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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Coulthard: IndyCar is 20 years behind F1 in terms of safety
    Angry farmers still threaten Indian GP
  • Wheldon's death makes waves in F1 world
  • Whitmarsh quiet on Hamilton's private troubles
  • Media impressed but team scolds 'idiot' Vettel
  • Korea GP hopes Hyundai enters F1
  • Ferrari backs Red Bull as FOTA cracks deepen

Angry farmers still threaten Indian GP
(GMM)  Less than two weeks before the inaugural Indian grand prix is scheduled to take place, disgruntled farmers are still threatening to disrupt it.

They are angry that their land was acquired compulsorily without adequate compensation to make way for the new Buddh circuit.

According to the Hindustan Times, they have written to a regional official this week reminding him that if their demands are not met, they will push ahead with protests aimed at disrupting formula one.

"There's nothing alarming.  There's no threat to the race," a senior official of race organizers Jaypee insisted.

"A lot rides on the event and the farmers are only trying to browbeat the organizers and the administration," he added.

A regional official warned: "If any group tries to disrupt the proceedings of the race, we will deal with them in an appropriate manner."

According to the Indian Express, some farmers are threatening to play cricket on the asphalt on the day of qualifying, and then step up the protest to "stop the race altogether" on Sunday.

"We want to hold a sports tournament, to show the world our grievance.  We don't want to cause trouble, but our voices must be heard," a spokesman for the farmers' group said.

Another farmer added: "We will try and stop the race at all costs as it represents the injustice that we have suffered.

"We have heard that the foreign (F1) cars will be arriving between October 18 and 20.  We intend to stop them from entering the circuit."

Wheldon's death makes waves in F1 world
(GMM)  The death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon is making waves even in the world of formula one.

As a Briton and a former track rival of contemporaries including Jenson Button, the 33-year-old was well-known in the F1 paddock and his death has been felt as a big blow.

Not surprisingly, formula one figures suggest IndyCar has a lot to learn from F1.

"It is the most dangerous form of motor racing at the moment," 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter, who wants his son Tomas to quit IndyCar, told the BBC.

Also criticized since the crash has been the small size of the Las Vegas speedway, the large number of competing cars, the skills of some of the drivers and the very nature of high speed oval racing.

Former Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson, a former junior rival of Wheldon's, said: "The safety record in IndyCar is not good and I would never drive there.  It's just not worth it.  The cars are agricultural."

Agreed David Coulthard - who moved to German touring cars after retiring from F1 in 2008 - in his Telegraph column: "I could have moved my family over there and made a life for myself in the United States.

"But the risk-reward ratio was simply too high for me.  Formula one, I felt, was at an acceptable level but IndyCar was, and is, probably 20 years behind F1 in terms of safety."

Added 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell: "Formula one does an exemplary job."

Coulthard added: "With any luck it (Wheldon's death) will spur on the IRL to improve its safety record.  Say what you like about Max Mosley but one thing that we in formula one must all thank him for was his response to (the deaths at) Imola in 1994."

Sir Jackie Stewart agreed: "I think there needs to be more discipline by the (IndyCar) governing body.  If drivers do consistently collide with each other, there should be heavier penalties."

British Racing Drivers' Club president Derek Warwick said: "They need to understand the quality of the drivers that are in the field as well.

"With formula one the drivers are all great drivers who have won championships from working their way up from formula 3 to GP2 before they get a super license to be able to race.

"I sometimes question the depth of talent in IndyCar races and that will lead to inexperience and the inexperienced generally end up having accidents.  They need to tweak what they're doing a little bit," said the 162 grand prix veteran.

Former McLaren driver Mark Blundell, who has also raced in America, added: "These kinds of cars shouldn't have been running on these kinds of circuits."

Stewart told Sky Sports: "It was such high speed on such a small track with too many cars together and not that many top racing drivers in there.

"It may be that we have to have smaller engines with smaller horsepower and slower speeds in IndyCar racing."

But Johnny Herbert, who flirted with a switch to America after retiring from F1 in 2000, thinks IndyCar fatalities are inevitable.

"They will continue as long as this extreme form of motor sport exists," the Briton wrote in his column for The National.

"The tremendous speed at which the cars travel, while separated by inches on those steep oval tracks, means you will likely see more deaths, no matter what safety measures are implemented."

Whitmarsh quiet on Hamilton's private troubles
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh has refused to comment on whether it is Lewis Hamilton's troubled private life that is steering his formula one career on the wrong track.

Despite winning pole position and finishing a fighting second in Korea last weekend, the 2008 world champion was visibly and audibly despondent on the back of a terrible run of form and on and off-track incidents.

The Swiss newspaper Blick reports that his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger has linked up with "a new man", pushing Hamilton in a foul mood that is affecting his job.

"The McLaren mechanics are upset with Lewis," reported veteran correspondent Roger Benoit, "because he treated them so coldly in Korea.

"They say he is behaving like a stubborn child."

Hamilton, 26, hinted at his split by saying he has received "massive support" from those close to him in the past days in the form of "emails from my brother, my mum and in particular my dad".

Team boss Whitmarsh also hinted at behind-the-scenes troubles by telling the PA Sport news agency that "professionally, he's happy".

"I comment on his professional life," said the McLaren principal.

"He says he is happy, and any other enquiry regarding his state of happiness should be directed to Lewis and not me."

Media impressed but team scolds 'idiot' Vettel
(GMM)  With his second consecutive title now wrapped up, Sebastian Vettel is continuing to impress the international media.

The Red Bull driver secured his crown recently in Japan with a third place but quickly returned to the top step of the podium in Korea last Sunday.

"He is now chasing after Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a season," said Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The celebrations at Suzuka did not rob Vettel of his determination," added the report.

Other publications were also impressed with Vettel's determination to win even without the goal of a championship.

"He is hungry for more success and never satisfied," praised Corriere dello Sport.

Agreed Tuttosport: "Vettel is a cannibal, like his hero Schumacher."

The German's will to keep his foot on the throttle even with the title wrapped up was demonstrated by his unprecedented pace on the last lap in Korea.

"I think they (the team) will kill me now," joked Vettel afterwards.  "They came on the radio and said 'idiot, you got it (the fastest race lap)'.

"It's a small thing; it's probably more to do with the ego because there are no points (for it) so it's really stupid from my side but now I've got it, I'm happy."

Korea GP hopes Hyundai enters F1
(GMM)  Korean carmaker Hyundai could become interested in formula one in the coming years.

That is the view of a spokesman for the Korean grand prix, following the country's second formula one race last weekend.

The inaugural 2010 event was a shambles and circuit officials recently revealed financial concerns about the future of the event.

Late on Sunday, the Yeongam organizers revealed a race day crowd of 84,174, causing Red Bull's official Twitter to wittily observe: "That must include mosquitoes.  And fish.  And those were counted twice."

A report by the Associated Press claims a Korean driver or team might help in the future, powered by the involvement of a local carmaker like Hyundai or Kia.

"Hyundai has been enthusiastic about the idea around the middle management levels, but the CEO has yet to be convinced," said Korean grand prix spokesman Shin Young.

"In the future though, I think it will happen.  I hope so."

Ferrari backs Red Bull as FOTA cracks deepen
(GMM)  Ferrari has joined Red Bull in questioning the viability of the formula one teams alliance FOTA.

Amid fears some teams are breaking the gentleman's cost-limiting agreement and faltering talks in Korea, Red Bull chief Christian Horner said the group needs to shape up "or we'll stop".

According to a French language report by the AFP news agency, his Ferrari counterpart Stefano Domenicali also has grave concerns.

"In terms of the cost cutting (disagreement), we can no longer afford to continue like this," said the Italian, referring to the burgeoning debate.

"If there is no trust, there is no need to go forward," added Domenicali.

"We know why FOTA was put together so we need to understand whether we still need it.  What are the objectives for the future of FOTA, if it has a future?"

The news of the fracturing alliance will be music to the ears of Bernie Ecclestone, who would prefer to negotiate separately with the teams as F1 looks towards its next Concorde Agreement.

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