Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Barrichello USA bound?

    Barrichello to test IndyCar next week – report

  • Hamilton absence could delay Sutil trial outcome
  • HRT in talks to house team at 'Magic Box'
  • Quality of F1 2012 field 'perhaps highest ever' – Hembery
  • Barcelona denies Spanish grand prix in doubt
  • Pirelli pushing teams for 2011-spec test car
  • Sky Sports News to broadcast test sessions
  • Most cars to have 'ugly' nose in 2012 – Gascoyne New
  • Spanish broadcaster La Sexta races off grid New

Barrichello to test IndyCar next week – report
(GMM) America's premier open wheeler IndyCar series has emerged as a possible option for Rubens Barrichello in 2012.

After 19 consecutive seasons in formula one, the 39-year-old veteran has been left without a race seat after Williams signed his Brazilian countryman Bruno Senna.

Former Ferrari driver Barrichello, a winner of 11 grands prix, has previously said he will not look to IndyCar racing once his F1 career ends.

"I think at first I won't look for anything. Perhaps I'll just enjoy my family for a year.

"After that I believe my passion for speed will not allow me to stand still," he said recently as he waited for Williams' decision.

"For sure I will not race on the American ovals — I have promised that to my wife," said Barrichello, whose close friend is Tony Kanaan, the IndyCar driver, "and I will honor that."

But the Associated Press reports that an IndyCar test has been lined up for Barrichello by KV Racing, the team fielding Kanaan and former F1 driver Takuma Sato.

Citing "a person familiar with the test", the American news agency said Barrichello will enjoy a two-day "exploratory" test at the Sebring road course in Florida early next week.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Barrichello is currently holidaying with his family in Florida.

Hamilton absence could delay Sutil trial outcome
(GMM) A Munich criminal court has excused Lewis Hamilton after he declined to appear as a witness next week in the assault trial of his friend Adrian Sutil.

It emerged this week that, despite being asked to attend on the opening day on Monday, the McLaren driver's lawyer told the judge he will be engaged in Britain as the Woking based team prepares to launch its 2012 car.

"Through his lawyer, Mr. Hamilton has given a sufficient reason to the judge," a court spokeswoman is quoted by the Kolner Express newspaper.

"The judge has excused him for Monday."

Also through a spokeswoman, McLaren said the 27-year-old is due at the team's headquarters on Monday and Tuesday – the days of the Sutil trial – for photos and filming ahead of the MP4-27 reveal the following day.

"On Monday, the other four witnesses will be heard," the court spokeswoman revealed.

It is believed former Virgin driver Jerome d'Ambrosio is one of these witnesses.

"After the two days of the hearing the judge will consider whether and when Mr. Hamilton must appear at a second appointment. The process can be interrupted for ten days," she said.

Ten days after 31 January, McLaren will be in the midst of its crucial winter test program for its 2012 car.

The court spokeswoman said it will not be acceptable for Hamilton to submit a written statement.

HRT in talks to house team at 'Magic Box'
(GMM) HRT is in talks with the city of Madrid to relocate its headquarters to Caja Magica.

Otherwise known as the Magic Box, the facility houses the Madrid Open tennis tournament, the Spanish Olympic Committee and – until last year – the Real Madrid basketball team.

After its first two seasons under the German-based Colin Kolles' management, the former Hispania team has now entered a new phase with an increased Spanish identity.

Madrid regional officials told the Europa Press news agency that negotiations with HRT are underway.

The team "has approached the city with regards to relocating its headquarters to one of the spaces at the Caja Magica", an official confirmed.

"At the moment there is nothing fixed, nor any pre-agreements signed," the spokesman added.

HRT would not comment on media speculation.

Quality of F1 2012 field 'perhaps highest ever' – Hembery
(GMM) The scene could be set for the most competitive season in F1 history, according to Pirelli's Paul Hembery.

He is referring to the fact that six world champions – Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher – will be on the Melbourne grid in March.

That is a quarter of the entire 24-car field.

"That is probably the highest level (of quality in F1) ever," Hembery is quoted as saying by Finland's Turun Sanomat, "particularly when you take into account that there are a lot of other very talented drivers who haven't won a title.

"If the level of the cars and the performance levels (of the drivers) are just as high, there will be some astonishingly good races," added the F1 tire supplier's motor sport director.

Hembery was coy, however, when asked specifically about Raikkonen, the returning 2007 champion.

"I have met him twice," he said. "He is a quiet guy and, anyway, we strive to keep our distance. The drivers turn to us when they need something."

He did not give anything away about Raikkonen's first taste of life on Pirelli rubber, after the Finn's Valencia test this week on demonstration tires.

"We didn't monitor it at all, it was Lotus' thing alone," he insisted.

"Of course I saw his comments and it will be a big difference for him now compared to what he has known before.

"But Kimi is one of the most extraordinary drivers the sport has seen so I think he will learn quickly."

Barcelona denies Spanish grand prix in doubt
(GMM) The boss of Spanish grand prix venue Circuit de Catalunya has played down reports the event is endangered.

It is reported that Spain's other F1 host, Valencia, as well as F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, are pushing Barcelona to agree a plan to annually alternate a single race date.

But amid the country's troubled economic times, Catalunya track boss Salvador Servia said Barcelona remains fully focused on its current race contract.

"Only a disaster – say, an earthquake – is a problem. Forget all the rumors and headlines, we are still working as we were before," he told Vuelta Rapida radio.

Ecclestone warned recently that, with F1's calendar ever-globalizing, there could be only five grands prix remaining in Europe within a few years.

"If there are five then we want to be one of them, and we will fight to be," Servia insisted.

He said Barcelona's current F1 contract guarantees the Spanish grand prix until 2016.

"We have had no communications, either verbal or written from him (Ecclestone) or his organization regarding the issues of the rumors and headlines," said Servia.

"We are here, working to fulfill our contract until 2016 and thinking about 2020 as well."

Pirelli pushing teams for 2011-spec test car
(GMM) Pirelli is pushing the F1 teams to agree a track testing solution for 2012.

Last year, the sport's new official tire supplier used defunct team Toyota's updated 2009 car – driven by Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa, Romain Grosjean and Lucas di Grassi – to develop its P-Zero tires.

But according to motor sport director Paul Hembery, the TF109 has been sent back to Toyota's Cologne headquarters because it is now too old.

Finland's Turun Sanomat reports that Hembery has scheduled to discuss a new solution at the next meeting of the F1 Commission late next month.

The newspaper said Hembery wants the teams to release a 2011-spec car for Pirelli to test throughout this season.

"We don't have an agreement yet," he said. "We do simulation (work) but to do the kind of development we need to do, we also need to drive quickly on a track."

Turun Sanomat said a stumbling block at the moment is the fracturing of the teams' association FOTA.

Sky Sports News to broadcast test sessions
Sky Sports News has announced that it will be broadcasting coverage of the F1 pre-season by providing reports from the test sessions of Jerez and Barcelona. Two dedicated reporters, Rachel Brookes and Craig Slater, will be at the Spanish venues.

“This is the ultimate news service for F1," says Andy Cairns, Executive Editor for Sky Sports News HD. “Our reporters will be trackside and in the Sky Sports News HD studio ensuring viewers are always up to date with what's happening on and off the track.

“And viewers with iPads will be able to follow our F1 coverage wherever they happen to be via the new Sky Sports News app which features on-demand video, the latest news and interviews and data as well as Sky Sports News itself."

The dedicated Sky F1 HD channel will launch in March, with former BBC voices David Croft and Martin Brundle heading up the commentary team

Most cars to have 'ugly' nose in 2012 – Gascoyne
(GMM) Mike Gascoyne on Thursday said he thinks most F1 cars will feature an unseemly nose in 2012.

Caterham is bearing the brunt of the criticism so far, with the newly-unveiled CT01 slammed by fans who say the radically-stepped nose section is ugly.

But the solution is the result of new regulations to lower the extreme 'point' of the nose for crash safety, while the monocoque height rules stay the same.

"As we're the first car out it is obviously stirring up a lot of debate," team technical boss Gascoyne said on Caterham's Facebook page.

"But because of the 2012 regulations I think you'll probably be seeing this type of nose on most of the cars this year.

"Our challenge is that you always want to get the chassis as high as possible to allow clean air flow to the underside of the car, and what you see on the CT01 is our solution to that," he added.

Spanish broadcaster La Sexta races off grid
(GMM) Spain's formula one broadcaster La Sexta has raced off the grid, it emerged on Thursday.

Publico newspaper, linked to Spanish F1 rights holder Mediapro, said other broadcasters can now bid for the coverage due to La Sexta's inability to pay.

La Sexta held a contract for 2012 and 2013 but Mediapro "has terminated" it with immediate effect, Publico said, citing sources who blamed declining advertising rates.

Mediapro issued letters this week advising that the deadline for interested replacement broadcasters is February 6.

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