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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Red Bull team boss Christian Horner talks to Bernie Ecclestone
    Korea was in doubt and Spa is now - Ecclestone
  • Briatore flags 2013 as year for F1 return
  • Title challengers asked Chandhok about Korea
  • De la Rosa 'happy' to be in 2011 talks with HRT
  • Alguersuari now sure Toro Rosso keeping same drivers
  • Female DTM driver Stoddart wants F1 test
  • Rival teams' title approach 'interesting' - Domenicali
  • Sutil expects Force India to be beaten by Williams
  • Senna prepares for Korea with F1 game, not simulator
  • Volkswagen to discuss F1 foray in November - Stuck
  • Title target was 'lack of humility' by Schumacher - Prost 

Korea was in doubt and Spa is now - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that, mere weeks ago, this weekend's inaugural Korean grand prix risked not going ahead.

The F1 chief executive recently expressed doubt about the incomplete Yeongam venue, which has now been passed fit by the FIA to host the formula one circus.

"It's done now," Ecclestone said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

"Last month I didn't think it would be finished.  And it would have been cancelled then -- for sure."

But the Briton, to turn 80 later this month, defended his campaign of the last decade or so to expand the sport far beyond its traditional European base.

Since the late 90s, F1 has moved further into Asia and the Middle East, and the likes of India, the USA and Russia will soon also be on the calendar -- despite waves of skepticism among some of the sport's purists.

"In the end common sense has prevailed and we've expanded.  It's just having the courage to do it," said Ecclestone.

A potential problem, however, is that F1's expansion has put in jeopardy some of the historic, much-loved but outdated venues and hosts -- like the popular Spa-Francorchamps.

But is the incredible Belgian venue really in danger of losing its grand prix?  "Absolutely," Ecclestone insisted.

"If it wasn't supported by the government over there it probably would go because they wouldn't be able to afford it.  It's the same with the British grand prix," he added.

Another problem is that the circuits replacing the old guard are mostly penned by Hermann Tilke, who has been accused of churning out bland clones.

"Our problem is that we're trying to build race circuits that are super safe," Ecclestone explained.  "You don't get so much up-and-down because you can't just put a new circuit anywhere.

"But one of the best circuits in the world is Turkey.  It's a great circuit -- that's up-and-down."

But even the Istanbul venue is in doubt, the Briton revealed, because of efforts to cap the calendar at 20 races.

"Maybe someone will decide they need a rest because it's not working for them commercially.  A good example is probably Turkey," said Ecclestone.

"They've built an incredible circuit and it might even be the best -- but there's not much enthusiasm from the public.  I don't know why."

Flavio Briatore
Briatore flags 2013 as year for F1 return
(GMM)  Having earlier flagged a possible return to F1 in the future, Flavio Briatore seems now to have set a definite date.

"We shall see how my return to F1 goes in 2013," the former Renault team boss, who renegotiated his 'crashgate' ban with the FIA, said in an interview with the Times of India.

Present at several races this year and still closely aligned with Bernie Ecclestone, the potential roles for Briatore - perhaps with Pirelli, Ferrari or alongside the F1 chief executive - are the subject of speculation.

"I have drawn a line under the role of team boss, but that does not mean I am saying goodbye to F1.  Far from it," he recently told the Journal du Dimanche.

Briatore, 60, has indicated he will focus on the sport's "commercial" or "business" side, triggering rumors that Ecclestone sees the Italian as his successor.

But although contemplating his 80th birthday later this month, Ecclestone insists he is not planning to step aside by 2013.

Asked if he will still be running the sport at 90, the Briton told the Guardian newspaper: "Yes!  The way I feel at the moment, why stop?"

Title challengers asked Chandhok about Korea
(GMM)  F1 drivers and engineers canvassed Karun Chandhok for his impression of this weekend's new grand prix venue in Korea, the Indian has revealed.

Chandhok, 26, contested the first half of 2010 with the HRT team, and was later deployed by Red Bull to the new - then incomplete - Yeongam layout for a demonstration in an F1 car.

So, as the only driver in the world to have completed real laps in Korea, Chandhok revealed to Reuters that title contenders Mark Webber and Jenson Button have asked him about the circuit's nuances.

"You'd expect people to be calling, really," said Chandhok, who is not travelling to Korea this week.

The report said technical people from various teams, and his former teammate Bruno Senna, also asked Chandhok questions about his laps in Korea.

"To be fair, a lot of people have very good simulators and they have a lot of faith in their simulators and simulation software," he explained.

"I think a lot of them tend to believe that more than anything else."

But he said Australian Webber spoke to him about Korea.

"Obviously he was very curious to see what I thought about the place and what the circuit was like," said Chandhok.

And a more recent discussion was with Button.

"We were chatting about this and that and he was quite curious about Korea," added the Indian, revealing that the McLaren driver asked him about the camber of the corners.

"I think some of that stuff is not so apparent until you get there.  So he had questions about that sort of stuff," said Chandhok.

De la Rosa 'happy' to be in 2011 talks with HRT
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa has expressed interest in returning to the formula one grid next year with HRT.

After a long stint as McLaren tester, the Spanish driver returned to F1 with Sauber this year but was ousted recently and is now testing tires for Pirelli.

De la Rosa, 39, was in talks with Hispania's former guise Campos-Meta before signing with Sauber last winter, and he has told Spanish radio Onda Cero he is once again interested in joining the struggling team.

"If their sporting project is interesting and ambitious, I'll be happy to be with them.  So far there is no hurry," he is quoted as saying by the EFE news agency.

"I am in contact with the Carabantes," added de la Rosa, referring to the team's owners.

"We talk a lot.  For Spain it is very important to have a formula one team and what they have done so far has much merit," he said.

"Now we (Spain) have a team but we are not getting the best value.  They succeeded in just a few months to have a car on track at the start of the season and will have another car next year.

"But the project needs more support, not only from companies but also drivers like myself, and the fans.  We have to get behind them," added de la Rosa.

Alguersuari now sure Toro Rosso keeping same drivers
(GMM)  Despite earlier expressing some reservations, Jaime Alguersuari is now sure he will be at the wheel of a Toro Rosso in 2011.

When boss Franz Tost initially said the Faenza based team's current drivers would both be retained next year, both Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi seemed unconvinced that owner Red Bull was also fully in agreement with the news.

Then in Japan less than two weeks ago, Austrian Tost repeated his announcement that Toro Rosso's driver lineup is not changing for 2011.

"I have great respect for Sebastien Buemi," Alguersuari, 20, is quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency EFE.

"And the official and final confirmation of our continuing contracts in 2011, confirmed in Japan both for Buemi and myself, will make us stronger," added the Spaniard.

Alguersuari insists he has developed at a great rate since debuting in Hungary last year with no experience at the wheel of a F1 car.

He said he has gone "from being the biggest rookie in history to feeling at 20 years old almost like a veteran".

"I feel very happy with Toro Rosso, which is like a big family, and I'm very proud of myself," added Alguersuari.

He also said Toro Rosso's 2010 car is the "only one" among the existing teams not yet using an F-duct in races; a development he expects will add "half a second" to the STR5's pace when it is finally ready.

Female DTM driver Stoddart wants F1 test
(GMM)  Susie Stoddart has revealed she would like a formula one team to give her the opportunity of a proper track test.

The 27-year-old Scottish driver, whose partner is the Williams co-owner Christian 'Toto' Wolff, currently races a Mercedes in the German touring car series DTM.

"I dream about formula one," Stoddart, no relation to the former Minardi owner Paul Stoddart, told the Austrian magazine SportWoche.

"I would at least like my first test.  That's what I really want to do.  But I don't want it to just be a PR stunt.

"I want to show them what I can do," added Stoddart, who has also raced in Formula Renault and British F3.

She is currently 12th in the 2010 DTM standings, ahead of former F1 drivers Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard and Markus Winkelhock, with two races to go.

Rival teams' title approach 'interesting' - Domenicali
(GMM)  Stefano Domenicali has admitted it will be "interesting" to see how Ferrari's rivals tackle the remaining three races of 2010.

Of the title contenders, only the Italian team is solely focused on a single driver, while Red Bull and McLaren still endeavor to provide equality to each of their race drivers.

"In the other two teams they have both drivers that will fight (each other)," said team boss Domenicali, contrasting Felipe Massa's role for the rest of the season in support of Fernando Alonso's title challenge.

"I think it will be very important to see how all the drivers approach the next few races mentally, within the teams and against the other drivers -- it will be very interesting," he added.

The most obvious negative example of a team's commitment to equality is 2007, when McLaren's acrimonious duo Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso tied on points but both lost the championship against the odds to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Flavio Briatore, who is Mark Webber's manager, insists Red Bull should order the Australian's teammate Sebastian Vettel to fall in line.

"With only three races left, Red Bull should make Mark their number 1 driver," he said in a new interview with the Times of India.

He thinks team orders and the notion of number 1 drivers have an obvious place in formula one, whose biggest prize is the individual drivers' title.

"If I had been at Ferrari, I would have done the same thing," said Briatore.

Sutil expects Force India to be beaten by Williams
(GMM)  Force India's Adrian Sutil is expecting the team to be overhauled by Williams for sixth place in the world championship.

Currently, the Silverstone based team holds a two point advantage over Williams with three races to go, while Sutil is 6 points ahead of Rubens Barrichello for tenth place in the drivers' championship.

"Rubens is getting dangerous, and the Williams car is currently a lot better than ours," German Sutil, who is contemplating moving away from Force India at the end of the season, told Auto Motor und Sport.

He said he doubts the Mercedes-powered VJM03 will be much improved for this weekend's Korean race.

"I do not expect our pace to be much better or worse than recently," said Sutil, who made his debut with the team in 2007 when it was owned by Spyker.

The 27-year-old said he has not yet made a decision about whether to stay at Force India in 2011.

"Not yet.  It's harder than I thought," said Sutil.

"It's not just thinking about next year -- you also need to look further ahead," he added.

Senna prepares for Korea with F1 game, not simulator
(GMM)  Bruno Senna has denied that F1's arrival in Korea this weekend is a rare opportunity for struggling teams and drivers to race on a more level playing field.

As a rookie, the Brazilian has been adjusting to unfamiliar layouts in 2010, but the Yeongam facility is new to the entire sport.

And as a new team in 2010, the HRT outfit is competing with rivals with vast pools of data about the established circuits on the F1 calendar.

But Senna is quoted by Globo: "The fact that the track is new for everyone won't change anything.

"Not just because the level of formula one drivers is so high, but mainly because of the disparity of resources between the teams.

"The drivers of the big teams have prepared for the race in modern simulators, while I stayed home for the weekend practicing with the video game," he added.

Senna's former HRT teammate Karun Chandhok revealed this week that the 27-year-old rookie was one of the only drivers to ask him for details of his recent demonstration laps in Korea at the wheel of an older Red Bull car.

Volkswagen to discuss F1 foray in November - Stuck
(GMM)  Volkswagen will discuss the possibility of entering formula one during a meeting in November.

That is the claim of Hans-Joachim Stuck, the former grand prix driver who is now a motor sport representative for the German auto giant.

Reports recently have suggested that Porsche, or another VW subsidiary Audi, could enter formula one when the engine regulations change in 2013.

According to Financial Times Deutschland, Stuck would not comment on the speculation beyond saying a meeting is scheduled for early November "in which the (company's) strategy will be discussed".

Also reportedly based on Stuck's comments, the report said Volkswagen's participation in the American NASCAR series is more likely.

Title target was 'lack of humility' by Schumacher - Prost
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher lacked the "humility" to set a more realistic target for his 2010 return to formula one.

That is the claim of Alain Prost, the French former formula one driver who in 1993 returned from sabbatical to win his fourth and final title at the age of 38.

At 41, Schumacher came out of retirement this year to race with the new Mercedes works team, announcing his ambition to extend his all-time record with an eighth title.

But Prost said the German's "goal was too high and unrealistic".

Rather than battle for wins and the championship, Schumacher has been outpaced by his teammate Nico Rosberg, trailing the 24-year-old by 68 points.

"He should have said he was coming back to help Rosberg, or Mercedes in its first year, or his friend Ross Brawn -- it would have been easier for him," Prost is quoted as telling the French sports magazine L'Equipe.

"It may have been a lack of humility," added the winner of 51 grands prix, "but I think he saw himself as more powerful than that.

"For me, it's just a question of age," Prost continued.  "I think the tires are just an excuse, because Schumacher always adapted to any sort of car.

"It was his great strength," said the Frenchman.  "It's just not possible to return to the top after being away for three years at that age.  It's a matter of physiology."

Flavio Briatore, team boss at Benetton when Schumacher won his first titles in the 90s, agrees with Prost.

"We know the Schumacher of Benetton and Ferrari," the Italian said in an interview with the Times of India.  "We know him as a super champion.

"It was not a right decision on his part to make a comeback.  If he continues next year, it will be the same story," added Briatore.

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