Hulkenberg aims for 2012 race seat

Nico Hulkenberg has said that he is hoping to return to an F1 race seat in 2012 having landed a role as third driver for Force India this year.

“Well, of course I’d rather be a race driver,” Hulkenberg commented. “But the most important thing is that I stay within the F1 circus.

“Every driver wants to compete in races that is what we are all driving for. But my motivation is to convince the team of my skills in order to be back in a race cockpit in 2012.

“I feel excited about my new home in F1. I am looking forward to working here and, of course, I am especially looking forward to driving the car for the first time.

“The team have made a huge leap forward within the last years and I want to be a part of the next step.

“Last year was very important for me. I could gain lots of experience and had a good team-mate -I learned a lot from him on how to help developing a car in the right direction. I’m bringing a high level of motivation and will give my very best to be helpful for the team.”

South Africa contemplates hosting F1 race

South Africa is the latest country to express an interest in hosting a Formula One Grand Prix. The country is aiming to host a street race through Cape Town from 2013.

Despite initial enthusiasm for the plan, the final decision has yet to be made and the financials for the F1 project will be one of the key considerations. “The benefits of F1 look very compelling however we need to look at the cost of hosting another big sports event and if it is in the developmental interests of the city,” Mansoor Mohamed, executive director of economic social development and tourism for the City of Cape Town, told Reuters.

If a race was held in South Africa, it would be for the first time in nearly two decades – the last Formula One race in the country was held at Kyalami in 1993 and was won by Alain Prost.

Initial costings show that it would cost around 1 billion rand ($142 million) to host the race. The proposed circuit would take cars through 5.7 km of Cape Town’s streets via the trendy Green Point suburb and with the spectacular backdrop of Table Mountain. The track would also make use of the Cape Town Stadium which was initially built for the World Cup.

A final decision is expected to be made in the next 6 to 12 months.

Rome abandons F1 plans

Rome has abandoned plans to stage a Formula 1 race. The city had hoped to host a street circuit race in 2013 around the Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR) area however local residents were not keen on the idea.

Last week, Bernie Ecclestone is reported to have written to Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, stating that Italy would not be allowed to host two F1 races. With the Italian Grand Prix at Monza holding a contract until 2016, this means that Rome will not be able to host a race in the near future. Alemanno has stated that the city will now give up plans to host a race and will instead concentrate on attempting to host the 2020 Olympics.

Battle For Lotus Name Reaches High Court

The confusing battle for use of the Lotus name in F1 reaches the High Court today. The Group Lotus car company has applied for a summary judgement against the rights of Team Lotus (who competed as Lotus Racing in the 2010 F1 season).

Today’s High Court action is separate to the case which revolves around the rights to use the historic Team Lotus name. David Hunt, brother of F1 champion James, acquired the Team Lotus name in 1994 when the team collapsed thanks to financial problems. Tony Fernandes, boss of Team Lotus, purchased then purchased these rights last year.

Today’s case surrounds Fernandes suing Group Lotus for breach of contract after it terminated a five-year contract with his 1Malaysia group allowing them to use the Lotus name in the sport.

In 2009, Group Lotus granted Fernandes the rights to use the Lotus name in F1 for his new team. However during 2009, Dany Bahar was appointed as the new chief executive officer for Group Lotus and last year it was decided that the company would be better represented in the sport if they sponsored a more established team. This has led to the company sponsoring Renault, who will be know as Lotus Renault for the 2011 Formula One season. It is being claimed that Fernandes breached the terms of their agreement. However Fernandes has dismissed these claims as ‘trivial.’

Fernandes has explained on his Twitter account, “Many confused about case today. It’s not about who owns Team Lotus name, which is in November. We brought that case to prove once and for all.

“Today’s case is Group [Lotus’s] desperate attempt to use their one-way unlawful termination of license agreement of Lotus Racing. Saying 1Malaysia can’t use Lotus. Part of post-termination clauses. So nothing changes on Team Lotus.”

Williams Contemplate Stock Market Flotation

Williams F1Williams F1 is said to be considering a stock market flotation. The team, who are the third most successful team in F1 ever, last won a race in 2004 and are contemplating the move to help secure the long-term ownership of the company and to help it maintain it’s independence. Should Williams go ahead with the proposals, they would be the first Formula One team to list on the stock market.

It is reported that the flotation proposal would see the existing shareholders sell down their shares. It is believed that co-founders Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head hold 65pc and 25pc of the business respectively, with Austrian investor Toto Wolff holding the remaining 10pc.

“For some years I have been considering how to secure the long-term ownership of Williams such that it will remain true to the aims with which Patrick and I established the team back in 1977,” Sir Frank Williams explained.

“I have concluded that the option which will best achieve this is to broaden our shareholder base with public shareholders, while having a stable core of long-term investors closely involved in the running of the team. This will ensure stability, good governance and will, I believe, enable us to attract and retain the best people and partners.

“Patrick, Toto and I are therefore examining this option closely and, if the environment is propitious, we may act in the near future.”

Indian GP Organiser Quits

Mark Hughes, the chief organiser of the Indian Grand Prix, has resigned from his position as vice president of JPSK Sport. Hughes has said that the move is for personal reasons and although he has left his role, he will still be providing consultancy services.

“Mark Hughes is no longer working with us. He left due to his own personal reasons,” a Jaypee Group spokesperson told AFP.

“I’ve left India but I’m still associated with the project,” Hughes told ESPN. “I’ve actually moved back to the Middle East but I’m still a consultant and advisor to the Jaypee organisation to help them get ready for the first grand prix.”

“I’ve left India but I’m still associated with the project,” he said. “I’ve actually moved back to the Middle East, but I’m still a consultant and advisor to the Jaypee organisation to help them get ready for the first grand prix.”

Hughes was then asked if the move was because he had fallen out with the organisers. “No, not at all,” Hughes replied. “My family are in the Middle East, I’ve come back here.

“I’m doing work with the Yas Marina circuit, but a condition of doing work at Yas Marina was that I could continue to help the Indians. In fact the Indians were here last week looking at Yas Marina and we were helping them get an understanding of the setup for F1 with customs clearance, freight handling and everything associated with hosting a grand prix.

“The plan is to have the track and the track infrastructure ready by July, which is the deadline for FIA homologation. My counterpart on the construction side is confident he will have it ready by May, but actually July is our deadline. The first asphalt is ready to go down this month and the sub-base is ready, all the earthworks have been finished. The first layer of asphalt is due to go down at the end of January.”

Strong F1 Viewing Figures In 2010

2010 was a good year for Formula One viewing figures with the global television audience growing from 520 million to 527 million viewers. Nine of the 11 largest markets showed growth according to the latest figures from Formula One Management (FOM).

With the Indian Grand Prix making it’s debut in October of this year, Bernie Ecclestone is confident that 2011 will prove an even more popular year for F1.

“Whilst 2010 delivered some great things, 2011 promises even more as Formula 1 seeks to build upon the foundations laid in our emerging markets,” Ecclestone explained.

Chinese GP Organisers Confident Race Will Go Ahead

Chinese Grand Prix organisers are confident that they will be able to meet the requirements to host this season’s race in April.

The Chinese Grand Prix is set to be the fourth race of the 20-race season on April 17th. However the race will only go ahead if the circuit if granted a new license by the FIA.

“The Shanghai International Circuit has confirmed that all work as requested by the FIA will be carried out and should be completed by the end of February,” a spokesperson said.

“Before a new licence can be issued, the FIA will carry out a final inspection in March.”

The Shanghai International Circuit, built at a cost of $350 million (R2.4 billion), has so far held seven Formula One races. However it’s homologation licence has now expired and the FIA is requesting that several improvements be made to the drainage system and track surface before they will issue a new license.

Fairuz Announced As Lotus-Renault Reserve Driver

Lotus-Renault team principal Eric Bouiller has confirmed that former Team Lotus F1 driver Fairuz Fauzy will be the team’s reserve driver for the 2011 season.

Fauzy will be racing for the team in the GP2 series and hopes that if he proves himself in the feeder series, he may be promoted to the main team as a driver in the near future. Fauzy also revealed that as soon as he left Lotus Racing, discussions began for him to join team Lotus Renault.

Bouiller has also announced that 25 Malaysian engineers will be employed and based at the F1 facility in Enstone as part of a long-term plan.

No Prodrive F1 Entry For 2012

The Prodrive team will not be on the F1 grid until 2013 at the earliest according to boss David Richards.

Prodrive wanted to enter Formula One back in 2008 however decided against an entry when existing F1 teams challenged their plans to use a McLaren customer chassis. There were rumours that Prodrive would be on te 2011 grid when US F1’s spot was up for grabs however Richards decided to concentrate on Aston Martin’s Le Mans entry instead.

Richards has now said that Prodrive will not be looking at a 2012 F1 entry and the Prodrive team will be focusing their efforts of Mini’s return to the World Rally Championship.

“We always keep a close eye on everything, but my priority today is to get the Mini up and running and to get Aston Martin competitive in time for Le Mans,” Richards told Autosport.

“The obvious next point to look at Formula One is 2013 with the massive change in regulations that come along at that point in time, and if you were to consider an entry that would be the time to go.”