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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • F1 was popular in America during the Mario Andretti era because he drove and won for teams capable of winning, like Ferrari and Lotus
    F1 needs American drivers to crack market - Cheever
  • Kubica splits with rehab doctor Ceccarelli
  • 'Niceman' Kovalainen not ruling out 2013 team switch
  • Vertical construction begins in Austin
  • London judge says Ecclestone payments 'a bribe'
  • Montezemolo to stand for Italian presidency in 2013
  • Raikkonen to start F1 testing in January
  • Vergne defends 'hard' Marko after Toro Rosso cull

F1 needs American drivers to crack market - Cheever
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has acknowledged that finally cracking the US market will be difficult for formula one.

The F1 chief executive plans to take his sport first to Texas next year and then to New York the season after, with the last US grand prix having been held at Indianapolis in 2007.

"We've been there, years ago, and it's a little bit like the rest of America, they want to see a profit before they start something and it's not easy to do that," he told Al Jazeera.

"We've got maximum two races in America, and when you consider the country is as big as Europe and we've got (eight) races in Europe, it's difficult.

"If we had a lot more races there and a lot more television, it would be ok," added Ecclestone.

Arizona born Eddie Cheever, who raced in F1 in the 70s and 80s, thinks the key is to have some American drivers on the grid.

"There would be a lot more success with American drivers," he is quoted by CNN.

"Just having one driver won't do it," Cheever said.  "Maybe having one in F1 would galvanize F1 in America so more young drivers wanted (to race there).

"Almost all of the young drivers in America want to be in NASCAR and we need more to want to get to F1."

Kubica splits with rehab doctor Ceccarelli
(GMM)  Robert Kubica has split with his rehabilitation doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli, according to reports in the Italian and Polish media.

The reports said the parties disagreed over the final phase of the Polish driver's recovery from horror injuries sustained early this year whilst rallying.

"I can confirm that there were differing views as to the next phase of rehabilitation," Ceccarelli confirmed.

"Robert will continue with this process under the direction of someone else.  Who it will be, I don't know."

Dr Ceccarelli said he stands by his earlier prediction that Kubica could be fit enough to return in 2012.

"I've always said that and I stand by it, even though expectations that he could be back in a Renault in November were probably somewhat exaggerated."

Also according to Omnicorse, Ceccarelli said he doesn't know if Kubica's management has been in talks with Ferrari.

'Niceman' Kovalainen not ruling out 2013 team switch
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has refused to rule out switching to another team if Caterham does not take a big step forward in 2012.

With his reputation damaged after disappointing subsequent tenures at Renault and McLaren, the Finn moved to the start-up Team Lotus in 2010 where in the past two seasons he has rebuilt his confidence and form.

He was even mentioned earlier in the 2012 'silly season' but remains under contract to Caterham for next season.

According to Turun Sanomat newspaper, Kovalainen was asked if he now feels a sense of 'obligation' to stay at Caterham for the long term.

"Not in any way," he answered.  "I want to see what we can do together and let's see what is the situation in the summer."

The 30-year-old would not say therefore whether he will definitely be at the team in 2013.

"It depends on the car's performance," said Kovalainen.  "I can not give an exact percentage but if we continue to develop next season then it (the chance) is high.

"Otherwise it is small," he admitted.

Kovalainen was also asked about his new nickname 'Niceman' that is doing the rounds -- a mischievous play on countryman Kimi Raikkonen's Iceman moniker and an intimation that he might be 'too nice' to truly succeed.

"I don't take it too seriously," he smiled.  "I am myself and cannot be someone else."

Vertical construction begins in Austin
(GMM)  Work at the 2012 US grand prix venue in Austin is back at full swing, according to the motoring weblog Jalopnik.

"The crews are on site and construction of the Circuit of the Americas is underway.  I saw it with my own eyes," wrote the reporter.

The news follows the recent contractual disagreement between the circuit owners, original promoter Tavo Hellmund and Bernie Ecclestone that almost steered the entire project off track.

"Last month the track was mostly just a collection of cleared dirt paths but now crews on every part of the track are working to establish the necessary support structures," the reporter revealed.

"Cranes hold the support beams for the pits, paddock, and media centre."

The Texas venue's communications boss Ali Putnam confirmed that the project is "back to normal" after the speedbump.

London judge says Ecclestone payments 'a bribe'
(GMM)  There has been bad news from the London High Court for Bernie Ecclestone this week.

The Telegraph reports that a judge has ruled that the F1 chief executive's suspect payments to former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky were indeed bribes.

Ecclestone, 81, has denied that description, insisting instead that he only paid the millions after a subtle "shakedown" by the German.

"Isn't that a bribe"? said Mr. Justice Vos.

The judge was entering a default decision against Gribkowsky - because he did not respond to the writ - during the civil proceedings brought by former F1 shareholder Constantin Medien.

"Constantin welcomes this important procedural step and will be pressing on with the determination of damages against Gribkowsky and in the continuing proceedings against Ecclestone and (Stephen) Mullens, and Bambino Holdings," said Constantin Medien's lawyer Keith Oliver.

Montezemolo to stand for Italian presidency in 2013
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo has announced he will be a candidate when Italians vote in the 2013 general election.

The Ferrari president has long flirted with politics and finally confirmed his ambition this week in a letter to members of his party Italiafutura.

"The second republic has failed.  We need new faces and new ideas because the next elections will be of historic importance," wrote the 64-year-old.

He signed the letter with 'Luca di Montezemolo, future president of Italy'.

Raikkonen to start F1 testing in January
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has revealed plans to give his formula one testing return an early start.

The former world champion, who is returning to F1 with Lotus in 2012 after two years in world rallying, has not driven a grand prix car since he left Ferrari in late 2009.

F1's official pre-season program for 2012 does not begin until early February -- just five weeks before the first race in Melbourne.

"We don't test the new car until February so it's a long wait," the 32-year-old said this week.

"However, I should be able to jump into a two year old F1 car in January."

The Finn is referring to a testing rules loophole that allows some running in older machines with non-competitive tires.

"Of course, there will be the usual training, but I will also be working on getting to know the team better and making sure I fully understand all the changes since I have been away," added Raikkonen.

Vergne defends 'hard' Marko after Toro Rosso cull
(GMM)  Jean-Eric Vergne has defended Dr Helmut Marko after the Red Bull driver manager ousted Toro Rosso's entire lineup for the 2012 season.

Rookie Frenchman Vergne as well as Daniel Ricciardo are the beneficiaries after team regulars Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi were axed.

"Surprised?  Yes, but I had belief," the 21-year-old told France's Auto Hebdo.

"Toro Rosso's policy is to develop young drivers.  I think Jaime and Sebastien did a great job, but they were no longer a part of this policy.

"It is true that Helmut Marko is hard on his drivers, but I've always said that if I was him, I would do it exactly the same.

"I have always known that if I was not good enough, I would not be there," added Vergne.

It is obvious the longer ambition for Vergne, whose friends call him 'Jev', is to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull's senior team.

His father Jean-Marie told La Parisien: "Red Bull does not invest at random, but we are not thinking beyond next year."

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