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

The Black and Gold Lotus 78 driven by Mario Andretti
  • Virgin announces Marussia buy-in
  • Lotus Racing to have black and gold livery in 2011
  • Team strategy is not top priority for Vettel
  • Rain follows F1 to Abu Dhabi desert
  • Klien, not Yamamoto, to complete season with HRT
  • Abu Dhabi can keep F1 race 'forever' - Ecclestone
  • Dan's Red Bull's man for F1 test
  • Bianchi confirmed as Ferrari test driver for 2011
  • F1 organizers hire firm for outreach to minority contractors
  • Glock now more confident about Virgin future New
  • Webber denies Sunday to be last F1 race New
  • No Mercedes engineers leaving team - Brawn New
  • Ricciardo's role for 2011 still unclear - Marko New
  • Bianchi to be Ferrari test driver in 2011 New
  • Chandhok reveals 2011 talks with Force India New

Virgin announces Marussia buy-in
From the 2011 season the team will be known as Marussia Virgin Racing.

Virgin Racing was established last year when Manor Motorsport joined forces with WR Technology Limited (Wirth Research) and Virgin to compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Marussia Motors is not new either to Formula One or to Virgin Racing - the nascent Russian sportscar company, headed by ex-racer Nikolay Fomenko, has been a partner of Virgin Racing since the F1 team was launched in December 2009. 

“This is definitely a good news story for Virgin Racing and for Formula One,” said Graeme Lowdon, Chief Executive of Virgin Racing. “Marussia Motors has been a much-valued team partner throughout the 2010 season and we are delighted to introduce them formally as the significant shareholder in Virgin Racing and a major force in the team’s future. This announcement cements our place on the Formula One grid and is testimony to the hard work and dedication of every single member of our team.”
For Moscow-based Marussia Motors, the purchase of this shareholding reflects the new sportscar manufacturer’s ambitious plans to position itself firmly on the worldwide automotive radar. The aim is to utilize Marussia Virgin Racing as a powerful international marketing platform. This also means that there will be a major Russian presence in the Formula One paddock during the build-up to the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, to be staged in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi in 2014.

“This is the realization of a dream for Marussia Motors”, confirmed Fomenko.  “While manufacturing, launching and marketing the Marussia B1, B2 and other concepts in Europe, we will have a Formula One team to promote these activities and demonstrate to the world that a new car manufacturer has arrived from Russia with truly international ambitions.”

The investment by Marussia Motors, alongside strategic investor LDC, will enable the team to plan more ambitiously for the longer term.  Specifically, there will be no significant change to the team’s organizational structure as it prepares for its second season in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Virgin Racing Team Principal, John Booth, who has overseen the team’s development throughout the season, is confident that the investment from Marussia gives the team the stability and focus to strengthen its position within the sport. “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved with Virgin Racing in what is really only 16 months since the team was founded. I am delighted that the significant efforts of the team have been recognized and have attracted the commitment of Marussia Motors, which will enable us to move forward and deliver against our five year target for success.”

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group of companies, commented: “Our first year in Formula One was always going to be tough - even more so as we were launching in the midst of a worldwide recession. Virgin is delighted to have secured a partner which shares our vision and spirit for challenging the establishment and we look forward to working together to move the team up the Formula One grid.”

Lotus Racing to have black and gold livery in 2011
(GMM)  Lotus Racing will switch from its current green and yellow livery to an equally-iconic black and gold for the 2011 season.

The move is almost certainly because the entirely separate Group Lotus intends to enter F1 next year and use the traditional green and yellow colors.

"When we first unveiled our 2010 car there was unanimous praise for our decision to bring the historic green and yellow livery back to the modern F1 grid," said chief executive Riad Asmat.

"I know the return to the track of the legendary black and gold will be met with even more universal support as it strikes such an emotional chord with fans around the world," he added.

The black and gold livery was made famous by the original Team Lotus in the 70s and 80s, when sponsor Imperial Tobacco advertised its John Player Special brand.

Vettel, Horner and Webber after finishing 1-2 in Brazil
Team strategy is not top priority for Vettel
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel says thinking about a team strategy this weekend is his third priority at best for the Abu Dhabi season finale.

If - as he did in Brazil last weekend - the German wins on Sunday ahead of his teammate Mark Webber, it will be Fernando Alonso who is crowned world champion.

With 'team orders' illegal and ruled out by his employer Dietrich Mateschitz, whether Vettel will voluntarily move over to help Webber win the title is therefore "hotly debated" at present, the 23-year-old admitted.

"Without joking, I am not thinking about it now," he told Bild newspaper whilst travelling by plane to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

"My first goal is pole position, my second is winning the race.  And if necessary I can analyze the situation and decide very quickly," added Vettel.

The marketing professor at the top Spanish business school IESE thinks Mateschitz's approach to the 2010 season finale is very clever.

Red Bull car designer Adrian Newey is the latest to weigh in on the debate, insisting that both drivers will have a free run to the title this weekend but hoping that one might be "magnanimous" enough to help the other.

"If they lose the championship, they have not betrayed the values that convey the brand, so Red Bull still wins.  They cannot lose," marketing professor Jose Luis Nueno told El Pais newspaper.

Another global marketing expert, Josep Franch of the ESADE business school in Barcelona, asked rhetorically: "Is if profitable for Red Bull to fail to win in order to defend their ideals?"

Answered Miquel Altarriba, of the Universitat Ramon Llull: "I do not think Red Bull will betray its identity."

"If they lose with this strategy, it will not work out badly for them," he thinks.

Rain follows F1 to Abu Dhabi desert
(GMM)  Even with the race taking place within sight of the Abu Dhabi sand dunes, the rain seen regularly at F1 tracks recently looks to have followed the F1 circus to the 2010 championship finale.

So rare is rainfall in this part of the world that it made local media headlines when light showers fell on Tuesday and Wednesday.

And the regional meteorological offices are predicting the possibility of more rain, and definite part cloud cover, over the course of the grand prix weekend at Yas Marina.

Rain affected the consecutive Japanese, Korean and Brazilian F1 events, but it was expected that Abu Dhabi was a sure bet for dry weather.

On balance, however, a hot and dry race on Sunday is expected, with the highest chance of significant rain forecast for Saturday.

So far on Thursday morning, the Yas Marina circuit is already very warm and dry.

Klien, not Yamamoto, to complete season with HRT
(GMM)  Christian Klien will follow up his Interlagos race seat with another grand prix outing for the HRT team in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

A hint about the struggling Spanish team's driver lineup for the 2010 finale came earlier this week, when it emerged that Austrian Klien had travelled from Brazil to the Middle East while Japanese regular Sakon Yamamoto was still in Tokyo.

As was the case in Brazil, HRT is shedding no light on the reasons for the Yamamoto substitution.

But it is believed the team is hoping to luck into a good result late this season in order to beat Lotus to the coveted tenth place in the constructors' standings.

Klien, 27, has appeared to be the most competitive of the four drivers fielded this year by HRT, including Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok.

"It's my third chance to compete for the team this season and I'm getting more and more used to the car and the crew," said the Austrian, who will be learning the Yas Marina layout on Friday.

Red Bull's Christian Horner and Bernie Ecclestone
Abu Dhabi can keep F1 race 'forever' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina venue can stay on the F1 calendar "forever", F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has enthused.

"If only all the venues were as superb as Abu Dhabi I would be one happy man," the Briton told Gulf News.

Abu Dhabi joined the tail-end of the F1 schedule last year, with the more than billion-dollar venue situated on the harbor of the superb tourism island Yas and straddled by a color-changing five-star hotel.

Said Ecclestone: "After last year's debut race there I just sat back and wallowed in all the compliments that were heaped on the place from people all over the world.

"How long is their arrangement to hold a grand prix?  Forever.  For as long as they want it.  That's how satisfied I am with the entire setup," he added.

The 80-year-old's enthusiasm might of course be colored by the premium annual race fee of $40 million paid by the organizers.

Ecclestone replied: "I am well aware that I am regarded as hard, uncompromising and uncaring and that I am driven by money.  I don't care.

"There are plenty of people in F1 who are very wealthy because of the way I am and my attitude to business and the sport.  And they should be thankful for the positions I have taken, not always popular, over the years to give F1 an international profile.

"Sure, I have benefited personally, but so, too, have the teams.  I have put a lot back.  A lot of effort.  Between us we have a duty to be sure that F1 survives at all levels as an enhanced spectacle," he said.

Ecclestone said F1's other Middle Eastern host, Bahrain, is also one of his favorite stops on the calendar.

"I have nothing but the highest praise for the people behind both venues.  They have been absolutely brilliant, a total treat to deal with, and have achieved everything I have asked without a single word of disagreement," he said.

Dan's Red Bull's man for F1 test
Red Bull Junior driver Daniel Ricciardo will drive Red Bull Racing’s Championship-winning RB6 at the forthcoming young driver test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 16 November and Wednesday 17 November, 2010.  Runner-up in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 series, Daniel has been with the Red Bull Junior Team since 2008 and has been Red Bull Racing’s reserve driver throughout 2010.

Talking at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi today, Daniel Ricciardo said: “I can’t wait to get another crack at driving Red Bull Racing’s amazing Formula One car. I’ve been hanging out with the team and drivers all year at the races and it’s made my urge to drive the car again even stronger – if that was possible! It’s a year since I last drove the car (at last year’s young driver test) and I really want to make the most of the two days.”

Daniel is attending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend as Red Bull Racing’s reserve driver.

Bianchi confirmed as Ferrari test driver for 2011
The Ferrari Formula One team has confirmed here in Abu Dhabi this morning that Jules Bianchi will take on the role of test driver for the upcoming 2011championship season.

The young Frenchman is currently a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy Program, will make his debut in his new position this coming 16 November as part of the two day young driver test being held at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit.

The Scuderia’s commitment to young drivers is also reflected in the third annual day of testing when the top three finishers in the Italian Formula 3 Championship get to drive a Formula 1 car.

On the second of December, at the Vallelunga circuit near Rome, the top three in the series will take to the track at the wheel of an F2008: they are Brazil’s Cesar Ramos, Stephane Richelmi from Monaco and the Italian, Andrea Caldarelli.

F1 organizers hire firm for outreach to minority contractors
Organizers of the planned Formula 1 car race in Austin have hired a local firm to help with outreach to contractors owned by minorities and women.

Haynes-Eaglin-Waters will help develop plans to identify prospective minority- and women-owned contractors to help build the racetrack and related facilities on a 900-acre site near Elroy, in eastern Travis County.

Organizers have said the complex could cost $250 million.

“The Formula 1 United States development will provide a positive economic impact and create numerous opportunities in the construction industry,” said President and CEO Bruce Knox.

The news was released just before the F1 organizers were scheduled to meet with the Austin Water and Wastewater Commission, seeking approval for $13.4 million in reimbursements for water and sewer lines to the site.

The city routinely makes such agreements with developers, later recouping the money when the land is annexed and generates water and wastewater revenue. The Statesman

Glock now more confident about Virgin future
(GMM)  Timo Glock on Thursday sounded more confident about his future.

Days ago, the German refused to definitively confirm that he will still be with the Virgin team in 2011.

Earlier, the new British team's boss John Booth said the German's contract for next year is "set in stone".

But when asked for confirmation at Interlagos, 28-year-old Glock said when asked if he is staying in 2011: "At the moment it looks like it."

He was present on Thursday for the announcement that Russian supercar maker Marussia has bought into the team and will become title sponsor in 2011.

"I see this as a positive step because it gives the team financial security and a boost in the right direction," Glock is quoted by the SID news agency.

"This is what we need to take a step forward," he added.

Also at the announcement at the magnificent five-star Yas Marina Hotel that straddles the F1 track, team boss John Booth said Glock's teammate for 2011 was currently the subject of discussion.

"Certainly I'd think (a decision will be made) before Christmas," he said.

Webber denies Sunday to be last F1 race
(GMM)  Mark Webber on Thursday denied that Sunday's Abu Dhabi grand prix could be his last.

The Australian, in the running for the 2010 title, was outspoken about his position at Red Bull a week ago in Brazil, sparking rumors he is set to walk away not only from Red Bull but also formula one.

But the 34-year-old has a contract for 2011 and he told Auto Motor und Sport that he is still feeling good about his career.

"I still feel butterflies in my stomach before a race.  When I no longer care if I'm beaten or not, that's the time to stop," he told the German publication.

But Webber, who has lived in the UK for years, admits that it has been hard at times to be away from his real home.

"A racer's life takes a lot of effort and many sacrifices," he said.

"My opponents live in Europe and between races often go home.  But I'm in Australia maybe five weeks a year.  I still have the motivation at the moment," added Webber.

But he is not willing to commit beyond 2011.

"Yes, pretty much I'm taking (my career) on a year by year basis," he told the Australian news agency AAP, also denying he has any plans to quit after Sunday.

But he acknowledges that retirement is looming at some point in the future.

"I'm a little bit wary of it," he continued to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"For everyone in it (F1), your whole rhythm of life revolves around it.  When you wake up on Monday morning, you check on the computer the data from the race sent by the team.

"Then I speak to my race engineer on the phone.  Your life (in retirement) takes a whole new direction.

"It will be a new experience.  You've spent most of your life doing nothing else but racing.  I'm not there yet, but I really want to get the timing right."

No Mercedes engineers leaving team - Brawn
(GMM)  Ross Brawn has denied claims a wave of layoffs is on the cards for the Mercedes GP staff.

At the end of a disappointing 2010 season, it is expected that - for example - chief driver engineers Andy Shovlin (Michael Schumacher) and Jock Clear (Nico Rosberg) are set to be replaced ahead of next season.

But team boss Ross Brawn insisted: "We are not letting anyone go, but some engineers will have new responsibilities.

"There are a few new people too," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

Schumacher's new engineer is believed to be Mark Slade, who arrives from Renault having worked alongside Vitaly Petrov in 2010.

And Rosberg's new engineer will be Tony Ross, who worked with the German driver for years at Williams.

Ricciardo's role for 2011 still unclear - Marko
(GMM)  Daniel Ricciardo's role for the 2011 season is not yet clear.

The Australian, at the very top of Red Bull's junior program, has been the F1 reserve driver in 2010 and is scheduled to drive the title-winning RB6 in next week's post-season tests.

But after finishing this year's Formula Renault 3.5 series in second place, the 21-year-old's full time role for 2011 has not yet been announced.

Red Bull's secondary F1 team Toro Rosso has said it is retaining both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari next year.

GP2 might then be seen as the logical next step for Ricciardo.

But Red Bull's motor sport consultant Helmut Marko admitted to Auto Motor und Sport: "We still don't know what we are going to do with him next year."

Bianchi to be Ferrari test driver in 2011
(GMM)  Jules Bianchi has been named by Ferrari as an official F1 test driver for the 2011 season.

But a spokesman insisted that the Italian team's full plans for its support driver program for next year have not yet been divulged.

Frenchman Bianchi, 21, who raced in GP2 this year and was a frontrunner, was already under long term contract to the Maranello based team as a development driver.

Ferrari announced on Thursday that he will be a "test driver" for the F1 team in 2011, and will contest the two-day young driver test in Abu Dhabi next week.

But the third/reserve role is different, and in 2010 it was fulfilled by Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gene.  Luca Badoer is also a Ferrari test driver.

Bianchi is managed by Felipe Massa's manager Nicolas Todt.

He is the grandson of Mauro Bianchi, a GT world champion, and the nephew of Lucien, Le Mans winner and competitor at 19 grands prix in the 60s.

The Ferrari spokesman said more announcements about F1 testing roles for the 2011 season are scheduled for later this year.

Chandhok reveals 2011 talks with Force India
(GMM)  Karun Chandhok on Thursday admitted he is in talks with Force India about the 2011 season.

The Indian made his F1 debut with HRT this year but was ousted by the better-financed Sakon Yamamoto.

Chandhok has links with Force India through his father Vicky, a high ranking motor racing official who knows team boss Vijay Mallya well.

The 26-year-old has missed the past few grands prix but leaves for Abu Dhabi late on Thursday.

"I will be talking to four teams for next season's contract and yes Force India is one of them," he told the Indo-Asian News Service.  "I am in regular touch with Vijay.

"I am also in talks with my present team Hispania.  I hope to seal the deal by the end of December," added Chandhok.

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