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Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Ecclestone to testify
    Ecclestone to testify in F1 corruption trial
  • Berger questions high-profile Mercedes appointments
  • Button expects Vettel to win title in Japan
  • Father insists Vettel deserves success
  • No.2 driver 'best way' for F1 team success - Button
  • Midfield teams scrap for $9 million
  • Safer F1 helmets mandatory at Suzuka
  • Renault paid Kubica in 2011 - Lopez
  • Designer Tilke says India will be ready
  • Red Bull taking own food to Japan

Ecclestone to testify in F1 corruption trial
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has been called to give evidence in the corruption scandal of former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

Bloomberg and the German news magazine Focus said the F1 chief executive, under investigation for paying millions to Gribkowsky relating to the sale of the sport some years ago, will testify in the second week of the trial in November.

"I have been to Munich and was questioned so I suppose they want to ask (in court) me the questions that I answered then," the Independent newspaper quotes the F1 chief executive as confirming.

The German business newspaper Handelsblatt, meanwhile, reports that Gribkowsky may have received from Ecclestone $70 or $80 million, not the widely reported $44 to $50 million.

The report cited a document from the Munich prosecutors.  Neither Ecclestone's nor Gribkowsky's lawyers wanted to comment.

Berger questions high-profile Mercedes appointments
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has criticized the latest high-profile appointments by Mercedes' formula one team.

With Renault's former chief Bob Bell already on board, the Brackley based team announced last Friday that Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa will start their new roles in November and December respectively.

Willis was leading HRT's technical team until very recently, while Italian Costa was ousted by Ferrari earlier this season.

Former F1 winner, joint BMW motor sport director and Toro Rosso co-owner Berger questioned the appointments, which are the latest in a recruitment push by the works Mercedes team.

"It looks to me as though Mercedes are shooting with a shotgun in the hope of landing a hit," the Austrian told Auto Bild Motorsport.

Italy's Autosprint magazine, meanwhile, wondered if it is "credible that, to strengthen his technical staff, Ross Brawn turns to someone considered a loser by Ferrari?

"Frankly, it's not," the report concluded.

Button expects Vettel to win title in Japan
(GMM)  Jenson Button has travelled to Japan as the only driver apart from Sebastian Vettel still mathematically able to clinch the 2011 title.

But the Briton, who wears Japanese characters on his helmet and whose girlfriend is the model Jessica Michibata, told Die Welt newspaper that he knows German Vettel is the sure winner.

"There is no need to build sandcastles in the sky and kid ourselves," said Button.  "It's really been clear for quite some time that Sebastian has earned the title.  He's been so strong all season."

Even if Vettel cannot secure the tenth place he needs for the championship at Suzuka, McLaren's Button would have to win in order to stay in the fight for Korea.

"On paper, I think it (Suzuka) will suit the Red Bulls, particularly in the high speed sweeps," 31-year-old Button admitted, "but we showed at Spa that we also have a car that's very effective in high speed corners."

Father insists Vettel deserves success
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel's father insists his son deserves his recent success in formula one.

The 24-year-old is on the cusp of becoming the sport's youngest ever back-to-back world champion.

But some observers still question the young German's wheel-to-wheel talents and give more credit to Adrian Newey, the designer of the dominant Red Bull cars of the last few seasons.

"I hear it over and over again, 'Vettel only wins because he has the best car'," his father Norbert told the Swiss Sunday newspaper Sonntagsblick.

"But first you have to get into the best car, and Seb worked hard for it."

The Cologne tabloid said that, despite Vettel's superstitions, Red Bull has manufactured special caps and t-shirts to mark his title victory at Suzuka this weekend.

No.2 driver 'best way' for F1 team success - Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button has admitted having a clear number 2 driver is the best approach for a formula one team.

Team orders are now legal in F1 and Eddie Irvine, Michael Schumacher's clear supporting driver at Ferrari in the mid nineties, recently hailed Briton Button as the sport's new "best number 2".

Button, 31, is actually the only driver still in the running with Sebastian Vettel for the 2011 title, and 17 points ahead of his high profile teammate Lewis Hamilton.

He told Die Welt newspaper: "The best way for a team to win the world championship would probably be to have a number 1 driver and a number 2 who is happy to be the number two.

"That's not what we have at McLaren," insisted Button.

As for Irvine's recent criticism, Button hit back with an apparent reference to 1999, when the Ulsterman came close to the championship in the wake of Schumacher's broken leg.

"It's (Irvine's comments) very sweet," the Briton told PA Sport recently.  "All I can say is that it was fun winning the world championship, and I hope to do it again."

Midfield teams scrap for $9 million
(GMM)  Sixth in formula one is not usually a sexy battle, but for three midfield teams in 2011 it is a hard-charging scrap for no less than $9 million.

With five races to go this season, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault are headed for the five highest positions in the constructors' championship.

Behind them, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso are all separated by less than 20 points, and the ultimate prize is nearly $10 million according to the income distribution system of the Concorde Agreement, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports.

The report said Sauber have pushed forward developments of the 2012 C31 car to debut this weekend at Suzuka.

"We will move heaven and hell for this sixth place," said team boss Peter Sauber.

At Toro Rosso, the Faenza based team has been doing more crash tests in order to debut new nose and sidepod developments as soon as possible.

"We have taken a step forward.  I think we can try to attack Sauber and try to finish the championship in front of them," Jaime Alguersuari told Marca sports newspaper.

Mark Webber - Note black Zylon strip across top of visor
Safer F1 helmets mandatory at Suzuka
(GMM)  All F1 drivers will be wearing safer helmets at Suzuka this weekend.

Earlier in 2011, some drivers tested a bulletproof Zylon strip across the top of their visors in order to prevent injuries like Felipe Massa's in Hungary two years ago.

By Singapore, 12 of the 24 drivers were using the strip.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that the visor opening size has also been reduced to a new minimum for the mandatory standard that debuts in Japan this weekend.

The helmets are 50 grams heavier than before, and some drivers are reportedly unhappy that the strip damages the visor tint coatings when removed.

The tear-off strips are also smaller and harder to fit.

Additionally, Auto Motor und Sport reports that the sponsors are not happy that the black Zylon strips are taking up space above the visors.

Renault paid Kubica in 2011 - Lopez
(GMM)  Robert Kubica was paid by Renault in 2011, team owner Gerard Lopez has revealed.

His comments to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport follow reports that the Enstone based team may be happier to choose between Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean for next season's lineup.

Genii's Lopez however said that with injured Pole Kubica nearing recovery from his horror rally crash injuries, it is wrong to suggest Renault prefers pay-drivers.

"If Robert is on the market then of course we will take him," he said.  "Our commercial model requires success on the tracks.

"Also we paid Robert's salary this year, although he drove no races with us."

Last week, some media reports suggested team boss Eric Boullier was firm with an end-of-October deadline, even though Kubica may only be ready to decide his comeback for 2012 some weeks later.

"We will look at the matter at the beginning of November," Lopez clarifies.  "Robert will have a car to show us what he can do.

"The data analysis is now so good that you can see with another car whether he is physically able to return."

As for paddock suggestions that Genii is running Renault more as a business rather than a racing team looking for results, Lopez firmly denied it.

And the rumors about being late in engine payments to Renault Sport F1?: "We have paid every bill on time," he insisted.

"We have increased the team from 480 to 520 employees, we have expanded the wind tunnel from 50 to 60 per cent and are about to install a new simulator.  These are not things you do if you only have the business in mind."

Designer Tilke says India will be ready
(GMM)  The designer of India's new Buddh circuit insists the venue will be ready for its inaugural race late this month.

Hermann Tilke was talking to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport after the latest round of speculation about the last stages of construction near Delhi.

Asked if the F1 paddock and spectators need to be worried three weeks before they arrive at Buddh, he said: "No, everything with the planning is on time.

"This is actually as it always is -- almost all of the new tracks are finished just in time.  It will also be the case in India."

Tilke admitted however that the entire facility may not be complete.

"It is safe to assume that certain parts of the infrastructure will still have something to do.  But that's true of almost everywhere as well.

"I am very satisfied and I think the results speak for themselves," he added.

Red Bull taking own food to Japan
(GMM)  Red Bull is shipping its own food to the Japanese grand prix this weekend.

It is in the country, ravaged by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis earlier this year, that Sebastian Vettel will likely wrap up his 2011 title.

Due to the concerns about radioactivity, Red Bull has modified its usual routine for the preparation of food for the 80-person race team, reports Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Usually, perishables like meat, fruit and vegetables are bought locally, but for the Suzuka round Red Bull - and presumably other teams - are taking these items from Europe.

The report said team boss Christian Horner has also told his staff not to eat out this weekend.

Last weekend, the MotoGP world raced at Motegi, located just 130 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo revealed he used soap and bottled water to wash himself rather than take showers, and Dani Pedrosa said he is throwing away his clothes rather than taking them home to Europe.

As for F1, Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari told Marca newspaper: "I think the situation is totally calm and we are very far from Fukushima.

"I am coming without any fear."

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