Latest F1 news in brief

  • Virgin replaces team boss Alex Tai
  • All living champions to attend 2010 opener
  • No formal launch for new Williams
  • Briatore confirms not rushing for F1 return
  • Alonso 'contented' as official Ferrari driver
  • Bortolotti ousted by Red Bull
  • Schumacher – 'no doubts' about healed neck injury

Virgin replaces team boss Alex Tai
(GMM) The formula one career of Alex Tai has proved short lived, with Virgin announcing he is being replaced as team principal.

Before the new British team has turned a single wheel, Manor founder's John Booth has taken over the helm, it was confirmed in a media statement.

Virgin said the move is "part of the planned evolution of the team and continued development of the business", with Tai returning to Sir Richard Branson's well known company and his "passion for new ventures".

Another Manor veteran, Graeme Lowdon, becomes the CEO of Virgin Racing.

"We knew this day was coming but we are still sorry to see Alex move on from his executive duties," said chairman Etienne de Villiers.

He explained that the new appointments recognize "the complexity and challenges of the new business", while Virgin seeks to create "a team with the appropriate skills and experience to ensure its sustainable success".

All living champions to attend 2010 opener
(GMM) All living F1 world champions will come together at March's 2010 season opener in Bahrain.

"This will be a truly special occasion, especially for all those who love F1 and who have been following the sport for many years," said circuit boss Martin Whitaker.

There are 20 living world champions and "they will all be here" as part of F1's 60th anniversary celebrations, he confirmed.

Among the 20 living champions are Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Alan Jones, Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jack Brabham and John Surtees.

There are also four world champions in the 2010 championship, and 2007 title winner Kimi Raikkonen could theoretically attend the event due to a gap in the rally calendar.

Up to 20 of the cars driven by the champions will be on display.

"This promises to be something spectacular," Whitaker said.

No formal launch for new Williams
(GMM) Williams will not stage a formal launch event prior to the track debut of its 2010 single seater, it has emerged.

The Cosworth-powered FW32 is scheduled to run for the first time at the Valencia group test at the beginning of next month.

Rubens Barrichello said this week he will be at Williams' Oxfordshire headquarters shortly before travelling to Spain for the test, but it emerges that his visit will not be for a car launch.

"I have seen a gleam in the eyes of the team staff, they are as passionate about what they do as I am. The atmosphere is great," said the 37-year-old Brazilian.

Briatore confirms not rushing for F1 return
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has confirmed reports that he is in no rush to return to the F1 paddock.

While the overturning of the Italian's motor racing ban is being appealed, the FIA has confirmed that Briatore-managed drivers like Mark Webber will be granted licenses to race this year.

But the former Renault team boss Briatore, 59, who is also involved in the world of professional football, said he is not currently interested in coming back to formula one.

"F1 will be a long time without Briatore," he is quoted as saying by Italian television Sky. "I am going to take my time for my paternity."

Briatore is referring to the fact that his 29-year-old model wife Elisabetta is expecting their baby boy, who will "not be called Max", he joked.

He said he was happy to have won his recent legal action in Paris' Tribunal de Grande Instance.

"I have thanks for a democratic verdict where legality has been restored. I hope this is the first step towards a turnaround after years of dictatorship of the will of Max Mosley," said Briatore.

He claims his lifetime ban over the crashgate scandal was "revenge".

"Mosley likes to punish people," said Briatore. "He has done it a lot in his private as well as his public life.

"For a long time I tried to contribute to formula one. If we arrived at this situation it is because we created FOTA and somebody lost their head," he added.

Alonso 'contented' as official Ferrari driver
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Tuesday joined his new Ferrari teammates Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella on the ski slopes at the Marlboro's Madonna di Campiglio media event.

The 28-year-old Spaniard was probably the least confident of the trio on the snow, but Ferrari reserve driver Fisichella said he was more impressed with Alonso's other skills.

"He speaks better Italian than us," the Roman, who was Alonso's Renault teammate four years ago, joked to Italian television RAI.

Spain's AS newspaper, among the 143 media representatives at the Trentino event, quoted Alonso as saying he feels "very contented" in his new surroundings, after spending seven seasons with Renault.

"These days are for creating a good atmosphere with the team," he said at the exclusive ski resort in northern Italy, according to the sports newspaper Marca.

"I feel good with my teammates: with Giancarlo who I have known for many years, and with Felipe also. At the moment everything is very good," added Alonso.

Bortolotti ousted by Red Bull
(GMM) Far from securing the vacant Toro Rosso seat, Mirko Bortolotti has in fact been ousted from Red Bull's driver development program.

With Jaime Alguersuari not yet confirmed as Sebastien Buemi's 2010 teammate, it was rumored last week that Italian teenager Bortolotti was high on the list of potential alternatives.

He tested with the Faenza based team at the recent young driver session at Jerez, and made headlines last winter when he broke the Fiorano lap record while testing with Ferrari.

He finished the 2009 F2 championship in fourth place.

But although part of Red Bull's Junior Team last year, Bortolotti is not yet listed in the energy drink company's development scheme for 2010, while others including Brendon Hartley and Daniel Ricciardo are.

Reporting from Ferrari's Madonna di Campiglio media event, Turun Sanomat correspondent Heikki Kulta said Bortolotti has been "suddenly ousted" by Red Bull's Helmut Marko.

Bortolotti is consequently trying to find another F2 seat for 2010, but may instead have to return to university.

Red Bull said last month that "only those drivers who have the necessary talent for a sustainable formula one career will be supported" by the Junior Team scheme.

Schumacher – 'no doubts' about healed neck injury
(GMM) Michael Schumacher emerged from the first day of his GP2 test with no qualms about the neck injury that prevented his return to F1 five months ago.

"This (test) is not about whether the neck holds. About that I have no doubts," the German is quoted as saying from the Jerez circuit by Germany's Bild newspaper.

However, reportedly also in Spain for the test is a doctor of the specialist Bad-Nauheim sports clinic, as well as Schumacher's new Mercedes GP race engineer Andy Shovlin, who worked alongside Jenson Button in 2009.

More rain is forecast for Jerez on Wednesday, when the private three day test continues.

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