Latest F1 news in brief - Monday UPDATE
CLARIFICATION: Autosport editor says Fernandes' Lotus effort 'cynical'
(GMM) The editor of the authoritative motor racing magazine Autosport did not publicly criticize Team Lotus on its Facebook page. Earlier on Twitter, the team's technical boss Mike Gascoyne slammed the British magazine for its recent coverage of the Lotus saga. The magazine had raised eyebrows with its December cover by insisting that Group Lotus linking up with Renault for 2011 means "The real Lotus is back".
"Lots of fans unhappy with the Autosport articles this week, me too," said Gascoyne.
Gascoyne posted a link to what he described as the "unprofessional" reply of Autosport editor Andrew van de Burgt to the criticism of the allegedly biased coverage. It was reported that van de Burgt had posted the disparaging reply on Team Lotus' official Facebook page and then deleted it, but the Autosport editor clarified on Monday that the excerpt linked by Gascoyne was in fact extracted from a private letter and used without permission. Van de Burgt said he is seeking legal advice.12/13/10
- HRT owner Carabante insists team not for sale
- De la Rosa not sure HRT has 'serious' project for 2011
- Walkinshaw, 64, dies of lung cancer
- F1 rules almost perfect in 2010 - Villeneuve
- Volkswagen welcomes new F1 rules for 2013
- Journalist confused as Korea wins F1 race prize
- Autosport editor says Fernandes' Lotus effort 'cynical'
- 2011 to equal 40-year-old 'most F1 champions' record
- France wants F1 to 'carbon-offset' GP emissions
- Ex champs disagree over Vettel maturity
- Team Lotus drops Friday driver Fauzy
HRT owner Carabante insists team not for sale
(GMM) HRT team owner Jose Ramon Carabante has denied reports the Spanish team is for sale or close to collapse.
"We will be in Bahrain and also the February test in Valencia," he said in an interview with the print edition of Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
A team spokeswoman had already denied the Spanish reports about Hispania Racing being in dire trouble due to not having a car following the termination of a deal with Toyota Motorsport GmbH.
"Just like the other teams, our car is moving forward and we are negotiating with drivers," added Carabante.
He admitted F1 is currently "complicated" with regards to external sponsorships.
But Carabante said the sport is still a valuable business to be in.
"F1 opens doors and creates international contacts. It helps your business so I guarantee I will not give it up easily because there are only 12. It's a global franchise."
He insists he does not regret his F1 foray, despite being the least competitive team in 2010 and beating only Virgin in the constructors' championship.
"It's difficult right now but better times will come," said the Spaniard. "We are negotiating with partners either as investors or sponsors. But I have never thought about selling. I will always keep 51 per cent."
It is rumored that HRT might soon announce a sponsorship with a powerful Spanish multinational -- perhaps Telefonica.
"As I say to all major companies, being with us is a great way to support a national project. What better way to carry the name of Spain throughout the world."
In a separate interview with sports newspaper AS, Carabante continued: "The team is not for sale and never has been.
"I won't deny that if someone wants to buy 10, 15 or 25 per cent then we would be happy to be with them, of course.
"We are negotiating with large Spanish companies, but negotiations are slow and F1 is very fast.
"I cannot say who (the potential investors are) but we all know what are the big Spanish companies."
Carabante insisted there is no shame in being multiple seconds off the pace of the leading teams.
"In Alonso's first year he was far away from the top but now he is the best driver of all. We are in our first year and what we have done is miraculous.
"We are building our (2011) car in England and in Germany," he revealed.
De la Rosa not sure HRT has 'serious' project for 2011
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa has played down the likelihood of racing with HRT in 2011.
Earlier, the former Sauber driver and current Pirelli tester admitted talks with the Spanish team, but now it is clear Hispania is still in the market only for drivers with sponsorship.
"I was very excited about Hispania because I really believed they had an ambitious sporting project.
"But weeks have passed and I have not heard anything more, so I understand they have not defined the project yet," the 39-year-old Spaniard told the sports newspaper AS.
He also told Europa Press: "There is really nothing with Hispania.
"I've always been very clear -- with a serious and ambitious sporting project, I would love to be with them. But today, I don't know what their project is."
HRT's team owner Jose Ramon Carabante said: "I would like Pedro to be our driver because he is a friend and he deserves it.
"But we are not in a rush on the matter of the drivers."
De la Rosa said HRT is relying "heavily on sponsorship" from its drivers.
"I have no sponsors," he clarified.
He admitted it is possible he might return to McLaren, where for seven years until his 2010 return with Sauber he was the main test driver.
"I don't know what McLaren want because we have not talked seriously, but I would like to (go back) ... but now is not the time to think about it," added de la Rosa.
He admitted that the drivers with the best chances of securing the remaining seats on the 2011 grid are the ones with powerful sponsors.
"So many teams have not confirmed their drivers because they are looking for someone with money. That's the reality and what is striking about F1 at the moment."
He gave the example of Vitaly Petrov.
"He was able to make his debut with a team as good as Renault. I would love to have the same support from Spain that he has in Russia.
"So now we have to get a major sponsor to open the doors. It's always been that way, but now it's more significant because it's not just the small and the bad teams that need the money from the drivers," added de la Rosa.
Walkinshaw, 64, dies of lung cancer
(GMM) Former Arrows team boss and owner Tom Walkinshaw has died of lung cancer aged 64.
The sad news about the Scot broke on the Twitter network, with former driver Mark Blundell paying tribute to the "good driver and team owner, RIP".
It was later confirmed by the professional English rugby club Gloucester, which was owned by its Scottish-born chairman Walkinshaw.
His career began as a driver and Walkinshaw rose as high as Formula 2. He later established his TWR racing empire and in 1991 entered F1 as Benetton's engineering director.
He bought 50 per cent of the Ligier team in 1995 and the Arrows team in 1997, until it collapsed financially in 2002.
In recent years he has been involved in the Australian touring car series V8 Supercars.
F1 rules almost perfect in 2010 - Villeneuve
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve believes the F1 regulations have moved in the right direction since he won his title in the late 90s.
The French Canadian, who currently races in the French ice-racing series Andros, said he followed formula one closely in 2010 while he tried to set up a team.
"The regulations were almost completely right," he told Auto Hebdo in an interview.
"The only small problem was the mandatory changing of tires. It resulted in some negative points, especially at the last race (in Abu Dhabi) that otherwise would have been interesting.
"I followed it all closely this season because I was working to put together a team so I needed to see what was happening. It was an interesting season," added the 39-year-old.
Villeneuve admitted that he is not a big fan of one rule change for 2011.
"Next year there is going to be the (rear) wing that moves. This is something that I think is negative -- it's too artificial.
"It's a shame they're doing that when you think about how good this season was," he added.
Volkswagen welcomes new F1 rules for 2013
(GMM) Volkswagen motor racing representative Hans-Joachim Stuck has applauded F1's radical engine formula for 2013.
The German car giant and its subsidiary Porsche have been linked with a possible F1 foray in the near future if the sport moves away from its current V8 engine formula.
On Friday in Monaco, the FIA green-lighted a new efficient formula for 2013 featuring small energy-efficient turbo engines.
"The conditions for a possible entrance of the Volkswagen group have been created," hailed Stuck, according to Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
He is also quoted by rp-online.de: "We have not decided anything, but we very much welcome the FIA's decision."
And Stuck reportedly told Bild am Sonntag newspaper: "The engine rules are a good starting point for Volkswagen in formula one."
Mercedes' motor racing boss Norbert Haug said the new rules will slash engine budgets by "at least a quarter".
Journalist confused as Korea wins F1 race prize
(GMM) A leading F1 correspondent has admitted surprise at the news Korea was the best grand prix promoter in 2010.
While races in Abu Dhabi, Singapore and elsewhere were nearly universally praised, the inaugural Korean event took place at an incomplete facility while team members and media stayed in what were disparagingly dubbed 'love hotels'.
But at the governing body's annual prize gala in Monaco last Friday, the Korean grand prix received the Race Promoters' Trophy.
The FIA said the award "recognizes the state-of-the-art Korean International Circuit which hosted its inaugural grand prix this year."
"Korea. Korea? KOREA??!! I must have been somewhere else," remarked The Times correspondent Kevin Eason on Twitter.
Added Byron Young, F1 correspondent for the Daily Mirror: "The Korean GP, complete with event and flight chaos, shoddy hotels and things I won't mention, won the race promoter’s trophy. Why?"
Autosport editor says Fernandes' Lotus effort 'cynical'
(GMM) Mike Gascoyne has slammed the authoritative motor racing magazine Autosport for its recent coverage of the Lotus saga.
The magazine raised eyebrows with its December cover by insisting that Group Lotus linking up with Renault for 2011 means "The real Lotus is back".
"Lots of fans unhappy with the Autosport articles this week, me too," said Team Lotus' technical boss Mike Gascoyne on Twitter.
Gascoyne posted a link to what he described as the "unprofessional" reply of Autosport editor Andrew van de Burgt to the criticism of the allegedly biased coverage.
Writing on Team Lotus' official Facebook page, Burgt defended the "real Lotus" charge by insisting that Tony Fernandes' start-up effort in 2010 was "a cynical attempt to generate publicity and sponsorship".
"The Lotus buy-in of Renault is to promote and sell Lotus road and race cars -- the whole reason Chapman set up Team Lotus in the first place. No hoax. Stop over-reacting," he added.
2011 to equal 40-year-old 'most F1 champions' record
(GMM) 2011 will be the first season in four decades in which no fewer than five world champions line up on the grid.
Among new champion Sebastian Vettel's rivals next season will be former title winners Jenson Button (2009), Lewis Hamilton (2008), Fernando Alonso (2005-6) and Michael Schumacher (1994-5 and 2000-4).
The only previous occasion on which the F1 grid boasted five active world champions was 1970, when Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Denny Hulme, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart were all racing.
And that season's ultimately posthumous world champion Jochen Rindt was killed at Monza in September.
There have never been six active world champions all still driving in F1 at the same time.
But if 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen had returned to F1 from rallying, and Jacques Villeneuve had successfully formed his own team in collaboration with Durango, there might be no fewer than 7 world champions on the 2011 grid.
On a 24 car grid, that would represent almost 30 per cent of the entire field.
France wants F1 to 'carbon-offset' GP emissions
(GMM) Efforts to revive the French grand prix might receive the support of the government if F1 does more to bolster its environmental credentials.
Most F1 cars next year will be fitted with energy-recovery KERS systems, and the governing FIA has now green-lighted a new energy-efficient small engine formula for 2013.
France's new sports minister Chantal Jouanno last year actively opposed the project for a grand prix at Flins.
Asked what can be done to revive the country's F1 race, she told the L'Equipe sports daily: "We need to know if the French motor sport federation (FFSA) is able to bear the cost of a grand prix.
"If so, then at what site?" she added.
But as far as the government is concerned, she highlighted the environmental obstacle.
"A grand prix is not so much in terms of greenhouse emissions," admitted Jouanno, but she insisted that F1 should be more active on environmental matters.
"I have suggested to Jean Todt, president of the international federation (FIA), to initiate discussions to carbon-offset all the races," she added.
Ex champs disagree over Vettel maturity
(GMM) Two former world champions do not agree about the development of F1's reigning title winner, Sebastian Vettel.
1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said he recognizes the young German's talent but was less impressed with his overall behavior this season.
"He's very fast but I feel he has trouble controlling his emotions," the French Canadian is quoted by Auto Hebdo.
"I saw him raising a finger to the stewards in the pitlane and I find it hard to comprehend doing that at this level, that's more like a little kid," charged Villeneuve.
He blames the situation on 23-year-old Vettel's employer Red Bull.
"He's been treated the same for his whole career. At 14, he knew already that he would be brought into F1.
"When he makes a mistake, he is told 'no, you did nothing wrong, everything is fine'. We'll see how he reacts now (as champion)," added Villeneuve.
He continued: "Hamilton was a bit like that at first, but after his title, he had a bad season and this year he was finally a man.
"This year, Vettel stupidly took out Webber but the team said it was Webber's fault. Let's see what happens -- is it going to get worse, or will he get more mature now?
"If he goes in the direction of Hamilton then he will win more championships. Otherwise he will never learn from his mistakes," added Villeneuve.
Four-time world champion Alain Prost, however, admits he is now a fan of Vettel after spending some time with the Red Bull driver at the recent Race of Champions event.
"He is very young but already very mature," said the Frenchman. "I also see a freshness, an enthusiasm that I really like. This is not the case with all young F1 drivers.
"That's one thing that surprises me: you don't feel the passion in some drivers, it's like they're there just for the business.
"But in Vettel, I feel the freshness and passion and I hope he keeps it as long as possible."
Prost also hailed Vettel's finish to the 2010 championship.
"Like everyone else, I was a bit critical when I saw the mess he created on some occasions. But in a driver with such panache and character, it is difficult to contain.
"After August, I saw a radical change. Then, without the incident in Korea, he would have won all of the last four races. He is a great champion, there is no doubt," he insisted.
"You might have judged differently in the middle of the season, but - at the end - we can say 'bravo'," Prost concluded.
Team Lotus drops Friday driver Fauzy
(GMM) Team Lotus has dropped its reserve and 'Friday' driver Fairuz Fauzy after a single season together in 2010.
The 28-year-old Malaysian's father and manager Haji Fauzy revealed that the team "prematurely terminated" the contract last week "without reason".
"We are now looking at all avenues to fit him as a full time race driver in an international racing series of the same stature, but of course formula one is our main priority," Fauzy Snr added.
The driver's management confirmed that the deal was supposed to be for five years, but in a statement said they "respect the decision" of Team Lotus.