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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Absent Ecclestone aims jibe at Silverstone delay
  • Force India backs Sutil for Barcelona race only
  • Barcelona could change layout if race unexciting
  • FIA agrees 'grace period' for blown exhaust limits
  • Chandhok still not confirming India GP race seat
  • Teams to debut new hard tire in Spain - Pirelli
  • Bahrain 'ready' as campaigns seek F1 return

Absent Ecclestone aims jibe at Silverstone delay
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has hailed the updated British grand prix venue but admitted it is "a great shame" the improvements were not made a decade ago.

Ecclestone, historically fiercely critical of the famous Northamptonshire circuit, attended the re-opening of Austria's A1-Ring last weekend but sent along his apologies as Silverstone's new 'Wing' complex was launched on Tuesday.

"I'm very sorry that I'm not here for this important occasion for the future of formula one and the future of Silverstone," he said in a statement read out for the press in his absence.

"It's a great shame it couldn't be completed ten years ago but well done," added Ecclestone.

Last year, Silverstone installed a new loop and for July's race the start-line has been moved between the Club and Abbey corners, the location of a brand new triple storey pit and paddock complex.

"Bernie has acknowledged that Silverstone has come up to the requirement that he stipulated," said 1996 world champion Damon Hill, now the president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club.

"So much of this is the way it is because it is the way Bernie wanted it," he added.

Ecclestone's satisfaction means the new 17-year contract for the grand prix is now on track to being fully honored, as the 80-year-old said the new complex is "the backbone of Silverstone's plans to be a world-class facility".

"We'd like to have seen Bernie," admitted Hill.  "We did invite him, and we were very excited when he accepted, but we understand that he's very busy."

Force India backs Sutil for Barcelona race only
(GMM)  Force India has indicated it will reassess its commitment to Adrian Sutil after Sunday's Spanish grand prix.

As the 28-year-old German faces criminal charges for attacking Renault team co-owner Eric Lux last month, Silverstone based Force India issued a media statement.

"Although the team continues to monitor the situation, it remains fully committed to its driver lineup at this weekend's Spanish grand prix," it read.

The situation has reminded some of Bertrand Gachot, who lost his Jordan seat in 1991 when he was convicted of attacking a London taxi driver.

Gachot's seat went to the rookie Michael Schumacher, and twenty years later it is another German, Force India reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg, who stands to benefit.

Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmerman, however, said the veteran of 75 grands prix intends to fight the charges, as the German newspaper Bild revealed an account of what took place inside Shanghai's M1nt nightclub.

The report said he has been in contact with Swiss lawyer Lorenz Erni, who two years ago famously defended Roman Polanski.

Bild said it has spoken to eyewitnesses who say Sutil's friend Lewis Hamilton became nervous when the Chinese nightclub became too crowded with fans.

In the melee, Sutil had a drink spilled on him, which is when Lux intervened.  It is believed Sutil tried to throw his drink onto Lux when the glass broke, cutting the Genii Capital chief executive in the neck.

Another German newspaper Die Welt said Sutil is not stereotypically violent as he "collects modern art", while "at his farmhouse in Oensingen he sits down to relax at his piano".

Barcelona could change layout if race unexciting
(GMM)  The Circuit de Catalunya is prepared to alter its layout if F1's spectacular 2011 formula does not produce an exciting Spanish grand prix this weekend.

It is said Sunday's race will be the true test of the success of the new rules, after the Spanish GP pole sitter won no less than 16 of the 20 races since Barcelona joined the calendar in 1991.

If the race does not live up to the others so far in 2011, such as Turkey where there were nearly 80 separate overtaking moves, Circuit de Catalunya could be modified, the venue's new director Salvador Servia told La Vanguardia newspaper.

"If it really is needed, we will make the necessary investments because we want to lead," he said.

Also "pending", said Servia, are the negotiations with both MotoGP and formula one about the future of the premier motor racing events at Montmelo.

FIA agrees 'grace period' for blown exhaust limits
(GMM)  The FIA has agreed a "grace period" as it clamps down in 2011 on the extreme blowing of exhaust gases through sophisticated diffusers.

We reported on Tuesday that 'Technical Directive 15' issued last week banned the blowing of exhaust gases beyond 10 per cent of full throttle when drivers are braking or not accelerating hard.

The directive was issued with immediate effect, but Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that a "grace period" has subsequently been agreed to give affected teams more time to adapt ahead of the Spanish grand prix this weekend.

According to the report, the FIA has determined that the engine has in effect become an aerodynamic aid controlled by the driver, which according to the regulations is not allowed.

It was planned that the restrictions would be imposed in Barcelona, but Auto Motor und Sport now says the teams' technical working group will agree a new imposition date that does not unfairly affect some teams over others.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn said that when the ban does drop, it will have a major effect.

"These sort of staccato exhausts that you hear, I don't think you will be hearing any more," he is quoted by Reuters at Silverstone on Tuesday.

The clampdown could be the result of a complaint by rival teams who believe superior engine control is a secret of Red Bull's speed, particularly in qualifying.

Asked if that is the case, team boss Christian Horner answered: "It is inevitable and the unfortunate consequence of success."

Chandhok still not confirming India GP race seat
(GMM)  Karun Chandhok is still refusing to rule out getting a one-off race seat at Team Lotus later this year when his native India hosts its inaugural grand prix.

The 27-year-old made an abortive debut with HRT last year and in 2011 is the reserve driver at Lotus, where in Melbourne and Turkey he has enjoyed Friday practice duties.

But it has been rumored for some time that race regulars Jarno Trulli or Heikki Kovalainen could move over for him late in October, when New Delhi makes its formula one bow.

Chandhok admitted to PTI that he will be disappointed if that is not the case.

"Well yes, there will be disappointment," he said.

"You need to be slightly patient in such kind of situations and my view is to believe in the medium to long term.

"Yes, I will back in the F1 as a race driver but this year or next year, we will wait and see," added Chandhok.

Teams to debut new hard tire in Spain - Pirelli
(GMM)  Teams will race on a different hard compound tire in Spain this weekend.

They tested the evolution of the compound during Friday practice in Turkey nearly two weeks ago, after its private test debuts at Istanbul and Barcelona, with it designed to degrade less severely by providing less grip.

"We said from the start of the year that we would introduce evolutions of the tires if we believed that they would benefit the sport and Barcelona marks the first occasion that we have done this," confirmed Pirelli motor sport director Paul Hembery.

However, he is still expecting drivers to have to stop three times on Sunday.

"It's not a huge step over the original hard tire but it does mean that there is a bigger gap between the soft and the hard, which will definitely give teams the opportunity to use more creative strategies," added Hembery.

Bahrain 'ready' as campaigns seek F1 return
(GMM)  Campaigns in Bahrain are stepping up in a bid to see formula one return to the troubled island Kingdom.

The FIA has extended until early June the deadline for a possible rescheduling of the 2011 event, as the front page of the Gulf Weekly insisted this week: "Bernie, come back, we're ready".

The headline was inked by editor Stan Szecowka, along with a front page petition that readers can sign that will be personally delivered to the F1 chief executive in London next week.

"We have had some difficult times recently and rescheduling the 2011 grand prix would be a tremendous boost to us all," wrote Szecowka.

Separately, more than 2000 signatures have been collected by a group of Bahraini F1 fans.

"The grand prix means a lot to us and to our entire country, and we want to do our small part in making it happen this year," a spokesman told the Gulf Daily News.

Also hoping to see the event return as soon as possible is Abdulrahman Al Morshed, chief executive of the National Hotels Company.

"If we get the F1 back it will make a massive difference to the international perception, so even if it isn't as successful as normal it will go a long way to bring business back to the country," he is quoted by the TradeArabia News Service.

Zayed Rashed Al Zayani, chairman of the desert-lined Sakhir circuit, has declared that Bahrain is now ready to host formula one again.

"If it was up to us, we are ready.  We are ready to host it but unfortunately it is not our decision alone," he said.

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