Latest F1 news in brief

  • Paris court sets date for Briatore hearing
  • Brawn bosses say 2010 Button deal likely
  • Horner denies Webber-to-Toro Rosso rumor
  • Virgin coverage worth $60m with Brawn
  • Donington continues GP push as deadline looms
  • Brawn considered reviving Tyrrell name in 2009
  • Trulli might stay at Toyota in 2010 – Howett
  • McLaren, Ferrari to fight for $5m prize
  • Subs struggling because F60 difficult to drive – boss

Paris court sets date for Briatore hearing
(GMM) The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris has set November 24 as the date to hear Flavio Briatore's case against the FIA.

In the wake of the crash-gate affair, former Renault boss Briatore, 59, is seeking up to a million euros in damages plus the cancellation of his lifetime exclusion from motor racing.

Wire reports said the Italian's lawyers addressed the court on Monday, and were granted a future hearing by the judge.

French carmaker Renault's F1 team, as well as the sport's governing body, have not commented on Briatore's legal action.

Brawn bosses say 2010 Button deal likely
(GMM) Both Jenson Button and the bosses of Brawn GP are confident the new world champion is not about to switch to a rival team for 2010.

The two sides are reportedly at odds over the size of 29-year-old's retainer, after Button this year agreed to slash his pay from nearly $13m to less than $5m amid the management buyout, before going on to win the drivers' championship.

"He wants to be with us and we'd like him to stay with us, so that is a good starting point," said Nick Fry, chief executive of the Brackley based team.

"I wouldn't like to say how far apart we are in money terms, but it's a bridge that can be crossed," he added.

Team principal Ross Brawn said the driver question, with Rubens Barrichello expected to switch to Williams next year on a substantially higher fee, will be discussed "over the next few weeks".

"We're not Honda any more," he said, referring to the Japanese car giant who originally appointed both Button and Barrichello before the team was sold for a symbolic British pound.

"We've got to find the balance between what Jenson's happy and motivated with, and what we can afford. I'm sure we will," Brawn added.

Button also indicated that a new deal is likely.

"I would like to stay with Brawn, it's just that the talks haven't taken place, that's it, really," he said of the reported disagreements.

Horner denies Webber-to-Toro Rosso rumor
(GMM) Christian Horner has played down new rumors that Interlagos winner Mark Webber is set to be pushed aside to Red Bull's junior team for 2010.

The Australian has signed a deal to race in formula one with the energy drinks company for next year, and was recently confirmed as Sebastian Vettel's ongoing teammate at premier outfit Red Bull Racing.

But that was before Kimi Raikkonen came onto the market to make way for Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, sparking talks between the Finn's management and Red Bull.

Insiders have remarked that the newly 30-year-old would be a perfect fit with the drinks company's image, while others suspect the talks are merely a bargaining tool to up the size of his retainer at preferred 2010 employer McLaren.

But it has also been rumored that a seat for Raikkonen could indeed be cleared, with Webber theoretically moving aside to assist Toro Rosso as Red Bull's second team becomes a full car constructor.

"That's a rumor that does not exist within our team," Red Bull Racing boss Horner said in Brazil last weekend.

"We all know where we stand with Mark next year, and he does too. He's a great team player, we're very happy with his performance, so there is no doubt that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will be our race drivers next year," the Briton added.

Virgin coverage worth $60m with Brawn
(GMM) Virgin has emerged as the big winning sponsor of the 2010 season, pulling off brand exposure that far exceeds the cost of its deal with the Brawn team this year.

Sir Richard Branson penned the deal before the eventually championship winning team captured a single grid position or point at the season opening Australian grand prix in March.

The contract signed was for about $400,000 per race, or less than $7 million for the entire 2009 calendar. It is likely, however, that a slight increase on the $400k rate was negotiated at some point this year.

A much more comprehensive deal was speculated earlier this season, but Brawn's success ramped up the price tag, and Virgin is now expected to link up with the new Manor team for 2010.

But Virgin will make the switch having notched up about $60 million in brand exposure, through Brawn's nearly 9 nine hours of international television coverage, according to the media analysis experts Margaux Matrix.

Donington continues GP push as deadline looms
(GMM) Donington is refusing to give up on becoming the new host of the British grand prix.

With Friday's final contract deadline looming and the venue's funding scheme given a poor credit rating, the circuit has lined up Sir Rodney Walker as a high-profile addition to its management team.

British media reports interpreted the move as a bid to woo investors, with the Daily Telegraph claiming that one potential investor questioned the credibility of the existing leadership, fronted by Simon Gillett.

"His lack of experience in financial circles has hampered his chances of raising funds," said the newspaper.

Walker is currently chairman of snooker's world governing body but has previously been involved with Donington and Brands Hatch, as well as Wembley stadium and the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

Brawn considered reviving Tyrrell name in 2009
(GMM) F1's new constructors' world champions considered reviving the famous Tyrrell name before settling on Brawn GP for the 2010 season, boss Ross Brawn has revealed.

Debriefing the team's achievement with members of the British press, the Briton said deciding upon a brand identity for the Brackley based squad in the wake of Honda's departure had been a quandary earlier this year.

Brawn, and other members of senior management including Nick Fry, bought the outfit from Honda for a single symbolic British pound, and discussed calling their new team 'Pure Racing', the 54-year-old revealed.

"We went through a lot of permutations. Pure Racing was one, we looked at Tyrrell, too," Brawn said.

Tyrrell, founded in the late 50s by the late Ken Tyrrell and the winner of four drivers' and constructors' titles, was sold to Honda's predecessor British American Racing in 1998.

Said Brawn: "In the end, Caroline McGrory, our legal secretary, said 'let's call it your name' and there didn't seem to be any objections. I felt awkward. It is an odd thing."

As is customary, the Brawn GP logo will now be added to the formula one constructors' trophy, which will be presented by the FIA at its awards gala later this year.

"It was awkward at the beginning, seeing my name there as the team name. But I am very proud and honored that my name is carried by the team," said Ross Brawn.

Trulli might stay at Toyota in 2010
(GMM) Jarno Trulli's hopes of retaining his seat at Toyota beyond 2009 seem to have grown even more, despite earlier expectations that the Italian veteran is set to leave.

The 35-year-old took the team's travelling crew of more than 80 people out to dinner in Brazil last weekend, and observed that "not one" of them wants the forthcoming Abu Dhabi GP to be his last for the Cologne based squad.

"Well, maybe one," said Trulli, apparently referring to team president John Howett, who has said repeatedly on a number of occasions that the Italian is very likely to leave.

Trulli, however, told reporters at Interlagos – where it was rumored he is at the top of the list for a Lotus seat in 2010 – that team principal Tadashi Yamashina has asked him to sit tight until the outcome of a Toyota board meeting in mid November.

Howett revealed that Toyota has made an offer for the 2010 season to Kimi Raikkonen's management, but according to the Reuters news agency, he said "a degree of discussion" is ongoing with both Trulli and Timo Glock.

When the Trulli rumors first emerged, it was suggested that he was simply at odds with Toyota over the proposed size of his 2010 retainer.

Howett said: "We have put an offer on the table with Jarno, I think that he himself is not dissatisfied with the financial offer, the bottom line to some extent is certain issues on the contract and I don't think they are negotiable from our side.

"He may well be in the car next year but it's not at all clear," he added.

McLaren, Ferrari to fight for $5m prize
(GMM) About $5 million is reportedly up for grabs as F1 grandees Ferrari and McLaren contest third place in the constructors' world championship at the Abu Dhabi finale next weekend.

McLaren sits just one point ahead of Ferrari for the dubious honor of second runner-up behind Brawn and Red Bull.

But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the team with its nose in front after the 2009 finale stands to win more than just the race numbers 5 and 6 for 2010.

The outcome of the constructors' standings is how the teams' share of the sport's commercial income is divvied up.

"We will have to do all we can to bring home a third place finish in the championship, which we are very keen to do and I am sure that all of us, drivers and team, will do all in our power to try and reach this target," said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali.

Making the Italian squad's task difficult, however, is the fact that the F60 is clearly not as good a car as the McLaren, and Giancarlo Fisichella is struggling for pace since replacing Felipe Massa's initial substitute Luca Badoer in September.

"Looking at my experience with Ferrari so far, I don't want to hide that I feel a bit upset," the Roman said in Brazil.

"I will do my very best (in Abu Dhabi) to help the team retake this third place which slipped away from us," Fisichella added.

Auto Motor und Sport claims that several million dollars will also separate the prizes enjoyed by teams further back, with Williams, BMW and Renault to fight for sixth place in Abu Dhabi.

Subs struggling because F60 difficult to drive – boss
(GMM) Ferrari's 2009 car is "extremely difficult to drive" and explains why its occupants have struggled to keep up since Felipe Massa crashed in late July.

Luca Badoer was ridiculed by the media and replaced after just two races by Giancarlo Fisichella, who had stunned the formula one world with his pace in the Force India at Spa-Francorchamps.

But the highly experienced Roman has also notably struggled at the wheel of the number 3 car, and team boss Stefano Domenicali admits the Maranello built design is "extremely difficult to drive".

"The drivers simply don't have the confidence about how the car is going to react, so they brake earlier and go back onto the gas later," he is quoted as saying by Auto Bild.

Domenicali added: "I would like to say something about Luca Badoer, because everyone put him down. Giancarlo did a fantastic result in Belgium before he came to us and now also he is struggling.

"It would therefore be wrong to push all the blame onto the drivers," said the Italian.

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