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DATE News (chronologically)
12/17/10
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Friday (UPDATED)  UPDATE Update shown in red below.

12/17/10
  • Montezemolo makes new F1 breakaway threat
  • Fernandes denies demanding too much for Lotus deal
  • Briatore sells QPR share to majority owner Ecclestone
  • Vettel tells di Resta - 'see you on 2011 grid'
  • Toro Rosso confirms 1 February car launch New

Montezemolo makes new F1 breakaway threat
(GMM)  According to Luca di Montezemolo, there is still a risk that formula one teams will break away and form a rival series after 2012.

Although the political row with departed FIA president Max Mosley ended with peace, the current Concorde Agreement expires before the 2013 season and the Ferrari president hints that the teams are once again pushing for more of the sport's lucrative revenue.

According to the Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary who attended Thursday's media dinner with Montezemolo, the 63-year-old likens F1 at present to a "prison".

"We are at a crossroads," said Montezemolo.

He said three scenarios are possible: the status quo, new owners for the sport with Bernie Ecclestone in charge, or a model like "the NBA".

America's premier basketball league is owned by the teams.

"In the end we can always find a different promoter.  At the end of the day this business is not so complicated," said Montezemolo.

Whether or not the latest breakaway threat will fail as did all the others, Ferrari's clout is as powerful as ever and Montezemolo made clear he is no fan of the new four-cylinder engine formula for 2013.

Suffering from a bad cold and not eating dinner along with his colleagues, Montezemolo was quoted by Germany's Welt newspaper: "We must not exaggerate the savings.

"We also must not overdo it, as we have done already with the testing ban."

The Spanish newspaper El Pais quotes him as adding: "Ferrari will never make (road) cars with four cylinders.

"(And) what they (FIA) want to do is cut costs, but all they do is raise them if the rules change every five minutes.  This is formula one, which should be the spearhead of technological development."

He played down persistent rumors that, as a reaction to Ferrari's championship loss due to a simple strategy mistake, significant heads will roll.

"At Ferrari we believe in stability," the Spanish sports newspaper Marca quotes him as saying.

"But that doesn't mean the team is locked, we need to open the window from time to time to breathe fresh air."

On the subject of newly-legalized team orders, Montezemolo admitted for the first time that Ferrari went too far in Austria in 2002; the place-swapping controversy that triggered the ban.

"I think it (the team order in Austria) was too soon (in the season), but not in the case of Germany (2010)," he said.  "Fernando was faster than Felipe.

"What is not right is when it is taking place in the first races of the year."

He said Felipe Massa will therefore begin 2011 on an equal footing with Fernando Alonso.  "I want two drivers fighting for the championship, not someone frustrated at the first race.

"This is very important, but in the second half of the season we will have an open mind and understand that the drivers know what to do if needed."

Montezemolo promised that if team orders are deployed, it will be done transparently for the benefit of the spectators.

He also teased those present who were hoping for a shock announcement about his decision to enter Italian politics.

"I have an important announcement to make," he joked.  "I am starting my own party!

"Seriously, I have spoken with the Ferrari family and I can say that my future is here.  This work is my life and it will remain so."

Fernandes denies demanding too much for Lotus deal
(GMM)  As the Lotus dispute rages on, Tony Fernandes has hit back at Dany Bahar's claim that the parties did not unite in F1 due to his "ridiculous and absurd" demands.

Bahar, Group Lotus' CEO, had responded to journalists' claim this week that the logical solution was a deal with Fernandes rather than the confusing prospect of two warring teams both called Lotus in 2011.

The Swiss had gone so far as to reveal that Fernandes demanded "three times" the money that has ultimately been invested in the Renault deal.

"Interesting to read Dany Behar's comments about wanting to work with us, don't think anyone here noticed that!" said Team Lotus technical boss Mike Gascoyne on Twitter.

The Briton's boss also slammed Bahar's claims.

"The thing that has annoyed me most is Dany Bahar implying we wanted too much money and that Renault was a third of the cost of what it would have been to do a deal with Lotus Racing," Fernandes told the BBC.

"They have been quoted saying they are spending in the region of 15-20m (pounds) a year on Renault, which implies we asked for 45-60 million.  That's more than our entire budget," said the Malaysian.

"We were never close to an offer and it's completely untrue to say we requested three times what they're paying Renault."

The worsening war-of-words between the two Lotuses has highlighted the need for a resolution, and Bahar said this week he is confident the two Malaysian sides - Group Lotus owner Proton and Fernandes - want to avoid a deeper battle.

"We are pragmatic," said Fernandes.  "There should be a solution, but we should also do what is right for the brand.

"Our licensing agreement was unceremoniously terminated unlawfully and at any stage we would welcome a way to sort this out.  But it's got to be equitable and respect what we have done," he insisted.

"If they (Group Lotus/Proton) come off their high horses, who knows?

"I'd say it's highly unlikely but three months ago if you'd said Group Lotus would be sponsoring Renault, I'd have laughed at you.  It's a branding disaster," added Fernandes.

Briatore sells QPR share to majority owner Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly bought Flavio Briatore's share of Queens Park Rangers and now owns the "majority" of the London football club.

It was earlier believed that both Briatore and Ecclestone were keen to sever their ties with QPR, with Force India boss Vijay Mallya close to buying the club.

But British newspapers quote F1's 80-year-old chief executive as confirming that he has increased his stake to more than 60 per cent.

"I haven't bought the club to see my name in the papers, I have bought it to support (QPR manager) Neil (Warnock)," the Daily Star quotes Ecclestone as saying.

"Neil tells us how to kick the ball and now our aim is the Premier League," he added.

The Mirror said the club's departed chairman Briatore is believed to still hold a nominal shareholding.

"I now own about 62 per cent of the club," said Briton Ecclestone.

"I'm not thinking about competing with Manchester United or Arsenal.  It is just something that I enjoy doing and we will just see what happens," he added.

Vettel tells di Resta - 'see you on 2011 grid'
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has told Paul di Resta he hopes to see his former F3 championship rival and teammate on the formula one grid next year.

Scottish driver di Resta, who is a year older than the new F1 champion, beat 23-year-old Vettel to the F3 Euro Series title by 11 points in 2006 when they were both with the French ASM team.

So when Mercedes-Benz hailed its new DTM champion in Stuttgart on Thursday, Vettel appeared by video link and according to motorsport-magazin.com told di Resta: "I hope to see you in formula one next year."

And the SID news agency quotes Vettel as adding: "Hopefully it will not be as tight as it was in F3!"

Di Resta, who won five F3 races compared to Vettel's four in 2006, is now strongly linked with a Force India race cockpit for 2010 after serving as third driver this season.

He is reportedly in competition with Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Hulkenberg, with Adrian Sutil saying again this week that he has agreed a deal to stay with the Silverstone based team in 2011.

"We have reached an agreement.  The signature is a mere formality, which will happen," DPA news agency quotes Sutil as having told the broadcaster Eurosport.

"The drivers who do not have a contract yet want to join the team because it is the best team with an open place," the German added.

Toro Rosso confirms 1 February car launch
(GMM)  Toro Rosso on Friday confirmed that its 2011 car will be launched on the first day of winter testing.

A spokesman for the Faenza based team said earlier this month that the STR6 is scheduled to be up and running "for the first test in Valencia" on 1 February.

The team confirmed the news with a media statement on Friday, revealing that the Ferrari-powered car will be unveiled for the first time at about 9am.

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