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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Boss says 'tired' Sepang should host night race
  • Raikkonen insists 'no interest' in F1 return
  • Williams' share float is fully subscribed
  • 'Lucky' Kubica looking ahead to 'long' recovery
  • Schumacher insists 'still good enough' for F1
  • New HRT car to make test debut in Barcelona
  • Barcelona admits looking to renegotiate GP deal

Boss says 'tired' Sepang should host night race
(GMM)  Malaysia should host a night race before its current formula one contract expires in 2015.

That is the view of the Sepang track's boss Razlan Razali, who has admitted to AFP that the event has "lost its luster" since debuting on the calendar in 1999.

And he said the success of nearby Singapore's floodlit street race has hurt Malaysia.

"And our biggest competitor is the television as many people prefer to watch the race from the comfort of their homes," said Razali.

Despite Sepang having some of the cheapest tickets on the entire F1 calendar, Razali revealed that less than 100,000 spectators attended the three-day event at the "tired-looking" venue in 2010.

He admitted that attendance this April could be even worse, adding that he has received no reply from the government about his request for funding to make renovations.

"When it rains, it (the grandstand roof) leaks.  People are not happy.  The circuit was built in record time but unfortunately there were shortcuts and poor maintenance," added Razali.

He said a quick fix to boost spectator numbers might be to organize a night race.

"We should do one night race before we extend the 2015 contract.  Maybe this will attract a bigger crowd as the weather at night will be cool," he said.

Raikkonen insists 'no interest' in F1 return
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen sounds less enthusiastic than ever about the idea of returning to formula one.

The 2007 world champion, who switched full-time to the world rally championship when Ferrari replaced him with Fernando Alonso for last season, was considered a leading contender for a return to the grid in 2011 with Renault.

He was again a candidate after Robert Kubica's horror rally crash, but 31-year-old Raikkonen was already setting up his own rally entry called Ice1 before he finished a promising eighth in the opening event in Sweden earlier this month.

"I have no interest in returning to formula one," he is quoted as saying by Gulf News.

"I do not want to talk about formula one," added the 18-time grand prix winner.

"Rallying is where I want to be.  And it is good to be back for another season," he said.

Williams' share float is fully subscribed
(GMM)  Williams' stock market floatation in Frankfurt next week will be a success, one of the managing banks has been quoted as confirming.

Baader Bank, chosen as the joint lead manager and local bookrunner for Germany in the floating of Williams Grand Prix Holdings Plc, said enough orders have been taken for full subscription, according to Reuters.

Following the cancellation of the Bahrain grand prix, there had been some concern about the Williams floatation when the share pricing range was reduced.

"The (Williams) IPO is very interesting, and I am sure that it will be watched closely by ... investors and other teams, like Ferrari, which is allegedly also considering an IPO of its team," said a Frankfurt based trader.

Indeed, in a statement, Ferrari admitted that Williams' floatation is a "positive story", with team boss Stefano Domenicali saying it "demonstrates the vitality of our sport".

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims Williams lost five sponsors since last year, worth as much as EUR 40 million in funding.

The team therefore replaced its promising rookie Nico Hulkenberg with Pastor Maldonado, whose PDVSA sponsorship is reportedly worth a staggering EUR 33 million.

Auto Motor und Sport said the Venezuelan driver has signed a five-year contract with options.

'Lucky' Kubica looking ahead to 'long' recovery
(GMM)  Robert Kubica insists he is "very lucky" despite recovering from horror injuries in an Italian hospital.

The Pole has been replaced at Renault for the start of the 2011 season, and there are doubts as to whether he will return to full fitness in the future.

"There are milestones to be met, and his journey will be long," admitted Santa Corona's spinal unit chief Antonino Massone, according to La Stampa newspaper.

"For a month, there is the risk of infection.  When a bone is exposed for 45 minutes, as it was in this case, it is attacked by bacteria and we need to treat it with antibiotics," he said.

But he hailed the Pole as "extraordinary", and Kubica's manager Daniele Morelli said he is a good patient "because he is a driver".

"The doctors and physiotherapists, for him, are like the engineers at Renault; adjusting, modifying and correcting the machine for the best result."

The Italian media report said it will be at least three months until it is known if Kubica has recovered enough functionality to drive again in the future.

"I know I'm not in good shape, but I consider myself very lucky," Kubica said.

"I am facing a long and difficult rehabilitation, but I am not worried about that," he insisted.

Schumacher insists 'still good enough' for F1
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has rejected suggestions he is too old to still be at the top of his game in formula one.

At the age of 37, the seven time world champion retired after his title challenge of 2006 but he returned to the sport last year and struggled.

Some have pointed to the German's age - Schumacher turned 42 last month - as the main reason for his struggle to keep up with his challengers, including 25-year-old teammate Nico Rosberg.

"Certainly it is not possible to turn back the biological clock," Schumacher admitted in interview with ADAC Motorwelt magazine.

"It is a fact that I am not absolutely the same now as I was 10 or 15 years ago.

"But as to whether I am still good enough, I would say yes," he insisted.

Schumacher insists that the bigger reason for his problems last year was the Mercedes car, which was built by the team when it was known as Brawn and expecting Jenson Button to be at the wheel.

"I came on board in December 2009 and the engineers knew already that the car would not suit me," he said.  "But, of course, it was done."

New HRT car to make test debut in Barcelona
(GMM)  HRT's new car for 2011 will make its track debut at the extra Barcelona test next month, according to a Spanish media report.

The sports daily El Mundo Deportivo said the Cosworth-powered F111 will be in action for the first time at Circuit de Catalunya between March 8 and 11.

Previously, the struggling Spanish team said the new car would only be ready for the pre-race test in Bahrain, which was scheduled to take place next week.

But the test and the season opener in the island Kingdom have been called off.

The final pre-season test was rescheduled for Barcelona in what was to be the week leading into the Bahrain grand prix.

The season will now kick off in Australia later in March.

El Mundo Deportivo said Hispania, to have an estimated EUR 40 million budget in 2011, is planning a 'B' version of the F111 for the Monaco grand prix in May.

The last to debut a new car for 2011, HRT sat out the Jerez test recently and earlier this week skipped the final day of the group session at Barcelona.

Barcelona admits looking to renegotiate GP deal
(GMM)  Fans of the Spanish grand prix have been told to not be alarmed by the recent comments of new Catalonian president Artur Mas.

On a visit to the formula one test at the Circuit de Catalunya last weekend, Mas said he was only able to guarantee that the 2011 race will take place.

But Salvador Servia, the new director of the track, has indicated to Spain's El Mundo Deportivo newspaper that Mas' comments were merely the trigger for negotiations.

Amid reports the current annual sanctioning fee of EUR 13 million is set to rise steadily until it has doubled by 2016, he said the current contract was negotiated by a different team.

"Many people were alarmed at the words of Artur Mas," he acknowledged, "but they (the comments) were realistic in the current context.

"To me, the most important thing was that the president of the Generalitat was at our circuit not for a grand prix but for testing.  This is a sign of commitment," said Servia.

He said the 2012 race is also likely to take place at the Circuit de Catalunya, to be followed by a negotiation about the future.

"With the current context, by 2016 - the final year of the contract - we would have to pay an unaffordable amount," explained Servia.

He acknowledged that the negotiations will be tough.

"It is not easy to negotiate with people who have a monopoly but we are in difficult times and Ecclestone knows that," said Servia.

"We will do everything possible to keep the grand prix.  Ecclestone, of course, will defend his business, but we have good arguments too.

"And he will also bear in mind many other factors apart from money," he added.

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