Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Genii, not Group Lotus, owns Renault team – Boullier
  • Button Snr forgot where he left 'stolen' Ferrari
  • Marko not ruling out 2011 race debut for Ricciardo
  • Renault announces Fauzy as reserve driver
  • De la Rosa unsure of next F1 role
  • Pirelli to make F1 races 'more interesting' – de la Rosa
  • No China GP inspection until March – FIA
  • Force India lineup to be named soon – Mallya

Genii, not Group Lotus, owns Renault team – Boullier
(GMM) Eric Boullier has moved to clarify reports about the ownership structure of the Enstone based F1 team called Renault.

French carmaker Renault SA recently sold its remaining shareholding in the team to the Luxembourg based Genii Capital investment company, a report in the Italian magazine Autosprint explained.

There has been some confusion about whether new sponsor Group Lotus has already bought a share of the team or whether it merely intends to in the future.

The Autosprint report clarified that Genii in fact currently owns 100 per cent of the team.

"Renault decided to re-focus its resources in F1 and sold its remaining 25 per cent to Genii Capital," team boss Boullier confirmed.

He said the long-term agreement signed with Lotus is essentially for sponsorship at present but that it could "lead to Lotus Cars becoming a shareholder" at a later date.

Meanwhile, Boullier revealed that while the R31 car will debut at Valencia next month, he is not yet sure if Magneti-Marelli's KERS system will be fitted to the car at that stage.

And it has emerged that 25 engineers belonging to Group Lotus' Malaysian carmaker owner Proton will be sent for two-year engagements to work at the F1 team.

"It's a good way to get fresh ideas and a new way of thinking," Boullier said.

Button Snr forgot where he left 'stolen' Ferrari
(GMM) An amusing story involving 2009 world champion Jenson Button's father has emerged from Italy.

Media reports, including by the Ansa news agency, said John Button – a former rallycross driver – reported as stolen a Ferrari Testarossa in the coastal town of Alassio.

But the reports said Button Snr, 65 and a regular companion of his son's at grands prix, had simply forgotten where he parked the sports car.

The reports said the car was located with no sign of tampering near the beach at the nearby town of Laigueglia, which is no more than a 5 minute drive from Alassio.

However, Button had reported the car as having been stolen in Alassio from outside the luxurious Grand Hotel Mediteranee.

Marko not ruling out 2011 race debut for Ricciardo
(GMM) Helmut Marko has admitted his plan is to see Daniel Ricciardo with a full race seat in formula one "no later than 2012".

Red Bull-backed Australian Ricciardo, 21, has been placed for the 2011 season with Toro Rosso and will drive on the Friday mornings at grands prix.

His placement is seen as putting strong pressure on the Faenza based team's regular drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.

Indeed, Marko did not categorically rule out a 2011 race debut for Ricciardo during an interview with German-language

"It all depends on the parties involved," said Red Bull's driver program manager Marko, clearly referring to Buemi and Alguersuari.

"The plan is to see him in a race cockpit in 2012 at the latest," added the Austrian.

Renault announces Fauzy as reserve driver
(GMM) Fairuz Fauzy will be reserve driver at the Renault team in 2011.

The 28-year-old Malaysian left the same role at Lotus Racing just one year into a five-year contract, raising suggestions the deal was tied in with the team's official naming license.

Indeed, after revoking Lotus Racing's name license, Group Lotus and its Malaysian carmaker owner Proton signed up with Renault, which is now called Lotus Renault GP.

Fauzy will also race in 2011 with the GP2 team Super Nova, whose cars will feature significant Proton branding.

"We will focus on Fairuz's progress and evaluate his capabilities to be a race driver for us," Renault team boss Eric Boullier said, according to the Bernama news agency.

Group Lotus will also be involved in GP2 this year with the newly-renamed Lotus ART team.

A French commentator said last week that he expected Romain Grosjean to be Renault's third driver in 2011.

De la Rosa unsure of next F1 role
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa is returning to his native Barcelona this week unsure about his future in formula one.

After he was ousted as race driver last year by Sauber, the 39-year-old become the main tester for incoming tire supplier Pirelli.

But after testing the Italian marque's wet tires over four nights in Abu Dhabi this week, Spaniard de la Rosa's contract is now set to expire.

"The truth is I don't know what will happen next," he told Barcelona radio Rac1.

"In January the contract with Pirelli ends and my priority is to find a seat in formula one," added de la Rosa, who has been linked with the remaining race cockpit at HRT but is believed to not have enough sponsorship funding.

He agreed that the current situation for aspiring F1 racers is "very difficult".

"If I don't race I would be happy to continue in F1 as a reserve driver," announced de la Rosa.

He spent several years as McLaren's main test driver, but de la Rosa insists he is currently "not close to any teams, even McLaren".

"This is an important time for my sporting career," he added, not ruling out a longer stay with Pirelli given that the marque is only just beginning its new F1 tenure.

Pirelli to make F1 races 'more interesting' – de la Rosa
(GMM) Pirelli's 2011 tires are "very different" to the Bridgestones of last year and should contribute to "more interesting" races.

That is the view of Pedro de la Rosa, the Italian marque's test driver who this week wound up Pirelli's private tire development program after four days in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to Barcelona radio Rac1, the Spaniard confirmed reports that the Pirellis have been designed to improve F1's show and are "very different" to departed Bridgestone's.

"The races will be more interesting, because they have designed a tire for the show — especially the super soft which is very fast but also has a very big degradation," he said.

De la Rosa added that he thinks the outcomes of the races will be "more open" with each driver making "2 or 3 stops per grand prix" in 2011.

But he played down speculation that the new tires, combined with adjustable rear wings and the return of KERS, will mean that qualifying is far less important than before.

"Qualifying will always be 70 per cent of the outcome of the race," said de la Rosa.

"Of course, it is true that the difference between the first and the second choice of compounds is very large.

"So those who start further back than eleventh will have a chance to fight for points because the harder tire will last much longer than the soft. But that's only speculation," he warned.

No China GP inspection until March – FIA
(GMM) China's date on the 2011 world championship calendar will remain provisional until mere weeks before the scheduled race in mid April.

The Reuters news agency said the FIA will not inspect mandatory changes to the Shanghai circuit until March.

It emerged late last year that the 7-year-old $240 million venue has been told to improve its track surface and rain drainage before it is re-homologated.

"The Shanghai International Circuit has confirmed that all work as requested by the FIA will be carried out and should be completed by the end of February," a spokeswoman for F1's governing FIA confirmed on Tuesday.

"Before a new license can be issued, the FIA will carry out a final inspection in March," she added.

Force India lineup to be named soon – Mallya
(GMM) The uncertainty surrounding Force India's driver lineup for 2011 looks set to end soon.

It is believed that despite Vitantonio Liuzzi having a firm contract for this year, it will be Paul di Resta racing alongside Adrian Sutil in the two VJM-04s.

Williams refugee Nico Hulkenberg looks to have secured a third driver role involving Friday morning practice sessions, but his manager Willi Weber insisted this week that before "anything is said officially, I can't say anything myself".

The Silverstone based team's boss and owner Vijay Mallya has now hinted that the uncertainty is soon to end, with the delay believed to be due to the severing of Liuzzi's contract.

"There are some legal loose ends to be tied up," the Indian billionaire told the BBC.

Mallya added that the lineup should be named "in the next few days".

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