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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday (UPDATED) UPDATE See updates as noted below.

  • F3 race at Korean F1 circuit called off
  • Shanghai must improve track before 2011 race - FIA
  • Relaxed Webber vows to keep pushing for title
  • Webber has 'no idea' if Red Bull to use team strategy
  • Rivals should focus on own problems - Alonso
  • Di Grassi admits risk of losing Virgin race cockpit
  • 2012 US GP plans not behind schedule - official
  • Red Bull leads F1 exposure ranking
  • Korea F1 circuit denies budget corruption New
  • No team orders because 'the best should win' - Mateschitz New
  • Red Bull has no plans to sell Toro Rosso New
  • Ecclestone 'not sure' F1 to be in HD in 2011 New
  • Austin F1 project goes green New
  • Austin F1 track one step closer New
  • Standard aero parts approved for 2012 New 

F3 race at Korean F1 circuit called off
(GMM)  The inaugural running of last month's Korean grand prix has been brought into question with a piece of emerging news on Thursday.

Although F1's FIA inspectors cleared the bespoke venue in Yeongam for the October 24 event, it has emerged that state inspectors have deemed mobile stands unsafe for an international F3 race scheduled for late November.

Organizer Barry Bland said in a statement: "(Local promoter) KAVO have had to cancel the (event) due to Force Majeure."

He said the reason was a "legal technicality with the circuit", and a KAVO spokesman told AFP news agency that the cancellation is due to "delayed approval from inspectors".

KAVO, or Korea Auto Valley Operation, is a joint private venture involving the Jeollanam-do regional government.

The spokesman Kim Jae-Ho said the decision will not affect next year's Korean grand prix, unconditionally scheduled on the 2011 calendar for 16 October.

"We will do our best to build complete mobile stands," he said.

"Compared to the lack of experience, we believe the first F1 race was staged in a satisfactory way, but we need to make perfect preparations for the F3 race next year," the spokesman added.

Shanghai must improve track before 2011 race - FIA
(GMM)  China's Shanghai circuit must improve its track surface and rain drainage before hosting its eighth grand prix next April.

The huge and impressive facility cost $240 million to build ahead of its 2004 debut, but has been given only a provisional date on the 20-race 2011 calendar.

A report in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the last two rain-affected races at the venue have moved the FIA to demand improved drainage for 2011.

And the governing body reportedly also wants troublesome bumps in the track surface to be resolved.

"The homologation license for the Shanghai International Circuit has expired and before a new license can be issued by the FIA some work on the track is required," confirmed a spokesperson.

Relaxed Webber vows to keep pushing for title
(GMM)  Whilst still a main contender for the 2010 title, Mark Webber insists his own expectations for the season have already been met.

"I am totally relaxed and looking forward to the last races," the Australian told the Swiss newspaper Blick in Sao Paulo.

In Korea recently, the Red Bull driver was comfortably leading the world championship when he spun on the wet track and crashed.

He is now 11 points behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, with Red Bull reluctant to fully back his championship charge over young teammate and team favorite Sebastian Vettel.

Webber said: "I have achieved more this season than I expected.  My target is already fulfilled."

The 34-year-old, however, is still fully motivated to win his first drivers' title, shifting the pressure onto Alonso.

"Ferrari will be fast here, but Fernando will be concerned about his engine situation.  I can push as hard as I can and have always been strong in Brazil," insisted Webber.

Webber has 'no idea' if Red Bull to use team strategy
(GMM)  Mark Webber has admitted he has "no idea" whether Red Bull will deploy a team strategy to help him win the 2010 world championship.

Many pundits believe his teammate Sebastian Vettel should now be backing Webber's campaign to close the 11 point gap to Fernando Alonso with two races to run.

But, at least publicly, team boss Christian Horner insists Vettel will enjoy total equality in Brazil and Abu Dhabi while he is mathematically still able to win the championship.

Asked if he thinks the young German will, for example, try to overtake him at Interlagos this weekend, Webber told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "No idea.

"Up until now no one has spoken about it," the Australian said in Sao Paulo.

"Perhaps we'll talk about it at the first briefing on Thursday, or perhaps we won't," added Webber.

Former grand prix driver Alex Wurz, who is Austrian like the Red Bull brand, is the latest to advise the team that putting its eggs in the Webber basket is now the smartest strategy.

"They are in a position where they almost have to use team orders -- for Webber and against Vettel," he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

But Wurz acknowledged Red Bull's reluctance, particularly as 23-year-old Vettel is regarded as the darling of the team.

"Webber firstly had to fight for equality this year," he said.  "In the end he imposed it, literally, with his performance."

Meanwhile, Wurz does not believe Red Bull's RB6 will enjoy a "mega advantage" this weekend at Interlagos.

"The slow middle sector will be good for Ferrari, and the McLaren will go well in the uphill section of the third sector.

"Then I see Abu Dhabi being Red Bull's territory," he added.

Rivals should focus on own problems - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari's rivals are "trying to divert attention" from their own problems by playing psychological games in the media.

With just two races still to run in 2010 and Alonso leading the championship, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner this week admitted it would be "frustrating" to lose to the Spaniard after the Hockenheim team orders affair.

Stefano Domenicali hit back by suggesting it is a "miracle" the energy drink-owned team has not already wrapped up the title due to its car advantage, and his driver Alonso has now weighed into the squabble.

"There are some favorite teams, who have not resolved their own problems, trying to divert attention," he said in an interview with Diario Sport newspaper.

"Fortunately for us, we are united as a team, as we show at each race, including my relationship with Felipe (Massa)," added Alonso.

"There are always media strategies designed to make you nervous or put you under pressure," he said.

In another interview, with the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, Alonso insisted he is not concerned that - as he bids to wrap up his third championship this weekend - his personal image within Brazil is not the best one.

"In several countries they say my image is not good, but when I land at airports or go to the hotels or race tracks, what I see is the opposite.

"I'm not worried about it.  My job is to get results at the track and to have the team happy with my work," Alonso added.

He said he hopes his teammate Massa's home supporters at Interlagos will understand if the Brazilian pulls aside to let him win the race on Sunday.

"Those who will understand know that this sport is complicated, where at least at Ferrari, the team comes first.  There will of course be those who don't understand," said Alonso.

"But my job is not to understand the views of the fans, but to do my job on the track."

He denied that Massa is the weakest teammate he has ever had.

"No.  Felipe is very capable, 100 per cent professional, working from January to December on his goals," said Alonso.

Di Grassi admits risk of losing Virgin race cockpit
(GMM)  Lucas di Grassi has admitted there is a risk he will not stay with the Virgin team beyond the 2010 season.

The Brazilian made his debut with the new British team this year, but the Belgian newspaper La Libre is reporting that Dutchman Giedo van der Garde will almost certainly replace him for 2011.

Earlier, it was expected that Belgian Jerome d'Ambrosio, currently a Friday morning driver in di Grassi's car at grands prix, had secured enough sponsorship to buy the cockpit.

"There is no threat from them," di Grassi, quoted in the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, answered when asked about the specter of pay-drivers.

"If it was up to them (Virgin), they would continue with the same drivers," he added, also referring to his current teammate Timo Glock.

"But we know that it depends on other factors as well -- financial (ones), yes," added di Grassi, 26.

La Libre said van der Garde is expected to sign the 2011 contract this weekend at Interlagos, having come up with almost twice as much personal sponsorship as d'Ambrosio.

Meanwhile, also in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, Bruno Senna commented on reports he could switch from HRT to Lotus next year.

"There is nothing certain with regards to 2011, my focus now is to finish this championship in the best possible way," he told Brazilian media.

"There are still plenty of decisions yet to come," added Senna.

2012 US GP plans not behind schedule - official
(GMM)  The lead attorney for the US grand prix promoter has denied reports the Austin track will not be ready for its scheduled 2012 race debut.

An official document that emerged this week showed that the expected build time for the Austin circuit, with construction set to begin in December, is 24 months.

But lawyer Richard Suttle, representing race organizer Tavo Hellmund, said the project is still right on schedule.

Indeed, at a meeting of the City of Austin's environmental board on Wednesday, the first approvals for the circuit's plans were granted.

"This project is on track, it's on schedule with the help from the city and the county that we've (received)," Suttle told local KVUE News.

"We've been able to stay on track and we're definitely on schedule, if not ahead," he added.

Red Bull leads F1 exposure ranking
Energy drink Red Bull is the most-exposed Formula One brand on television during the 2010 season so far according to UK-based Margaux Matrix research.

The drink, whose logo is emblazed on four cars, got 4 hours, 27 minutes of TV airtime in the first 15 races this season. Comparatively, iconic car manufacturer Ferrari achieved only 52 minutes and only series sponsor, electronics manufacturer LG, had more coverage (11 hours).

Red Bull has spent an average $135 million a year on its main UK-based Formula One team since 2005 and the Austria-based company also runs a second team in the Formula One championship, Toro Rosso.

While the volume of sales in the US total soft drink industry fell by 2.1 per cent last year, Red Bull’s rose by 1.2 per cent. Red Bull sold around four billion cans of its energy drink last year, and plans to increase volume by more than 10 per cent this year, according to its Chief Executive Officer Dietrich Mateschitz.

Korea F1 circuit denies budget corruption
(GMM)  Even after hosting its inaugural grand prix less than two weeks ago, a cloud is above the future of Korea's formula one race.

The Yeongam circuit has failed a state safety inspection and cancelled a F3 race scheduled for November, amid new reports of apparent corruption within the organizing company and F1 promoter KAVO.

The Korea Herald said the South Jeolla provincial government is set to investigate, with some money from the circuit's construction budget spent without documentation.

"Over the next week, we're going to look through all the documents of KAVO," said Jung Hwan-dae, the vice-chairman of the provincial assembly.

"We're also planning to summon officials from KAVO to investigate how the money was spent.  There is something wrong here," he added.

The undocumented expenditure amounts to more than $50 million, with other media reports alleging construction firms were paid off to avoid fees.

A KAVO spokesman would not say how the missing money was spent, but commented: "No illegal conduct took place."

No team orders because 'the best should win' - Mateschitz
(GMM)  Dietrich Mateschitz insists that team orders will play no role in whether a Red Bull driver secures the energy drink-owned team's first title in 2010.

A myriad of pundits believe Mark Webber, with a higher points tally, should now be backed by his teammate Sebastian Vettel in order to chase down the lead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with two races to go.

But Austrian billionaire Mateschitz told Der Spiegel newspaper that there will be no team orders.

"This is a sport and the best should win," he said.

"Power, politics, manipulation and so on should be kept as far away as possible.

"The game is 'come and get me, if you can', and not 'let me through because I'm better'," insisted Mateschitz.  "Racing must remain racing."

And their points tallies aside, he is adamant that the events about to happen on the circuit will determine whether Webber or Vettel triumphs.

"They are different in personality, but equally fast," he said.

Red Bull has no plans to sell Toro Rosso
(GMM)  Red Bull insists it has no plans to sell Toro Rosso.

The energy drinks company is pushing for the 2010 title with its main team Red Bull Racing, while its second team is a midfield runner at best.

"It is and remains our rookie team," Red Bull mogul and Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz told Der Spiegel newspaper.

"We run our best young talents with this formula one team," he added.

According to Mark Jenkins, a business strategy professor at Cranfield University in the UK, Red Bull should drop Faenza based Toro Rosso.

"It doesn't make any sense with the current regulations for Red Bull to own two teams," he is quoted by Bloomberg.

But the report also said Red Bull has confirmed it has no "concrete" plans to sell Toro Rosso.

The media research monitor Margaux Matrix found that, with its four Red Bull-branded F1 cars, Red Bull has got almost 267 minutes of TV airtime so far in 2010, compared with 52 minutes for Ferrari.

Ecclestone 'not sure' F1 to be in HD in 2011
(GMM)  The likelihood that F1 will be broadcast in high definition next year has taken a backwards step.

Bernie Ecclestone boosted the hopes of F1's global television audience in September when he indicated the sport will be moving to HD "probably next year".

But in an interview with Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid, the F1 chief executive now insists he is "not sure" the 2011 feed will be broadcast in HD.

One of the main problems, he indicated, is that high definition cameras are too big to be installed in the cars for the popular on-board footage.

That would mean the F1 feed is "50 per cent HD and 50 per cent standard definition", the 80-year-old Briton is quoted by Germany's motorsport-total.com.

Sylt and Reid hypothesize that Ecclestone's reluctance to embrace the new television technology could be related to the failure of his multi-channel digital feed for F1 in the 90s.

Austin F1 project goes green
Promoters of Austin’s Formula One project were in front of the city’s Environmental Board on Wednesday night. They were looking for a variances in ordinances that would allow them to cut 36 feet deep for the proposed racetrack, fill to the depth of 26 feet and to construct slopes.

They received a unanimous approval — but with some added conditions. “Friendly amendments” passed by the Environmental Board would require promoters to restore Dry Creek on the property and to set aside some land to resemble the blackland prairie that greeted settlers.

Promoters also agreed to work with the city to conform to its commercial landscape and parking lot shading standards, even though the proposed track is outside the city’s jurisdiction on such matters.

Austin F1 track one step closer
Some land development code variances for the Formula 1 track site in Southeastern Travis County near the airport were approved at the Environmental Board meeting at City Hall Wednesday evening.

"Essentially the city code requires that if you're going to move more than four feet of dirt," said F1 Attorney Richard Suttle. "You got to have it reviewed, and that's what we're doing tonight."

The Board overwhelmingly approved that motion despite some continued opposition.

"I'm going to oppose it as much as I can," said Chris Lehman with the Sierra Club of Austin .

"Formula One advances the sale of high performance gas-guzzling cars and it's going to affect our air quality," he said.

The only road block Formula One developers have faced has been two gas and liquid pipelines running through the track site.

"We will be relocating them on our property," Suttle said.

The pipelines will be re-directed around the track during the construction process.

One supporter who came out to speak Wednesday night lives in the Elroy area where the track will be constructed.

"It's really awesome to know there will be a Formula 1 track in our backyard," said Matt Sager.

Groundbreaking is expected in December or January. KXAN.com

Standard aero parts approved for 2012
Motorsport governing body the FIA has confirmed that standardized aerodynamic components will be introduced in Formula 3 from the start of 2012. The change to the general technical regulations also includes engine rule changes.

The modifications to the rules will take place in January 2012, with the FIA having explained so much in the following, brief statement:

‘To reduce expenditure on aerodynamic research, the front profile and mountings of various attached parts must be homologated from January 2012.

Additionally, a new 2L normally aspirated/direct injection engine will be introduced. This will be based on the block and cylinder head homologated for rally and touring cars.’

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