Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • End of Lotus Racing 'a shame' – Fernandes
  • Whitmarsh better at managing champion drivers – Dennis
  • F1 deal is birthday and Christmas present – d'Ambrosio
  • Van der Garde eyes 'plan B' after Virgin setback
  • Schumacher snubbed in magazine's top 50 drivers list
  • Survey shows EUR residents oppose Rome grand prix
  • Pirelli tires are improving – Grosjean

End of Lotus Racing 'a shame' – Fernandes
(GMM) Tony Fernandes' F1 outfit is pushing ahead with the Team Lotus moniker, despite lingering expectations he might drop the name before the start of the 2011 season.

The Malaysian, whose official license for his team's 2010 identity Lotus Racing was terminated because Group Lotus wanted to enter F1 separately, has said several times recently that he favors a "pragmatic" solution to the dispute.

But the latest news is that green and gold 'Team Lotus' signage, including the famous CABC logo, has been erected outside the outfit's Hingham (UK) factory.

The signage also features at the team's new official website, which is located at because is controlled by Group Lotus.

"The migration to (the) Team Lotus brand has started," Fernandes wrote on Twitter. "It's a shame. I liked Lotus Racing and always thought Team Lotus should be returned to (the) Chapman family.

"But that's the deck of hand (cards) we got handed," he added.

Renault F1's new website, located at, will be launched on January 31.

Whitmarsh better at managing champion drivers – Dennis
(GMM) Ron Dennis has admitted that McLaren's current boss is better than he was at managing "world champions" driving for the Woking based team.

Dennis, still executive chairman and a significant shareholder of the British company but no longer the F1 team principal, was asked by F1i magazine about McLaren's current driver lineup of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

"Managing the co-habitation of two world champions is often a challenge," he said. "I have tried it a few times. Martin is perhaps showing himself to be better than me at that role."

Martin Whitmarsh, Dennis' long-time deputy, took over the role of team principal at the beginning of 2009, and he is now tipped to also retain the FOTA chairmanship in 2011.

Under Dennis' stewardship in 2007, Hamilton clashed memorably with Fernando Alonso, whose fractious relationship with his boss lasted only one difficult season.

20 years before that, the pairing of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost is remembered as one of the bitterest in F1 history.

F1 deal is birthday and Christmas present – d'Ambrosio
(GMM) Jerome d'Ambrosio has described securing his formula one debut for 2011 as the ultimate birthday and Christmas present.

Although described in Virgin's press release as 25, the Belgian rookie is actually still 24 until two days after Christmas.

The new British team announced on Tuesday that he is replacing Brazilian Lucas di Grassi for the 2011 season.

"It's a nice Christmas gift but also a birthday present — I was born on December 27," he told Belgian television RTBF.

"This has come after many weeks of waiting, and everything finally came together just recently.

"I didn't sleep last night because I was so excited," confirmed d'Ambrosio, Renault's 2010 F1 reserve who finished the season as Virgin's Friday driver.

"I only heard the news last night and it was hugely emotional. Doing a grand prix season is a dream come true, but now is the time to start working," he added.

Van der Garde eyes 'plan B' after Virgin setback
(GMM) Giedo van der Garde and his management have started work on 'plan B', after missing out on the second Virgin race cockpit for 2011.

The Dutchman, managed and sponsored by officials of the McGregor fashion brand, was in the running for the seat alongside Timo Glock until the British team said on Tuesday it has signed Belgian Jerome d'Ambrosio.

Asked if he had heard the news before Virgin's press release was issued, 25-year-old van der Garde told the Dutch press: "No, we were not informed in advance.

"It is unfortunate, but what you do know in advance is how difficult it is to get a formula one seat," he admitted.

"F1 remains the goal even if it is a tough business. You have to ignore the setbacks and keep going."

The Dutch magazine said 'plan B' for van der Garde is another season in GP2, or perhaps test seats with the Williams or Force India teams.

Van der Garde replied: "This news is so fresh. First I have to sit down with my management to see what is best for my career.

"Plan B is to be GP2 champion, as we have seen what it did for Pastor Maldonado. He was in GP2 four years before he was champion."

His manager Jan Paul ten Hoopen admitted that Tuesday's news has "narrowed the opportunities" for van der Garde in F1 for 2011.

"With Virgin we had a realistic option," he added. "We are still talking with two other teams, including Force India.

"But you can never rely on something in formula one. It's a big casino," added ten Hoopen.

Schumacher snubbed in magazine's top 50 drivers list
(GMM) Michael Schumacher does not feature in an authoritative magazine's ranking of the top 50 racing drivers of 2010.

The editor of the British print magazine Autosport, often described as the 'bible' for motor sport fans, said the seven time world champion missed the cut because he "wasn't very good" on his return to formula one this year.

Drivers for all major motor racing series around the world are eligible for the top 50.

"If there had been just one race where you thought Schumacher was exceptional that may well have been enough to get him into the top 50," said editor Andrew van de Burgt. "But I can't think of that one performance.

"Coupled with that, his comeback was easily the most hyped and eagerly anticipated I can remember. The expectations were so great and the results so disappointing."

The editor dismissed Schumacher's argument that this year's Bridgestone tires did not suit his driving style.

"The tires are the same for everyone and a driver who has won 91 grands prix and seven world championships has got to adapt," he insisted.

Schumacher's Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who is 16 years younger than Schumacher and has never won a race, was ranked 12th in the 2010 Autosport 'Best Of' driver ranking.

"Rosberg more than had the measure of Schumacher," said van de Burgt. "And what we have seen in the past suggests Rosberg is a very good driver but maybe not a great one.

"So to be so comprehensively beaten by him didn't really show Schumacher in a great light."

He admitted that the 41-year-old German showed "a few little hints" of promise at the end of the season, but for the top 50 it was "close but no cigar".

Survey shows EUR residents oppose Rome grand prix
(GMM) According to a survey, most residents do not support the idea of a formula one street race in Rome's EUR district.

Although organizers claim preparations are on track for an inaugural race in the capital in 2012 or 2013, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali threw cold water on the project last week when he said each country should host only a single F1 race per year.

Now, a survey launched by the Partito Democratico (Democratic Party) has shown that of the 2138 interviewed, some 1750 said they see "more disadvantages than advantages" of a grand prix on the Rome streets.

The results were published in Italian publications including Autosprint and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Although the result appears to show more than 80 per cent residential opposition to the project, promoter Maurizio Flammini insisted that only a "minority" of the population had expressed itself.

The survey also showed that 93 per cent of residents believe the race will increase traffic and pollution and create excessive noise.

Flammini charged: "This referendum was designed to give voice to the opponents of the grand prix."

Pirelli tires are improving – Grosjean
(GMM) Pirelli's 2011 tires have improved since Romain Grosjean last tested them, the Swiss-born French driver has declared.

The former Renault race driver, who is 24, was in Bahrain last week until Sunday where the Italian marque continued its test program with a 2009 Toyota.

The test program at Sakhir was delayed by a sandstorm, meaning Grosjean had to call off his participation in the latest round of the Andros ice-racing series.

"The program was quite diverse, including sequences of short and long runs, to understand the behavior of the compounds," he said.

Grosjean's previous taste of F1's 2011 tires had been in Italy in September.

"(In Bahrain) I immediately felt an improvement over the tires that I had used at Monza," he is quoted in Italian by

Leave a Reply