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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday UPDATE First updates shown in Red below.

  • Rosberg in the new Mercedes.  The new car appears to be a dud.
    Owner denies running dry amid Silverstone upgrade
  • Renault not yet ruling out de la Rosa, Liuzzi
  • Heidfeld ready to fight for race seat - manager
  • Kubica absence a 'heavy blow' to Renault - Boullier
  • Raikkonen not ruling out F1 return
  • Rosberg not yet ringing Mercedes alarm bells
  • Unlikely Grosjean 'ready' to race Kubica's car
  • Toro Rosso ready to promote next rookies - Marko
  • Hulkenberg tips Red Bull and Ferrari for pace New
  • Kubica must be patient for F1 comeback - Webber New

Owner denies running dry amid Silverstone upgrade
(GMM)  The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) insists it has not run out of money to complete sweeping renovations at its British grand prix venue Silverstone.

The circuit-owning BRDC announced on Thursday it is seeking investors to help realize "the full potential of Silverstone".

A new pit and paddock complex is being constructed at the Northamptonshire venue, and there have been rumors that money is running short.

But the BRDC insisted that if a "suitable investor" is not found, "we will continue with the development ourselves, albeit at a slower pace".

Some observers interpreted the announcement as a desperate plea for more money, but BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt dismissed that view.

"You can see our accounts every year and they will tell you we are making money," he told the Telegraph.

"If there's one thing I want to get across it is that the rumors of impending financial peril are complete rubbish.  These are exciting times," he added.

Renault not yet ruling out de la Rosa, Liuzzi
(GMM)  Eric Boullier has for the first time named Pedro de la Rosa as a potential replacement for Renault's injured regular Robert Kubica.

Another 2010 Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld, however, is in pole position for the R31 seat and will test the black and gold car this weekend.

Heidfeld, 33, was already with the team at Jerez on Thursday.

"We are in talks with de la Rosa, Liuzzi and Heidfeld," team boss Boullier is quoted as saying by Marca sports newspaper in Spain.

Even Heidfeld's manager Andre Theuerzeit insisted "I don't know yet" when asked if the German driver will be racing in Bahrain.

Boullier told Auto Motor und Sport: "This year, with so much new with the car, we cannot risk going with a young driver.

"Experience will be vitally important, so there aren't too many candidates."

The Frenchman said Heidfeld is the favorite.

"He will be driving on Saturday and Sunday for a day and a half.  If we think he is our man then he will also be at the next test in Barcelona.

"If not, then we would have to try one of the other drivers," said Boullier, referring to the aforementioned de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

"Barcelona is our absolute deadline, as by then we need to know who will be racing our car."

He explained that Bruno Senna will also drive the R31 at Jerez in order to be the main reserve driver for 2011.

"If something else happens (to the race drivers), I want a driver who has already been in the car," added Boullier.  Romain Grosjean is currently racing in the GP2 Asia series in Abu Dhabi.

"If this (Kubica's crash) had happened in the middle of the season, then we could have taken the chance of a young driver.  But we need to develop this car from scratch with someone experienced," he insisted.

"On paper, the ideal replacement for Robert is Heidfeld," he is quoted in French by sport24.com.

Heidfeld ready to fight for race seat - manager
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld is fully prepared to step into a top race seat in 2011, according to the German's manager.

German Heidfeld, 33, was believed close to returning to Mercedes as reserve driver for this season before his former BMW teammate Robert Kubica was badly injured in a rally smash.

As the favorite for Kubica's full-time Renault seat, the 33-year-old will test the R31 over a day and a half at Jerez this weekend.

Heidfeld's manager Andre Theuerzeit is confident.

"Nick kept himself fit through the winter, prepared to go racing," he told Welt newspaper.

Theuerzeit indicated that Heidfeld's other option - the Mercedes reserve seat - is probably more lucrative than the Renault drive.

"Nick is a heart and soul racing driver.  To him, racing is more important than money," he said.

Heidfeld insisted he is relaxed and will not change his normal approach as he effectively auditions for a place on the 2011 grid.

"I'm not going to build up slowly or try to get there quickly," he is quoted by Dutch website f1today.nl.  "I will do it at my pace, which is best because it's how I've always done it.

"It may take some time for me to adapt to new systems and a new car, but I'm used to this type of situation," added Heidfeld.

Kubica absence a 'heavy blow' to Renault - Boullier
(GMM)  Robert Kubica will definitely be out of action for the first quarter of this season's 20-race calendar.

Earlier, medical specialists had predicted a one-year recovery from the Pole's multiple rally crash injuries, cautioning that athletes often heal much faster.

"At the moment it's hard to predict," answered Renault team boss Eric Boullier when asked about 26-year-old Kubica's expected recovery time by Auto Motor und Sport.

"He's not coming back for the next three months.  But to say six months or more would be purely speculative," he added.

Boullier said Kubica has been making "surprisingly rapid progress" this week, can move the fingers on his injured right hand and will be under the knife for a further five hours on Friday for work on his elbow and shoulder.

"He was asking about GP2 and formula one and joking as usual," said Boullier, recalling his most recent visit with the Pole.

"He wants to know the results of the tests, so we will give him all the data of Jerez on Monday."

Boullier admits Kubica's convalescence is a "heavy blow" to Renault, but he vowed not to bow to pressure and prevent the team's drivers from participating in dangerous extra-curricular hobbies from now on.

"No, we are not changing," said the Frenchman.  "Robert is a racer, I'm a racer.  If we had banned rally driving and karting, he would not have been happy.

"The driver is the most useful when they feel comfortable with the team.  Absolutely.  Up until the corner where he had his crash, Robert was a happy man," added Boullier.

Raikkonen not ruling out F1 return
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has refused to rule out replacing the injured Robert Kubica at Renault.

Having launched his own world rally entry Ice1 for 2011, the 2007 world champion is already in Sweden for the season opener.

Moreover, after negotiations with Renault broke down spectacularly mid last season, Renault team boss Eric Boullier dismissed the latest rumors about Raikkonen as "pure speculation".

"We spoke to Kimi last year," he told Auto Motor und Sport.  "He told us that he would rather stay in rallying.  So he was no longer considered after that."

Nick Heidfeld is trying out for the seat at the Jerez test this week, with Boullier naming Pedro de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi as the secondary candidates.

But when asked if he is set to shock the F1 world with a return to F1 in the short-term, 31-year-old Raikkonen was quoted by Finnish broadcaster MTV3: "That's hard to say."

Rosberg not yet ringing Mercedes alarm bells
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg is not yet ringing the alarm bells about Mercedes' new formula one car.

Recently, when discussing the German marque's 2010 season, Michael Schumacher admitted he had known by the second winter test that "it was going to be a tough year".

12 months on, Jerez this week is the scene of the second test of the 2011 pre-season, and Nico Rosberg was a worrying 3 seconds off the pace in the new silver W02 on Thursday.

"This is an interim car," the German insisted, according to Bild newspaper.

"So you can't just look at the pace as we have so many new parts to come."

Also poor on Thursday was the car's reliability, but Rosberg said technical problems are something "you always expect" from a new single seater.

At the other end of the timesheets, Thursday's fastest runner was also not overstating the results of the Jerez order.

"The fastest time?  It means nothing," Ferrari's Felipe Massa is quoted in the Italian media.

Unlikely Grosjean 'ready' to race Kubica's car
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean insists he is ready to return to Europe to replace the injured Robert Kubica.

The Swiss-born Frenchman, who along with Bruno Senna is a third driver at Renault this year, is currently in Abu Dhabi for the start of the GP2 Asia series.

But at Jerez, Senna is driving the R31 this week, as experienced drivers including Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi are considered for the injured Kubica's race seat in car number 9.

"I am ready to answer the call, but for now I'm here to race in GP2," Grosjean, who tallied an unremarkable 7 debut grands prix with Renault in mid 2009, is quoted by L'Equipe.

"My goal and (management company) Gravity's goal is for me to be in F1 in 2012, and we will work towards that step by step.

"If they do call me (for Kubica's seat), I'll go, but if they have something else in mind, I accept it as a member of the team.

"I will always support the team and, at the moment, all of my thoughts are with Robert," added 24-year-old Grosjean.

Another candidate reportedly discounted for Kubica's seat by team boss Boullier is Force India reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg.

"In my eyes, he is the best person available," former driver Jos Verstappen wrote in his latest column for De Telegraaf newspaper.

"I see the German with great potential; very fast, a hard worker and a winner in many classes of racing."

Speaking to reporters at Jerez on Thursday, however, Boullier said Hulkenberg is not a candidate because of his lack of experience.

Toro Rosso ready to promote next rookies - Marko
(GMM)  Helmut Marko is refusing to rule out a change of driver lineup for Red Bull's second team Toro Rosso this season.

Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are starting the year at the wheel of the Ferrari-powered STR5, but two highly rated Red Bull-backed chargers are waiting in the wings.

Of the pair, Daniel Ricciardo is the highest profile, testing the car at Jerez on Thursday and set to drive it on every Friday morning at the 20 grands prix this season.

But Marko, Red Bull's inimitable driver manager, is also championing the cause of 20-year-old Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

"In Ricciardo and Vergne we have two outstanding talents.  Buemi and Alguersuari know that their job is not a pillow, and we are not a boarding school," the Austrian told Auto Motor und Sport.

Former grand prix driver Marko has a reputation as a ruthless manager of drivers, not hesitating to pile the pressure on Toro Rosso's current race lineup.

"Buemi's services last year were not what we expected of him," he warns.  "Alguersuari has developed, but is it enough?"

Marko hailed Ricciardo's raw pace, as demonstrated at the Abu Dhabi test last November, and said Vergne's fighting spirit is unmatched.

"If our four drivers went side by side into a corner, I guarantee Vergne would come out the other side first," he said.

Hulkenberg tips Red Bull and Ferrari for pace
(GMM)  After the first tests of the 2011 winter, Nico Hulkenberg is convinced that Red Bull and Ferrari will once again be the title contenders.

"If you look at them, you know: they are clearly ahead of the rest of the field," the Force India reserve driver, who has been present both at Valencia and again at Jerez this week, told Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport.

Mercedes racer Nico Rosberg admitted that he took notice at Valencia last week when the reigning champions Red Bull rolled out their car with pace and reliability.

"I thought 'This car has been testing somewhere else'.  If not, then they are a step ahead of us," admitted the German.

Kubica must be patient for F1 comeback - Webber
(GMM)  Despite suffering broken bones in two falls in recent history, Mark Webber has revealed that he still loves mountain bike riding.

The Australian driver was commenting on Robert Kubica's new battle to recover from horrific injuries suffered in a rally crash.

"Compared to Robert, I had a scratched finger," said the Red Bull driver, referring to his own badly broken leg and - more recently - shoulder.

Webber said there is no trying to stop F1 drivers from going about their lives away from the track.

"Our perception of risk is different to normal people," he insisted in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.

"First of all, Robert should thank his lucky stars; to survive something like that is already a gift from god.  From now it will be about the head.

"He is going to go through the ups and downs, because after three good days of training you have a bad one and you wonder if it's all going to pay off.

"He has to be patient, which for a racing driver is exactly the worst thing: we are hyperactive and he will want to see progress every day, as we do with our jobs.

"He just has to give it the time it needs," advised Webber.

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