Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Now Mansell backs Group Lotus in F1
  • Ukraine capital Kiev plans $1bn F1 track
  • Red Bull asks for cost agreement exception – Mosley
  • Red Bull wins battle of funniest Xmas card
  • Raikkonen's father dies at 56
  • Coulthard tipped for F1 race commentator role
  • Spa boss doubts d'Ambrosio to make impact
  • HRT is 'long term project' insists owner Carabante

Now Mansell backs Group Lotus in F1
(GMM) Nigel Mansell is the latest to wade into the Lotus debate, insisting he is "delighted" to see the name "return to formula one" by partnering with the Renault team.

Briton Mansell drove iconic Lotus F1 cars in the 80s before moving on to Ferrari and finally winning the title in a Williams in 1992.

"It is particularly pleasing for me to see the union of Lotus and Renault again and the return of the iconic Black and Gold colors as driven by the late greats Ayrton Senna and Elio de Angelis, Johnny Dumfries and of course, myself in the 80s," he said.

Mansell's comments coincide with the publication of the abandoned black and gold livery that would have adorned the 'Team Lotus' cars next year amid the naming dispute with the separate Tony Fernandes camp.

The comments also coincide with the issuing of a statement by the family of Lotus' late founder Colin Chapman, whose famous black cap was proudly displayed on the pitwall by Fernandes' team in 2010.

But Chapman's son Clive said the family thinks the "Team Lotus name should not be used in formula one".

"Indeed, assurances to this effect were received (last year)," he added.

Chapman said the family supported the Fernandes team when the Lotus Racing name was used with the consent of Group Lotus.

"However, then its license to use the Lotus name was terminated and things changed," he confirmed, adding that his family now backs Group Lotus as "the ongoing Lotus entity created by Colin and Hazel Chapman".

Mansell also recalled Colin Chapman in his statement posted on Group Lotus' official website.

"I am extremely grateful to Lotus and especially to Colin Chapman, who was so inspirational and almost like a second father to me and have been watching with great interest the developments that have been taking place recently at Hethel with their ambitious race and road car projects.

"I am really delighted to see that Lotus is back where it belongs competing with the best in the top echelons of motor sport," he added.

Ukraine capital Kiev plans $1bn F1 track
(GMM) Ukraine capital Kiev is the latest name linked with a future formula one circuit foray.

A government official is quoted by the Kyiv Post newspaper as saying the city will spend $1 billion on a 5.2 kilometer track that is set for completion in 2013.

"We will build an international track in the Polissia and Ivankiv districts in order to host international competitions," said head of state administration Anatoliy Prysiazhniuk.

"I saw the project, and experts from Europe assessed it," he added.

Ukraine borders existing F1 host country Hungary, and of course Russia, which is set to join the calendar in 2014.

Red Bull asks for cost agreement exception – Mosley
(GMM) Red Bull might have broken the F1 teams' cost saving agreement, according to former FIA president Max Mosley.

During an interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, the 70-year-old said the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) has proved an ineffective substitute for his budget cap proposal that was the subject of a bitter dispute in 2009.

"The effect of this (RRA) agreement is minimal," he said, "which is the reason the teams agreed to it.

"At the last FOTA meeting last Thursday," Mosley revealed, "Red Bull asked for an exception.

"If that's true, that can only mean they spent more than they were allowed, and now they're asking for the (other) teams' okay.

"I am interested to know how their opponents are going to react," he added.

Mosley describes the RRA as a "sham".

"I'll give an example — the teams are limited to a certain number of employees, let's say 100. If I walk through the paddock with a lot of money, then I get the best 100 people.

"So you still have no chance against the rich teams. The only thing that will work is a budget limit. A bigger budget is like having a bigger engine," he insisted.

Mosley is especially scathing of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who is critical of the small teams and pushing for more private testing and three car entries.

"On the one hand he complains that the new teams are too slow, and on the other hand he asks for something (more testing) that will widen the gap even more.

"The third car is complete nonsense, giving the big teams even more power, politically and sporting. It's also against the spirit of F1 — it needs different blood.

"Without new teams, F1 would die. The problem with Luca is he has never had to build a team from nothing and doesn't know how hard it is.

"F1 has a lot of problems but Luca only adds to them."

However, Mosley said Ferrari was the only team that stayed "loyal" to him during the sex scandal, weakening his resolve to push on with the budget cap era.

"My plan was to go through with it with the other teams, with Ferrari threatening to withdraw. I would have chanced it because we all know they wouldn't really have gone," he said.

"But then came the affair with the (News of the World) newspaper. Ferrari was the only team that stayed loyal, so I couldn't really do something like that to them."

Mosley also said it is too early to judge his successor as FIA president, Jean Todt.

"This season was very good, but it is a time of transition. I think we'll only be able to assess Jean Todt in another year," he added.

Red Bull wins battle of funniest Xmas card
(GMM) Red Bull has won the battle of F1's funniest Christmas card for 2010.

The team's card depicts Sebastian Vettel in a track duel with Father Christmas, who is driving his famous sled powered by reindeer.

"Santa is faster than you. Please confirm you understand this message!" reads the radio call to the sport's new world champion.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has also maintained his annual tradition of a humorous Christmas card, and Red Bull is still the topic.

The 2010 edition shows Mark Webber and Vettel standing outside the team garage between a stressed-looking Christian Horner, who has just tossed a coin onto the ground.

"It doesn't always fall the way you think," reads the caption.

Raikkonen's father dies at 56
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's father has died.

The Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung said Matti Raikkonen, who was 56, died unexpectedly on Wednesday.

The report said the 2007 world champion and 2010 world rally driver's management had asked the media to respect the Finn's privacy as the family grieves.

"Something like this – especially at Christmas – is very difficult, especially for families," said Raikkonen's spokesman Riku Kuvaja to Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

Coulthard tipped for F1 race commentator role
(GMM) David Coulthard and the BBC are not confirming reports the former McLaren and Red Bull driver is set to become a full-time television commentator in 2011.

It has been rumored that the 39-year-old Scot, who for the past two seasons was a trackside pundit for the BBC's live coverage along with Eddie Jordan, will replace race commentator Martin Brundle's current sidekick Jonathan Legard.

The popular Brundle, formerly Coulthard's manager and also an ex F1 driver, is believed to have pushed for the appointment of the veteran of almost 250 grands prix.

Coulthard told the Sun newspaper: "I've had talks about what I could be doing within the show. They are finalizing things."

A BBC spokesman added: "We're still looking at our lineup."

Spa boss doubts d'Ambrosio to make impact
(GMM) The boss of F1's Spa-Francorchamps race is not sure the presence of a Belgian driver will boost the popularity of next year's grand prix.

After it was announced that Jerome d'Ambrosio will race with the Virgin team in 2011, the circuit's chiefs predicted the 24-year-old's appointment will have a "positive impact" on the Belgian grand prix next August.

But race promoter Andre Maes is not so sure.

"This can only be positive," he told La Libre newspaper.

"But will it boost ticket sales? I don't know. Did the presence of (1994 Lotus driver Philippe) Adams or (2004 Minardi Friday driver Bas) Leinders cause many more Belgians to come?

"So, the impact (on the GP) will depend on how he goes during the first races," added Maes.

Maes indicated that the likely problem will be not only the performance of the Virgin car, but also d'Ambrosio's personality.

"I do not know about his popularity," he continued. "He remained relatively unknown in GP2 — he is not a star. I am convinced that nine tenths of the viewers on RTBF don't know the sound of his voice."

HRT is 'long term project' insists owner Carabante
(GMM) HRT owner Jose Ramon Carabante is expecting the Spanish team to have a better season in 2011.

The Dallara-built F110 was the slowest car in formula one this year, but Hispania has inked an agreement to have its next car equipped with a Williams gearbox.

However, an agreement with 2011 car supplier Toyota recently fell through, raising doubts about the likely competitiveness of the team next season.

But Carabante told Radio Marca in Spanish that it is Geoff Willis who has designed the 2011 HRT "and the car he has designed will give us many joys".

"The car is being made partly in Germany and partly in England and it will be ready.

"We have been working on it for some time and it will be in Bahrain for sure. This year was much more difficult. This time we will be in the winter tests," added Carabante.

He said HRT's plans for its 2011 car are similar to Force India and Toro Rosso's; teams who "work with several suppliers".

A problem with the Toyota plan, he revealed, was that the Cosworth engine did not work with the Toyota chassis, which has its own power plant.

"The Cosworth did not fit in the Toyota and we couldn't break the agreement with Cosworth because the clause was that they had to have been one of the least reliable, and they were not," he explained.

On the financial front, Carabante said many sponsors do not appreciate the full value of formula one.

"In F1 these days there is no need to spend 5 or 10 million," he said. "You can come in with 1 million or 500,000 euros."

He lamented that "You go to large companies in this country and tell them that with their support you can have the car of Toyota, the use of their facilities and be in the top eight from time to time but they don't support you.

"We have a Spanish team which would be even more Spanish with a driver like Pedro de la Rosa, but the companies did not come in."

But he revealed that "soon we will announce a major sponsor because negotiations are well advanced. It is one of the five most important companies in Spain," said Carabante.

HRT's aim for 2011 is "to consolidate and be a step further ahead than this year. It is a long term project and we will see if in two or three years we are established, as was the initial idea".

On the driver front, Carabante said talks are ongoing with "five or six" candidates but said announcements are not scheduled until the new year.

Whether a Spaniard is among them, he answered: "Maybe."

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