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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Massa's days numbered?
    Mitsubishi keen on F1-style electric car series
  • Rosberg to test Mercedes DTM car at Hockenheim
  • Race for Red Bull's F1 seats heats up
  • Lauda ponders F1 future for Webber, Massa
  • F1 must not race behind pay-wall - Virgin's Lowdon
  • Lotus boss Fernandes renaming GP2 team Caterham
  • Officials play down second India GP project
  • Schumacher committed to full three-year contract
  • Button: My career will end with McLaren

Mitsubishi keen on F1-style electric car series
(GMM)  Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi has revealed its interest in F1 governing body the FIA's plans to create a global racing series for electric cars.

Recent reports said FIA president Jean Todt, who thinks the new category can be set up for 2013 and be run on formula one circuits, has been asked to create the series by the European Commission.

There is some resistance within F1 to the sport's own greener initiatives including smaller engines and hybrid technology, but Japan Today quoted president Osamu Masuko as saying Mitsubishi Motors is "very interested" in the electric series.

"Our employees are saying that we should definitely do it," he added.

"The development costs for electric vehicles seem much lower than for gasoline cars and it would also contribute to the technological development of cars that are already on the market," said Masuko.

Mitsubishi's motor sport heritage has been predominantly in rallying, but it withdrew from its main focus - the off-road Dakar rally - two years ago.

Said Masuko: "I'm said to be unenthusiastic about motor sports but with electric vehicles, I want to promote them."

Rosberg to test Mercedes DTM car at Hockenheim
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg is set to test a DTM car this weekend.

The event will be a showpiece at Hockenheim as the 2011 German touring car championship kicks off.

According to Bild newspaper, the 25-year-old German will be appearing for Mercedes, for whom he races in formula one.

The report said the outing will be Rosberg's first proper run in a DTM car.

"As a racing driver I grew up in the DTM, on the program with the Formula BMW Junior and Formula 3 series," he said.

"But I've never driven a DTM car, except from a few meters at the end of last season for the victory party for Paul di Resta's championship in Stuttgart," added Rosberg.

Meanwhile, F1 engines were firing on Wednesday at Duxford (UK) aerodrome, where alongside the Caterham announcement Team Lotus test driver Ricardo Teixeira was straight-line testing the T128.

According to Speed Week, Bruno Senna was also in action for Renault with a similar aerodynamic test at Duxford, and the Brazilian will now travel to Spa-Francorchamps to demonstrate the team's F1 car during the World Series event.

"I will have the 2010 car on Saturday and Sunday," Senna confirmed to Globo.  "The basic idea is to entertain the crowd but it's also a chance for me to keep in action."

Race for Red Bull's F1 seats heats up
(GMM)  As Daniel Ricciardo admits there is a chance he could make his F1 debut in 2011, Sebastien Buemi insists he is not losing sleep.

"Compared to my teammate I've never done badly," Swiss Buemi, referring to Jaime Alguersuari, is quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Sun.

The pair have both been told to up their game in order to keep their seats at Toro Rosso this year, but rumors suggest it is 22-year-old Buemi who is first in the firing line.

Australian Ricciardo now appears in the Ferrari-powered STR6 each Friday morning at grands prix, with Buemi well aware of his presence.

"Red Bull gives young drivers a chance to get into F1, so you always know that besides you there are other guys that try to show their abilities and aim to drive for the team.

"If you give up, it's over for you," said Buemi.

Ricciardo, 21, was asked by motorline.cc about the rumors a race seat could open up before the end of this season.

"That would be great," he admitted, "but my focus is on the Formula Renault 3.5, and for the rest we will see.

"I want a fixed place in formula one in 2012," the Australian clarified.

Another young Red Bull-backed charger close to his F1 debut is Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who denied the next step for him after 2011 is a season in GP2.

"Definitely not," he insisted.  "I want to do a good job in Formula Renault 3.5 this year and have an F1 cockpit for 2012.  At the moment, for me, that's the only goal."

Another way for Buemi and Alguersuari to look at the situation is that if Ricciardo does arrive at Toro Rosso in 2012, and Mark Webber moves on, they might be staring at the vacancy at Red Bull's senior team.

"From my point of view I know that if I do my maximum and get important results, then my value can increase and I can have a chance," Buemi said.

"I focus on this.  The rest is just gossip."

Lauda ponders F1 future for Webber, Massa
(GMM)  The occupants of two key seats at top formula one teams may be under pressure, but finding alternatives is the real issue.

That is the view of outspoken former triple world champion Niki Lauda, who was asked in a German-language interview with spox.com about the looming fates of Felipe Massa and Mark Webber.

Both have had tumultuous recent periods - Massa throughout 2010 at Ferrari and Red Bull's Mark Webber at the opening races of 2011 - although the pair's most recent outings marked notable improvements.

"I want to tell you that I'm happy to be alongside you," Massa's teammate Fernando Alonso wrote in a recent 30th birthday message to the Brazilian.

Australian Webber, meanwhile, emerged from his championship challenge of last year into a difficult start in 2011, with his team boss Christian Horner saying his pace and motivation will be the key to a new deal for next season.

The 34-year-old driver then suggested his relationship with Sebastian Vettel is still not right by admitting it was "good" the German was beaten in China two weeks ago.

"That was quite a normal reaction," Austrian legend Lauda said, defending Webber.

"If Vettel had won again, his lead would have grown even more, and Webber wants to be world champion as well.  Of course you're in a team, but if you want to be successful, you also have to be selfish," he added.

But also true is that if Webber and Massa are once again beaten by their respective teammates in 2011, their teams might need to look at their options.

"On a consistent basis, Webber and Massa can not go on the level of Vettel and Alonso," said Lauda.

"But for the two of them to be replaced, they (the teams) would first have to find two who are better," he added.

F1 must not race behind pay-wall - Virgin's Lowdon
(GMM)  F1 must remain on free-to-air television, Virgin sporting director Graeme Lowdon insists.

With News Corporation looking into buying the sport's commercial rights, Bernie Ecclestone said he is skeptical because it might make negotiations with other broadcasters difficult.

Another potential issue is News mogul Rupert Murdoch's famously negative attitude to free media content, with some commentators fearing formula one might disappear behind a pay-wall.

"If you remove the majority of the public, it removes a lot of the spirit of what F1 is about, as well as the ability for the teams to stand on our own two feet without reliance on the commercial rights holder," Lowdon told the BBC.

"F1 is way bigger than pay-per-view and deserves its place on the global stage with the viewing figures it gets," he added.

It has also been suggested that Murdoch may want to remove Ecclestone as chief executive in the event of a takeover, but astute observer Sir Jackie Stewart is not so sure.

"Bernie knows Rupert Murdoch," the Scottish former triple world champion told the Telegraph.  "If they (News) take over they may turn around and say 'why try to fix a wheel if it's not broken?'

"After all F1 has never been more popular than it is now, which considering the economy is pretty impressive whichever way you look at it," he added.

Lotus boss Fernandes renaming GP2 team Caterham
(GMM)  A clear hint about Team Lotus' plans for its new acquisition Caterham Cars is boss Tony Fernandes' GP2 squad.

The Malaysian millionaire told reporters as the tie-up with the niche British sports car maker was announced that his GP2 team, currently called AirAsia, will soon be renamed after Caterham.

As for whether he will also immediately change Team Lotus' name, he replied: "Absolutely not."

But that answer was an obvious one, given he is still fighting in the London courts with Group Lotus for the right to use the name he bought from David Hunt.

But once the verdict is in, Fernandes might have a change of heart.

"I wanted to be in car manufacturing and Lotus would have been the most obvious choice," he told the Times newspaper on Wednesday, "but that didn't work out.

"I always felt that the most powerful weapon in owning a F1 team was the brand profile it created and the most logical product to associate with that was a car," added Fernandes.

Officials play down second India GP project
(GMM)  Officials have played down reports that a second Indian state has begun a formula one project.

As the finishing-touches are being applied to the newly-named Buddh circuit in New Delhi, it emerged this week that an entirely separate project in the southwestern Goa state has been given the green light.

"We have decided to go ahead with it," the Times of India quoted tourism director Swapnil Naik as confirming, adding that a coastal site for the venue is likely.

But another publication, the Abu Dhabi-based daily Sport360, has quoted Naik as subsequently playing down the project's prospects.

He said a consortium was shown some potential sites but has not since been heard from.

And tourism minister Nilkanth Halarnkar said the group wanted the government to part-finance the venue, but according to Sport360 he told them "they would have to fund their own project".

Schumacher committed to full three-year contract
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has dismissed the latest rumblings about his commitment to his three-year formula one return.

After a disappointing comeback in 2010, it was rumored the seven time world champion's commitment to completing the contract depended on his form this year.

And in the wake of the opening three grands prix of 2011, speculation is now re-emerging about 42-year-old German Schumacher returning to retirement at the end of this season -- perhaps to make room for Mercedes' impressive protege Paul di Resta.

But Schumacher has told the German weekly Bunte that he is still planning to fulfill the three years of his original contract.

Schumacher said he feels he is "on a mission" to take Mercedes back to the top of the podium, even though he admits "chasing for tenth place is not fun".

He insisted however that he expects to be in a much better position soon.  "That's why I'm fighting with Mercedes," he said.

Observers, however, have noticed key differences with the Schumacher of the past, and even the winner of 91 grands prix admits that "42 (years old) is not the same as 25".

But he insisted: "I will fulfill my three year contract with Mercedes and afterwards work as a representative of the brand."

In an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, 25-year-old Nico Rosberg defended his famous teammate.

"Michael performs at a high level, he is strong," he said.  "His current results do not reflect how good he is.

"To beat him I have to get everything right -- he's closer than last year," added Rosberg.

Button: My career will end with McLaren
Jenson Button says that he does not wish to race for any team other than McLaren before the end of his Formula 1 career.

“When I finish racing here, I won't be racing in Formula 1 anymore,” 2009 Champion Button told Autosport. “I'm very happy here. I want to enjoy my racing and I'm really enjoying my time here. I can't see any reason to be anywhere else.

“I'm driving for one of the best teams in the world. It's a position that most drivers would love to be in and I've worked very hard for it. I might be around for three years, five years...I don't know.”

“If Jenson says he is totally committed and wants to do x more years, then I suspect that we could quickly come to an agreement,” added Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh. “He's a tremendous asset to the team and, when we get around to that, I hope that it will be a quick and easy conversation.”

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