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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Citroen says Raikkonen free to make F1 return
  • Kubica 'suffering' with lost opportunity of 2011 - manager
  • Virgin crew gives d'Ambrosio a tasty nickname
  • Klien's manager considers Kubica seat 'option'
  • Williams F1 IPO information
  • Williams Float timely as sponsors depart New
  • Renault needs a driver with experience, says Lopez New

Citroen says Raikkonen free to make F1 return
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen can pull out of the 2011 world rally championship to return to F1 if he wants to.

That is the claim of Citroen's rally chief Olivier Quesnel, amid reports the 2007 world champion is now contractually committed to rallying for this season.

The Finn and his management have not yet responded to multiple attempts by the formula one media to confirm rumors that Raikkonen, 31, is a candidate to replace the injured Robert Kubica at Renault this year.

After making his full-time world rally debut with Citroen last year, the former McLaren and Ferrari driver has announced he will drive a Citroen DS3 under the Ice 1 entry in 2011.

"If he wants to leave, I couldn't say anything because he is a client," Quesnel told RMC Sport.

"He has rented a car from us and drives with his own sponsors," added the Citroen boss.

"I suppose there may be considerable pressure from Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA and the whole world of F1 who want to see him come back because he is still an emblematic driver for the sport."

However, Quesnel indicated that he doesn't think Raikkonen is too keen to go back to F1.

"If he is taking phone calls, they would have to be very convincing to get him back there," he said.

Kubica 'suffering' with lost opportunity of 2011 - manager
(GMM)  Robert Kubica is slowly coming to terms with his injures and the lost opportunity of 2011.

That is the admission of the Pole's manager Daniele Morelli, after Renault said on Tuesday that an improving Kubica "reacted well to the news about his condition and is ready to fight for his comeback".

The reality, however, is that while the alarming medical bulletins have eased, the 26-year-old will be in hospital for weeks at least.

And there remain question-marks not about the future functionality of his right arm that was partially severed during a minor rally event last Sunday, but also his other injured limbs.

Morelli was one of the few people able to speak with Kubica on Tuesday while doctors eased pain sedatives in order to gauge the grand prix winner's neurological condition.

"I told him about the accident, and the extent of his fractures and injuries, and Robert was shocked," Morelli is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo.

"He understood that he will be out (of F1) for quite a long time and he is suffering with that," Kubica's manager admitted.

"He would have already been driving the new car again at Jerez," added Morelli.

At the end of his first stint with the new R31, Kubica ended the Valencia test last week with the fastest time overall.

"It's the first time a team has conceived a car with Robert integrally in mind," Morelli continued.

For F1, it is a tragedy that the R31/Kubica combination might have been a true title contender, but Morelli said the overriding feeling at present is relief.

"We are happy because for the first 12 hours the question was whether Robert would survive.  When he reached the hospital his condition was critical," he revealed.

"But now we are planning already to leave the ICU," said Morelli.

Kubica's manager also acknowledged the debate at present about the wisdom of combining being a full-time F1 driver with the much more dangerous pursuit of road rallying.

"Robert loves rallying, and he had done the previous 12 without any problems.  Actually, I hadn't thought about that -- it looks like this was number 13," he said.

13 is considered such bad luck that no competitor uses the number on the F1 grid.

And Morelli said Kubica's reported EUR 6 million retainer for the 2011 season is the least of his concerns.

"Every driver has insurance," he revealed, "but this is the matter that concerns us the least of all.

"We are all conscious of what lies ahead, the effort that is going to be put to have Robert sitting in a cockpit once again," added Morelli.

Virgin crew gives d'Ambrosio a tasty nickname
(GMM)  Jerome d'Ambrosio's F1 mechanics have given the Belgian rookie a flavorsome new nickname.

In the Virgin garage, the 25-year-old is now affectionately known as 'Custard', with the word pasted on his cockpit when he began testing for the 2011 season at Valencia last week.

Ambrosia is a well-known UK brand of custard and rice pudding.

"It just shows I fit in the team pretty well straight way, so I'm happy," d'Ambrosio is quoted as saying by The Sun.

He is the first Belgian to race in F1 since Bertrand Gachot in 1995, even though Gachot was actually born in Luxembourg and carried a French passport.

But d'Ambrosio is not so bold as to predict that his presence will now help to secure the future of the Belgian grand prix at famous Spa-Francorchamps.

"I won't have the arrogance to say that I will bring back Spa to the old days by myself," he insisted.

"But for sure it will be something positive and hopefully we will be able to build on that."

Klien's manager considers Kubica seat 'option'
(GMM)  Christian Klien's manager has admitted he would like to see the Austrian driver in consideration for the remaining F1 race seats in 2011.

Already hoping to secure the second race seat at HRT, 28-year-old Klien's name has also been casually linked with Renault following injured Robert Kubica's rally crash.

"Until now, HRT was the only team with a free cockpit," Roman Rummenigge, who manages the former Jaguar and Red Bull driver, told the Austrian news agency APA.

Klien has also been a test driver with departed BMW and Honda, and was arguably the quickest of HRT's multiple drivers last year as he sat in for the struggling Spanish team's regulars on three occasions.

"After the drama with Kubica I must of course follow my duty as manager and also consider Renault as an option," insisted Rummenigge.

However, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims that of all the reported candidates, the favorite for Kubica's number 9 cockpit is the grand prix veteran Nick Heidfeld.

The report said the 33-year-old was last week "on the verge" of returning to Mercedes in 2011 as reserve driver, "but since Robert Kubica's accident, those plans have been postponed".

Williams F1 IPO Information

Grove, UK. Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (Williams) today released the price range of the shares offered in its IPO. The range will be EUR 24 to EUR 29 per share with a nominal value of GBP 0.05 each.

- IPO positions Williams F1 for the future, providing a more sustainable ownership structure that will support its growth as an independent constructor
- Offering follows three years of profits and a net cash position of £24.8m as at year-end 2010
- Sponsorship is fully secured for 2011, complemented by stable commercial rights income
- Group has two businesses, Formula One and New Businesses, led by Williams Hybrid Power (WHP)
- Growth to come through ability to unlock value of intellectual property and world class technology
- No new capital being raised - existing shareholders selling down part of shareholding in order to allow investor participation
- IPO increases ability to attract and retain key talent through share ownership
- Public company status and standards viewed positively by sponsorship partners
- Unique opportunity to invest in global sporting brand and leverage success of F1 business

Williams is one of the most successful teams in the history of Formula One. Founded in 1977 by Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head, it has won nine Constructors’ and seven Drivers’ championships. This IPO secures the Group’s sustainable ownership structure for the future and provides investors a unique opportunity.

Williams is financially strong – the Group has been profitable for the last three years, has solid cash reserves, and its 2011 budget is already fully contracted.

Team Principal Frank Williams said: “This IPO marks a new era in the history of our team. Our future as an independent constructor is sustained by this listing, providing us the base from which to further grow.”

Chairman Adam Parr said: “We have spent the past few years working to ensure a long-term future for the sport. Having accomplished this, the time is now right to assure Williams’ own future as an independent constructor, in this rapidly evolving industry.”

President and CEO of Formula One Group Bernie Ecclestone said: “I have known Frank Williams for more than 40 years. He has always run a very efficient organization. He has never wanted to be taken over by either a car manufacturer or a large company. He has supported Formula One in many ways most of his life, as has Patrick Head. We want more Franks and Patricks. If I could buy shares in the Company I would.”

In addition to the overall growth of the sport, Williams’ long-term growth is driven by its ability to unlock the value of its brand, extensive IP and world class technology. The Group has a significant R&D business which is currently developing energy-saving applications and green technology. Already, Williams is working with companies like Porsche and Sainsbury’s to transfer its technology for everyday use.

Williams float timely as sponsors depart
(GMM)  Williams' Frankfurt floatation is apparently timely, with reports claiming the famous British team has lost 43 per cent of its sponsors.

With an event in London on Wednesday, the team launched its 27 per cent stock market float set to begin on March 2.

In a statement issued beforehand, Williams said the share pricing values the business at EUR 265 million.

The statement said the team's "sponsorship is fully secured for 2011", with the floatation not designed to raise capital because "existing shareholders" - mainly Patrick Head - are selling up.

Bernie Ecclestone commented: "If I could buy shares in the company I would."

But a less rosy picture was painted by a report in the Evening Standard, claiming that "new data" shows that Williams' recent "sponsorship income has reversed".

The report said the 43 per cent reversal from 2010 is the team's "biggest in the past decade".

Renault needs a driver with experience, says Lopez
Lotus Renault GP chairman Gerard Lopez visited Robert Kubica today, and reported that the Pole is making good progress.

Inevitably the Genii boss was asked about who might drive the car in Kubica’s place, and not surprisingly he stressed that the team needed a driver with experience who can win the World Championship.

“From what I learned from doctors, the postoperative course is going well,” Lopez told IVG. “The situation is more rosy than expected, but we were very frightened by this accident.

“I can say I am more comfortable and confident now that I met him. Robert is a great loss that forces us to revise our plans. Now we need to employ all our energies to support the team. This is clearly a difficult time.

“We have to get all the strength to overcome this moment. We cannot yet know if and when Robert will be back on track. So we must exercise caution and await the evolution of his condition. But I can say that Robert has a very strong character and he wants to return as soon as possible to compete.

“If Robert’s recovery will be long and he will not return this season we will rely on a driver with experience. The fate of our season will depend on the new driver. Of course, we must see what happens with the tests we’re going to do. Without Robert it’s difficult to predict. Obviously, we’ll bet on a runner capable of winning the championship.”

Bruno Senna looks set to drive at Jerez this week. Kimi Raikkonen’s name is still cropping up, but his participation in the Swedish rally this week means that his focus is elsewhere and he’s certainly not going to show up for the Jerez test. Nevertheless until he goes public with a ‘no’, he has to be on the top of the team’s list. Of those who raced in 2010 and are not contracted to a team, Nick Heidfeld remains the logical choice as AR1.com rumored (strong) on Monday. Adam Cooper

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