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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Ecclestone to travel to Bulgaria for GP talks
  • Virgin plays down 2011 di Grassi exit talks
  • Briatore denies links with F1 supplier Pirelli
  • Buying team order for $100,000 'stupid' - Whitmarsh
  • Return to form for Schu depends on Pirelli - Brawn
  • Vettel predicting hard race with Renault engine
  • Montezemolo not opposed to Rome street race

Ecclestone to travel to Bulgaria for GP talks
(GMM)  Bulgaria's hopes of joining the formula one calendar continue to increase.

The southeast European country's economy minister met with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone at Monza this weekend.

The meeting followed a scandal that broke out between Bulgaria and an Abu Dhabi company, who denied agreeing to fund a grand prix circuit.

But according to the Standart newspaper, Ecclestone will be travelling to the Bulgarian capital Sofia next week.

There, he will "discuss the grand prix project with representatives of the government," added the report.

Virgin plays down 2011 di Grassi exit talks
(GMM)  Virgin team boss John Booth has played down reports he is considering replacing Lucas di Grassi for the 2011 season.

Belgian reports have said GP2 driver Jerome d'Ambrosio, who is already working with Virgin as its new reserve driver, has been offered the seat with the British team if he can raise EUR 5 million.

"Obviously, Timo (Glock) will be with us next year, as stipulated in his contract, and we are delighted about that," Booth is quoted at Monza by France's L'Equipe website.

"With Lucas we have an option and it looks good.  In an ideal world we would keep our two drivers," he said.

As for the d'Ambrosio rumors, Booth answered: "Jerome has been helping us since (former reserve driver) Andy Soucek left us.

"But he is just giving as a hand at the moment because he has a super license," he added.

Briatore denies links with F1 supplier Pirelli
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore has denied reports he is close to working with F1's new official tire supplier Pirelli.

In the wake of the crashgate scandal, it has been rumored the ousted former Renault boss is set to return to the sport on the promotional side alongside Bernie Ecclestone.

But France's Auto Hebdo said the Italian has been linked recently with Pirelli, who next year are replacing Bridgestone as F1's sole supplier of tires.

"Pirelli will be in F1 next year but I have no contact with them," said Briatore.

"Why?  I don't know, but not now, in another life perhaps," he added.

Briatore welcomed the pole position achieved on Saturday by Fernando Alonso, who is managed by his company.

"If he wins today, he can still win the world championship," he said ahead of the Italian grand prix at Monza.

"I think that having three world champions all fighting for the title is fantastic," said Briatore.

Buying team order for $100,000 'stupid' - Whitmarsh
(GMM)  Other teams would be "stupid" to see Wednesday's FIA ruling as a green light to use team orders.

That is the opinion of McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, after his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner hinted that he might need to now deploy team orders to secure the 2010 title.

"We are going to look like idiots if we end up losing the title by five points after allowing Mark and Sebastian to race," said Horner, insisting that a "precedent" has now been set for team orders to be penalized with only a $100,000 fine.

But Whitmarsh doesn't see it that way.

When asked by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport if McLaren would consider 'buying' a team order in 2010 for $100,000, he answered: "It would be pretty stupid to interpret the (FIA) ruling like that."

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone thinks teams should be free to deploy team orders, but he said the current rules should be respected until they can be changed.

"The rules are still in place," he insisted at Monza.

"I think the teams will respect the rule as much as they can as long as it remains," added Ecclestone.

Return to form for Schu depends on Pirelli - Brawn
(GMM)  Whether Michael Schumacher can return to full competitiveness next year depends in part on Pirelli.

That is the opinion of his team boss Ross Brawn, as the seven time world champion struggles in 2010 with the performance of Bridgestone's tire.

Schumacher is hoping to challenge for the 2011 title with a more competitive Mercedes, but Brawn warned: "It depends on how good the Pirelli tire is in terms of how he (Michael) can respond in the steering movements."

However, Brawn told Auto Motor und Sport that the Brackley based team has been working this year to reinforce its staff in the area of car/tire interaction.

"We have also had access to the experts at Daimler-Benz," he said, indicating that the team's situation is better now than when it was privately owned a year ago.

"Back then we had to rebuild our team while fighting for the world title.  Those are problems we have not had this time," said Brawn.

Vettel predicting hard race with Renault engine
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel is worried about the performance of his Renault engine ahead of the Italian grand prix.

The young German was between 2 and 3 kph slower than his teammate Mark Webber in a straight line on Saturday; a handicap described by the Australian as "peanuts".

But Vettel, having qualified at Monza lower than ever in 2010, said: "Overtaking is going to be very difficult."

Team consultant Helmut Marko told Bild newspaper: "We do not have a super engine."

Vettel's extra speed deficit at Monza is a mystery.

"It was a new engine," Vettel confirmed, "but it seems not to be as good as we expected."

He is not sure what he is expecting from the Monza race.

"It's hard to tell -- better than sixth place, I hope," said the German.  "And it's better that it is Fernando and not Lewis on pole position."

He vowed to take a normal approach to the start of the race.

"I'm not sure; either I act like a bowling ball and knock everyone out of the way as all the experts expect me to do now, or I will approach the race as usual," he answered sarcastically.

Montezemolo not opposed to Rome street race
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo has refused to speak against plans for a formula one race in the Italian capital in 2012 or 2013.

The issue is a politically contentious one within the country, with those supporting the historic event at Monza angry about the plans for a Rome street race.

"I have spoken with Ecclestone, but I'm not worried," insisted Ferrari president Montezemolo to La Gazzetta dello Sport at Monza.

"There are lots of races and the circuit in the capital would be fascinating.  The important thing is that the historical event at Monza is not disturbed," he added.

Montezemolo also played down claims that Felipe Massa is grappling with the concept of now clearly being the number 2 driver beneath Fernando Alonso.

"I spoke with Felipe on Wednesday, we have clarified and I saw him very motivated," said the Italian.

"For me, the important that is that the driver winning is in a Ferrari," he added.

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