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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Lopez to return to Argentina without F1 role
  • HRT car to make track debut in Bahrain - Kolles
  • Alguersuari wishes for Red Bull Racing switch
  • Villeneuve vows to wait for 2010 race seat
  • Baguette hopes for 2010 debut at Belgian GP
  • Carlos Sainz to be F1 commentator in 2010
  • FIA's Whiting to inspect McLaren wing on Friday
  • Kovalainen managing his own F1 career
  • Massa denies needing glasses for F1 driving
  • F1 better off with Todt in charge - Gracia

Lopez to return to Argentina without F1 role
(GMM)  The launch of the new HRT team on Thursday spelled an end to Jose Maria 'Pechito' Lopez's chances of a role in formula one this year.

Although the current feature on the failed USF1's website is the Argentine's deal to make his grand prix debut next week, 26-year-old Lopez has since terminated that contract.

His management has been in talks about instead becoming the reserve driver at the former Campos team, but on Thursday the grey HRT car was revealed to the public without Lopez in sight.

"All the possibilities for Pechito to be in formula one have been frustrated," his manager Felipe McGough was quoted as saying by the Argentine news agency Telam.

Other reports in the Spanish-language media said HRT did not accept the financial terms offered by Lopez, after USF1 apparently refused to give him back an advance payment in the amount of $830,000.

Moreover, some of the sponsors that were keen to see Lopez on the Bahrain grid were not so keen to see him in the non-driving reserve role.

Lopez's father said: "I will not go further in this nonsense.  I'm tired.  Yesterday afternoon I called it quits.  The story must finish because they are burning my son's head."

It is now rumored that the Lopez entourage will sue USF1 for the return of the advance payment, even though keeping the money is not technically a breach of the contract.

HRT car to make track debut in Bahrain - Kolles
(GMM)  HRT drivers Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok on Thursday pulled the wraps off the grey, white and red formula one car they will race in 2010.

But it is doubtful that the single seater, whose designation was not revealed during the Murcia launch event, will do any track running prior to Friday practice for next week's championship opener in Bahrain.

"In Bahrain we will start to get to know the car," said team boss Colin Kolles, referring to the Cosworth-powered machine that has been designed by the Italian constructor Dallara.

"We have had no time to test.  Just being there (in Bahrain) is already a success.  It is clear that we are not McLaren," said Kolles, insisting the car is "without vanities".

The president of Spain's motor racing federation Carlos Gracia was at the HRT launch, but he admitted he would have preferred the debut of the first Spanish F1 team to have proceeded without such turmoil.

"We are happy but would like to have come here as was originally planned.  There have been too many doubts and criticisms before an historic day," he said in Spanish reports.

One of the doubts is the actual structure of the new ownership, with some connecting Kolles' links with Audi/VW to rumors the team could be relocated to Germany.

Kolles' boss Jose Ramon Carabante called the speculation "absurd" and insists HRT's long-term home will be in Murcia, also with the support of the Spanish region, "regardless of who is leading the team".

Alguersuari wishes for Red Bull Racing switch
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has admitted he would happily accept an offer to switch to Red Bull Racing.

The Spanish teenager, who made his debut last year and in 2010 begins his first full formula one season, drives for Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz's second team, the Faenza-based Toro Rosso.

When asked by El Mundo Deportivo newspaper about his goals for this year, 19-year-old Alguersuari answered: "To do things well and to be an asset for Toro Rosso for next year.

"What I really wish is to make the jump to Red Bull, which is a very competitive team that wins races.  That is the goal, as of course it also is for my teammate Sebastien Buemi," added Alguersuari.

Villeneuve vows to wait for 2010 race seat
(GMM)  Although left standing without a race seat, Jacques Villeneuve has not given up on racing in formula one in 2010.

The 1997 world champion was close to signing with Stefan GP, but the Serbian team was not granted an official entry by the sport's governing FIA.

But the 38-year-old French Canadian is not giving up.

"I've been saying for a while that my priority is to be ready in the event that a new driver is not fast enough, or if one of the pay drivers does not bring the budget that he promises," he told France's Rue Frontenac.

Villeneuve admits the news about Stefan GP not getting an entry to field its Toyota-designed cars in 2010 is disappointing.

"But it's also not a huge surprise given the shortage of time to the beginning of the season," he said.

"I got the impression of a well born car and I saw that Mr. Stefanovich and his team were serious people who understand the engineering tasks.

"The foundation is there, but the scheduled was very tight.

"If there's something positive in all this, it's that I had to step up my training with Erwin (Gollner).  I have suffered, but I feel better than ever."

Baguette hopes for 2010 debut at Belgian GP
(GMM)  Like Jacques Villeneuve, another driver not giving up on racing in formula one this year is the Belgian Bertrand Baguette.

The 24-year-old is the reigning World Series by Renault champion, who tested with both Renault and Sauber in December and was also linked with HRT's earlier guise Campos.

But although F1's 24-car grid for 2010 is complete, Baguette told the Brussels newspaper De Morgen that he remains hopeful.

"I am definitely coming to Bahrain to show myself to the team bosses," said Baguette, who said recently he has links to potential personal sponsors.

"I am convinced that during the course of the year there are vacancies," he added.  "With my manager Rick Gorne I am working hard on having a sufficient budget.

"Ideally I want to start at the Belgian grand prix in April and then complete the season," said Baguette.

"Hopefully Belgian companies realize the impact my participation could have.  F1 remains my priority although there are alternatives such as Indycars or Superleague Formula.

"I need to keep fit so that I'm ready when an opportunity presents itself in F1," he added.

Carlos Sainz to be F1 commentator in 2010
(GMM)  Carlos Sainz will be a formula one commentator in 2010.

The two-time rally world champion and reigning Dakar winner, 47, has been signed by the Spanish broadcaster La Sexta, as has the Ferrari test driver and fellow expert pundit Marc Gene.

In late 2006, Sainz - a renowned F1 fan - tested Renault's title-winning car.

His teenage son Carlos Sainz Jr is embarking on a professional single seater career, the El Mundo newspaper report also said.

FIA's Whiting to inspect McLaren wing on Friday
(GMM)  The FIA's technical delegate Charlie Whiting will on Friday inspect the rear wing design of McLaren's 2010 car.

The controversy about the legality of the design, with air reportedly channeled through a 'slot' to increase straight line speed, was revealed earlier this week by Christian Horner.

The Red Bull team boss said Ferrari was also concerned about the wing.

The Daily Mail newspaper said Whiting, also F1's permanent race director and starter, will visit the British team's Woking headquarters on Friday.

"The wing is different and innovative, yes," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh told the Daily Telegraph.

"But we have been in contact with Charlie over a period of several months to check that it complies with regulations.  We have been assured that it does," he said.

A spokesman for the Mercedes-powered team told the Times: "The only reason it (the issue) has suddenly sprung up is because it's such a big thing that sticks out of the top of the car and everyone can see it and get excited about it."

The Telegraph said Ferrari has "confirmed that they (do) not intend to take the matter further" than Whiting's clarification.

An FIA spokesman said: "We have no concerns with it (the wing), but we have been invited by the team to view the car so Charlie is going down to have a look."

Kovalainen managing his own F1 career
(GMM)  When the FIA initially banned drivers from being managed by crashgate conspirator Flavio Briatore, Heikki Kovalainen elected not to replace the flamboyant Italian.

Finland's Turun Sanomat reveals that the 28-year-old negotiated his own contract when he signed to switch from McLaren to the new Lotus team for 2010.

"I decided to do all the negotiations myself," said the Finn.  "For me it's very important to know exactly what you are signing.

"I know what to do and it gives me peace of mind."

The newspaper said there had been talks with Toyota and Force India when it became clear that McLaren were not retaining Kovalainen for 2010.

But he also phoned Mike Gascoyne.

"I asked him what is the situation with Lotus and told him I would be interested to hear about the project," said Kovalainen.

He admitted that he is "quite satisfied" with the contract he negotiated, revealing that both he and Jarno Trulli receive a salary.

Massa denies needing glasses for F1 driving
(GMM)  Poorer eyesight is not a legacy of Felipe Massa's serious accident of 2009, the Brazilian driver insists.

After the 28-year-old suffered head injuries when his helmet was struck by a flying spring in Hungary last July, there were serious doubts about his vision.

Subsequent reports said the Ferrari driver's eyesight returned to 20-20, but in recent weeks Massa has been spotted wearing glasses.

Asked during a video chat on Ferrari's official website, Massa denied that he now also needs the glasses at the wheel of his F1 car.

"No, I just have a little bit of myopia (short-sightedness), so I just wear them when I'm driving in the evening and when I'm watching a movie.  I prefer to read better what's written on the screen," he answered.

"Usually for racing, also at night, it's ok," added Massa.

F1 better off with Todt in charge - Gracia
(GMM)  Carlos Gracia, the president of Spain's motor racing federation, has backed former FIA president Max Mosley's successor Jean Todt.

Gracia is one of the sporting vice-presidents under former Ferrari boss and Frenchman Todt's new rule.

"The relationship with Mosley was good and cordial," he said during an interview with Spain's Marca sports newspaper.

"Now with Todt it's even better because I believe in him as a manager, a businessman, who sees the FIA like a company."

Asked what the FIA has gained with Todt in charge instead of Briton Mosley, Gracia answered: "Professionalism.  He is a great manager.

"Those of us on the inside see that he has started in the right direction, although he has not rushed to the media or entered like an elephant in the kitchen.

"With Todt, F1 will no longer be whipped," he added.

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