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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Renault looks set to retain Petrov in 2011
  • Suspended jail term for F1 spy Stepney
  • FIA have stopped Red Bull's illegal car - Hamilton
  • Difficult season making Mercedes 'grumpy' - Haug
  • Teams agree operational budget cap for 2011 and beyond
  • City of Rome will not pay for grand prix - promoter
  • No further delay after Korea GP construction accident

Renault looks set to retain Petrov in 2011
(GMM)  Vitaly Petrov has moved into pole position to keep his Renault seat in 2011, with German sources reporting that three potential alternate candidates are now out of the running.

And the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat said Citroen rally driver Kimi Raikkonen "has never been interested" in returning to formula one next year with anything other than a title-contending car.

The German sources said Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock are no longer talking to Renault, because the Enstone based team is now on the verge of re-signing the Russian rookie Petrov.

Insiders suspected that political moves were afoot when team boss Eric Boullier said he would only take Raikkonen's apparent interest seriously if the reticent Finn met with him to prove his motivation.

"I want to understand more about his wish to come back," the Frenchman is quoted by The Sun newspaper.

As for Petrov, Boullier said he wants the 26-year-old to show more potential: "If he is already at the limit, then it is a different matter."

The Turun Sanomat report surmised that this, and the Raikkonen story, is to put "additional pressure on Petrov and his sponsors".

"I am not worried," Petrov said last week in Singapore when asked about those reportedly eyeing the 2011 race seat alongside Robert Kubica.

"Why must I worry?  They must worry.  I think I will continue to do my job and I think everything looks good," he added.

Suspended jail term for F1 spy Stepney
(GMM)  An Italian court has sentenced F1 'spygate' conspirator Nigel Stepney to a 20-month suspended jail term.

Earlier in 2010 - three years after the sport's espionage and sabotage scandal involving Ferrari and McLaren - sacked British engineer Stepney's criminal trial began.

The former Ferrari chief mechanic was accused of passing reams of the Italian team's secrets to McLaren, and also of adding white powder to the fuel tank of Kimi Raikkonen's then Monaco-bound car.

According to the local Gazzetta di Modena publication, Stepney agreed a deal with the prosecutors and did not plead guilty.

"We have to thank the prosecutor for agreeing to a plea bargain.  Initially the sentence was much higher," said his lawyer Sonia Bartolini after the hearing in Sassuolo.

Stepney, who was present, also received a small fine.

FIA have stopped Red Bull's illegal car - Hamilton
(GMM)  Red Bull's dominance has been curbed because it is no longer fielding an illegal car, according to Lewis Hamilton.

The 2008 world champion said that after the team's RB6 utterly dominated in Hungary in August, the tighter FIA flexibility tests have obviously affected the pace of the Adrian Newey-penned car.

"Good question," McLaren driver Hamilton told Bild newspaper on a visit to Berlin this week.

"In Hungary they were 2 seconds per lap faster than the rest of us.  It is simply impossible to have a lead like that."

When asked specifically if he thinks Red Bull were cheating earlier in 2010, Hamilton answered: "We have always kept to the rules.

"Our people wondered if their car was legal and we asked the FIA.  After that Red Bull had to rebuild their car and take a step back.

"It was a good decision by the FIA," said the Briton.

He was also asked about the apparent psychological warfare being deployed by his championship rivals at present, particularly by his former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

"It's normal that, at the end of a season, the mind games begin.  I'm strong enough and ready for it.  I'm not worried, but I think it's best if you just do your talking on the track," said Hamilton.

And despite almost writing off his championship chances after Singapore, Hamilton now insists he is ready for the challenge of the final four races of 2010.

"I was back at home in Zurich for one day; I woke up in the morning and went for a run in the forest with rap music on my headphones.  So I'll be back," he insisted.

Difficult season making Mercedes 'grumpy' - Haug
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has admitted that Mercedes might line up on the 2011 grid with some new employees.

"In 2011 we will make a step forward.  So we need to have the best possible staff, which may include some new people," he is quoted by the Cologne newspaper Express.

But amid rumors it might be Ross Brawn or Michael Schumacher who depart, the Mercedes competition director insisted the famous duo are actually going nowhere.

"In 2011 the drivers are Michael and Nico Rosberg," Haug announced.

"And we believe in Ross and his team," added the German, amid rumors of tension between Brackley in the UK and Mercedes GP's German side.

"We just know what victory feels like, so perhaps we are sometimes a bit grumpy," said Haug, explaining the apparent tension in the paddock at present.

One answer might be to plough more money into the team, or make a big offer for a high profile signing like Adrian Newey.

"Of course we could put another 10 million euros into F1, but we don't want to," said Haug.

Teams agree operational budget cap for 2011 and beyond
(GMM)  Formula one teams have agreed a budget cap for operational spending in 2011 and beyond, according to an Italian media report.

Earlier this week, we reported that team bosses discussed the so-called Resource Restriction Agreement in Singapore last weekend.

There are signs that, despite the cost-cutting pact negotiated at the end of the 2009 political war, some teams - notably the new and independent ones - are still struggling financially.

Italy's Autosprint reports that a new operational budget limit was therefore agreed within the FOTA group, with engine and transmission costs not included.

The report said teams may no longer spend any more than EUR 20 million each on operational elements, while team staff numbers have been capped at 415.

City of Rome will not pay for grand prix - promoter
(GMM)  Formula one will not cost Rome anything, the promoter of a potential street race in the Italian capital has insisted.

Rome's inaugural race is slated to be held in 2012 or 2013, pending the agreement of the residents of the EUR district, mayor Gianni Alemanno said earlier this month.

But amid the fierce opposition from the direction of the historic Monza event, and reports that Australian taxpayers are paying heavily for the Melbourne race, organizers of the Rome grand prix insist the city will not have to pay.

"I reiterate that the business plan for the project involves nothing payable by the Comune di Roma," said promoter Maurizio Flammini, according to the Adnkronos press agency.

"Not a single euro will be paid from the municipal coffers to the promoter for the grand prix," he insisted.

No further delay after Korea GP construction accident
(GMM)  An accident at the site of next month's inaugural Korean grand prix is not expected to further delay completion of the Yeongam venue.

Late on Wednesday, it emerged that a crane had tipped over on the main straight, with the overloaded arm crashing into a grandstand.

Media reports indicated that the damage was relatively minor.

Indeed, race organizers Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) confirmed on the same day that a date has now been set for completion of the track and final inspection by F1's governing body.

The FIA will visit the venue next Monday week (October 11) to approve it for the grand prix later in the month, KAVO said in a statement.

"We will rush to complete work and people will see a complete circuit when they (the FIA) conduct a final inspection," said an official.

The Korean organizers have signed a seven year contract for the race to be held 300 kilometers south of Seoul.

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