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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Giedo van der Garde
    Quiet Dutchman still hoping for 2012 seat
  • Bahrain pushes ahead amid 2012 race return controversy
  • Lotus sets early date for Raikkonen's test return
  • Raikkonen in 'good shape' after crash setback - Arnall
  • Now Barcelona's F1 race under Spanish cloud
  • Paul Ricard could host 70,000 spectators for French GP
  • F1 'in trouble' before CVC deal - Mackenzie
  • Pollock's Pure to fire up first V6 engine in July

Quiet Dutchman still hoping for 2012 seat
(GMM)  Giedo van der Garde and his management are quietly hopeful their quest for a place in formula one this year bears fruit.

There are much higher-profile candidates for the two remaining race seats at Williams and HRT, but some insiders consider Dutch GP2 driver van der Garde, 26, a likely signing.

His manager Jan Paul ten Hoopen doubles as the commercial director of the former F1 sponsor McGregor, a Dutch fashion house, while his father-in-law is the billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn.

"We are a little quiet but we're working hard," ten Hoopen told the f1today.nl website.  "We will let you know when there is any news."

Bahrain pushes ahead amid 2012 race return controversy
(GMM)  Organizers of the Bahrain grand prix are pushing ahead with preparations for April's race.

Last year's pre-season test and race at the Sakhir circuit were cancelled amid the civil uprising within the troubled island Kingdom.

F1 has scheduled to return to Bahrain this year but reports of strife persist, amid claims from human rights groups that the sport's participants should boycott the April 22 event.

But a spokesman for the circuit says Bahrain has taken strides forward with the independent report into the unrest, insisting the government has subsequently reacted "swiftly and convincingly".

"It (the race) is supported by an overwhelming majority of people from all sections of society in Bahrain and represents a symbol of national unity," he is quoted by The National newspaper.

The Daily Mail quotes him adding: "The independent report was a milestone for Bahrain and we will now work tirelessly to ensure the race is a great success."

Lotus sets early date for Raikkonen's test return
(GMM)  A date has been set for Kimi Raikkonen's early start to his 2012 testing program.

The rest of this year's field will have to wait until official group testing kicks off at Jerez in early February.

But 2007 world champion Raikkonen, who is returning to F1 after a two-year stint in world rallying, revealed just before Christmas that February is a "long wait" for his first lap in a single seater since 2009.

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

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

Now called Lotus, the Enstone based team confirmed this week that Raikkonen, 32, will test its 2010 Renault R30 car at Spain's permanent Valencia circuit.

The two-day test, at the wheel of the car that in 2010 was painted yellow and raced by Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, will begin on Monday 23 January.

Raikkonen in 'good shape' after crash setback - Arnall
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen's return to fitness can now resume in full in the wake of his snowmobile crash last month.

The 2007 world champion tweaked his left wrist during an event in Austria.

"You can watch what happened on Youtube and it was probably the smallest and slowest crash I've ever had.  It is almost embarrassing," Finn Raikkonen laughed just before Christmas.

In an interview with Finland's Turun Sanomat, the 32-year-old's trainer Mark Arnall admitted that Raikkonen's fitness program had to be "slightly changed" due to the Lotus driver's "painful wrist".

"The neck and legs (training) continued completely and we have made good progress," said Arnall, whose client has not turned a lap in a F1 car since late 2009.

"Kimi is in good shape," he declared.

Raikkonen said recently that his biggest hurdle ahead of his formula one comeback will be getting his neck back to full strength after two years in rallying.

Arnall revealed that Raikkonen has been using a F1 driver-position simulator supplied by Technogym at his Swiss home.

"He is in the right driving position and the muscle strain is the same as if you are driving," he said.  "Only the neck muscles are not working the same because there are no real g-forces."

Before Melbourne, Raikkonen's program includes just eight days of testing.

"It's not much but it's the same for everyone," concluded Arnall.

Now Barcelona's F1 race under Spanish cloud
(GMM)  With Valencia already asking for a reduced race fee, the fate of Spain's other formula one event has also fallen under a cloud.

The economics minister of the Catalonia region, Andreu Mas-Colell, told Rac1 radio that the situation for Barcelona's Spanish grand prix is "the same as in Valencia".

"In the present conditions we have to look line by line at how we are spending money.  We have spent a lot on F1 and at the moment it's unclear what we can afford," he said, referring to Europe's economic crisis.

But the sports newspaper Marca cited sources at the Circuit de Catalunya as saying the F1 and MotoGP races scheduled for 2012 are "guaranteed" at least.

Beyond that, "There are contracts that are more expensive to maintain than to break", Mas-Colell insisted.

Paul Ricard could host 70,000 spectators for French GP
(GMM)  If Paul Ricard gets the green light to host France's F1 return in 2013, the circuit in Le Castellet could bring in more than 70,000 spectators.

That is the claim of the track's director Stephane Clair, amid reports French prime minister Francois Fillon is poised to approve a deal to see the country alternate an annual spot on the F1 calendar with Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps.

Previously, a drawback of installing France's race at Paul Ricard - officially called the High Tech Test Track - was the fact its current layout is not designed to host more than a few thousand VIPs.

But Clair insisted in a French-language AFP report: "It would be a great event to unify people with attractive prices thanks to funding provided by public and private partners."

He said the project would include the addition of 50,000 temporary seats at Paul Ricard, with another 20-30,000 spectators able to watch from the hills "as in the past".

He said Paul Ricard now needs the official go-ahead "before the end of the first 2012 quarter", in order to comply with the requirements for planning, permits and environmental compliance.

F1 'in trouble' before CVC deal - Mackenzie
(GMM)  Formula one was in "a lot of trouble" some years ago before the commercial rights were bought by CVC.

That is the claim of Donald Mackenzie, who on Monday testified in Munich during the corruption trial of former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

Gribkowsky, formerly in charge of bank Bayern LB's F1 shareholding, is accused of accepting huge bribes from F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone claims Gribkowsky subtly shook him down over his personal tax affairs.

"Formula One was in a lot of trouble at the time, including the threat that the teams would leave it," Mackenzie, CVC's managing partner, testified.

"We were in fact the only one of a very small group of companies who could buy it so our offer must have been seen like a present from heaven," he is quoted by the Bloomberg news agency.

The Financial Times quotes Mackenzie as saying F1 was a "very high risk investment" for CVC, one of the world's top five private equity firms.

He said F1 teams were threatening to split with the official FIA series to set up their own championship.

"Because of that it was very important to have Mr. Ecclestone on our side," Mackenzie said.

Pollock's Pure to fire up first V6 engine in July
(GMM)  Craig Pollock believes there will be only a single independent engine maker in formula one in 2014.

The BAR founder and Jacques Villeneuve's former manager is now in charge of Pure, a new company that intends to supply a turbo V6 engine to F1 teams when the rules change in two seasons' time.

Currently, there are four engine suppliers on the grid: Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and the British independent Cosworth.

"I am convinced that there will be four engine manufacturers in formula one in 2014," Pollock reportedly told Speedweek.

"These are Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Pure."

He said he met recently with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who according to Pollock knows that Pure is a "serious project".

Pollock said the design of the Pure V6 by Ferrari and the FIA's former engine boss Gilles Simon is complete, and will be fired up for the first time in July this year.

"We are six months ahead of our own timetable," he revealed.

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