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DATE News (chronologically)
06/23/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE Updates shown in Red below.

06/23/11
  • Eric Lux files criminal charges against Adrian Sutil after a nightclub fight left Lux bleeding from the neck from a broken glass wound
    Lux files criminal complaint against Sutil
  • Taxpayers sue Texas comptroller over F1 race funding
  • Haug denies Mercedes set for rally switch
  • Vettel-di Resta pairing will show who's best - Haug
  • Bird, Paffett first in line for Mercedes seat
  • FIA 'very happy' with F1 engine rules compromise
  • Spain probes head of Santander for tax crimes
  • Trulli says 2011 could be last F1 season
  • Blown exhaust clampdown 'favors Ferrari' - Marko
  • Bahrain sets sights on successful F1 return
  • Dennis 'very nervous about ability of F1 teams to sustain'
  • Judge rejected Group Lotus appeal - Fernandes New
  • F1 should not impose new engine development 'freeze' - Renault New
  • Defiant Sutil 'ready' for criminal court action New
  • Perez to decide on Valencia return after practice New
  • Whitmarsh says McLaren happy with current drivers New

Lux files criminal complaint against Sutil
(GMM)  Eric Lux has now filed an official legal complaint against Force India driver Adrian Sutil.

The affair follows an incident in a Shanghai nightclub in April, during which Renault team co-owner Lux was reportedly cut on his neck with a broken champagne glass.

The Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung reported late on Wednesday that the Luxembourger finally filed a complaint, probably sometime last week.

"There is a pending complaint for grievous bodily harm against Herr Sutil," a spokesman for the prosecutor confirmed.

German Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmermann commented: "We are confident the court will come to the conclusion that this was not about Adrian attacking anybody."

Zimmermann added that, following an initial contact during which Lux demanded that Sutil sit out some grands prix, there have been no other talks about an out-of-court settlement.

FAZ said the prosecutors will investigate Lux's complaint and then decide whether to bring charges.

Taxpayers sue Texas comptroller over F1 race funding
(GMM)  More uncertainty has now emerged about the health of the US grand prix scheduled for Austin next year.

Local reports in the Texan capital reveal that comptroller Susan Combs, who approved the state funding for the Circuit of the Americas project, is being sued for illegally allocating the public funds.

The suit has been filed by three taxpayers, according to the Austin Business Journal.

Their lawyer says the advance payment of $25m from the Major Events Trust Fund is illegal because there was no "highly competitive selection process", while F1 is not a "site selection organization" eligible to receive the support.

But a spokesman for Combs insists that "All applicable state rules and regulations were followed.

"The comptroller's office has followed the law as it is laid out in statute and administrative rules," he added.

The news of the lawsuit has broken mere hours before the Austin City Council will vote on approving the receipt of the state funding for the F1 project.

Asked if he is suspicious of the timing, Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell told local news KUT: "I'm never suspicious about anything."

It has been said a likely outcome of Thursday's meeting now is the delay of the vote, with a new council member who is opposed to the race set to be sworn in shortly.

Haug denies Mercedes set for rally switch
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has denied reports Mercedes-Benz could switch from formula one to the world rally championship.

"I like rallying very much and in the glory days of Walter Rohrl and co I was there as a reporter," the German marque's motor racing vice president told Auto Motor und Sport.

"But we feel very well placed with our traditional and current motor sport activities," insisted Haug.

He is referring to F1, where Mercedes has its own team and supplies leading engines to McLaren and Force India, as well as the German touring car championship DTM.

Vettel-di Resta pairing will show who's best - Haug
(GMM)  A comment by Norbert Haug might trigger speculation Mercedes is looking to the future of its F1 driver lineup.

The reigning DTM champion at present is Paul di Resta, a Scottish rookie whose strong F1 debut this year has sparked rumors his future is with Mercedes GP.

Asked if the 25-year-old, with strong links to Mercedes, is better than Sebastian Vettel, Haug answered: "Who knows whether at some point, as they were in F3, they might be together in the same formula one team and then we'll know definitively who is the best.

"Today it's Sebastian Vettel," added the German.

Does that mean Mercedes, currently fielding Nico Rosberg alongside Michael Schumacher, is looking to update its current driver lineup?

"Now is not the time to talk about contracts for the future," insists team boss Ross Brawn to Cologne newspaper Express.  "We have bigger problems."

Rosberg has recently been linked with moves to Ferrari and McLaren.

"He has done a fantastic job and it's a big challenge for Michael to keep up with him.  Time will tell how long we cooperate.

"We need to prove that we are the team at which drivers want to be," added Brawn.

Haug, meanwhile, admits that Mercedes is already out of the running for this year's title.

"For us this year, certainly not," he told the DPA news agency when asked if the championship is a realistic goal.

Bird, Paffett first in line for Mercedes seat
(GMM)  Mercedes would promote "one of our test drivers" to the race cockpit should regulars Michael Schumacher or Nico Rosberg be unable to drive in 2011.

Sergio Perez's recovery from his Monaco qualifying crash raised an interesting question, after Sauber's official reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez was overlooked for the Montreal seat.

Instead, McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa got the nod, while at Mercedes GP for instance it is not believed an official reserve has been nominated at all.

Asked by Auto Motor und Sport this week who is first in line for the Mercedes seats, motor racing vice president Norbert Haug answered: "One of our test drivers."

It appears he is referring to GP2 driver and Briton Sam Bird, and the McLaren-linked Gary Paffett, who has just signed a multi-year contract to keep racing with Mercedes in DTM.

FIA 'very happy' with F1 engine rules compromise
(GMM)  The FIA is "very happy" with the news formula one will delay the introduction of new engine regulations until 2014.

With most of F1's existing engine makers and also Bernie Ecclestone opposed to president Jean Todt's plans for four-cylinder engines in 2013, the F1 Commission met in London on Wednesday.

The body unanimously approved a new turbo V6 formula for 2014, whose 1.6 liter engines should produce a better sound than the touted four-cylinder whilst retaining the crucial 'green' credentials through KERS.

The plan will soon be put to a vote of the World Motor Sport Council, an FIA spokesman told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

"We are very happy with the solution," a spokesman for the Todt-led federation told Reuters.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said it believes Ferrari, who were staunchly opposed to Todt's original plan, as well as Renault who threatened to quit if the four-cylinder engines did not arrive, are also now happy.

Cosworth is reportedly also happy, given its better understanding of V6 technology versus the comparatively unfamiliar four-cylinder concept.

Spain probes head of Santander for tax crimes
(GMM)  The head of major Ferrari sponsor Santander is being investigated for suspected tax-related crimes, financial news sources are reporting.

Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times say Emilio Botin - the red-jacketed F1 paddock regular - is under investigation by Spain's National Court, alongside several of his family members.

The scandal, involving Swiss accounts held by the Botin family members, coincides with the Spanish bank Santander's annual shareholders' meeting.

But the National Court said in a statement that if documentation provided by the Botin family is true, they will be "absolutely exonerated".

A statement issued by Santander said the Botins have met all their tax obligations by "voluntarily" paying back EUR 200 million in taxes.

"The family hopes that this matter can be satisfactorily and quickly clarified by the court," said lawyer Jesus Remon.

The case will be settled by June 30.

Trulli says 2011 could be last F1 season
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli has admitted 2011 could be his last season in formula one.

The Italian veteran, with approaching 250 races and 15 seasons under his belt, switched to the start-up Team Lotus last year after Toyota withdrew from formula one but has struggled.

Previously a qualifying specialist, the 36-year-old has complained all season about power steering, arguing the T128's system is not good enough for his precise driving style.

"That's why Kovalainen goes quicker than me," Trulli told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"These are not good times.  After 2010 I expected to be fighting in the middle but we are still at the back, building up experience as a team.

"I want to see how things evolve," he added.  "It's tough not fighting for high places any more.  I could have a look around and leave F1, without quitting racing."

Trulli said that while he is not interested in IndyCar, he would consider moving to Le Mans sports cars "with a strong team".

"But I'm not thinking about it now, I want to keep my mind clear.  Then we'll see," he added.

Reserve driver Karun Chandhok will be driving in Friday practice at Valencia, raising new speculation Team Lotus is looking to its future beyond Trulli.

But team boss Tony Fernandes recently defended Trulli's performances, answering "yes, yes, yes, yes" when asked if the veteran's seat is safe.

"He brings something many people don't see -- a lot of experience in development of the car," the Malaysian told the BBC.

Blown exhaust clampdown 'favors Ferrari' - Marko
(GMM)  Dr Helmut Marko has continued to rail against the FIA's controversial clampdown on blown exhausts.

Italy's La Stampa newspaper quotes the Austrian as suspecting Red Bull's rivals moved to outlaw the technology after watching the dominance of the RB7.

"If the others cannot copy us, they ask for our ideas to be banned," he reportedly said.

"This definitely favors Ferrari, and the decision seems to have been taken by give them an advantage," added Marko, who is Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man.

F1's governing body is headed by the former long-time Ferrari team principal Jean Todt.

Marko had already slammed the timing of the blown exhaust clampdown, after previously banned innovations like the F-duct and double diffusers were banned at the end of the relevant season.

"This is quite a serious intervention in a solidly developed structure," German reports quote him as saying.

But runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel seems less worried.

"I think it (the ban) could even be good, as it will cause bigger problems for the Mercedes-powered teams," said the German.

Bahrain sets sights on successful F1 return
(GMM)  Bahrain has turned its attention to hosting a highly successful return to the formula one calendar early next season.

After civil strife in the island Kingdom led to the postponement of its March 13 opener this year, F1 ultimately decided to skip Bahrain altogether in 2011 but has scheduled next year's first race of the calendar at the Sakhir circuit.

Track chief executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa said he thinks the situation will increase demand for Bahrain's F1 return next March 11.

"We are even thinking of expanding and building more grandstands," he told the Gulf Daily News.

Shaikh Salman said it was "very disappointing" that Bahrain could not host its race this year.

"Nothing to do with Bahrain, but there was an internal battle as well between the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone and the international media obviously played a part," he said.

"Bahrain took a decision that it is better to wait until next year and I personally agree with that and look forward to having everyone here next year."

Dennis 'very nervous about ability of F1 teams to sustain'
Former long-time McLaren team principal Ron Dennis has revealed his fears for the future of F1, pointing to the financial fragility of some of the sport's competitors and conceding that he is 'very nervous about the ability of teams to sustain'.

In charge since 1981, Dennis stepped down from the helm at McLaren in early 2009, handing over the reins to his loyal deputy Martin Whitmarsh, but he continues to attend a large number of grands prix and insists he has no regrets, admitting to still being 'passionate about motorsport' – albeit concerned about what potentially lies ahead.

“I'm very, very nervous about the long-term economics of motor racing and the ability of teams to sustain – 107 F1 teams have come and gone since 1966,” he told Sky News.

Dennis remains executive chairman of McLaren Automotive and the McLaren Group, and he left his F1 role to concentrate on different challenges that have included the development of the company's new road-going supercar, the MP4-12C, a £500 million project.

“The automotive group will have three times the turnover of the racing operation,” the Englishman explained. “We intend to have a turnover of £1 billion in five years.”

Judge rejected Group Lotus appeal - Fernandes
(GMM)  Renault sponsor Group Lotus has apparently lost the right to appeal the outcome of the recent naming dispute.

In London's High Court last month, Tony Fernandes' separate Team Lotus formula one outfit won the court action concerning the use of the iconic name and logo.

Group Lotus reacted by saying it was "confident of success on appeal".

But Fernandes wrote on Twitter on Thursday: "Great day for Team Lotus in court.  Interim costs awarded to us (and the) application for permission to appeal by Group Lotus rejected by Justice Smith."

F1 should not impose new engine development 'freeze' - Renault
(GMM)  F1 engine maker Renault has argued the sport should not enter another development 'freeze' once the regulations change in the future.

The World Motor Sport Council is expected to shortly ratify new regulations for a switch from the current normally-aspirated 2.4 liter V8 engines to turbocharged 1.6 liter V6s in 2014.

For the past several years in F1, development of the current crop of V8 engines has been severely restricted by the so-called 'freeze'.

But for the new rules, Renault Sport F1's deputy managing director Rob White says: "We are not in favor of a total freeze over many years.

"What we propose is an annual cycle of homologation in which year-on-year improvements are permitted for the purposes of improving efficiency," he told redbull.com.

White said a likely goal for the new V6 rules is an incremental improvement in the F1 engines' mandated fuel efficiency.

"So, we think there's a good value balance between limited changes, year-on-year, and the important environmentally sustainable message that fuel consumption reduction is not a big-bang, one-time deal," he explained.

"That's not been agreed yet, because we don't yet have sporting rules."

White also admitted that the FIA's earlier-stated goal of producing a 'world engine' that can be applicable across the major motor racing series is not yet likely.

"I think one should never exclude any opportunities, but for the time being this is a very specific set of regulations, which is entirely driven by formula one," he said.

Defiant Sutil 'ready' for criminal court action
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil on Thursday said he is ready to fight a criminal complaint lodged in Germany by Renault co-owner Eric Lux.

The Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung reported late on Wednesday that Luxembourger Lux had finally filed a complaint after he was cut in the neck with a broken champagne glass in a Shanghai nightclub in April.

The SID news agency quoted Force India driver Sutil as admitting that he heard about the grievous bodily harm complaint "just from the newspaper".

He said he was calm about the impact it might have on his career.

"What will happen to me?  Why should I lose my seat?  This is a private matter, my job is driving.

"I'm fine, I am able to focus on my job," Sutil said ahead of the European grand prix in the Spanish port city Valencia.

"I was prepared for whatever was coming, it was just funny that it took so long."

As for the possible court proceedings, he insisted: "We want the truth, absolutely.  I hope it will come to light soon.  I am ready to defend myself."

Perez to decide on Valencia return after practice
(GMM)  Sergio Perez on Thursday vowed to see how he feels after driving on Friday before committing to race this weekend on the streets of Valencia.

The Mexican rookie had expected to race two weeks ago in Canada following his Monaco qualifying crash, but pulled out after morning practice on Friday when he felt dizzy.

Perez, 21, had to pass medical exams in Montreal but at Valencia on Thursday he said the doctors are happy.

"They trust me and if I feel fine I will drive here," he told reporters.

Sauber, as well as McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa - who substituted for Perez in Canada - have confirmed that the same contingency plan is in effect for the European race.

"It (Friday) is an important day, especially the first practice to make sure everything is fine," said Perez.  "I am quite positive everything will be okay."

Whitmarsh says McLaren happy with current drivers
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh on Thursday indicated McLaren is hoping to keep the same driver lineup for the near future.

There has been speculation in recent days not only about Lewis Hamilton moving to Red Bull, but about his current teammate Jenson Button and Ferrari.

Red Bull's Helmut Marko, however, dismissed the Hamilton link this week by saying the Briton dropped into the team's motor home in Canada probably only for "a (can of) Red Bull".

And it is believed McLaren also wants to keep its other former world champion Button by offering him a pay-increase.

"We're very fortunate to have two different drivers that are great in the team and great with one another," team boss Whitmarsh told reporters on Thursday.

"We'll talk about the future when the time comes.  At the moment, we're not planning on having a different driver lineup."

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