Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Spa

    'Leave Spa alone' say F1 figures

  • Kubica breaks leg again in fall
  • Official says Nurburgring race 'possible' for 2013
  • 2012 Ferrari 'not pretty' admit bosses
  • Ferrari failed 2012 crash tests at first attempt
  • 2012 US GP venue 'taking shape'
  • Pirelli to launch 2012 tires on 25 January
  • FIA should decide on Bahrain's F1 return – teams
  • Ferrari rivals have 'easier' 2012 task – Domenicali
  • 2013 Concorde rumors 'not true' insists Ferrari
  • Alguersuari turned down reserve role – Newey
  • Equal status for Force India drivers in 2012
  • Cloud still hangs over Trulli's 2012 seat
  • Rossi wants to 'be like Schumacher' in decade
  • Anderson and Gow join BBC F1 team

'Leave Spa alone' say F1 figures
(GMM) Two prominent F1 figures have expressed disappointed at reports the Belgian grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps could become only a biennial event.

It is reported that France's Paul Ricard is close to inking an agreement to share alternating race hosting rights from 2013 with the fabled Belgian track.

On Twitter, outspoken Red Bull driver Mark Webber denounced it as a "shit idea".

And Pirelli's motor sport director Paul Hembery reacted similarly: "Yuk.

"Agree (with Webber), leave Spa alone."

Kubica breaks leg again in fall
(GMM) Robert Kubica's hopes of returning to formula one have been dealt another blow with reports the recovering Pole has broken his leg once again.

The former BMW and Renault driver, who suffered horror injuries in a minor Italian rally early last year, has now fractured his leg by slipping on ice on the street, Ansa news agency reports.

He was taken to an Italian hospital where x-rays showed a fracture in his right leg, which was first broken in the rally crash.

F1's official website said Kubica's manager is yet to comment.

But the BBC said the 27-year-old "needs an operation to have a metal screw inserted just above his ankle".

Before the latest bad news broke, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali played down rumors Kubica could be part of the famous Italian team's plans for 2012.

"We need to wait to see. That kind of injury takes a long time to recover from," he said.

Domenicali, who admitted Felipe Massa could lose his race seat after the 2012 season, is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "At the moment there are no plans (regarding Kubica)."

Official says Nurburgring race 'possible' for 2013
(GMM) The Nurburgring's chances of staying on the F1 calendar received a boost this week.

The German race, which until now has alternated a single annual grand prix date with Hockenheim, was thought endangered due to the withdrawal of the Green-influenced Rhineland-Palatinate government's state support.

But parliamentary leader Hendrik Hering told the Rhein-Zeitung newspaper: "A race in 2013 is possible.

"There could be a small state subsidy but it needs to be much less than before," he added.

Other German media reports said new talks have been held with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and those "initial discussions were positive".

"If it (the agreement) is very financially favorable, there could be a formula one event in 2013 at the Nurburgring," Hering added.

2012 Ferrari 'not pretty' admit bosses
(GMM) Ferrari's 2012 car is not attractive, bosses of the famous Italian team hinted this week at the Madonna di Campiglio winter media event.

Having failed to win the championship since 2007 and finishing a distant third behind Red Bull and McLaren last season, Ferrari has taken an aggressive approach to the development of this year's machine, codenamed 663.

"It's definitely different," team boss Stefano Domenicali told journalists on Wednesday when asked about the car that will be unveiled next month.

"It's not that pretty, because the shape defined by the technical regulations does not leave much scope, but – and this is what counts really – our hopes are that it is at the very least quick."

Depending on the weather, the car will make its track debut during a short shakedown on 3 or 4 February at Ferrari's own Fiorano test track.

Asked about Domenicali's news about the physical appearance of the single seater, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo replied: "I'd like it to look lousy.

"I say that provocatively because I want it to be a winner, reliable but also 'simpatico' in the sense that it knows how to win with a smile."

Ferrari failed 2012 crash tests at first attempt
(GMM) Ferrari's 2012 car, described as "not pretty" by Stefano Domenicali this week and codenamed 663, reportedly failed to pass the FIA's mandatory crash tests at the first attempt.

The news was reported by the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat as well as Yahoo Italia/Eurosport.

The governing body's crash test rules have been tweaked for 2012, meaning they must be passed before a team can test its new car during the official pre-season period beginning in February.

Ferrari reportedly attempted the crash tests with its all-new '663' model a few weeks ago.

It emerged from the 'Wrooom' media event in the Italian Dolomites that Ferrari is trying again this week.

The Ferrari crash testing will take place at the CSI technical facility in Bollate, near Milan.

Yahoo Italia/Eurosport said that, in the wake of the initially failed tests, the car has been reinforced with additional carbon sheets.

2012 US GP venue 'taking shape' – report
(GMM) The scene of America's return to the formula one calendar this year is starting to take shape.

The local Austin American Statesman reports that construction of the Circuit of the Americas is "moving along quickly" following the recent uncertainty over the 2012 US grand prix contract.

"Buildings are starting to take shape," wrote Dave Doolittle after a tour of the Texas site.

He said there are more than 360 workers at the site, including those working on the three-story main pit and paddock building where the outline of the podium "is already visible".

Work on the media building and main grandstand has also begun, added the journalist.

"Officials said they expect to be finished on time for the inaugural race," said Doolittle, referring to the provisional mid November calendar date.

"They've got a lot of work to do, but all of the activity shows that they're working to meet that goal."

Pirelli to launch 2012 tires on 25th of January
(GMM) Pirelli will officially launch its 2012 season later this month, according to the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

The report said the Italian marque's president Marco Tronchetti Provera will be present at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit when this year's tires and markings are revealed on 25 January.

Less than two weeks later, the teams will begin official pre-season testing at Jerez.

FIA should decide on Bahrain's F1 return – teams
(GMM) F1's governing body will decide if it is right for the sport to return to Bahrain in April, the bosses of top teams Red Bull and Ferrari said this week.

Amid reports of continuing unrest in the island Kingdom and claims F1 should boycott the event also on moral grounds, the Sakhir circuit on Wednesday was pushing ahead with preparations for Bahrain's return in 2012.

Track boss Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa said staff sacked amid the protests that last year caused the race's cancellation have been offered their old jobs.

It is "an important initiative towards national reconciliation and unity", he insisted.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has suggested the event will only be cancelled again in extreme circumstances.

"We enter a championship run by the FIA," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told the BBC, "and we need to trust in their decision."

Agreed Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali: "We need to rely on the competent authorities."

But the famous Italian team's boss was asked if the FIA's judgment can still be trusted after a delegate last year gave Bahrain the all-clear.

"Maybe (that) experience will give a different approach and the information will be more accurate," Domenicali is quoted by the Telegraph from Ferrari's annual winter media event in the Italian Dolomites.

Ferrari rivals have 'easier' 2012 task – Domenicali
(GMM) Ferrari's championship rivals have an "easier" task as formula one teams prepare for the future, team boss Stefano Domenicali insisted this week.

He was referring to the fact that Red Bull and McLaren simply pay a fee for their engines, while Ferrari will have to work with the existing V8 this year at the same time as preparing for 2014's new V6 turbo rules.

"Teams who just pay for their engine have it easier," Germany's Auto Motor und Sport quotes the Italian as saying.

Domenicali confirmed that Ferrari's V6 will not be ready to fire up for the first time until the summer.

"It takes a lot of money," he said, "to adapt the structures and test facilities for the new engine and at the same time have the other (V8) program.

"It will be a tough year and we take the issue very seriously," added Domenicali.

And whilst hoping Ferrari's 2014 V6 is a pacesetter, he also admitted it is important the new 1.6 liter turbos make the right sound.

"The noise is important to the formula one spectators," said Domenicali, "and we have to make sure it stays that way."

2013 Concorde rumors 'not true' insists Ferrari
(GMM) Ferrari chiefs have denied reports the famous Italian team has already inked a new Concorde Agreement with Bernie Ecclestone.

In the wake of Ferrari and also Red Bull's departure from the FOTA alliance, it was rumored the top teams must have secretly agreed lucrative new deals with the F1 chief executive.

But at the same time it is also understood that the existing Concorde, which will run until the end of this year, prohibits teams from breaking ranks unless the same offer is made throughout the paddock.

Asked in the Italian Dolomites about rumors of Ferrari's 2013 Concorde, team boss Stefano Domenicali insisted: "It's not true."

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "It is true that Ferrari and Ecclestone have been speaking to one another. They always do because they are both … they have always both been in F1."

At the same time, president Luca di Montezemolo defended Ferrari's decision to leave FOTA by insisting the fabled marque "has the right to have its say in an autonomous fashion".

"Clearly this is a very important year and we are all aware of that," agreed Domenicali.

He is referring also to the teams' voluntary resource restriction agreement (RRA), which earlier this year Red Bull was accused of flouting.

Domenicali thinks the penalties for cheating are not severe enough.

"Today, only a financial type of penalty is planned, but we need to decide if it would not be better to think also of something on the sporting front and, in that case, who should decide the outcome," he said.

Ferrari said the team regards a cost-limiting agreement as important, but insisted that – amid the European economic crisis – Ferrari remains strong.

"In 2011 we beat the record in our history for cars sold, so our financial position is very solid," he is quoted by Spain's El Periodico.

Alguersuari turned down reserve role – Newey
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari turned down the chance to be Red Bull's official reserve driver in 2012.

That is the claim of Adrian Newey, the highly rated car designer and technical boss at the energy drink company's championship-winning team.

Red Bull dropped 21-year-old Spaniard Alguersuari from its rookie team Toro Rosso after two and a half seasons, then installing his former teammate Sebastien Buemi as the 2012 reserve.

"We closed the agreement as third driver with Sebastien Buemi after Alguersuari did not want to join our team," Briton Newey is quoted by Spain's Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

The Swiss newspaper Blick quotes Alguersuari as saying this week: "I am negotiating with top teams for the role of reserve driver."

Dr Helmut Marko, the manager of Red Bull's driver program, told Italian website this week that Buemi was selected for the reserve role because he has "more experience of the simulator" than Alguersuari.

He denied Alguersuari was snubbed because of his videotaped row with the Spaniard after a practice session in Korea last year.

"No, not at all," said Marko. "We had an evaluation of the possibilities and we took what we thought was the best available for us."

Equal status for Force India drivers in 2012
(GMM) Returning German driver Nico Hulkenberg will enjoy equal status with his teammate Paul di Resta this year, Force India has announced.

Hulkenberg, 24, is returning to the grid in 2012 after a season on the Silverstone based team's reserve bench, following his ousting by Williams a year ago.

His teammate is Scot di Resta, who made his F1 debut last year alongside the departing German veteran Adrian Sutil.

The pair both have 19 career grands prix under their belts, with di Resta scoring a few more championship points than Hulkenberg, but the German having achieved his first pole position just before his enforced sabbatical.

"We've never had a policy here where we have a lead driver," Force India's sporting director Andy Stevenson told Sky Sports news.

"Both drivers get exactly the same treatment, they get exactly the same equipment," he insisted.

Cloud still hangs over Trulli's 2012 seat
(GMM) A cloud still hangs over Jarno Trulli's race seat at Caterham for 2012.

In September last year, the Malaysian team – then known as Team Lotus – inked a new contract for the forthcoming season with the 37-year-old Italian.

But the media statement referred only to "an agreement to keep Jarno on board", with some pundits immediately noting that it could mean only an ambassadorial role.

The provisional entry list for 2012, however, named Trulli as Heikki Kovalainen's continuing teammate.

Team owner Tony Fernandes said in December: "Currently he has a contract with us."

At one point recently, Daniel Ricciardo seemed in contention for the seat alongside Kovalainen, while the latest rumor is that Vitaly Petrov is in the running.

Sky Sports News quotes Caterham's technical boss Mike Gascoyne as saying this week: "What I can say on Jarno is that he does have a contract with the team that is concrete for this year and he will be part of the team this year."

Rossi wants to 'be like Schumacher' in decade
(GMM) MotoGP great Valentino Rossi has admitted he admires Michael Schumacher's sporting longevity.

Seven time world champion Schumacher retired from formula one at the end of 2006 but returned three seasons later with Mercedes, where in 2012 he will attempt to add a first podium to the dazzling tally of his initial career.

"I think it's great to see (what) Schumacher (is doing)," Italian Rossi, who turns 33 next month, said.

"He is ten years older than me but still in great shape and full of energy. At 43, I want to be like him," he told Italy's Sky Sport 24.

Rossi, who like Schumacher has also won seven premier world championships, said he and the German veteran have even more in common.

"I'm an Italian racing for an Italian team, Schumacher is a German with Mercedes. And we have the same chances in the championship," he smiled.

His current contract with Ducati expires at the end of 2012.

"I would like a new two year contract, which could be the last," Rossi is quoted as saying. "Then I'll think about how to have fun."

Anderson and Gow join BBC F1 team
Gary Anderson and Jennie Gow are the BBC's latest recruits for its 2012 F1 coverage, the pair taking up respective technical and reporter positions. The news comes one month after revealed that Ben Edwards would be the channel's lead commentator, with former ITV man James Allen another respected personality to reveal that he will be joining the team last week, as a member of BBC Radio 5 live.

Anderson, who designed cars for Brabham, McLaren Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar during his time in the sport, will make up for the loss of Ted Kravitz to Sky Sports. Meanwhile, Gow takes on 5 live's pit lane role, having substituted for the now Sky-employed Natalie Pinkham during the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

"Were delighted to welcome Ben, James, Gary and Jennie to the BBC presentation team," said the BBC's head of F1 coverage, Ben Gallop. "They bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge, and huge passion for the sport which will help bring the season to life for our audiences on TV, radio and online."

Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan and Lee McKenzie were ultimately the only four key figures to remain with the BBC for 2012, with Martin Brundle, David Croft, Ted Kravitz, Natalie Pinkham and Anthony Davidson all having switched to Sky.

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