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Latest F1 news in brief
  • USF1 to make late February test debut
  • Silverstone upgrade on schedule for 2010 calendar
  • Mercedes beat three teams to Petronas backing
  • Red Bull will not test 2009 car at Valencia
  • Coulthard sure Mercedes will not favor Schumacher
  • Tung still in running for Renault race seat
  • Schu insists Mercedes talks began after 2009 season
  • Top ten must use qualifying tires in 2010
  • Schu insists Ferrari relationship 'good'

USF1 to make late February test debut
(GMM)  The first complete USF1 car will not be ready for its test debut until the end of February.

The new American team's sporting director Peter Windsor said earlier this month that the maiden track outing for the car, to be called Type 1, will take place at an Alabama circuit "at the beginning of February".

But speaking with Reuters at the Argentine automobile club (Automovil Club Argentino) this week, newly signed race driver Jose Maria Lopez gave a different date for the car's debut.

"The car should be ready between the 20th and 25th of February and then we're going to test drive it in Alabama," the 26-year-old said.

The 2010 season begins in Bahrain on 14 March.

Reuters added that Argentine Lopez has signed a one year deal with an option for 2011.

Silverstone upgrade on schedule for 2010 calendar
(GMM)  Parts of Silverstone currently resemble a construction site as the British grand prix venue undergoes redevelopment.

But the Northamptonshire track's managing director Richard Phillips told the BBC that the works are on schedule.

The new 'Arena' section that could be used for July's formula one race is being laid, parts of the track are being widened and run-off zones extended, and new curbs and grandstands installed.

Phillips said the works are due to be finished by March.

Mercedes beat three teams to Petronas backing
(GMM)  Three other teams were in the running to secure the sponsorship backing of the state-owned Malaysian oil company Petronas in 2010.

Vice president of corporate services Ahmad Nizam Salleh revealed that, as well as considering staying with Sauber, Petronas looked into supporting Williams or Lotus.

Ultimately, Petronas signed a long term deal to become title sponsor at Mercedes GP, although Salleh told the Bernama news agency that the sponsorship will be reviewed "from year to year for the next five years".

"Four teams were short-listed -- Williams, Sauber, Mercedes and Lotus," he is quoted as saying by The Star newspaper at Mercedes' livery launch in Stuttgart earlier this week.

"But Mercedes offered the best package and what they asked for was quite attractive," Sallah added.

He said the decision to sign with Mercedes was made before Michael Schumacher agreed to return to F1 this year with the German marque.

"Schumacher's return makes for bigger visibility and it is an unexpected mileage for us," said Salleh.

"We heard rumors that he was thinking of coming back to F1 when we started the negotiations, but he was still attached to another team (Ferrari) and we had no inkling at that point that he was signing up," he added.

Red Bull will not test 2009 car at Valencia
(GMM)  Red Bull is set to miss the opening group test of the 2010 pre-season.

It is already known that the team's new car, the RB6, will not be launched until the beginning of the second test at Jerez.

But it had been thought that Red Bull might start testing at Valencia next Monday with last year's Renault-powered RB5.

"Because of the limitation of tires, we will not use them on the RB5 (at Valencia)," team boss Christian Horner is quoted as saying by France's Auto Hebdo.

"We prefer to keep the tires for the three (remaining) tests in order to work with the best possible conditions," the Briton added.

After Valencia, three more February group tests are scheduled at Jerez, Jerez (again) and Barcelona prior to the Bahrain season opener in mid March.

Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso will be in Valencia with its 2010 car, as will Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Sauber and Williams.

Coulthard sure Mercedes will not favor Schumacher
(GMM)  David Coulthard is certain Mercedes will not favor Michael Schumacher in 2010.

24-year-old Nico Rosberg signed to switch to the Brackley based team before knowing that seven time world champion Schumacher would be his teammate.

Especially because the German's return reunites him with former Ferrari technical director and strategist Ross Brawn, it has been suggested that Rosberg may unwittingly become Schumacher's 'number 2'.

But after attending Monday's livery launch of the Mercedes GP livery, grand prix veteran Coulthard said: "I have no doubts that he (Rosberg) will receive equal treatment."

For nine years until 2004, the Scot raced with works Mercedes power at McLaren, where in 1998 and 1999 his teammate Mika Hakkinen won the titles.

"Mercedes used to flip a coin to decide which of us got the fresh engine -- I just don't think he (Rosberg) will be able to match Michael's levels of consistency," the 38-year-old wrote in a column for the Telegraph.

Coulthard does however see a possible bright side for the young German.

"I have some sympathy for Nico Rosberg, but then this is a chance for him to really step up and be the hero himself," he said.

Schu insists Mercedes talks began after 2009 season
(GMM)  Rumors persist that Michael Schumacher's full-time return to F1 this year was in the making long ago.

The official story is that Brackley based Brawn, later taken over and renamed by Mercedes, wanted to retain 2009 world champion Jenson Button this year.

The Briton's controversial switch to McLaren was announced on November 18, just over two weeks after the end of the season.

When asked about the timing of his talks with team boss Ross Brawn, Schumacher told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "We were talking since about June, but mostly it was joking than anything else.

"Serious proposals were made after the end of the season," the German added.

Asked about the same timing issue by Bild newspaper, 41-year-old Schumacher said: "The start was after the last race in Abu Dhabi.

"It was at the celebration dinner with a good cigar.  I said to him 'Are you sure you want to ask this question seriously?'  And then he said 'If you are motivated, I have absolutely no concerns'," explained the record winner of 91 grands prix.

Schumacher also told the German newspaper that Brawn inquired about his interest in returning to F1 "two years ago" and "one year ago".

"But I was not ready then.  Before last season, he told me everything about (the withdrawal of) Honda, the installation of the Mercedes engine.  I politely listened and then said 'Have fun with it!'" Schumacher added.

Top ten must use qualifying tires in 2010
(GMM)  The top ten qualifiers in 2010 will have to start grands prix with the same tires used at the end of Q3, according to reports.

Reports, including in Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell, the Spanish sports newspaper Marca and Finland's Turun Sanomat, reveal that the decision was made at a recent meeting of the teams association FOTA.

Previously, the top ten could decide to change to a different set of their allocated tires for the start of the race, with the only stipulation being that both types of compounds be used at least once.

Motorsport Aktuell says the move, to be rubber-stamped by the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council next week, is to add a strategic element in order to make races more exciting.

Marca said that "most" of the teams at the FOTA meeting voted for the rule change and that the approval of the subsequent bodies is "likely to be a formality".

Turun Sanomat said teams will have to consider whether to use soft tires for a high grid position, because the same tires need to be used with the hefty initial race fuel load.

Schu insists Ferrari relationship 'good'
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has jokingly admitted that he will pay close attention to not driving into the wrong pit box at the beginning of 2010.

For the past 14 years, the German has called Ferrari's pit area home, but this season he will need to look for the silver-clad mechanics of Mercedes GP before making a pitstop.

"You're right," he said in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper.  "The Ferrari guys would probably give me rain tires in the sunshine," the 41-year-old joked.

Schumacher has already been branded a "traitor" by sections of Ferrari's ardent Tifosi, including those in the Italian media, and it is rumored they were again not impressed with his first television commercial for Mercedes-Benz.

Debuted at the beginning of the Mercedes GP livery launch on Monday, the ad shows a winking Schumacher step out of a red sports car wearing silver overalls.

"Seriously, the relationship with Ferrari will always be good," the German insisted.  "They already invited me to the traditional football games at the races."

Schumacher also said earlier this week in Stuttgart that Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali invited him to the recent Wrooom media event.

"You can't forget and deny all the good moments together," he explained.  "I'm still in regular contact; every so often Stefano calls me up."

Schumacher suggested however that his new Mercedes tenure could be a long-term one.

He has already signed a three year contract, and told Bild that "after three years it need not be the end".

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