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DATE News (chronologically)
12/12/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday  
  • di Resta thinks he can beat Vettel
    Di Resta hails car, not driver, after Vettel title
  • Grosjean expects 'whole season' with Lotus in 2012
  • Valencia government takes over European GP
  • Manager to announce Petrov's 2012 plans this month
  • Ceccon in 'Friday' talks with Toro Rosso, Caterham, HRT
  • Dumping father 'a disaster' for Hamilton - Ecclestone
  • Buemi 'very confident' about Toro Rosso seat
  • Pic had 'better package' admits axed d'Ambrosio

Di Resta hails car, not driver, after Vettel title
(GMM)  If he'd been at the wheel of a Red Bull in 2011, Paul di Resta is sure he would be world champion now.

The Scot made an impressive grand prix debut with Force India this season and is expected to stay with the Silverstone based team in 2012, with an announcement due this week.

As teammates in 2006, di Resta - who is actually older than Sebastian Vettel - beat the 24-year-old German to the F3 Euroseries title.

"We had the same car, same engine, same tires and I beat him," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I don't want to diminish Vettel's achievement (in 2011), but he won the championship because he had the best car.  He did his job, but another driver in the same car would probably have achieved the same results.

"I hope one day to have the same opportunity."

Vettel's teammate Mark Webber, of course, did have that opportunity in 2011.

The Australian has been retained for 2012 and he told the Daily Mail last week that he hopes Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko decides to prolong his tenure "a bit longer" beyond next year.

"I think not winning the championship last year knocked him about a little bit," Webber's father Alan told the Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury.

Vettel, however, sounds more worried about his rivals at McLaren.

"McLaren were very strong at the end of the year.  It will not be a walk in the park next season," he is quoted by The Sun.

Grosjean expects 'whole season' with Lotus in 2012
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean is not being marketed by Lotus as the latest substitute for injured team regular Robert Kubica.

Pole Kubica's contract runs out in less than three weeks and, if he returns to formula one, he is being more strongly linked with Ferrari.

"The idea with Grosjean is to make him the number one (in formula one) in two or three years," team boss Eric Boullier, who has also signed up 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen for 2012 and beyond, is quoted in the French press.

The Swiss-born Frenchman Grosjean, 25, agrees that he is no stop-gap solution for Lotus.

"I can't wait to be there (in Australia in March), realizing that I am in F1 for the whole season," he told La Figaro newspaper.

"So it is even more extraordinary than the first time."

He is referring, of course, to 2009 when - under Flavio Briatore's management - he made his ill-fated debut at Renault alongside Fernando Alonso.

"There has been an evolution of maturity," said Grosjean.  "I think I needed a slap to make me bounce back.  Everything had gone too well and now I understand it's not like that.

"With another approach, the pleasure outweighs the pressure or the stress."

As in 2009, he said he is happy to be racing alongside another world champion.

"I'm getting used to it -- two chances in F1, two world champions," he laughs.  I think there will be plenty to learn from Kimi and I think that after ten laps it will be forgotten that he has not driven for two years."

Valencia government takes over European GP
(GMM)  A shakeup behind the scenes of the Valencia street circuit's European grand prix has taken place within the last few days.

EFE news agency reports that the regional government, the Generalitat Valenciana, has taken over the running of the annual race from the existing promoter, Valmor Sport.

The report said the transfer involved a nominal fee, in light of Valmor's debts.

Spain's AS newspaper said a government spokesman confirmed the news, insisting that the shakeup will not affect the contract with formula one or the relationship with Bernie Ecclestone.

Manager to announce Petrov's 2012 plans this month
(GMM)  Vitaly Petrov's plans for the 2012 season will be announced before the end of December.

That is the claim of his manager Oksana Kosachenko, following Lotus' decision to replace the Russian - despite his 2012 contract - with new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.

"First of all, I'd like to thank all our partners and fans for the support Vitaly received during those two seasons," Kosachenko told sportbox.ru.

The Ria Novosti news agency claimed Kosachenko bemoaned the "testy relationship" between Petrov and the team in 2011.

"I stress that we have an excellent relationship with the Lotus Renault team," she insisted, "and together with them we have now come up with another program for Vitaly.

"We'll announce it before the New Year.  So it's not the end of Petrov's career, but his transition into a new phase."

It is rumored Petrov, 27, could switch to Marussia, the former Virgin team that from next season will be named after the Russian supercar marque.

That rumor has thrown into doubt the future of the team's number one driver Timo Glock.

Kosachenko confirmed recent talks with two alternative F1 teams but would not name them.

Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper repeated a rumor that Lotus decided to oust Petrov because Kimi Raikkonen was nervous about being beaten by the Russian in 2012 due to his experience with the Pirelli tires.

More likely is that Marussia needs the money promised by Petrov's sponsors.

Citing the team's latest financial documents, journalists Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid reported that Virgin made a huge $55 million loss in the 14 months to the end of 2010.

Ceccon in 'Friday' talks with Toro Rosso, Caterham, HRT
(GMM)  Kevin Ceccon is in talks with three teams about becoming a reserve and 'Friday' practice driver in 2012.

The 18-year-old Italian, who ran in GP2 this season, drove the Toro Rosso during last month's young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

Specialist Italian magazine Autosprint reports that his talks about the 2012 season are with Red Bull's Faenza based junior team as well as Caterham and HRT.

Dumping father 'a disaster' for Hamilton - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's decision to dump his father and sign up with a celebrity management company was "a disaster".

That is the view of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, speaking after arguably the worst season in the 2008 world champion's entire motor racing career.

He said the 26-year-old Briton's "personal problems" in 2011 - including his split with girlfriend Nicole - were exacerbated by the absence of his former manager and father.

Anthony Hamilton, in charge of his son's career until early 2010, now manages the Force India driver Paul di Resta.

"A lot to do with these things, it depends an awful lot on the people you surround yourself with, and who are in a position to influence you," said Ecclestone.

"I think he just fell into a lot of people that I think weren't good for him," the 81-year-old told the Guardian.

"When his dad was looking after him, his dad was a bit more ... obviously it didn't suit Lewis, which was why they split, I think he didn't appreciate how much help his dad was," said Ecclestone.

After the split with his father, Hamilton linked up with XIX Entertainment, the company headed by Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.

"I think it's a disaster," said Ecclestone.  "He gets to meet people that probably he wouldn't have met, and (who) have probably the wrong sort of influence on him."

He mentions Ice-T, the rapper who made a controversial video inside the McLaren garage in Canada this year.

"He (Hamilton) sees somebody like that, he admires the guy, so he'll start copying a little bit what they're up to," said Ecclestone.

British commentator and former McLaren driver Martin Brundle agrees that Hamilton needs to get his "mindset" right after a calamitous 2011 season.

"Any sport is 90 per cent in the head.  That's what he needs to get right," he is quoted by The Fun.

Buemi 'very confident' about Toro Rosso seat
(GMM)  Downbeat about his future at the last few grands prix of the season, Sebastien Buemi now sounds confident he will have a place on the 2012 grid.

In the second half of 2011, speculation hinted strongly that the Swiss driver was likely to be ousted by employer Red Bull in order to make room at Toro Rosso for Daniel Ricciardo.

But the latest open secret in F1 circles is that Toro Rosso is sticking with its existing drivers for 2012.

Speaking to Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Buemi sounded relieved.

"I should have news in the next two weeks.  But I'm very confident," he said.

"I already have events organized for next year, although confirmation of my place is not there yet.

"I am continuing to work normally, as I have always done, to prepare for the 2012 season."

Buemi insisted he cannot complain about the uncertainty that has been surrounding his formula one career in recent months.

"That's formula one and that's what we have to live with -- once you're there, you have to be prepared to withstand the pressure."

He admitted his thoughts are firmly set on racing with Toro Rosso next year and then rising further up the grid.

"To get the best results at Toro Rosso," answered Buemi when asked what his medium and long-term goals are, "and then to go into a team that will allow me to fight at the front.

"I am fortunate to be part of Red Bull, which has the world champion team.  It means there are opportunities to go further."

Pic had 'better package' admits axed d'Ambrosio
(GMM)  Jerome d'Ambrosio has admitted it was a lack of financial support that drove him off the grid with Virgin/Marussia.

A rookie in 2011, he has been replaced ahead of the team's next campaign by young Frenchman Charles Pic, who is handled by former grand prix drivers Eric Bernard and Olivier Panis, and the Lagardere Unlimited group.

It is rumored Belgian d'Ambrosio is now a contender to be the third driver next year at Lotus, the team headed by his manager Eric Boullier.

"That's a good question.  I don't know why I lost my seat," the 25-year-old said on Belgian television Sporza during a karting event in Paris.

"I think Charles' total package was better than mine.  You need strong sponsors from your own country; Charles Pic has France, Maldonado has Venezuela and I have Belgium.

"The interest in Belgium is in the right direction, but it's still not enough to stay in formula one."

Some reports have hinted at talks with Williams or HRT.

"You really want me to name names, don't you?  Obviously I'm negotiating with several teams," he answered.

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