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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
  • Nico Rosberg
    Mercedes offers Rosberg new three-year deal
  • Fernandes hints at Team Lotus name change
  • Two F1 teams eye Silverstone factory moves
  • Vettel gambles on short top gear at Monza
  • Sauber 'paying for' exhaust ban saga - boss
  • Team Lotus confirms Trulli for 2012
  • Business partner to Ecclestone quits
  • Fernandes losing patience being a backmarker

Mercedes offers Rosberg new three-year deal
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has been offered a new contract to keep him at Mercedes GP for at least four more years.

That is the claim on Sunday of the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that negotiations between the Brackley based team and the 26-year-old driver are "ongoing".

The German marque's Norbert Haug said: "Nico and Mercedes are interested in a very long term cooperation."

Rosberg's current contract runs until the end of next year.  He says he is sure Mercedes will soon build him a winning car.

"When I see what's happening in the factory, I'm very confident," said the German.

Should Rosberg accept Mercedes' new offer, he would therefore not be available to switch to Ferrari or Red Bull when Felipe Massa and Mark Webber's current deals expire.

His teammate Michael Schumacher's contract also runs out next year.

The seven time world champion told Kleine Zeitung newspaper at Monza: "I will definitely be here next year, then we will see what happens."

Fernandes hints at Team Lotus name change
(GMM)  Tony Fernandes has hinted strongly that he will drop the Team Lotus name for his formula one team ahead of the 2012 season.

The Malaysian entrepreneur has been locked in a bitter dispute with Renault sponsor Group Lotus but won the legal right to keep deploying the name for his Hingham-based team.

But Fernandes, also the owner of the AirAsia airline, has subsequently bought the British specialist sports car maker Caterham and renamed his GP2 team Caterham Team AirAsia.

He said at Monza: "I always had a problem with 'am I really Team Lotus?' because there's a big question mark on that.

"You can't have a name and not monetize it.  So we will have to wait and see ... I don't think this is healthy for anyone, having Lotus-Renault and Team Lotus."

F1's Enstone based team, currently widely known as Renault, might also be heading for a name change, with the Guardian newspaper reporting that sponsor Group Lotus could finally be set to buy in.

The report said current owners Genii are "reportedly in discussion about selling the team", with Lotus "in pole position to get it".

Two F1 teams eye Silverstone factory moves
(GMM)  Two formula one teams are eyeing the area around Silverstone, Northamptonshire (UK) as a likely location for new factories.

Struggling Virgin's main base at present is Dinnington, in rural South Yorkshire, but the Yorkshire Post reports that a move closer to new technical partner McLaren is on the cards.

Team boss John Booth confirmed that the team is set to move temporarily to Banbury, Oxfordshire, with a permanent headquarters to be built near Silverstone in 2012.

"It's almost become inevitable," he said at Monza.  "We experimented with two or three bases and long term it was too much of a stretch."

The Northampton Chronicle said the F1 teams' interest in the area around Silverstone is because Northampton has been granted the right to create an enterprise zone and offer tax breaks to companies.

Reuters said Team Lotus, currently based at Hingham in Norfolk, is also looking to move to Silverstone.

"The perfect scenario would be for the cars to leave for Australia (next March) and come back to a new home," confirmed team boss Tony Fernandes at Monza.

The Malaysian entrepreneur said Team Lotus, although the best of F1's three newest teams, must up its game in 2012.

"I want to see them in a proper car," he said, referring to the team's existing drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.  "Next season we will give them a proper car."

He hinted that 2012 is therefore technical boss Mike Gascoyne's last chance to deliver.

"I honestly think he's done a fantastic job to get us to where we are but next year is the year where everyone's head is on the block," said Fernandes.

Vettel gambles on short top gear at Monza
(GMM)  Jenson Button furrowed his brow at Monza when he considered how Sebastian Vettel had dominated qualifying.

"Difficult to understand," said the McLaren driver.

Vettel, indeed, was half a second quicker around the high speed Autodromo Nazionale with a small wing setting and a Renault engine not expected to dominate.

His top speed was the least impressive in the entire field, a full 22kph down compared with the best.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the answer to the "mystery" is that the 24-year-old German's RB7 was set up specifically for qualifying, with a very short seventh gear.

"Vettel is planning to drive away from the front," Mercedes' Ross Brawn speculates.

"If he gets away at the start he will go on and have a lonely race.  His car is tuned to lap time, not top speed," added the Briton.

If Vettel is passed at the start by a McLaren, then, he may be in trouble, unable to keep up on the straights or make best use of DRS because of the short gearing.

"In fact, we have a good chance to get our first one-two of 2011 -- I'm optimistic," said fellow front row-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

Added Button: "If he (Vettel) wants to pass someone, he will be on the limiter."

"If he (Vettel) falls behind, it will be hard to get back past," a Renault engineer agreed.

As for the ranks of passionate Tifosi, they are likely to be disappointed on Sunday.  "We will try to have some fun and to get on to the podium," said Fernando Alonso ahead of Ferrari's home race.

Sauber 'paying for' exhaust ban saga - boss
(GMM)  Sauber is paying the price for its decision to scrap development of the blown exhaust system in 2011.

That is the claim of team owner and boss Peter Sauber, recalling a few months ago when the FIA decided to immediately ban the technology.

"Our system doesn't work properly," he told the Sonntagsblick newspaper.  "When they tried to ban it all in Barcelona, we decided to stop with all the expensive development."

Ultimately, however, the lobbying of the top teams won the day and exhaust blowing will now only be banned at the very end of the season.

"We are paying for it now," said Sauber, whose cars qualified just 15th (Sergio Perez) and 17th (Kamui Kobayashi) at Monza.

Saturday's speed trap highlighted the problem: with not enough downforce underneath the car and with the strong Ferrari engine on board, the C30 was the fastest in a straight line at Monza at close to 350kph.

Team Lotus confirms Trulli for 2012
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli is staying with Team Lotus in 2012, the Tony Fernandes-led outfit announced on Sunday morning.

Ahead of the 37-year-old's 15th home race at Monza, a media statement said Italian Trulli will race a third consecutive season with Team Lotus next year.

"We are all delighted that we have been able to reach an agreement to keep Jarno on board for at least one more year with our team," said boss and owner Fernandes.

Trulli made his debut as a 22-year-old with Minardi in 1997, and has also driven for Jordan, Renault and Toyota.

His sole grand prix win was the Monaco grand prix of 2004.

Business partner to Ecclestone quits
(Reuters) - Stephen Mullens, the long-time business partner and legal adviser to Bernie Ecclestone, has severed all ties with Formula One amid an ongoing legal battle over the 2005 sale of the sport, the Sunday Times reported.  No one at Formula One Management was immediately available to comment.

The newspaper, without giving many details, said Mullens had resigned from seven companies which administer the sport's commercial affairs.

Ecclestone is at the centre of an investigation in Germany, however the Formula One supremo told reporters in July that he was not concerned about his position.

He has confirmed making a payment to a former Germany banker who has since been charged with breach of trust and tax evasion.

Former Bayern LB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was arrested in January in relation to the 2006 sale of his bank's 48 percent stake in Formula One to current rights holders CVC and alleged payments to him of $50 million.

Fernandes losing patience being a backmarker
(Reuters) Heads will roll if Team Lotus fail to take a big step up the Formula One grid next season, owner Tony Fernandes warned on Saturday.
In an interview with Reuters at the Italian Grand Prix, the Malaysian aviation entrepreneur also said the team would move to a new Silverstone base and hinted they could start 2012 under a different name.

Fernandes added that Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen and Italian Jarno Trulli were likely to stay on in an unchanged driver line-up.

“Next year is the year where we have to make an impact. If we haven’t then I am going to give up,” he said after qualifying at Monza.

Asked whether he really meant that, the AirAsia boss made clear he would not walk away but would have to consider a major shake-up.

“When I say walk away, what I’m saying is we have got to make changes,” Fernandes said.

“I think if we don’t make an improvement next year, if we are still 10th next year, then someone’s not doing something right and ultimately I am the leader of this.”

When it was pointed out he did not design the cars or run the technical department which is under the guidance of Mike Gascoyne, Fernandes agreed.

“Mike would be the first to say if he doesn’t produce a car that’s in the middle of the pack next year, having been given all the tools … I honestly think he’s done a fantastic job to get us to where we are but next year is the year where everyone’s head is on the block.”

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