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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Domenicali
    Commentator says Grosjean to be Renault third driver
  • Olympic Committee has power to delay Russia GP
  • More broadcasters announce HD for F1 coverage
  • 'Wrong' to talk about Massa's future now - Domenicali
  • Petrov to debut 2011 Renault at Valencia
  • Ferrari to make Fiorano track debut on January 28
  • No Renault rift as Kubica sits out rally
  • No grand prix for Rome, says Ecclestone

Commentator says Grosjean to be Renault third driver
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean is set to become Renault's third driver in 2011.

The source of the information is French broadcaster TF1's commentator Christophe Malbranque.

24-year-old Swiss-born Frenchman Grosjean became Renault's test driver in 2008, moving into the race seat in the middle of the next season when Nelson Piquet was ousted.

He was not retained for 2010, instead racing in GT, Auto GP and GP2, debuting at Le Mans and becoming one of Pirelli's F1 test drivers.

Grosjean has contested just 7 grands prix, scoring no points.

Olympic Committee has power to delay Russia GP
(GMM)  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the power to delay the inaugural Russian grand prix for a year.

The resort city Sochi has scheduled both the Winter Olympics and formula one for 2014, but it emerged recently that the Games is the priority.

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli confirmed that if construction of the F1 facilities puts the Games at risk, the inaugural race will be pushed back to 2015.

"If the IOC decides it (the grand prix) is not feasible, we could stop and postpone it until 2015.  The IOC will make that decision," he is quoted by the Associated Press.

More broadcasters announce HD for F1 coverage
(GMM)  Television spectators in German-speaking countries as well as Brazil, Britain, Australia and the US will be able to watch formula one in high definition (HD) this year.

Sky Deutschland this week pre-empted Formula One Management's official announcement about the availability of a HD feed in 2011.

Confirmation about the BBC's plans followed shortly afterwards, and it has also emerged that One will use the HD stream in Australia, as will Speed TV in the United States and Globo in Brazil.

"It's fantastic news that FOM has decided to green-light HD broadcasts," said the BBC's head of HD Danielle Nagler.

Added Speed's head of production and network operations Rick Miner: "We couldn't be more pleased with this decision."

And Australian Network Ten's HD channel OneHD confirmed: "OneHD will be showing F1 in pure HD.  Enjoy."

However, in 2011, the on-board cameras will continue to capture footage in standard definition.

'Wrong' to talk about Massa's future now - Domenicali
(GMM)  Stefano Domenicali on Wednesday refused to say whether Ferrari is committed to retaining Felipe Massa beyond 2011.

The Brazilian driver had a bad season in 2010, the year after his near-fatal accident, and team boss Domenicali suggested that he needs to improve.

During a press conference at the 'Wrooom' event in the Dolomites, the Italian did not directly answer three questions about Massa's tenure beyond 2011.

"It would be wrong to say anything at the beginning of the season," said Domenicali, admitting however that Massa will need to show comparably alongside his teammate Fernando Alonso.

"I hope it will be close between them; that he (Massa) will be as good, or maybe even faster than Fernando.  But for sure we need two strong drivers to win the constructors' title," he added.

Domenicali's comments were reported internationally, with La Gazzetta dello Sport quoting him as saying he "expects" Massa to be "always close" to Alonso this year.

Blick in Switzerland quoted Domenicali as saying 2011 "is an important season" for the 29-year-old, and according to Sao Paulo's O Estado Domenicali said Massa has had talks with Ferrari management "as have other team members".

"We must all learn from the mistakes of the past year and put it behind," he added.

"I trust that, as in other situations in which he was under immense pressure and reacted very well, he will do the same now," said Domenicali.

Petrov to debut 2011 Renault at Valencia
(GMM)  Vitaly Petrov, not his highly rated teammate Robert Kubica, will be giving Renault's 2011 car its maiden outing at Valencia next month.

The day after the launch of the Lotus Renault GP R31 on January 31, group testing at the Ricardo Tormo circuit at Cheste begins.

The French autohebdo.fr website reports that Russian Petrov has been asked to do the driving on 1 February, before Pole Kubica takes over for Wednesday and Thursday.

"At the moment our car looks good and this year will be easier for me because I know the team better and I know all the tracks.  I can't wait for things to begin," Petrov said on the team's blog.

French TF1 commentator Christophe Malbranque reports that Romain Grosjean will be the team's third driver in 2011.

Ferrari to make Fiorano track debut on January 28
(GMM)  Ferrari's 2011 car will be given its track debut on the day of its launch on January 28.

While most of the Italian team's rivals will not get up to speed until the Valencia group test the following week, it has emerged that the Ferrari - currently known only by its codename 288 - will make an earlier debut at Fiorano.

It is believed Ferrari has received clearance for the 100km rollout for filming purposes, due to the debut of a new logo and livery.

Ferrari confirmed that the January 28 debut will take place "weather permitting".

It is further believed that the driver at Fiorano will be Fernando Alonso, with team boss Stefano Domenicali confirming that the Spaniard will be at the wheel of the sole chassis a few days later at Valencia.

Only on the third day of the test will Felipe Massa get his first taste of the car, Domenicali also confirmed.

Meanwhile, Alonso on Wednesday brushed off any fears about a minor ankle injury by doing some skiing at the 'Wrooom' event in the Italian Dolomites.

No Renault rift as Kubica sits out rally
(GMM)  Robert Kubica is not sitting out next week's Monte Carlo rally due to contractual restrictions or a rift with Renault, it has been clarified.

It was reported this week that the Pole will miss the famous event because his full-time F1 employer did not give him permission to drive a car other than a Renault.

But Finland's Turun Sanomat clarified that when it emerged that a four-wheel drive Renault would not be available for Kubica, he simply decided against contesting the rally.

The report said the 26-year-old did not enquire about finding another car to drive, adding that there is "no dispute" between Kubica and Renault.

No grand prix for Rome, says Ecclestone
(GMM)  Rome will not host a grand prix, according to an Italian media report on Thursday.

The La Repubblica newspaper said F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has written to the Italian capital's mayor Gianni Alemanno explaining that one race per country is enough.

He reportedly wrote that F1 instead needs to concentrate on expanding internationally.

Ferrari recently admitted its opposition to the plans for a street race in the EUR district in 2013, stating that Monza should be Italy's only F1 event.

The Repubblica report on Thursday came shortly after race promoter Maurizio Flammini said the Rome GP plans would be announced officially on January 21.

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