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DATE News (chronologically)
12/16/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Friday  
  • Are his days numbered?
    Webber warming his seat for Red Bull's charging hopefuls
  • 'Shocked' Buemi eyes options after Toro Rosso axe
  • Force India to finally announce drivers on Friday
  • Alonso working hard as Ferrari plans February launch
  • Alguersuari quiet as Spaniards eye HRT option
  • Webber overtaken as highest earning Australian
  • Vettel, Red Bull in running for Laureus prizes

Webber warming his seat for Red Bull's charging hopefuls
(GMM)  Franz Tost has defended the decision to axe Toro Rosso's driver lineup by saying formula one is "tough".

The boss of Red Bull's Faenza based team admitted that although Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi did a good job, Toro Rosso is a "rookie training school" for the energy drink company.

"With over two seasons under your belt, you are no longer a rookie," said Tost.

"In an ideal world, drivers would move from Scuderia Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing, but there are no vacancies with our sister team right now.

"It might be seen as a harsh decision, but formula one is a tough environment and Toro Rosso has always been very clear about the principles behind its driver choice," the Austrian added.

Alguersuari and Buemi have both admitted they were shocked with this week's unexpected news, but for Australian Daniel Ricciardo it was a happy surprise.

"I don't know if it's a ballsy move but changing two drivers is something not many teams do," he told the West Australian newspaper.

"They're giving us a proper chance."

Countryman Mark Webber is also looking on the bright side, despite the obvious truth that Red Bull is shaping up to replace him sooner or later.

On the front of his Christmas card to friends and some journalists, the 35-year-old included a cartoon showing him with a present in a fire-lit lounge room, with Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne looking in from the freezing cold.

"Isn't it nice of the boys to give me a seat warmer for my car?" Webber's caption read.

Indeed, Ricciardo admitted a Red Bull Racing seat is the goal.

"I imagine if we're good enough that (seat) could be ours one day," he said.

"I think that's Red Bull's plan.  Ideally they'd want to get a Red Bull junior driver in that seat."

'Shocked' Buemi eyes options after Toro Rosso axe
(GMM)  Sebastien Buemi has joined his axed teammate Jaime Alguersuari in admitting this week's news from Red Bull was a nasty shock.

Le Matin newspaper said Swiss Buemi, 23, missed the mobile phone calls from bosses Franz Tost and Dr Helmut Marko earlier this week because he was driving the Barcelona track in the Red Bull simulator, and visiting Toro Rosso's UK wind tunnel.

"I was shocked," he admitted.  "I had been told a decision would be made before the end of the year, but I was under the impression that my contract would be extended.

"I was not expecting it at all."

Buemi, 23, told Blick newspaper: "I have to accept it even if it is very hard to understand."

His options appear limited, with interviewer Roger Benoit pointing out that the vacancies - at Williams and HRT - are likely to be filled by drivers with millions in sponsor backing.

"There are drivers that are signed not only for the money," Buemi insisted.

Blick asked Buemi if a third driver role is also a possibility.

"Maybe there are options," he admitted, "but it's still too early to say anything.

"Fortunately in the past years I have built up many contacts with most of the teams.  So this pays off now."

Buemi was asked if he has called his Swiss compatriot, Peter Sauber.

"No, but I will.  Just like that," said the veteran of 55 races, who promptly asked the well-connected Blick journalist Roger Benoit for the phone number.

Force India to finally announce drivers on Friday
(GMM)  Force India is expected to end months of speculation by finally announcing its 2012 driver lineup on Friday.

The news had been expected to come on Thursday, coinciding with the Silverstone based team's Christmas party.

"My understanding is that it seems most likely that there will be no announcement (on Thursday)," Nico Hulkenberg's manager Timo Gans warned en route, "but probably Friday."

It is almost certain that German Hulkenberg, the team's 2011 Friday driver, will be confirmed alongside Scot Paul di Resta, with Adrian Sutil in the running to switch to Williams.

London's Times newspaper reported that di Resta has definitely secured one seat, with German Sutil indeed expected to lose out to 24-year-old Hulkenberg.

Alonso working hard as Ferrari plans February launch
(GMM)  Ferrari's 2012 car will be ready to roll at the first official test of the winter pre-season.

A spokesman for the Italian team told Reuters as well as Autosprint (Italy) and SID news agency (Germany) that the new single seater will be revealed before its Jerez debut in early February.

A precise launch date was not specified.

"Definitely, the new project is a clean break with the past and a very different one," Luca Colajanni is quoted as saying.

Spain's AS newspaper reported that Fernando Alonso has visited Ferrari's Maranello headquarters "on several occasions" since the 2011 season ended in Brazil.

"Now, he has travelled to Maranello to be at the controls of the simulator for several days until Monday," said the report.

AS continued: "In fact, unlike normally, the Spaniard was unable to attend an event for Shell this week with journalists in Madrid.

"Instead he is in Italy trying different solutions for the 2012 car, which has been in the developing phase for some time as Ferrari hopes to return to winning ways."

Alguersuari quiet as Spaniards eye HRT option
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari is refusing to give anything away as he considers his future following Toro Rosso's clean-sweep for 2012.

Asked if he has been in contact with any alternative employers after he was ousted by team owners Red Bull, the 21-year-old Spaniard told El Mundo Deportivo: "For the moment I can't say anything."

That may be because he is in the unusual situation of losing his seat but remaining under contract, with the energy drink company believed to have bound Alguersuari until 2013.

But according to Spain's highest-ranking FIA official Carlos Gracia, HRT might now seize the opportunity to create an all-Spanish lineup, with Pedro de la Rosa already signed up for 2012.

"It was an unpleasant surprise," Gracia is quoted by AS when asked about the Alguersuari news.

"Jaime has had a great season but the possibilities for him (for 2012) are complicated.  HRT could be an option," he said.

HRT founder Adrian Campos said: "It's what you have to expect from (Helmut) Marko, a character who already destroyed the career of the big Spanish talent Antonio Garcia."

Veteran engineer Joan Villadelprat agreed: "If HRT has the ability to sign him it would be great.  Hopefully it works out for him."

Ferrari test driver Marc Gene said: "I would not rule out HRT, because you can prove your worth with any team."

According to Marca newspaper, new HRT boss Luis Perez Sala recently sounded impressed with Alguersuari's season, insisting: "If he's not with Toro Rosso (in 2012) then it will be because he is with a better team."

Then came the bad news.

Said Spanish IndyCar driver Oriol Servia: "I'm surprised but we know that in F1 these things happen."

FIA steward Joaquin Verdegay, also a Spaniard, said: "I think he will stay with Red Bull, because he has been one of the five best drivers of the year.

"Marko knows that too and I'm sure they're not going to drop him.  Maybe he's going to Red Bull as third driver?  Or maybe to replace Webber?"

Webber overtaken as highest earning Australian
(GMM)  Mark Webber has been overtaken as Australia's highest-earning sportsman.

Business Review Weekly's annual analysis of the country's rich and powerful found that the Red Bull driver made $9 million this year.

But that was reportedly half a million short of Honda's 2011 MotoGP champion Casey Stoner, the 26-year-old who - like 35-year-old Webber - is from New South Wales.

However, both Webber and Stoner have been left in the wheel tracks of Andrew Bogut, whose new Milwaukee Bucks contract saw him collect a cool $13.5 million by playing NBA basketball.

Motocross rider Chad Reed, meanwhile, reportedly made $8.5m, followed by Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, with $5m in 2011.

But for the country's new F1 star Daniel Ricciardo, the road ahead to high earnings is long, as the online WA Today newspaper expects the 22-year-old to make less than $200,000 racing with Toro Rosso next season.

And until this week, he wasn't sure he would even have that job.

"I can honestly say that I didn't know it (the announcement) was coming and it had been playing on my mind a fair bit," said Ricciardo.

"It was a fair bit of a relief actually," he added.

Vettel, Red Bull in running for Laureus prizes
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing are among the nominees to win prestigious 2012 Laureus World Sports awards following their successes this year.

In the running alongside German Vettel to be hailed Sportsman of the Year are sprinter Usain Bolt, tennis' Novak Djokovic, Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, football's Lionel Messi and basketballer Kirk Nowitzki.

And fighting it out with Red Bull for the team prize are New Zealand's All Blacks, England's cricket team, basketball's Dallas Mavericks, FC Barcelona and Japan's female football team.

The nominees are selected by the world's media by ballot, and the winners by a jury made up of 47 of the greatest sportsmen and women of all time.

The winners will be crowned in London in February.

"This has been a great year for sport and the academy are going to find it extremely difficult to decide who to vote for as winners," said chairman Edwin Moses.

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