Latest F1 news in brief

  • Young drivers end F1 testing for 2009
  • FIA grants Sauber final 2010 team entry
  • Around the 'net: F1 on Friday 4/12
  • Button wants Hamilton challenge – Ross Brawn
  • Raikkonen's Citroen switch now official (UPDATE)
  • Ecclestone believes Renault to stay in F1

Young drivers end F1 testing for 2009
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo impressed the F1 world by setting the Jerez circuit's fastest lap of the entire year on Thursday as the Young Driver session concluded.

At the wheel of what is arguably the fastest car in formula one at present – the Red Bull – the 20-year-old Australian's dominant pace also marked an end to the sport's limited testing program for 2009.

Riccardo, the reigning British F3 champion, was easily quicker than Thursday's entire field of 15 fellow hopefuls in Spain, leaving him in prime position to be the team's reserve driver for the 2010 season.

Also likely to secure a reserve driver role next year is the Mercedes-contracted DTM driver Paul di Resta.

"I'd love to go straight into a race seat, but you have to be realistic these days," said the 23-year-old Scot.

Further down the time sheets for Toro Rosso were the Red Bull hopefuls Brendon Hartley and Mirko Bortolotti, but team boss Franz Tost played down rumors they are vying to replace 2009 race driver Jaime Alguersuari.

"They are talented and if they do well in other racing categories in 2010, I think they have a good chance of being up to the required standard to make it into formula one in 2011," he said.

FIA grants Sauber final 2010 team entry
(GMM) As was rumored throughout Thursday, Sauber has been granted the thirteenth and final confirmed team entry for the 2010 world championship.

The FIA said in a statement that it wrote to the Hinwil based team with the news that a place on the grid is available to Sauber "subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement".

F1's governing body added that Sauber's entry is in the "place of the departing Toyota team", amid earlier rumors the withdrawing Japanese manufacturer wanted to pass its entry to Stefan GP.

It had also been rumored that Toyota is set to be fined by the FIA or Bernie Ecclestone for pulling out of F1 while under contract, but the Paris based federation indicated that the final outcome is satisfactory.

"The FIA has worked closely with the commercial rights holder and the teams involved over recent weeks and is grateful for their support in achieving the best outcome for the sport," said the FIA statement.

Sauber is expected to race with the numbers 26 and 27 in 2010, while the Swiss newspaper Blick said the link with Ferrari puts Giancarlo Fisichella in the frame for a seat.

"An updated formula one entry list will be published in due course," the FIA added.

Around the 'net: F1 on Friday Dec. 4th
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton drives a 1986 McLaren at the team's Woking headquarters for a Tag-Heuer sponsor event:

Photo of Felipe Massa's baby boy:,,33330745-DP,00.jpg

Button wants Hamilton challenge – Ross Brawn
(GMM) Ross Brawn has admitted disappointment with Jenson Button's decision to switch to Mercedes, but insists the move has nothing to do with money.

Button, the 2009 world champion after sticking with the Brawn team in the wake of Honda's withdrawal, will be Lewis Hamilton's McLaren teammate next year.

The 29-year-old Briton's Brawn/Mercedes talks were rumored to have failed due to disagreements about his 2010 salary.

"His decision is disappointing because we worked so well together," team boss Ross Brawn told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"But whatever is said, it was not about the money. In the end our offer was even more attractive than McLaren's.

"But it doesn't make sense to employ a driver who would not be happy and sees a bigger challenge somewhere else. Further negotiations would have been pointless.

"Jenson obviously wanted to be in the same car against Lewis Hamilton.

"That's brave and I have to respect it," added Brawn.

Raikkonen's Citroen switch now official (UPDATE)
(GMM) The news is finally official: Kimi Raikkonen will not be on the 2010 formula one grid because he has signed full-time with Citroen's junior World Rally Championship team.

The 2007 world champion's signing of the contract, now confirmed by the French carmaker, was first reported on Monday by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

It is rumored that the 30-year-old's move, funded by Citroen sponsor Red Bull, could result in Raikkonen returning to formula one in 2011 to replace Mark Webber at the energy drink-owned team's main F1 team.

Raikkonen will drive a Citroen C4 next year at all thirteen WRC rounds, as will Citroen's title winning lead driver Sebastien Loeb.

"For the moment we have a one year contract and we will see how it goes for the future," the winner of 18 grands prix said in a statement.

Ecclestone believes Renault to stay in F1
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down reports that Renault is set to withdraw from formula one.

It emerged on Thursday that officials of the French carmaker were meeting in Paris to discuss the foray, amid reports that Prodrive/David Richards and Mangrove/Gravity will take over the Enstone facility with Renault remaining an engine supplier.

A final decision is expected when Renault's main company board meets in ten days.

Ecclestone, F1's chief executive who is usually involved in similar behind-the-scenes machinations, acknowledged there is substance to the rumors but played down suggestions his sport is set to lose another major stakeholder.

"We've got to get the whole Renault thing sorted out," the Briton told the Times newspaper. "We are in the middle of doing it now.

"I feel confident that we'll see Renault next year in formula one under the name Renault and the year after and the year after that," the 79-year-old said.

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