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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Bruno Senna bought his Renault ride by bringing two new sponsors to team
    Senna debut delivers two sponsors for Renault
  • Berger scolds Mercedes' team orders at Spa
  • Alonso hints Vettel and Newey welcome at Ferrari
  • FIA releases arduous final calendar for 2012
  • Todt to propose Friday practice for testers only
  • Alesi happy with Spa/France alternating proposal
  • D'Ambrosio says Glock 'reference' at Virgin
  • McLaren should 'forget' 2011 title now - de la Rosa
  • Alguersuari hopes future rumors now stop
  • Gribkowsky lawyers asks for F1 scandal to end

Senna debut delivers two sponsors for Renault
(GMM)  The appointment of Bruno Senna has already delivered two new sponsors to the Renault team.

With Nick Heidfeld contentiously stepped down before Spa-Francorchamps, Senna fended off speculation his sponsors had paid for the race seat.

"If you look at the team then there are no new logos on the car or on myself," he insisted.

But that was before Sunday, when on the grid Brazil's Globo Esporte spotted two new logos.

One belongs to the major Brazilian oil company OGX, headed by business baron Eike Batista da Silva who is the eighth richest person in the world.

A spokesman for Senna, the nephew of Brazil's famous triple world champion Ayrton Senna, confirmed the deal with the holding company EBX.

The other new logo on the black Renault in Belgium was the razor brand Gillette.

Globo said both sponsors "were negotiating with (Senna) for the 2012 season" but the Heidfeld replacement "accelerated the deals".

After impressively qualifying seventh at Spa, Senna finished outside the points due to smashing into Jaime Alguersuari at the first corner and receiving a drive-through penalty.

He will definitely race at Monza next weekend.

Berger scolds Mercedes' team orders at Spa
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has scolded Mercedes for apparently imposing team orders during last weekend's Belgian grand prix.

Shortly before Michael Schumacher passed his teammate Nico Rosberg at Spa-Francorchamps, the younger German was told by the pitwall to conserve fuel.

Former grand prix winner Berger told Servus TV that the position switch was conceived deliberately to give Schumacher a grandstand finish on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his debut.

"It should have been a race and not a commercial shoot," the Austrian groaned.

Team orders are legal in 2011 but Berger believes that "in the circumstances it is totally wrong for Mercedes to do such strategies".

"They should be putting more thought into making a winning car," he said.

Berger also commented on McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who was involved in two crashes last weekend at Spa.

"He is extremely aggressive and the best overtaker in the field, but at times he overdoes it.

"If he was sitting in the Red Bull, he would not have to take so many risks and so he would get into a lot less mischief," he said.

Alonso hints Vettel and Newey welcome at Ferrari
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has suggested the Red Bull dream-team of Sebastian Vettel and designer Adrian Newey is welcome at Ferrari.

"Right now, you have to recognize the fantastic job that they are doing," the Spaniard told the German weekly Sport Bild.

"Adrian Newey is definitely a decisive man for success," said Alonso, who played down the possibility that he might therefore switch from Ferrari to Red Bull in the foreseeable future.

"My dream is to win for Ferrari.  I'm sure it's the same for a lot of engineers, so Newey would therefore need to come to Ferrari," he smiled.

Alonso, whose current teammate is Felipe Massa, also said German Vettel is welcome at Ferrari.

"Many drivers want to be at Ferrari, and Sebastian is definitely welcome," he said.  "If you never drive for Ferrari I don't think your career is complete.

"I am happy to have Massa as my teammate but, one day, who knows."

Alonso said the 24-year-old Vettel is sure to win the 2011 title unless he has "an extraordinary series of bad luck".

"If I was to bet my money it would be on him," he added.  "He is a great champion in the process of winning his second championship, (he is) hugely talented and able to perform well under pressure."

FIA releases arduous final calendar for 2012
(GMM)  F1's governing body on Wednesday published a re-jigged final calendar for the 2012 season.

The unprecedented 20-race schedule begins with back-to-back races in Australia and Malaysia, with the next two grands prix also taking place on consecutive weekends.

The final leg of the opening 'flyaway' season is Bahrain in late April, despite earlier provisional calendars giving the island Kingdom either a March or November date.

Former FIA president Max Mosley said there should still be some uncertainty about Bahrain's return to F1.

"I would monitor the situation and set them a deadline, say the first of March next year.

"It would be rude to shut them out forever, but they do need to completely prove that the situation has calmed down," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The latest 2012 calendar confirms the axe of the Turkish grand prix in Istanbul, and sees India receive a late October date once again despite recent speculation of a move to earlier in the schedule.

The final calendar, ratified by fax by the World Motor Sport Council, features no fewer than seven back-to-back pairings in total.

These include arduous consecutive events in China/Brazil, Japan/Korea, India/Abu Dhabi and the US/Brazil.

2012 F1 Calendar
Date Venue
18 March Australian GP
25 March Malaysian GP
15 April Chinese GP
22 April Bahrain GP
13 May Spanish GP
27 May Monaco GP
10 June Canada GP
24 June European GP
8 July British GP
22 July German GP
29 July Hungarian GP
2 September Belgian GP
9 September Italian GP
23 September Singapore GP
7 October Japanese GP
14 October Korean GP
28 October Indian GP
4 November Abu Dhabi GP
18 November US GP
25 November Brazilian GP

Todt to propose Friday practice for testers only
(GMM)  Jean Todt will propose a radical tweak to the formula one race weekend format for 2012.

Finland's Turun Sanomat said the FIA president wants the change to benefit test and reserve drivers - particularly up-and-coming ones - amid the sport's current clampdown on in-season testing.

Todt's proposal will be in addition to one in-season test to take place in 2012, with the teams said to have agreed to run a multi-day program at Mugello before the start of the European season in May.

And Todt's plan is to revise the current format of Friday's free practice schedule in order to include mandatory running for test drivers.

The Frenchman wants the current three hours of practice to be split next year into three 60-minute sessions, with the opening morning session dedicated to test drivers.

Rumors about teams' likely morning lineups for 2012 is already emerging, with McLaren considering Gary Paffett and Ferrari likely to run Jules Bianchi.

Meanwhile, Italiaracing reports that Mercedes will use 22-year-old German Christian Vietoris, who drives for the German marque in DTM.

Alesi happy with Spa/France alternating proposal
(GMM)  Jean Alesi has welcomed news his native France looks set to rejoin the formula one calendar.

It is expected that, three years after Magny Cours dropped off the schedule, France will return in 2013 with a single annual date to be alternated between Paul Ricard and Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps.

"The drivers love Spa and I think it is very important to always go there because of the spectacle, the history and everything else," Frenchman Alesi, who contested more than 200 grands prix until 2011, said.

"But the problem is the money," the 1995 Canadian grand prix winner and Group Lotus ambassador is quoted by France's Auto Hebdo.

"Spa doesn't have enough (money) to compete with places like Abu Dhabi.  So it would be a shame to lose Spa but I say it's better to go every other year than not at all.

"The compromise would be beneficial for everyone.  As I am French, I would love to see the French grand prix coming back," added Alesi, "and with the sharing (scheme), we can have both (France and Spa)."

D'Ambrosio says Glock 'reference' at Virgin
(GMM)  Jerome d'Ambrosio has acknowledged the importance of his teammate Timo Glock to the Virgin team.

German Glock, despite having only 65 grands prix under his belt, made his debut in 2004 and has also raced with the benefit of Toyota's huge budget until the Japanese marque pulled out of F1 in 2009.

The 29-year-old switched to the startup Virgin outfit last year and he was recently re-signed through 2014.

Belgian rookie d'Ambrosio acknowledged Glock's leading role.

"He is the reference of the team, and therefore mine as well," the 25-year-old told France's Auto Hebdo magazine.

Virgin Racing - and fellow 2010 startups Team Lotus and HRT - are yet to score a point formula one.

D'Ambrosio replaced 2010 Virgin driver Lucas di Grassi this year, but it is believed he is likely to stay put for next season.

"I am really happy with the team and I think they are happy with me as well," he said, "so at the moment we are speaking (about 2012) and hopefully we will be able to work together again."

McLaren should 'forget' 2011 title now - de la Rosa
(GMM)  Yet more drivers, experts and pundits are crowning Sebastian Vettel the likely 2011 champion after his latest victory in Belgium.

At the German's rival team McLaren, team boss Martin Whitmarsh insists giving up on the championship would not be right despite Vettel's huge points lead.

Veteran test driver Pedro de la Rosa however acknowledges that realism could be about to set in.

"Perhaps this is the moment to forget Spa," said the Spaniard after the Red Bull one-two, "perhaps it is even the moment to forget the drivers' world championship", he wrote in a column for formulasantander.com.

"Forgetting the calculator now, and accepting that there is already virtually a winner of this world championship, we can begin to think of 2012 and how to avoid at all costs the domination of Red Bull being prolonged for another season," added de la Rosa.

Another former McLaren racer David Coulthard, now a British television commentator and Red Bull advisor, agrees that Vettel's chasers have left their run too late.

"Ferrari and McLaren have the resources and personnel to catch Red Bull, and in fact they have done so," he wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

"McLaren probably had the quickest car in Belgium at the weekend.  They just didn't get the job done.

"Seb's lead ... has almost certainly assured him of a second successive world title," agreed the Scot.

Also succumbing to the eventual mathematics of the current points standings is ten time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger, who thinks Red Bull is right to keep its optimism under wraps for the moment.

"As long as it (defeat) is still theoretically possible, it is bad luck in sports to celebrate in advance," he told Red Bull-linked Austrian television Servus TV.

"But for me there is no question; barring a disaster for him, this year's world champion is Sebastian Vettel," said Berger.

Alguersuari hopes future rumors now stop
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari hopes his best ever qualifying performance will stop the speculation about his future in formula one.

With Red Bull's next up-and-comers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne knocking loudly on the door at Toro Rosso, driver manager Helmut Marko has said he will only consider the 2012 lineup after the end of this season.

Spaniard Alguersuari, still just 21, qualified on the back of the third row at Spa-Francorchamps, five places ahead of his Swiss teammate Sebastien Buemi.

"I hope now that all the people (reporters) stop asking me about this nonsense," he told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, referring to the constant speculation about his future.

Another boost to Alguersuari's future could be the reported title sponsorship deal between Toro Rosso and Abu Dhabi's petroleum investment company (IPIC), with links to Spanish oil brand Cepsa.

AS sports newspaper reports that Alguersuari has even been in direct contact recently with Khadem Abdulla Al-Qubaisi, the managing director of IPIC.

Said Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost: "Both our drivers performed very well throughout the (Spa) weekend."

Gribkowsky lawyers asks for F1 scandal to end
(GMM)  Jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky's lawyers have asked Munich prosecutors to drop the charges accusing him of corruption.

Bernie Ecclestone is also involved in the affair surrounding the sale of F1's commercial rights some years ago, with former BayernLB risk officer Gribkowsky receiving from the sport's chief executive millions in suspect payments.

But Gribkowsky's lawyer Rainer Bruessow said the prosecutors' case is "far fetched" and built upon only selective evidence and "massive omissions", according to Bloomberg news agency and the Financial Times.

"Munich prosecutors' didn't comply with the necessary diligence and responsibility a German investigative authority needs to adhere to," the statement added.

A spokesperson for the prosecutors however insisted that the claims of Gribkowsky's lawyers are "totally unfounded".

The media reports said the story has emerged while a Munich court is considering whether to proceed.

"It's of no use trying to influence the court's pending decision with public statements," the spokesperson added.

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