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DATE News (chronologically)
02/07/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday  
  • Ferrari F150
    Renault lets Kubica do rallying for 'balance'
  • 'Too early' to consider Kubica replacement - Boullier
  • Pressure applied by Ricciardo 'normal' - Alguersuari
  • Ferrari defends less 'extreme' approach to 2011 car
  • Fast Renault pace is real - Boullier
  • Bourdais admits F1 career 'finished'

Renault lets Kubica do rallying for 'balance'
(GMM)  Eric Boullier has fended off criticisms that Robert Kubica's full-time employer should have forbidden the Pole from contesting the minor Ronde di Andora rally.

The 26-year-old is currently in an induced coma and recovering from seven hours of surgery after suffering multiple injuries including a partially-severed hand.

Dangerous activities like rally driving are usually forbidden in F1 driver contracts, and commentator and ex-racer Martin Brundle admitted on Twitter that he thought Kubica rallying between "key" F1 tests was "crazy".

Well-known British freelance photographer Darren Heath added: "Is driving F1 not enough for Kubica?  Utterly irresponsible to crash in a club rally.  Can't see Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton being so stupid."

Another point of note is that the car Kubica crashed was a Skoda and not a Renault.

Indeed, last month, Renault had to play down rumors of a rift after issues sidelined Kubica from the famous Monte Carlo rally.

But team boss Boullier is quoted by the French news agency AFP: "This is nothing to do with business.

"Robert is allowed to do it because it is close to his heart.  For him, rallying is vital, it is his balance.  From that side, it's a mutual agreement.

"We knew the risks as well," added the Frenchman, with Boullier also quoted by ANSA agency as adding: "We don't want a robot or corporate driver."

Whatever the background, Kubica - still in a 'serious' condition - is facing at least a year of recovery time, hand surgeon Igor Rossello told reporters after the surgery.

"I don't want to be too optimistic," he is quoted by Sky Italia, "but we expect a good outcome."

Kubica's manager Daniele Morelli said the key question is whether the right hand will regain its functionality, but Rossello said some days will pass before it is sure that the hand "will survive".

The surgeon did, however, express confidence that 26-year-old Kubica, who badly injured the same arm in a road car crash in 2003, will indeed be able to "resume his activity" in the future.

As ever, Niki Lauda's assessment is the bluntest.

"Robert has the makings of a champion, if he can ever come back," the triple world champion told Blick.

'Too early' to consider Kubica replacement - Boullier
(GMM)  It is "too early" to be publicly considering a replacement for the badly injured Robert Kubica.

That is the claim of the Pole's Renault team boss Eric Boullier, who was speaking just hours after Kubica emerged from surgery in an induced coma after sustaining multiple injuries including a partially severed hand in a rally crash on Sunday.

The surgeon said Kubica's injuries are likely to take at least a year to heal, which leaves Lotus-sponsored Renault in a bind after producing a new car for 2011 in which Kubica drove to the fastest time in its maiden test last week.

At the R31's launch one week ago, the team's new third driver Bruno Senna joked that if Kubica or Vitaly Petrov "break a leg or something like that, then ... they know who is going to replace him".

Another candidate is Senna's fellow third driver Romain Grosjean, but as Telegraph writer Tom Cary points out, Petrov "has only one season's worth of experience".

"Can Renault afford to make the Russian their lead driver and promote one of their reserves to the second race seat?  Or do Renault try to replace Kubica with another experienced driver?" wondered Cary.

Among the earliest candidates in that scenario are new Force India third driver Nico Hulkenberg, Team Lotus driver Jarno Trulli, Pirelli tester Pedro de la Rosa and the out-of-work Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

And Cary continued: "Even Kimi Raikkonen('s name) ... (was) being bandied about last night."

Team boss Boullier is travelling with Petrov to Italy on Monday to visit Kubica.

"It is too early and impolite to think of a replacement driver.  We are waiting for news of Robert and how long he will be out of action before we think of taking such a decision," he is quoted by AFP news agency.

Pressure applied by Ricciardo 'normal' - Alguersuari
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari insists he has no problem with new Friday driver Daniel Ricciardo breathing down the necks of Toro Rosso's regular racers in 2011.

Australian Ricciardo is the new cream of Red Bull's young driver program and next in line to take a Toro Rosso to the grid.

In 2011, the 21-year-old will switch between Alguersuari and teammate Sebastien Buemi's race cars in the Friday morning practice sessions, but Spaniard Alguersuari insists he fully accepts the situation.

"His appointment is a very good confirmation of the operation of the Red Bull junior team," said 20-year-old Alguersuari.

"Without this program and the determination of Dr Helmut Marko, I would not be in formula one," he is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr.

Marko's driver development scheme has gained a reputation over the years for being particularly cut-throat, but Alguersuari has only praise.

"Sure, but that's what the Red Bull program has taught us.  For us there is nothing more normal than to see Ricciardo, Buemi, Vettel or myself do our best without worrying about the others," he insisted.

Alguersuari therefore wishes Ricciardo all the best for 2011.

"His participation in the Friday practices will be a great experience for him, because he will be sharing information with me and Buemi and it will make him a better driver and a serious candidate for a place at Toro Rosso in the future," he said.

Using a football analogy, Alguersuari contrasted Red Bull's approach to drivers with Ferrari's.

"Red Bull is like Barcelona, building its drivers from when they are 15 and turning them into champions," he is quoted by Diario AS in Spain.

"Ferrari is more like Real Madrid, buying the most expensive players in the market."

Ferrari defends less 'extreme' approach to 2011 car
(GMM)  Aldo Costa has played down fears the new Ferrari is too conservative when compared to its rivals.

Among the new class of 2011 are the new McLaren, with radically shaped sidepods, the Renault with front-exiting exhausts, Williams' ultra-low rear and small gearbox, and the double-floor of the new Toro Rosso.

"Futuristic projects are not always better than more conservative ones," Fernando Alonso insisted to La Stampa newspaper last week.

The famous team's technical director agrees.

"I think the fastest car will be the one with the best performance balance between aerodynamics, the mechanical side and reliability," Costa is quoted by L'Equipe in France.

"If you attempt something extreme in one area, you might pay in another, so for a car that wins you need a balanced approach," he added.

Costa also revealed that Ferrari's F150 will evolve between now and the first race of the season in Bahrain.

"Mechanically, the car will be almost complete at Jerez (this week)," said the Italian, "but from an aerodynamic standpoint, there are still a lot of changes coming.

"More than an extreme approach, we are seeking a productive approach," he insisted, "and ultimately it will be the lap times that will make the verdict."

Fast Renault pace is real - Boullier
(GMM)  The pace shown by Renault's new formula one car at last week's Valencia test was genuine, team boss Eric Boullier insists.

Before his rally crash on Sunday, Robert Kubica left Valencia having set the fastest time of the first group test of 2011 in the newly launched R31, which features innovative front-exiting exhausts.

"We did not try to just do a (good) lap time with soft tires and a drop of petrol in the tank," insisted Boullier, who was speaking before Kubica crashed during Sunday's Ronde di Andora rally.

"It (the lap time) just came after we started to adjust the settings for the first time and (adjust) the car to the Pirelli tires," he is quoted by French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet's column in Auto Plus.

"The car became more comfortable for Robert, and he did his time," added Boullier.

Bourdais admits F1 career 'finished'
(GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais is certain his formula one career is over.

After a dominant career on the American open-wheeler scene, the Frenchman switched to F1 in 2008 but struggled with Toro Rosso.

The junior Red Bull team dropped him mid-way through its next campaign and he has since raced in sports cars and the open wheel series Superleague.

Bourdais, now almost 32, recently tested an IndyCar with an eye to a return to the American scene, but in an interview with sports.fr he admitted his F1 career is definitely over.

"For me, F1 is finished, and - anyway - I don't want to run at the back any more.

"Unless someone comes to me with a very interesting offer, which I doubt very much, I turned the page after the Nurburgring in 2009 and I don't miss it (F1) at all.

"I had some good races, some bad ones and some terrible (ones).  I have the experience but I'll be 32 soon so I am aware that the time has passed.

"I had my chance, it didn't go exactly as I wanted, but it happened.  Now, I am looking for other challenges," added Bourdais.

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