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DATE News (chronologically)
12/23/10
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday (UPDATED)  UPDATE See update in red below.

12/23/10
  • Montezemolo predicts future Ferrari seat for Vettel
  • FIA to propose F1 'windscreen' to protect drivers
  • D'Ambrosio admits to buying Virgin seat
  • Flammini pushing ahead with Rome GP for 2013
  • Ukraine targets F1 with high-spec circuit New

Montezemolo predicts future Ferrari seat for Vettel
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo is predicting a future Ferrari drive for F1's new reigning world champion.

Earlier in 2010, en route to becoming the sport's youngest ever champion with Red Bull, 23-year-old Sebastian Vettel described Ferrari as "special", adding: "Why not go there in a few years?"

The German is under contract with Red Bull for 2011, with an option to extend into 2012.

Cologne tabloid Express reports that Ferrari president di Montezemolo sees Vettel as a natural successor for the struggling Felipe Massa.

"Sebastian is fast, intelligent and young," said the 63-year-old Italian.  "He will drive a red car sooner or later."

The team owner of Vettel's current team, Dietrich Mateschitz, said a month ago: "Seb wants to drive for Ferrari some day.  We will make it as difficult a decision for him as possible."

Express also reports that di Montezemolo recently made an offer to entice Red Bull designer Adrian Newey to Ferrari.  Newey reportedly turned the offer down.

'AutosprintFIA to propose F1 'windscreen' to protect drivers
(GMM)  The FIA is proposing to mandate Plexiglas windscreens for the cockpits of formula one cars, according to an Italian report.

Autosprint, publishing a photoshopped image of a possible F1 windshield that can be viewed at tinyurl.com/2ew7rf6, claims the innovation would be to protect drivers from being struck on the head.

The exposure of the drivers' heads made headlines last year, when Felipe Massa was seriously injured by a flying suspension spring, days after F2 driver Henry Surtees was killed when he drove into the path of a stricken wheel.

"I'm not saying we need to cover (the cockpit) completely," Ferrari driver Massa said after recovering from his skull injuries.  "But maybe there are some other things we can do to the car to stop a wheel hitting your head."

After those incidents last year, Bernie Ecclestone said Professor Sid Watkins - the president of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety - had been commissioned to "deal with" the issue.

The renewed push for driver head safety also comes just six weeks after the nose of Vitantonio Liuzzi's Force India rode up and almost struck Michael Schumacher's head during the 2010 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Autosprint said the proposed protective structure, whilst not impeding driver visibility, would be designed to withstand the impact of a flying wheel and the full 640kg weight of an F1 car.

The report said the solution would also need to take into consideration its aerodynamic impact, including the flow of air to the engine airbox and the wings.

D'Ambrosio admits to buying Virgin seat
(GMM)  Jerome d'Ambrosio has admitted he secured his formula one race debut with Virgin in 2011 by taking a commercial package to the new British team.

When the Belgian's deal was announced earlier this week, team boss John Booth insisted the 24-year-old - who completed the 2010 season as a Friday driver - had been selected "absolutely on merit".

But a few weeks ago, reports said the Virgin cockpit alongside Timo Glock next year was up for grabs for EUR 5 million.

And at the end of October, d'Ambrosio's management - the Gravity group which is managed by Renault team boss Eric Boullier - said it had pulled together "95 per cent of the package" required.

"Of course there is talent, but also a commercial aspect," d'Ambrosio confirmed this week to RTL Belgium.

"There are people, partners who are working with me in Belgium, as well as Gravity, who are always working with me, with Eric Boullier."

D'Ambrosio said: "We managed to put together the package we needed to be able to sign."

He said he sees his 2011 debut with Virgin as the first step to a long career in F1.

"I jumped like a kangaroo!" joked d'Ambrosio, recalling hearing the news that he had secured the seat.

"It's exceptional, extraordinary, but not an end in itself, because you have to have new goals now -- and it is to stay (in F1) for as long as possible.

"At the moment we have a great outcome.  Since I was little, I have dreamed of being in F1, and since 16, it has been my goal."

As for his approach to 2011, the Belgian explained: "The most important thing is to focus on myself, learning something each time I go onto the track.

"I am fortunate to have Timo Glock beside me, who has had some podiums in grands prix.  This will be a valuable experience for me."

Flammini pushing ahead with Rome GP for 2013
(GMM)  Despite the opposition of Monza, Ferrari and an apparent majority of local residents, promoter Maurizio Flammini has vowed to push ahead with his plans for a Rome street race.

"The first race?" he asked rhetorically during an interview with the Il Riformista newspaper.  "I expect it to be in 2013."

However, Monza and Ferrari want F1 to limit itself to one annual race per country, and a survey published this week shows 80-90 per cent opposition to the Rome event from residents who live near the proposed layout in the capital's EUR district.

But Flammini said the final plans will be reviewed by authorities by the end of December.  "According to the standard procedure this will take at least 60 days," he said.

"If the project would have been approved by the end of the year, we would have been ready for 2012," he said.

"In Italy everything is ready (for 2013)," continued Flammini, "and the formula one circus is ready to welcome us.  A few days ago I spoke with Bernie Ecclestone and he asked me to go ahead.

"When we are ready, we will close the final agreement."

It had been reported earlier in 2010 that a final agreement had already been signed.

"We signed a preliminary agreement for at least two years," Flammini clarified.  "(F1 chief executive) Ecclestone is helping us but he is concerned about the delay.

"The competition is fierce, there are at least 30 other circuits that are pushing (to be in F1).  If we don't hurry we may lose this opportunity," he insisted.

Flammini dismissed some of the criticisms of the Rome project, including fears of increased pollution in the city.

"You must be joking," he hit back.  "We should be thanked that instead of thousands of cars, for a few days there will be only 24 on a 5 kilometer circuit.

"Traffic?  A study has shown the increase to be 25 per cent, but we are talking about August, when the presence of cars is well under 50 per cent of the annual average."

Ukraine targets F1 with high-spec circuit
Plans have been put in place to bring Formula One to Ukraine, after officials in Kiev announced they will build an international-level circuit near the city.

At a press conference the head of the state administration department, Anatoliy Prysiazhniuk, said the city would start building a 5.2 km circuit at a cost of $1 billion in 2011, with the intent of bringing F1 to the country.

"We will build an international track in the Polissia and Ivankiv districts in order to host international competitions," he said on Tuesday according to the Kyiv Post.

Prysiazhniuk did not name the investor behind the project, but said he was in talks with people who have experience in building circuits to F1 standards.

"I saw the project, and experts from Europe assessed it," he said. "The project was drafted by a person from Denmark who built the tracks in the [United Arab] Emirates, Singapore and other countries. The track will meet all modern requirements [including grandstands, access roads and hotels].

With construction work scheduled to start early in 2011, Prysiazhniuk said the circuit will be up and running by 2013. "I've set the condition - the project should be implemented in at most two years," he added.

100 hectares of land have been set aside for the project. ESPNF1

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