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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday (Updated) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Like Schumacher before him, Brits hate seeing their drivers trounced by the latest German sensation - Sebastian Vettel
    Vettel's success hurting Silverstone ticket sales
  • Loss of F1 income 'really hurts' - Marussia
  • Marko says Lauda triggered Red Bull quit rumor
  • Red Bull dumped alternator supplier Magneti Marelli
  • Wurz becomes F1 driver manager
  • Kovalainen tests 'vanity panel' at Magny Cours
  • Grosjean 'can forget troubles now' - engineer
  • Laffite doubts F1 return for Magny Cours
  • FIA set to solve electronic cockpit warning issue New
  • Williams F1 Team and TAK Group Announce New Partnership Agreement New

Vettel's success hurting Silverstone ticket sales
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel's success is hurting ticket sales for next month's British grand prix, organizers of the Silverstone race claim.

Admitting that ticket sales are 10 per cent down compared to last year, the circuit's managing director Richard Phillips said a boost in form for Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton would help to turn it around.

He added: "Sebastian Vettel is doing extremely well and so are Red Bull.

"Personally I think he is a great driver and I love Red Bull, but it would be nice if they didn't win all the time.

"I think the needle-movers are going to be basically 'not Vettel'."

Reigning triple world champion Vettel has won two of the four races so far in 2013 and is leading the drivers' championship from Kimi Raikkonen by 10 points.

Another problem, Phillips said, is that the memories of last year's weather chaos - where paying spectators were actually turned away on qualifying day - are hurting ticket sales.

"You know there is going to be a slight rebound because of that," he said.

Loss of F1 income 'really hurts' - Marussia
(GMM)  Pat Symonds has admitted Marussia's loss of Concorde Agreement revenue "really hurts".

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone announced recently that, from now on, only the top ten finishers in the constructors' world championship will share the sport's commercial income.

Previously, under a scheme devised by former FIA president Max Mosley, the three newest teams Caterham, Marussia and now-defunct HRT received $10 million per year irrespective of their results.

But Ecclestone told Reuters the new arrangement is "a bit more incentive" for Marussia to "get going and get into the top ten.

"It's a bit like the football where you can go up and down," he added.

Just prior to Ecclestone's announcement, Marussia technical chief Symonds said the Banbury-based team is not the only one "worried" about F1's financial situation.

He said Mosley's $10 million per year was "a significant part of our budget".

"And when you take away things like that, it really hurts," Symonds told Sky Sports.

But the situation for Marussia could be even more dire than that, with sporting director Graeme Lowdon hinting to the Press Association that Ecclestone is freezing the team out completely -- even if it does manage to finish in the top ten.

"We can confirm we've not had any offer from CVC at all.  At no time have we had any proposal," he said.

Marko says Lauda triggered Red Bull quit rumor
(GMM)  Dr Helmut Marko has pointed the finger at Niki Lauda, following recent rumors Red Bull was considering pulling out of formula one.

In the heat of the 'Multi-21' team orders controversy, media reports in Germany claimed a furious Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso team owner Dietrich Mateschitz had threatened to pull the plug on F1.

"Nonsense.  There's nothing to it," Mateschitz's right hand man Marko said initially last month.

But it seems there was more to the story.

Marko has now told Germany's Auto Bild that the quit rumor was triggered by triple world champion and Mercedes chairman Lauda, following a telephone call between the famous Austrian and billionaire Mateschitz.

"They were discussing both the team order issue and the (Pirelli) tires, because Dietrich has been so upset about the rapidly deteriorating tires," said Marko.

"Niki has somehow taken it the wrong way and then told the press," he added.

Red Bull dumped alternator supplier Magneti Marelli
(GMM)  Red Bull has dumped its alternator supplier, the media source Italiaracing reports.

Last year, the world champion team was dogged by a recurring reliability problem with its alternators, supplied by Italian company Magneti Marelli.

"I want Renault to separate from its supplier Magneti Marelli and use someone else," team owner Dietrich Mateschitz declared last September.

Italiaracing, adding that Magneti Marelli continues to supply alternators to Lotus, claims Red Bull's new supplier in 2013 is Tag.

Wurz becomes F1 driver manager
(GMM)  Alex Wurz has entered the world of driver management.

According to Speed Week, the former formula one driver is now part of the management team handling 19-year-old Briton Alex Lynn, who races in the FIA European F3 series.

"He is an exceptional talent," said Austrian Wurz, who most recently was a driver coach at Williams.

"I look forward to helping him get to formula one."

Meanwhile, it is reported that Nicolas Todt - the son of FIA president Jean Todt - has also taken a British driver into his management stable.

Todt, already managing Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi, has signed up 23-year-old GP2 driver James Calado.

"His talent and attitude have made a big impression on me," said Todt.  "I hope he is able to compete for the title in GP2 and prove he worthy of formula one."

Calado races for Todt's own team, ART.

Kovalainen tests 'vanity panel' at Magny Cours
(GMM)  In between his Friday practice outings in Bahrain and Barcelona, Heikki Kovalainen has this week been back in action at the wheel of Caterham's 2013 car.

In heavy rain, the Finn - newly signed up to a reserve and development role with Tony Fernandes' struggling team - drove at Magny Cours for a 'filming day'.

But Caterham may also have been testing new parts, as photos of the French test have revealed the CT03 with a new 'vanity panel' covering the usual stepped nose.

"We managed to get everything done," former Caterham team racer Kovalainen said on Twitter.

Grosjean 'can forget troubles now' - engineer
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean has put his troubled start to the 2013 season firmly behind him, according to a Lotus team engineer.

Employed by engine supplier Renault, Brazilian Ricardo Penteado actually works on Kimi Raikkonen's car.

But after the Frenchman's troubled start to 2013, culminating in a brand new chassis for the 27-year-old in Bahrain, Grosjean finished on the podium last time out in Bahrain.

Penteado thinks the performance shows that Grosjean has moved on from 2012, when Mark Webber branded him a 'first lap nutcase' following a string of crashes.

"I think he can forget about 2012 now," he told Brazil's Totalrace.

"His overtaking was all perfect; he didn't put anyone out," said Penteado.

"It was clean and really showed who Grosjean is -- especially his speed.

"He showed last year that he is a very fast driver, and I would say he can use the systems of the car even better than Kimi.

"His challenge is to find the right setup, and having a little more confidence in himself," added Penteado.

Laffite doubts F1 return for Magny Cours
(GMM)  Former F1 driver Jacques Laffite has played down reports Magny Cours is still in the running for a return to the F1 calendar.

Recently, Alain Prost - who was involved in the efforts to revive the French grand prix for 2013 - said he thinks there could now be "possible openings" on the 2014 calendar.

But also involved in those efforts was Laffite, another former F1 winner from France.

He told Le Journal du Centre newspaper: "I doubt formula one will return to Magny Cours.

"If the regional authorities have no such desire, it is not possible to organize the grand prix."

Laffite said the decision to abandon efforts to return the grand prix to France is wrong.

"It can be compared to Canada; when the race was not held for a year, Montreal lost 92 million dollars," he claimed.

"Formula one is a very profitable sporting event."

FIA set to solve electronic cockpit warning issue
The FIA will have an upgrade which should allow the full functionality of the cockpit warning system at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The opening four races have seen problems with the telemetry link between race control and the cars, with race control unable to automatically disable DRS. Drivers have also been without warning lights in the cockpit to reinforce the flags waved around the circuit, but one of the FIA's driver stewards - Derek Warwick - told Reuters that the issue should be resolved in Barcelona.

"We've been told they've got an upgrade which is going to Barcelona and then it'll be working from there," he said.

Warwick also admitted the FIA had been forced to be more lenient with drivers in certain situations because of the lack of help they were receiving from race control when out on track.

"You can't blame a driver if we've messed up in terms of the support package. The FIA has asked us to be lighter on fines for the drivers, but we still have the same tools available to us for other punishments."

Williams F1 Team and TAK Group Announce New Partnership Agreement
The Williams F1 Team (Ticker: WGF1) is pleased to announce that it has signed an agreement with Kazakhstani investment business TAK Group that will see the Kazakhstani capital, Astana, promoted as part of the arrangement with the team.

The Astana name will be positioned on the SIS vane and outer nose struts on the Williams-Renault FW35 from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards in a move that will provide both sporting and tourism benefits to the city. Since 1997 Astana has been the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan and is a UNESCO World City.  Situated on a bank of the Ishim River, it has become one of the largest business centers in the region and will be the site of Expo 2017 which focuses on future technologies and our ‘energy future’. Ambitious infrastructure projects are also seeing the city emerge as one of the region’s leading tourist destinations.

Speaking about the new partnership Artur Ardavichus of TAK Group said; "Formula One is one of the most high profile sports in the world and its global reach will offer Astana an unrivalled marketing platform. Williams is also one of the most respected teams in the sport so it is especially gratifying to partner with them. We are really looking forward to working together this year to promote sport and tourism in the city of Astana and the country of Kazakhstan as a whole."

Sir Frank Williams, Founder and Team Principal of the Williams F1 Team, added; "It’s with great pleasure that we welcome TAK Group as a new partner of the team and look forward to working closely with them to achieve their marketing ambitions."

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