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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Raikkonen manager says Renault seat 'possible'
  • Webber insists not asking for number 1 status
  • Webber backtracks on 'harsh' Monza review
  • Cost-cutting 'not possible' in today's F1 - Briatore
  • Pirelli to announce Heidfeld successor this week
  • Australian GP costs taxpayers $50m - report
  • Aus government defends huge F1 race loss

Raikkonen manager says Renault seat 'possible'
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen's manager has confirmed he contacted Renault about the 2007 world champion returning to formula one next season.

Earlier this week, the reports did not reveal whether it was his management team or the Finn himself who approached team boss Eric Boullier about being Robert Kubica's 2011 teammate.

"It's true, I spoke with Boullier," Steve Robertson told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

Raikkonen, 30, switched from Ferrari to world rallying for 2010, and it had been expected that he would continue his new challenge for at least another year.

But according to the well-respected Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio, Raikkonen is aiming to maintain his high income for 2011, given that his Ferrari contract finally runs out soon.

Said Robertson: "We want to explore all the possible options for next year.  Kimi and I asked Renault what is the situation."

Turun Sanomat reporter Heikki Kulta insists the most possible outcome for Raikkonen in 2011 is a continuation of his rallying foray.

"There are all sorts of rumors," Robertson continued.  "I've even heard that Kimi could go to NASCAR, but that is definitely not an option."

In the event that Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel win the 2010 championship, Raikkonen's return to F1 could push the number of world champions on the 2011 grid to an impressive six.

Webber insists not asking for number 1 status
(GMM)  Mark Webber has played down suggestions he is asking for his teammate Sebastian Vettel to play a supporting role for the rest of 2010.

At Spa-Francorchamps recently, the Australian suggested that with a growing points gap to his teammate, the time might be nearing for Red Bull to appoint a number one, depending on "how hungry they are".

Team consultant Helmut Marko then admitted Red Bull will "sit down all together" and "assess our championship chances" after Monza, where the points gap between the drivers became 24 with five races to go.

But Vettel sounded unimpressed at the prospect of a supporting role, insisting that "team orders are banned".

Webber manager Flavio Briatore's view is strident, insisting that maintaining parity between the pair is what Red Bull should do "if they don't want to win the championship".

Spain's Diario Sport now quotes Webber as saying: "Help from Vettel?  It depends on the team.

"Rest assured I have not asked for anything.  It's the same at McLaren," said the 34-year-old championship leader.

Webber backtracks on 'harsh' Monza review
(GMM)  Mark Webber has backtracked after accusing Red Bull of having "underperformed" at Monza last weekend.

The Australian re-took the lead of the drivers' world championship in Italy, but with Lewis Hamilton crashing out, he was disappointed to finish just sixth after qualifying on the second row.

"We sniffed around just getting a few (points).  We could have capitalized," he said after the race.

"You've got to make the most of opportunities.  We should have done a lot better," he added.

Several days later, Webber is calmer.

"I was probably a little bit harsh after the race," he is quoted by The Australian newspaper.

"Looking back on the race there is not a great deal we could have done better."

One element Red Bull has vowed to improve is race starts, after two consecutive poor getaways for the 34-year-old.

"We need to look at it very carefully," team boss Christian Horner is quoted in French by L'Equipe.

"Our starts early in the season were very good, but for a few races now they have not been," added the Briton.

Cost-cutting 'not possible' in today's F1 - Briatore
(GMM)  A hundred F1 regulars should be expelled from formula one if the sport is serious about cutting costs.

That is the view of Flavio Briatore, the disgraced and banned former Renault chief who made another paddock appearance at Monza last weekend.

The 60-year-old is tipped to take up a role alongside F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone once his FIA ban runs out.

He said at Monza that F1 will only survive into the long-term if it is able to dramatically reduce costs.

"But you'd have to throw 100 people out of the paddock.  With today's decision-makers this is not possible.

"You can't teach them how to save because they never have.  It's like sending an alcoholic to rehab in a bar," said the flamboyant Italian.

On Austrian television 'Servus', Briatore also commented on the return this year of Michael Schumacher.

"The comeback was wrong," Briatore, who was team boss at Benetton where Schumacher won his first two titles in the mid 90s, said.

"His car is not the best, but he isn't competitive.  Rosberg is usually better.  Sometimes I just feel sorry for him," he admitted.

Pirelli to announce Heidfeld successor this week
(GMM)  Pirelli is set to announce a replacement for tire development tester Nick Heidfeld.

Some reports this week contradicted expectations that the 33-year-old German will have to vacate the role now that he has signed to return to the grid with Sauber.

A Pirelli spokesman told us on Wednesday: "For now we have nothing to add or to comment except that we are working very well with Heidfeld."

The same spokesman later revealed that an "official communication" will be made "in the next days".

ITV quotes a Pirelli spokesman as saying: "Nick will leave with our blessing and we wish him well.

"If we dovetailed both roles (Heidfeld with Sauber and Pirelli), there would be a conflict of interest.

"By the end of the week we should be able to announce his replacement," he added.

Heidfeld's final outing on last year's Toyota with Pirelli tires is this week at Jerez.  His Sauber contract begins on Friday.

Pedro de la Rosa is widely tipped as Heidfeld's successor.

Pirelli told us on Thursday: "We haven't commented about this and we will keep on doing it that way."

Australian GP costs taxpayers $50m
(GMM)  This year's Australian grand prix cost taxpayers almost $10 million more than the previous Melbourne race.

The 2010 loss tips the scales at $49.2 million, more than double the loss of 2006, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.

The figure emerged in the Australian Grand Prix Corporation's annual report, insisting the global financial crisis continues to have a "significant impact" on the Albert Park event.

Additionally, a further $7.8 million will be spent on improvements to the venue, located around public parklands south of the city.

Ten years ago, the race lost less than $4m annually.

Aus government defends huge F1 race loss
(GMM)  The state Victorian government has defended its record spending on the Australian grand prix.

It emerged on Thursday that now with an almost $50 million loss annually, the Melbourne race in 2010 cost taxpayers more than double the bill of just four years ago.

An independent MP called the figures "embarrassing" and "outrageous", but major events minister Tim Holding said formula one is worth it.

"The economic benefit to Victoria far outweighs the cost of staging the grand prix," he is quoted by The Age newspaper.

Albert Park is contracted to stay on the F1 calendar until at least 2015.

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