Latest F1 news in brief - Monday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
Private equity company eyes F1 rights - Ecclestone
|Bernie Ecclestone: Have I got a deal for you|
- Karthikeyan not ruling out HRT return
- HRT says second driver decision 'not urgent'
- Di Resta worried F1 career would spin out - manager
- Williams to have 2012 car for first Jerez test
- Alonso jokes as Webber wins FIA 'prize'
- Trulli not ready to stop as Caterham readies 2012 car
- Alguersuari admits 2012 race seat 'difficult' now
- McLaren confirm launch date New
- Silverstone plans get council go-ahead New
- Caterham Composites and Five West Announce Partnership New
Private equity company eyes F1 rights - Ecclestone
(GMM) A US-based private equity company has expressed interest in formula one, the sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has revealed.
A report by F1 business expert Christian Sylt in the Express on Sunday newspaper said Hellman and Friedman, owners of Getty Images, have carried out research into the sport's finances.
Ecclestone confirmed the fund, which owned 37.5 per cent of F1's holding company SLEC for a short time more than a decade ago, is currently "scratching around talking to people".
F1 is currently majority-owned by CVC, who paid $1.7 billion for the commercial rights in 2006.
Binding the owners with governing body the FIA and the 12 competing teams is the Concorde Agreement, which expires at the end of next year.
"Next year we will start looking at making offers to the teams," said Ecclestone. "We are not doing anything at the moment because we are not free to do the things we want to do until next year."
Karthikeyan not ruling out HRT return
(GMM) Narain Karthikeyan has not ruled out returning to formula one yet again.
Six years after his 2005 debut, the now 34-year-old returned to the grid at the beginning of last season with HRT before losing the seat to Daniel Ricciardo.
He then made a one-off comeback as his sponsors paid for a seat in India's inaugural grand prix.
That Delhi event "has helped drivers like me connect to corporate India and we are now looking at a few options and trying to work out something although nothing seems finalized", Indian Karthikeyan is quoted by the Times of India.
HRT has one of the two remaining vacant seats on the 2012 grid, but is not preparing to name Pedro de la Rosa's teammate until next year.
"I'm not directly talking with other teams, as my management will handle that," revealed Karthikeyan. "I am focusing on other things for now."
HRT says second driver decision 'not urgent'
(GMM) HRT is not rushing to fill one of the last seats on the 2012 grid.
The identity of Pedro de la Rosa's teammate aside, the only other official vacancy for next season is at Williams.
The latest names linked with HRT are Narain Karthikeyan, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitaly Petrov and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde.
"We are in advanced talks with several drivers but we can't anticipate anything yet," the team's new boss Luis Perez Sala, a former Minardi driver, said.
"It's a decision we surely won't make until the start of next year because, at this stage, who will be the team's second driver for next season is perhaps the least urgent one right now."
Having also changed ownership recently, HRT is busily making plans for a new headquarters whilst designing its own 2012 single seater.
"We will feel the effects of this transformation the team is going through and will have 'pay' for it at the start of the season," Sala warned.
"We're not going to be at the same level as when we finished this past season, where the same team had been running for two years, but we're aware of that.
"We're taking a step back so that we can take two forward."
Di Resta worried F1 career would spin out - manager
|Paul Di Resta|
(GMM) Paul di Resta's family was worried the Scot would race out of formula one after just a single season.
That is the claim of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton's father Anthony, who after splitting with his son now handles di Resta's F1 career.
The 25-year-old had a solid debut season with Force India and has retained that seat for 2012.
But the Vijay Mallya-led team repeatedly delayed the official announcement, despite long-running rumors that di Resta would race next year alongside a new teammate, Nico Hulkenberg.
Friday's news was a relief, Hamilton admitted to the Telegraph.
"He really deserves it and I'm delighted for him and the rest of his family.
"I know they were worried as it took so long to announce."
He described Force India as a "mid-ranking" team, hinting that some more powerful potential employers might pay attention to di Resta's battle with the highly-rated Hulkenberg next season.
"I reckon it's a level playing field but certainly if they drive well both will have other teams knocking at their door," said Hamilton.
"The great thing is that they are both there (at Force India) on merit, which suggests the team is moving in the right direction."
Williams to have 2012 car for first Jerez test
(GMM) Williams aims to have its 2012 car up and running for the first test of the official pre-season, technical director Mike Coughlan has revealed.
When Mercedes announced that its next single seater will only be ready for the second test - taking place two weeks after Jerez in early February - it triggered speculation other teams might tread a similar path.
But Ferrari and Red Bull have said they want to be ready for Jerez, and Oxfordshire based Williams has a similar plan.
"The car is slated to be delivered to the race shop in mid-January and we'll be ready to go to the first test in early February," Coughlan told Williams' magazine.
He said one Renault-powered FW34 is already built "and we'll shortly start our FIA crash test program".
Coughlan added that the car has already passed the FIA-standard tests "in private testing".
Williams finished the 2011 season in a lowly ninth place.
Alonso jokes as Webber wins FIA 'prize'
(GMM) Mark Webber has revealed he had mixed feelings when he beat Fernando Alonso to third place in the 2011 constructors' standings.
The pair, who are friends, lead similarly guarded private lives, so in the closing stages of the championship they considered the 'prize' that went along with pipping the other to the post for third place.
"Only the top three drivers have to go", said Australian Webber, referring to the official FIA prize-giving gala, which was held recently in India.
"Jenson, Fernando and I had had a bit of a joke on the drivers' parade before the final race of the season in Brazil last month.
"We were all keen to improve our championship positions, but none of us were that up for any extra travel," he wrote in his last BBC column for the year.
"In the end, I won in Brazil, relegating Fernando to fourth. He's an intense competitor but I don't think he was that unhappy about losing out by one point," said Webber.
"I got a text message from him the day before I was going to India, reminding me that I had to go. It was along the lines of 'This is your captain speaking, your flight is ready for boarding'. It made me smile."
Trulli not ready to stop as Caterham readies 2012 car
(GMM) Caterham's 2012 formula one car has been declared fit to run by the governing FIA.
A new rule for next year means cars now have to pass all the mandatory crash tests before they are allowed even to test ahead of the 2012 season.
Technical boss Mike Gascoyne, referring also to the team's new identity after two seasons as Lotus, revealed the good news via Twitter.
"Great week," he said on Saturday. "Renaming as Caterham F1 Team on Tuesday and today our first chassis, CT-01 passes all FIA homologation test.
"Well done all," added Gascoyne.
According to Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, lead driver Heikki Kovalainen is confident.
"I believe that next season we will fight for the middle places. On a good day I can be close to the points," he said.
It is rumored that the fate of his teammate Jarno Trulli is uncertain, but the Italian also sounded confident ahead of 2012.
"Hopefully next year the sun shines some more after this season of suffering," said the veteran.
"There is a lot of hope and good will for the new project, but ultimately it's only about what you get on the track. The clock never lies," said Trulli.
The 37-year-old said he is not yet ready to stop.
"After Toyota withdrew I thought about changing to a different category, but I believed then - and I still believe now - in the project with Lotus," he insisted.
Alguersuari admits 2012 race seat 'difficult' now
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari sounds confident his formula one career is not over at the tender age of 21.
With not a single kilometer of F1 circuit testing behind him, the Spaniard made his debut mid 2009 but two years later has been dropped by Toro Rosso.
To EFE news agency, he insisted he is not despondent, albeit whilst acknowledging it will be "quite difficult" to find a race seat for 2012.
"I am looking at some options, there are some things and soon there will be news," said Alguersuari.
"I am starting a new phase because I am only 21, I have done more than my job at Toro Rosso, starting at 19 years old. I think I did a good season, not a bad one.
"I do not have any resentment, I am not angry or sad -- the opposite, I thank them (Red Bull) for everything they gave me. They chose to bring me into formula one and obviously I would have liked to continue.
"I have to be mature, I don't want to judge whether the decision is good or bad. I want to have a positive message. Every cloud has a silver lining.
"I know that news (about my future) will come, I feel more relaxed than when I was at Toro Rosso. I think my time in F1 is not stopping here."
EFE reported that Alguersuari said he didn't know if HRT was interested in pairing him with Pedro de la Rosa, or whether he might become Red Bull's official reserve driver for 2012.
McLaren confirm launch date
(GMM) McLaren has become the latest team to reveal details about the launch of its 2012 car.
Direct rivals Red Bull and Ferrari have already announced that their next single seaters will be ready for the start of the opening test of the 2012 pre-season.
"The MP4-27 will break cover on Wednesday February 1 2012," Woking based McLaren said on Monday.
The Mercedes powered team said the launch location will be announced "after the new year".
"The MP4-27 will test for the first time at Jerez on February 7-9," McLaren added.
Mercedes' new car, the W02, will not be tested until the second test, set to take place in Barcelona two weeks after the Jerez session.
Silverstone plans get council go-ahead
Silverstone's 20 year 'masterplan' has been given the green light by two local councils at the heart of the scheme.
The Aylesbury Vale District Council and South Northamptonshire Council have given the circuit permission to push ahead with development of a business park, technology park, education campus, three hotels, a welcome centre and museum of motorsport.
Other features include a kart track and outdoor stage and grandstands and support paddock.
Richard Phillips, managing director of Silverstone Holdings Ltd said: "We are delighted with the outcome and approval of this planning application - this is the most important initiative that Silverstone has taken in its 60-year history as the Home of British Motor Racing," he said.
"This planning will help maintain Silverstone's position as a leading global centre for sport, leisure, education and technology and retain its position as a world-leading motorsport destination.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both Aylesbury Vale and South Northamptonshire Councils, for the way in which the two planning authorities have worked together on this application."
The project promises to create around 8,400 permanent jobs and 550 construction jobs per annum.
Caterham Composites and Five West Announce Partnership
Sports marketing firm Five West today formally announced their performance partnership with Caterham Composites. The partnership will see Caterham Composites, a division of the Caterham Group, working with Five West's grand prix yacht racing campaigns.
Caterham Composites is the design and performance specialist division of Caterham Group, the parent company of the Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Cars. Caterham Composites will lend ocean racing campaigns their expertise in building technology solutions for carbon fiber structures in the motor-racing and airline industries.
The partnership is an unprecedented move in competitive sailing, combining great British ocean racing talent and the technology and performance management expertise of Caterham Composites. Alex Thomson Racing will be the first to benefit from the partnership. Following his recent 2nd place finish in this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre and 4th place completion of the Transat B to B, Alex Thomson now has his sights set on being the first British sailor to win the solo, round-the-world Vendee Globe, which starts on November 10th, 2012. The partnership with Caterham Composites will facilitate the performance optimization of Alex’s Open 60 yacht, HUGO BOSS, using advanced research and methodology not previously available to sailing teams.
‘We are very excited to be sharing our research and the outstanding expertise of our technical team with Alex Thomson and the 5West team,’ said Mike Gascoyne, CEO of Caterham Composites and Chief Technical Officer of Caterham F1 Team ‘This is a great opportunity to apply our knowledge to a different sport and to test our systems, while working with Britain’s best solo ocean skippers.’
‘Formula 1 and ocean yacht racing teams face many of the same challenges,’ said Stewart Hosford, Managing Director, 5 West. ‘Reliability, performance, weight and safety are all similar concerns and like all high technology sports it is about having the best team and realizing that the decisions you make six, and twelve, months in advance of a big race are as important as those made on the race course itself’.