Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Heidfeld to replace Kubica

    Liuzzi, Hulkenberg admit interest in Kubica seat

  • Visitors bullish after seeing injured Kubica
  • Kubica crash raises F1 danger dilemma
  • Virgin defends decision to snub KERS
  • No Laureus awards for Vettel and Red Bull
  • F1's German flavor hurting Hulkenberg – Weber
  • F1 rights sale saga worsens for Ecclestone
  • HRT reveals pictures of 2011 car, livery

Liuzzi, Hulkenberg admit interest in Kubica seat (But see Heidfeld rumor)
(GMM) With Robert Kubica facing a long recovery from his horror rally crash, the candidates to fill his Renault race seat are beginning to line up.

The Lotus-sponsored team's boss Eric Boullier acknowledged on Monday that with the Polish regular out for several months, he is likely to look beyond contracted reserve drivers Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean.

"The difference is that it is not going to be for one race but probably all of the first half of the season," Flavio Briatore, who visited 26-year-old Kubica in hospital on Monday, is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo.

"So it has to be an experienced driver. The team has come forward compared to last year, so they will need someone who knows how to race at the front," added the Italian.

The most famous name in the mix is Kimi Raikkonen.

"I'd be amazed if Kimi is still fit enough for F1," Martin Brundle wrote on Twitter, "and (the world) rally program trips over F1 tests."

Numerous journalists' attempts to contact Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson on Monday were fruitless.

"Personally I'd crowbar (Nico) Hulkenberg from FI (Force India)," continued Brundle, the British commentator and former driver and manager.

Timo Gans, a member of Hulkenberg's management team, admitted the German would be interested in the appointment, even though he is signed up to be Force India's Friday driver this year.

"We have a contract with Force India and we will not take the initiative to contact Renault," Gans told the Daily Mail.

"If Renault should contact us we will start thinking about that, but we are not doing that yet. Hopefully Robert gets well soon," he added.

Also mentioned have been Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli, Pedro de la Rosa and Christian Klien.

Axed Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi visited his friend Kubica on Monday and admitted to that he would be interested in sitting in for the Pole.

"It's obvious that when Renault should be sure that Robert won't be able to step in the car, this chance might be open and I hope to be chosen instead of somebody else," he said.

It might be said that Vitaly Petrov is either hoping for an experienced driver to replace Kubica so that he is not forced into a leadership position, or hoping for Renault to promote from within to enhance his status in F1.

"I believe it is senseless to discuss Vitaly's status because there is no such thing as first pilot and second pilot," his spokeswoman told Ria Novosti agency.

Visitors bullish after seeing injured Kubica
(GMM) Robert Kubica's recovery from horrific rally crash injuries might not take as long as a year.

The 12 month prediction was made by the surgeon in charge of the Polish driver's nearly eight hour operation on Sunday, but Renault team boss Eric Boullier said on Monday that doctors' forecasts are always conservative.

"With yesterday's (Monday's) news and the medical bulletins, I was worried," Flavio Briatore, who visited the 26-year-old in hospital, told the ANSA news agency.

"I was prepared for the worst. But when I saw him we even shared a joke and he asked about my son.

"I called Alonso and Bernie and told them I think they will see him on the track before the end of the season.

"He's a great and tough guy and I am sure he will come back soon," added the Italian.

"Considering the terrible accident he suffered, he's ok.

"We didn't talk about the accident but about formula one and about a quick return. Considering his will and his fitness, I would bet he will come back within five or six months," said Briatore.

Kubica's friends Fernando Alonso, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Pastor Maldonado have also visited the hospital.

"He didn't tell me anything special," new Williams driver Maldonado told, "(except) that he's quite well."

La Gazzetta dello Sport tracked down for comment Alessandro Nannini, who was driving for Benetton in 1990 when his right arm was severed in a helicopter crash.

The Italian did not return to F1 but he subsequently raced touring and sports cars.

"His injury is different to the one I had," the 51-year-old said. "His arm was not completed separated, and the nerves, tendons and muscles will grow back in just a matter of time.

"For sure Robert will come back to racing," added Nannini.

Kubica's hand surgeon Igor Rossello is also confident, but he warned that it is "impossible" to make precise predictions.

"With the nervous system, you never know, but if Alessandro Nannini managed to go back, why shouldn't Kubica?" he said.

The Armco barrier skewered the car from front to rear as first reported by on Sunday

Kubica crash raises F1 danger dilemma
(GMM) Shocking new details of Robert Kubica's rally crash have emerged.

Video footage of the car that was following the Pole's Skoda Fabia in the minor event in Italy, and newly emerged photographs, show that a length of Armco barrier skewered the car from front to rear.

Currently sedated due to the pain, he will stay in intensive care for a few more days, before his other injuries are operated on. Reports have said Kubica lost 5 pints of blood after the crash and was initially in a "critical" condition.

Kubica's co-driver has criticized the roads and the front-impact safety standards of the car, but others argued that the highly paid 26-year-old should not have been competing at all.

"You've got to look after that investment," triple world champion and former team owner and boss Sir Jackie Stewart told the Telegraph.

"It's quite a challenge to stop drivers doing the things I believe are unwise leading up to a F1 season," he added.

Renault chief Eric Boullier, however, said the freedom to rally is so important to Kubica, who for years was not allowed to according to the terms of his BMW contract.

Former BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen told the Associated Press: "What's the point in pushing hard for the highest safety standards in F1 if a driver is then seriously hurt in other racing activities?"

The German said he always had "sympathy" for Kubica's passions, but "The driver is key to success in F1.

"Only he can turn the tremendous effort of several hundred equally determined people into results."

To L'Equipe in France, however, Boullier defended Kubica's freedom to rally on the basis that "He could also have been run over by a bus going to get his bread".

But Martin Brundle said it was "crazy" for Kubica to be rallying in between key F1 tests, and Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier agrees.

"If I was to blame someone, it would be his team, who should never have released him (to rally)," he told the French language Rue Frontenac.

"Especially (not) so close to the start of the new season, and between two test sessions. What bad timing," added Carpentier.

Commented Jacques Laffite, a commentator for French television and ex-F1 winner: "My position has always been that these guys who take risks every Sunday should be free to do what they like.

"Today, we are seeing things differently, obviously," he told L'Equipe.

"An F1 driver is part of a team of about 700 people, so it is right to have some restrictions," added Laffite.

Flavio Briatore said after visiting Kubica: "You can't blame anyone, the accident was just that."

And it seems that even Ferrari doesn't stop its drivers from participating in dangerous activities, as when Fernando Alonso heard about Kubica's crash, he was skiing in Val Gardena.

Virgin boss John Booth said trying to control F1 drivers is futile.

"We took Jerome (d'Ambrosio) and Timo (Glock) skiing a couple of weeks ago," he said at the launch of the MVR-02.

"We said Ok guys, stick to the piste, blah blah blah, so we got to the top of the lift, the gates opened and they were just flat out. They were everywhere.

"And that's how they are. That's what makes them so good. You can't wrap them in cotton wool," he added.

Virgin defends decision to snub KERS
(GMM) Virgin has confirmed that its newly launched MVR-02 car is not designed to accommodate a KERS system.

Along with Lotus and HRT, the three teams are the only ones in formula one who will not benefit from the energy-recovery technology in 2011.

Car designer Nick Wirth defended the decision on the basis that Virgin has other priorities.

"The fact is it (KERS) is extremely expensive and extremely heavy and it is worth about three tenths of a second — we're after three seconds," he said at the car's launch in London on Monday.

And continuing driver Timo Glock agreed that Virgin is not going to be pushing the frontrunners in 2011.

"Realistically you do not make up three or four seconds over the winter, but hopefully we can be closer to the midfield teams," said the German.

Wirth said the design team's biggest focus has been reliability, with hydraulics proving the Achilles heel in 2010.

He confirmed that while Virgin tried a radical Renault-like forward-exiting exhaust in its computer simulators, the team ultimately opted for a more conservative solution.

"We understand why they (Renault) are doing it, but you need to be a team like Renault from the financial, human and technical resources standpoint to implement it.

"So we're happy with our solution," German reports quote Wirth as saying.

Glock told Auto Motor und Sport: "Compared to our competitors we can't afford to have such radical solutions."

And the 28-year-old smiled as he confirmed that the fuel tank will be big enough this season.

"That's not going to happen to us again," he said. "This time our tank is too big!"

No Laureus awards for Vettel and Red Bull
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel did not win the prestigious Laureus prize despite becoming F1's youngest ever world champion.

The 23-year-old was nominated for the sportsman of the year gong but it was Spanish world number 1 tennis star Rafael Nadal who accepted the trophy on Monday night at the gala in Abu Dhabi.

And the Spanish national football team also beat Vettel's nominated Red Bull team to the best international team prize.

Representing the world of premier motor racing, however, Valentino Rossi was awarded the world comeback of the year title.

Last year, the Italian took just 41 days to return to the saddle of his MotoGP bike after suffering an exposed leg fracture.

F1's German flavor hurting Hulkenberg – Weber
(GMM) The plethora of German drivers is making it harder for Nico Hulkenberg to break through in formula one.

That is the claim of famous driver manager Willi Weber, who after watching his rookie charge Hulkenberg secure pole in Brazil last year was left scrambling to find the 23-year-old a new job.

Struggling Williams replaced Hulkenberg with the well-financed Pastor Maldonado, with Hulkenberg forced to sit out 2011 as Force India's reserve and Friday driver.

There were seven Germans in F1 last year, but only five for the 2011 season as Hulkenberg and Nick Heidfeld lose their race seats.

"Nico has all the right qualities but he had to share the stage with many other Germans," Weber told the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.

"It's like a cake; if you have to share it with seven others, the piece you have is small," he explained.

Both Hulkenberg and Heidfeld are considered serious contenders to replace the injured Robert Kubica at Renault this year.

F1 rights sale saga worsens for Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is the subject of ever-worsening claims about the sale of F1's commercial rights five years ago.

It has already been alleged that it was the sport's chief executive and long-time 'supremo' who paid German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky a mysterious $50 million kickback.

And the latest explosive details have been published by the German weekly Der Spiegel.

The report said F1's current owner CVC Capital Partners paid $837 million for the share of the rights that at the time was controlled by the Munich bank BayernLB.

But BayernLB reportedly only received $770 million.

Der Spiegel alleges that $40 million was received directly by Ecclestone, with the other $27m flowing to his family trust Bambino.

HRT reveals pictures of 2011 car, livery (See Home Page Article)
(GMM) HRT on Tuesday revealed the first computer-generated photos of its new car and livery for the 2011 season.

The F111 looks similar to the Dallara-built chassis of last season, but the Spanish team said it has been designed by Geoff Willis and Paul White.

"We are very pleased to introduce the first spec of the F111," said team owner Jose Ramon Carabante. "This is only a first step as we are planning several updates during the season."

Added team boss Colin Kolles: "We have made a big improvement for our second season and what you see confirms our commitment to F1."

The new Daniel Simon-designed livery is also apparently only a first specification, given that the only on-car sponsor is Tata and several spaces include logos such as 'This could be you'.

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