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Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Grosjean hoping for full-time Pirelli test role
  • Virgin to 'evaluate' d'Ambrosio in Friday practice
  • Alonso not criticizing Sauber for de la Rosa exit
  • Five title contenders with five races to run
  • Raikkonen's Renault interest 'flattering' - Boullier
  • Newey's latest creation smashes Suzuka F1 record
  • FIA team selection process 'too slow' for Stefan GP
  • HRT to survive debut season insists boss Kolles
  • Di Resta has 'good chance' of F1 seat - Haug
  • Todt discusses F1 with Bolivian president

Grosjean hoping for full-time Pirelli test role
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean has admitted he is hoping to be appointed the full-time replacement for departed Pirelli tire tester Nick Heidfeld.

Heidfeld left the role after his third Pirelli tire test at Jerez late last week because he is returning to the formula one grid with Sauber.

Former Renault racer and GP2 driver Grosjean, 24, will replace the Sauber-bound German when F1's incoming official tire supplier moves its 2011 program to the Monza circuit this week.

But it has not been confirmed that the Swiss-born Frenchman will be staying in the role beyond his Italian outing.

"I am doing two days at Monza on Tuesday and Wednesday," he told Auto Hebdo in a French-language interview.

"After this test the decision will be made about continuing together or not.  I hope to be with the project until the end," added Grosjean.

"I'm anxious to get behind the wheel of a formula one car again, especially as this Toyota was clearly one of the best cars at the end of last season.

"To be again accumulating kilometers in an F1 car is of course a good step towards returning to F1 soon," he said.

Grosjean attended the Jerez test last week, before travelling to Toyota's Cologne headquarters for a seat fitting.

"Nick told me the TF109 is very good and very neutral, which is the perfect way to test tires," he added.

Virgin to 'evaluate' d'Ambrosio in Friday practice
(GMM)  Jerome d'Ambrosio will replace Virgin regular Lucas di Grassi for four of the remaining five Friday morning practice sessions in 2010.

Recent speculation hinted at the possibility of a 2011 race seat for the Belgian GP2 driver, whose manager has revealed he has already raised the majority of the necessary budget.

Manager Yves Decorte told a newspaper last week: "And if we can do it quickly, he might even be able to drive on a Friday morning at the end of the season."

But Virgin has not confirmed that the Gravity-managed d'Ambrosio, 24, is definitely replacing Brazilian rookie di Grassi next year.

"We have a contract with Timo Glock for another two years and an option on the services of Lucas di Grassi for next year," insisted team chief executive Graeme Lowdon.

"Both drivers have done an outstanding job for us in our debut season."

The new British team said d'Ambrosio has been signed only "in an evaluation role" for the forthcoming rounds in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil, explaining that Virgin "will be using this opportunity to evaluate Jerome's potential".

D'Ambrosio, who started the 2010 season as a Renault test driver, will also contest the end-of-season young driver test after the Abu Dhabi season finale, Virgin announced.

"We are always looking to progress new racing talent and the team out of which Virgin Racing was born has a long history of this," added Lowdon.

D'Ambrosio said: "My ultimate goal has always been to race in formula one and I am delighted to get a step closer.  Looking at the 2011 season, this will be very useful."

Also in Abu Dhabi for the end-of-season Abu Dhabi test will be Dean Stoneman, who secures the Williams outing as a prize for becoming the new F2 champion.

Alonso not criticizing Sauber for de la Rosa exit
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has refused to criticize the Sauber team for ousting fellow Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa.

De la Rosa has been replaced with immediate effect by former long-time Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld, 14 races into de la Rosa's return to the F1 grid.

"From the outside, we don't know what happened.  You can't really judge these sorts of decisions that a team makes," said Alonso, whose employer Ferrari supplies engines to Hinwil based Sauber.

"All I can do is send all the encouragement in the world to Peter and to tell him to keep fighting, because he is a fighter," added the two-time world champion to Spanish newspapers.

"With Sauber it didn't work out and hopefully he will get another chance," said Alonso.

Before 2010, 39-year-old de la Rosa spent the previous seven years as McLaren's test driver, but he vowed not to give up his desire to keep racing in F1.

The veteran of 84 grands prix told TV broadcaster Sport1: "I will come back.

"It will be difficult, but I've done it before and I will do it again," added former Arrows and Jaguar driver de la Rosa.

Five title contenders with five races to run
(GMM)  With five races still to run in 2010, there are still five drivers in the running to be world champion.

"I wouldn't want to call it," said team boss Martin Whitmarsh, whose McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are both contenders.

Also among the gang of five within a margin of a single race victory of Mark Webber's lead are his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.

"I think that out of the five, it will eventually just be a duel between Vettel and Webber," pundit Niki Lauda told Bild newspaper.

"They have the edge because their package is the best overall," added the Austrian and former triple world champion.

Indeed, Ferrari came close to writing off Alonso's chances before the Italian team travelled from its Maranello base to Monza and won.

The Spaniard agrees that he is still in the running -- but only just.

"It will be almost compulsory now to be on the podium in each race," Alonso is quoted in the Spanish press.

"I don't know how many points I have but I know I'm 21 behind the leader," he added.

His F10 car was the fastest on the long lines of Monza, but team boss Stefano Domenicali is not expecting a repeat this weekend.

"Singapore is a track where Red Bull will return to its usual levels, McLaren will be strong and it will be a harder fight than what we saw at Monza," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

But the Italian acknowledged: "The truth is I think no one really understands what happens this year, in the sense that things happen differently at each race compared to what is said beforehand."

Brazilian commentator Lito Cavalcanti surmises: "The Red Bull is good everywhere, but the cars of the rivals are very strong only sometimes."

Vettel thinks the RB6 will be strong under the Singapore lights, telling Bild am Sonntag newspaper: "Advantage Red Bull, disadvantage McLaren."

But Whitmarsh does not quite see it that way.

"What I hear people say we'll be strong here or weak there, I don't know how they work that out," said the Briton.

Raikkonen's Renault interest 'flattering' - Boullier
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen's interest in driving for Renault next year is "flattering", team boss Eric Boullier has admitted.

2007 world champion Raikkonen's manager last week confirmed reports the pair had spoken with Boullier about the vacant 2011 seat alongside Robert Kubica.

The 30-year-old Finn switched to world rallying this year after winning 18 grands prix with Ferrari and McLaren last decade.

"It's flattering," Boullier said in a French language report of the Agence France-Presse agency, "because it shows that our team is again attractive to a formula one world champion."

After Fernando Alonso's titles in 2005 and 2006, Renault entered a period of decline that resulted in the French carmaker selling to Luxembourg based Genii Capital at the end of last year.

"Our simulations show that our car has improved by about 1 and 3/4 seconds between the first test and now.  We have been one of the teams with the greatest progressions.

"That is a true source of satisfaction," admitted Boullier.  "We have proved the team has the qualities to operate at the highest level."

Newey's latest creation smashes Suzuka F1 record
(GMM)  Adrian Newey's latest creation is capable of beating the formula one lap record at Suzuka by a staggering margin of 20 seconds.

Red Bull Technology's top-secret X1 Prototype, tested around the Japanese circuit in virtual reality by Sebastian Vettel, was created for the new PlayStation game Gran Turismo 5.

Newey's challenge was to create a virtual car for the game's November release not bound by any set of regulations.

"We all have a dream about pushing the boundaries, where the performance of the car and the experience of the driver take precedence over the rules," said Newey.

The Briton's next creation will be the RB7, the successor of this year's impressive 2010 F1 challenger.

"We have a few improvements in the pipeline (for the RB6) but I am personally focused about 70 per cent on the new car for 2011," he is quoted by Auto Bild.

"There are some very innovative ideas," announced Newey.

With the exception of his PlayStation creation, he insists his ideas are rule-confirmative, but some of his F1 rivals will suggest he flies too close into the grey areas.

"It's part of the game," said Newey, "and it's been like that for the whole of my career.

"I see it as a compliment, because it is the best proof that my car is fast."

FIA team selection process 'too slow' for Stefan GP
(GMM)  Stefan GP pulled out of the running for the 13th team entry for 2011 because the FIA's selection process was too slow.

That is the view of Zoran Stefanovic, who after missing out on a place on this year's grid vowed to try again for the 2011 season.

Alongside other contenders including Villeneuve/Durango and Epsilon Euskadi, the Serbian outfit tackled the initial stages of the selection process, but ultimately pulled out in August.

"We had applied at the beginning but we found out that the process was too long and it didn't give us assurances on the time when someone will be chosen as the 13th team," Stefanovic told f1pulse.com.

When the FIA invited expressions of interest for the 13th place in March, the governing body said its decision would be made in July.

But the decision, with the FIA ultimately ruling that the team place should be left open, was made only this month.

Stefanovic said September is "too late to go in and design a car for next year".

"We think it (the process) should be faster and we think it's necessary to have a 13th team," he added.

Contrary to the 'plan B' announced by Jacques Villeneuve, Stefanovic said he is not currently contemplating taking over an existing team.

"At the moment we are not doing that thing specifically," he said.  "We will see in the future what we can do."

HRT to survive debut season insists boss Kolles (CORRECTION)
Sep.20 (GMM)  Team boss Colin Kolles has played down paddock rumors that HRT is on the verge of collapse.

The new Spanish outfit has struggled with the slowest car in 2010, and the rumor at Monza last weekend was that the Cosworth engines were set to fall silent due to unpaid bills to Cosworth.

"We discussed our budget in Italy and it was approved," Kolles is quoted by the French language L'Equipe website.

"We still need to complete certain objectives, but there is no cause for concern," he told German-language Motorsport-Total.com.

"The bill for the engines has been paid for to the end of the season.  I think we are in better shape than some others," said Kolles.

"We will see who finishes the season and who does not, and we'll see who is on the grid next season.

"I am used to these rumors.  When I arrived at Midland, everyone thought we would not survive, and it was the same with Spyker and Force India, but the team is still there," he said.

Elsewhere, the team's technical coordinator Jacky Eeckelaert has ruled out reports of a merger with Epsilon Euskadi, and also quietened rumors that HRT is turning to Cologne-based Toyota Motorsport for a 2011 collaboration.

"That's a delicate question to answer," he told French-language toilef1.com.  "It is true there were contacts with Toyota, but I don't think it's going to happen for 2011.

"As for a merger with Epsilon Euskadi, I'm not aware of that," added Eeckelaert.

Di Resta has 'good chance' of F1 seat - Haug
(GMM)  Paul di Resta has a "good chance" of moving into formula one sooner rather than later.

That is the view of Norbert Haug, the motor sport director of the German carmaker Mercedes-Benz.

Haug works with Scottish rookie di Resta, who is also Mercedes-powered Force India's reserve and Friday driver, in the German touring car championship DTM.

The 24-year-old won from pole at the Oschersleben circuit on Sunday.

"I think his chances for a formula one seat are good," Haug revealed.

"Of course I hope he stays with us but I also know he has to take the opportunity when it arises.  I would absolutely support him in that," the German is quoted by racexpress.nl.

Todt discusses F1 with Bolivian president
(GMM)  FIA president Jean Todt has visited Bolivia.

The Prensa Latina news agency said the Frenchman met with Evo Morales, the president of the landlocked country in central South America.

Reuters said they had met at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia's administrative capital.

The Bolivian news agency ABI reported that they discussed international road safety, formula one and other motor sport categories and a possible visit for Morales to a forthcoming FIA-sanctioned event.

Todt was quoted as acknowledging Morales' vowing to "work together" with the FIA.

The state newspaper Cambio said the former Ferrari boss pointed out the benefits of the 2011 Dakar Rally passing through the city of Potosi.

Other reports said Todt recently visited Equador, and will also be travelling to Peru, Chile and Paraguay.

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