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DATE News (chronologically)
03/16/10
f1
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Di Resta to debut Friday role in Melbourne
  • Indianapolis now plays down US GP return reports
  • FOTA to discuss 'F1 bore' saga on Tuesday
  • Ferrari wants F1's new teams to catch up
  • Santander gets EUR25m value from F1 winter, opener
  • Lopez ponders whether 'cheated' by failed USF1
  • Germany hits back after Italy's Schu criticism
  • Vettel's spark plug puts spotlight back on Renault
  • Coulthard blames Mosley for new face of F1

Di Resta to debut Friday role in Melbourne
(GMM)  Paul di Resta will kick off his season as Force India's Friday driver in Melbourne late next week.

The Scottish rookie has been signed not only as the Silverstone based team's full time reserve driver, he will also take over one of the race driver's cockpits for the 90 minute Friday sessions at most grands prix this year.

But for the season opener last weekend, the team elected to keep Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi at the wheel of the two VJM03s due to the change of layout.

23-year-old di Resta, however, still attended the Bahrain event.

"It's been new," said the DTM driver.  "I've only ever come to races as a spectator and not been involved with the team.

"I was involved in a lot of team meetings, watching how the formula one environment works and watching how the team operates on a race weekend and also taking part in as much as possible to try and build up a relationship with the team for the future," he added.

It is understood that if Sutil moves aside for di Resta in Friday's morning session in Australia, it will then be Liuzzi's turn to give up his cockpit a week later in Malaysia.

Indianapolis now plays down US GP return reports
(GMM)  Another spokesman for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has now played down claims talks are taking place to reinstate a US grand prix at the famous venue.

After Bernie Ecclestone said in Bahrain that a return to Indianapolis is possible, a circuit spokesman told the Indianapolis Business Journal: "We continue to have dialogue with formula one, and we've long maintained we're interested in hosting their events."

But he admitted that an event in 2011 "would be a long shot", and a second spokesman has now told the Indy Star newspaper that specific talks are not currently taking place.

"In terms of negotiations, nothing is happening at this time," said Eric Powell.

He said "dialogue" with F1 officials has been ongoing since the last US GP in 2007.

"We would love to have formula one in Indianapolis," added the spokesman.  "We feel this is the best venue for formula once in the United States."

FOTA to discuss 'F1 bore' saga on Tuesday
(GMM)  A meeting of the F1 teams association FOTA is expected to discuss the issue of boring races during a conference on Tuesday, according to Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell.

The saga in the wake of Sunday's 2010 opener, with the new refuelling ban blamed for the lack of on-track action, has some figures calling for the sport to react immediately.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone wants to wait three more races before deciding whether to make any changes.

"There is no panic, no crisis for F1," he is quoted as saying by the Times.

He said he has already had a meeting with the teams.

"I tried to explain to them what our business is about -- racing and entertaining the public, not about playing with computers and going fast over one lap.

"The problem is that you cannot really have teams in any shape or form having a part in the sporting or technical regulations.  You cannot have the inmates writing the regulations," said Ecclestone.

He proposes that independent engineers write the rules in future, but 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is urging caution rather than knee-jerk panic.

"The rules are fine," said the French Canadian.  "One race doesn't mean anything.  The worst thing would be for sudden changes before everybody is sure what they want."

Lotus technical boss Mike Gascoyne, and former GP winner Gerhard Berger, agree.

"What we don't need right now is a knee-jerk reaction.  Whatever happens, we must be sure that any changes improve the show," said Gascoyne.

Berger said: "It (Bahrain) was boring but it was the first race and it's too early to make a verdict.  I think it will work out."

Sir Frank Williams told France's Auto Hebdo that not only the rules and the cars are to blame.

"There is no magic formula one, but a change that would help would be to have longer straights with bigger run-off zones," he said.

And HRT's Karun Chandhok joked: "How about they try out my weekend program and go straight into quali!?"

Ferrari wants F1's new teams to catch up
(GMM)  Ferrari is supportive of F1's struggling new teams and their chase to catch up with the pace, insists boss Stefano Domenicali.

The famous Italian team scathingly denounced the sport's new era and the testing pace and fortunes of the small newcomers before the season began.

But after Ferrari finished first and second in the 2010 Bahrain season opener, Domenicali told Radio Anch'io Sport: "It is necessary to look ahead so that these teams are closer.

"That there are two groups of teams with different speeds is not good for anybody," added the Italian.

Lotus excitedly celebrated bringing both cars to the checkered flag in Bahrain, but Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli were respectively 1 and 3 laps behind, and had qualified 5 seconds off the pace.

Marc Surer, a Swiss former grand prix driver and now respected commentator, told Speedweek that "formula one is now a three-class society".

Santander gets EUR25m value from F1 winter, opener
(GMM)  The value of Santander's investment throughout the winter season and the 2010 Bahrain opener was EUR25 million, according to reports in the Spanish press.

The Spanish bank is Ferrari's new main sponsor, with an annual spend estimated at 40 million.

The sources, reportedly with the input of the market information group Sofres, said the value of Santander's sponsorship for the entire 2009 season with McLaren was just 80m.

On Monday it emerged that the sport's television viewing figures within Germany had doubled, and similarly impressive numbers have now emerged from Spain, the country of the new Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.

An average 5.6 million Spaniards watched Sunday's live coverage on La Sexta, which like Germany was around a 50 per cent market share.

Lopez ponders whether 'cheated' by failed USF1
(GMM)  A disappointed Jose Maria Lopez has not ruled out mounting a new formula one foray in the future.

Nicknamed 'Pechito', the 26-year-old Argentine rookie had signed for this season with the now failed American outfit USF1.

He spoke on Monday with domestic press at the Argentine automobile club.

"I had trust in the (USF1) people and I am responsible for myself, so I am not going to think about whether they cheated us or not," said Lopez, who paid a more than $800,000 advance payment to the Charlotte based entry.

But he said his managers and advisers, and also Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, similarly had faith in USF1.

"Each of us trusted what they were doing, then there were things that they said to us that we realized was not quite the way it was.

"When I came to Charlotte I saw some things that were not told to us, but I still had confidence," Lopez added.

He has already resumed testing to return to domestic racing series in Argentina, but is also keen to keep an eye on new opportunities in F1.

"If we do something, it will be with a project with a future, which can guarantee that it is serious.  We are ready to put together a new project," said Lopez.

Germany hits back after Italy's Schu criticism
(GMM)  The German press has hit back after its Italian colleagues were scathing of Michael Schumacher's comeback performance in Bahrain.

After the former Ferrari driver finished sixth behind his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, the Genoa-based Il Secolo XIX newspaper crowned him the "world champion of arrogance".

La Gazzetta dello Sport joked that the German failed to turn up in the island Kingdom, and Corriere della Sera said the anonymous performance had been a "strange Sunday afternoon for Herr Michael".

"With all respect for Schumacher, the 41-year-old living legend, Ferrari made the right choice with the 28-year-old Alonso," Corriere della Sera added.

La Gazzetta dello Sport praised Alonso for cutting "the umbilical cord that tied Ferrari to the Schumacher era".

The widely circulated German daily Bild Zeitung hit back: "Just as there are bad losers, it is also possible to be a bad winner".

The newspaper pointed out that the Italians failed to mention that its "double victory" only took place due to "Vettel's technical problems".

And the German weekly Sport Bild added: "Does Schumacher really deserve this (criticism)?"

Rome-based Corriere dello Sport said: "There was no disgrace (in Schumacher's performance), but he doesn't deserve much praise, either."

Vettel's spark plug puts spotlight back on Renault
(GMM)  Hours after Red Bull diagnosed an exhaust problem as the cause of Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain power loss, the team issued a media statement.

The 22-year-old race leader, having started from pole, fell behind the eventual podium sitters and finished the season opener just fourth.

Red Bull said late on Sunday that "further investigations have proven that the loss of power was actually due to a spark plug failure and not the exhaust".

The statement reminded observers about Red Bull's persistent reliability problems with its Renault engines last year, and ultimately futile efforts over the winter to switch to Mercedes.

"Failed world championship beginning: did Red Bull stumble with Renault?" read a headline in the Swiss newspaper Blick.

And McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is quoted as saying by The Sun: "If Vettel had a reliable engine, he's got so much downforce he could run away with it.

"But if he has problems it won't be a runaway year for anyone," he told the British newspaper.

Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull's motor sport adviser, said Sunday proved the talent of Vettel and the pace of Adrian Newey's RB6 design.

"What was shown by Vettel in Bahrain after the big horsepower loss was his incredible speed in the corners," he said.

According to Spain's Diario AS, however, Vettel ran out of fuel after crossing the checkered flag on Sunday.

But Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is celebrating cautiously after winning on debut with the famous Italian team.

"Red Bull are still a bit ahead of us," he is quoted as saying by Blick from his home in Lugano.

Coulthard blames Mosley for new face of F1
(GMM)  David Coulthard has pointed his finger at Max Mosley after Sunday's processional start to the 2010 season in Bahrain.

While others have simply blamed the new refuelling ban, the retired Scottish veteran said today's face of formula one is the "legacy" of former FIA president Mosley's 16 years at the helm.

"I hope Max Mosley, watching from his ivory tower after relinquishing his post as president last autumn, enjoyed the Bahrain grand prix on Sunday," Coulthard, now an expert pundit for British television, wrote in a column in the Telegraph.

Coulthard, a winner of 13 grands prix, said F1 fans can also blame "revs limited to 18,000rpm", "standardized gearboxes and engines" and the "single tire supplier".

He said those measures were all championed by Mosley and "appear to have done little for the show if Bahrain is anything to go on".

Coulthard also revealed he "got in a bit of trouble" last week for siding with Ferrari against F1's struggling new teams, but he remains critical in his latest column.

About Virgin, he said wheels "should not be falling off cars during practice", and about HRT he said drivers "should not be going on track for the first time during qualifying sessions".

"And before people write in to say how great it was that both Lotus drivers finished the race; yes it was but should we not expect an F1 car to be able to complete a race?" said Coulthard.  "Surely that is a minimum expectation?"

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