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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Lotus withdrew F1 naming license over t-shirt dispute
  • Glock admits beating Lotus to tenth not likely
  • Gascoyne signs new 5-year Lotus deal
  • Alguersuari says Alonso 'very cold'
  • Jordan says he would 'sack' 2010-spec Schumacher
  • 2010 finale to show which Red Bull driver 'better' - Vettel

Lotus withdrew F1 naming license over t-shirt dispute
(GMM)  Group Lotus terminated the naming license for Malaysian millionaire Tony Fernandes' formula one team because of a dispute about t-shirts, team chief executive Riad Asmat has revealed.

On the face of it, the Proton-owned British carmaker has simply had a change of heart, deciding now to ramp up its involvement in motor sport and regretful that its brand is already separately deployed in formula one.

It emerged last week that Group Lotus has decided to enter feeder categories GP2 and GP3 with ART, and it has now been announced that the carmaker is continuing its IndyCar foray in 2011 whilst designing a prototype sports car for the LMP2 category.

Group Lotus also said it is upgrading its test track in Norfolk which will be eligible for "F1 testing".

"It's important for people to realize just how committed we are to doing our heritage justice," said director of motor sport Claudio Berro.

At the same time, Lotus has withdrawn its naming license to the current F1 team Lotus Racing, and has vowed to fight the team's intention to deploy the alternative 'Team Lotus' name in 2011 and beyond.

Group Lotus owner Proton is also withdrawing its on-car sponsorship of Fernandes' team.

"Unfortunately we never reached the point where we discussed extending that one year deal," said the team's chief executive Asmat.

He revealed that the naming license has been terminated due to "some very trivial points", including "t-shirt design approvals of all things".

Asmat said there will need to be talks with Group Lotus about the real reasons for the termination because "we thoroughly reject" the marque's right to have done so.

"Initially there was good cooperation but then issues cropped up after that and it came to a point where they said we were detrimental to their brand and infringed their rights," he told MediaCorp.

"One of these was about producing t-shirts, which we were told did not follow correct procedures and they terminated our agreement about two weeks ago," said Asmat.

He indicated that continuing to be called Lotus is crucial for the team, which explains the decision to take the matter to London's High Court.

"There are livelihoods at stake and we had to take this course of action in the courts," he said.

Glock admits beating Lotus to tenth not likely
(GMM)  Timo Glock has acknowledged that Virgin finishing tenth in this year's constructors' world championship is very unlikely.

None of F1's new teams have come close to scoring a point so far this season.

But Heikki Kovalainen's 13th place finish in Australia in late March means Lotus is currently tenth, ahead of fellow non-scorers Lotus and HRT.

Apart from special new team bonuses promised by Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's commercial prize-money pool is shared between only the top ten teams, based on their ranking in the constructors' championship.

It means the new teams this year are battling for literally millions in additional and crucial funding.

"It is an innovative structure, and if you do well on the track then you get very well rewarded," Virgin's team chief executive Graeme Lowdon admitted earlier this year.

So confident was main sponsor Sir Richard Branson at the start of 2010, he agreed with Tony Fernandes - boss of the rival Lotus team - that the loser should spend a fully-uniformed day as a stewardess on the other's airline.

"I think Tony will be fetching as a Virgin stewardess," billionaire Branson said last weekend.

"I think he is making an outfit for me as well," he confirmed.

But according to lead driver Timo Glock, he thinks it unlikely the Virgin team will be able to dislodge Lotus from the coveted tenth position by recording a twelfth place finish in one of the remaining races.

"It will be very difficult," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Maybe if there's a crazy wet race or something like that.  Otherwise I don't see any chance," he added.

Stewardess or not, Branson said he remains committed to formula one for now, and sounded bullish about 2011.

"Our staff are looking for new sponsors for next season, so there will be less room (on the car) for Virgin," the Briton is quoted by France's Auto Hebdo.

Gascoyne signs new 5-year Lotus deal
(GMM)  Mike Gascoyne has committed to Lotus until "at least 2015", the new-in-2010 formula one team announced on Wednesday.

47-year-old Briton Gascoyne, one of the original members of the Malaysian owned team, is the chief technical officer.

"It was always my intention to finish my career here, so it's great to have formally agreed a five-year deal," said Gascoyne, who has formerly held prominent technical roles at Jordan, Renault and Toyota.

He said he will consider staying at Lotus "even beyond" 2015.

"I've really enjoyed the last year that we've been working together, and I'm very excited about working with Mike for many years to come," added team boss Tony Fernandes.

Alguersuari says Alonso 'very cold'
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has offered a less than flattering opinion about the personality of his fellow Spaniard and F1 driver Fernando Alonso.

"He is cold (frio), very cold," said 20-year-old Alguersuari, the youngest driver on the grid who races with the second Red Bull team, Toro Rosso.

"He is a man of few words," he is quoted as saying by Dir Emotions.  "I have no relationship with him."

Alguersuari also described the Ferrari driver and double world champion as "a great" F1 racer.

Alonso, 29, recently moved to clarify some misperceptions by revealing that when people actually meet him, they often remark that he is "nicer" than his media image.

The German-language spox.com compared Alonso's apparent win-at-all-costs attitude with that of Michael Schumacher.

"In the media we read again and again things about ourselves that are not right," said the Spaniard.

"People are making judgments from the outside, but that's the business."

Asked to clarify the misperceptions, Alonso said: "I am very calm and relaxed, even romantic.  Actually, I'm a normal guy.

"A little bit shy, but when everything's right, that's when the Spaniard in me comes out," he laughed.

In Singapore last weekend, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali agreed that Alonso is "cool and calm and sometimes difficult".

And after back-to-back victories from pole, Alonso says he is on the top of his game.

"The F1 championship is very long compared to other sports so you can't be completely fit, focused, motivated 100 per cent of the time.

"But now, in this part of the championship, I'm at a peak," he is quoted in the Spanish press.

Jordan says he would 'sack' 2010-spec Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's first formula one team boss remains unimpressed with his 2010 return.

Eddie Jordan, who gave the then young pay-driver Schumacher his first cockpit in 1991, has been among the 41-year-old German's staunchest critics so far this season.

But in Singapore the former team owner ramped up his attack.

After Schumacher's incident-strewn race to finish 13th and a lap down, Jordan - now a pundit for British television - told the BBC: "Let's ask this question.

"If Michael Schumacher was not Michael Schumacher, driving as he is currently, would he be in the seat next year?

"My guess is no," the Irishman said.

"I'm sorry, I'm going to be controversial this time," Jordan continued.  "I would sack him, he's clearly not good enough on this performance we've seen today (Sunday)."

He said Schumacher is risking his "legacy and his reputation" by struggling this year at the wheel of a Mercedes.

Schumacher is under contract for the next two seasons, but there are rumors he might move into a management role for 2011, to be replaced by countryman Adrian Sutil.

"I was very surprised when I heard about Michael's return," Fernando Alonso, who beat Schumacher to the title before the German originally retired in 2006, told German language spox.com.

"He could be relaxing at home.  But our life in racing is so intense that it's difficult to lead a normal life," added the Ferrari driver.

"So if you get the chance to try it again, then it's hard to say no," Alonso said.

Asked where he will be in his 40s, the double world champion insisted: "I will be sitting comfortably on my sofa!"

2010 finale to show which Red Bull driver 'better' - Vettel
(GMM)  With just 3 or 4 races to go in 2010, there are no more signs that Red Bull is set to throw its full weight behind championship leader Mark Webber's title tilt.

The Australian would openly accept number 1 status over Sebastian Vettel, and recently consultant Helmut Marko indicated the team would soon consider the possibility.

But Vettel, who remains 21 points behind Webber, put his campaign back on track with a strong weekend in Singapore, and afterwards announced his intention to push on.

"The drivers championship is still open," said the 23-year-old German in Singapore.

According to the German newspaper Die Welt, he announced that he and Webber have agreed to a "professional approach" to the next decisive races.

And "We will find out who is better," Vettel is quoted as saying.

It means that of the three top teams in with a chance of the 2010 title, only Ferrari's Fernando Alonso can currently count on the backing of his teammate.

"It is almost inevitable with the way the season has swung backwards and forwards that this will go right down to the wire," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Alan Jones, the last Australian to become world champion in 1980, backed his countryman to beat Vettel in a dog-fight.

"I think if it gets down to a bit of a head-game, I'll back Mark every time," said the former Williams driver.

"It's a fascinating championship," added 63-year-old Jones.  "We haven't had one like this for years, where five people could become world champion with four races to go."

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