Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
Ecclestone committed to Bahrain's 2012 return
|Committed to Bahrain|
- Spanish hosts begin talks for alternating plan
- Ecclestone hopes Red Bull's dominance ends in 2012
- Petrov promises news about 2012 'very soon'
- McLaren, F1 'need Hamilton back' admits Paffett
- Buemi to race Le Mans with Toyota in 2012 - report
- F1 must brace for tough times admits Ecclestone
Ecclestone committed to Bahrain's 2012 return
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone sounds fully committed to formula one's highly controversial return to Bahrain in April.
The 2011 pre-season test and race were cancelled due to unrest within the island Kingdom, and some insist those troubles are not yet over.
But the event's return this year has been definitively scheduled, and F1 chief executive Ecclestone sounds committed.
"Lots of people are talking badly about that part of the world," he told Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper, whilst attending the Kitzbuhel downhill skiing event in Austria.
"But Bahrain is the country in the Arab world in which there are the fewest problems," the 81-year-old insisted.
There are a cluttered 20 events scheduled on the 2012 calendar, but Bahrain is not the only one with a question mark hanging above its race date.
There are fears Korea's organizers are already losing interest, doubts about construction of the new Austin venue, and European races in Spain, Germany and elsewhere facing economic problems.
Ecclestone does not seem worried.
"We could do deals today with five new promoters," he revealed. "The demand is high -- there is great interest from Mexico.
"But more races costs more, also for the teams who probably would have to increase their staff a lot. But we could find solutions," said Ecclestone.
Spanish hosts begin talks for alternating plan
(GMM) Valencia and Barcelona - F1's two Spanish race hosts - are now in "informal contact" about alternating a single annual date on future calendars.
According to the Spanish-language news agencies EP and EFE, it was the Valencian government's vice-president Jose Ciscar who made the comment last Friday.
A day earlier, the president Alberto Fabra confirmed he had a meeting in London last week with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, asking to keep the Spanish port city on the calendar but with "different conditions".
Ciscar said Fabra passed on to Ecclestone the "economic difficulties" being faced within Spain, and the need for "major events like formula one" to become "less burdensome" to the region's coffers.
He said there would be "more news in the coming weeks".
Ecclestone, meanwhile, admitted to Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper: "I have tried to get Barcelona and Valencia to alternate, but the Spaniards have not wanted to discuss it.
"We should not have two races there," he added.
Ecclestone hopes Red Bull's dominance ends in 2012
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he is hoping Sebastian Vettel's rivals break the world champion's run of dominance this season.
The F1 chief executive is an avowed fan and friend of the 24-year-old Red Bull driver, but for the sake of the sport he wants the German to be chased down in 2012 after two consecutive successful championship campaigns.
Asked by Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten at the Kitzuhel skiing event if Vettel will dominate this season, the 81-year-old laughed: "I hope not!
"Of course, Red Bull are still going to be there. I would much prefer a fight for the world title right to the end of the season."
But if Vettel does dominate again, Ecclestone said the most important thing is that the individual races are exciting.
"The TV viewers care more about the tension of the race than the championship," he insisted.
It is very possible that Red Bull designer Adrian Newey has penned yet another field-beater, so in that case Ecclestone will be cheering for Vettel's teammate, Australian Mark Webber.
"I don't want Red Bull to dominate in the same way but I fear that's what will happen. That's why I put my hopes on Mark Webber's shoulders.
"This year we will see a situation where he can show his talent much more," said the Briton.
Ecclestone is also crossing his fingers for Red Bull's rival teams.
"I would be surprised if Mercedes don't win a race this year. As for Ferrari, I can only hope they improve significantly.
"Alonso is super-talented and deserves a perfect car," he said.
And as for the occupant of the other Ferrari, 1964 world champion John Surtees said the pressure is on the team's Brazilian "weak link" Felipe Massa.
"He'll either have to perform consistently well, or make way," he told the Sun.
Petrov promises news about 2012 'very soon'
(GMM) Vitaly Petrov is promising news about his future "very soon".
Caterham's Jarno Trulli last week played down rumors the well-sponsored Russian Petrov, a refugee of the former Renault (now Lotus) team, could be set to replace him.
"Very soon is all I can say," Petrov answered his Twitter followers when asked when official news about his plans for 2012 can be expected.
"My friends, be patient," he added in Russian.
Meanwhile, Finland's Turun Sanomat said it has not yet been decided if Trulli or his teammate Heikki Kovalainen will give Caterham's new CT01 car its track debut at Jerez on 7 February.
The newspaper reported rumors that the matter will be resolved with the toss of a coin.
The former Team Lotus' 2010 and 2011 rivals, Marussia (nee Virgin) and HRT, will not be taking their new cars to the opening test of the pre-season.
McLaren, F1 'need Hamilton back' admits Paffett
(GMM) Team test driver Gary Paffett has admitted McLaren is hoping Lewis Hamilton has "sorted himself out" after a tumultuous 2011.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper that the fact Jenson Button beat the 2008 world champion was the "biggest surprise" of last year's world championship.
Fellow Briton Paffett admits 2011 "was a hard year in lots of respects" for Hamilton.
"Lewis wasn't himself on track or off track," the 30-year-old told the Sun. "He had various problems with his personal life or whatever.
"Hopefully he has had a chill-out over the winter. We're all hoping he has gone away and sorted himself out a bit and will come back to his best -- because at his best Lewis is as good as or better than anyone.
"And he can definitely fight for the championship," added Paffett.
"He wants to be back winning races. We didn't see the Lewis we all love last year and we need him back. I think F1 needs that, too."
McLaren, meanwhile, declined to comment on reports Hamilton has been summoned to appear in Munich at next week's assault trial of his friend Adrian Sutil.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, McLaren did not want to comment until Hamilton actually receives in the mail the court's formal summons.
Buemi to race Le Mans with Toyota in 2012 - report
(GMM) Former Toro Rosso racer Sebastien Buemi will contest this year's fabled Le Mans 24 hour sports car race.
After losing his F1 race seat and being signed to become Red Bull's official reserve driver for this season, the 23-year-old Swiss admitted he would also like to contest Le Mans.
The famous endurance race will take place between F1's Canadian and European grands prix in mid June.
"Ideally I would couple F1 with a different (series), such as endurance -- I like the Le Mans 24 a lot," Buemi said earlier in January.
"There is no grand prix on that (Le Mans) weekend, so it would be possible. The big teams will start their testing soon, so I could participate as well.
"I will probably be able to announce the details of what I will be doing in 2012 fairly soon," he added recently.
The Swiss newspaper Blick, whose veteran F1 correspondent Roger Benoit is close to Buemi, said Toyota will imminently announce Buemi as one of its Le Mans drivers.
"French sources say the Japanese (Toyota) will announce their teams on January 23," read the media report.
Buemi's grandfather Georges Gachnang raced at Le Mans in the early 60s.
F1 must brace for tough times admits Ecclestone
(GMM) F1 "must be prepared for problems" as Europe and the world suffer economically.
That is the admission of the sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, when asked if Peugeot's withdrawal from Le Mans sports car racing could also indicate tough times ahead for F1.
Amid the world's last financial crisis, F1 lost multiple carmakers including BMW, Toyota and Honda.
"They had good reasons to go and save their money because they just weren't successful enough and didn't get the media coverage they wanted.
"Simple as that," Ecclestone told Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.
So, with Peugeot pulling out of Le Mans and grand prix promoters considering the future of their races due to the costs, Ecclestone was asked if he is worried F1 could now lose more of its marques and sponsors.
"Due to the length of our contracts, we are almost immune," he insisted.
"But if the situation does not change globally, we must be prepared for problems," admitted Ecclestone.
A report in the UK newspaper Express said every one of F1's twelve competing teams unusually failed to pay their bills on time last season.
"The findings ... show that the recession has hit the motorsport", wrote journalist Christian Sylt.
"The five slowest paying teams all have backing from carmakers, which could indicate that in the current economic climate F1 may not be sustainable for them," he added.