- Singapore eyes new race deal and F1 floatation
- F1 2012 'a 1000 piece puzzle' – Schumacher
- Grosjean admits he 'didn't race' Raikkonen
- D'Ambrosio could drive Fridays in 2012
Singapore eyes new race deal and F1 floatation
(GMM) The fact F1 has chosen the Singapore exchange for the sport's high profile floatation does not mean the city-state's popular floodlit street race is guaranteed.
The night event's existing five year contract runs out this year, although a two-year notice clause in the deal means Singapore should stay on the calendar at least until 2014.
On the face of it, a new deal seemed a certainty, given it was Bernie Ecclestone himself who chose Singapore as the location for F1's forthcoming floatation.
"Formula one is known in Singapore, and Asia is thriving. It is a simpler market and not as restrictive," he said recently.
Talks about a new race deal "are underway", the local Business Times reported in March, "but it is understood that one sticking point is the sanction fee."
An unnamed banker commented: "The Singapore government wants formula one to be listed here and for that to happen, it knows the race has to remain here.
"But at the same time, it doesn't want to pay top dollar again. So the bargaining should continue for some time."
However, the English language newspaper now reports that F1's floatation plans, and the expiring Singapore race contract, could be entirely unrelated.
"We are in the process of negotiating a possible renewal of the (race) agreement and the outcome will be announced once discussions are complete," said a spokesman for race promoter Singapore GP.
Second minister for trade and industry S Iswaran insisted that the mooted floatation will not influence the outcome of the race contract negotiations.
And the Singapore tourism board's Aw Kah Peng added: "You've got to see whether the deal is right in every way.
"We're hoping everybody sees value in it and we get a so-called good deal for Singapore, in terms of whether all the numbers can work out and everybody takes home something — a kind of a win-win proposition."
F1 2012 'a 1000 piece puzzle' – Schumacher
(GMM) F1's new face of 2012 is polarizing the sport.
It seems teams, drivers and spectators alike either love or hate the new great influence brought largely by Pirelli's new generation of tires.
An admitted critic is Michael Schumacher.
"It's a 1000 piece puzzle that you need to put together at each race," said the seven time world champion, according to Auto Motor und Sport.
Not for three decades have four different drivers driving for four different teams won the opening four grands prix of a season.
"From the standpoint of competition," wrote Livio Oricchio in O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, "there is no doubt that the Pirelli 2012 generation meets fully the objective of promoting the show.
"But if you think purely about the engineering challenge that is formula one, and the genius of the people and the immense financial and technical resources needed for success, the tires have now taken on such an importance that the results don't seem compatible.
"Myself, and many in formula one, hope the new versions of tires that Pirelli is developing returns a little more predictability in terms of how they behave, without affecting the show too much."
For now, however, the teams need to put their puzzles together, and that will undoubtedly be the focus of this week's three-day in-season test at Mugello.
"He who understands the tires first," McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh astutely noted, "will have a huge advantage in the world championship."
A broad understanding is already developing, including why 2012 winners Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel won from the very front of the field.
"When you're in a battle, you can't take the lines that are best for the tires," said Mercedes' Ross Brawn.
All eyes are now turning to Mugello, where the understanding will continue.
"These test days could change the balance of power in formula one," Norbert Haug predicted dramatically in Bild newspaper.
Not everyone is enthusiastic, however, including McLaren who oppose the Mugello test on cost grounds.
Williams' chief engineer Mark Gillan agrees: "The days of test teams are gone, so this is not logistically easy," he is quoted by Germany's Sport1.
Bruno Senna added: "Mugello is not an ideal test track, as it's very different to most of the tracks that are on the calendar."
Grosjean admits he 'didn't race' Raikkonen
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has admitted he didn't try to keep his teammate Kimi Raikkonen behind him at the recent Bahrain grand prix.
In the wake of Lotus' podium breakthrough, it was suggested Frenchman Grosjean was the victim of team orders.
Team figures, including boss Eric Boullier and 2007 world champion Raikkonen who finished the race second ahead of rookie Grosjean, denied the charge, even though team orders are fully legal.
But it emerged this week that, just before Grosjean was passed by Raikkonen, the French driver was told on the radio: "Kimi is faster than you.
"Do not hold him up," the radio message, broadcasted for the first time by F1's official website this week, ended.
Onboard footage of the move also showed Raikkonen briefly waving to his teammate as he completed the easy pass, ostensibly to thank him.
"I think that if I had closed the door on Kimi, or if we had fought, then I could have lost a wing," Grosjean said this week.
"We knew that we could have a podium as a result and I didn't want to make a mistake. I didn't race at my best level," he admitted to RMC.
D'Ambrosio could drive Fridays in 2012
(GMM) Jerome d'Ambrosio has revealed he could drive one of the Lotus cars during Friday morning practice sessions at some point in 2012.
The former Virgin driver, who is managed by Lotus boss Eric Boullier's Gravity company, was appointed as the team's third and reserve driver for this year.
But, until now, it was not known if the role would involve Friday morning practice duties.
Asked by the La Libre newspaper when he will be seen on the grid once again, Belgian d'Ambrosio answered: "I hope in 2013."
He will get his 2013 campaign up and running on Tuesday, when he gets the chance to drive Lotus' current E20 for the first time at the Mugello test.
The 26-year-old said on Monday: "I will try to show what I can do every time I have the opportunity, not only tomorrow but also during the Friday morning tests that I can participate in."
D'Ambrosio admitted he would rather be racing this year, but insists that his role at Lotus is a good stepping stone.
"I'm not complaining," he said. "I remain convinced that my decision to become a reserve driver with a big team was the best thing for me."
And he insisted he is not jealous of the similarly-aged Romain Grosjean, who took the E20 to the podium in Bahrain recently.
"Honestly not," said d'Ambrosio. "I would be a fool to think that if Romain had crashed twice more I would replace him in Barcelona.
"Instead, what Grosjean has done confirms that young guys can be trusted. I am glad to see him succeed.
"I don't come to grands prix hoping one of my teammates is hurt. I'm here to learn, not to laugh."
He thinks Lotus could win a race in 2012.
"It's possible, yes," said d'Ambrosio. "The E20 works well when it's hot, degrading the tires not too much.
"In Bahrain, we had the best car in the race. We cannot afford to miss opportunities."