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Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Jean Todt keeping a firm grip on F1
    Todt denies FIA to lighten grip on F1
  • Vettel reduces off-track load for title battle
  • 'No way' McLaren to stay with Mercedes as customer
  • Schumacher didn't return 'to drive in circles'
  • Unpaid staff to confront Mallya at India GP
  • 'No regrets' after Chandhok's short F1 career
  • Promoter 'committed' to New York F1 race despite delay
  • Qatar targets F1 testing, race
  • Sauber door closed as candidates line at Force India
  • F1 world set to tackle 'awkward' Indian GP
  • Austin Fire, EMS crews practice car extractions in preparation for F1
  • Lewis Hamilton is the loser in Jenson Button battle

Todt denies FIA to lighten grip on F1
(GMM)  Jean Todt has dismissed suggestions he is willing to loosen the FIA's grip on formula one in return for more money.

Ahead of a crucial meeting between the FIA president, Bernie Ecclestone and the teams in Paris on Tuesday, the Financial Times reported speculation Frenchman Todt will agree to trade some of the federation's rule-making power for a bigger share of the sport's financial pie.

"For me," Todt said, "the FIA must have a bigger impact, not erosion.

"It makes me smile when I read that we are going to lose control ... I will never allow things which are under our responsibility to be dealt with by anybody else."

It is rumored that one way Todt will boost the FIA's coffers is by increasing the cost of the entry fees for F1 teams.

"We cannot be a federation without having any revenue.  So where do we find our revenues?" he said.

At the same time, he said he has been "a bit disappointed" by the teams' efforts to reduce costs, insisting he will "expect more drastic proposals" to come.

Todt said he has asked 2014 engine suppliers Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes to also "take that (reducing costs) into consideration".

Max Mosley, who backed Todt to succeed him when he stepped down as FIA president a few years ago, is slightly critical of the former Ferrari boss's approach.

"At the moment maybe he's a little bit too reluctant to confront," Mosley told Sky Sports.  "He seeks consensus.

"It's good to have consensus but sometimes you've got to get them (the teams) to just do something."

Vettel reduces off-track load for title battle
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel is reportedly following Fernando Alonso's lead, as the pair knuckle down for their four-race battle to the 2012 title.

We reported a week ago that Spaniard Alonso has imposed a 'media muzzle' on himself for the decisive flyaway trek through India, Abu Dhabi, the US and Brazil, and will even slash the time he spends with Ferrari's crucial sponsors.

Ahead of the Indian grand prix this weekend, the local Telegraph newspaper said championship leader Vettel is taking a similar approach as he aims for a third consecutive drivers' title.

Set to arrive in Delhi on Wednesday, the German has told Red Bull "to not schedule possible distractions like promotionals", the newspaper said.

"Four races remain and he's determined to stay focused ... he wants to make it three in a row ... he seems obsessed," a source told the Telegraph.

Indeed, Vettel will not attend Red Bull's media event - a game of cricket with Indian star Gautam Gambhir - on Wednesday, even though his teammate Mark Webber will be there.

Ferrari is also leaving no stone unturned as it seeks to close the gap on Red Bull's now-dominant 2012 car.

Italy's Autosprint said the Maranello team tested a newly-updated F2012 for Alonso at the Idiada facility in Spain last Thursday, with Davide Rigon at the wheel.

'No way' McLaren to stay with Mercedes as customer
(GMM)  McLaren is reportedly seeking a new engine partner for its famous formula one team.

The Woking based team has been powered by Mercedes engines since 1995, but the German carmaker now has its own, entirely separate works team.

Indeed, McLaren's current Mercedes relationship will soon end, leaving the Martin Whitmarsh-led team having to become a normal engine 'customer' like Force India.

Honda, the Japanese carmaker who in the past enjoyed a successful F1 partnership with McLaren, has been mentioned as a possible alternative, particularly with the sport's rules switching from V8 to turbo V6s in 2014.

Honda pulled out of F1 after the 2008 season.

"I follow the rules, certainly, and if they present an opportunity then it would be nice to go back (to F1)," Honda's head of research and development Yoshiharu Yamamoto admitted this month.

The Sun newspaper said McLaren is indeed "looking to ditch Mercedes and reunite with Honda".

"There is no way McLaren will stay as a customer for Mercedes engines," a source is quoted as saying.

Schumacher didn't return 'to drive in circles'
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has admitted he expected to succeed when he agreed to return to formula one with Mercedes in 2010.

The great German had retired as a seven time world champion at the end of 2006, and now admits he only agreed to come back with Mercedes because he thought he would win.

"I can only say that I didn't return to drive around in circles," 43-year-old Schumacher, reflecting on his decision to now return to retirement, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"I wanted to pursue my passion and succeed.  The base was good at the time; the team had just won the world championship (as Brawn), so (you) add the great name of Mercedes, and myself -- everything looked good," he added.

"We thought, if you add two and two, we're going forward.  In the end, it wasn't possible, as we now know."

Indeed, some say Schumacher's three-year project with Mercedes has forever tarnished his ultra-successful image.

Two weeks before he announced his retirement decision at Suzuka, for example, some journalists were suggesting Schumacher should take an eye test.

"You learn to deal with it," he explained.  "There are some people who are just trying to come up with headlines about me.

"When you understand that, you're better at ignoring it," said Schumacher.  "I really wanted to go to the press conference at Suzuka with a white cane, after all the questions about whether I needed glasses and (about) night blindness and so on.

"Seriously, I could only laugh about it.  My eyes work perfectly."

Unpaid staff to confront Mallya at India GP
(GMM)  No longer facing arrest over bounced checks, Force India chief Vijay Mallya could still endure a trying race weekend in his native India.

The Hindustan Times newspaper reports that unpaid and grounded staff of the billionaire's beleaguered Kingfisher airline intend to confront Mallya at the Buddh circuit this weekend.

"We have planned to stage a dharna (sit-in protest) when Mr. Vijay Mallya comes at the grand prix," an unnamed Kingfisher engineer said.

"A protest at the sporting event will highlight our plight to the entire world."

An air hostess added: "What is the option left before us but to protest?

"All of us are in deep financial crisis, but (Mallya) is unperturbed.  (He is,) in fact, mocking at our misery with (his) lifestyle."

'No regrets' after Chandhok's short F1 career
(GMM)  Karun Chandhok insists he has no regrets despite having to look back on a short formula one career.

With F1 returning to his native India this weekend, thee 28-year-old insists he is not disappointed that his new foray is sports car racing.

Chandhok raced part of the season for HRT in 2010 until he switched to Caterham (then Lotus) as reserve driver, even standing in for Jarno Trulli in Germany mid last season.

He now races full-time in the FIA's endurance sports car championship.

"I have no regrets because I did everything possible to make things happen in F1," Chandhok told the Times of India.

"When you feel you wasted an opportunity, then you feel disappointed.  (But) if you can't get the sponsorship, if you can't get the money you need ... that's life and you just need to get on with it."

Promoter 'committed' to New York F1 race despite delay
(GMM)  Even though it won't happen in 2013, the promoter of the New York grand prix insists he remains "100 per cent committed" to bringing the Manhattan skyline to F1.

Bernie Ecclestone last week confirmed reports that the New Jersey street race will not be ready to host its inaugural race next season.

Promoter Leo Hindery Jr said in a statement: "We are going to be racing at Port Imperial, unfortunately just not as soon as we hoped and expected."

He admitted the organizers need "additional time" to get ready for formula one, for developing the facilities and garages.

"But we remain 100 per cent committed to the grand prix of America at Port Imperial, and the race could have no better partner and friend than the CEO of formula one, Bernie Ecclestone.

"We benefit greatly from his experience and counsel, and from his support."

Qatar targets F1 testing, race
(GMM)  Arab state Qatar is pushing to become F1's next new host.

The Losail circuit, built in 2004 and located just outside the capital Doha, already stages a night race for MotoGP.

And the president of Qatar's motor racing federation, Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, has revealed that Losail is bidding "to get the license which would allow us to host F1 teams for pre-season testing and other activities.

"F1 race director Charlie Whiting was here to inspect the Losail circuit," he said.  "He was impressed with what he saw."

The AFP news agency quoted Al Attiyah as saying pre-season testing for the 2013 season, and 'eventually a grand prix', is Qatar's goal.

Sauber door closed as candidates line at Force India
(GMM)  Sauber appears set for an all-new driver lineup for 2013.

The Swiss team's current Mexican driver, Sergio Perez, is headed for McLaren after November's Interlagos finale.

It is expected that, with the Telmex sponsorship dollars staying at Sauber in 2013, the team will simply promote Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez, 21, to replace him.

The other 2012 incumbent, Kamui Kobayashi, has revealed he must imminently find sponsors if he wants to stay at Sauber next year.

But it is now widely believed that Sauber has in fact already signed German Nico Hulkenberg to move from Force India to the Hinwil based team in 2013.

The Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo said Luiz Razia, the 2012 GP2 runner-up, has been in talks with Force India and Marussia about his F1 debut next year.

"We talked with Sauber as well," the 23-year-old Brazilian is quoted as saying, "but in recent days they've changed their stance, saying it's no longer possible.

"This tells me they have decided their two drivers," added Razia.

Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn won't confirm that.

"We don't want to give constant updates about the direction we are going in," she said on Swiss television Schweizer Fernsehen.

But former Toro Rosso racer Sebastien Buemi said it is "too bad" the door to Sauber for 2013 now appears closed.

"But the door could be open at Force India," the Swiss is quoted by Blick newspaper.

O Estado de S.Paulo, however, said the line of candidates to pair with Paul di Resta at Force India next year is long, including Bruno Senna, Kobayashi, Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and possibly even Pastor Maldonado.

F1 world set to tackle 'awkward' Indian GP
(GMM)  The just one-year-old Indian grand prix is already regarded as one of the most "awkward" stops on the annual calendar for formula one teams and the sport's travelling circus.

With a now four-race flyaway battle for the 2012 title set to kick off in the country this weekend, teams are nervous about the customs situation.

They are worried that parts flown in at the last minute "may get stuck" at the airport, the Asian Age reports.

There is also a visa situation, after several regular journalists had to miss the inaugural race a year ago, while others are still waiting for approval mere days ahead of the 2012 event.

"We were in shock last time around," an FIA official is quoted by the IANS news agency.

"This year has been a lot better but the problem persists.  Getting the clearance in other Asian countries is a lot faster than in India," the unnamed official added.

The official said there was a similar problem when China joined the calendar in 2004, "but now there are no hassles at all".

But the difference in India is that the grand prix is 100 per cent privately funded, with little cooperation from the government despite organizers Jaypee donating annually to India's national sports development fund.

"We are not using any government property either," Indian motor racing president Vicky Chandhok said.  "We are aware that the process of getting customs clearance is tedious.

"(The) organizers are ready to pay temporary import duty; all they want is smooth clearance," he added.

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe admitted that the Indian GP "is the most awkward race of the year in terms of customs issues".

Ferrari sporting director Massimo Rivola agreed: "That is a fact.

"We try to maximize what we can do at the factory in order not to go to India with an extra shipment because the risk is that we won't get the extra shipment on the track.

"And also, even if you get it there, you won't know if you can bring it to the following race.  So it is a bit of a gamble," he added.

F1 is also wary of India for two other reasons: the traffic chaos, and the risk of 'Delhi belly'.

McLaren is staying closer to the Buddh circuit this year after rising "life and limb" on the roads last year, team boss Martin Whitmarsh told Reuters.

And yet another problem last year were power cuts in half-completed paddock buildings.

"We've received a report that there's been quite a lot of maintenance effort in the paddock so hopefully our facilities work this year," Whitmarsh added.

Austin Fire, EMS crews practice car extractions in preparation for F1
The junked old gray Buick sedan wasn’t a Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz race car — but it was good practice.

Using the same tools they’ll have access to at next month’s U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race, firefighters from Travis County Fire Rescue in Elroy and medics from Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services spent Saturday evening practicing how to extract a driver from a vehicle.

On Saturday, that vehicle was a late 1980s Buick Century that had seen better days. But come race day, if there’s a crash on the track, the same crew will be doing it on a multimillion-dollar F1 car that may be on fire.

The thing is, it’s not all that different, Travis County Fire Rescue Chief Ken Bailey said.

“The same principles are applied,” Bailey said. “This is to give the guys more familiarity with the tools they’ll use on the race track itself.”

Those tools were new hydraulic “jaws of life” style extraction tools supplied by Circuit of the Americas, the racetrack nearing completion in southeastern Travis County. Under the supervision of circuit Director of Safety Lon Bromley, the firefighters and medics ripped off the Buick’s doors, roof and part of its body panels.

“The guys have hundreds of hours doing this and training on this,” Bailey said. “The only difference is it will be on a race track.”

The grand prix is set for Nov. 16-18. The Statesman http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/fire-ems-crews-practice-car-extractions-in-prepara/nSjMw/

Lewis Hamilton is the loser in Jenson Button battle
AS Lewis Hamilton bows out of the McLaren team bound for Mercedes, it is clear that team-mate Jenson Button’s profile is set to soar, as NICK STAMFORD reports

Lewis Hamilton was supposed to make a fool out of Jenson Button but their partnership  will end with him looking the twit!

The 2008 world champion was predicted to blow Button away when he was joined at McLaren in 2010, by the man who inherited his drivers’ crown.

But as their three years as team-mates draw to a close, the duo will part with Hamilton’s performances on the track having been matched virtually result by result by Button. And while Hamilton leaves with his relationship with McLaren soured by some off-track indiscretions, Button will go into the new campaign knowing the team and mechanics see him as No 1.

Hamilton’s spell with the team that fostered his talent for 14 years was already showing signs of strain before two postings on Twitter left him apologizing and raised questions about his mind-management.

The Mercedes-bound driver’s first Twitter gaffe came at the Belgium Grand Prix last month when he posted a picture of the telemetry from his and Button’s qualifying laps.

Hamilton was told to delete the offending tweet by furious team chiefs, but the damage had been done with rival teams given an incredible insight into crucial information.

Then after a disappointing race in Japan two weeks ago, Hamilton accused Button of ‘disrespect’ for not following him on Twitter before being forced to apologize.

Former McLaren driver John Watson said: “I couldn’t believe what Lewis did in Belgium. It was a very child-like and immature thing to do. It was stupid really.

“He was very lucky he did not incur a punishment from McLaren, but I guess he was three-quarters of his way out of the team anyway.

“He has been looked after by the team since he was 13 and then he has not had to worry about anything really. But he was not allowed to grow up like other drivers.” Hamilton’s move to Mercedes could be the challenge his career needs but it leaves Button as McLaren’s lead driver, with his reputation bolstered.

With just four races left, the statistics could not be closer between them. Hamilton just edges it on wins, nine to seven, but Button has finished runner-up 10 times and come home third on seven occasions. Hamilton has finished second eight times and third on four occasions.

On points, Hamilton is on 620, five ahead of Button who last year became the first team-mate to finish ahead of the Hamilton in his F1 career.

Button’s ex-BAR team-mate Anthony Davidson is not surprised the duo can barely be separated. Now one of Sky’s top F1 pundits, Davidson said: “I was not one of those who felt Jenson would be blown away by Lewis.

“After Jenson won the title in 2009 with Brawn some people said it was down to the car so he wanted to go up against Lewis.

“As Lewis leaves, Jenson is a solid equal not just in terms of results and reputation but also the way he has blended with the team.

“You cannot underestimate how hard it is to join someone else’s team and establish yourself. But Jenson has done that.

“Jenson has proved himself to be one of the best drivers in the world, because he has gone up against one of the best and more than held his own.” Sunday Express http://www.express.co.uk/motorsport/view/353408

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