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

  • Buemi (above) and Alguersuari got the surprise axe
    Red Bull stuns F1 with all-new Toro Rosso lineup
  • Alguersuari says Toro Rosso axe 'very surprising'
  • HRT future uncertain as boss Kolles exits
  • No testing has hurt F1 comeback - Schumacher
  • Lehto jailed for speedboat crash death
  • Hulkenberg not fussy over 2012 teammate
  • Newey: Back to the drawing board for the RB8
  • Webber drops down Aussie top earners list
  • Ferrari's new car will be ready for Jerez New
  • Alguersuari press release on being sacked New

Red Bull stuns F1 with all-new Toro Rosso lineup
(GMM)  Red Bull has stunned the formula one world by ousting existing drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi and installing an all-new lineup for its second team Toro Rosso.

The Faenza based team announced that its new drivers are Australian Daniel Ricciardo (22) and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne (21).

"It will be the first time since the team's 2006 debut that it will begin the year with an all new lineup," the statement read.

Ricciardo made his grand prix debut mid-season with HRT, thanks to a deal between the struggling team and Red Bull.

Vergne, meanwhile, impressed at the wheel of the championship-winning RB7 during last month's young driver test in Abu Dhabi, and he also practiced on Fridays late this season.

"I must thank Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari for all their hard work over the past three seasons," said team boss Franz Tost.  "They have delivered some excellent performances which have helped the team move forward and develop.

"However, one has to remember that when Scuderia Toro Rosso was established in 2005, it was done so with the intention of providing a first step into formula one for the youngsters in the Red Bull junior driver program.

"It is therefore part of the team's culture to change its driver lineup from time to time in order to achieve this goal," added Tost.

Alguersuari says Toro Rosso axe 'very surprising'
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has admitted surprise at Red Bull's decision to oust him from the Toro Rosso team.

In recent days, the 21-year-old Spaniard has sounded confident about keeping his seat with the Faenza based team.

Alguersuari admitted the news was therefore "very surprising and unexpected".

"Just a week ago after karting in Brazil I talked with Helmut Marko and Franz Tost and they told me they had plans for me in 2012," he revealed.

"They did so with enthusiasm and showed a lot of confidence in me.

"So after talking with them (now), I thought of three things: first, I will not judge the situation because it seems crazy that after debuting at 19 years old without ever doing a lap in F1 before, today's news seems to be a major misunderstanding in the best moment of my sporting life.

"I will not judge the decision because since 15 years old Red Bull gave me everything.

"Second, I am not a victim because for seven years I have enjoyed the privilege because of them.  And third, there is no drama, because I have many plans for the present and the future.

"The surprise lasted for a couple of hours but I have talked to my family and realized that life is full of opportunities and challenges."

Already, speculation has begun that Alguersuari could switch places with Daniel Ricciardo at HRT, where in 2011 Red Bull had a driver deal in place with the Spanish team.

The move would also give HRT an all-Spanish lineup, following Pedro de la Rosa's recent signing.

Alguersuari's Swiss teammate in 2011, Sebastien Buemi, has a much more uncertain future.

The 23-year-old is yet to comment, but his close media confidant Roger Benoit - the veteran Blick newspaper correspondent - said Buemi "has no plan B".

"Without millions of dollars in sponsors there is not even a back-of-the-grid team with a vacancy for him," he said.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport speculated that Red Bull might appoint either Alguersuari or Buemi as the championship-winning team's 2012 reserve driver.

The report said the duo might struggle to find a seat elsewhere in F1 because of the "Red Bull stamp on their foreheads".

HRT future uncertain as boss Kolles exits
(GMM)  HRT's future looks uncertain this week as the struggling Spanish team farewells its boss Colin Kolles.

In the wake of the 2011 takeover by Thesan Capital, HRT issued a media statement late on Wednesday to announce that Kolles will down tools on Thursday.

"This is due to the new direction that the team has taken and the decision of the new management to move the team headquarters to Spain," it read.

The news is significant, given that - since struggling through its first campaigns in 2010 and 2011 - HRT has essentially operated "in its entirety" from Kolles' DTM team headquarters in Greding, Germany, according to Speed Week.

HRT started the week by denying that HRT's 2012 car is being developed and built by a subsidiary of its back-of-the-grid rival Caterham.

The team explained that, instead, the F112 is being made in Munich "by a team of designers under the technical supervision of Jacky Eeckelaert and chief aerodynamicist Stephan Chosse".

"Despite the tight deadlines and a rule change for 2012 meaning that crash tests and chassis homologation procedures must be completed before any cars can test, the team is confident that the new car will be ready for preseason testing in February," Monday's statement added.

Italy's Autosprint reported that HRT's ultimate plan is to relocate to Valencia.

But "the fact at the moment is that HRT has no structure in Spain," the report added.  "At this time the future is totally uncertain."

Germany's Speed Week, meanwhile, recalled speculation earlier this year that Kolles was linked with a move to Williams.

No testing has hurt F1 comeback - Schumacher
(GMM)  It is the nature of modern F1 that has contributed to Michael Schumacher's difficult comeback so far, the seven time world champion has insisted.

Two years ago now, the famous German - who will turn 43 next month - announced his return after a three-year break to the sport he once dominated.

Having scooped an incredible 91 wins and 154 podiums in his first career, Schumacher is yet to return to the rostrum after one of his 38 grands prix with Mercedes since 2010.

It has been speculated that Schumacher is now either too old to perform to his old standards, or no longer fully focused and determined.

"Some have questioned whether my mood has changed.  It would be nice if outsiders didn't make guesses without knowing," he said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera.

Schumacher insisted that F1 is a "major challenge", both for himself and for Mercedes-Benz, who are still building up their Brackley based works team.

He acknowledged: "I thought that I might be (on the podium) at least a couple of times.  Together we have to work hard to improve performance but we are not afraid of that.

"In F1 there are no magic wands.

"In the past we did a lot of testing," said the former Ferrari driver.  "Today not, so I have had some problems with the tires.  I have not learned how to interpret them correctly.

"Previously I came to the race weekend knowing what was coming.  Now the tests don't come until Friday and I am still getting used to this system."

Schumacher's existing contract runs out at the end of 2012.

"Will I be here in 2013?  There is no hurry yet to think about it," he insisted.

Lehto jailed for speedboat crash death
(GMM)  Former F1 driver JJ Lehto has been sentenced to jail.

The ex Sauber and Benetton racer was charged with the manslaughter of his friend after it was found he was driving a speedboat when it crashed into a canal bridge pillar in his native Finland last year.

45-year-old Lehto, whose full name is Jyrki Juhani Jarvilehto, subsequently failed a blood alcohol test and was fined for speeding but told police he had no memory of the accident.

Reuters said on Wednesday that the Le Mans winner was sentenced in a Finnish district court to two years and four months in jail.

His lawyer told Finnish news agency STT that Lehto is appealing the sentence.

Hulkenberg not fussy over 2012 teammate
(GMM)  Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he will be "delighted" if his "long" wait to return to the grand prix grid finally ends on Thursday.

Force India is expected to announce that the former Williams driver will step up from the reserve and 'Friday' role to join Paul di Resta on the grid in 2012.

Some media commentators, however, insist that it will be team incumbent Adrian Sutil confirmed alongside Scottish rookie di Resta, leaving 24-year-old Hulkenberg out in the cold again.

Whichever way it goes, Hulkenberg told the German news agency DPA he is ready for 2012.

"My preparation schedule is quite normal, with a training camp in January and then the usual routine throughout the year," he said.

If his grand prix return is confirmed as expected, the final question will be the identity of Hulkenberg's teammate -- Sutil or di Resta.

"For us drivers it's really not that important.  I get along with Adrian just as well as I do with Paul," he insisted.

Newey: Back to the drawing board for the RB8
(PVM) Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey has admitted that the clampdown on off throttle exhaust blown diffusers will impact profoundly on the team’s RB8 and will require redesigning the car from scratch.

Speaking to Sky Sports, during the Red Bull coming home victory parade in Milton Keynes, Newey revealed, “We haven’t got any big (rule) differences next year except for the exhaust position, which we’ve kind of pioneered over the past couple of years – of putting the exhaust out beside the diffuser. That’s all taken away next year.”

The Red Bull RB7 dominated the 2011 world championship, with Sebastian Vettel powering to 11 victories and Mark Webber adding one win to the tally. Vettel went on to claim his second drivers’ world title and Red Bull their second successive constructors’ title.

It was no secret that the RB7′s strength revolved around exhaust layout, as Newey pointed out, “Because the car was designed around that, then we’ve got to go back literally to the drawing board and try and think ‘OK, with that taken away how do we try and re-optimize the car?’”

Newey, who famously still uses old fashion drafting equipment and drawing board, mused, “It’s difficult to know. Everyone else did a depressingly good job of copying it – McLaren in particular actually managed to get it on the car for the first race. Our car was designed around it, so I’d hope we’d get more out of it than people who retrospectively fitted it.”

“Really now, it’s about who can do the best job in terms of recovering from that loss, in terms of perhaps trying to find other ways around it or just re-optimize the car,” said the 52 year old who has also designed title winning cars for McLaren and Williams during his 25 years in Formula 1.

“It’s the usual thing for F1: everyone works through the winter and you know what you’ve done yourself. But you’ve got no idea what everyone else has been up to until we get to the early tests and particularly the first race,” concluded Newey.

Webber drops down Aussie top earners list
(PVM) Mark Webber has dropped from the highest earning Australian sportsman in 2010 to third on the list this past year according to a survey in BRW.

BRW’s published the 2011 Top 50 (Australian) Sports Earners list reveals that basketball star Andrew Bogut’s $13 million salary was the highest followed by three motor racing personalities.

MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner beat Webber to second place by banking $9.5 million.

Webber earned $9 million which was $4.4 million down on what he took home last year. The drop down to the fact that the Red Bull driver only scored one win this season while last year he pocketed cash from his four wins.

Motocross star Chad Reed was fourth on the list with $8.5 million banked.

Note: Amounts in Australian $ dollars. (1 Australian dollar = 1.0017 U.S. dollars)

Ferrari's new car will be ready for Jerez
Ferrari says it will unveil its 2012 challenger in early February and that it will be ready for the first test of the winter.

"The new Ferrari F1 car will be presented in early February, in time to take part in the first test session ahead of the season," Ferrari media chief Luca Colajanni told Autosprint.

He said the new car will be significantly different from this year's machine, as the Maranello-based squad aims to return to winning ways following a difficult 2011 season.

"At the moment it's not important to say whether the new project is going to be extreme," he added.

"For sure, it will be a clean break with the past, a very different program, because it aims to win and it marks a change of mentality by the entire team."

The first test of 2012 will take place at the Jerez circuit on February 7-9. Autosport

Jaime Alguersuari press release on being sacked by Toro Rosso
Yesterday, at 17:32 minutes Scuderia Toro Rosso has issued a statement confirming the drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne as official drivers for the World Championship of Formula 1 2012.

Yesterday morning, first Franz Tost, and later, Helmut Marko, have called to tell Jaime Alguersuari the surprising decision that due to a company policy, Red Bull with all the grief from both of them, would not count on Jaime, nor Buemi in the World Championship 2012.

Jaime wanted to express immediately his feelings to this surprising and unexpected statement.
These have been his statements:

"I am very surprised by the decision."

"Just a week after winning the Challenge das Estrelas in Florian¢polis I talked with Helmut Marko and Franz Tost and they told me they had plans for me in 2012."

"They did it with enthusiasm and showed me much confidence, they also asked me to be on Monday in Madrid in a wonderful CEPSA event in which they told me to insist on our 2012 project in F1."

"So after talking with Franz Tost and Helmut Marko this morning, I thought of three things: First, I will not judge the situation because if I thought it was a  crazy thing to make me debut in 2009 with 19 years and three months without having done a km in F1 ever before, today's news seemed to be a major misunderstanding in the best moment of my sporting life, I will not judge the reasons of the decision, because Red Bull gave me everything since I was 15 years old, I’ve been formed with them, and I've become a complete F1 driver at age 21.

Second, I am not a victim because for seven years I have enjoyed the privilege of being in the best team in the world and with the best means, they brought me here, with them I won the British F3 International Series at 18 years and with them I have achieved the best results of a 21 years old F1 driver in 2011. At the end of March I will turn 22, with 46 GPs disputed. They have taken a decision that I respect, but I am left with an enviable training at emotional and fitness level.

Third, there is no drama, because I have many plans for the present and the future. At all levels:  professional and sportive. The surprise has lasted a couple of hours. The necessary to talk to my family, watch the street, I was in Madrid, and then realize that life is full of opportunities and challenges.

Back in the AVE and reading the headlines I've come to realize that there are almost five million unemployed persons in Spain, and we can only give back to this country the confidence and optimism, thinking about fighting and improving every day. And that's what I'll do starting tomorrow, I promise to all the fans and the people who appreciate me."

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