Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Bernie Ecclestone sees even more F1 races in the USA in the future. That will impact IndyCar which is currently the premier open wheel series in North America. Compared to F1, heavy IndyCars will look slow, very slow.

    F1 should have even more US races – Ecclestone

  • Mallya to let Sutil know 2012 driver decision
  • F1 world adjusts to new surroundings in India
  • Mercedes quiet on front wing F-duct idea
  • F1 teams would support Mosley return – Ecclestone
  • Senna hopes to keep race seat in 2012
  • Vettel admits team orders possible in India
  • Canada can work with new US races – promoter
  • Vergne still unsure of 2012 Toro Rosso debut
  • Stray dogs and Bob Marley in India
  • Like Korea, but faster – Alguersuari
  • Karthikeyan senses ‘historic moment’

F1 should have even more US races – Ecclestone
(GMM) F1 should drop some more European races and replace them with events in the US, Bernie Ecclestone said.

The sport's chief executive confirmed to reporters in India that, by 2013, formula one will have three North American races; two in the US and one in Canada.

Asked if the New York race endangers the Austin round, he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: "Not as far as I know.

"We used to have three or four races in America, so we need two more. It is a big country. We have nine races in Europe and America is about the same size.

"So maybe we should have four in Europe and four in America," he said.

At the same time, the 81-year-old admitted that with Korea wanting to downsize its annual sanctioning fee, that event could be dropped.

"There are lots of things in life you can't afford, and you don't have to have them," said the Briton.

"It (Korea) was strange. They didn't really get behind it."

Ecclestone said the F1 calendar is unlikely to expand beyond 20 races, but said Spain will continue to host two races in Barcelona and Valencia.

He also expressed disappointment that one of his favorite drivers Karun Chandhok is not racing in India this weekend.

"I thought he had signed a contract for it," said Ecclestone.

Mallya to let Sutil know 2012 driver decision
(GMM) Vijay Mallya has promised to speed up his decision about Force India's 2012 lineup.

Long-time team regular Adrian Sutil has expressed concern at growing speculation that Friday driver Nico Hulkenberg will move up to be Paul di Resta's teammate next season.

But boss Mallya has insisted until now that he will only announce Force India's next lineup in mid December.

"I speak to my drivers first before media and if he (Sutil) wants an early decision I will give (it to) him," he is quoted by the Press Trust of India.

"Media has always criticized me that I can't do anything but results are there for everyone to see and I don't need to explain anything to anyone," he added.

F1 world adjusts to new surroundings in India
(GMM) The F1 world is continuing to adjust to its new surroundings in India.

Bruno Senna revealed to O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper that he is carrying around in his pocket a bottle of disinfectant.

"Each time I greet someone, I use it (on my hands)," said the Brazilian, referring to the risk of food poisoning.

Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, laughed when he revealed that one of his rivals – believed to be Sebastian Vettel – is carrying around a bottle of whiskey.

"Someone told him to rinse out his mouth after eating anything," said the Williams driver.

Felipe Massa is remembering his mother's advice to think positively whenever he sees a cow. "They're everywhere!" exclaimed the Ferrari star.

The smiling Barrichello added: "I heard a bell outside my hotel room and came out to the terrace — it was an elephant passing by."

At the new Buddh circuit, the drivers think the layout will be exciting, but there are some off-track dramas.

A recurring one was clearly apparent during Thursday's official driver press conference when a blackout struck mid-sentence.

"Listen, mate," an unnamed engineer told the Guardian, "the place is chaos. The electricity doesn't work, the gas doesn't work and there are problems with the plumbing."

Blick correspondent Roger Benoit revealed that a coffee machine exploded on Thursday due to faulty wiring.

Team Lotus driver Karun Chandhok told the Times of India: "These are only small issues and I am sure they will be sorted out soon."

Brazilian Massa, also referring to the inescapable poverty suffered by residents just outside the circuit, told the Independent: "It reminds me very much of my country 20 or 30 years ago.

"Brazil has grown a lot since then, and so now, I believe, with events such as this, will India."

F1 teams would support Mosley return – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has risked triggering speculation about FIA president Jean Todt's future.

In an interview with Germany's Die Welt, the F1 chief executive looked ruefully back on the infamous era alongside Todt's predecessor Max Mosley.

Ecclestone, who turns 81 on Friday, admitted recently he does not always see eye-to-eye with Frenchman Todt.

"It's a shame these days how democratic formula one is now. Max and I were able to solve issues and problems in most cases very quickly, a few days or weeks, where now we sometimes need years.

"That (the past era) benefitted everyone — the teams, the audience, everybody," said Ecclestone.

Referring then to Todt, he said: "I think he went into the job not knowing what to expect. Max helped Jean to become president.

"But I suspect that if he was true to himself and he could choose again between the presidency and Ferrari, he would return to Maranello," added the Briton.

Fascinatingly, Ecclestone's comments coincided with Todt telling the Italian-language "I am still in love with Ferrari.

"The 'Rosso' will always have a special place in my heart."

Ecclestone agrees that – operationally – F1's past is better than its present.

"It's tempting to talk about the good old days," he said. "Maybe it wasn't like that really but I get the impression that it was much, much better than it is now.

"I tell you: if Max wanted to be re-elected as president, he would go through with ease. He is supported by 90 per cent of the teams."

Senna hopes to keep race seat in 2012
(GMM) Bruno Senna is hoping he can keep his Renault race seat beyond 2011.

As reserve driver, and with new sponsors in tow, the Brazilian stepped up when the Genii owned team ousted its German regular Nick Heidfeld in August.

But for 2012, 28-year-old Senna – alongside Romain Grosjean, Rubens Barrichello and of course Robert Kubica – is one of several drivers reportedly in contention for the vacant race seat in 2012.

"If Robert can't come back, I hope I can stay," he is quoted by

"Especially in qualifying I think I have shown some good things. I think I have shown that the team can rely on me.

"But as long as you don't have a contract, you have no guarantee that you're going to be somewhere."

The fact Renault seems spoiled for choice for 2012 means that a speedy decision is unlikely.

Senna said: "I believe that the past has proven that it's not a good idea to wait until the last minute to decide who is going to drive for you."

Vettel admits team orders possible in India
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has confirmed there might be some place-swapping with his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber towards the end of Sunday's inaugural Indian grand prix.

The team, already with the drivers' and constructors' championships in the bag, has revealed that its last ambition for 2011 is to power Webber from fourth to second in the points standings.

Publications on Thursday quoted team boss Christian Horner as hinting that team orders – now entirely legal in formula one albeit still controversial – cannot be ruled out.

World champion Vettel, who insisted he would "love" to see the Red Bull drivers finish both first and second in the 2011 championship, would be the one asked to move over.

"We've seen this year, in particular, races are long and a lot of things can happen in the beginning but also the end — overtaking is definitely possible," the 24-year-old is quoted as saying by the AAP news agency.

"So the race order may not be clear, five or 10 laps to the end," he said in India.

"For sure, it depends where you are. So we worry first of all to make sure we're in a strong position and then I think the scenario-situation comes last," added the German.

Canada can work with new US races – promoter
(GMM) Canada is not worried despite the fact two new North American rounds are heading to the F1 calendar.

Next year, Montreal's current status as the only North American round will end when Austin, Texas, hosts its inaugural US grand prix.

And then in 2013, a street race amidst the Manhattan skyline will debut in New Jersey.

Both new events have long-term contracts, while the Canadian grand prix is presently scheduled only to host three more races until 2014.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve promoter Francois Dumontier, however, insists he is not worried.

"I don't think another grand prix (New York), six hours from Montreal, threatens our event," he is quoted on Thursday by Postmedia News.

"On the contrary, our role is to optimize the two races that will take place within a week of one another in June."

And Austin is then slated for a late-season race slot.

"Contrary to what people think, it (the addition of more American races) can have a positive effect," Dumontier is quoted in French by

"The more we talk about F1 in America, the better it is for the visibility of the grand prix. Geographically, Montreal and New York are close.

"We will see if we can work together to optimize the two events," he added.

Vergne still unsure of 2012 Toro Rosso debut
(GMM) He is hopeful, but Jean-Eric Vergne insists he is still not sure if he will make his grand prix debut with Toro Rosso next year.

With his World Series season now concluded, the reigning British F3 champion recently began a new role as the Faenza based team's Friday practice driver.

The heavily Red Bull-backed youngster is sitting out India because the circuit is new, but will be back in action in Abu Dhabi and Brazil next month.

Frenchman Vergne, 21, said recently he expects to replace either Jaime Alguersuari or Sebastien Buemi in 2012.

Before that, he will drive Red Bull's title-winning car throughout the Abu Dhabi young driver test.

In France this weekend, he now tells the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur: "I must concentrate on my work, not paying attention to what is being said.

"Anyway, I don't know anything about next season yet. The decision will be taken after Brazil," said Vergne. "There is still time."

Stray dog in India

Stray dogs and Bob Marley in India
(GMM) A stray dog delayed the first ever practice session at India's new Buddh circuit early on Friday.

The black dog caused a five minute delay until it was chased down by officials at the smog-affected venue.

In 2008 in Turkey, Bruno Senna struck and killed a dog at speed with his GP2 car, damaging his suspension.

Another point of note on Friday was fastest driver Lewis Hamilton's helmet, which unusually featured a picture of Bob Marley on the top.

A day after the 2008 world champion confirmed his split with girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, many wondered if the Briton was referring to the Marley song 'No woman no cry'.

In fact, the reference was to the song 'One love', featuring the lyrics 'Let's get together and feel all right'.

Hamilton told reporters on Thursday: "These times are sent to try you. And it's about how you pull through them."

Like Korea, but faster – Alguersuari
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari believes the all-new Buddh International Circuit shares many characteristics with last week’s Korean Grand Prix track, albeit with much more speed.

I think it’s a very promising track: very fast, very technical," said Alguersuari after completing his reconnaissance walk on Thursday morning. “Hopefully we’ll have lots of fun, and hopefully we’ll score lots of points. “It’s a little bit like Korea, actually," he added. “The tarmac looks very similar and the corner profiles look similar. I think you have loads of speed here though, so it’s going to be much higher-speed lap than Korea. There’s long straights and hard braking areas, but also some technical areas… it looks like Korea to me."

Coming off the back what he describes as “the best race of my career", Alguersuari has spent time back in Europe, using Red Bull Racing’s simulator in Milton Keynes, England to familiarize himself with the layout of the new track. The Catalan, however, is one of the least enthusiastic racers when it comes to the merits of the simulated lap.

“It’s always a good help to do it, and using the simulator for track familiarization is always important and a good tool for the team – but I don’t believe it’s the best tool for the driver. “When a driver gets really fast it’s when he feels the car as an extension of his body – like the trainers worn by a runner or when you swing a golf club and it feels like its part of you. The car needs to be part of your body like that but the simulator is always the simulator. In there the car is something you’re aware of visually but not physically. With all due respect to the technology, which is obviously the future, reality is still reality and you can’t beat getting out there and driving."

Despite the dust and dirt on the new surface, Alguersuari is still confident that he’ll attempt a full session in FP1 rather than sit it out in the garage and wait for others to clean the track. “We have loads of tires and I think we’ll be good to push right from the beginning. Obviously the track will be very slow at the start and we’ll get faster as time goes on. That’s just how it is.

Narain Karthikeyan: "I want to enjoy the weekend, have a lot of fun, and try and do the best I can do."

Karthikeyan senses ‘historic moment’
Narain Karthikeyan: "I want to enjoy the weekend, have a lot of fun, and try and do the best I can do."HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan has admitted he is looking forward to what will be an “historic moment" when he becomes the first Indian driver to race in Formula One on home soil this weekend.

Karthikeyan has been handed a race seat at the new Buddh International Circuit in Delhi ahead of regular driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and despite the pressures on him as the only Indian driver penciled in to race, Karthikeyan said he would just try to enjoy himself this weekend, with his main target being just to finish the grand prix.

“The realistic thing with our car is to possibly finish the race and beat your team-mate," he said. “If you do that, I think at the moment, we can’t expect much more. It is an historic and symbolic moment that an Indian driver is on the grid and, of course, there is a lot following Formula One for a long time. There will be a lot of fans here. It will be hard to explain but it is what it is. I want to enjoy the weekend, have a lot of fun, and try and do the best I can do.’ The HRT driver, who made his F1 debut with Jordan in 2005, admitted he had expected to compete in a grand prix on home soil, and that Friday, when the cars take to the track for the first time, will be a “huge day for Indian motorsport".

“I did not think in my racing career that I would be racing in India and here we are just around the corner. I’ve had thousands of requests for passes," he smiled. “I just need to relax and from tomorrow it is going to be different, you are in the car a lot. I just want to enjoy the whole atmosphere. My family, everyone is coming. It is a huge day for Indian motorsport and those first few laps tomorrow are going to be very special, yes."

The Indian driver has been impressed with the track, too. “With the circuit, again like everybody else, it is wide in some places, I am sure lots of different lines you are going to see, lots of overtaking. It is definitely a very challenging circuit, with lots of run off areas and so on, so they have done a very good job, no doubt."

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