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F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Focus turns to winning
    Massa staying put, Hulkenberg to Sauber
  • Media and sponsor muzzle for Alonso in 2012 finale
  • Grosjean staying at Lotus in 2013 - Boullier
  • Buemi hopes to announce 2013 return 'soon'
  • Ecclestone put $100m at risk for sale of F1
  • F1's Global Expansion Slowed Due To Financial Problems
  • Details of NBC F1 deal TV deal
  • Ferrari on Massa: Wait and see

Massa staying put, Hulkenberg to Sauber
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has done enough to secure a new Ferrari contract for 2013.

The Brazilian was at times even faster in Korea than his championship-challenging teammate Fernando Alonso, and after the race team boss Stefano Domenicali was all but confirming paddock rumors that a new deal will be announced imminently.

"As my friend (singer) Laura Pausini would say, 'Wait and see'," Domenicali said.

He said Ferrari's position would be made clear "very soon".

Asked if he still had any doubts he will still be racing a red car in 2013, the similarly-smiling 31-year-old Massa said in Korea: "No, I don't.

"But anyway we wait for the (right) time.  I think it will be pretty soon to be honest."

With Massa's future now clear, it has also emerged that Nico Hulkenberg - until now a leading contender to replace the formerly-struggling Brazilian - will instead move over to Ferrari-powered Sauber to replace Sergio Perez.

"At the moment, my focus is simply on 2012 and doing the best I can," the German said in Korea after racing to an impressive sixth place.

But his future boss Peter Sauber told Blick newspaper on Sunday: "Nico's race was very strong."

Sauber said much less about Kamui Kobayashi's race, leaving it to Jenson Button to brand the Japanese an "idiot" and "Kobayashi" for his first-lap antics.

Kobayashi is believed in real danger of losing his seat to the Telmex-backed Esteban Gutierrez.

Button was also not impressed with his future McLaren teammate Sergio Perez's first-lap driving, saying of the Sauber pair: "It's very poor driving standards, considering this is the pinnacle of motor sport."

"A race is not two corners long and some people need to learn that.  Whether they will ever learn that, we will have to wait and see," he added.

With Hulkenberg moving over to Sauber, reports suggest the leading contenders to replace him at Force India are Adrian Sutil, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.

Media and sponsor muzzle for Alonso in 2012 finale
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso will focus intensely on the final four races of the season amid a 'media muzzle', according to the German newspaper Bild.

The report said Ferrari's Spaniard - who finally lost his championship lead as his on-form title rival Sebastian Vettel won a third consecutive grand prix on Sunday - will not give any more interviews as the 2012 season draws to a close over the next six weeks through India, Abu Dhabi, the US and finally Brazil.

Bild also said Alonso will even curtail the time he will spend with Ferrari's sponsors between now and the season finale in late November.

Alonso looked disappointed on the Korea podium on Sunday, but he insisted that while making up the now 6-point deficit will be "extremely tough", it is not over yet.

"The important thing is to be first when you are crossing the line in Interlagos," he is quoted by El Mundo newspaper.

Alonso suggested German Vettel cannot continue to expect to experience "perfect weekends" as he did in Singapore, Suzuka and Korea.

"Congratulations for that (the wins)," he said, referring to his Red Bull rival, "but when everything goes smoothly for so long, inevitably sooner or later something has to happen."

Inevitably, off-track psychological elements like that will tinge the intense battle over the final races, but Vettel revealed that - even privately - Alonso was noble in defeat on Sunday.

"He said 'Well done', that's it," the 25-year-old told Bild.

"He just congratulated me very fairly.  Mark (Webber) too.  I like fairness like that, showing respect even when we are fighting one another and giving each other nothing.

"There are days when you are beaten, that's part of it."

Asked if he has Alonso's phone number, Vettel admitted: "No, but I don't have too many other drivers' numbers either!"

Grosjean staying at Lotus in 2013 - Boullier
(GMM)  Eric Boullier has ended the uncertainty about Romain Grosjean's future in formula one.

Amid the Frenchman's first-lap troubles this year, culminating in him being branded a "nutcase" by Mark Webber at Suzuka, Lotus boss Boullier and team owner Gerard Lopez had refused to guarantee Grosjean will stay put in 2013.

But, even after admitting he was "nervous" before Sunday's Korean grand prix, the 26-year-old managed to avoid the first corner chaos and finish the race seventh.

"It was good to see Romain drive very sensibly despite all the pressure that is on his shoulders," said Boullier.

He told the BBC: "He (Grosjean) has been reassured about his future and that he is going to stay with us, but I cannot commit today.

"Everything is ready, the contract is ready and has been approved by the board.  It is just a question of finding the possibility to do it."

Boullier, who doubles as the head of the group - Gravity - that manages Grosjean, said Lotus continues to believe in the 2011 GP2 champion.

"He deserves to be in formula one, we brought him back because we believe he has a future in formula one.  I would be a bit foolish to bring him back and then get rid of him," he said.

Buemi hopes to announce 2013 return 'soon'
(GMM)  Sebastien Buemi has revealed he is confident he will return to the grid in 2013.

Like the now Pirelli tester Jaime Alguersuari, Swiss Buemi was ousted by Toro Rosso at the end of last year but retained by team owner Red Bull as the main team's F1 reserve.

Dr Helmut Marko has said he is happy to keep Buemi, 23, at Red Bull Racing next season, but at the same time vowed to not stand in his way should he be offered a 2013 race seat.

With Nico Hulkenberg heading to Sauber to replace the McLaren-bound Sergio Perez, it has been reported that Buemi is a leading contender to move to Force India in 2013.

But, reportedly, so too are Spaniard Alguersuari and also the well-backed former Force India driver Adrian Sutil.

Buemi told the French-language RMC: "Everything is going well in the discussions for next year.

"But as long as nothing is done, I'd rather not talk about it.  But it is on track and I hope to announce something soon," he added.

Ecclestone put $100m at risk for sale of F1
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone revealed he put $100m (£62m) of his money on the line as a guarantee when private equity firm CVC bought the high-octane motorsport series.  BayernLB, the state-owned German bank, paid Mr. Ecclestone $41m for acting as a guarantor, but it is now considering suing him to get the money back.

It follows the conviction in June of Gerhard Gribkowsky, BayernLB’s former chief risk officer who was found guilty of receiving a $44m bribe paid by Mr. Ecclestone in return for waving through the sale to CVC.

In the years leading up to the 2006 sale, F1 had been beset with problems as a pay dispute led to its teams threatening to set up a rival series and its shareholders sued each other in a power struggle. CVC paid $1.7bn for F1, but Mr. Ecclestone says that it only agreed to the purchase on condition that it got a $100m indemnity that the sport would not collapse and its finances were in good order.

BayernLB was F1’s biggest shareholder with a 47.2pc stake, but Mr. Ecclestone says it refused to provide the indemnity so he had to give the commitment himself.

“I had to indemnify CVC that all the books were straight and there was nothing wrong and it wasn’t even my bloody company.

I indemnified them for $100m and got $41.4m as a commission. When I look at it now I think what a bloody idiot I was.”

Mr. Ecclestone now faces the possibility that he may be sued by BayernLB to return the commission that was paid in the wake of his indemnity. It follows the conviction of Mr. Gribkowsky who was given an eight-and-a-half year sentence for receiving a bribe and not paying tax on it.

Mr. Ecclestone admits he paid Mr. Gribkowsky but says he did this to prevent him making false allegations about his tax affairs to HM Revenue & Customs. He is being investigated by the Munich state prosecutor, but has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The Telegraph

F1's Global Expansion Slowed Due To Financial Problems
F1's expansion into the global market has brought with it "some bumps in the road."

In the last 10 years, F1 has entered markets such as China, UAE's Abu Dhabi and India and will soon host races in New Jersey and Sochi. However, the racing series' expansion "encounters financial problems," as seen in South Korea, and "other problems that slow down its expansion."

Sports marketing company Sport+Markt motorsports expert Friedhelm Lange said, "The future of F1 is not free from worry. In some important markets it encounters decreasing interest or flat-lining interest on a low level."

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is highlighting his strategic skills with F1's global expansion, "which attracts business to motorsports." Lange said, "F1 is for car manufacturers and sponsors a good tool to tap in to new markets. They don't have to think in each new country about what sports to join."

The teams also back the series' global course. Mercedes Motorsports Dir Norbert Haug said, "Mercedes-Benz sells 83% of its premium vehicles in countries that host F1 races."

The new Concord Agreement between Ecclestone, teams and motorsports governing body FIA is supposed to be adapted at the end of the month. The agreement regulates the distribution of F1's revenue until '20. It is uncertain if the new markets will have positively developed until then. Handelsblatt

Details of NBC F1 TV deal
NBC Sports Group signed a four-year deal with Formula One for the exclusive U.S. media rights to the world's most popular global motorsports series.

The deal, which begins next season, will provide over 100 hours of programming across NBC and cable channel NBC Sports Network.

Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, told The Associated Press on Sunday night it gives the network content to grow its motorsports presence. NBC Sports Network owns the rights to the bulk of the IndyCar Series schedule.

"This is an opportunity for us to get further engaged in open wheel racing and really acquire some great live first run content," Miller told The Associated Press on Sunday night.

"This gives us quality events to put on our air, and this is a sport with a huge following around the world that we feel we can grow in this country."

The agreement between NBC Sports Group and Formula One Management brings an end to the 17-year run cable channel Speed had as the U.S. rights holder to F1. A spokesman for parent company Fox Sports told The AP on Friday that Speed had been outbid by another network during contract negotiations.

Miller said only that NBC Sports Group had made "a significant financial commitment" and that a dialogue that began several months ago with FOM rapidly came together in this four-year agreement.

"NBC and its various media assets have a huge profile throughout the United States and I am obviously delighted to have concluded this agreement," Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Group CEO, said in a statement.

"I feel that they will promote Formula One to a level not seen before in the United States."

NBC will air four races — the Canadian Grand Prix in June, and the final three races of the season in November — while the remaining 16 races will air on NBC Sports Network. All practice and qualifying sessions will also be on the cable station.

Miller said the intent is to broadcast everything live, but the network is working through a small number of scheduling conflicts. All 20 races will be live streamed on NBC Sports Group's live-stream platform.

The addition of F1 could also help NBC Sports Network with its IndyCar coverage, Miller said. There are four 2013 dates in which the F1 race be televised before the IndyCar race on the network.

"We think there's real upside for IndyCar and this super-serves the open wheel racing fan," Miller said. "There will be days we have a Formula One race at 9 a.m. and an IndyCar race at 1 p.m. — we walked the IndyCar people through that on Friday and they are excited about the opportunity."

Ferrari on Massa: Wait and see
Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has asked fans to ‘wait and see’ with regards to the imminent future of Felipe Massa. In Korea on Sunday, the Brazilian kept up his good run of form by finishing fourth behind team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Asked during the race not to put pressure on his title-contending team-mate, Massa’s fourth place came just a week after finishing second in Japan. He is now expected to be confirmed as a 2013 Ferrari race driver in due course.

“After Suzuka, this was another fantastic race for me,” Massa said. “I managed to run at a great pace from start to finish. I expected that to a certain extent because on Friday I’d seen that, over a long run, the car behaved very well. It’s true that you can never be certain about how things will go in the race, but everything went smoothly. I always managed to get a hundred percent out of the car and I am very pleased about that.

“The whole team is doing its utmost to help Fernando and I am there for him, just as the team is and as it has been for me when I found myself in the same situation. Now I feel stronger and when you enjoy what you are doing, it’s the best.”

When asked whether he will now re-sign Massa for next year, Team Principal Domenicali was pleased but is yet to confirm anything.

“Felipe followed up his great race at Suzuka with another one here, on the attack right from the opening lap and then again at other key moments, like when he overtook Hamilton,” Domenicali began, with rumors that a new deal would be signed between Japan and Korea having already failed to come to fruition.

“His future? As my friend Laura Pausini (Italian pop singer) would say, ‘Wait and see...’”

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