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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Ecclestone: Austin is history
    Austin off 2012 calendar 'for sure' - Ecclestone
  • 'Pay drivers' say Abu Dhabi test money well spent
  • Petrov slams Renault and admits exit 'possible'
  • Luiz Razia to drive Lotus on Friday in Brazil
  • Top F1 bosses think Alguersuari deserves seat
  • Boss - Hamilton 'underestimated' Button
  • Glock admits need to 'Google' 2012 teammate Pic
  • Ferrari focuses on engine components

Austin off 2012 calendar 'for sure' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Austin's formula one project is close to collapse, with Bernie Ecclestone saying the event will fall off the 2012 calendar "for sure".

With the Texas state funding also in jeopardy and track construction halted, the main problem is a disagreement between Tavo Hellmund - who held the original race contract - and the separate company that is building the Circuit of the Americas.

Asked by the Press Association if the impasse means Austin will be erased from next year's race schedule at the World Council meeting next month, F1 chief executive Ecclestone admitted: "Yes, it will be, for sure."

He insisted: "We've done everything we bloody well can do to make this race happen."

Ecclestone explained that the circuit cannot simply negotiate to have the contract transferred from Hellmund, because "we've cancelled Tavo's contract as he was in breach".

And "these other people haven't got a contract," he said.  "All we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.

"If people don't have the money they find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract," said Ecclestone.

He told the Independent that if the Circuit of the Americas gets its act together, it could sign a new contract for "10 years from 2013".

But the Daily Express quotes Ecclestone as saying: "I would be surprised if it happened."

The local Austin American Statesman reports that the heavy machinery and "even the portable toilets" were being removed from the site on Wednesday.

'Pay drivers' say Abu Dhabi test money well spent
(GMM)  Monegasque driver Stefano Coletti considers paying for his formula one debut this week money well spent.

The 22-year-old, whose backers have paid reportedly hundreds of thousands of euros for a Toro Rosso seat in Abu Dhabi, finished this year's GP2 season in eleventh place.

Paying was therefore the way to dip a toe in F1's waters.

"It is good for the drivers to get experience because things like this you can't do it all the time," he is quoted by The National newspaper.

"It's a big opportunity for drivers and if any other drivers are thinking about doing it, I think they should, because the amount of experience you get in a day like this, you never get anywhere else."

Coletti denied that his test was simply an exchange of money for seat time, arguing that he had important tasks to complete for Toro Rosso.

"This test wasn't about money," he insisted, "because usually when it is just about making money, you put fuel in, put some tires on and go.

"We did a lot of testing."

Another so-called 'pay driver' in Abu Dhabi this week is Spaniard Dani Clos, appearing with the HRT team.

He openly admitted he is "one of the drivers who needs to pay to get into formula one".

"Even if you win GP2, you will need to pay because nowadays the teams need that money," said the 23-year-old.  "It's no longer enough to just be talented.

"If you are talented, perfect, if you win, perfect, but you also have to have someone pushing for you economically.  The teams need this money to survive and bring new stuff to the car."

Clos said there is always another fast driver coming through the ranks with more money, and that the queue at the door is growing longer due to some older drivers hanging onto their F1 seats.

"There are some drivers in F1 who need to start thinking about getting out because they have been there many years and there are young drivers who are waiting to come up," he insisted.

Petrov slams Renault and admits exit 'possible'
(GMM)  Vitaly Petrov has admitted he might be in breach of contract for a rant against his F1 team Renault in the Russian press.

He started by telling Russian television Rossiya 2 that the Enstone based team's development of its 2011 car has not been good enough due to early problems with the unique forward-mounted engine exhausts.

"For almost ten races we have had absolutely nothing (new), which, in fact, means we drive basically the same car we began the season with," said Petrov.

"Of course, the first podium (in Australia) was inspiring, for me, the whole of Russia, all the fans.  But then I was just angry with everything and tried to do something.

"Unfortunately, I can't say anything bad about the team, it is written down in my contract," said the 27-year-old.

Petrov uses the word 'unfortunately' because he claims the team bosses are often highly critical.

"Read my interviews, I don't criticize a team that lost many times.  How much have we lost on pitstops?  How much have we lost on tactics?

"Due to that kind of thing we lost, I can say, about ten races, if not more.  Unfortunately, I couldn't say in an interview that we lost due to poor pitstops once again, or something.

"I still can't speak about it, but on the same side I also can't remain silent, I've had enough of it, I can't keep everything inside."

The breaking of the silence might be related to speculation Renault, to become Lotus in 2012, is rethinking its entire driver lineup for next year, despite already having a contract with Petrov.

"This is formula one, it's business," he admitted.  "Gradually, they're just working to get more -– maybe the price, maybe the sponsors, maybe the drivers around them.

"Look at the queue of drivers at Williams -- I believe there are 20 people eager to take the second place there.  Thank god I'm not in it.

"As for me, I think it is quite clear -- I have a contract.  But as I said before, even the world champion Kimi Raikkonen was asked (by Ferrari) to leave formula one for a certain amount.

"It's a world where everything is possible, it will be hard to oppose if they want to remove someone," he admitted.

Luiz Razia to drive Lotus on Friday in Brazil
(GMM)  Luiz Razia has revealed he will be driving a Team Lotus car during morning practice at Interlagos next Friday.

Earlier, the 22-year-old was eagerly seeking a sponsor or two to fund his formula one debut at his home race, the season-ending Brazilian grand prix.

It is believed however that, for its last race with the Lotus name, Tony Fernandes' Anglo-Malaysian team will field its usual race drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

But Razia, who tested the T128 in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, will at least get some practice laps at Interlagos.

"It will be very important to come to Sao Paulo with a good (performance) level, because people will be paying more attention there than here in Abu Dhabi.

"It is the first time I have driven a F1 car at home and, even though it's just a free practice, it has been one of my big goals.

"It will be special for I have to treat it like work and perform rather than feel the thrill of accomplishment," he is quoted by Agencia Estado.

Top F1 bosses think Alguersuari deserves seat
(GMM)  The bosses of three top formula one teams agree that Jaime Alguersuari has done enough to secure his place on the grid for next season.

The Spaniard, along with his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Buemi, are at risk of losing their race seats for the 2012 season to Red Bull's latest young chargers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

But McLaren's Whitmarsh thinks Alguersuari, 21, is now an established driver.

"He is no longer a rookie or a question-mark, he is now a driver with full credibility," the Briton is quoted by Spain's TV3 television.

Whitmarsh added that Alguersuari's 2011 season - his second full season in formula one - has been "very good overall" even though he is "still developing, but that's normal".

Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali agrees.

"I think he has done some good races and has been instrumental in the development of the car," the Italian said.  "He will only get more experience with some more patience, but he has a very good potential."

And Mercedes' Ross Brawn, whose career has been closely linked with Michael Schumacher's success, said of Alguersuari: "He unquestionably deserves a place in formula one.

"I have been impressed even though it is quite difficult to judge a driver who has only been with one team," he cautioned.

Boss - Hamilton 'underestimated' Button
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton underestimated his current McLaren teammate Jenson Button.

That is the claim of the British team's boss Martin Whitmarsh, who admitted to F1's official website that Hamilton has endured an unusually bad season in 2011.

"Lewis expects more from himself and the world expects more from Lewis.  There's been a lot going on in his life," he said.

At the same time, countryman Button - written off by some who thought he was entering Hamilton's "lion's den" after his championship year - has surprised the F1 world by beating his highly rated teammate this season.

"Jenson ... is a person that is easily underestimated," Whitmarsh acknowledged, referring to the 31-year-old's "superb manner".

"Sometimes that might be a worry before you know him better, but I have to say that I know him a lot better now."

Whitmarsh thinks Hamilton also underestimated Button initially.

"Possibly.  He probably did, yes.  Let's be open about it," he said.

"Lewis, throughout his career, has destroyed every teammate that's come his way.  Bear in mind that in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso when Fernando was a two-time world champion and Lewis was a rookie." (but everyone said the British team favored the British driver Hamilton over the Spanish driver Alonso.  The team fell apart after Alonso left, as Hamilton is not able to develop a car.  Button can and has lifted Button in the process.)

Glock admits need to 'Google' 2012 teammate Pic
(GMM)  It is a sign of the times when an established formula one driver admits he will need to 'Google' his likely new teammate.

Timo Glock joked to Auto Motor und Sport that, if the reports are true that Frenchman Charles Pic is set to replace Jerome d'Ambrosio at Virgin next year, he will have to unfold his laptop.

21-year-old Pic, fourth in GP2 this year, has been driving German Glock's car in Abu Dhabi this week for the so-called young driver test.

"What does he look like?  I think if he's really coming to us (in 2012) then I'll have to Google him some time," 29-year-old Glock, already confirmed for 2012 and beyond, laughed to the German magazine last weekend.

Olivier Panis-managed Pic is reportedly backed by his family's business Groupe Charles Andre, a leading European freight company.

Virgin will change its name to Marussia for 2012 and sporting director Graeme Lowdon is expecting the team to finally pull off the last rows of the grid.

"It's no secret that we had hoped for more from this year's car, but that clearly wasn't going to happen once we got it," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

"We're all eagerly waiting to see how we can develop that, but at least we've the processes and resources in place now to develop the car much, much quicker than we have done this one," added Lowdon.

Ferrari focuses on engine components
As well as continuing to test Pirelli’s experimental tires at Yas Marina on Wednesday, Ferrari worked on new components for its engine as Jules Bianchi went second fastest and just and just 91 thousandths of a second slower than the pace-setting Red Bull of fellow Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

“It was another good day of testing,” Bianchi commented. “I was able to do a lot of kilometers and so we were able to complete all of the planned program, while I was also able to improve on my lap time from yesterday.

“It’s valuable work for the team because we have accumulated a lot of data which will be important for the development of the 2012 car.”

With a total of 91 laps to his name, Bianchi posted the third highest amount after Esteban Gutiérrez of Sauber (96) and Sam Bird of Mercedes (94).

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