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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • No more F1 for the Nurburgring
    Circuit says 'no more F1' at the Nurburgring
  • Rosberg says one F1 driver smokes cigarettes
  • Hamilton right to bet on Merc's 'long term' success - Rosberg
  • Ecclestone wants many more US races on F1 schedule
  • Massa reveals he had talks with other teams
  • Red Bull on brink of third teams' title
  • Fittipaldi returns as steward for USA
  • USA Grand Prix facts and figures
  • Russian circuit ‘on schedule’ for 2014 season New
  • Austin weather update New
  • F1 preparation makes Circuit of the Americas a beehive of activity New

Circuit says 'no more F1' at the Nurburgring
(GMM)  The Nurburgring's chances of staging the German grand prix as scheduled next year have receded yet further.

Bernie Ecclestone was already in talks with Hockenheim about replacing the mid-July event next year, while the crisis-struck Nurburgring is grappling with an insolvency process.

Still, there was a chance the Nurburging would pull through.

However, multiple German reports - including in the daily Rhein and Allgemeine newspapers - have now revealed that negotiations between the existing management and the managers of the insolvency have broken down.

A circuit spokesman confirmed to the DPA news agency that there will indeed be "no more formula one" at the Nurburgring, as talks with Bernie Ecclestone had also ended.

But Pietro Nuvolini, the spokesman for the financial recovery experts in charge of the Nurburgring situation, insisted: "If the tenants want to return to the negotiating table, our door is not closed."

Rosberg says one F1 driver smokes cigarettes
(GMM)  According to Nico Rosberg, a current formula one driver smokes cigarettes.

The conversation of smoking come up when Rosberg was recalling the last time F1 visited Texas.

The Mercedes driver's father, the inimitable 'Flying Finn' Keke Rosberg, won that 1984 race in Dallas.

"Yes," Rosberg told Italy's La Stampa, "it was 40 degrees and while the other drivers wore refrigerated suits, he (Keke) was bare-chested in the sun, smoking a cigarette.

"He had beaten them all before it started," Nico smiled.

The La Stampa newspaper said the behavior of Rosberg's father almost 30 years ago would today be "unthinkable".  Indeed, it was believed the last smokers in F1 were Jan Magnussen at the end of the 90s, or perhaps Mika Salo.

"About the smoking?" Rosberg wondered.  "No, you're wrong -- there's one driver who lights one cigarette after another.

"I'm not naming names," he quickly added.

Hamilton right to bet on Merc's 'long term' success - Rosberg
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has fended off suggestions Lewis Hamilton is unwise to have decided to switch to Mercedes in 2013.

Some have questioned the 2008 world champion's move from a front-running McLaren to Mercedes, whose Michael Schumacher failed to score a point despite finishing the race in Abu Dhabi recently.

Explaining the Brackley based team's slump, German Rosberg said: "We have changed the scale of our wind tunnel from 50 to 60 per cent.

"It's a very complicated job but we anticipate to be more competitive in 2013."

Asked if Hamilton's move from McLaren is surprising, he insisted: "Not at all.  He is one of the best drivers available."

That, however, explains Mercedes' decision to pursue the highly rated Briton; not Hamilton's decision to flee established grandee McLaren.

"He is thinking about the long-term," Rosberg said.  "This is a strong team that is developing more and more and will certainly succeed eventually."

'Eventually' is the keyword -- Hamilton has already said he doubts he will win races next season.

"I think he's leaving space open for something spectacular," Rosberg smiled.  "Anyway, I have learned not to comment on quotes that are reported by newspapers!"

Ecclestone wants many more US races on F1 schedule
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has hinted he wants many more American races on his F1 calendar.

After a five-year absence from the country, F1 has returned to the US in 2012, this weekend christening the brand-new and bespoke Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

And Ecclestone wanted two American stops on next year's schedule, until plans for a street race amid the Manhattan skyline were put on hold for financial reasons until at least 2014.

"It's a world championship, so you need the US," the F1 chief executive is quoted by German news agency DPA.

"America is about as big as Europe.  So we should have the same number of races (in each)," said Ecclestone.

In 2013, seven of the 19 grands prix - Spain, Monaco, the UK, Germany, Hungary, Belgium and Italy - will be in Europe, the sport's traditional homeland.

For now, many in the F1 paddock are simply relieved that the US is back on the calendar at least with one race -- Norbert Haug pointed out this week that it is Mercedes-Benz's single biggest road car sales market.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone acknowledged that his sport is "not very big" in America, causing the US-naturalized Mario Andretti to proclaim: "I can only say thank god for the Texans!"

"This," agreed McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, "is a golden opportunity for the sport to finally put down roots and find a long-term home (in the US)."

After contractual and construction delays, the Circuit of the Americas is a hive of activity in the hours before the F1 paddock comes alive on Thursday.

Signs, seats and landscaping are still being finished off, circuit spokeswoman Julie Loignon admitting: "Things are very hectic, but everyone is making steady progress."

Michael Schumacher, a regular visitor to the US, is already in town, kicking off his stay by watching the NBA basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Bild newspaper.

Massa reveals he had talks with other teams
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has confirmed he had talks with some other teams before Ferrari re-signed him for 2013.

Earlier this year, as the Brazilian's form slumped to a low, it was an open secret that the Maranello based team was seeking a new teammate for Fernando Alonso.

"There seemed to be a black cloud above me.  Nothing was going right," Massa was quoted this week by Italy's Tuttosport.

Ultimately, as the F2012 got better, so too did the 31-year-old's confidence, form and results.  He will spend an eighth consecutive season wearing red overalls in 2013.

But during his "black" period, he truly feared for his career.

"I was doing a job that is a dream for millions of people, but I was not happy," said Massa, "because in many races I knew that the main culprit was me."

When asked what his plans were had Ferrari decided to pull the plug, Massa admitted there had been some talks, without "naming names".

"But what I really wanted was to continue with Ferrari," he insisted.

Meanwhile, while some suggest Massa's teammate Alonso is the more 'deserving' champion of 2012, the Brazilian thinks Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel would also be a worthy winner.

"I think Fernando did an incredible job up to now, Sebastian as well, especially in the second part of the championship," said Massa.

"So I think we are not talking about one guy who has many victories and the other one not.  I think we are talking about two drivers, one of which will win and who we will say deserved it."

Red Bull on brink of third teams' title
(GMM)  Red Bull is on the brink of wrapping up the 2012 constructors' championship.

The 2010 and 2011 title winners - whose German driver Sebastian Vettel also secured back-to-back drivers' championships - are 82 points ahead of nearest challengers Ferrari with just two races to go.

If the points gap is more than 43 after Sunday's US grand prix, Red Bull will be the 2012 champions with still the Interlagos finale in its pocket.

To stop Red Bull becoming champions this weekend, Ferrari would need to score an almost perfect 39 points in Texas, with Red Bull failing to score at all.

The drivers' title is the one hailed by the media and fans, but the constructors' championship is highly lucrative -- worth, according to Speed Week, about $100 million to the winner.

Sir Frank Williams, whose eponymous team has won 9 constructors' titles, said: "The team that gets the most points, has done the best job.

"The drivers come and go, the team stays," he added.

Fittipaldi returns as steward for USA
Emerson Fittipaldi is to make his debut steward role of 2012 for this weekend’s inaugural Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

The Brazilian, World Champion of 1972 and 1974 with Lotus and McLaren respectively, previously took up the post during both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Fittipaldi will be stationed alongside Jose Abad, Vice FIA President to Jean Todt, and Garry Connelly, Deputy President of the FIA Institute.

USA Grand Prix facts and figures
Simulations predict an average speed over one lap of 196kph during the race and just over 205kph during qualifying. There are two long straights but the average speed is lowered by the high volume of low gear corners; eight of the 20 turns are taken in third gear or lower. This puts the Circuit of the Americas in a similar bracket to Valencia.

Similar to Abu Dhabi, the longest straight is not the pit straight, but rather the burst between turns 11 and 12. The straight here is 1,016m, meaning the RS27 will spend a touch over 13secs at wide open throttle. Top speed is predicted to be 314kph at the end of this straight and the engine will spend 2.5secs at max revs before braking for the hairpin of turn 12.

The second long straight is the pit straight. Both straights run in different directions so correctly selecting seventh gear will depend on wind direction on the day. Selection for the one may compromise end of straight speed for the other, so ambient conditions will be carefully monitored throughout Friday practice to find the optimum ratio.

The track is similar in power sensitivity to Malaysia, with 57% of the lap taken at full throttle during the race, and just under 60% during qualifying. The predicted lap time is around 1min 39secs.

Three hairpins triangulate the track; turns 1, 11 and 12. Revs will drop to 9,500rpm and the car speed to just 80kph. All three come after a long period of open throttle, meaning engine braking and rear stability on the apex are crucial. The exits and correct engine response from the hairpins are however equally important since they each lead back onto another straight.

Fuel consumption is one of the highest of a season over one lap, similar to Abu Dhabi. The lower temperatures of Austin offset its relatively high altitude and change of gradient, but low ambient humidity and the twisty first and last sectors where the driver is constantly on and off the throttle increase consumption. The starting fuel load will be one of the heaviest of the year, on a par with Abu Dhabi and Melbourne.

Russian circuit ‘on schedule’ for 2014 season
Circuit designer Hermann Tilke has confirmed that Russia is well on course to host its maiden Formula 1 Grand Prix during the 2014 season. The country will debut on the calendar with a brand-new facility in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Sochi track will weave around the Olympic Park which will be hosting that year’s Winter Games, after the Grand Prix takes place around July time.

“We are off to Sochi, the track is under construction,” Tilke, whose first F1 design was Sepang in 1998, told German press agency DPA. “It’s on schedule, all good. Besides, we have to be ready for 2014!”

This weekend, the F1 community heads to his Circuit of the Americas design in Texas.

“The ground conditions were not easy, we had to replace a lot of ground,” he says of building the Austin facility. “Then we had to figure out how we could ensure the buildings would be stable. As is well known, there was a three-month construction freeze (due to a financial disagreement between the former race promoters), but the American contractors have more than made up for that.

“We have taken advantage of every elevation - it is constantly heading up and downhill. There are fast corner combinations which lead to these hills and that’s what makes it especially interesting. You’re always going to face teething troubles, but before such a debut it’s always exciting to see that everything is working well; just in case, we will have 20 engineers and architects on site, sticking around as a stand-by team so we can react quickly if something does go technologically wrong.”

Tilke is the favored track architect of FOM head Bernie Ecclestone. Of those venues on the current 20-race calendar, his works range from Bahrain’s Sakhir to the new-look Hockenheim which replaced the fast blasts through the forests after 2001.

Austin weather update
Austin is set to enjoy a fully dry Grand Prix weekend as Formula 1 heads to Texas for the first time. Marking the first United States F1 event since Indianapolis 2007, initially overcast conditions will be replaced but may return.

As the F1 fraternity begins to arrive on Thursday, forecasters are predicting a cloudy afternoon, although Friday and Saturday are both expected to be bright. More cloud cover could arrive for the race on Sunday, which begins at 1pm local time. Ambient daytime temperatures will hover around the 18-20°C (64-68°F) marks.

Rain is not expected, although some forecasters are saying showers will affect the venue once Formula 1 has left on Tuesday of next week.

F1 preparation makes Circuit of the Americas a beehive of activity
Formula One has arrived in Central Texas.

With the inaugural Grand Prix days away now, the Circuit of the Americas is a beehive of activity. Workers are putting finishing touches on the 1,100-acre racing complex, teams are moving along with race preparations, and vendors are stocking booths with food, drinks and merchandise.

Meanwhile, tourists, teams, race personnel, media, business executives and more have begun pouring into the city, and thousands more are expected by this weekend.

The construction project, which has been almost two years in the making, is giving way to other preparations that have been building in intensity behind the scenes in anticipation of this weekend’s race.

Formula One Management, which provides the TV feed for races, has been laying broadcast cable around the 3.4-mile circuit and setting up 20-plus camera positions since last week, circuit spokeswoman Julie Loignon said.

Crews are still installing temporary seating areas and signs around the venue, while other workers landscape, clean and prepare public areas, she said.

“Things are very hectic, but everyone is making steady progress,” Loignon said.

In the pit and paddock building, teams continue to set up garages and hospitality buildings.

Some of that equipment was brought into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport last week on six 747s each carrying about 200,000 pounds of gear. Other gear was shipped by sea from Europe during the past few weeks.

All of it was ready for the teams when they set to work unpacking Monday morning.

“The (race) cars have come in by air freight, and a lot of the equipment we use in the garages, for example the jacks that the guys use during pitstops … would’ve come in by air freight,” said Tom Webb, spokesman for the England-based Caterham team. “But all the garage paneling that makes the garages look nice and smart and presentable, we don’t need to fly that.”

Teams are allowed to bring 65 to 70 people, 45 of whom work on the car: engineers, mechanics and “truckies,” who are the “guys who are in charge of making sure that the whole thing operates and runs the way that it should do,” Webb said.

The rest of the team is focused on hospitality, media and even catering meals for the group.

Caterham’s truckies arrived over the weekend. By today, most of the team will have arrived, including drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov.

Everything the team needs, from pens and paper, to computers, tools, batteries and spare parts for two cars plus a spare chassis — about 70 tons in all — should have arrived by today, Webb said.

“We literally replicate the same garage and office environment wherever we are in the world,” Webb said. “From the very, very big parts right down to the tiniest little thing, we literally make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be.”

By this morning, “The whole IT infrastructure is in place, all of the garages are ready, and we’re ready to work,” Webb said.

Elsewhere around the track, preparations for food and beverage service have been going on for the past month.

But, “like any project, a lot happens at the very end,” said Martin Thorson, vice president of sports and entertainment for Sodexo, the circuit’s food and beverage services partner.

To feed the expected 120,000 people, more than 500 food and beverage facilities have been planned around the site. Some are operated by Sodexo, others by local food trailers and restaurant booths, Thorson said. Sodexo is also catering more than 65 luxury suites around the track and large hospitality tents between turns 19 and 20 and near the main grandstand.

For the catered suites and tents, Sodexo has built three kitchen structures, each with a 45-foot kitchen trailer, a trailer with a dish machine, and full warehouse and prep-out tents. All have generators supplying electricity for heating and refrigeration.

“Everything has all the comforts of home, we just happen to be in the middle of a very large thousand acres of land,” Thorson said.

About 1,200 people will work at various sites around the track, from warehouse staff, to wait staff, chefs, cooks, bartenders and booth workers, Thorson said.

There will be enough food and drinks stored at the circuit to last throughout the weekend, and restocking — from 35 tractor-trailers and portable containers — will take place at night.

“Our warehouse crew has ramped up recently in the last couple of weeks to 200 people constantly moving about the site, stocking, placing coolers, working with our vendors, all of that,” Thorson said. “Come Thursday, we’ll be at full force, then Friday morning at 7 a.m., when people start coming to the gates, we’ll be ready.”

Food and drink by the numbers

5.32: miles all hot dogs planned at the circuit would stretch if laid end to end.

7: miles the average food service worker will walk each day of race weekend.

12,000: pounds of french fries to be served.

32,736: gallons of beer on hand for race weekend.

140,000: number of reusable, commemorative cups.

2.2 million: pounds of ice will be used throughout the weekend.  Source: Sodexo

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