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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Hockenheim may not be able to pick up Nurburgring's slack
    2013 Hockenheim race 'problematic' - mayor Gummer
  • Vettel won't win title in Austin - Danner
  • FIA not renewing F1 doctor Hartstein's contract
  • Austin like Suzuka, Silverstone, Turkey, Hockenheim
  • Comeback 'bad for Schu, good for F1' - Wurz
  • Zetsche denies approving F1 budget boost
  • F1 media coverage adds to global spotlight on Austin
  • Radio impatience helped Raikkonen 'brand' - Wurz New 

2013 Hockenheim race 'problematic' - mayor Gummer
(GMM)  It is possible Germany will fall off the 2013 formula one calendar altogether.

This week, it has emerged that - at the circuit's own admission - the financially-crippled Nurburgring will almost certainly not host the German grand prix as scheduled mid next year.

Hockenheim has been named as a possible alternative, and it was believed that talks between circuit officials and Bernie Ecclestone had been underway for some time.

But the city's mayor Dieter Gummer told DPA news agency: "It is the case that we are in constant contact but it has never led to negotiations on a formula one event in Hockenheim in 2013.

"Before a grand prix in Germany goes we would in any case be prepared to talk, but in every case the priority is Nurburgring," he added.

Gummer said organizing a 2013 race at Hockenheim would be "certainly problematic", as preparations for a grand prix usually begin "at the completion of the previous event".

Vettel won't win title in Austin - Danner
(GMM)  Christian Danner, a former F1 driver turned commentator from Germany, does not believe countryman Sebastian Vettel will wrap up his third consecutive drivers' title in Austin this weekend.

Mathematically it could be done, but the relative competitiveness of the Red Bull driver's championship rival Fernando Alonso means a finale in Brazil next weekend is more likely.

"I think we will wait until Sao Paulo, no matter what happens in Austin, really," Danner told RTL.

"If the race in Austin is fairly normal, with both of them reaching the finishing line and taking a lot of points, there will be no decision here," he added.

"I think we can look forward to a nice season finale in Brazil," said Danner.

With a faster car than Alonso's Ferrari and a ten-point buffer, Vettel is the hot favorite on paper.

But Jacques Villeneuve, the outspoken 1997 world champion, admitted he is rooting for the Spaniard.

"Seb is super quick," the French Canadian is quoted by the Sun newspaper, "but there is a difference with Fernando that emerges in the case of an unfavorable situation.

"Alonso remains calm, cool, and rational, while Vettel most times gets upset, angry, screams and flicks the middle finger.  He reacts like a child."

FIA not renewing F1 doctor Hartstein's contract
(GMM)  F1 is replacing its chief doctor, Gary Hartstein.

The 57-year-old American, who has worked alongside the late Sid Watkins since 1997, replaced the retiring Briton altogether in 2005.

Dr Hartstein wrote on Twitter: "Have just been informed that president of the FIA and president of FIA medical commission have decided not to renew my contract.

"Brazil will therefore be my 247th and last formula one grand prix.  It's been a life-changing experience and something I'll never forget."

He added: "Not sure about the 'why's' of the decision, but not down to me to know."

Austin like Suzuka, Silverstone, Turkey, Hockenheim
(GMM)  According to the buzz in the brand-new Circuit of the Americas paddock, F1's often-criticized circuit designer Hermann Tilke has penned a memorable layout for the sport's American comeback.

The most obvious feature of the Austin layout at first glance is the steeply-uphill turn one, and then soon after the course emulates Silverstone's famous Becketts section.

"Turns three and four," agreed Mark Webber.  "And later on it's a little like Suzuka in Japan, which drivers love," the Red Bull driver told local broadcaster KVUE.

Engine supplier Renault's Remi Taffin picks up the theme.

"It (Austin) has replicated some of the most challenging corners we have visited, including the Suzuka esses and Turn 8 from Istanbul."

McLaren's Jenson Button added: "I can even see a bit of the Hockenheim infield too."

Designer Tilke told the DPA news agency that his Austin layout is "one of the most difficult" for drivers that he has penned.

"We wanted to do something special so we have taken advantage of every hill.  It is constantly up and down and with fast corner combinations," he said.

Speaking to Germany's Sport1, former F1 driver Alex Wurz likens "the first half" of the Austin layout to "a roller-coaster ride, with everything at high speed".

The Austrian suggested the layout will probably suit Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull more than the Ferrari driven by his title rival Fernando Alonso.

But Jules Bianchi, who last weekend tested Austin-bound improvements for Alonso's F2012, told Marca newspaper that the Ferrari should be "competitive" in the US.

"Everyone at the factory has been working for it and we should be competitive here," said the Frenchman.

"It's full of high speed corners, the start is like the Suzuka esses, but there are also many slow corners, and some big braking areas," he added.

Comeback 'bad for Schu, good for F1' - Wurz
(GMM)  His three-year return to F1 has been "bad for (Michael) Schumacher, good for formula one".

That is the claim of Alex Wurz, who at the height of the seven time world champion's powers in the late 90s once famously went wheel-to-wheel with the great German and emerged from the Monaco tunnel with his car in pieces.

A still highly competitive Schumacher retired from F1 in late 2006 but then returned with Mercedes three years later, but - now in his 40s - only managed to add a mere podium to his giddy tally of 91 victories.

Now, after Austin and Brazil in the next two weekends, Schumacher is retiring again.

"He was not able to do what he expected," Wurz told Sportwoche.

"At the end it is a sign of the times that everything in F1 is so fast-paced, and hard as nails," he said.

Wurz, however, said he thinks Schumacher's comeback was not a failure.

"The fact that someone who dominated so much was not able to dominate again after a three-year break is a compliment to the drivers who dominate now," he said.

"It shows that they are the best in the world today," added Wurz.

For that reason, 2010, 2011 and 2012 will be remembered as "bad for Schumacher, good for formula one", he concluded.

Zetsche denies approving F1 budget boost
(GMM)  Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Mercedes' parent Daimler, has denied reports he has approved an increase in the F1 team's budget for 2013.

Reportedly on new recruit Niki Lauda's recommendation, it emerged recently that Mercedes-Benz is prepared to boost the Brackley based team's coffers to the tune of many millions.

Bild newspaper had said Mercedes' fattened budget would bring its 2013 spend up to EUR 200 million, making it comparable to what is buying success at top three grandees Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.

But Zetsche told German weekly Die Zeit: "We do not intend to increase our budget."

However, he did admit that Mercedes needs to up its game.

"The Mercedes engine is considered the best in formula one," he said, thereby confirming that the reasons for Mercedes GP's lack of performance is "other parts of the car".

"Certainly we need to become better, and soon," added Zetsche.

F1 media coverage adds to global spotlight on Austin
The eyes of the world are upon Texas.

As the city and teams gear up for this weekend’s Formula One race, millions of people will be turning to televisions, newspapers, magazines and myriad digital news sources to follow the race, putting Austin firmly in the international spotlight.

Events such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest have brought international attention to Austin, but the size of Formula One’s global following and audience, reported to be about 500 million people throughout the 20-race season, is another level entirely.

“Formula One is so big globally,” legendary former Formula One driver Jackie Stewart told the American-Statesman during a recent interview. “So Austin, Texas, is going to be projected, and so is also the U.S.A., going to be projected around the globe that weekend over three days in a mighty way.”

Last year, Formula One had 63 broadcasting contracts that reached 187 countries and territories, according to Formula One trade guide Formula Money. The largest TV audiences were Brazil, China, Germany, Italy and Japan, the trade guide said.

TV crews from around the world have been arriving this week, and while most of the coverage will be focused on the track, cameras will also turn toward the city and some of the people that keep it weird.

“Ticket-holders and media all over the world will be going back to their homes and adding column inches to the pile about Austin,” said Bob Varsha, who anchors Formula One broadcasts for Speed TV in the United States. “A lot of their viewers around the world will be asking, ‘What is this place? Tell me about Austin, Texas.’”

Speed reaches about 80 million homes in the United States, though its Formula One viewership is only in the hundreds of thousands, network officials said. The network is planning live coverage of all race sessions Friday through Sunday and expanded coverage online.

On Sunday, the network, which is owned by FOX, aired a 30-minute feature on Formula One’s return to the U.S. that highlighted the construction of the 3.4-mile Circuit of the Americas and also focused on Austin, its culture and its residents.

On Wednesday, formula-one.speedtv.com carried a live discussion from the Four Seasons hotel downtown about the same topics.

Crews from Sky Sports F1, a 24-hour channel that reaches about half the households in the United Kingdom and Ireland, likely will shoot features around the city, a network spokeswoman said.

Two weeks ago, Sky Sports F1 aired a 10-minute feature that highlighted Austin, the Circuit of the Americas and a party at Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill near the track in Elroy.

The restaurant’s owner, Wyman “Wild Bubba” Gilliam, said he’s done interviews with ESPN, every local TV station, Speed TV and several magazines during the two years the circuit has been under construction.

“A lot of race aficionados are coming out. People will fly in from Japan, Germany, and pretty much everybody says, ‘We heard about you and saw you on television. We want to have a wild game burger with you,’” said Gilliam, who will serve longhorn beef and buffalo burgers and more from a mobile kitchen at the circuit this weekend. “I attribute every bit of that to the interest in Formula One.”

The BBC also is bringing a full crew to Austin, about 25 people, but because of its agreement with Formula One Management, it will only air a 90-minute highlight show of this weekend’s Grand Prix.

The Sunday program will include a “spectacular opening sequence” that will feature some city landmarks, a network spokeswoman said.

Viewership for the highlight shows average 2 million to 3 million households, she said.

Formula One Management owns the broadcast rights to the sport and produces the live race feeds that are distributed to broadcasters around the world. Networks are permitted to add some elements to the coverage, such as graphics or replays.

Part of that feed also includes several minutes of video from the city where the race is taking place that the networks can use as they go in and out of commercials.

“You might get several minutes of the UT campus, the statehouse, maybe Sixth Street, maybe some ranches, to try to get a sense of the event,” Varsha said. “Austin is probably going to be a revelation to the rest of the world, and I think it’s going to be a very positive revelation. The Statesman

Radio impatience helped Raikkonen 'brand' - Wurz
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen may have been tired of his engineer's radio messages, but he was also looking after his "brand" en route to Abu Dhabi victory.

That is the view of former F1 driver Alex Wurz, referring to Finn Raikkonen's series of pit-to-car radio exchanges that culminated in the now-famous refrain 'Leave me alone - I know what I'm doing' as he added a win to his 2012 F1 comeback.

2007 world champion Raikkonen is 'the iceman' -- a laid-back, cigarette and alcohol-loving racer who in Monaco paid tribute to his hero by wearing James Hunt's helmet colors.

When asked about Raikkonen's radio impatience in Abu Dhabi, Austrian Wurz said: "Well, Kimi is the way he is.

"But he's also a clever guy who understands what his 'brand Kimi Raikkonen' needs.

"Kimi knows very well the importance of his engineers -- after all, he took his McLaren engineer, Mark Slade, with him to Lotus," Wurz told motorline.cc.

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