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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • The new Mercedes might be a dog but at least it goes fast in a straight-line
    Williams changes share price after Bahrain axe
  • Bahrain axe could help Red Bull - Horner
  • New Mercedes quickest in straight line - report
  • Pirelli means Massa 'super confident' for 2011
  • Motorland boss doubts 2011 calendar to have 20 races
  • Ecclestone not charging Bahrain for axed race
  • Ecclestone to boycott launch of authorized book
  • Di Grassi says Virgin seat lost due to sponsorship
  • Villeneuve doubts Vettel 'maturity'
  • Kubica to spend more weeks in hospital - manager

Williams changes share price after Bahrain axe
(GMM)  The pricing range for shares ahead of Williams' Frankfurt floatation next week has been reduced.

The team had initially announced that shares would be offered for between EUR 24 and 29.

But in the wake of the cancellation of the season opening Bahrain grand prix, British newspapers the Telegraph and the Independent report that the range has been tightened and reduced to EUR 25 to 27.

The Telegraph said the change comes "as the sport scrambles to fix its racing schedule in the midst of the Middle East crisis".

Bahrain axe could help Red Bull - Horner
(GMM)  The cancellation of the Bahrain grand prix could actually benefit Red Bull.

That is the claim of the reigning champion team's boss Christian Horner, after pundits said the extra two weeks until Melbourne could work in struggling McLaren and Mercedes' favor.

But Horner told Bild newspaper: "With its long straights, Bahrain would not have been our showcase race."

Red Bull has long insisted that its cars are not as fast in a straight line as its rivals due to the underpowered Renault engine.

And as for the claim that the Bahrain cancellation gives struggling teams more time to catch up, Horner insisted: "Ten more days is not going to make much of a difference."

Mercedes' Norbert Haug, however, does not agree.

"At this point before the start of a season, all the teams are doing things literally at the very last minute," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

He said the extra time until the new season opener in Australia therefore gives every competitor "just a little bit more air".

New Mercedes quickest in straight line - report
(GMM)  Mercedes might not have the fastest car overall for 2011, but the W02 is the quickest in a straight line.

That is the finding of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, after the team's Norbert Haug admitted in Barcelona last weekend that the car would struggle to finish in the top ten if a race were held now.

But the German media report insists that Brackley based Mercedes actually made a solid step forward last week and is "the leader in terms of top speed".

Haug, admitting that a straight-line advantage is "important" in light of the close combat expected in 2011, is also sounding more positive than earlier.

"Because we were able to do more laps (in Barcelona), we understand the car and the tires better.  And that brings us lap time," he said.

Following the cancellation of the pre-race test in Bahrain, the teams' last outing before Australia will now take place in Barcelona next month.

"If everything goes in the right direction, the Silver Arrow may surprise you," warned Haug.

Pirelli means Massa 'super confident' for 2011
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has revealed he is feeling "super confident" ahead of the 2011 season.

The Brazilian insists his difficult season with Ferrari last year was mainly due to his not liking the characteristics of the Bridgestone tires.

Indeed, ever since Massa began testing on this season's Pirellis, he has been back on the pace -- including by recording the standout fastest time at the most recent Barcelona test.

"I turned the car upside down to see if the tires really are working for me," he said in an interview with O Estada de S.Paulo newspaper.

Massa, who according to the interviewer is "visibly excited" about 2011, confirmed: "I am much more in control of the car and know what I can do with it."

Describing his problems of last year, he explained: "I couldn't get everything out of the car after trying everything.  There was no way to be happy, and happiness is very important, especially with this sort of job.

"It was hard going to a race knowing what would happen.  Now, everything changed after three laps with these new tires," said Massa.

He confirmed claims that Ferrari is looking "very competitive" for the 2011 season.

"I had good results with Schumacher in the team, great with Kimi and then a horrible year with Alonso.  But it was horrible because the car didn't work for me," said Massa.

Motorland boss doubts 2011 calendar to have 20 races
(GMM)  The vice president of the Spanish region Aragon has played down rumors the local Motorland circuit could be drafted in to bring the 2011 calendar back up to 20 races.

Jose Angel Biel is quoted by the Europa Press agency as insisting he has "never raised" that issue with F1 authorities following the cancellation of the Bahrain race.

But he also did not rule out that Bernie Ecclestone will "call" him to find out the Alcaniz venue's "potential" to host a race this year.

If there is potential, a meeting "to study" the possibility cannot be discounted, Biel added.

"But I have the impression that the (20th) grand prix will not take place anywhere," he said.

Biel said his real aspiration for Motorland is MotoGP.  "Once we overcome that challenge, only then will we consider formula one," he added.

Ecclestone has said he will try to reschedule the Bahrain event for later in 2011, but many insiders consider that unlikely.

"We're looking to see how we can slot it in.  We don't know," the F1 chief executive is quoted as saying by the Guardian.

He told the Telegraph: "If everything is peaceful, which we hope it will be, then we will try our best to fit it in."

But Toro Rosso team manager Gianfranco Fantuzzi said that would be a "very complex" task.

"The sea freight schedule is very tight, with the equipment moving from one race to another and then another, with very little flexibility in this area," he explained.

"So putting the race back on the calendar later in the year would be very difficult, while replacing it with another event in Europe - to restore the calendar to 20 grands prix - would be more straightforward."

Ecclestone not charging Bahrain for axed race
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he will not be charging the Bahrain government for its postponed 2011 season opener.

It was reported in recent days that, because it was the island Kingdom's crown prince who actually called off the event, the more than $40 million race sanctioning fee was technically still payable to the sport.

But the Times quotes the F1 chief executive as saying: "Nobody wants to gain from this.

"I want to be loyal to the king because he is doing everything he can to put things right with his people.  He doesn't need people like me stabbing him in the back," added Ecclestone.

Also to the Telegraph, 80-year-old Ecclestone played down claims he is so ruthless he will be collecting the fee even though the 2011 race may not take place.

"The fee that is normally being paid for the event is not being paid," he insisted.  "I am not charging them for a race they are not getting.

"Whether they are covered by their insurers for loss of revenues, ticket sales etc, I am not sure.  But if anything is force majeure then that is.

"It is similar to if an earthquake had struck -- no one could have foreseen that a month ago," added Ecclestone.

The Briton clarified that F1 is "not insured for this sort of thing".

"If and when it is rescheduled they will pay their usual fee," explained Ecclestone, who denied that Bahrain pays more for the privilege of having the first race.

"There has never been an extra fee to stage the first race -- or the last race for that matter.  We put the calendar together to suit the sport," he insisted.

Ecclestone to boycott launch of authorized book
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone will boycott Wednesday's London launch of a new biography about him.

F1's 80-year-old chief executive said author Tom Bower "broke promises" about not including certain details of his family life in the otherwise authorized book No Angel, according to the Daily Telegraph.

"I am sure the book does not need this type of publicity to achieve sales," said Ecclestone, who had given Bower unprecedented access and even hospitality aboard his private jet.

The Amazon description of the book bills Ecclestone as "private, mysterious and some say sinister", adding that Bernie calls Bower The Undertaker due to his tendency to bury reputations.

"I'll accept your facilities," Bower is quoted as having told Ecclestone, "but if I find evidence of wrongdoing or hear any criticism, it will all be published.

"Tom, I'm no angel," Ecclestone reportedly replied.

The Daily Mail published an extract of the book recently focusing on how Ecclestone's relationship with Tuana Tan ended as Slavica entered the frame.

The extract is said to have upset the former Mrs. Ecclestone and their daughters.

"I was more than supportive of him.  Therefore I was more than a little disappointed with him when he included in the book matters concerning my family, which he agreed he would not," Ecclestone told the Daily Mail.

"Although I have not read it, I am sure it will be a good book," he added.

Di Grassi says Virgin seat lost due to sponsorship
(GMM)  Luca di Grassi insists the loss of his Virgin race seat was a simple case of not being able to afford it.

The 26-year-old Brazilian made his debut with the new British team last year, but for 2011 has been replaced by the Belgian Jerome d'Ambrosio.

"I had a contract with Virgin but I needed a new sponsorship," he told the Arena SporTV program.

"I could not get one, and the Belgian did.  Now I'm in a phase of restructuring to get back in (F1) next season," added di Grassi.

Globo Esporte reports that one possible appointment this year for the Brazilian, whose reputation is as a good test driver, is in the area of tire development with Pirelli.

When asked about the 2011 world championship in general, di Grassi said: "I have spoken with friends who are still there.

"Even when you're driving, it's hard to know what to think based upon the tests.  But I think Red Bull are still very strong as are Ferrari.

"McLaren are either hiding something or will not be so good for the start of the season," he added.

Villeneuve doubts Vettel 'maturity'
(GMM)  According to Jacques Villeneuve, one question mark surrounding F1's new world champion Sebastian Vettel is his "psychological maturity".

"That Vettel is very quick, there is no doubt," the 1997 world champion is quoted as saying by Germany's T-Online.

"The question has always been his psychological maturity," added the French Canadian, who last year questioned the young German's reaction to his crash in Turkey with Mark Webber.

Vettel has since won the title, but as for his maturity, "viewing it from the outside, it's impossible to say how this has developed", said Villeneuve, 39.

Interestingly, Villeneuve continues to back his former championship nemesis Michael Schumacher.

"In the second half of the (2010) season he was really strong," he said.

"He was criticized severely because he didn't just blow Nico (Rosberg) away.  But if he is still as hungry to win as he used to be, then he has the makings to be champion again."

Meanwhile, he is critical of the new adjustable rear wings, designed to increase overtaking.

"2010 was one of the best seasons ever," said Villeneuve, who won 11 grands prix for Williams.

"There was lots of overtaking, so I can't understand these rule changes," he added.  "It might be even easier with the rear wing, but that's just artificial."

Kubica to spend more weeks in hospital - manager
(GMM)  Robert Kubica will stay in hospital for at least a few more weeks, his manager has confirmed.

It emerged recently that, after his third major surgery, the Renault driver was moved from intensive care to the Santa Corona hospital's rehabilitation unit.

But proper rehabilitation has not yet begun, the 26-year-old's manager Daniele Morelli is quoted in French by autohebdo.fr.

"He is going to stay resting and under observation for the next two to three weeks," he said.

Morelli, however, revealed that Kubica - who has been visited by Jarno Trulli this week - is consuming a "normal diet" and is regaining strength.

"And when his body allows it, Robert will begin his rehabilitation work."

Hand surgeon Igor Rossello said he saw Kubica on Tuesday and he is "pretty well" and can move the fingers on his badly injured arm "slightly".

"He's no longer in pain and his psychological condition is pretty good.  He's obviously keen to start the rehabilitation work as soon as possible," added Rossello.

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