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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Villeneuve expects 13th team decision within August
  • Grosjean is Renault reserve driver at Spa
  • Ferrari congratulate Barrichello for milestone
  • Schu would 'certainly win' with Red Bull - Ecclestone
  • Raikkonen says Vettel 'nicest guy' in F1
  • Webber form 'surprised' Vettel in 2010 - Lauda
  • Qatar still planning to join F1 calendar

Villeneuve expects 13th team decision within August
(GMM)  The FIA's decision about the vacant team entry for 2011 will be made within the next few days.

"The decision will made at the end of the month," 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is quoted by La Presse Canadienne.

The French Canadian is bidding to return to F1 with his own team next year in collaboration with the Italian outfit Durango.

He is currently preparing for a NASCAR race in Montreal.

"I hope nothing is announced during the race weekend," said Villeneuve, 39.  "I don't want to spend my weekend discussing formula one.

"But if there is a positive outcome, I will put all my efforts into building this team," he added.

Villeneuve said he and Durango recently made a presentation to the FIA, who might decide to leave the 13th team place vacant in 2011.

"We did our presentation to a panel and there was no immediate reaction, but everyone seemed pleased," he explained.

"We don't know whether another group made a presentation or not.  I know we did a good presentation.

"It's all or nothing; either it works and it's great, or they say no and everything we've done falls into the water," said Villeneuve.

Finland's Turun Sanomat cited "Italian sources" in confirming Villeneuve's statement that the FIA will make its decision by the end of August.

The newspaper said the Spanish Le Mans team Epsilon Euskadi, now considering an alliance with HRT, is no longer in the running for the 13th place.

Grosjean is Renault reserve driver at Spa
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean will assume the role of Renault's official reserve driver at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.

The Swiss-born Frenchman is replacing injured GP2 driver and regular F1 reserve Ho-Pin Tung at the Renault-liveried DAMS team in Belgium this weekend.

Renault said on Tuesday that Chinese Tung might return to his duties at Monza in two weeks, and in the meantime "an official replacement" for the F1 role will not be named.

But the Spanish sports newspaper Marca says that for Spa, 24-year-old Grosjean - who contested the last 7 grands prix for the team in 2009 - will be the F1 reserve.

Meanwhile, the Finnish publication Turun Sanomat, and Italy's Autosprint, report that Force India's Paul di Resta is a candidate to replace Pirelli's new tire tester Nick Heidfeld as reserve driver at Mercedes.

Mercedes-powered Force India said on Tuesday that di Resta will not be on track during Friday practice this weekend because its race drivers need maximum track time at "unique" Spa-Francorchamps.

Scot di Resta, 24, drives for AMG Mercedes in the German touring car championship DTM.

Autosprint also said GP2 driver Jules Bianchi, already with a Ferrari development contract, could make his F1 debut with Ferrari-powered Sauber in 2011.

Ferrari congratulate Barrichello for milestone
(GMM)  Ferrari has congratulated its former driver Rubens Barrichello for notching up his milestone 300th grand prix this weekend in Belgium.

The veteran Brazilian drove for the Maranello based team between 2000 and 2005, although he often looks back ruefully at the time spent as number two to Michael Schumacher.

But Ferrari's current team boss Stefano Domenicali said 300 career races, to be achieved at the wheel of a Williams at Spa-Francorchamps, is a "remarkable achievement" for the 38-year-old.

"He was part of our team when it was living through a great period in its history and he made a very significant contribution to our success at that time," added the Italian.

Since 1993, Barrichello has also driven for Jordan, Stewart and Brawn, although 9 of his 11 victories were at the wheel of a Ferrari.

"I feel very privileged to have been in the sport for such a long time and it feels great to reach this milestone," said Barrichello, who so far has contested 44 races more than Riccardo Patrese's impressive previous record.

"I still think I am at the top of my game and plan to continue being competitive long past my 300th," he added.

Schu would 'certainly win' with Red Bull - Ecclestone
(GMM)  It is Mercedes' fault that Michael Schumacher has so far failed to step onto the podium during his 2010 return to formula one.

That is the opinion of Bernie Ecclestone, who said he is nonetheless happy that the seven time world champion decided to end his three-year retirement this season.

"If Michael would be sitting in a Red Bull, I would put my money on him," the F1 chief executive told Sport Bild.  "Then he would certainly win."

Schumacher confirmed: "Let's put it this way -- with a Red Bull things would definitely be very different."

Even though it has not been a success in terms of results, Ecclestone describes the 41-year-old's return to F1 as "super, perfect".

"We have had huge media coverage because of Michael.  Thanks to him again!  I admire him for making this step."

After his duel with Rubens Barrichello against the Hungaroring pitwall before the August break, Schumacher heads into his favorite race at Spa this weekend with a ten-place grid penalty.

But the German insists he is already focused on next year.

"I still have my goal of winning another world title," said Schumacher.  "I accept that it's going to take time and that it's a hard challenge."

And Ecclestone defends Schumacher against the criticism that, with a record 91 wins in his first career, he is now not good enough to beat his young teammate Nico Rosberg.

"When people tell me that Rosberg is faster than Michael, I say to them that it's Nico with something still to prove, not Michael," said the Briton.

Raikkonen says Vettel 'nicest guy' in F1
(GMM)  His ongoing Ferrari contract aside, Sebastian Vettel is perhaps Kimi Raikkonen's last remaining link with the world of formula one.

"I have hardly any contact with the other drivers," the 2007 world champion, who switched full-time to the world rally championship this year, told spox.com.

"Sometimes I play badminton with Vettel," he revealed, referring to his fellow Swiss resident.

So does the Finn think 23-year-old Vettel is ready to win the 2010 title?

"I think so.  But mostly he's just the nicest guy of them all," said Raikkonen.

The 30-year-old has not announced his plans for 2011, but he has admitted that it is unlikely he will ever again appear on a grand prix grid.

"In formula one there are too many things that are more important than the race," said Raikkonen.

"It is too political and no one says what they think because they're afraid about being taken out of context."

In contrast, he is enjoying his new rallying foray, where at the recent German rally, he notched up his first career stage win.

"Yes, I love it," said Raikkonen.  "It is very, very exciting and the biggest challenge of my career."

But he won't rule out one day returning to F1.

"I wouldn't say that.  We'll see.  First, let's take this season right to the end and then clarify some things.  Then we'll see," said Raikkonen.

Webber form 'surprised' Vettel in 2010 - Lauda
(GMM)  Mark Webber's form in 2010 "surprised" Sebastian Vettel, who thought he was the number one driver at Red Bull.

That is the summation of outspoken former triple world champion Niki Lauda, ahead of the final seven races of the 2010 season.

"Mark has shown a great performance and that has surprised Sebastian," the Austrian great is quoted by Motorsport Aktuell.

"His (Vettel's) disadvantage was to see himself as the number one," added Lauda.

Vettel, 23, is widely regarded as the young star of the pace-setting Red Bull team, but it is Australian Webber with two more race wins and the lead of the drivers' world championship.

"Vettel assumed that he has the full support of the team.  But Webber has more points and team orders no longer exist," Lauda said.

Lauda, 61, knows the problem well, when he assumed he was McLaren's number one but then found his teammate Alain Prost with superior pace.

He advises Vettel: "He must look reality in the eye and free himself from the idea that he is the number one."

Lauda also thinks Red Bull's team management is to blame.

"Their failure was to count on Sebastian from the beginning, because he was the team's young and super-talented man.  This has disturbed the teamwork.

"Sebastian's problem now is how fast Mark can go with this car.  He (Webber) was not the favorite from the start, but he has done an incredible performance," added Lauda.

Qatar still planning to join F1 calendar
(GMM)  Qatar is still pushing ahead with plans to join the formula one calendar.

The Losail circuit already hosts a MotoGP night race, and earlier this year it emerged that modifications were taking place with the aim of also accommodating F1.

Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, president of Qatar's Motor and Motorcycling Federation, said: "Hosting a formula one race is definitely in the strategic plan for Qatar."

He said an FIA official has already inspected the circuit and was "impressed" with the work carried out.

"We have a great track and we are currently working on upgrading it to official (F1) specifications," he told Gulf Weekly.

"We have already covered the standard requirements and we are three quarters through the project.  We just have some minor changes and modifications to make."

F1 already has Middle Eastern races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

A spokesman for Bernie Ecclestone said the F1 chief executive's office is awaiting details of Qatar's proposal.

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