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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Tilke says Austin is still on schedule
    F1 panel approves name changes, 2012 calendar
  • F1 panel says no to customer cars
  • Kubica set for new wrist operation
  • Ron Howard talks about Formula 1 movie
  • Barrichello hopes Brazil won’t be last race
  • Austin puts brakes on annexing F1 land for now New
  • Tilke says construction of Austin circuit is on schedule New
  • Ceccon gets shot at F1 test New 

F1 panel approves name changes, 2012 calendar
(GMM)  The F1 Commission on Thursday approved name changes for three formula one teams ahead of the 2012 season.

Next year, Team Lotus will become Caterham, Renault will be called Lotus, and Virgin will adopt the name of its Russian supercar partner Marussia.

Brazilian Livio Oricchio wrote in his O Estado de S.Paulo column that the Renault team no longer has "anything to do with the French carmaker" and in fact owes money to the Boulogne-Billancourt marque.

And the Telegraph reports that although Virgin will now be known as Marussia, Sir Richard Branson's brand "will continue to pay money" to the team.

"As part of the new deal, believed to be for four years, Virgin will not have any equity but will continue to pay sponsorship", the report added.

The changes - voted on by the 26 members including Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt, race promoters, teams, manufacturers and sponsors - are pending the approval of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council meeting in December.

Also discussed in Geneva was the 2012 calendar, with events in Austin, Korea and Bahrain reportedly in doubt and Turkey apparently hoping to slot back in with a reduced sanctioning fee.

But a source close to Texas' scheduled 2012 US grand prix reports that the F1 Commission confirmed next year's calendar as originally published by the FIA.

F1 panel says no to customer cars
(GMM)  The unofficial news emerging from the F1 Commission on Thursday was the approval of team name changes and the 2012 calendar.

The sources, however, were much quieter about the big-ticket discussion -- the speculated liberalization of the Concorde Agreement to allow the purchase and sale of full 'customer cars' between competing teams.

"In general, but not always, when a controversial topic is discussed by the F1 Commission and the result is not immediately made public, then it has not been approved," wrote Livio Oricchio in his O Estado de S.Paulo column.

Indeed, Italy's Autosprint - also reporting after the Geneva meeting broke - thinks the most likely outcome for the future is a further tightening of the existing rules, which could endanger partnerships such as the one between McLaren and Force India.

Upon announcing the extension of its partnership with Williams on Thursday, for example, HRT found the need to state explicitly that the gearbox and KERS deal "strictly follows the terms agreed in the Concorde Agreement".

The two teams "will compete independently in the formula one constructors' championship", added the media statement.

Along with Ferrari, one team arguing in favor of customer cars is Toro Rosso, who last year was forced to become a full constructor despite previously enjoying a much closer collaboration with its parent Red Bull Racing.

"The precise cause of this change in regulation (in 2010) is hard to determine," team boss Franz Tost told Sportwoche.

"Today, we see big corporations working together, which from an economic perspective makes complete sense.  But in formula one a close collaboration between teams is not possible, which to me is absolutely the wrong way."

So for now, enhancing the Red Bull-Toro Rosso relationship will have to be done within the existing limits, with Tost revealing that "in the medium term it is our goal to have the same engine manufacturer (Renault) as Red Bull".

Currently, Toro Rosso is powered by Ferrari.

Kubica set for new wrist operation
(GMM)  The likelihood of an early 2012 return to the Lotus (currently Renault) team for Robert Kubica appears to have receded even further.

The Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Thursday that the Polish driver, who has already undergone five operations since his February rally crash, is scheduled to have more surgery in the coming days.

The next operation will be on his right wrist and will surely intensify speculation that team boss Eric Boullier has already decided to pair Vitaly Petrov with the new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean next season.

Kubica's hand surgeon Igor Rossello suggested that the new surgery is relatively minor.

"The mobility of Kubica's right hand is satisfactory," he said.  "Robert has told me that he has already driven a car.  This a miracle of his will."

But the report said Kubica is still months from the end of his rehabilitation process.

British tabloid The Sun quoted Renault/Lotus boss Boullier as saying: "We have to assess options and are still waiting for Robert to come back to us to say he can test.

"Until we see him and have the confirmation we cannot say anything.  And unfortunately we need to keep the option of not having him back," he added.

Ron Howard Talks About Formula 1 Movie
Ron Howard, who started out as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and has gone on to direct such Oscar-winning movies as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, has talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his upcoming film Rush, which is set in the world of Formula 1 racing during the 1970s and '80s.

The film will chronicle the competition between legendary drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt, with Daniel Bruhl of Inglorious Basterds playing Lauda and Thor's Chris Hemsworth portraying Hunt. The script is by Peter Morgan, the Brit who also wrote 2006's brilliant The Queen and Howard's own underappreciated Frost/Nixon.

Howard doesn't claim to be a big F1 fan. But he likes Morgan's script because, he told the entertainment industry journal, "these are fascinating characters — ballsy, masculine guys. It was a very dangerous era in racing, and here are two absolute individuals at the height of their powers. It makes for great drama and very exciting action. I wasn't a die-hard Formula One fan before I read Peter's script, but I've been immersing myself in this world. I think the excitement I feel as a fresh convert may be infectious."

Howard says he's been visiting F1 tracks, attending F1 races, meeting with luminaries such as Lauda himself, and has watched the Senna documentary seven times in preparation for the film.

Filming for Rush, which is being independently financed outside the Hollywood studio system, starts in February. It should hit theaters sometime during the winter of 2012.

Inside Line says: Most car movies don't have anywhere near the potential for greatness that this one has. Edmunds Inside Line

Barrichello hopes Brazil won’t be last race
For some time now speculation has been rife that Rubens Barrichello is unlikely to be retained by Williams for the 2012 season, nevertheless the Brazilian still believes that this will not be his last season in Formula 1 but would appreciate a decision by the Grove based team by Interlagos.

Barrichello, who is in his 19th year of F1, told TotalRace, “Emotionally speaking, it would be great to know before Interlagos because many people may find what you want in my career, it does not matter. But those who deserve to enjoy a beautiful farewell. So wanted to know exactly why.”

However Barrichello remains positive that he will be able to strike a deal for his 20th year at the pinnacle of the sport, “I do not think it will be my last race at Interlagos. On the weekend of India just a little better understanding the situation. It is not open, you cannot speak for me. But I understood a little more for what is taking so long, and unfortunately we will have to wait some respects.”

“I do not think it will be my last race [Interlagos]. During the weekend in India I managed to understand the situation. It is not open for me to discuss. But I do understand the delays and we will just have to wait a little longer,” said the 39 year old.

Despite the optimism the Brazilian veteran of 320 grand prix starts is ready for plan-B, “I’m fine with everything I do. I really want to race 100%. But if not, I also have 100% options on the other side. Many people tell me – Luciano Burti, Olivier Panis – that life post Formula 1 is even better.”

Austin puts brakes on annexing F1 land for now
The City of Austin has put the brakes on a plan to annex the Circuit of the Americas racetrack by the end of this year.

The decision came after a financial analysis of the potential move, said Kyle Carvell, a spokesman for the city.

"We've determined it makes more sense to hold off on pursuing annexation until that area is further developed and we get closer to the date of the event," Carvell said.

The $300 million racetrack under construction in Southeast Travis County is scheduled to host its inaugural Formula One U.S. Grand Prix on Nov. 18, 2012.

As part of the annexation process, the Austin City Council had scheduled two public hearings, the first of which had been set for Thursday afternoon at City Hall but was not held.

The city was considering annexing 1,458 acres near Elroy. About half of that is part of the racetrack site; the rest consists of state-owned land and two privately owned parcels used for agriculture that lie between the F1 land and the city limits. The city cannot annex land that is not contiguous.

Annexation would allow the city to collect taxes on the property and extend its regulatory authority over it. The city also would be required to provide fire and police protection as well as water and wastewater services.

To collect taxes for 2011, the city would have to annex the track site by the end of this year. Taxes for 2011, however, would not be as much as they should be in later years because there are not yet permanent structures at the track. As building continues and races take place, the track will become a more inviting target for annexation, which is accomplished through a City Council vote, not a general election.

"If the city decides to pursue annexation," Circuit of the Americas President Steve Sexton said, "we are happy to work through the process with them and our neighbors in Southeast Travis County."

Tilke says construction of Austin circuit is on schedule
Formula 1 track designer Hermann Tilke says that construction work at the new Circuit of the Americas track in Texas is on schedule, as he dismissed any suggestion that building work was running late.
"We are working on it," he told AUTOSPORT. "There are a couple of hundred workers on the site, a lot of machines, and everything is on schedule up to now."

"In Austin we have had the advantage that we have some natural elevation and some hills which we could use," he explained. "It is going to be very fast."
Ceccon gets shot at F1 test
Kevin Ceccon is ready to become one of the youngest drivers to have ever taken the wheel of a Formula 1 car. The Auto GP Overall and Under 21 champion was indeed chosen by Scuderia Toro Rosso to drive the Italian team's car in the Abu Dhabi rookie test, that will take place on November 15-16-17 just after the Emirates Grand Prix. On the first day of this test Ceccon will be 18 years, 1 month and 11 days old, meaning that he will be one of the most precocious drivers in motorsport history.
In this regard, Kevin even managed to beat Sebastian Vettel: the German driver, who was just crowned World F1 Champion for the second time in a row, did his first F1 test with Williams when he was 18 years, 2 months and 20 days. For Ceccon this will be a huge chance, even more considering that he will drive the STR6 for one and a half day, so having the time to assimilate the procedures and the complex systems of a modern F1 car. While the test will be a very important opportunity for Ceccon, for Auto GP it's a testament of the high level reached by the Series, that nowadays is considered a very interesting scenario by F1 teams that are looking for new talents.".
Enzo Coloni: "We are very proud of having the Auto GP champion taking part in the F1 Rookie test in Abu Dhabi, it's the proof of how the F1 environment is looking to the Series with great interest while searching for the champions of tomorrow, thanks to a grid quality that for the second year in a row presented the highest standards. I believe that thanks to its technical side, mainly the high power output from the engine and the lack of ground effect, Auto GP can be a really good school for drivers that are hoping for a future in Formula 1; I'm sure that Ceccon, who did really well both in Auto GP and in GP2, will be up to the task with Toro Rosso".
Kevin Ceccon: "It's unbelievable how this year in Auto GP changed my life. In just one year I passed from F3 to winning both Auto GP titles, debuting in GP2 and fulfilling the dream of driving an F1 car with a competitive team as Toro Rosso. I wasn't even thinking about this until some days ago and it feels like a dream, but I'm fully aware that even after such an amazing year I'm just at the beginning of my path. I have a lot to learn, and this will be my attitude for this test, aiming to gather as much experience as possible from this great opportunity and hoping to boast a very good performance at the same time".
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