Latest F1 news in brief

  • Breakaway plans 'not buried yet' – Howett
  • Italian press agrees: Alonso Ferrari-bound
  • Vettel's team loses F1 soccer match
  • Massa confirms impending fatherhood
  • Heidfeld, Glock, to wear special helmets at home
  • Ecclestone to lose Austrian government honor

Breakaway plans 'not buried yet' – Howett
(GMM) The threat of a breakaway series remains a viable "alternative", FOTA vice-chairman John Howett insists.

Shortly before the conflict between the eight rebel teams and the governing body reignited on Wednesday, the Toyota team principal suggested that a resumption of hostilities could again lead to the threat of exodus.

The Briton is quoted by the Financial Times Deutschland as saying FOTA's breakaway plans have "not been buried yet".

Howett said he hopes the Paris peace accord becomes a reality, "however if anything was to happen, we do have alternatives".

On Wednesday, Howett's doubts rapidly materialized, when during a meeting in Germany the FIA's Charlie Whiting provoked a FOTA walkout by saying that non-FOTA teams, including the three new 2010 entrants, must consent to next year's amended rules.

British newspapers then reported the curious moment when, as Jenson Button arrived at Dusseldorf airport for the Nurburgring event, his team boss Ross Brawn was speeding through departures to return to London for emergency FOTA talks.

"What a shameful mess," said the Daily Mail, echoing widespread dismay that, as at Silverstone, another race weekend of political reporting seems on the agenda.

Said the Daily Telegraph: "Yet another race weekend is set to be overshadowed by off rather than on-track pyrotechnics."

Britain's Guardian newspaper senses the wily hand of controversial FIA president Max Mosley, attempting to prolong the saga so that FOTA will run out of "time to organize a breakaway series".

An unnamed team insider said giving the new teams power over next year's rules is "extremely provocative", adding: "Max really seems to have gone out of his way to wind everybody up on this issue.

"Most of us think that they should not be allowed a vote on these matters, although by all means let them attend the meetings and listen to what is being discussed," the insider said.

A reader of the American website neatly observed: "Time for FOTA to put up or grab their ankles."

Italian press agrees: Alonso Ferrari-bound
(GMM) First the Spanish press was adamant, and now its Italian counterparts agree: Fernando Alonso is destined to be unveiled as a Ferrari driver.

The story is this week being carried by Italy's specialist La Gazzetta dello Sport as well as Autosprint.

The latter magazine, in the same issue containing Jacques Villeneuve's declaration that he wants to return to F1, showed on its cover a photo-shopped image of 27-year-old Alonso wearing red overalls and the caption 'Alonso will be a Ferrarista from 15 November'.

La Gazzetta claims the Spaniard's deal, for two years and options for three more, was actually drawn up last summer but Ferrari has "decided to keep totally silent", probably because Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are under contract for 2010.

The sports daily says Raikkonen has been advised by lawyers to insist the Maranello based team honor the agreement, meaning that if Ferrari wants to replace him, they will have to pay his full 28m euro fee next year.

Vettel's team loses F1 soccer match
(GMM) If football is an omen, Sebastian Vettel might struggle to further bite into Jenson Button's championship lead on home ground this weekend.

A few days ago, the 22-year-old German compared racing at the Nurburgring to a home game in soccer: theoretically no advantage, but nonetheless a source of additional stimulus.

The Red Bull driver put his football theory to the test literally on Wednesday, when Vettel was as usual part of the F1 drivers' soccer team Nazionale Piloti for a match against a German all-star side in Wiesbaden.

However, the F1 drivers, whose team was captained by Michael Schumacher and watched on by a crowd of 5000, were only tying 3:3 with their opponents by full-time, before losing in a penalty shootout.

Massa confirms impending fatherhood
(GMM) Felipe Massa has confirmed reports he is set to become a father for the first time later this year.

We revealed in May that the 28-year-old Ferrari star's wife Rafaela is pregnant with a boy that is due to be born in November.

The Brazilian said the due date is "perfect timing", due to the conclusion of the 2009 formula one season on 1 November in Abu Dhabi.

"Everything is going well," said Massa, "and it is a nice feeling knowing I am soon going to be a papa."

Heidfeld, Glock, to wear special helmets at home
(GMM) As at Silverstone three weeks ago, two local formula one heroes are set to contest their home grand prix this weekend with different helmet designs.

In Britain, it was Englishmen Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton with modified liveries, and at the Nurburgring it is two Germans intending to show off unique colors.

BMW driver Nick Heidfeld's loud one-off design was penned as part of a website competition by a Hungarian fan, who will present the 32-year-old with his new helmet at the Nurburgring on Friday.

"My immediate response was just 'wow!'," Heidfeld said, recalling seeing the design for the first time.

It has emerged that Toyota driver Timo Glock will also use revised helmet colors at his home race, designed by a seven-year-old German school student.

German drivers, also including Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil, make up a quarter of the 2009 grid.

Ecclestone to lose Austrian government honor (Like he really cares)
(GMM) An Austrian government minister is investigating whether a national honor awarded to Bernie Ecclestone several years ago can be repealed.

Ten years ago, the F1 chief executive accepted the 'Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeichen fur Verdienste um die Republik Osterreich' (Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria).

But in the wake of Ecclestone's controversial comments about Adolf Hitler, Austrian sports minister Norbert Darabos on Wednesday condemned the 78-year-old in the pages of the Der Standard newspaper.

"I was speechless. I still am," he said, recalling Ecclestone's interview with The Times newspaper.

"That someone in such an important position makes light of dictatorships is most troubling."

Darabos said he is looking into whether Ecclestone's Austrian decoration can be removed, but with Austria no longer on the F1 calendar, it is doubtful the Briton would lose much sleep.

In The Times interview in question, Ecclestone has reportedly already turned down the offer of a British CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) and he "would never accept a peerage".

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