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DATE News (chronologically)
11/01/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday  
  • Ecclestone giddy if  BRDC out of Silverstone
    Qatar link for Silverstone 'wonderful' - Ecclestone
  • F1 2012 to take more shape this week
  • Red Bull fears 'politics' not Vettel carnage - Wurz
  • Button rages at questions over Hamilton antics
  • 'Normal' tires made India GP boring - analysis
  • TV commentators want windows for 2012 India GP
  • Vettel also set to dominate in 2012 - Briatore
  • Force India insists McLaren tie-up legal
  • Indian GP deemed huge success
  • Herbert explains Massa penalty
  • Williams gets two new directors

Qatar link for Silverstone 'wonderful' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  That the owners of Silverstone could lease the British grand prix venue to a Qatar consortium is "wonderful" news, according to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

In late August, the Qatar Investment Authority denied there are any "relevant negotiations, currently nor in the past" about renting the Northamptonshire track for 150 years at a cost of some $400 million.

Other reports wrongly claimed that the winning bidder was a private one with wealthy family connections to the British Racing Drivers' Club and F1.

In fact, it has emerged this week that the Qatar-funded Alpha Group has put down a non-refundable deposit to guarantee a period of exclusive talks.

The Telegraph reports that part of the deal would be for the winning bidder to spend at least $80 million on further developing Silverstone.

Ecclestone, historically a staunch critic of Silverstone and its current operators, allayed any fears about a British institution falling into foreign control.

"It's a wonderful idea," he said.  "It's what Silverstone need.  They need to let the professionals run it."

The F1 chief executive said Europe must accept the world's move to the east.

"People in Europe have got to understand that Europe will be sold to the Chinese or India or these people in the Middle East," he said.  "It is gradually happening now."

F1 2012 to take more shape this week
(GMM)  F1's class of 2012 will take some more shape at the F1 Commission meeting this week in Geneva.

It was already known that Team Lotus, set to be Caterham next season, and Enstone based Renault - to be renamed Lotus - will likely have their applications rubber-stamped on Thursday.

The Sunday Times also reports that Virgin could be set for an official name change.

The team is currently known as Marussia Virgin Racing, in deference to its Russian supercar partner, but the chassis continues to be called simply 'Virgin'.

"The team are to ask the F1 Commission for permission to erase the Virgin title and replace it with Marussia", said the British report.

Another touted change was the rebranding of Red Bull's Renault engine deal to reflect its partnership with the luxury Nissan marque Infiniti.

Renault president Carlos Ghosn ruled that out.

"I don't think you can have a name artificially," he is quoted by the SID news agency.  "If Renault supplies the technology you can't say that for marketing reasons we call it Infiniti."

He also ruled out the possibility Renault will return to the grid as a works chassis manufacturer any time soon.

"We adapt according to the circumstances but we will not change our program in the next three to five years," Ghosn is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr.

"I am more comfortable with our current strategy, where next year we are the partner of four teams," he added.

Red Bull fears 'politics' not Vettel carnage - Wurz
(GMM)  Despite Sebastian Vettel's recent success and his continuing dominance, Red Bull chiefs were a little unhappy with the back to back champion in India.

Bild newspaper reports that both team boss Christian Horner and Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko publicly and privately chided the 24-year-old for insisting upon charging for the fastest race lap.

"He knows that we do not like that," confirmed Horner.

Italy's Corriere della Sera wondered if Vettel is simply seeking motivation: "He no longer fights against his competitors but against the records."

But Marko insisted: "It was not the time to do an unnecessary risk.  We said it to him but sometimes he does not listen."

Former driver and Austrian ORF television pundit Alex Wurz has a theory about why Red Bull is so sensitive about Vettel's fastest-lap fetish.

"They don't worry he is going to crash," said the former Benetton and Williams driver, "they worry that the other teams will be alarmed at the performance and go to the FIA to complain that the car must be illegal.

"I see it more as a political anxiety than a sporting one," added Wurz.

Button rages at questions over Hamilton antics
(GMM)  Jenson Button let his temper flare after finishing behind Sebastian Vettel in India and moving closer to sealing second place in the 2011 championship.

Yet again, despite his run of good form, the 2009 world champion was probed by British reporters about the crashes and antics of his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Asked about Hamilton's latest row with Felipe Massa, Button blasted: "I don't give a f***.

"If you want to do an interview with me, about me, that's fine," he charged.  "But I don't want to be asked about Lewis again.  It's doing my head in."

Privately, Button is enjoying his dominance inside the McLaren team at present, after critics once ridiculed his decision to leave Brawn for Hamilton's "lion's den".

"That is the challenge I wanted when I came here.  I wanted to find out where I really stand compared to Lewis," he said in India.

And with the likes of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso also behind him in 2011, Button admitted that finishing second behind Vettel this season is no mean feat.

"To finish second in this championship would mean something," the 31-year-old admitted.  "Only Vettel in a better car would have beaten me."

'Normal' tires made India GP boring - analysis
(GMM)  Dust and tires -- that is why Sunday's Indian grand prix was not a thriller.

Overall, formula one enjoyed its inaugural visit to the chaos and culture of New Delhi and the likeable new Buddh circuit, but the race itself was not a classic.

Italy's Autosprint counted only 22 overtaking moves; way down on the 2011 average that has been powered by DRS and heavily-degrading Pirelli tires.

The fact the Buddh tarmac was brand new and therefore 'green' did not help, nor did the tones of dust.

Another factor was what Pirelli chief Paul Hembery referred to as the "deliberately conservative" decision to bring hard tires to the mainly unknown venue.

In short, they didn't wear out quick enough.

"What was the reason for the show taking a backwards step in India?  Simple: the tires behaved normally, predictably," wrote Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio in O Estado de S.Paulo.

Agreed Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The only one entertained was Vettel, who is dominating as Michael Schumacher once did."

TV commentators want windows for 2012 India GP
(GMM)  F1 commentators might have a better view of next year's Indian grand prix.

At the brand new Buddh circuit, television broadcasters were horrified to discover that the commentary booths did not have windows.

"I might as well be in Shepherd's Bush," said the BBC's David Coulthard.

So annoyed were Coulthard and his colleagues that the broadcasters called a meeting with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

In charge of the design of the new Indian venue was Hermann Tilke.

On the window controversy, he told Auto Motor und Sport: "This is a problem that we definitely have to solve."

As for whether the solution will be in place for 2012, he answered: "We'll see."

Vettel also set to dominate in 2012 - Briatore
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel looks set to cruise to a third consecutive world championship in 2012, according to Flavio Briatore.

The former Renault boss said the dominance enjoyed by the German driver and Red Bull this season is unlikely to be chased down by their rivals any time soon.

"Not even Webber can push him any more," Briatore told La Politica nel Pallone radio.

"I can't wait for this championship to be over as it's become so boring, but I don't think it will be very different next year either," he said.

"With the same rules, I don't see how they (Ferrari) can make up the gap on Red Bull and McLaren -- in 17 years I have never seen a team make up 6 or 7 tenths in just two months."

Briatore also ridiculed Lewis Hamilton's ongoing spat with Felipe Massa, likening them to the comedy duo "Laurel and Hardy".

"They make me laugh."

He is more impressed with Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button, despite slamming and sacking him as a Renault driver and in 2009 describing him as a "paracarro" -- an Italian word for a concrete roadside post.

"I was quite wrong about the English driver," said Italian Briatore.  "He has been the real surprise this year.  He worked for us and I would never have guessed he was so good".

Force India insists McLaren tie-up legal
(GMM)  Vijay Mallya insists Force India's technical partnership with McLaren is above board.

At the F1 Commission in Geneva on Thursday, the thorny topic of the potential redefinition of a 'constructor' will be debated.

The 'customer car' proponents, reportedly headed by Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone, are set to argue that teams are already breaching the existing definition, such as McLaren's commercial tie-up with Force India.

"Our relationship with McLaren has been built over a period of three years," boss Mallya, who buys the transmission and hydraulics for his F1 team from McLaren, is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr.

"If we had violated a rule of the Concorde Agreement, I can assure you that many people in the paddock would have complained long ago," he insisted.

Indian GP deemed huge success
F1 and India “have the makings of a long and happy relationship” after the inaugural Airtel Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit yesterday, according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Some of the facilities “were far from finished” and traffic snarls “made access difficult for many on race day.” Yet the reaction from the F1 community and local officials alike “exceeded expectations” and was “overwhelmingly positive, a feeling that India was sure to become a favorite fixture once the teething problems were resolved.” Drivers “loved the Buddh International Circuit, and Sebastian Vettel, who won the race, said, “I think it will turn out to be one of the great events on the Formula One calendar." Organizers said that “95,000 attended the race, on the outskirts of New Delhi,” and today's newspapers “delighted in declaring India the winner.” F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone said, "I'm very, very happy with it, and everybody else is as well. We've nothing to complain about". Reuters

In London, Tom Cary writes it would be wrong to give a negative impression of what was a truly unique race weekend.” The consensus was that India “had more than earned the right to label its maiden grand prix a qualified success.” The “local color, the enthusiasm of staff and volunteers, the undeniable ambition of the organizers and, of course, the track itself, which was praised to the rafters by the drivers, more than making up for the whiff of chaos which pervaded proceedings; the design flaws in the paddock, the issues of transportation and timing” Guardian.

In N.Y., Brad Spurgeon wrote prior to the race F1 and India “await the results with a mix of optimism and trepidation, hoping it will work better in the world’s second most populous country than it has so far in its larger neighbor to the north.” India has “had some bad experiences holding international sporting events, notably the fiasco of the Commonwealth Games last year.” Spurgeon noted the difference is the F1 race was not “run by the government”  NY Times

Herbert explains Massa penalty
Felipe Massa was penalized for the latest collision with Lewis Hamilton during the Indian GP and Johnny Herbert, a FIA race steward at Buddh, justifies why the Ferrari driver was afforded the blame for the incident and handed the drive through penalty.

Writing in his column for The National, Herbert explained, “The decision to penalize Felipe Massa for his contact with Lewis Hamilton came down to one simple fact – it could have been avoided. As one of the stewards for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, I was involved in the review of the incident and the discussion of the penalty. I know Massa was upset by our decision, but I believe we made the right call.”

Herbert went on to explain the process: “When Massa’s Ferrari came together with Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren-Mercedes on lap 23 of the race, we looked at replays to see if a punishment should be given for the incident. After looking at it from different camera angles and studying all the data available to us, it was clear that Massa knew where Hamilton was before he chose to turn across him.”

“You could see that Massa looked in his side mirror, so he knew Hamilton was on his left as they approached the left-hand turn. It appeared he was giving up the corner as he moved wide to the right, effectively opening the door for Hamilton to go down the inside on the left. Only, Massa swept across in front of him, leading to contact. There was nothing Hamilton could have done to avoid it. He did try to get out of the move, but it was too late and the contact was made,” said the veteran of 161 grand prix starts.

“If Massa had not gone wide – that would have been a different scenario altogether. If there had been contact then, the blame would have been Hamilton’s. But as it happened, the incident could have been avoided. Massa knew where Hamilton was, he opened the door for him by moving wide, and after doing that he still swept across and did not give Hamilton room. That’s why the decision was made to punish him with a drive-through penalty,” concluded Herbert.

Williams get two new directors
Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (“Williams” or the “Group,” Ticker: WGF1) today announces the appointment of Nick Rose and Louise Evans to the company’s Board of Directors. Nick joins Toto Wolff, Mike O’Driscoll and Eddie Charlton as the company’s fourth Non-Executive Director and will chair the Audit Committee. Louise steps up to Finance Director from her current position as the Group’s Head of Finance. Nick and Louise join the Board with immediate effect.  As a Non-Executive Director, Nick has been appointed for a term of three years, although both Nick and Louise will be required to stand for re-election at next year’s Annual General Meeting.

Nick Rose started his career with 12 years’ service within the Treasury and finance departments of the Ford Motor Company. In 1992, Nick joined Grand Metropolitan plc as Group Treasurer before promotion to Group Controller and Chief Finance Officer of the drinks division. Nick played a key part in the merger with Guinness to create Diageo plc and the company’s subsequent maneuver into a focused drinks business. In 1999, Nick was appointed CFO of Diageo before adding Group Strategy, Global IS and Global Supply to his list of responsibilities. Nick retired from Diageo at the end of December 2010.

Nick was educated at Oxford University, from where he has a Masters in Chemistry. Today, he serves on three Boards, including BAE Systems plc, where he chairs the Audit Committee, BT Group plc and Edwards Group plc, where he is Chairman. Nick is also Founding Patron of SITraN (Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience); involved in raising funds to build a leading research institute to find a cure for Motor Neurone disease.

With a First Class degree in Management Science, Louise Evans joined Ernst and Young from university where she spent four years before heading to Reynard Motorsport in 1998 as Financial Project Manager. In 1998, Louise moved to the RPS Group plc, an international environmental management consultancy, to take up the position of Divisional Finance Director. At RPS, Louise was responsible for the operational management of several UK divisions and managed the post acquisition integration of a number of acquired subsidiaries.

In 2004, Louise joined Williams F1 as Financial Controller, and was soon appointed Head of Finance, responsible for all aspects of operational and structural finance for the Group.

On the appointments, Williams F1 Chairman, Adam Parr, said, "I am delighted to welcome Nick and Louise to our Board. As a highly experienced finance professional, and a member of the Board of two of Britain’s largest listed companies, Nick will chair our Audit Committee. As a businessman with experience in the automotive, consumer and luxury sectors, he will be an invaluable asset for Williams F1. Since joining Williams eight years ago, Louise has implemented the highest standards of financial control and reporting and she played a key role in enabling the company to achieve a listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange earlier this year. The combination of our executive and non-executive directors means we now have a tremendous and balanced Board which can provide the Company and our shareholders with the highest standards of leadership and governance."

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