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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Kovalainen smiles at 'nice' 2011 Renault switch rumors
  • Renault engines would be good for Lotus - Kovalainen
  • Peter Sauber targets return to retirement
  • 'Many drivers' struggling with hard tires in 2010 - Massa
  • Top bosses rate teammates for newspaper article
  • Villeneuve called off Hockenheim trip for NASCAR seat

Heikki Kovalainen
Kovalainen smiles at 'nice' 2011 Renault switch rumors
(GMM)  Mike Gascoyne says he is not surprised that Heikki Kovalainen's name is being linked with a possible switch to a rival team.

"That's the first time I've heard that," the Lotus technical boss told Finland's Turun Sanomat, when asked about the rumors linking Kovalainen with a 2011 return to his former team Renault.

"Heikki has done a good job so it's no wonder someone else could be interested in him," added the Briton.

It was believed that both Kovalainen, 28, and Jarno Trulli had signed long term contracts with Lotus beginning in 2010.

Gascoyne clarifies: "It is three years, but with mutual options for each year."

According to the Finnish newspaper, Kovalainen smiled when asked about the Renault rumors.

"Rumors are always nice," he said, "but I'm concentrating on now, driving with Lotus, and this weekend."

Renault engines would be good for Lotus - Kovalainen
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has revealed he would not be disappointed if Lotus switches to Renault power for the 2011 season.

Not only is the Finn linked with a possible switch to Renault, his current team Lotus is reportedly in talks to break its Cosworth contract and be powered by French-made engines next year.

"If that happens," he told Turun Sanomat newspaper, "it is certainly a better option for us.

"Renault has more experience," said the 28-year-old, "even if Cosworth has not been bad.  The reliability at least in my car has been one hundred per cent."

Kovalainen, now 28, started his career with Renault, initially as a test driver and then by making his grand prix debut in 2007.

"I spent a lot of time with them," he said.  "I know the guys and it would be a nice option if the team (Lotus) ends up with them."

Peter Sauber targets return to retirement
(GMM)  Peter Sauber has reinforced his intention to return to retirement in the near future.

With the shock withdrawal of owner BMW late last year, the team's 66-year-old Swiss founder returned to the pitwall in 2010 to re-establish Sauber as an independent.

But at Hockenheim, he is quoted by Blick newspaper: "I will no longer be on the pitwall at 70.  To be honest, I never imagined I would be here at 66."

A succession plan is already in the works, as Friday marked the first time a woman has appeared for the official FIA press conference.

38-year-old Austrian Monisha Kaltenborn is now the Hinwil based team's managing director.

"I hope my colleagues here are feeling fine as I am, since they have to get used to it!" she said, addressing her fellow team bosses Norbert Haug and Adam Parr.

The Sauber C29s are sporting '40' logos this weekend to mark the anniversary of the C1, a tubular-frame chassis built by Peter Sauber in 1970 to contest the Swiss hillclimb championship.

He said: "I want to lead the team back into a secure position and establish it at a good level.  If I succeed, my mission is fulfilled."

'Many drivers' struggling with hard tires in 2010 - Massa
(GMM)  Felipe Massa insists he is not the only driver struggling with Bridgestone's tires in 2010.

After his 2009 accident and return to the grid this season, the Brazilian has had a high-profile struggle to keep up with Ferrari newcomer Fernando Alonso.

But Massa, 29, has played down any link between his difficulties and his recovery from head injuries, insisting his only problem is Bridgestone's harder compounds.

"I have even tried changing my driving style to get them working faster and better," he is quoted by Portuguese-language Globo Esporte.

"Everyone talks about me, but many, many drivers are having the same problem," added Massa, the 2008 championship runner-up.

He admits that Ferrari in general has also had a difficult season so far, but thinks recent developments have made the F10 much more competitive.

"I think we can be optimistic for the second half," added Massa.

Jenson Button is still deemed a playboy
Top bosses rate teammates for newspaper article
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso all achieved higher half-year 'report card' scores than their respective teammates.

For a light-hearted article, Germany's Bild newspaper presented the bosses of the Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari teams with blank report cards to fill out for their drivers.

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg's report cards, completed by Norbert Haug, showed the pair achieving identical scores.

Schumacher, however, achieved a perfect '10' for technical ability, while Rosberg's score was only 9.

But Rosberg made up for the lost mark with a '9' for his 'Playboy-Faktor', with Schumacher only scoring an 8.

At Red Bull, Vettel also lost out to Mark Webber in boss Christian Horner's marking in the Playboy columns -- Australian Webber received a '0' score, but Vettel scored minus-1!

At McLaren, Lewis Hamilton achieved all perfect 10s, in areas including driver feeling, talent, camaraderie and presence.

But the 2008 world champion only rated a '5' Playboy score from Martin Whitmarsh, while Jenson Button received 10 in every category.

Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali appears to have taken Bild's report card idea the most seriously.

For 'driver feeling', Fernando Alonso rated a 9, while Felipe Massa scored 8.5.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Alonso got a perfect 10 for talent, while Domenicali rated Massa just 8.5.

Villeneuve called off Hockenheim trip for NASCAR seat
(GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve was scheduled to travel to Hockenheim this weekend.

The 1997 world champion has confirmed a collaboration between 'Villeneuve Racing' and the Italian racing outfit Durango in a bid to secure the 13th team spot in 2011.

But Villeneuve's visit to the German paddock was called off at late notice when an opportunity to attempt to qualify for the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Indianapolis emerged.

Alongside hoping to return to the F1 grid in 2011 with a team bearing his name, the 39-year-old said he is also pushing for a full-time seat in America's premier series.

"There's a lot going on, and until you have something finalized, you have to look at every opportunity that's out there," AP quoted him as saying from Indianapolis.

As for the Durango bid, the French Canadian explained: "The opportunity was there, so there's no way I was going to say 'no, don't bother'.

"I don't have a full-time ride here anyway, I can't just (ignore) something and stay home.  But I haven't spent as much time as I should have or would have wanted to on it because I've been here," he admitted.

As for F1 versus NASCAR, Villeneuve said: "It's really hard to tell you what the preference would be because you have to wait until the real opportunity is there on the table.

"Until there's something full time that we can get going, I can't really focus on one."

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