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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Toro Rosso insist drivers not changing for 2011
  • Vergne backs Red Bull's tough junior program
  • Fans disliked Petrov comments - Alonso
  • Statistics prove Vettel deserves 2010 title
  • F1 sponsorship for Group Lotus makes no sense - Gascoyne

Toro Rosso insist drivers not changing for 2011
(GMM)  A source close to Toro Rosso insists the Faenza based team's race driver lineup is not changing for 2011.

The official entry list for next season released earlier this week by the FIA listed the occupants of both Ferrari-powered STR cockpits as "TBA" (to be announced).

That re-fired speculation that, with Red Bull junior Daniel Ricciardo already drafted into the lineup as a Friday driver for 2011, either Sebastien Buemi or Jaime Alguersuari might be moved out of their race seats permanently.

But the source at the Red Bull-owned team insisted that Swiss Buemi and Spaniard Alguersuari are definitely staying put.

And Toro Rosso said in a statement last week: "As already confirmed earlier this year, (the team's) driver lineup ... remains unchanged for 2011."

Indeed, 22-year-old Buemi is at the team's Italian headquarters this week.

"Nice dinner with the team in Faenza tonight," he wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday.

Vergne backs Red Bull's tough junior program
(GMM)  Drivers backed by Red Bull need to accept the high pressure to perform, according to Jean-Eric Vergne.

After Brendon Hartley was ousted by the energy drink company's junior program earlier in 2010, Frenchman Vergne was promoted.

He took over Hartley's seats in the formative categories, attended some grands prix and worked in the Milton-Keynes simulator on Red Bull Racing's 2011 car, the RB7.

The junior program, headed by Dr Helmut Marko, has gained a reputation over the years for callously ousting drivers.

"The junior team is a part of Red Bull Racing, the best (F1) team in the world today," Vergne told Auto Hebdo, "so the drivers in the program are expected to be the best.

"It makes perfect sense," said the 20-year-old.  "I understand that if tomorrow I have no results, Red Bull will not be with me.  But that's the game, with only winning accepted.

"I accept it because it's the only way I will arrive in F1.  I don't carry a briefcase with $15 million.  The only way I can get there is by winning races and championships," he added.

Vergne denied that Red Bull's program is putting too much pressure on its youngsters.

"If we are not able to handle the pressure, especially where we are at in motor sports, I think we could not handle F1," he insisted.  "So it's good to get used to it.

"As Helmut Marko says, it's right to get used to the pressure straight away, because it's only going to get stronger.  I am perfectly in line with this philosophy," he added.

Fans disliked Petrov comments - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has urged his fans to be calm amid the Vitaly Petrov controversy, even if he understands their feelings in the wake of the recent 2010 finale.

Russian Petrov denounced the Spaniard's "bad manners" and "bad education" after the Abu Dhabi race, during which Alonso was held up for almost 40 laps.

The comments were a reaction to Alonso's rude gesticulations as he pulled his Ferrari alongside the Renault on the slowing-down lap.

Subsequently, Petrov revealed that Alonso's fans had littered his official Facebook page with insults and abuse.

Alonso told Spanish radio Onda Cero this week: "Probably my fans didn't like some of his statements after Abu Dhabi.

"We all have to think about what we say after a race, but I say to my fans to stay calm because we have lived together a spectacular year," he added.

Alonso admitted that a highlight of the season was his dominance alongside teammate Felipe Massa.

"I think there was never such a difference between myself and my teammate.  This makes me happy, given the results I have had.

"My level of driving I think is at its best and I hope to continue like this next year," he said.

Statistics prove Vettel deserves 2010 title
(GMM)  According to the bare statistics, Sebastian Vettel is the deserving world champion of 2010.

Whilst some have said the German made too many mistakes and inherited the title due to Ferrari's strategy blunder in Abu Dhabi, an analysis by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport shows he was the standout performer of the season.

Not only did he end the year with the most points, he tied with Fernando Alonso for the most race victories (5).

And Vettel was easily the standout qualifier of 2010, with 10 poles in the Red Bull compared with teammate Mark Webber's 5.

Team boss Christian Horner insisted: "If Sebastian had not had so much bad luck, he would have won nine races."

Moreover, 23-year-old Vettel's average grid position in 2010 was 1.95, compared with Webber's 2.79.

Alonso's average starting position in the Ferrari was just 5.79, behind McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

A painstaking analysis of Vettel's practice times over the 19-event season shows a 0.051 second per lap advantage over Webber.

The young German was in the lead during races for more than 2000 kilometers, compared with less than 1500km for Australian Webber.  Alonso ranked only fourth in this category, splitting the two McLarens.

As for fastest race laps, Vettel was just third with three triumphs, compared with Alonso and Lewis Hamilton's 5 apiece.

He was also just third in the reliability stakes, with Ferrari's F10 completing the most laps in 2010.

F1 sponsorship for Group Lotus makes no sense - Gascoyne
(GMM)  A frustrated Mike Gascoyne has admitted he is not sure Team Lotus will race to the 2011 grid with that name.

Even though the separate Group Lotus is contesting team boss Tony Fernandes' plans, his application to be called Team Lotus in 2011 has for now been accepted by the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.

It was expected that the team might drop the Lotus moniker due to the dispute, as Group Lotus reportedly looks to enter F1 next year as a sponsor to the Enstone based team Renault.

Fernandes wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that his decision to push ahead with the Team Lotus name will mean "many battles ahead".

Gascoyne, the team's technical boss, told the Norfolk newspaper Eastern Daily Press that the name situation is a "slight hiccup".

He said the team has now bought its factory in Hingham and is adding a wind tunnel.

Group Lotus, the Proton-owned sports car maker, is also based in Norfolk.

"We are here, and whatever we may be called there will be a formula one team based in Norfolk again, making racing and engineering racing cars, which I think is great for Norfolk and is a sense of pride for me as a Norfolk lad," said Gascoyne.

"I just can't quite understand why Group Lotus wouldn't want it to be called Lotus."

Gascoyne said he also cannot understand Group Lotus' alternative plan to pay millions for title sponsorship of Renault F1.

"I think when (Lotus founder) Colin Chapman brought sponsorship into F1, he thought he'd be on the receiving end -- he wouldn't be paying it out," he smiled.

"For me, Colin Chapman was about engineering, about making and engineering racing cars.  That's what Team Lotus did; that's what we do here.

"It’s not about going and sponsoring a French manufacturer to put a badge on it, I find that very difficult to understand," added Gascoyne.

Despite 'Team Lotus' appearing on the official 2011 entry list, he said he isn't overly concerned about the team's eventual identity for 2011 and beyond.

"Without getting into the politics of it, people who just want to associate a name with something is one thing, but you only build up a team by putting good people in.  That's what we've been focusing on doing," he said.

Group Lotus did not comment.

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