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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Boss expects more sponsors for Renault R30
  • Petrov wants sponsors to help pay Renault bill
  • Alonso worked to simplify Ferrari steering wheel
  • New helmet for Kubica, old one for Barrichello
  • Kobayashi also courted by Renault for 2010
  • De la Rosa may step down as GPDA chairman
  • No rally ban for Lotus' Kovalainen

Boss expects more sponsors for Renault R30
(GMM)  The currently bare advertising spaces of Renault's R30 car could be filled in the near future.

When Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov pulled the wraps off the 2010 livery on Sunday, observers noticed the name of watch maker TW Steel alongside French oil backer Total (and associated brand Elf).

In the wake of the Genii Capital takeover, Renault's 2010 foray also follows the so-called crashgate scandal and the loss of major sponsors ING, Mutua Madrilena, Pepe Jeans, Universia and Megafon.

"(The lack of sponsors) does not have to do with the fact that there are no ongoing discussions with sponsors -- I think that we will be announcing a number of things over the next couple of weeks," said team owner Gerard Lopez.

The Genii head also denied that team partner Renault intends to step out of F1 completely in the near future.

"Certainly at this stage, there's no expectation from us that Renault would leave or that we would do something for them to leave and buy them out," said Lopez.

"There is no multi-year plan that has an ending to it.  There's a multi-year plan that has a performance edge to it, but other than that it will be business as usual this year, next year and the year after," he added.

Meanwhile, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the R30 presented to the media on Sunday was actually a show-car.

Team engineers said the real R30 "is not much different" to the launch car, the publication added.

Petrov wants sponsors to help pay Renault bill
(GMM)  Vitaly Petrov on Sunday confirmed that he is paying to make his F1 debut with Renault this year.

But the 2009 GP2 championship runner-up denied reports the deal is funded by Russian multinationals to the tune of multiple hundreds of millions of rubles.

On the 25-year-old's helmet visor this year, the word 'Russia' is prominent.

"My father has given me the money to be here.  It's just him, my manager and my father's friends.  No one else," Petrov said at the Valencia circuit.

He is hoping his confirmation as F1's first ever Russian race driver will stir the corporate interest of the huge country.

The BBC said his deal is for one year initially but with options for 2011 and 2012.

"The people in Russia, they must wake up to what has happened here because we are in F1 without any sponsorship and any help," said Petrov.

"Now people will see us in formula one and hopefully it will change things."

He also hopes his presence on the grid this year will be a step towards the inauguration of a Russian grand prix.

"This is what I've been trying to do," he explained.  "I've been telling people 'We are Russia, a big country, and we must have a grand prix'.

"So now I am here, maybe people will try to do something," he added.

Team boss Eric Boullier admitted Petrov is contributing some 7 per cent of Renault's entire F1 budget for 2010, but insists the first priority was to sign a driver with talent.

"We actually had (talks with) drivers who could have brought twice the amount Vitaly is bringing with him," he said.

Alonso worked to simplify Ferrari steering wheel
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has revealed he has already had some input into the basic configuration of Ferrari's 2010 car.

The Spaniard, who will get his first turn at the wheel of the F10 at Valencia on Wednesday, told Italy's La Stampa: "I worked to simplify the steering wheel, which seemed very complex."

But twice world champion Alonso, who has switched to the famous Italian team from Renault, added: "I have confidence that this team's engineers are the best in the world."

He also urged observers to react to Valencia's testing time sheets this week with caution, despite the circuit also hosting the concurrent debuts of the new Mercedes, McLaren, Williams, Renault, Sauber and Toro Rosso cars.

"It will be difficult to make comparisons," said the 28-year-old, referring to the doubling of fuel tank sizes for this year in reaction to the pitstop refuelling ban.

"One day we might be first (at the test), and the next day last."

Felipe Massa will give the F10 its debut on Monday and Tuesday, where warm and dry weather is forecast for the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste.

New helmet for Kubica, old one for Barrichello
(GMM)  Robert Kubica will field a new helmet livery in 2010 to mark his switch from BMW-Sauber to Renault.

The 25-year-old Pole, who displayed the helmet at the launch of the R30 car at Valencia on Sunday, has replaced the bright red basis of his usual color scheme with yellow.

It means Kubica's helmet now closely resembles the distinctive yellow and black livery of the 2010 Renault car.

Elsewhere, it emerges that - like his former Brawn teammate Jenson Button - Rubens Barrichello will revert to his original helmet colors in 2010.

The Brazilian veteran, who has switched to Williams, published a photo on his Twitter page of him sitting in the FW32 with his familiar white, red and blue helmet on.

In 2009, when he finished the championship in third place, Barrichello fielded initially a bright yellow variant to honor Brawn's F1 debut, and later a mostly white design penned by his children.

Spy photos and videos of the new Williams car, meanwhile, depict the FW32 with a distinctive extra air intake behind the regular inlet on the roll hoop.

Kobayashi also courted by Renault for 2010
(GMM)  Kamui Kobayashi on Sunday coyly revealed earlier talks about the 2010 season with Renault.

The Japanese rookie made a spectacular two-race debut with the departing Toyota team at the tail-end of 2009, and was subsequently signed up by Sauber.

But as he also carries some personal sponsorship, rumors abounded that the 23-year-old was courted by several teams.

When asked at the launch of the C29 at Valencia whether he had other options for 2010, he was quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport as responding: "I had them, but do I have to mention the names?"

When his manager anxiously waved in the background, the 2009 GP2 driver smiled: "I would be happy to be open with you, but as you can see, I am not allowed to speak!"

Reports indicate that Renault, which ultimately signed the Russian pay-driver Vitaly Petrov, was one of Kobayashi's options.

Auto Motor und Sport said he will now relocate from Paris, where he lived in order to be close to his GP2 employer DAMS, to Switzerland.

De la Rosa may step down as GPDA chairman
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa may step back as chairman of the formula one drivers' association GPDA.

The 38-year-old Spaniard fulfilled the role in the recent past but on Sunday began in earnest his return to the grid as the Sauber C29 was launched in Spain.

"Good question," de la Rosa is quoted as answering when asked if he will now have enough time to devote to the safety-oriented body.

For the past seven years, de la Rosa has travelled to all the grands prix predominantly in the role as McLaren's test and reserve driver.

"I don't know yet, I haven't decided it myself.  We will have to discuss this with the GPDA members.

"It will obviously be more difficult now for me to have the chairmanship, because I have less time.

"I personally believe that we need someone who has more time than a race driver.  As a test driver it was easy," he added.

Meanwhile, the Spanish morning newspaper El Periodico said de la Rosa is making his race return this year in the hope of attracting Spanish sponsors to Hinwil based Sauber.

Team owner Peter Sauber said he hopes "a Spanish sponsor, one of the major Spanish companies, is encouraged (to enter) F1 now that de la Rosa is back".

No rally ban for Lotus' Kovalainen
(GMM)  Lotus has not banned Heikki Kovalainen from contesting rallies.

After emerging from his restrictive McLaren contract, the 28-year-old Finn hinted he would take advantage by doing a rally this winter.

The Arctic Lapland Rally was touted, but France's Auto Hebdo claimed Kovalainen had decided against it because he "does not have time to prepare seriously".

Finland's Turun Sanomat, confirming that Kovalainen's new Lotus contract does not forbid rally outings, asked the 2008 Hungarian GP winner about his decision.

"I would certainly have liked to have been out there, but if you do rallies, even for fun, you still need to do some preparation.

"It would have meant a couple of weeks for the project.  At this stage, I preferred to spend the time at the (Lotus) factory," Kovalainen explained.

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