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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Bernie: Do I look stupid or what?  If I can make more money you are dam right we'll race more than 20 times a year
    Calendar could grow beyond 20 races - Ecclestone
  • Renault writes off car after Hungary explosion
  • Red Bull seat 'unlikely' admits Ricciardo
  • F1 break 'bearable' as pressure lifts - Buemi
  • Barrichello unsure he wants Williams stay
  • Ecclestone admits new calendar to please Bahrain

Calendar could grow beyond 20 races - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has revealed the formula one calendar could expand beyond 20 races.

Originally, the 2012 schedule featured an unprecedented 21 dates, but FIA president Jean Todt insisted the number would ultimately drop to 20 as agreed with the teams.

Indeed, the latest version circulated in the Hungaroring paddock last weekend featured 20 races, with Turkey dropped.

The teams, fearing staff burnout, are keen for the calendar to remain capped at 20 races per season.

But Williams chairman Adam Parr told Reuters this week that the schedule "can increase a little bit" in conjunction with a change to the event format.

"We could have 21 (races)," F1 chief executive Ecclestone, the author of the annual calendar, told the Daily Express.

He suggested the teams will agree to an extra race on the grounds that the one it would need to replace might be Monaco or another favorite.

"If we say we have got to get rid of Monaco, they would say we would rather not," predicted Ecclestone.

Renault writes off car after Hungary explosion
(GMM)  Renault has written off the car that exploded during a fire in the Hungarian grand prix.

The team earlier explained the fire as due to overheating, after Nick Heidfeld revved the engine for too long during a pitstop delay.

Technical director James Allison on Thursday expanded by revealing that a different engine setting meant the exhaust was already running hotter than usual.

He said the exhaust also cracked, but the reason for the sidepod explosion was an "air bottle which supplies the air valves in the engine".

"It has overheated in the fire and failed," added Allison.

DPA news agency quotes him as saying the incident was "highly undesirable, as it has caused us to write off a chassis" just before the teams are forced to close their factories for the August break.

"We are in touch with the FIA both to provide them with a full report of the incident and also to explain to them the actions we are taking to prevent a reoccurrence," he said.

Red Bull seat 'unlikely' admits Ricciardo
(GMM)  Daniel Ricciardo has said it is "unlikely" he is already being lined up for a race seat at F1 pacesetter Red Bull Racing.

Undoubtedly the energy drink company's youngster of the moment, the 22-year-old Australian has been placed with Red Bull backing at HRT and linked strongly with a move next year to the secondary team Toro Rosso.

Amid continuing rumors that Mark Webber could be nearing retirement, however, Red Bull driver manager Dr Helmut Marko this week indicated it is "likely" the 34-year-old's successor will be the "other" Australian.

Ricciardo was therefore asked by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport if he is targeting a Toro Rosso or Red Bull Racing seat for 2012.

"Before I get to that point, I have to prove that I deserve it," he answered.

"So first of all I need to get to the level of (HRT teammate) Tonio Liuzzi.  That is a realistic goal.

"It would be great to sit in a Red Bull, but I think that's unlikely.  It would be nice to have a place in a formula one team -- where, I don't really care," added Ricciardo.

F1 break 'bearable' as pressure lifts - Buemi
(GMM)  Sebastien Buemi has admitted he will enjoy his holidays much more in the wake of his impressive performance in Hungary.

Shunted to the back of the grid with a pre-race penalty after a disappointing run of form, the Swiss climbed 15 positions through the field in Budapest to finish eighth.

He called it "one of my best" drives ever, amid intense pressure at Toro Rosso as the second Red Bull team looks for a vacancy for the rising youngster Daniel Ricciardo.

Asked if Hungary was therefore a weight off his shoulders, 22-year-old Buemi told the Swiss 20 Minuten publication: "It's true.  The holiday weeks will now be bearable!"

Even so, speculation that 2011 could be Buemi's third and last season at Toro Rosso is likely to continue throughout the August pause.

Asked if he will take the chance to have some talks with other teams, he insisted: "I am under contract to Red Bull until 2013, so it's not my decision.

"They are free to put me wherever they want in one of their teams," said Buemi, referring to Toro Rosso as well as the premier team Red Bull Racing.

"It is also possible to drive for another team, but the parent (Red Bull) will have the say.  The guys have expressed their satisfaction with my performance so my morale is good," he added.

Buemi said he is comfortable because of his performance relative to teammate Jaime Alguersuari.

"It is the only driver with whom I fight on equal terms," he insisted.  "I always fight to finish ahead of him both in qualifying and the races, and in 11 races I have beaten him eight times.

"It's very positive," said Buemi.

Barrichello unsure he wants Williams stay
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello has continued to admit his frustration at Williams amid uncertainty about his race seat beyond 2011.

Germans Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg are being mentioned as possible partners for the Brazilian veteran's current teammate Pastor Maldonado next year.

39-year-old Barrichello has in recent days been quoted as sounding impatient with Williams' recent experimentation at grands prix, insisting he has "never wanted to be a test driver".

Barrichello is now quoted by Italy's Corriere dello Sport: "It's an incredible situation.  I don't know if I will continue next year in these conditions.

"In recent months we have brought too many aerodynamic parts, we could not test them completely and honestly you can't use a race for testing.

"We are confused, the team is shrouded in uncertainty."

Oxfordshire-based Williams is indeed set to change considerably for 2012, with technical chief Sam Michael replaced by Mike Coughlan and Renault instead of Cosworth to supply the engines.

"I think people needed to feel change," said chairman Adam Parr, with the famous British team only ahead of Lotus, HRT and Virgin in the constructors' championship.

"Everyone individually has been doing the best they can.

"But there's the sense that we are not getting the results and we needed a change, and people like what we are doing and where we are going," he added.

Ecclestone admits new calendar to please Bahrain
(GMM)  Bahrain has played down claims it asked for a later race slot on next year's calendar due to continuing civil uncertainty in the troubled island Kingdom.

The 2011 grand prix was cancelled altogether due to the protests and the government's reaction, but Bernie Ecclestone duly scheduled Bahrain's return next year at the head of the 2012 calendar.

The updated provisional calendar circulated in the Hungaroring paddock last weekend, however, showed Bahrain shuffled down the order to November.

A report in the Financial Times on Thursday said the government "asked for more time to calm the country's troubled political situation".

"They didn't want it up the front so I've had to screw the whole calendar up," said F1 chief executive Ecclestone.

A spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit, however, played down the link between the later race date and the political situation.

"We are extremely happy to host the grand prix in November.  Due to high temperatures in our summer, either early or late in the season is better.  November is the best month for us," he said.

But the revised calendar has upset the teams, who are concerned that seven races on four separate continents have been scheduled within an arduous ten-week period at the end of next season.

Ecclestone slammed the suggestion he is under pressure to tweak the order but admitted the US/Brazil back-to-back is "a bit of a ball-breaker because there are no flights that go direct from Austin to Sao Paolo".

However, that pairing may be in doubt due to the fact government funding for the Texas event can only be distributed a year in advance -- meaning that construction of the Austin circuit might have to be delayed for now.

A spokesman for the Texas comptroller dodged the question when asked by the local Austin American Statesman.

"While we have heard rumors on the date change, among others, we really aren't going to speculate on the course of action for each possible situation," he said.

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