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Latest F1 news in brief

Briatore's head on the block in 'crash-gate'

Button in complex talks over future with Brawn

Another false start: 2010 Canada GP still not on

Stewart says no to FIA presidency bid

Vatanen not allowed on grid at Monza

Head says Cosworth an 'option' for Williams

Briatore's head on the block in 'crash-gate'
(GMM)  The French carmaker Renault has reportedly offered to replace the boss of its formula one team, Flavio Briatore.

The offer, made to the sport's governing body ahead of the 21 September hearing into the 'crash-gate' affair, was interpreted by the Spanish newspaper AS as being a move to appease the World Motor Sport Council.

Evidence about the case that has leaked to the press does not bode well for Renault, whose bosses Briatore and Pat Symonds are accused by sacked driver Nelson Piquet of ordering him to crash deliberately in Singapore a year ago.

Diario AS said Renault has offered to oust Briatore in favor of Frederic Vasseur, a boss of the GP2 team ART.  Fascinatingly, Vasseur is in business with Nicolas Todt, the son of the FIA presidential candidate Jean.

Another rumored potential replacement for Briatore is Alain Prost, and the four time world champion said at Monza: "I only know that there is a rumor, we'll see what happens."

There are other strong signs that Briatore is set to bear the brunt of the blame for the alleged order to crash.

Britain's Times newspaper reveals that, like Piquet Jr, the team's engineering director Pat Symonds has also been offered immunity if he cooperates fully with the FIA.

Symonds hinted strongly in his recent interview with FIA stewards and Quest investigators that he knows much more about the affair.  He told them at the time that he did not want to answer incriminating questions because he preferred to "reserve" his position.

One assumption would be that Symonds is prepared to talk only under the cover of immunity.

The newspaper also said the investigators believe Piquet's claims are "reasonable, on balance".  And Max Mosley told the Guardian: "Certainly the data from the car indicated that something very unusual had happened on the corner where he crashed."

The FIA president also agreed that "it would" be very unusual if Piquet and his famous father are risking jail sentences by criminally perjuring themselves about the events at F1's inaugural night race.

Transcripts of Renault's radio traffic in Singapore has also come to light, depicting Briatore reacting stridently to the news that Piquet, 23, had crashed.

"Fu**ing hell ... my every fu**ing disgrace, fu**ing, he's not a driver," the Italian said.

Button in complex talks over future with Brawn
(GMM)  Even in the midst of a championship battle, Jenson Button is reportedly also embroiled in complicated dealings about his future at the Brawn team.

The Daily Mail and Sun newspapers in Britain report that, after having agreed to a multi-million pay cut before the start of the season, the 29-year-old driver now wants his money back before signing for 2010.

The Sun quoted a source as saying that Brawn's first counter-offer in monetary terms was "derisory".

Those reports coincide with an article in Britain's Telegraph that says Nico Rosberg has "agreed a deal" to move from Williams to Brawn next year.

The report said both Button and Barrichello are candidates to exit the team to make room for the 24-year-old German, who is strongly favored by Mercedes-Benz, and that the German carmaker "has never shown much interest in signing Button".

The reports also claim that Button and his management have complained to Brawn about a lack of cooperation from Barrichello's side of the garage, as the outcome of the 2009 title comes down to a straight fight between the teammates.

After Monza, team boss Ross Brawn made a point about ensuring the 2009 showdown would be an "open" fight between his drivers, while Button and Barrichello also referred to the forthcoming free exchange of information when speaking with reporters after the Italian GP.

David Coulthard wrote in a newspaper column: "You would have to be mad to think they (the drivers) would not hold a little bit (of information) back; a snatched conversation with an engineer here, a strategy to eke an extra couple of tenths there.

"That is the way it should be and Ross knows that," the F1 veteran added.

Another false start: 2010 Canada GP still not on
(GMM)  The return to the F1 calendar of the Canadian grand prix in 2010 is still not assured, politicians in Montreal insist.

On Monday, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's outgoing local promoter Normand Legault said in a media statement that a "commercial dispute" with Bernie Ecclestone is now over and that an "announcement is forthcoming" about Canada's return to F1.

But the local finance minister Raymond Bachand responded by insisting that Legault's statement was not an official announcement about the 2010 Canadian grand prix.

"Our negotiations with Ecclestone are going well, the negotiations are actually over, but we haven't signed anything yet but we're very confident," he is quoted as saying by Canadian media.

Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay also said he hoped to have more news on the subject soon.

Stewart says no to FIA presidency bid
(GMM)  Sir Jackie Stewart has revealed he turned down a request to join Jean Todt and Ari Vatanen in the running to become the next president of the FIA.

The former triple world champion and Scot, who is a staunch critic of the office's incumbent Max Mosley, told Britain's Guardian newspaper that "someone high up" made the request.

The newspaper suggested to Stewart, who at 70 is even older than Mosley, that the request may have been a move from within the Todt camp to derail the increasing popularity of the independent candidate Vatanen.

"That certainly occurred to me," said Stewart.

"Particularly to be asked at such a late date.  I replied 'absolutely not', just as I had said before," said the winner of 27 grands prix in the 60s and 70s, who has been dismissed in the past by Mosley as a "certified halfwit".

Stewart said he turned down the request to run because of his outspoken views about Mosley's ideal successor.

"My belief is that the president shouldn't be somebody who has been involved either recently or presently in formula one," he explained.

Vatanen not allowed on grid at Monza
(GMM)  FIA presidential candidate Ari Vatanen was not granted a pass to walk on the grid prior to Sunday's Italian grand prix.

Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted Sir Jackie Stewart, who is barracking for the Finn and former European parliamentarian to defeat Jean Todt in October's elections, as describing the snub to the potential next FIA president as "shocking".

Grid passes, like Vatanen's paddock pass, are controlled by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who defended the decision not to grant one to Vatanen.

It is unthinkable that Todt, the former Ferrari team boss and Max Mosley's preferred successor, would be similarly not allowed on the grid.

Ecclestone said: "I don't see any reason for him (Vatanen) to be on the starting grid.  He's not a sponsor, he's not a team owner."

The 78-year-old also suggested that the demand for passes at historic Monza is particularly high.

"This is what happens, particularly at Monza.  There were 10 million politicians and their mothers who wanted to be on the grid -- goodness only knows why, but they did.

"We have a limited number of passes which we had agreed to allocate.  That was it," the Briton added.

Head says Cosworth an 'option' for Williams
(GMM)  Cosworth is an "option" for the Williams team in 2010, co-owner Patrick Head has been quoted as saying.

With Toyota's future on the grid in doubt and its V8 thought to be the least powerful in formula one, the independent British team Williams is openly on the lookout for a new engine supplier.

Head told reporters at Monza last weekend that, contrary to reports, Mercedes was not an option for the Grove based outfit despite earlier preliminary talks.

But while Renault is considered the frontrunner to supply Williams next year, particularly if the currently Renault-powered Red Bull Racing moves to Mercedes power, the French carmaker's commitment to F1 is also in doubt.

A report on the Dutch formule1.nl website quotes Head as saying the Renault situation, particularly in view of the forthcoming World Motor Sport Council hearing, "certainly doesn't make it easier" for Williams to cement its engine plans.

He is also quoted by Stuttgartern Rosen as saying Cosworth is "an option".

Cosworth, the British engine maker returning to F1 next year as the FIA's official supplier, is already contracted to supply the new Campos, USF1, Manor and Lotus teams.

Williams was Cosworth's last F1 partner in 2006.

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