F1 must accept move from Europe – de la Rosa

Formula One needs to accept the steady move away from its traditional European homeland according to McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

McLaren, along with seven other F1 teams are based in the UK, with four of the F1 teams based in Europe. However in 2012, the F1 calendar has just 8 of the 20 races scheduled for Europe.

De la Rosa wrote in his latest formulasantander.com column that F1 is moving with the times of the world.

“We all know that the grands prix are usually contested in those countries which can permit it, and nowadays, the majority of countries which can permit it are now in the Near East or on the same continent, Asia,” he said.

The next traditional host in danger of losing its F1 races is Germany.

“I find it hard to imagine a season of formula one without Germany,” the Nurburgring’s Karl-Josef Schmidt is quoted by the DPA news agency this week. “I think it’s the same for Mr Ecclestone.”

Schmidt is trying to negotiate a lower race fee for the circuit’s next scheduled race in 2013.

But de la Rosa said F1’s traditionalists need to accept the future has arrived.

“I understand that it is very hard for all those who, like me, grew up watching F1 races at the Nurburgring, at Brands Hatch, Estoril or at the Paul Ricard circuit,” he said.

“But it is as obvious to recognise that the investment of Asian countries is supplanting and even replacing the tradition of European countries.”


Chandhok lost 26kg to chase F1 dream

Karun Chandhok is today a shadow of the boy who a decade ago dreamed of emulating his heroes.

On a trip to Delhi this week, he revealed to the Daily Pioneer that when he left high school he peaked at 96 kilograms.

“I was told that if I wanted to race I had to lose weight in order to first fit in the car,” said Chandhok, who as Team Lotus’ reserve driver is tipped to contest India’s inaugural grand prix late next month.

“So I lost 26 kg in less than six months and went on to win the Indian national racing championship. I guess that was the turning point for me,” added the now 27-year-old, who graduated to British F3 and then GP2.


Liuzzi or Ricciardo to sit out India GP?

A month before the first Indian grand prix, F1’s complete driver lineup for the Delhi race is not yet clear.

At HRT, Narain Karthikeyan’s sponsors have paid to put the Indian back in a race car for the country’s inaugural F1 event, but who his teammate will be is not publicly known.

Karthikeyan began 2011 alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi, whose manager said recently the Italian has a solid contract for every grand prix this season.

In the other car now is Daniel Ricciardo, thanks to a collaboration deal between the struggling Spanish team and the Australian rookie’s backer Red Bull.

The 22-year-old will be in Delhi this weekend to demonstrate a Red Bull F1 car.

He confirmed to the Times of India that he will be returning in late October “for the race”.

“I will probably spend some time in the city and have a look around and then get down to business,” said Ricciardo.

HRT has been contacted for comment.

At Team Lotus, meanwhile, rumours are still swirling that team regular Jarno Trulli will sit it out so that India’s other F1 driver can race in Delhi.

“Hopefully when the time comes I will be sitting on the grid waiting for the lights to go green,” reserve driver Karun Chandhok told the Daily Pioneer on a visit to the Buddh circuit this week.


Horner: Webber is undervalued right now

Red Bull has not written off Mark Webber despite his struggle to live with his teammate Sebastian Vettel in 2011.

While Vettel, 24, has raced to a certain back-to-back title with nine wins so far this season, Australian veteran Webber has failed to win a single grand prix.

But even though there might be question marks about his motivation to again take on the young German next season, Red Bull has signed up Webber for another campaign.

“Well, he’s still motivated enough to beat anybody except Sebastian,” team boss Christian Horner told F1’s official website.

“It seems all too convenient to underestimate Mark when comparing him against Seb. But that is definitely a huge mistake. Mark is undervalued right now.”

Also not writing off 35-year-old Webber is Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s chief executive.

“That Sebastian is better than Mark we know by now. But who is there who is better than Mark?” wondered the Briton.

“I think it is not right to belittle Mark. In context, driving with Sebastian, he hasn’t got the easiest of jobs, because in my view Sebastian is the best driver on the grid right now.”


Red Bull has no plans to scale back F1 involvement

Red Bull has no plans to scale back its involvement in Formula One according to owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

Red Bull Racing’s Nascar equivalent is being wound up but it is a different story in F1, where Sebastian Vettel is on the verge of being crowned the youngest ever back to back champion.

Mateschitz told the Independent newspaper he is even happy with his second F1 team Toro Rosso.

“No,” he insisted when asked if the Faenza based team is for sale, “although partnerships would not be ruled out, as long as the partner is the right one.”

Also not being sold is the premier Red Bull team, even though “a forecast is difficult and a decision always depends on the wider picture, the politics, influence of F1 shareholders and many other factors”.

He played down the supposed cost-drain of being involved in F1.

“The total marketing investment for (the) Red Bull (brand) is 10 times as much as in F1,” said Mateschitz.

There is, however, no title sponsor as it is “difficult to find one due to the strength of the Red Bull brand”.


Concerns still linger over first Indian GP

A month before the inaugural race date, uncertainty still persists about the readiness of India’s new Buddh circuit.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council said in Singapore that the organisers and Bernie Ecclestone are giving “positive” briefings about the Delhi venue.

“We’re very happy, they’re doing a good job,” the F1 chief executive told the AP news agency on Saturday.

But some recent photos in the media told a different story, even though Team Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok is the most recent visitor to the circuit.

He said on Twitter: “FIA happy, FOM happy and the track will be ready in time”.

Now, French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet has entered the fray with some information.

“Regarding India, there are two versions,” he wrote in his Auto Plus column. “There are members of some big teams who were sent out there who say that nothing is really ready.”

Indeed, during his visit to Bangalore this week, Lewis Hamilton was asked if he has driven the Buddh layout in the McLaren simulator.

“We haven’t put it on the simulator as there has been some trouble in getting into the venue,” local reports quote the Briton as saying.

Moncet continues: “On the other hand, the specialists of (F1 barrier company) Tecpro assure me that the track itself is ready but as they haven’t visited any buildings or seen the infrastructure they could not comment.”

Another potential problem is the recently reported tax issue, despite race organisers Jaypee promising to pay the customs duties on the F1 freight.

Moncet explained: “The Indian government does not want to hear about a tax exemption and still intends to levy a tax on the wages of the drivers and the money that will be shared between the teams.

“As of now, the discussions have failed,” he claimed.


Doctor believes Kubica will return to F1

Robert Kubica is going to return to formula one in 2012, according to F1 doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli. The same message has emerged this week from the Pole’s manager Daniele Morelli, after Renault boss Eric Boullier imposed a mid October deadline for the finalisation of the team’s 2012 lineup.

“If you keep delaying, delaying, delaying, you end up risking the interests of the team,” Boullier is quoted as saying last weekend by Globo Esporte. “That is why we have to have the deadline.”

But Morelli has told Italy’s Omnicorse this week: “We are not able to predict a precise date (for Kubica’s return) because it is nature taking its course.

“But we are optimistic, very optimistic, and I do not think a delay of a couple of weeks can affect the plans.

“One thing is certain — he is coming back. The only problem now is muscular.”

Dr Ceccarelli, who is heading the 26-year-old’s rehabilitation phase, confirmed: “I would say with certainty that Robert will be a F1 driver in 2012.

“I can not say when he will be ready but it will be between the months of November and January.”

He said the earlier problems with Kubica’s right hand have now been overcome.

“Yes, it’s great, even if this healing is gradual. Not forgetting that Robert suffered injuries to two of the three nerves, and had severs of the tendons and muscles, the feeling has come back to the fingertips,” said Ceccarelli.

The truth at present, however, is that Kubica is not yet ready to return to a single seater, nor even drive a road car.

“It is true, Robert still has an external fixator on his leg and we have not rushed to remove it — the longer the better, and the better result. So as we wait for the healing of the hand and the elbow, there is still no hurry,” said Ceccarelli.

He added that when the fixator is removed, Kubica can get to work.

“The muscles have been inactive for months and so need to recover tone and strength. But the big question – if he can drive in formula one again – has gone.”


Newey makes the difference says ex Ferrari boss

Adrian Newey is making the difference for dominant F1 team Red Bull according to ex-Ferrari boss Cesare Fiorio.

He referred to the pressure currently on Stefano Domenicali, and the plaudits being raked up by his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner.

Fiorio told La Nazione newspaper: “If Domenicali had Adrian Newey, it would be him who is considered the phenomenal team manager.”

The 72-year-old also advises Ferrari to consider a replacement in 2013 for Brazilian driver Felipe Massa.

“I would have taken Jenson Button already, but time passes and Ferrari apparently needs to have a young driver who can learn from Alonso,” he said.


Ecclestone defiant over 2012 F1 calendar

The latest spat between Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 teams’ association is set to break out.

Spain’s Diario Sport newspaper reports that FOTA, headed by McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, believes the F1 chief executive has breached the Concorde Agreement in devising the arduous 20-race calendar for 2012.

The report said FOTA vice-chairman Eric Boullier confirmed the potential disagreement in the Singapore paddock.

Diario Sport said the teams believe they have the right to renegotiate the commercial terms if Ecclestone moves beyond the maximum 17 F1 races per season.

The confidential agreement reportedly also refers to the number of races that can take place outside of Europe, with the teams concerned about the additional costs of the ‘flyaway’ events.

“We would suggest a couple of ideas and, above all, we intend to request a reconsideration of the logistics,” said Boullier.

Ecclestone reacted: “The teams don’t do the calendar, I do. They can’t come now with their proposals. It’s my decision so if someone is going to do something, it’s me.

“If someone isn’t happy they can go to the police. Wouldn’t the real problem be if there were no races to go to?” he added defiantly.


Red Bull makes Vettel 2011 champion t-shirts

Red Bull has already produced the t-shirts to mark Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 world championship victory.

Although Jenson Button is still mathematically in with a chance of winning the championship, Vettel needs just a single point to wrap up his second consecutive drivers’ crown.

And according to the Bild-Zeitung daily, Red Bull has jumped the gun by producing a run of white t-shirts bearing Vettel’s logo and the words “2011 F1 drivers’ world champion”.

It will be sold for EUR 29.95, Bild added.

Actually, however, the 24-year-old is highly superstitious and refusing to count on his title victory until it is definitely in the bag.

“Statistically the chances are on our side but generally in sports there have been a lot of stories written, and this one also has to wait to be closed,” he said.

Swiss newspaper Blick reports that Vettel and his parents Norbert and Heike therefore hosted a “One-Point-Missing-Party” in the Singapore paddock late on Sunday.

One interesting attendee was Luca Colajanni, the Ferrari team spokesman.