Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Lotus dispute heading back to court after Bahrain
  • US GP set to receive digging permission
  • Return to top form for Schumacher 'impossible' – Prost
  • Fisichella involved in traffic crash in Italy
  • Pirelli wants newer F1 car for private tire testing
  • China fixing F1 track due to subsidence
  • Force India set for di Resta announcement on Wednesday
  • No new car for HRT until Bahrain – Karthikeyan

Lotus dispute heading back to court after Bahrain
(GMM) The Lotus naming dispute will return to the High Court after the F1 season begins in March.

In London on Monday, a judge rejected Group Lotus' application for a summary ruling, which would have settled the dispute in the marque's favor before a full trial.

The separate outfit headed by Tony Fernandes, which is also heading into the 2010 season with the Lotus name, said in a statement that "Team Lotus is delighted" with the decision.

The statement said Group Lotus' application was thrown out "even before (the judge heard) the arguments of the barristers".

"(It) took him (the judge) all of three minutes to say 'Let's get this whole thing sorted in one go' (in March)," the Telegraph's Tom Cary, who attended the hearing, revealed on Twitter.

Cary added that both sides were "taken aback" when Justice Peter Smith brought forward the date of the full trial from late 2011 or even 2012 to March 21.

"Although this decision was never in doubt, it means that we start the 2011 season under the Team Lotus name," said Team Lotus.

Cary said the judge "also made it clear that he would prefer to see the two sides settle out of court before March 21", which is a week after the season opener in Bahrain.

US GP set to receive digging permission
(GMM) Organizers of the 2012 US grand prix are expected to shortly receive permission to start digging work at the Austin site.

On New Year's Eve, it emerged that work commenced in the form of silt fencing, soil drilling for samples and the staking out of the circuit layout.

But this work took place with the organizers only having conditional planning permission, with the Austin American Statesman reporting that the next big step is now set to imminently happen.

The report said promoters have paid $900,000 for the application, and a county spokeswoman confirmed that the permit should be printed some time this week.

The promoters' lawyer Richard Suttle denied suggestions the target of starting work before 2011 had been missed.

"'Moving dirt' includes getting ready for the grading," he insisted. "We were able to accomplish a lot (in December) in getting ready.

"We may actually be a little ahead of schedule but not much," he added.

The $900,000 is said to cover the cost of restoring the land to its original condition should the Federal Emergency Management Agency reject ultimate permission.

And further permits will have to be issued before actual building construction can take place, with one outstanding issue being who will pay $6m for local road improvements.

Return to top form for Schumacher 'impossible' – Prost
(GMM) With Michael Schumacher's difficult comeback season behind him, Alain Prost does not expect the seven time world champion to be back to full speed in 2011.

Frenchman Prost, who is one of F1's most successful-ever drivers behind 42-year-old Schumacher, said last year that the German targeting the title in his second career was "unrealistic".

Prost, 55, said Schumacher used Bridgestone's tires as an "excuse" for his lack of pace, with "age" being the main factor.

Now, in a new interview with the Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche, Prost said: "His decision to come back was personal and I respect it.

"I think it's impossible, at his age, to return to where he was in the past, but I hope he proves me wrong."

Prost said he does not miss racing in F1 because returning is out of the question, but admitted he would "like to do some laps in a modern car".

"But only to assess the developments in technology, which has always fascinated me," he explained.

Fisichella involved in traffic crash in Italy
(GMM) Giancarlo Fisichella has this week been involved in a minor traffic crash.

The 3-time grand prix winner and now a Ferrari test driver rear-ended a small car driven by a 52-year-old woman in Campagnano, north of Rome, according to Italian media reports.

Fisichella, 38, was driving a Ferrari.

The driver of the car he hit was taken to hospital and discharged shortly afterwards.

Fisichella reportedly told the traffic police – the Polstrada – that he came across a long queue of traffic caused by road works and was not able to stop in time.

In 2005, when Fisichella was caught doing 148kph in a 60kph in Rome, he explained to police that he was rushing to his child who had a high fever.

Pirelli wants newer F1 car for private tire testing
(GMM) Pirelli and the F1 teams are looking into options so that the sport's new tire supplier can test with a fully up-to-date car.

In its development preparations for the 2011 season, the Italian marque has used a 2009-specification Toyota run by the departed F1 team.

But with the 2011-generation cars now set to be launched and tested, Pirelli has reportedly decided that its future testing work should not be done with an outdated two-year-old mule.

And Italy's Autosprint reports that Pirelli has decided it needs to use a fully-modern F1 car rather than a "hybrid" solution.

Another option rejected on cost grounds is Toyota's offer to update the TF109 in the wind tunnel so that it better reflects the behavior of the 2011 cars.

And some teams are reportedly worried about giving away an advantage should Pirelli test a car built by any of the active F1 outfits.

Autosprint said two options are under review by the teams association FOTA. One of them is to use an external team to run a test car designed by an active competitor.

Another option is that, for example if Pirelli schedules seven private track outings, the cars of the seven highest-placed teams are alternatively used for the tire testing.

China fixing F1 track due to subsidence
(GMM) Subsidence of the track surface is the main reason for the improvement works taking place at China's grand prix venue in Shanghai, it has emerged.

The April event has only a provisional date on the 2011 calendar, with re-approval of the 7-year-old circuit to only be possible after an FIA inspection in March.

It was previously believed that the necessary improvements at the $240 million facility were in the area of the track surface and rain drainage.

The local race organizers have now confirmed that the main problem is subsidence – damage to the track surface due to downwards movement of the ground – at three corners.

"There should be no problem," Yang Yibin, manager of race promoter Juss Event, is quoted by the Shanghai Daily.

"We've communicated well with the FIA, our plan has been approved and the grand prix will be on time."

The report said the serious subsidence is present at turns 1, 8 and 14.

The Shanghai International Circuit was built in 2003 on former swampland.

"Subsidence is normal because of the soft soil in Shanghai, which the circuit was built above," Yang said.

And circuit engineering manager Sun Liang told the Oriental Morning Post that artificial elevation changes were built into the layout by using "complex materials".

"Because some parts of the circuit are on the ground while some parts are not, as time goes by it's normal for some subsidence," he said.

Force India set for di Resta announcement on Wednesday
(GMM) Force India has scheduled a press conference at which the team's 2011 driver lineup is expected to be announced.

The media has been summoned to the Glasgow headquarters of Scottish whiskey sponsor Whyte and Mackay, which is owned by team boss Vijay Mallya's UB group.

It is therefore expected that the centerpiece of Wednesday's announcement will be the promotion to the race seat of 2010 reserve driver and new DTM champion Paul di Resta.

The Scot's hometown is less than 50 kilometers from Glasgow.

No new car for HRT until Bahrain – Karthikeyan
(GMM) HRT will not have a 2011-specification car at any of the three pre-season tests in Spain next month, newly appointed driver Narain Karthikeyan has revealed.

Earlier this month, the Spanish team's boss Colin Kolles said the new car will not be ready for Valencia early in February and it might also be missing at Jerez shortly afterwards.

"Maybe we will have the new one for the last two tests," he said.

But Indian Karthikeyan has told the Times of India that he will be driving the 2010 HRT at all of the tests at Valencia, Jerez and then Barcelona.

The fourth and final test will take place over four days in Bahrain a week before the season opener in the island Kingdom.

"Our new car won't be ready for the first three tests in Spain where I will drive the 2010 car," said Karthikeyan.

And even when the new car is finally ready, Karthikeyan admitted that the "biggest change" compared to last year's car will be the Williams transmission.

"We are not likely to use the KERS," he admitted, albeit confirming that the 2011 car will have an adjustable rear wing.

The 34-year-old also revealed that his 2011 teammate, and HRT's reserve drivers, will be decided by the team "in a week or so".

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