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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Drivers rug up at cold Shanghai
  • Montezemolo not willing to discuss Massa's contract
  • Kubica happy at Renault but wants title-winning car
  • Coulthard to be Red Bull reserve in China
  • Warwick, Mansell, Fittipaldi, Hill to be next F1 stewards
  • Grosjean eyes return to F1 in 2011
  • Willi Weber back in court
  • Tilke denies doubting Korea construction - Ecclestone

Drivers rug up at cold Shanghai
(GMM)  There was no sign of Wednesday's hail, but Shanghai remained grim and cold as F1 drivers and their engineers walked the 5.9km layout on Thursday.

After the oppressive heat and humidity of Malaysia, the sight of drivers rugged up in jumpers and coats, with collars pulled high and hands in pockets, resembled more a winter test than the forthcoming Chinese grand prix.

"It certainly doesn't feel like spring," said Fernando Alonso, while a Swiss reporter said the Chinese city was "like Zurich".

It seems the cold weather is not characteristic of China in mid-April, with Wednesday's 8 degrees apparently beaten only by a freezing Shanghai day back in 1873.

"The weather should be better for the race weekend but we'll need to be ready for anything," said Ferrari's Alonso.

The conditions are indeed expected to be better on Friday and Saturday, but there is a high chance of race-day rain.

Montezemolo not willing to discuss Massa's contract
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo would not be drawn when asked about speculation that 2010 could be Felipe Massa's last season at Ferrari.

Brazilian and German reports recently said the 28-year-old, whose contract expires this year, was set to extend the deal for a further three years until 2013.

But Italian media sources said rumors linking Renault's Robert Kubica with the race seat, which has been occupied by Brazilian Massa since 2006, should not yet be dismissed.

"Let's not start with talking about contracts," Ferrari president Montezemolo said at a presentation of the Italian marque's new 599 GTO, according to Italian media.

"This world championship has just started," he insisted.

"I am very happy with Felipe, from his total recovery from the incident of last year to now leading the championship.

"And I am very happy with Alonso, on the track, off the track, with his determination, optimism and high concentration.

"I am very, very happy with both of them, and I hope to see on Sunday a Ferrari that is highly competitive, although there will be a close fight," said the 62-year-old.

Kubica happy at Renault but wants title-winning car
(GMM)  As the uncertainty about Felipe Massa's contract rises, Robert Kubica is increasingly mentioned as his most likely successor.

Renault has a multiple year contract with the 25-year-old Pole, who after switching from BMW-Sauber has been a standout of the season so far.

But Italian sources have indicated that a move to Ferrari for 2011 is not out of the question for Kubica.

The highest placed driver not at the wheel of a Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes in the 2010 world championship, Kubica told Switzerland's Blick: "I want to be champion, no matter what car I drive."

Several times in recent days, the 2008 Canadian GP winner has been mentioned as ruing his time with BMW and insisting he is much happier at Renault this season.

"When I was the championship leader in 2008, they helped Heidfeld to make up his gap rather than concentrate on me.  It was amateurish.

"I knew I had to leave as soon as I could," admitted Kubica.

He told Italy's Autosprint that, after spending another season with BMW last year, he is much more at home with Renault.

"I think the atmosphere around you, and the trust that you have with the people you're working with, is very important.

"Today I feel the team's confidence in me and I feel like I have more energy than in previous seasons.  I feel better, even though it is not the car of my dreams," said Kubica, referring to the yellow and red R30.

He said good results in Melbourne and Malaysia, including a podium, were helped by "luck".  "Both times the starts were decisive and offset our problems of qualifying.

"But we can't always rely on this from our opponents," added Kubica.  "Before trying to crack the top four teams, we have to be wary of Force India, especially in qualifying."

Coulthard to be Red Bull reserve in China
(GMM)  David Coulthard will be Red Bull's formula one reserve driver for the Chinese grand prix weekend.

The energy drink company's regular joint reserve drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Brendon Hartley, are not in Shanghai.

Instead, the pair are in Spain for the start of their 2010 racing season in the Renault World Series.  They both drive for the French Tech 1 team.

Australian Ricciardo, 20, insists he is able to manage splitting his time between racing and attending many grands prix in 2010.

"It's important to be able to cope with the pressure and the number of events to prepare you for a possible future in F1," he said.

A Red Bull Racing spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that, with Hartley and New Zealander Hartley not available, 39-year-old Coulthard will be on reserve duty in China.

The Scottish veteran, who has signed to drive a Mercedes in the 2010 DTM championship, attends grands prix as an expert pundit for British television BBC.

Warwick, Mansell, Fittipaldi, Hill to be next F1 stewards
(GMM)  Derek Warwick, Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi are being lined up to act as the fourth F1 stewards at forthcoming grands prix.

FIA president Jean Todt's new initiative is to have a well-known and experienced former driver advising the three conventional stewards as they make their decisions at races this year.

Alain Prost kicked off his duties in Bahrain, and it now emerges that the quadruple world champion is lined up to return in Turkey late next month.

Former Williams driver Alex Wurz is on duty this weekend in China, before the British veteran of 162 grands prix, Derek Warwick, takes over for the start of the European season in Spain.

Damon Hill, whose father Graham Hill won the prestigious event no fewer than five times in the 60s, will join the stewards in Monaco.

The 1996 world champion insists his past troubles with Michael Schumacher will not affect his ability to judge impartially.

"There are more important things than individual relationships.  The important thing is the sport, and that the sport has got credibility," said the Briton.

It is believed that Brazilian legend Emerson Fittipaldi, the double world champion and now 63-year-old, will preside at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and that Nigel Mansell could be the steward at his beloved Silverstone.

Grosjean eyes return to F1 in 2011
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean insists he does not want to close the chapter on his brief formula one career.

The almost 24-year-old Swiss-Frenchman took over from the sacked Nelson Piquet last year, driving the R29 at the final seven rounds as the 'crashgate' scandal struck and Renault lost chiefs, sponsors and the support of its carmaker parent.

Over the winter, the Enstone based team changed hands and the new regime signed the well-financed Russian pay-driver Vitaly Petrov, leaving Grosjean to contemplate a season in the new GT1 world championship.

That category kicks off in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

"I'm looking forward to it, taking this experience and maybe trying to go back to formula one in 2011," he told the local Gulf News' Xpress on Thursday.

He said he is proud of his achievements in F1, even though failing to score a single point.

"I was very close to Fernando, and Fernando is winning races today with a very good car," said Grosjean.

"I was at the wrong place at the wrong moment, sometimes that happens.  That's why I think I clearly have my place in formula one."

And he told the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National: "(Renault) was in a very complicated situation and I don't like to go back too much to that story, but in the end I am very happy with the job I did."

Willi Weber back in court
(GMM)  Legal trouble has struck again for Willi Weber, Michael Schumacher's long time manager.

The 68-year-old, who now handles Nico Hülkenberg’s young career, was sentenced to probation and a hefty fine by a German court two years ago, for moving money and assets from a merchandise company and then declaring it insolvent.

The German publications Express and Speedweek now report that Weber must return to court, and because of his prior conviction could be jailed.

For related matters regarding the fraudulent bankruptcy of the 'Pole Position Marketing' company, Weber will reportedly now defend his case in a Stuttgart court.

He is quoted as commenting: "The court will objectively examine the accusations, and I am convinced of a positive conclusion in my favor."

Tilke denies doubting Korea construction - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday said there is "no doubt" Korea will be ready to host its inaugural grand prix in late October.

Local promoters Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) have already insisted that construction of the 5.62km track in Yeongam County is on time, after designer Hermann Tilke expressed doubt.

Tilke was quoted as saying by the German news magazine Focus: "For the first time I am concerned that a (Tilke) circuit is not going to be finished on time."

It was reported that concerned F1 chief executive Ecclestone travelled straight from Malaysia to South Korea earlier this month, but actually he is at the site this week.

The Briton said on Thursday: "I've spoken to Tilke and he denies saying it."

Ecclestone told reporters that he is "absolutely sure" the circuit will be ready on time.  "No doubt at all," added the 79-year-old.

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