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DATE News (chronologically)
06/11/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday  
  • 2011 Bahrain climb-down still rumbling on
  • Hulkenberg not considered for Perez seat - Sauber
  • Boullier denies Grosjean to replace Heidfeld
  • Coulthard predicts three-team scrap in Canada
  • Vettel recalls F1 fisticuffs
  • Pirelli planning F1 tire tweaks for 2012 - di Grassi

2011 Bahrain climb-down still rumbling on
(GMM)  The Bahrain rescheduling saga is rumbling on even though the uncertainty about the 2011 calendar has now ended.

Bernie Ecclestone has re-submitted an amended calendar to the FIA featuring India with its usual October date and the troubled island Kingdom missing completely.

But the saga on Friday rolled on, when the Jean Todt-led governing body revealed that F1 chief executive Ecclestone was still pushing for Bahrain to have a rescheduled race mere hours ago.

Despite publicly supporting the teams' refusal to go to Bahrain in December, Ecclestone proposed on Friday "that Bahrain be rescheduled for 4 December", FIA documents showed.

It is probably a face-saving move by F1 authorities to give the impression Bahrain took their own decision to call off the event due to the logistical problems, rather than the appearance it was cancelled due to safety and moral fears.

Ecclestone's new calendar will be voted on by the World Motor Sport Council by fax on Tuesday.

In the paddock, most drivers have refused to weigh in with their moral views, including Fernando Alonso who declined to comment altogether on Friday.

But Mark Webber, vocally opposed on moral grounds, says his views are widespread.

"I'm not a lone voice.  There's lots of others," said the Australian.

Hulkenberg not considered for Perez seat - Sauber
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa's last-minute Sauber race drive in Canada raised more than one set of eyebrows.

The team's official reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez was in Mexico when his countryman Sergio Perez reported ill in Montreal, disapprovingly revealing that he followed the saga of de la Rosa's move from McLaren on Twitter.

But another driver wondering why he wasn't given the call was Nico Hulkenberg, the highly rated Force India reserve who lost his Williams seat for 2011 to Pastor Maldonado.

"Did Herr Sauber not have my phone number?" the German is quoted as saying by Swiss newspaper Blick.

Auto Motor und Sport, however, claims that Hulkenberg is too tall for the C30 cockpit, while de la Rosa was an obvious choice because Sauber still has his seat mould.

Agrees Hulkenberg: "You don't just jump into a formula one car these days and drive it."

Peter Sauber confirmed: "He (Hulkenberg) is too tall for our car.  He is also employed by our direct competition.  Between us and Pedro's McLaren, on the other hand, there is no conflict of interest."

And de la Rosa, 40, is familiar with Sauber, having raced the C30's predecessor for much of 2010.

"It's a totally different car, but it speaks a similar language," agreed Sauber.

Even so, the Perez substitution came as a complete surprise to de la Rosa.

"I was just finishing lunch with ten minutes until practice and they told me to get in the car," he revealed to El Pais newspaper.

"I ran to get my gear and helmet and got in the car and they tried to adjust my seat.  They also tried to move the pedals but couldn't.

"I feel bad for Sergio but this is a gift that I will enjoy," he insisted.

Boss Sauber admitted that he was grateful Perez alerted the team about his sickness rather than risk his safety by trying to drive through it.

"It's one thing to train, exercise or drive a kart and quite another to drive in formula one," said Perez's assistant Sallares Jaume.

"It shows his maturity.  It's not just about him but also about the danger of injuring someone else," he added.

Boullier denies Grosjean to replace Heidfeld
(GMM)  Eric Boullier has played down rumors Romain Grosjean is being lined up to replace Nick Heidfeld.

Renault is openly hoping for German veteran Heidfeld to step up his pace six races into his role substituting for the team's injured regular Robert Kubica.

"After starting the season with two podiums they (Renault) seem to be slipping back slightly," said veteran David Coulthard in his latest Telegraph column.

Leading GP2 driver Grosjean, managed by Renault's team boss Boullier, has been linked with Heidfeld's seat in recent days.

The Frenchman lost his Renault drive in 2009, after making his debut in difficult circumstances during the crashgate affair and the demise of the team's former management.

Asked what his immediate plans are for Grosjean, Boullier told Eurosport: "(To) leave him where he is.

"He has a roadmap to the completion of this season and he's following it well.

"We will not repeat the same mistakes of his past by bringing him back too soon," added Boullier.

Coulthard predicts three-team scrap in Canada
(GMM)  Ferrari could turn the race for Montreal victory into a three-team scrap, according to David Coulthard.

The BBC commentator and former 13-time grand prix winner observed after Friday practice in Canada that Red Bull and McLaren are not the only likely protagonists this weekend.

"Don't discount Ferrari," said Coulthard in his Telegraph column, after Fernando Alonso topped the afternoon session.  "While most people are forecasting Red Bull v McLaren, Alonso could be strong.

"The tire compounds here are the soft and the super soft, which Ferrari got on well with in Monaco.  I'm expecting a three-way fight."

Also strong on Friday was Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg fastest in the morning session, but Coulthard predicted: "They might do well in qualifying but I'm not sure they can keep it up during the race."

Vettel recalls F1 fisticuffs
(GMM)  According to Sebastian Vettel, he made his formula one debut in 2007 as the result of a fist-fight.

The paddock is still buzzing with rumors at present amid reports Adrian Sutil cut a Renault team executive's neck with a broken champagne glass earlier this year in China.

Vettel, the reigning world champion and runaway 2011 drivers' title leader, told the Swiss newspaper Blick that he made his F1 debut in mid 2007 thanks to a fight.

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost has previously denied that he fought with Scott Speed in the pits before the American driver was sacked.

Referring to his earlier debut in Robert Kubica's car after the then BMW driver's big Montreal crash, German Vettel said another incident then led to his full-time seat.

"This time it was a fight between the driver Speed and team boss Tost that opened the door to formula one for me," said the German.

But according to paddock legend, Vettel has also been in a F1 fight -- with Nick Heidfeld during a test in Bahrain in early 2007.

"That was made up," German Heidfeld is quoted as responding, despite Nelsinho Piquet confirming the pair had a "wild brawl in the pits".

Added Heidfeld: "Anyway, I don't hit children."

Pirelli planning F1 tire tweaks for 2012 - di Grassi
(GMM)  Pirelli is planning some fundamental changes to its tires for the 2012 season, test driver Lucas di Grassi has revealed.

Brazil's Globo Esporte spoke to the former Virgin race driver prior to his next outing in the 2009 Toyota scheduled for early next week at Jerez.

"Only a few things need to be improved," said di Grassi, who is now Pirelli's main test driver on the heels of Nick Heidfeld and Pedro de la Rosa.

"The first is the 'marbles', and the engineers are trying to reduce them," he said.

"Another is that the tires are not rubbering-in the tracks as much because the chemical bond between the rubber and the asphalt is too weak."

Di Grassi also said Pirelli is working to widen the 'operating window' of the tires, with teams like Ferrari for example struggling massively on the hard compounds.

"The performance difference with the hard tire can be too big between the teams," he acknowledged.

"The aim for next year is to improve a bit, and a bit more for the next year, because you can't make drastic changes."

Di Grassi also said Pirelli has developed a very durable compound.

"It's a type that lasts an entire race, like Bridgestone.  But this is not a proposal for formula one today."

As for his own future, the 26-year-old said returning to the F1 grid is the main aim, but staying with Pirelli or switching to Indycars are also options.

"The plan is to return to formula one but it would depend.  It would have to be shown there is potential for long-term development.

"If it's the conditions I had in the first year (with Virgin), then no," said di Grassi.

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