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DATE News (chronologically)
07/03/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Hamilton to carry torch
    'New' Hamilton to carry Olympic torch
  • Alonso eyes F1 team ownership after driving career
  • Kovalainen deserves another top team chance - Brundle
  • Buemi hoping for Friday practice drive this year
  • Sutil still pushing for F1 comeback
  • Sauber and Williams could shine at Silverstone
  • F1 in Bahrain 'a good decision' says Prost
  • Giedo van der Garde and Caterham F1 Team Confirmed for City Racing Rotterdam
  • Austin Hotel rooms scarce on F1 weekend
  • F1 officials to pay for Austin mayor, city manager to travel to England race
  • Belgian Grand Prix organizers seizes on French uncertainty
  • Tires named for Germany and Hungary

'New' Hamilton to carry Olympic torch
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has accepted an invitation to carry the Olympic torch early next week.

The 2008 world champion reportedly wanted to run with the iconic flame through his home town of Stevenage, but that leg clashes with Sunday's British grand prix at Silverstone.

Instead, McLaren driver Hamilton will carry the torch on its journey to London on Monday, as it travels from Luton to Oxford via Milton Keynes and Buckingham.

"I've no idea at this stage where I'll be running," he told British newspapers.  "But to be selected to do my bit is a real privilege."

It is not the first bit of good news for Hamilton this week, after F1 legend Sir Stirling Moss and even his arch-rival Sebastian Vettel hailed his talent.

"The ones (rivals) that stand out are probably Fernando (Alonso), he's one of the most complete drivers, and Lewis.

"Lewis is very, very quick," reigning double world champion Vettel said at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend.

Hamilton endured a tumultuous 2011 season both on and off the track, but this year he is back on form and wielding a more relaxed attitude, and within striking distance of the top of the drivers' points standings.

Experts also agree that the Briton appears to be maturing.

Pastor Maldonado slammed Hamilton for being "aggressive" in their Valencia crash recently.

But Hamilton said this week: "Regardless of the comments he has made about me I still respect him and I think he's a great young driver."

The McLaren driver had even been mildly rebuked for the crash by his boss Martin Whitmarsh, but Hamilton added: "Hindsight's a great thing.  It's easy to say that.

"But when you've worked your arse off to get to where you want to be, you have to hold on to every position you have.

"But if you're in that position again, you definitely approach it differently.  And I will, but I don't feel I have been aggressive one bit."

British F1 legend Moss believes Hamilton has matured.

"I think Lewis now understands what it's about and I wouldn't say it has been easy going because it hasn't," Sir Stirling is quoted by the Guardian.

"He is one of the greats, and exciting to watch, but I think he has learned quite a lot and one hopes that he will remember the things he's learned."

Alonso eyes F1 team ownership after driving career
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has revealed he might consider team ownership after his formula one driving career is over.

When asked by one of his 800,000 Twitter and Facebook followers if the Ferrari driver can imagine following fellow champions like Alain Prost and Jackie Stewart onto the pitwall, 30-year-old Alonso answered: "Maybe."

"Why not?" the Spaniard, who won his titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 and is the 2012 championship leader, elaborated.

"It would be a nice adventure!"

Alonso admitted he is also interested in F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke's job.

"If Bernie would allow it," he explained, "I would like to design a real race track, like the kart circuit I designed at Oviedo which is due to open soon."

Kovalainen deserves another top team chance - Brundle
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen deserves another chance to prove himself at the front of the formula one grid.

That is the view of former F1 driver, manager and now respected television commentator Martin Brundle, following the latest wave of reports about Finn Kovalainen's future.

After struggling at top teams Renault and McLaren at the beginning of his career, 30-year-old Kovalainen has rebuilt his reputation at the back of the field with the 2010 startup team Caterham (nee Lotus).

His current contract runs out this year, and so far he is not committing to a new tenure for 2013.

Kovalainen has admitted disappointment with Caterham's failure to drive into the midfield so far this season, and late last year insisted he does not feel "in any way" obligated to staying put for 2013.

"I want to see what we can do together and what is the situation in the summer," he has said.

Brundle said on Sky Sports F1 HD recently: "Heikki has just kept his head down and delivered, he looks a superstar and he drives like one.

"I think Heikki has staked a claim for another chance in a top team," said the former McLaren driver.

But like many others in the pitlane, Kovalainen has admitted he will have to wait for the 'silly season' to develop further before making plans for next year.

Early this year, he signed on with the well-known management firm IMG, saying at the time: "Either we continue with Caterham or pursue at some other place, so in either case this (signing with IMG) is the right solution."

He says now: "We haven't looked at it seriously, I think it is a bit too early and there are a few guys ahead of me in the queue, things like what Lewis (Hamilton) will do or what Michael (Schumacher) will do will probably have an impact on what everyone is doing."

Buemi hoping for Friday practice drive this year
(GMM)  Sebastien Buemi has revealed he is hoping to appear on the formula one timesheets in 2012.

The 23-year-old Swiss was dropped by junior team Toro Rosso at the end of last year but then appointed by Red Bull as the main team's 2012 reserve.

He works in the Milton Keynes simulator, does straight-line aerodynamic tests and attends all the grands prix in case Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel cannot race.

And Buemi told Italiaracing: "I don't know if it's with Toro Rosso or Red Bull, but I hope to be able to drive in the first (practice) session of a grand prix soon."

No longer part of F1's headline act, he is still doing some driving: Buemi demonstrated the 2010 title-winning Red Bull at the recent Nurburgring round of the Renault World Series.

"It's a way to keep driving in some way," Buemi said.  "For the demos the car is not the current one, but there are aerodynamic tests too.

"I went through a difficult winter after being released (from Toro Rosso)," he admitted, "but it is important that I stayed in the Red Bull family.

"Hopefully I can get back to racing in F1 -- I'm working on it.  I don't know if it can be with Red Bull, I think (Mark) Webber could stay, but there may be other options," added Buemi.

Sutil still pushing for F1 comeback
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil is pushing to return to formula one.

Throughout Force India's F1 career, and even earlier during the Silverstone based team's days as Spyker and Midland, Sutil was regarded as a consistent and reliable race driver.

But he lost his seat to Nico Hulkenberg at the end of last year, also amid the Eric Lux affair in which Sutil was convicted of grievous assault.

Now, without a job at all except expert punditry for German television Sky, the 29-year-old German is making clear his ambition to return to formula one, where he amassed 90 races and almost 100 points since his 2007 debut.

Sutil attended the recent European grand prix at Valencia with his manager Manfred Zimmermann -- and was even spotted inside the Force India garage.

Blick newspaper said he could also be a potential replacement for Sauber's struggling Kamui Kobayashi.

"I would love to race this year, but I just have to relax and wait for the opportunity," Sutil is quoted by the Spanish website Grand-Prix Actual.

"We are in contact and talking with some teams and right now I'm focused on coming back.  I hope there's a seat for me," said the German.

He said he could have targeted a reserve driver's job for 2012 but "It didn't interest me".

Sutil is also quoted by the German-language motorsport-magazin.com: "When I return, I will say that this break did me well and was crucial for my second career.

"Of course I would like to be racing but sometimes you just have to be smart enough to learn from your situation.  I'll be stronger when I come back, that's for sure."

As for the 2012 season, Sutil said it is a "good championship and it's great to see teams like Williams and Sauber capable of fighting for podiums".

Sauber and Williams could shine at Silverstone
(GMM)  Williams and Sauber could be in the mix for victory at Silverstone this weekend.

It is believed the high average corner speeds at the British track will suit the Williams - after Pastor Maldonado won the team's first race in seven years on the similar Barcelona layout - and Sauber's tidy C31, which has been on the podium twice in 2012 so far.

"The pace of the car in Valencia was very promising and we have a number of updates expected for this race," said Maldonado.

And Peter Sauber told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "We should look good at Silverstone."

The German magazine said the Swiss team is "secretly hoping for its first grand prix victory" this weekend, after GPS measurements showed the C31 was the fastest car overall through the similar Circuit de Catalunya's sweeping curves in May.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso won at Valencia, becoming the only multiple race winner in 2012 and the clear championship leader.

But his Ferrari is not the best single seater this season.

The otherwise fast and consistent Lotus is expected to struggle with Northamptonshire's cooler temperatures this weekend.

McLaren, though, is quite confident.  "The car should suit the circuit," said Jenson Button this week.  "It is a bit random (in 2012) but I feel it should work."

Arguably with the best chance, however, is Red Bull, after Sebastian Vettel's utter dominance at Valencia recently was stopped only by a broken Renault alternator.

"The pace he had at the last race was ridiculous," said Lewis Hamilton.  "20 seconds in 10 laps or something -- ridiculous," the Briton is quoted by the Guardian.

"It is going to be Red Bull, Ferrari and us -- but maybe some other people."

F1 in Bahrain 'a good decision' says Prost
(GMM)  Four-time former world champion Alain Prost has admitted hindsight proves it was a "good decision" for formula one to race in Bahrain earlier this year.

But the great Frenchman, whose record of 51 wins was eclipsed only by Michael Schumacher, admits that in the days and weeks before the highly controversial event in the troubled Gulf kingdom, the right course was not so clear.

"I remember in 1985 when we went to South Africa, as a human and a driver you were attacked because you were there," 57-year-old Prost, referring to apartheid, told the Telegraph at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

"The main thing is, is it worse not to go?  Or is it better to go and try and help people to make things more normal?

"I am in the middle because I did not have all the information," Prost said.

He said he actually sympathized with both sides of the argument, but ultimately decided not to go to the Bahrain grand prix.

"To be honest I didn't want to," said Prost, "because with all the controversy it's better to be outside.

"But I don't want to say we shouldn't have been there or we should have gone there.

"I think, in the end, when everything went well, you can say 'ok, it was a good decision'," he smiled.

Giedo van der Garde and Caterham F1 Team Confirmed for City Racing Rotterdam
Caterham F1 Team has confirmed that Reserve Driver Giedo van der Garde will be taking part in the City Racing Rotterdam event on 26th August in Holland.

Both the Caterham F1 Team race drivers have taken part in previous City Racing events, with Heikki Kovalainen driving a Renault F1 car in 2008 and Vitaly Petrov also in a Renault F1 car in 2010 in the Netherlands’ largest Formula 1 event.

Giedo is delighted to be taking part in such a big event in front of his home crowd: “For years I have been following City Racing Rotterdam and I’m delighted that the organization has invited Caterham F1 Team and me to take part. I will make sure that the huge crowd will not be short of excitement! Last weekend I took part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England and I am looking forward to showing all the fans the Caterham F1 Team car and we will make sure we put on a spectacular show.”

Rotterdam Racing is delighted Caterham F1 Team and Giedo will be at the event on 26th August. City Racing co-organizer Herman Vaanholt said: “We are happy to add Giedo and his team to our line-up. He is joining a list of Dutch drivers who have taken part in our previous events including Albers, Doornbos, Tung and Verstappen. We are proud that yet again a Dutch driver will be driving a Formula 1 car at a City Racing event and with Caterham F1 Team and Mercedes AMG Petronas team also taking part, with Nico Rosberg driving, we are showing that even in challenging times for the event business City Racing keeps our standards at the highest possible level.”

Preparations for the eighth edition are in full swing and everyone associated with the event is working hard to put on a spectacular program. Besides Van der Garde and the Caterham F1 Team car a number of other names have already been confirmed including Mercedes AMG Petronas with Nico Rosberg. In addition to the Formula 1 cars stunt driver Terry Grant will be taking part and will again put on a spectacular show for the fans. More names will be added to the line-up in the next few weeks for the eighth edition of City Racing. For all fans who want to make sure they do not miss a thing, VIP and grandstand tickets are now on sale at www.cityracing.nl

Austin Hotel rooms scarce on F1 weekend
Austin's inaugural Formula One race is still five months away, but already more than 200 area hotels have no rooms available for Nov. 16-18, according to searches of leading online booking sites, including Expedia.com and Travelocity.com.

That number is up significantly from when the American-Statesman last surveyed Central Texas hotels and motels during spring.

Demand spiked when some F1 race tickets went on sale recently, said Neil Goldman, founder of Austin-based Hotels for Hope, which handles bookings made through the official Circuit of the Americas website, circuitoftheamericas.com.

"When the booking portal went live, we had to massage the servers," Goldman said.

He said the site's hotel listings have been getting 1,500 to 2,000 unique visitors a day.

Some hotels that appear fully occupied might have set aside blocks of rooms for the race, Goldman said, and those rooms may or may not be available to the general public. F1 organizers have said that about 4,500 rooms will be needed for people affiliated with the event, including drivers, crews and members of the media from all over the world.

Interest is also up significantly for Central Texas vacation home rentals. Inquiries on HomeAway.com are about 25 times the norm, said Jon Gray, vice president of North American business for the Austin-based vacation rental website operator.

"It's a massive increase," he said, "which isn't uncommon at all for big events like this."

As an example, Gray said the number of inquiries was 33 times the norm for the Super Bowl in Dallas.

F1 officials to pay for Austin mayor, city manager to travel to England race
A day after Travis County commissioners turned down a similar offer, the American-Statesman learned that a cadre of high-level Austin officials will be going to England next week to observe arrangements for a Formula One event there, and local race organizers are paying for part of the trip.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell, City Manager Marc Ott, Police Chief Art Acevedo and Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr are among the six city officials who will travel to London on July 5-9 in what critics are calling a junket.

City and race officials said it will be an educational trip during which they will learn from observing a race and its preparations firsthand.

"The more information we can have prior to the event, the more successful it will be when folks start arriving in our city from all over the world," Leffingwell said in a statement.

But others are questioning the use of public money for the trip.

"There has been no request to council for funding. I am very concerned. This raises several issues, and I am asking city management to provide information," Council Member Laura Morrison said in a statement, noting she first heard about the trip from a constituent Wednesday.

Circuit of the Americas approached Leffingwell and Ott about a month ago with the offer to fly two city officials to London to see the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a permanent track in the English countryside. Last week, Leffingwell accepted one of the trips, and Ott accepted the other. Ott also decided to send Acevedo and Kerr as well as Sue Edwards, the assistant city manager for development services, and Rodney Gonzales, the deputy director of economic growth and redevelopment services.

Leffingwell's and Ott's flights and lodging will be paid for by Circuit of the Americas, a circuit spokeswoman said, and the city will pay for the other four trips. Officials did not know how much the trip would cost, but a search of travel websites found that airfare and lodging in London for five days could be about $2,000 per person.

"The intent is for (Austin officials) to go and see how others do a job they're going to do in Austin in November ... and learn from some very experienced people what it is that they need to do to make sure they run a successful event in Austin," said Julie Loignon, a spokeswoman for Circuit of the Americas.

Loignon said Silverstone representatives have arranged for the Austin contingent to meet with their counterparts in the track's nearby county of Northamptonshire. Silverstone is similar to the F1 track near Elroy, as both are permanent tracks in somewhat rural areas, Loignon said.

On Tuesday, Travis County commissioners nixed a similar trip for two staff members that would have been primarily paid for by race organizers. The offer made to Austin was never discussed by the City Council.

While the track is not within Austin's city limits, the city said it will be closely involved and affected by the estimated 120,000 attendees for the race weekend Nov. 16 to 18.

The majority of those people will stay in Austin, city spokeswoman Roxanne Evans said. "All city public safety agencies will be engaged during the event," she said. The Statesman

Belgian Grand Prix organizers seizes on French uncertainty
The organizer of the Belgian Grand Prix has seized on uncertainty following the election of Francois Hollande as France's new president to launch a bid to keep the race until 2016.

Before the election it seemed likely that Spa would alternate with a revived French Grand Prix but those plans have been put on hold as Hollande's advisors questioned using central funding to support a Formula One event in a time of financial difficulty. Into the void has stepped Andre Maes, the chief executive of Spa.

"The election has changed things," Maes said. "It's become clear to us the French are no longer interested in alternating so we have put a proposal to Bernie Ecclestone." He declined to go into more detail but it is speculated that a reduced hosting fee is part of the package.

Maes said that advance sales for this year's Belgian Grand Prix on September 2 were good. "We've already sold 35,000 tickets which is about 6,000 more than at this time last year. If this increase is maintained we expect to sell about 60,000 tickets this year." ESPN F1

Tires named for Germany and Hungary
Pirelli have announced that their medium and soft compounds will be used at the German and Hungarian Grands Prix in July.

The Italian tire manufacturer have chosen not to keep a step between the compounds - as was the case in Barcelona in May, when the soft and hard compounds were used, and will be the case this weekend at Silverstone, when the soft and hard selection will again be in use.

Hockenheim will be a new track for Pirelli, as the German Grand Prix was hosted at the Nurburgring in 2011, but they are confident the yellow-marked soft and white-lined medium tires will be able to cope with the mix of long straights and the technical stadium sections.

The tire choices for the tight and twisty Hungaroring are notably different to 2011, when the soft and supersoft tires were selected.

By selecting harder compounds, the tires may prove to be more durable than in 2011, but does mean the teams will have to gather new data during the practice sessions on how the tires respond to the winding, low speed track.

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