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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Deadline still looming but Donington hopes over
  • Ecclestone will not pursue Donington for damages
  • New barriers bring walls close to F1 action
  • Fauzy turns attention to Lotus F1 seat
  • Blame gov'ts for F1's turning tide - Cregan
  • Massa all set for competitive race return
  • Hakkinen advises McLaren to keep Kovalainen

Deadline still looming but Donington hopes over
(GMM)  Contrary to widespread reports, Donington's deadline to resurrect its flailing British grand prix bid is Tuesday, not Monday.

But it seems the Leicestershire venue has already given up all hope of staging the event, with formula one now removed from the 2010 'events calendar' on the official Donington Park website.

Bernie Ecclestone told the Guardian newspaper that he did not want to prejudice the situation before the deadline officially passes, and Donington also would not comment.

The Times, however, said the British billionaire has said Donington's chances are "over".

Theoretically, Donington's woe is good news for the race's traditional venue Silverstone, but its negotiations with the F1 chief executive about a deal for 2010 and beyond are deadlocked.

The two sides are reportedly disagreeing about a small amount of money, and particularly the rate at which the promoter's fee increases every year.

Silverstone owner the British Racing Drivers' Club president Damon Hill said: "I'm confident a deal can be worked out.

"The contract can be of any combination of years, but it has to be affordable," he told BBC radio Northampton.

Ecclestone will not pursue Donington for damages
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has played down suggestions that Donington's inability to stage the British grand prix next year could cost the circuit millions in penalties.

The track has also lost the MotoGP rights to Silverstone, made its facility almost unusable due to refurbishments that cannot be completed, and is facing "administration" due to debts, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Moreover, documents relating to the recently failed loans funding scheme show that Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, can claim 18m pounds sterling in "liquidated damages" if the grand prix bid falls through.

But the 78-year-old Briton told the Times: "No, there are no penalties -- not at all."

Ecclestone also said he does not regret entering into the 17-year agreement with Donington, with the future of the current venue Silverstone also under a cloud with just eight months until Britain's scheduled race date.

"No I don't regret it," he insisted.  "If they could have done what they said they were going to do, and what the contract said they had to do, it would have been good."

New barriers bring walls close to F1 action
(GMM)  F1's newest circuit features notably less run-off than at many of the sport's other modern venues.

Providing a closer view for spectators at the new Yas Marina layout in Abu Dhabi, this has been possible due to the extensive use of polyethylene foam-filled energy-absorbing barriers, otherwise known as 'Tecpro'.

Tecpro barriers have already been used at circuits including Singapore, Barcelona and Monza, but it is the first time a modern circuit has been built without expansive areas of run-off for safety.

David Coulthard recently got a close-up view of the new facility, to host this weekend's 2009 season finale, and thinks the proximity of the walls is a good thing.

"There has to be a penalty for going off a circuit.  It should not be a big crash that ends up hurting you, but there has to be a price to pay.

"And I think this track has redefined the FIA safety standards because of the safety barriers," said the former grand prix driver.

However, the Scot is less impressed by the "silly" pitlane exit, which includes a cornered section that runs underground.

Fauzy turns attention to Lotus F1 seat
(GMM)  Fairuz Fauzy believes he has now proved his ability to move up to formula one in 2010.

The Malaysian is linked with the country's new Lotus F1 team, and the 27-year-old driver last weekend secured the runner-up spot in the World Series by Renault.

"With Lotus F1, there is a real possibility of me achieving my lifetime dream of driving in F1, but I knew I needed to really prove that I was ready.

"I hope with this, I have proved enough," he is quoted as saying by the New Straits Times newspaper.

It is believed Fauzy will at least be named the 2010 test driver, but Lotus has not ruled out a full race seat, while the other cockpit is linked with the veteran Jarno Trulli.

Meanwhile, the World Series champion, 23-year-old Belgian Bertrand Baguette, is promised a test in Renault's F1 car.

Blame gov'ts for F1's turning tide - Cregan
(GMM)  The boss of F1's newest venue has defended the unprecedented project as Abu Dhabi prepares to host the 2009 season finale this weekend.

The new Yas Marina Circuit, while remarkable in scale and extravagance, has some of F1's seasoned observers unimpressed, as Bernie Ecclestone takes the sport to new and well-heeled corners of the globe while popular and traditional venues struggle to survive.

The track boasts a five-star hotel that straddles the circuit and lights up in multi-colors at night, a section of underground pit exit and details never before seen in F1 -- such as air-conditioned pit garages.

The man in charge has been Irishman Richard Cregan, formerly Toyota's team manager, and he shrugs at the suggestion that bottomless state coffers should be buying the places of time-honored grand prix hosts like Britain and France.

"No one has a god-given right to a grand prix," he told the Daily Telegraph.

Cregan likened F1's global appeal to the Olympics and the World Cup, suggesting that if anyone can be blamed for the turning tide, it is the governments of the endangered F1 hosts.

"A lot of the new circuits around the world have got government help to make them happen.  Maybe the government should get involved in the UK or elsewhere," he said.

Massa all set for competitive race return
(GMM)  Felipe Massa's scheduled return to formula one at the 2010 season opener appears on track.

The Brazilian has this week confirmed he will make his competitive return to racing at the famous Granja Viana endurance kart race in Sao Paulo in early December.

It has also been suggested he will travel to Abu Dhabi this weekend to observe Ferrari contest the 2009 season finale.

Although Massa, 28, has recently tested a F1 car and karts, the 500-mile Granja Viana will mark his first wheel-to-wheel combat since recovering from serious head injuries earlier this year.

The Ferrari driver said in September that he would only be racing in December "if the doctors give me permission".

He has also said he wants to contest the Challenge of the Stars go-kart race in late November.

Hakkinen advises McLaren to keep Kovalainen
(GMM)  Former McLaren racer Mika Hakkinen has expressed surprise that the Woking based team is on the search for a new driver.

The Mercedes-powered team, driven by Hakkinen to back to back championships in 1998 and 1999, is openly contemplating a new teammate for Lewis Hamilton.

But Finn Hakkinen, 41, told Germany's Auto Bild that McLaren should retain his countryman Heikki Kovalainen.

"They're looking for a driver?  Really?  I didn't know," he joked while trackside at the DTM finale in Hockenheim.

While the leading candidate for Kovalainen's seat is another Finn, Kimi Raikkonen, Hakkinen believes Kovalainen's contribution to McLaren is underrated.

"It's never one person who makes a big operation fantastically successful, it is teamwork," he insisted.

"If you look at the performances of Lewis and Heikki, you have to look not only at the black and white race results, but also what happens in the background," said Hakkinen.

"Those two do a fantastic job," he added, before grinning: "Looking for a new driver?  Why should they do that?"

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