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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 return possible but rallying more fun - Raikkonen
  • New Montreal surface should suit F1 in 2010
  • Ecclestone still pushing for higher Turkey race fee
  • Di Grassi happy with place at Virgin
  • Webber could have prevented Vettel crash - Berger
  • Crash 'excellent marketing' for Red Bull - Coulthard
  • Alonso laments Ferrari's slow progress with F10
  • Pirelli contract to be ready for signing soon
  • Webber signs 1-year extension with Red Bull team
  • Red Bull drivers must let each other pass - Marko

F1 return possible but rallying more fun - Raikkonen
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has admitted a return to formula one is "possible".

But in an interview with Austria's Kleine Zeitung, the 2007 world champion also sounded more than happy with his new foray in world rallying, and not keen to immediately switch back to the grand prix grid.

During an event for his sponsor Red Bull, the 31-year-old Finn answered "Sure, anything is possible" when asked if he is open to launching a second F1 career.

But when asked if he still feels like 'Raikkonen, the F1 driver', he said: "The past is what it is -- over.  I don't miss it."

And Raikkonen raved about his new job with Citroen.

"I love this job and the whole environment.  But I have much to learn and I want to be good at what I do.  With a relaxed setting you do not go far."

Asked whether he would like to add a rally title to his F1 championship, Raikkonen admitted: "No one can see into the future, but yes, it is a dream.

"Now it is the time to learn; my formula one past does me no harm."

He said rally is a more difficult discipline than F1.

"Because it's constantly changing; the weather, the surface, the track.  You have to be flexible, adjusting and responding quickly."

When asked which is more fun, he did not hesitate: "Rally!  Because there are always new challenges."

New Montreal surface should suit F1 in 2010
(GMM)  The F1 world is hoping repairs to the surface of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are suited to the sport's single seaters this weekend.

At past editions of the Canadian grand prix, including the most recent visits in 2007 and 2008, the surface broke up during F1 sessions.

Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi was in Montreal as Red Bull's reserve driver in 2008, and recalls: "I remember they had problems with the asphalt breaking up and I understand that much of it has now been resurfaced."

Indeed, in F1's absence last year, the promoter did major resurfacing work in conjunction with Shell Bitumen, whose product has also been used at tracks including Sepang, Sakhir, Singapore, Hockenheim and the Nurburgring.

It is believed Montreal's particularly harsh winters and heavy snowfall has contributed to the track surface problems, but for this weekend's event the weather will be warm.

There is, however, a high chance of rainfall particularly for Saturday's day of qualifying, with a smaller chance also existing for Sunday.

Some experts are predicting McLaren's F-duct might haul the British team ahead of the fractured Red Bull camp in Canada.

But Jenson Button said: "We know there's still a way to go to beat them on sheer pace."

Ecclestone still pushing for higher Turkey race fee
(GMM)  The future of the Turkish grand prix remains clouded.

One year ago, the boss of the country's motor racing sanctioning body said it would not be "easy" to come to a new agreement with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

The track, actually operated by 79-year-old Ecclestone's company, is liked by the drivers but always very poorly attended.  Attendance was better in 2010, but only because the price of tickets had been dramatically reduced.

It emerged earlier this year that Ecclestone was threatening to almost double the promoter's sanctioning fee to $26 million per year after 2011.

The Briton played down the rumors at Istanbul Park last month, insisting he is in talks about a new ten-year deal.

But a report in the local Zaman newspaper said Ecclestone is still pushing for the heavily inflated sanctioning fee increase.

He reportedly met with officials on the Saturday of the recent Turkish GP, and is quoted as telling them: "I leave it up to you.  India and Arab countries are all ready to take your place."

One Turkish official said the situation will be clearer in two months.

"Turkey is definitely fond of hosting these races, and all this haggling is taking place for this," said youth and sports director Yunus Akgul.

"However, paying $26m for this organization every year is a big burden.  The figure is very high.

"We've approached the deal from a different angle.  Our last offer was that he relinquish the operating rights to Istanbul Park, and we guaranteed that the track would be reserved for the organization for three weeks before and during the races.

"In return, we wanted him to come up with a new offer," he added, admitting that if Ecclestone does not propose a lower fee, Turkey will cease to appear on the F1 calendars.

Di Grassi happy with place at Virgin
(GMM)  Lucas di Grassi insists he is happy with his formula one debut this year, despite grappling at the back of the grid with the new Virgin team.

The Brazilian 25-year-old, who slotted into the Renault reserve role late last year, was disappointed to miss out on the race seat in the wake of Nelson Piquet's ousting.

That place went to Romain Grosjean, and then in 2010 to the Russian pay-driver Vitaly Petrov.

"In formula one it's not always just about talent," he said in an interview with Formule 1 Race Report.

"There are also politics and some decisions you can do nothing about," added di Grassi.

But although now struggling for reliability and pace, and having been outqualified by teammate Timo Glock at every race so far, di Grassi insists he has no regrets.

"Without experience in formula one you have nothing," said the Paulista.

"I am pleased with the progress of my career, because I have followed the right path."

Di Grassi insists that a team like Virgin is a good place to develop as a formula one driver.

"It means I can also make some mistakes, because we are all in a learning phase," he added.

Webber could have prevented Vettel crash - Berger
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has added yet another voice to the controversy surrounding Sebastian Vettel's crash with Mark Webber during the recent Turkish grand prix.

After a clear-the-air meeting last week, Red Bull Racing said the issue had been put to rest.

But at the same time, while the energy drink company's chief Dietrich Mateschitz has remained quiet, figures close to him including Helmut Marko and former FIA president Max Mosley said it was Australian Webber who was to blame.

Team orders in F1 are not allowed, but it is rumored that Red Bull would prefer if the young German Vettel, 22, win the 2010 title rather than the championship-leading Webber.

Now Berger, the first Red Bull-backed sportsman and also the former owner of the company's junior team Toro Rosso, has pointed a finger of blame at 33-year-old Webber.

"That Webber left him (Vettel) only the dirty bit of the track was at first legitimate," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"But when Vettel was half a car length ahead, Mark needed to realize that he should give his teammate some air to breathe.

"Webber could have prevented the accident," former ten-time GP winner Berger charges.

"Had Vettel been in a McLaren, then Webber could have done what he did.  In that case, he must not give way."

Crash 'excellent marketing' for Red Bull - Coulthard
(GMM)  The crash between teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel was "excellent" marketing for the energy drink Red Bull.

That is the opinion of Australian Webber's former teammate David Coulthard, who while now racing with Mercedes in DTM is still an ambassador for Red Bull Racing at grands prix.

Asked to comment on the Webber/Vettel controversy by Germany's Bild newspaper, the veteran Scot said: "From a marketing perspective, it was excellent.  The whole world is writing about Red Bull."

Coulthard, however, admits that from the perspective of Red Bull's championship chances, Turkey 2010 was disastrous.

"For sure," he said.  "But everyone did what he had to do."

Unlike some others who have pointedly blamed either Webber or German Vettel, 22, for the lap-40 clash, Coulthard said what happened is just part of formula one racing.

"Tell me a driver that should come off the gas," said Coulthard.  "It's like giving a child an ice-cream and then forbidding them from licking it."

He said both drivers should "pay more attention to one another" during future wheel-to-wheel contests, and plays down suggestions the saga means Webber and Vettel are no longer friends.

"They were never the best of friends," revealed Coulthard, according to n-tv.de.  "And why should they be?  Just because they are on the same team?

"I think they have a good working relationship and a healthy respect for the talents of the other," he added.

Alonso laments Ferrari's slow progress with F10
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso thinks Ferrari has been left behind by its rivals in the 2010 development race.

The Spaniard won his first race with the famous Maranello based team this season, raising hopes that Ferrari was set to cast off its miserable 2009 campaign with a strong challenge for the world championship.

But after a particularly weak showing in Turkey recently, Alonso is quoted by the latest edition of France's Auto Hebdo: "The F10 has not changed since the Chinese grand prix.

"Apart from the blown wing (F-duct), which has not delivered everything that we expected, and has monopolized the efforts of the aero engineers, there has been nothing new.

"Except in Bahrain, we have been only defending, not attacking.

"I hope things will go better from Valencia, where the F10 should appear in a very advanced B specification.

"We are putting everything into this program, knowing that the gap between us and Red Bull and McLaren is wide," added the 28-year-old.

His teammate Felipe Massa, meanwhile, is quoted as suggesting the long straights and slow corners in Montreal this weekend should prove a happier hunting-ground for the F10.

Pirelli contract to be ready for signing soon
(GMM)  Pirelli has won the race to become F1's new sole tire supplier beginning in 2011.

The same news was reported by multiple sources prior to the Turkish grand prix, but Michelin then made a last-ditch attempt to woo the teams by calling a meeting in the paddock of the Istanbul Park circuit.

Once again, after yet another non-grand prix week of negotiations, it is believed that Milan-based Pirelli has secured the deal.

As was also the case prior to Turkey, it is more than one source within the Italian media that is hinting at the latest development.

The authoritative daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, for one, claims that the finishing touches are being made to a contract that will be signed by the end of the week.

Prior to Turkey, it was reported that the Pirelli deal for 2011-2013 was to cost teams 1 million euros apiece per season, in exchange for identical attention and service and a range of just three compounds: soft, medium and hard.

At least initially, the tires will be in a similar 13-inch specification to the current Bridgestone product, with a longer-term ambition being a move to a low profile.

It had also been reported that Pirelli, already the supplier of the new GP3 series as well as world rally, is likely to also supply GP2 next year.

Pirelli was last in F1 in 1991.

Webber signs 1-year extension with Red Bull team
(GMM)  Red Bull Racing on Monday announced a new one-year contract for Mark Webber.

It means the 33-year-old Australian, who crashed with his teammate Sebastian Vettel whilst leading the recent Turkish grand prix, will stay alongside the young German in 2011.

Amid reports the Milton Keynes-based team wants to keep Vettel for a much longer term, Webber insists he is happy to have signed for only one more year.

"It's widely know that I'm not interested in hanging around in formula one just for the sake of it and at this stage of my career, I'm happy to take one year at a time," the championship leader is quoted as saying in a media statement.

Red Bull confirmed that Vettel is already under contract for 2011.

Red Bull drivers must let each other pass - Marko
(GMM)  In future, Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will not prevent the fastest RB6 from overtaking.

That was the revelation on Monday of the energy drink's motor racing consultant Helmut Marko, who had earlier pointedly blamed Webber for the now famous Istanbul Park crash.

But he told the Italian website 422race.com that the issue was "solved" at last Thursday's clear-the-air summit in Milton-Keynes.

"The two drivers can still freely battle, but they always have to let through each other.  That was the conclusion," said the Austrian.

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