Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

UPDATE Former ITV commentator James Allen wrote on his website, "Montezemolo keeps saying that he does not want to get into politics and that he does not want to leave Ferrari, so you have to take what he says at face value."

He added: "According to my best sources in Italy, for the moment, there is nothing to suggest that he is about to change his role."


  • Robert Kubica

    Kubica admits Petrov decision 'difficult' for Renault

  • Press awaits December meeting with Montezemolo
  • Alonso not sure if Ferrari to make staff changes
  • Soucek sees 'problem' for new talent in F1
  • Lotus name dispute continuing due to 'public support'
  • Only Red Bull free to spurn driver inequality – Villadelprat
  • Ecclestone blames Mosley for new teams' 'problems'
  • Webber is Australia's top sports earner

Kubica admits Petrov decision 'difficult' for Renault
(GMM) Robert Kubica insists Renault's decision about who his teammate should be next year is not his business.

The Pole scored over 100 more points than Vitaly Petrov this season, but it is believed the Russian is set to be retained for 2011 with sustained or even bolstered financial backing.

But the 26-year-old rookie's name was missing from the official entry list published on Tuesday by the FIA, while established drivers including Nick Heidfeld, Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg are still on the market.

The Dutch magazine asked Kubica if he thinks Petrov should be replaced.

"This is a difficult subject to get right," he said.

"Of course the team would benefit from a more experienced driver. As a rookie you find that formula one is not as easy as it first seemed.

"You also have to say that there have been newcomers who have performed strongly right from the start.

"As for my teammate next year, the team is in the best position to know what it wants and what position they are in.

"All I can say is that we have lost many points this season, for several reasons, but under other circumstances we could have put more of a challenge to Mercedes.

"On the other hand, we need to look at the circumstances we were in at the beginning of the year. You have to respect the reasons for the decisions taken and I think they were the right ones.

"But how you look at the driver lineup depends on where you are at the time," added Kubica.

Luca di Montezemolo talking to the media in Abu Dhabi

Press awaits December meeting with Montezemolo
(GMM) December 16 has been flagged as a potentially momentous day in Luca di Montezemolo's career.

According to French F1 commentator Jean-Louis Moncet writing in his Auto Plus column, the Ferrari president has called journalists to Fiorano on that day.

"What will he tell us?" wondered Moncet.

It is speculated that the Ferrari president will discuss the famous Maranello based team and possible tweaks in the management.

"Maybe he will talk about politics," added Moncet.

Indeed, in recent days, 63-year-old Montezemolo has been mentioned in Italian reports about the likely demise later this month of the country's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"He could use his high profile in business as a springboard into politics the way Berlusconi did in the early 1990s," one report said.

Fascinatingly, Montezemolo's December 16 meeting with journalists is due just two days after Berlusconi faces a confidence vote in Italian parliament "which may well bring down the government", reported the New York Times.

Referring to Berlusconi, the Daily Telegraph quoted Montezemolo as saying last week: "The one-man show is over."

Fernando Alonso

Alonso not sure if Ferrari to make staff changes
(GMM) Fernando Alonso this week said he predicts a career spanning "ten years" with Ferrari and then retirement in his late 30s.

Also during an interesting radio interview on Spain's Onda Cero, the double world champion said he would "perhaps" like to again work closely with Flavio Briatore, while promising to "never" reprise his 2007 tenure at McLaren.

Alonso, 29, clarified that he would have not have stayed with the British team in 2008 even if he had won the preceding championship alongside Lewis Hamilton.

He said it is "more difficult" to work with Ron Dennis that it is with the FIA race director Charlie Whiting.

And when asked if Sebastian Vettel is his preferred 2010 world champion over Hamilton, Alonso answered "si" (yes), and said of his first season with Ferrari: "It was a wonderful year."

"On balance it was superb," the title runner-up insisted.

He was also asked about reports that Ferrari might make staff changes following the key mistakes of 2010.

"I don't know if all the same people are continuing or not," said the Spaniard. "What I advocate is that we are united and have a competitive car."

Andy Soucek

Soucek sees 'problem' for new talent in F1
(GMM) The long-standing need for sponsor support has now become a real "problem" for new drivers trying to break into formula one.

That is the claim of Andy Soucek, who in 2009 became the F2 champion but during the course of the 2010 season gave up his role as a test driver with Virgin.

The new Formula 2 champion is Dean Stoneman, who tested for Williams in Abu Dhabi. "I hope he gets the opportunity to progress to GP2," said the British team's engineering boss and co-owner Patrick Head.

Spaniard Soucek, on the other hand, is pushing for a 2011 role in formula one, but he admits the difficulty of the task.

"I am negotiating with several teams, some to be the main driver and others to be the third driver.

"As a driver you've always needed sponsors and support, but now I see a problem," he is quoted by AS newspaper.

"In the current situation with reduced marketing and sponsorship in the world, there are other drivers that are backed politically or even by their countries.

"It means the prices (for F1 seats) have gone above what is 'normal', and the teams desperately need the money.

"You win in F3, F2, you do a test with Williams, you drive in GP2, Superleague, but compared to others who are already in F1 you see they have no such achievements.

"In the end it's not important only to be good," insisted Soucek.

But he is hopeful.

"We have to be patient, because I think the four or five (heavily backed) drivers I am referring to will need to show their talent, not just their finances.

"Those guys are coming first and from there the teams will look for better opportunities," said Soucek.

He revealed that he is also talking to teams in IndyCar and DTM.

"I will give everything to get to F1, but there are other options," he admitted.

Lotus name dispute continuing due to 'public support'
(GMM) A Lotus spokesman has confirmed that the identity of the team's name and race drivers for 2011 as revealed by the FIA on Tuesday is correct.

The F1 world was mildly surprised when the publication of the 2011 entry list showed Lotus referred to as 'Team Lotus', and both Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen confirmed as continuing race drivers.

It was expected that the team might need to adopt a different name for next season due to dispute with Proton-owned Group Lotus, who were rumored to be eying a move into F1 in collaboration with Enstone based Renault.

But a team spokesman said the FIA information is correct, including the first official confirmation that Trulli and Kovalainen are staying together as drivers.

On the issue of the team's name, boss Tony Fernandes wrote on Twitter: "We made the call after tremendous support from (the) public. Team Lotus it is.

"Sure there will be many battles ahead but (team headquarters) Hingham is pumped," he added.

The reference to "battles" is a clear sign that the Team Lotus/Group Lotus dispute will still be argued in the London High Court at some point early next year.

Technical boss Mike Gascoyne said the news about the name and the drivers is "great for the team".

The Telegraph's F1 correspondent Tom Cary said the naming news is a sign that Fernandes "has the blessing of Bernie Ecclestone to proceed in this way".

As for the delay in the Group Lotus/Renault tie-up, and the entry list showing Renault as 'Renault F1 Team' rather than Lotus-Renault, Cary added: "Apparently the Malaysian government have told (Group Lotus CEO) Dany Bahar and Fernandes to play nice and end this confusion over the Lotus name".

"But there is still mileage in this story," he said.

Only Red Bull free to spurn driver inequality – Villadelprat
(GMM) Red Bull's refusal to dictate a driver hierarchy for the 2010 championship would not have been possible for other teams.

That is the claim of Joan Villadelprat, the Epsilon Euskadi chief who was among the multitude of pundits who said the energy drink-owned team would be justified to make either Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel a de-factor number 1 driver in order to win the drivers' title.

"They decided to play fair, be honest and they did well," he wrote in his column for El Pais newspaper.

Niki Lauda had also staunchly opposed Red Bull's reluctance to deploy a team strategy for the drivers' title, but when Vettel won he applauded the "Olympic Games"-like attitude.

"It's incredible how this team won in the end in the most correct way," said the triple world champion.

"For me, it's unique in the 60 year history of the sport."

Villadelprat believes the approach is also an unique privilege of the Red Bull team; a major marketing arm of the energy drink company whose car is adorned with few external sponsors.

He said Vettel chasing down his points deficit by securing pole position and charging for the race win in Abu Dhabi required the "complicity of Red Bull that he would not have had in other teams".

"They (Red Bull) could do it because it was the actual owner of the team (Dietrich Mateschitz) who said he would rather lose than to win the other way.

"In other teams that would have been impossible," said the Spaniard, "because your commitments with sponsors create binding obligations."

Ecclestone blames Mosley for new teams' 'problems'
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has changed his tune about formula one's newest teams.

Just last month, whilst clarifying that Lotus is the possible exception, he said the struggling 2010 newcomers were "an embarrassment" that he would be happy to "get rid of".

But the F1 chief executive has now said it is "good" to have fresh blood on the grid, and blamed former FIA president Max Mosley for enticing them into F1 with small budgets.

However, it should also be remembered that Ecclestone also campaigned to have new teams in F1 this year by offering them additional financial incentives.

"As for the new teams, their problems weren't their fault in all fairness," 80-year-old Ecclestone said in the foreword to the Official Formula 1 Season Review 2010.

"It was really Max Mosley's fault, telling them they could come in and be contenders for 30 million (pounds sterling).

"But they're here now and, provided they don't walk around with begging bowls, it's good to have them," he added in the Haynes Publishing Group book.

Since Ecclestone's "cripples" comments, the Russian supercar maker Marussia has bought into Virgin, and HRT has announced the investment of the former Telefonica boss Juan Villalonga.

Webber is Australia's top sports earner
(GMM) Mark Webber may have missed out on the 2010 title, but he has leapt to the top of the list of Australian sports earners.

The 34-year-old Red Bull driver has for the first time knocked golfer Greg Norman from first place on a Rich List published annually by BRW magazine.

"Former No.1 Greg Norman has been removed from the list this year to reflect the continual slowdown in his playing commitments," BRW said in a statement.

"Norman still makes millions but almost all of his money comes from property development and other business deals," it added.

Webber was fourth on last year's list, but his estimated $13.4 million earned this season means he overtakes the 2010 number 2 Andrew Bogut, an NBL basketball player.

Bogut's earnings are listed as $12.6m, ahead of motocross rider Chad Reed ($7.5m), MotoGP's Casey Stoner ($6.8m), Premier League player Tim Cahill ($4.2m) and NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose ($4.2m).

Webber was in Hobart on Wednesday to announce the 2011 resurrection of his Tasmanian outdoor adventure challenge, which was cancelled after he broke his leg in 2008.

"The last time I was here I left a bit sore, but it's great to be back," he said.

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