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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • (L to R) Bernie Ecclestone with his ex-wife Slavica and two daughters Petra and Tamara
    Daughter doesn't want to succeed F1 boss Ecclestone
  • Chandhok 'looking at' Team Lotus race seat
  • HRT admits eyeing Spanish race driver
  • HRT 'needs more resources' - Willis
  • Schumacher should stay if F1 still 'fun' - Tost
  • De Villota's manager 'in contact' with Ecclestone
  • McLaren offered Virgin deal to Team Lotus
  • Massa expects close battle for rest of 2011
  • Ricciardo not promised better seat in 2012
  • Criticized Heidfeld 'satisfied' with 2011 form
  • Renault have Spa updates but focus on 2012
  • No wedding bubbly for Petra Ecclestone's husband-to-be

Tamara (L) and Petra Ecclestone
Daughter doesn't want to succeed F1 boss Ecclestone
(GMM)  The daughter of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone insists she has no plans to follow in her father's footsteps.

27-year-old Tamara Ecclestone, the eldest of Ecclestone's two daughters, has worked as a F1 reporter for Sky Italia and earlier studied at the London School of Economics.

But she told the Mail on Sunday that she has no plans to replace her dad, the British billionaire who for decades has sat at the helm of formula one.

"Recently my father declared that he could envisage a female CEO at F1 in the next three years.  I wouldn't advise anyone putting a bet on that woman being me," said Tamara Ecclestone.

"Those are big shoes to fill and my feet are completely the wrong size for that job.  I would hate to be the person to undo his years of amazing work.  I'd reduce the whole operation to chaos within hours," she joked.

At any rate, Ecclestone said her diminutive father - who turns 81 in October - has no plans to step down.

"For my dad it's not about making more money, it's about the next successful deal," she said.

"It's not like he needs an extra few million.  He doesn't need to work and hasn't needed to do so for years -- but he's got too much of an active mind to ever consider retirement.

"For him the financial rewards are secondary to the passion he feels for what he does," she added.

Chandhok 'looking at' Team Lotus race seat
(GMM)  Karun Chandhok has admitted he is hoping to race at Team Lotus in 2012.

While his countryman Narain Karthikeyan will be in action for HRT at India's inaugural F1 race in October, Chandhok admitted he is unsure if he will also be on the grid in New Delhi.

He told the Hindustan Times that his real priority is 2012.

Reserve driver Chandhok, 27, revealed that he will appear in the green T128 for Friday practice a couple more times this season.

"(And) for 2012, I am looking at a potential full time race seat," he said.

Chandhok insists, however, that he was signed by Team Lotus this year on merit, and that his sponsors have not guaranteed him a race seat next year.

"There's no deal," he said.  "It's just another wrong perception like the belief that I paid to get into Lotus."

He said he will only earn his place based on his speed on Friday mornings.

"That's a big internal assessment for the team.  I also want to be on the grid after earning the respect of the team engineers and not just because I am Indian," said Chandhok.

HRT admits eyeing Spanish race driver
(GMM)  The HRT team has admitted it is looking around for a Spanish driver.

Despite Thesan Capital taking over recently and dropping the Hispania moniker and flag logo, the back-of-the-grid team said it is still committed to upping its Spanish identity.

Recently, young Spaniard Javier Villa was linked with a potential 2012 seat.

"The possibility of incorporating a Spanish driver for next season is something that the team would like," HRT said on its website.  "But there is a big step from that to actually having a deal with a driver."

The team defended its decision to drop the Hispania name and Spanish flag logo.

"Hispania was the name of the business group belonging to the previous owners, so the change in direction meant that the team name had to change too," it said.

"HRT was chosen because it is the name of the chassis.  The flag was part of the logo so when we changed the logo the flag went too.  But don't worry, it will be back on the car at some stage."

HRT 'needs more resources' - Willis
(GMM)  In a question and answer session on HRT's official website, the team said it will take "two years" to move away from the back of the grid.

Technical boss Geoff Willis however said this will only happen if the outfit formerly known as Hispania increases its resources and staff numbers.

"We have to improve pretty much everywhere," the former Red Bull, Honda and Red Bull chief told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"I do not mean to sound negative," added Willis.  "The simple fact is that we need more resources.

"For example, in our aerodynamic program, we simply need more people.  In production we need better quality control and tests.  You just cannot afford to be a little bit weak in those areas."

Inside every F1 team factory, work is well underway on the 2012 cars, but Willis said HRT's schedule to be ready for next season is "very tight".

"Of course we have already been working (on 2012) since June.  But we do not have the resources that I would like.  Many people in the team need to do several things at once."

The Briton joined HRT early last year and insists he has no immediate plans to accept any offers from bigger teams.

"That can not be answered simply.  Currently I am an important part of this project and no one wants to leave until we get there," he said.

Schumacher should stay if F1 still 'fun' - Tost
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher should stay in formula one for as long as he wants to.

That is the claim of Franz Tost, the Austrian team boss of Red Bull's second F1 team Toro Rosso.

According to Der Spiegel, Tost knows the 42-year-old German well, and so he was asked about widespread speculation that Schumacher should return to retirement rather than race on in 2012 and beyond.

"First of all," replied Tost, "Michael Schumacher, the seven time world champion with nothing to prove, should not care whether his teammate Nico Rosberg is faster than him or not.

"What is crucial for him is whether it is still fun or whether the passion is still there.  These are questions only he can answer."

But figures like Eddie Jordan - Schumacher's first ever F1 team boss 20 years ago - have said they would now dismiss the famous German due to a lack of performance.

Tost responded: "Michael brings so many other advantages that outweigh that.  Do you think Mercedes would still be so much in the spotlight if Michael Schumacher left?

"This is a crucial factor.  He continues to attract huge amounts of attention and so I see his comeback as anything but negative."

Eddie Jordan however told Dutch website f1today.nl that Schumacher has "had his day".

"This sport has had many champions and Michael Schumacher has had his day," said the Irishman.

"He has had huge success and is a very good driver, but someone should talk to him and try to convince him to let his place be taken by another talented driver."

De Villota's manager 'in contact' with Ecclestone
(GMM)  Maria de Villota has admitted Bernie Ecclestone is in "direct contact" with her manager.

The 31-year-old Spanish woman tested a 2009 Renault at F1 chief executive Ecclestone's Paul Ricard circuit earlier this month.

Marca sports newspaper asked de Villota if Briton Ecclestone - who admits he would like to feature a female on the formula one grid - is involved in her career.

"My manager has direct contact with him and he (Ecclestone) has been following all of this," she answered.

De Villota was also asked if she is going to be F1's first female driver since Giovanna Amati failed to qualify three times in 1991.

"I hope so," she said.

McLaren offered Virgin deal to Team Lotus
(GMM)  McLaren also marketed its technical package to Team Lotus, boss Tony Fernandes has revealed.

It emerged recently that the struggling Virgin team has partnered with the famous British marque for the 2012 season, with the deal to include access to the McLaren wind tunnel, staff, test rigs and driver simulator.

"The McLaren package was offered to us several times in the last year," Fernandes is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat.  "For us however we prefer (to pair with) Red Bull because both our teams have the Renault engine."

Team Lotus already uses Red Bull's gearbox and hydraulics, and the 2012 Lotus will feature Red Bull's KERS system.

Team driver Heikki Kovalainen however thinks Virgin will benefit from its new McLaren tie-up.

"I don't know whether it is the same package that was offered to Lotus, but it is obvious that if it does not improve their (Virgin's) pace, they have a very big problem," he said.

Massa expects close battle for rest of 2011
(GMM)  Felipe Massa is expecting a stronger end to the 2011 season, with Ferrari and McLaren fighting at the front with Red Bull.

After Sebastian Vettel pulled out a huge lead with his earlier dominance, the German failed to win a single grand prix in July as Red Bull's main rivals closed the performance gap.

"I believe Ferrari and McLaren will be even more competitive in the coming races," Brazilian Massa told O Estado de S.Paulo.

"I can not imagine that Red Bull can go back to having their advantage of the first races," he added.

Massa, the lowest placed of all the Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari drivers so far in 2011, is a massive 164 points off Vettel's championship lead.

"For me," he continued, "I have suffered a bit with the harder tires, so it is encouraging to know that they will no longer be used for the rest of the championship."

Ricciardo not promised better seat in 2012
(GMM)  Daniel Ricciardo has admitted he must do a "more than respectable" job if he wants to be promoted by Red Bull for the 2012 season.

The Australian is the current cream of the energy drink company's young driver program and since July has been placed with the small HRT team.

But in his three races so far, he has only once outqualified experienced teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi.

While most the F1 world slumbered in August, 22-year-old Ricciardo was in action at the weekend at Silverstone in the Renault World Series.

He has been linked with a move up to Red Bull's secondary Toro Rosso team for 2012.

"I've got to do a more than respectable job at HRT this year and then we'll see what opens up for next year," Ricciardo is quoted as saying by the West Australian newspaper.

"I obviously have a link with Red Bull but nothing is really guaranteed for the long term."

Criticized Heidfeld 'satisfied' with 2011 form
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld insists he is satisfied with his 2011 season despite criticism from within the Renault team.

Chiefs Gerard Lopez and Eric Boullier have admitted they are disappointed with the performance of the German veteran, who was drafted in to replace the injured Robert Kubica.

Pundit Eddie Jordan speculated to Germany's Sport Bild that the "bullying" tactics could be to spur Heidfeld to quit and make room for Renault hopefuls Bruno Senna or Romain Grosjean.

34-year-old Heidfeld however is vowing to fight on.

"Under the circumstances I am satisfied with the season and with my services," Sport Bild quotes him as saying.

"I am still fully committed to getting as many points for the team and helping them in whatever way I can," added Heidfeld.

The black R31 will feature updates to the floor, exhaust and suspension at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.

But technical director James Allison is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr: "At this time of year, the majority of the aerodynamic resources of the teams is transferred to the car for next season."

Renault have Spa updates but focus on 2012
(PVM) Renault resume their season in Belgium with a host of changes to the pair of R31s for Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld.

The team’s technical director James Allison revealed: “We will bring a new floor, a reworked exhaust, modifications to the rear brake duct, various detailed changes around the barge-board region and a different rear suspension arrangement. None of the changes are individually huge, but together they are a fair package.”

Allison also implied that the team’s focus is now on next year’s car, “Around this time of year the majority of the team’s aerodynamic resources have transferred to the next season’s car.”

“We will deliver upgrades to the car for the next three to four races as a result of research performed prior to the summer break, but after that the changes will become more modest,” he added.

Petra (L) and Tamara Ecclestone
No wedding bubbly for Petra Ecclestone's husband-to-be
Overlooking a volcanic lake and dominated by a magnificent crenellated castle, the sleepy hilltop village of Bracciano has seen nothing like it since the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes five years ago.

The picturesque Italian town, a labyrinth of cobbled lanes, sunlit piazzas and stone-arched doorways, is gearing up this week for a lavish, no-expense-spared wedding for Petra Ecclestone, 22, the glamorous daughter of the billionaire Formula One chief, Bernie Ecclestone.

But as crates of Cristal champagne and expensive wines are driven into the courtyard of the 15th century Odescalchi Castle, one important guest will be sticking to fizzy water and orange juice – the groom.

Businessman James Stunt, 28, Miss Ecclestone's boyfriend of the last four and a half years, is teetotal, despite being a regular on the London party circuit.

"If you go round to his house you're more likely to be offered a Coca-Cola than a beer," a friend told The Sunday Telegraph.

Getting drunk at the age of 14 on two bottles of his father's Dom Perignon put the entrepreneur off alcohol for life, and he finds the appeal of beer particularly mystifying. "I can't understand how people can enjoy drinking eight pints of any liquid," he told one interviewer, "it's unnatural."

He may forgo the champagne and cocktails when he and his bride marry on Saturday, but there will be plenty of other entertainment on hand – the Black Eyed Peas and Eric Clapton are to perform for the 300 guests at the wedding, at a reputed cost of one million pounds.

Miss Ecclestone, a sometime model and fashion designer, is said to be keen to outdo the wedding bash put on by Tom Cruise in 2006, which was staked out by hundreds of paparazzi from around the world.

Her fiancé is familiar with the high life too – he once owned a yellow Lamborghini with the number plate S7UNT and despite being a non-drinker, collects rare wines.

Their guests will start arriving in Bracciano, about 30 miles north of Rome, in the coming days, with some flying in by helicopter.

"They've asked permission for helicopters to land and we've given them the use of a sports field about a mile away," said Giuliano Sala, the town's mayor. "We're hoping that all the publicity will be good for Bracciano, as Tom Cruise's wedding was."

The wedding celebrations, which will last for three days, come three months after Mr. Ecclestone, 80, who is estimated to be worth £2.5 billion, threw an engagement party for his daughter at Battersea Power Station in London at which the pop star Rihanna performed.

He and his Croatian-born ex-wife, Slavica, who divorced after 24 years together, have reportedly agreed to bury their differences for the sake of their daughter, who has recently bought multi-million pound properties in Chelsea and Los Angeles – the latter being the former home of Hollywood television producer Aaron Spelling.

Preparations for the wedding are taking place amid the utmost secrecy.

The castle, which is normally open to guided tours, has been closed since Friday and will not reopen until the end of the month. Tourists who asked to buy tickets for the tour were falsely told that it was closed for restoration. Miss Ecclestone’s spokesman said: "We're giving out no details about the wedding at all."

"Closing the castle for 10 days will have cost a fortune, and that's on top of the money spent on the wedding itself," said Michaela Agalliu, the owner of a café in the shadow of the castle's imposing battlements.

A steady steam of trucks with British number plates have been entering the castle's imposing entranceway for days, and an estimated 150 workers have been brought in to prepare the venue for the wedding.

"More arrive every day," said Damiano Cristofaro, 21, the head waiter at Il Ristorantino, a trattoria on the piazza beneath the castle.

"They're electricians, lighting technicians and the guys who will organize a big fireworks display over the lake."

Details of the wedding service are being kept under wraps but may borrow elements from the ceremony for Cruise and Holmes. They were married in the castle's Hall of Arms, flanked by pages wearing the eagle and lion livery of the Orsini-Odescalchi family.

As press photographers paid up to £4,000 to rent balconies and roofs overlooking the castle, children in Bracciano waved Stars and Stripes flags and banners welcoming the celebrity couple.

Local restaurants came up with special menus to commemorate the event, including one which offered diners a 'Top Gun' menu, including "Mission Impossible" fettuccine and Suri apple pie.

So far there are no signs of restaurants offering 'penne alla Petra' or any other Ecclestone-themed specialties.

Not everyone in the town is so enthusiastic about the latest celebrity nuptials.

"I think it's insensitive to hold a hugely expensive wedding like this at a time when there are riots in England and an economic crisis all over Europe," said Susanna Miglio, a primary schoolteacher.

"It reminds me of Marie-Antoinette saying 'let them eat cake'."

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