodynamic improvements.

Team boss Mario Theissen did not want to say whether the F1.09's performance, aided by a double diffuser for the first time, would have been additionally boosted with KERS at Istanbul.

"That is difficult to say," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.  "We know what we would have gained on the straights, but naturally we cannot quantify how the Friday tests (of the KERS system) would have gone."

Before the double diffuser was added at Istanbul, it emerged from Hinwil based BMW-Sauber that a KERS modified for the heavily revised aerodynamic configuration of the car since Spain was now ready to race.

But a decision for Silverstone has not yet been taken, Theissen said, revealing that the next substantial update for the car is scheduled for the following race, at the Nurburgring.

Renault tells suppliers F1 exit possible
(GMM)  Renault has warned its suppliers that it may not be racing in formula one beyond the 2009 season.

At the same time as that news emerged on Wednesday, the French carmaker's CEO Carlos Ghosn was aiming fire not at the controversial budget cap rules for 2010, but at the distribution of income.

According to AFP France, he told a French parliamentary committee that because the teams "make the show" in F1, they should be the ones benefiting "principally from it".

Until now, while issues of governance have been playing a role in the dispute with Max Mosley, it was believed that the teams' threats to quit formula one were based primarily on their distaste for the new regulations.

But Ghosn said: "It is us who make the show, who bring the technology, the engines, who engage the pilots, so if we make the show, it is necessary that the income returns to us."

Germany's motorsport-total.com, meanwhile, revealed that external suppliers of Renault's Enstone based team received a letter early this week warning that the outfit's participation in the sport beyond 2009 can not be guaranteed.

It was also reported on Wednesday that Toyota's currently Cologne based team principal Tadashi Yamashina is set to relocate the position to Japan and commute to races.

Kovalainen must perform to keep seat
(GMM)  It is up to Heikki Kovalainen to prove he belongs in the McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton beyond 2009.

That is the message given by Norbert Haug, competition chief of the British team's engine partner Mercedes-Benz.

The German has recently been hinting at a change for next year, coinciding with speculation that Williams' Nico Rosberg is a prime candidate.

When asked by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport about 27-year-old Kovalainen's seat, Haug answered: "Formula one is a hard competition.

"Heikki knows that it is all about performance.  We are looking at each race finish and at each tenth," he said.

It is understood that no firm decisions about the future have yet been taken.

On form so far, Kovalainen is usually outpaced by the sister car driven by Hamilton, and he is often accused of making errors at crucial moments, such as within sight of a rare points finish at Monaco.

Haug however said it is too early in the season to be seriously discussing drivers.

"We are concentrating only on making the car faster," he added.  "That is the biggest problem."

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