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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Boullier calls Morelli a liar
    Renault hits back as Kubica rift deepens
  • Brazil win 'not a high priority' - Alonso
  • 2012 Bahrain return safe for now - Ecclestone
  • Security tight as F1 returns to Brazil
  • Alguersuari says Toro Rosso duo 'deserve' 2012 stay
  • Heidfeld 'can imagine' life after F1
  • Race return or F1 exit, Hulkenberg warns
  • Dispute in Austin almost certain to kill F1 race

Renault hits back as Kubica rift deepens
(GMM)  A growing rift between Robert Kubica and the Renault team has deepened further.

After Renault this week announced the injured Pole will not be ready for the start of 2012, Kubica's manager Daniele Morelli accused the team of twisting his words and indicated he is looking around for a different employer.

Team boss Eric Boullier reacted with surprise, insisting Morelli approved the wording of the media statement.

"He approved the communication so everything was fine," the Frenchman said at Interlagos.  "He approved it, I can show you the email.  And now he is upset with I don't know what.

"He is creating stories from nothing," Boullier told reporters in Brazil.

Earlier, Morelli had insisted Kubica may be ready for 2012 but not the February tests, amid speculation Ferrari and Red Bull might be interested in eventually securing the services of the now 26-year-old.

"If Robert comes back that's because he will be competitive like before and attractive for the top teams," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Brazil win 'not a high priority' - Alonso
(GMM)  Perhaps the last point of interest in the 2011 world drivers' championship is the race for second place behind Sebastian Vettel.

With a ten point advantage, Jenson Button is the favorite to beat Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to the runner-up spot after Sunday's season finale.

"Winning (the race) here is not a high priority," insisted Alonso at Interlagos, "but the motivation is that none of us like to lose anything," he is quoted by EFE news agency.

The Spaniard thinks he has "little chance" to beat McLaren's Button to second place.

"On a dry track I cannot really take ten points more than him, but with a strange race, such as can happen in Sao Paulo with rain and retirements, anything can happen," he acknowledged.

Alonso said he is "fairly happy" with his 2011 season, and confident that he will be "happier" at the end of next year.

"The whole team has been thinking about the coming season for some time," he added.

2012 Bahrain return safe for now - Ecclestone
(GMM)  A damning report into the unrest in Bahrain earlier this year does not endanger the Kingdom's return to formula one in 2012.

That is the claim of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, as further turmoil kicked off in Bahrain surrounding the release of the report confirming the government was heavy-handed with its citizens this year.

The 2011 unrest caused the cancellation of the 2011 season opener but Bahrain is scheduled to return to the calendar next April.

That race will go ahead "unless something terrible happens to stop us," Ecclestone told reporters at Interlagos.

Another race in doubt for 2012 is the one in South Korea, with the country's first two races poorly attended and organizers now dithering over the cost of the event.

"We're having a look at that with the promoter," said Ecclestone, "because it isn't working for them.  We'll try and find the reason it isn't and try to help them."

Security tight as F1 returns to Brazil
(GMM)  Attacked by armed bandits outside the circuit a year ago, Jenson Button on Thursday had trouble gaining entry to Interlagos.

Express newspaper reports that even Bruno Senna, whose famous uncle Ayrton was revered by Brazilians, couldn't penetrate the tighter security in 2011.

"We were saying 'We've got the FIA press conference, will you be paying our fine?'" Button told reporters on Thursday.

Security is always a point of interest in Sao Paulo, with Germany's Bild newspaper amused to reveal the armored Mercedes with bulletproof tires used this weekend by Michael Schumacher.

And Thursday's usual autograph session was called off.

Police escorts have been made available to all the drivers, but Mark Webber told the Associated Press: "I'm still driving to the track on my own.  No changes for me."

And world champion Sebastian Vettel insisted: "This is my sixth time here and nothing has ever happened to me."

Alguersuari says Toro Rosso duo 'deserve' 2012 stay
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has admitted he is betting all his chips on keeping his seat at Toro Rosso next year.

EFE news agency quotes the Spaniard as saying he will either stay at the second Red Bull team next year or leave formula one altogether.

"I would go," he confirmed.  "If Red Bull does not want to continue with me, I will go and look for other things.

"I like it here and I am happy, but if I am not (kept) then I don't think I will continue in formula one," Alguersuari insisted.

Officially, Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is considering whether to replace either Alguersuari or Sebastien Buemi - or both - with Toro Rosso hopefuls Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne.

Alguersuari insists: "We (Alguersuari and Buemi) both deserve to continue with our team and it would be a shame if we did not.  With us two, the team will continue to grow."

He said Toro Rosso has made a "big leap" in recent times, leaving him personally "happy".

"I've done as much as I could and I'm very calm about my future.  Happy and proud," said the 21-year-old.

Heidfeld 'can imagine' life after F1
(GMM)  He insists his F1 career is not dead yet, but a future in the German touring car series DTM looks more likely for Nick Heidfeld.

The veteran of 183 grands prix lost his race seat at Renault earlier this year and has barely featured in the 2012 'silly season'.

"I can also imagine doing something different," the 34-year-old German acknowledged to DPA news agency.

"I hope to be able to offer my loyal fans some action pretty soon," added Heidfeld.

If not F1, the DTM series looks to be Heidfeld's best bet, with his former formula one employer BMW fielding cars in 2012.

But talks with Mercedes are also rumored, such as a role split between a reserve and advisory position at grands prix and a DTM race cockpit.

"I am definitely interested in DTM next season, whether I am a driver or even a spectator," Heidfeld admitted to Germany's Sport1.

"There are also some other interesting series; I've never made a secret of my liking for the unique atmosphere of the 24 hours of Le Mans," he added.

Race return or F1 exit, Hulkenberg warns
(GMM)  Nico Hulkenberg on Friday hinted he would rather quit formula one than spend another season on the bench.

After a promising debut with Williams last year, the German had to accept a Friday and reserve role at Force India in 2011, but he is hotly tipped to move into the race seat for next season.

Team boss Vijay Mallya, however, is still yet to announce his decision.

"I hope it is a matter of one or two weeks," the 24-year-old told DPA news agency at Interlagos, where the Brazilian grand prix is the final race of the season.

"I won't do this (being test driver) a second year.  That is out of the question," added Hulkenberg.

Asked if another series is an option, he admitted: "Yes, of course.  But I haven't done anything (in that direction) yet."

Hulkenberg described his year on the bench as "disappointing", and recalls the "deeply distressing" decision made by Williams last year to replace him with Pastor Maldonado.

That decision was made just after his last visit to Interlagos, when he stunned the F1 paddock by achieving pole position.

"The DVD (of 2010 Brazil qualifying) is always in my laptop.  I still watch it regularly," he smiled.

Dispute in Austin almost certain to kill F1 race
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson claims that Comptroller Susan Combs overstepped her authority in 2010 when she committed $25 million in state funds toward Formula One races planned near Austin, the fate of which is currently in limbo.

Patterson filed a request this week for a state attorney general's opinion as to whether Combs bypassed at least two provisions in state law regarding payments from the state's Major Events Trust Fund, an economic development fund administered by her office.

Patterson said Combs did not receive a request from a local government or nonprofit before committing $25 million for 10 years to be used toward the race and that she had not determined the additional tax revenue the event would create.

The request comes after a series of events last week that could make any attorney general's opinion a footnote to Austin's Formula One plans.

Combs' office said last week that it would not pay any state money in advance of the race despite committing to pay

$25 million by July 31, 2011, in a May 2010 letter to Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

Work at the track also ground to a halt amid a dispute between circuit officials and Ecclestone over a contract for the rights to hold the race.

"While recent events have caused the Comptroller to withdraw her former commitments, the Attorney General should clarify whether actions like the Comptroller took on May 10, 2010, are permitted under Texas law," Patterson said in his request.

The request also has political overtones, as Combs and Patterson, both Republicans, have indicated that they plan to run for lieutenant governor in 2014. Combs' support of Formula One appears likely to be a campaign issue.

Patterson told the American-Statesman on Wednesday that he was not opposed to Formula One or the idea of spending money to attract events but that he disagreed with how Combs had committed the funds.

"She has obviously not complied with the statute," he said.

In a statement, Combs responded: "We will provide the Attorney General's office with any information and assistance they request. As with all issues, I adhere to the law and act within the scope of my authority. No state money was paid to Formula One by July 31st of this year and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has said there is no contract for a race."

Although an attorney general's opinion is not as binding as a court ruling, it still carries substantial weight as the state's official interpretation of the law.

Patterson said the confusion in the law could result in inaccurate tax valuation of state-owned land north of the Circuit of the Americas in southeastern Travis County.

Austin's inaugural U.S. Grand Prix is currently scheduled for Nov. 18 next year, but Ecclestone recently said that it and all future races are unlikely to happen unless track investors sign a contract by the end of this week.

An assistant in Ecclestone's office in London said Wednesday that he was traveling to the Brazilian Grand Prix and was not available for comment.

Patterson said work on the track site might have created some temporary employment but added, "Now there's 300 guys on the street before Thanksgiving." The Statesman

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