Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
Manager denies Trulli's 2012 seat in doubt
- Abu Dhabi offers to house F1 teams
- Austin hits back at Ecclestone pessimism
- Branson still involved after Virgin name change
- D'Ambrosio admits Virgin in talks with Pic
- Rare praise from Webber as Vettel matches pole record
- Longer DRS might not prevent boring Abu Dhabi race
- Pirelli seeks to confound teams with new 2012 approach
- Horner not worried Monza fans took Webber wing
- Red Bull not signing proposed cost agreement - Marko
- Hamilton tips Rosberg to keep edge over Schumacher
- Officials make a case for the 2012 Bahrain GP
Manager denies Trulli's 2012 seat in doubt
(GMM) Jarno Trulli's place on the 2012 grid could be in danger.
When some cynics read the Team Lotus press release in September, they noted that while it referred to the Italian's contract being renewed, not one of the 322 words said he will actually be racing.
"I am very proud that I can keep helping the team take steps forward for at least another year," the 37-year-old was quoted as saying, "and I am looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead."
Now, the next rumors have emerged on the pages of the usually-reliable Italian website 422race.com.
The report connected the uncertainty about Trulli's seat to the millions being hawked around the paddock by the likes of likely Virgin refugee Jerome d'Ambrosio and the Red Bull dollars promised by Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.
The Trulli camp denied the claims.
"Jarno's position for 2012 isn't in discussion, since he has a signed deal," said his manager Lucio Cavuto.
Abu Dhabi offers to house F1 teams
(GMM) Abu Dhabi's state of the art Yas Marina circuit has offered to house formula one teams.
"You have great technical expertise, if you look at what is happening in Abu Dhabi, with the huge diversification into technical industries," track CEO Richard Cregan is quoted by the Gulf News.
"I think that in itself can create a pool of technical resources for teams that would want to set up a team or a technical centre here," he added.
"We at Yas Marina circuit would welcome that, and I think it would be a great step forward for the circuit and we would welcome any such initiative."
All of F1's teams are currently based in Europe, but the British outfit Williams has a separate research and development centre in Qatar.
Ferrari, meanwhile, has Abu Dhabi sponsorship on its 2011 car and the awesome 'Ferrari World' theme park alongside the circuit.
Austin hits back at Ecclestone pessimism
(GMM) The Circuit of the Americas has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone's claim that Texas might fall off the 2012 calendar.
"Austin? I wouldn't want to put my money down that that will happen," the F1 chief executive said in Abu Dhabi.
Ecclestone referred to apparent differences within the event's organizational bodies, but Circuit of the Americas president Steve Sexton said he was confused by the 81-year-old's comments.
"There is no question that if he wants the USGP race to happen here in 2012, it certainly will," he said in a statement published by the local Austin American Statesman.
"Our funding is secured, and construction is on schedule, so we don't understand Mr. Ecclestone's comments. He has expressed great interest in the Austin race and in expanding the F1 brand into the United States."
The Texas project was the brainchild of Tavo Hellmund, but his role as apparently dwindled in recent months as he looks at new possibilities in Mexico, Argentina and Africa.
He said on Saturday: "It is now the responsibility of the Circuit of the Americas to make this project happen before Mr. Ecclestone's patience runs out."
And Hellmund told The National newspaper last week: "I don't plan to be a track operator. My mission has always been to put the whole deal together and get it going and then continue to broaden my horizons."
Branson still involved after Virgin name change
(GMM) The team currently known as Virgin has moved to allay the fears of sponsors who worry Sir Richard Branson is pulling out of formula one.
Next year, the team will revert to the chassis name of its Russian supercar partner Marussia, after two seasons as Virgin Racing and regular circuit appearances by the famous brand's figurehead Branson.
Referring to potentially worried sponsors, team sporting director Graeme Lowdon said: "They specifically joined us because they wanted to get closer to the Virgin group of companies and have access to that, or because they wanted to align their brand with Virgin, or even have access to Richard.
"From that point of view nothing has changed as we have confirmed to them the Virgin name will still be on the car, and Richard will still come to races," he told the Press Association in Abu Dhabi.
D'Ambrosio admits Virgin in talks with Pic
(GMM) Jerome d'Ambrosio insists he is still confident about his future in formula one.
The Belgian made his debut with Virgin this year but there are reports the team will switch allegiance to Frenchman Charles Pic for the 2012 season.
When interviewed in Abu Dhabi by La Derniere Heure, a French-language Belgian newspaper, 25-year-old d'Ambrosio insisted: "My morale is high -- this is F1!
"If you had believed what was said about me a year ago, today I would be at Renault.
"From what I know, nothing has been decided by Marussia Virgin for next year, although it is clear there are ongoing discussions with Charles Pic," he added.
Indeed, the Lagardere-backed GP2 driver Pic is scheduled to test not only for Virgin but also Team Lotus/Caterham next week.
And Italy's 422race.com reports that d'Ambrosio is a possibility to replace Jarno Trulli at Caterhman.
Virgin/Marussia team boss John Booth said: "As we have said before we are evaluating all our options and we will make a decision after Brazil."
Rare praise from Webber as Vettel matches pole record
(GMM) Even the ultra-competitive Mark Webber could not resist a piece of high praise for his teammate under the floodlights in Abu Dhabi.
Minutes earlier, world champion Vettel had captured his fourteenth pole of the season; an achievement equaling Nigel Mansell's record set in 1992 in a car also designed by Adrian Newey.
Red Bull rang in the news by jokingly calling the 24-year-old German 'Mr. Mansell' on the radio.
"He (Mansell) obviously took two races less to achieve the same but still, it's something very special. It's a great feeling, for sure," said Vettel.
The Abu Dhabi pole also matches Juan Manuel Fangio's career tally of 29 front-of-the-grid starts.
Webber, whose best Q3 time was almost four tenths shy of Vettel's pole, is quoted by AFP: "Sometimes you see Seb's lap and you go 'wow I can't do that'".
Another goal for Vettel before leaving Abu Dhabi is to meet Paul McCartney, a famous member of the German's favorite band The Beatles.
"I haven't seen him but I think he is also here on Sunday so I hope to ask him if he minds having a photo with me," he told F1's official website.
But that might have to take place after a tough fight for victory, with fellow front row-sitter Lewis Hamilton determined to have a good race.
"I remember into turn one last year, I brake early and let him (Vettel) go," said the McLaren driver after qualifying. "I don't plan to do that tomorrow."
Longer DRS might not prevent boring Abu Dhabi race
(GMM) The FIA has lengthened a DRS zone in Abu Dhabi following fears of another processional race.
Last year at Yas Marina, before the overtaking wings were introduced, the layout was heavily criticized for not allowing title protagonists Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to pass the much slower Vitaly Petrov.
A year on, two independent DRS zones are set up for Sunday's race.
But Jenson Button said: "I think it's going to be tough to overtake (even) with DRS. On Friday I was DRS-ing out of turn seven all the way down to turn eight and I still couldn't overtake anyone."
Fernando Alonso agreed: "The zones are a little too short."
Auto Motor und Sport said the FIA has listened to the feedback from the drivers and teams and extended the second DRS zone by 85 meters for the race.
Button added: "I'm afraid it's still going to be too short. In practice I was using the wing for the entire straight behind a Toro Rosso and I couldn't pass him."
Mark Webber agreed: "I don't know how exciting the race is going to be in terms of overtaking to be honest."
Pirelli seeks to confound teams with new 2012 approach
(GMM) Pirelli will move to reinject excitement into formula one for 2012.
Earlier this season, the high spectacle of the grands prix was attributed to the new supplier's highly-degrading tires, with Pirelli adopting a deliberately different approach than its predecessor Bridgestone.
Auto Motor und Sport reports that Pirelli aims to confound the engineers and strategists yet again in 2012 by supplying even softer tires.
"We can see now that the number of pitstops has been coming down," said motor sport director Paul Hembery.
"The drivers are dealing better with the tires, the engineers are finding better setups, the learning about the tires is going on.
"We must try to give these guys some tough nuts to crack yet again," he announced.
Hembery said the new 'hard' tire for 2012, for instance, is almost as soft as the current 'medium'.
And in Friday practice in Abu Dhabi, the teams tried a new 2012-spec soft tire.
"Something like that could be the medium tire next year," said Hembery, adding that Pirelli is therefore working on even softer compounds.
And he said that meeting those challenges would be easier if the teams help Pirelli come up with a new way to test the tires.
"The old (2009) Toyota is already in the museum," he revealed. "We have asked the teams to find a solution as at the moment we don't have one.
"These cars are constantly evolving and we need to keep pace with them somehow."
Horner not worried Monza fans took Webber wing
(GMM) Christian Horner insists he is not worried that pieces of a current-spec Red Bull front wing are currently sitting in the lounge rooms of fans -- and possibly elsewhere.
After Mark Webber's Monza crash, fans collected up the carbon fiber pieces of the mysterious and highly effective Adrian Newey-penned component.
"No problem. You can't get any sensitive information from small pieces like that," boss Horner is quoted by La Stampa newspaper after being shown newspaper photos of the wreckage in a Spanish spectator's home.
It had been suggested that some of the other pieces had been delivered by ardent Ferrari fans to Ferrari's Maranello headquarters, preceding the debut of a remarkably similar 'flexing' wing that is currently being tested by the famous team.
A Ferrari official is quoted as rubbishing the theory.
"If someone is able to understand from wreckage how something works, study it and put it into a design and build it and all of this in a month, that would not be formula one but something that does not exist," he said.
Red Bull not signing proposed cost agreement - Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has bad news for the FOTA alliance and the next inter-team resource restriction agreement (RRA).
Red Bull, accused of not sticking to the existing cost-limiting deal, is not signing the new one that is currently on the table.
"It is totally full of holes. Anyone can simply circumvent the rules. So we are not signing that," the team's consultant Marko is quoted by Bild newspaper.
The paddock pressure on Red Bull is rising, with some rivals complaining loudly that the potential collapse of the FOTA group is a huge risk amid the worsening Eurozone crisis and ahead of the crucial talks over the next Concorde Agreement.
"It's the same for every team when they are at the top. But we just have to do what we can to stay there," insisted Marko.
For instance, off the track in Abu Dhabi, contrary to Red Bull's real wishes, the highly controversial blown exhaust rules were further tightened ahead of 2012.
The trick was pioneered by the team and said to be a great part of Sebastian Vettel's dominance this year.
"So, without the exhaust we just have to come up with something new," said Marko. "And we've got Adrian Newey."
The Briton is working hard on the dominant RB7's successor.
"I expect that it will be ready for the first test in Jerez," said Vettel, referring to the opening 2012 pre-season event in February.
"At the moment we are on schedule," he added.
Hamilton tips Rosberg to keep edge over Schumacher
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has tipped Nico Rosberg to retain his edge over Michael Schumacher at Mercedes.
Rosberg, a former karting teammate of 2008 world champion Hamilton and now a F1 rival, has signed on for the next few years with the German team, where in 2010 and 2011 he was the standout performer alongside the great Schumacher.
"I know Nico very well," Briton Hamilton is quoted by the Cologne newspaper Express, "and I knew he would do everything to beat Michael. And he did it.
"I think he's going to keep that gap now. Nico is hungry, there is no doubt about that. He has not won the championship or even any races but he is still young.
"When Michael was in the same phase in his career, maybe he had the same hunger and he won seven world championships and 91 races.
"I don't think it's possible for him to be as hungry as he was before," added Hamilton.
But while there is no doubt Schumacher has upped his game in the second half of 2011, some commentators still believe he should return to retirement at the age of 42 and open his cockpit for a new charger.
Gerhard Berger, an early contemporary of Schumacher's ultra-successful initial career, does not agree.
"He has won seven world championships and earned the right to do what he wants," the former Ferrari and McLaren driver told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
"The market regulates itself and if he was not good enough still, he would not still be there."
Officials make a case for the 2012 Bahrain GP
(PVM) The crown prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone made an impromptu visit to the media centre at Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday, where they made a case for the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place, as scheduled, in April 2012.
The 2011 race in the island kingdom was cancelled, after protests and civil unrest afflicted the kingdom, earlier this year. However speaking in Abu Dhabi Sheikh Salman explained why his country should host next year’s race, with Ecclestone’s backing.
When asked how confident he felt that the race would take place, Sheikh Salman said, “Very confident. It’s looking good. As a force for moderation, sport is a great unifier. There are certain things that have happened in the country that nobody is proud of. Just like any other country that has faced troubles in the past we’ll move beyond it and we will grow.”
“The race is a symbol of national unity. Anyone with a moderate agenda, a global agenda knows that the race is what ties Bahrain to the world. Extremists on either side might disagree, but the majority of people, especially those that love their country and want to be part of the world, support it,” added Sheikh Salman.
Ecclestone was also upbeat about the race taking place, saying, “Everybody is content; no dramas. We wouldn’t have put it on the calendar otherwise. We didn’t have to put it on the calendar; it was only because we knew we would be there that it is in the calendar.”
“It is because of them we are here and growing in this part of the world. If we hadn’t done this early on, we wouldn’t be here,” explained Ecclestone.
An international commission investigating months of protests in Bahrain delayed its final report on the unrest in the Gulf kingdom, saying it needed more time to review thousands of personal accounts and official documents. The report is expected on 23 November.
The commission indicated in a statement on their website that the delay of the final report will “ensure that every testimony, complaint, and item of evidence is considered and examined.”
At least 35 people have been killed since February, when Bahrain’s Shiite majority began a spate of protests for greater rights in the strategically important Gulf nation.
“We feel like we were caricatured in some ways – good guys versus bad guys – whereas in reality the truth is something far more complex. We are very hopeful this report will lay to rest many of these ambiguities,” Sheikh Salman told The National.
The 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix is on next year’s Formula 1 calendar as race four in the world championship, scheduled for 20-22 April.