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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday (Updated) UPDATE See updates as noted below.

  • No F1 return for Raikkonen in 2011 - manager
  • Bulgaria keeps moving towards F1 race deal
  • SingTel denies sealing new Singapore GP deal
  • Rome GP 'letter of intent' expires in 2010 - mayor
  • Barrichello hopes to stay with Williams in 2011
  • Button vows to keep pushing for drivers' title
  • Whitmarsh backs Button's desire to push on (New)
  • Sutil rules out replacing Schumacher at Mercedes (New) 

No F1 return for Raikkonen in 2011 - manager
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen's manager has admitted the Finn is no longer interested in returning to formula one in 2011.

The 2007 world champion had been linked with a comeback next year with the Renault team, but reports this week revealed that talks about extending his deal with the world rally team Citroen are well advanced.

"We are no longer looking out for opportunities for formula one," manager Steve Robertson told Finnish television MTV3.

"Kimi seems to be focused on rallying at the moment," he added.

It has been rumored that an alternative rally team in 2011 for Raikkonen, who currently drives for Citroen with Red Bull sponsorship, is the Monster energy drink-backed Ford team.

"We are having discussions with several different teams and I cannot say more," said Robertson.

Bulgaria keeps moving towards F1 race deal
(GMM)  A race contract for an inaugural Bulgarian grand prix in 2012 could be signed as soon as next month, according to the head of the south east European country's motor racing federation.

A proposed race in Bulgaria has been on the table for some time, including when F1 chief executive met with the country's economy minister at Monza last month.

If talks with a funding consortium reportedly comprised of Arab, US and Canadian companies and the government go well, Ecclestone could travel to capital Sofia to sign the contract between November 15 and December 15, Bogdan Nikolov told the Sofia news agency Novinite.

The report said Bulgaria aims to be unique on the F1 calendar by having an asphalt surface that can be artificially heated.

Nikolov, chairman of the Bulgarian Motorcycling Federation, added that the circuit will bid for both F1 and its two-wheeled equivalent MotoGP.

"We have created a project that meets the requirements of both FIA and (MotoGP governing body) FIM," he said.

SingTel denies sealing new Singapore GP deal
(GMM)  Singapore telecommunications company SingTel has denied it has agreed a deal to extend its naming sponsorship of the city-state's night grand prix.

"We agreed terms with SingTel for the renewal of their contract for a further two years," F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone was quoted earlier by the local media broadcaster MediaCorp.

The news had followed rumors during Singapore's third F1 event in September that SingTel was considering ending its association with the grand prix.

"We have companies worldwide that wish to have association in formula one and I always prefer to have local sponsors for the title sponsorship," added Ecclestone.

A spokesman for SingTel told us on Friday: "We are still in discussions with F1 management regarding the sponsorship of the Singapore grand prix."

An industry expert said SingTel would be spending $10-15 million on the deal.

"I don't know what the cost is but I am sure somebody in SingTel must have done a cost-benefit analysis," said Nervik Singh, chief executive of the marketing communications company Grey Group Asia Pacific.

Rome GP 'letter of intent' expires in 2010 - mayor
(GMM)  It has emerged that Rome's agreement about a city-based formula one race in 2012 or 2013 could lapse at the end of the year.

It was reported last month that organizers of the proposed event to take place in the Italian capital's EUR district had signed a five-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone.

It was said that the only hurdle was the support of the residents of EUR, a major suburban area and business centre.

But Italian media reports late this week, including by the authoritative broadcaster Rai and the major news agency ANSA, have revealed that the document signed at Monza last month was just a "lettera di intenti" (letter of intent).

And Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno is quoted as saying that the original project as devised by the race promoter has lapsed because it would have been too disruptive.

He said a new project will be presented to the Rome authority assemblea capitolina before the letter of intent runs out later this year.

"I will soon meet with Ecclestone to confirm the letter of intent that has been signed and never revoked," added mayor Alemanno.

He said the original EUR plan was too disruptive.  "If someone thinks I want to make a mess of the EUR, they are making a big mistake.

"Rather, we want to enrich the city's image," Alemanno is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.  "Research shows that the majority of Rome residents, although not an overwhelming one, are in favor.

"But the assemblea capitolina will have the last word" after "very careful scrutiny", he added.

Barrichello hopes to stay with Williams in 2011
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello has revealed he hopes to stay with the Williams team in 2011.

His comments, in a Portuguese interview with the news agency Reuters, follow reports that the veteran Brazilian could be replaced next year by the Venezuelan pay-driver Pastor Maldonado.

Previously, it was believed that Barrichello's rookie German teammate Nico Hulkenberg was the most likely to make way should the Oxfordshire based team decide to sign 25-year-old Maldonado and his sponsor.

"I've done a good job this year and I'm focused on the car for next year, so I'm hoping to stay," the Portuguese language report quoted Barrichello, 39, as saying.

Currently in his native Sao Paulo ahead of the Brazilian grand prix next weekend, Barrichello also revealed that he is not in talks with any other F1 teams.

Last month, the Brazilian said he was "100 per cent" sure he will be driving for Williams in 2011 even though the deal had not been confirmed on paper.

But when asked on Thursday if a deal is in place, Barrichello said: "That's something you will have to ask Williams."

And when discussing taking part in his 18th home grand prix next weekend, he added: "Our car is getting better and all I can hope for is a positive weekend.

"The start of the season was not so good, we thought we had a good car but it was hard for us to be in the top ten.

"But the rapport with the team was very good and we managed to improve," said Barrichello.

Globo also quotes him as saying: "I've been working on the car for next year.  There are things arising from the regulations that we are only going to find out later, but the design is bold and 2011 is going to be better than this one."

Button vows to keep pushing for drivers' title
(GMM)  Jenson Button has vowed to push ahead with his charge for the 2010 world championship, despite his teammate Lewis Hamilton's call for support.

Hamilton said this week that it "would be fantastic" to have the full weight of McLaren's backing for the last two races of the season, after Button fell 21 points behind him in the drivers' standings in Korea.

British countryman said initially after Korea that he was no longer a serious contender for the title, but quickly changed his mind to insist that he will keep pushing until "mathematically" he can no longer win.

At the same time, boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted that adopting a team strategy for the last races of 2010 will be discussed "before we get to Brazil".

Button has now declared: "It (the championship) is a long shot but I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I chose not to go for it."

"In formula one you ... learn early on that it's not over until it's over," he added.

However, championship leader Fernando Alonso admitted he is close to writing off the threat posed now by 30-year-old Button.

"The fact is that are no less than four drivers ahead of him and it's hard to imagine none of them scoring points," said the Spaniard.

Whitmarsh backs Button's desire to push on
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh on Friday vowed to support Jenson Button as the reigning world champion pushes for a second consecutive drivers' world title.

With Lewis Hamilton a lot better placed in the points standings, McLaren boss Whitmarsh earlier said the British team would discuss deploying a strategy for the remaining two races of 2010.

But Button insisted he wants to push ahead while he is "mathematically" still able to win, including next weekend in Brazil.

"Lewis is well placed in the drivers' championship," Whitmarsh said in an official preview on Friday.

"While Jenson lies 42 points adrift, he has vowed to fight on.  As the reigning world champion, and a great driver, he knows better than most that you can't lift the title without being a resolute fighter," he added.

"That's exactly why we hired him, and we'll be supporting him fully this weekend."

Sutil rules out replacing Schumacher at Mercedes
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil has denied rumors he could be set to replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes next year.

It has been suggested the 27-year-old German, who is currently contemplating his future at Force India, is first in line for the Mercedes race seat should Schumacher decide over the winter break to return to retirement.

"No, there is no truth in that," he told the Daily Mail in an interview.

"Michael is going to stay there for another year at least, and I think he has a three year contract, so that is how it is.

"Of course it would be great to drive for Mercedes in the future, but I think now is just too early, and they are just rumors," added Sutil.

He said he is expecting his own decision about the 2011 season to be made soon.

"I'm not sure at the moment, but it should happen pretty soon," said Sutil, who has also been linked with moves to Renault and Williams.

"I just want to make sure to do the right thing, but I can't say where I am going to be.  It is too early for that.

"I was planning to make a decision four weeks ago, but it is difficult.  Everyone is waiting, so I will try to make it as quick as possible."

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