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Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Jean Todt says race in Africa not in the cards for now
    F1 braced for difficult week in Korea
  • Wolff could increase Williams stake to 49pc
  • Todt says F1 race unlikely for Africa
  • F1 bosses consider two-day weekend for F1
  • Even at 80, Ecclestone not looking to slow down
  • Durango admits NASCAR foray more likely than F1

F1 braced for difficult week in Korea
(GMM)  Organizers of this weekend's inaugural Korean grand prix have scattered cement dust in places around the new Yeongam layout, as the newly-laid asphalt surface continues to seep oil as it cures.

But Karun Chandhok - the only man to have completed a lap of the 5.62km layout in a formula one car - insists the circuit will be safe enough to host the race.

"I don't think for one second that it will be disastrous," the Indian driver told the Telegraph.  "A lot of the rumors have been inaccurate."

In its official event preview, the Italian team Toro Rosso also urged the F1 world not to "panic" as it makes the long trek from Europe to the Jeollanam-do province.

There are concerns about the incomplete track facilities, food, hotels, access roads, organized crime in the local area and the proximity to the rogue North Korea.

"Our advice to you is don't panic and make the most of the experience," said the team.

But Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi is hoping the experience is not just enjoyed by F1.

"The key question will be if the people know enough about formula one to want to attend the race," said the Swiss.

One piece of good news from the nearby port city Mokpo, about 400 kilometers south of the capital Seoul, is that three days of mostly dry weather is being forecast.

But the sport's travelling circus is still bracing for a difficult event.  To start, Williams team manager Dickie Stanford has told his troops to be ready for a seven-hour bus ride from the capital to Yeongam.

"From a driver's perspective the most important thing is that the tarmac lasts," said Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.

Nico Rosberg also said he hopes "the asphalt holds up", and reigning world champion Jenson Button admitted he expects "a few unexpected issues" in Korea.

But 2010 points leader Mark Webber is sanguine.

"We all have to go there, see the track and get on with the job -- it's the same for everyone," said the Australian.

Wolff could increase Williams stake to 49pc
(GMM)  Christian 'Toto' Wolff has admitted he might increase his minority stake in the Williams team to 49 per cent in the future.

It emerged last week that, alongside founders and long-time owners Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head, the stake bought by Austrian entrepreneur Wolff in 2009 was 10 per cent.

"I can confirm it is 10 per cent," he is quoted by the German-language motorline.cc.

"But I have an option to increase my minority stake to a strategic investment."

The publication said Wolff's share could increase to as much as 49 per cent, also quoting him as saying he would consider exercising the option "in time".

But he rejected British reports that the Oxfordshire based team is in financial trouble and struggling with losses and debt.

"If you look at the last 12 months, 2009 for us was a good and very profitable year," Wolff insisted.

Todt says F1 race unlikely for Africa
(GMM)  Jean Todt has poured cold water on reports Africa might join the formula one calendar in the next few years.

While South Africa hosted the football World Cup earlier this year, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said he hoped the continent would be on the calendar "in about three years time".

Around the same time, it emerged a consortium was working on a F1 project that had requested state support from president Jacob Zuma.

But according to the president of F1's governing body FIA, "I don't see any opportunity in the next three to five years," Frenchman Todt said on a visit to Kenya.

The Associated Press quoted Todt, who had been invited by the Kenya Motor Sports Federation, as saying a world rally or cross country event is more likely.

"Africa is a fantastic field to organize road racing," he confirmed.

F1 bosses consider two-day weekend for F1
(GMM)  After Sunday's condensed action in Japan, the idea of reducing a grand prix weekend to just two days is back on the agenda.

It is believed the proposal is once again being discussed by team bosses, after Sebastian Vettel earned pole position just hours before winning the Suzuka race.

Qualifying in Japan had to be rescheduled due to Saturday's torrential rain, highlighting the sport's ability to cope with all its practice and qualifying sessions without needing a full three-day schedule as at present.

"From the team's perspective it is quite intense, a lot of adrenaline, a lot of pressure," said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali when asked whether a two-day schedule makes more sense for today's F1.

"And then if you have a problem with the car or a crash, then it is very difficult to make sure that you are able to start the race.

"(But) it would be interesting how you (the media) and the public will think about it," he added.

Red Bull's Christian Horner also commented on the concept of a two-day weekend.

"I think the format worked well in two days (in Japan) because of the bad weather," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe.  "What we could possibly do is condense what happens on a Friday.

"Personally, I would prefer to keep qualifying on a Saturday and the racing on Sunday, but there are certainly things we could do with Friday.

"One example would be with the young drivers.  (And) everybody arriving at the circuit on a Wednesday makes no sense.

"We need to discuss it with the FIA and FOM," added Horner.

Even at 80, Ecclestone not looking to slow down
(GMM)  In ten days, Bernie Ecclestone will celebrate his 80th birthday.

But F1's ever-present F1 chief executive, commonly referred to as the sport's diminutive 'supremo', insists that he equates retirement with death.

Arriving for an interview with the sport's official website as well as the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag, he apologized for being 25 minutes late because he was "solving problems".

"If I stop working, I cannot solve problems any more," the Briton is quoted by the German newspaper.

"If I'm not solving problems, that's the beginning of the end," said Ecclestone.  "So I work.  And I like to work."

But no-one lives forever.  Asked how the F1 teams should detect his successor on the horizon, the Briton answered: "I have no idea.

"They should probably look out for another used car dealer!"

Durango admits NASCAR foray more likely than F1
(GMM)  The plans for a formula one team are reportedly still alive, but Villeneuve/Durango is now more likely to turn its attention to NASCAR.

Ivone Pinton, principal of the Italian team Durango that pulled out of GP2 in 2009 with financial problems, echoed Jacques Villeneuve's comments of last month that the collaboration is looking to buy one of the existing F1 teams.

Colin Kolles said in September that the rumors linking the struggling HRT team with Durango left him "speechless".

But Durango's Pinton insists F1 is a real option, telling the Italian website 422race.com that he and the 1997 world champion Villeneuve are "still working together" and in talks with "a couple of" the sport's current teams.

"If we can do it in 2011, fine.  Otherwise we will go on working on it," he explained.

French Canadian Villeneuve told the Canadian media last month that another option is to switch focus to NASCAR.

Pinton agreed, explaining that a successful foray in North America could precede a later attempt to "do things well in Europe".

"This (NASCAR) is the most logical and possible situation," he said.  "It's useless to do something if you aren't sure of the quality.  And we already saw how it is to do F1 without quality."

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