Mike Stevens | Feb 3, 2011

The Victorian State Government on Wednesday affirmed its commitment to the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The Melbourne race, beyond its 2014 contract, has recently been the subject of speculation, with the city's Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and the new Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu publicly questioning the value of the annual event for taxpayers.

F1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone responded to the story by telling a German newspaper this week that "we (F1) don't need Australia".

"20 races is enough. If we have some new races, some others will fall out -- we don't need Australia, for instance," Ecclestone said.

State Tourism Minister Louise Asher played down reports that new Premier Ted Baillieu does not support the race inherited by his government.

"The government has supported the Grand Prix because it is a significant international event which provides branding and tourism value for Victoria," Ms Asher said at the launch of the 2011 race on Wednesday.

"In terms of the Baillieu government, we are committed to the Grand Prix."

She added that there are talks taking place with the organising Australian Grand Prix Corporation about how to reduce costs.

(GMM)

 

Vettel 'Will Drive For Ferrari One Day': Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has fueled speculation about Sebastian Vettel's future by predicting a switch to Ferrari for the new World Champion.

The F1 Chief Executive is famously close to 23-year-old Vettel, who at Valencia on Tuesday worked hard to ease the rumours about his Red Bull contract and links to Ferrari and Mercedes.

"Yes, Sebastian will drive for Ferrari one day," Ecclestone told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The 80-year-old Briton denied that his prediction was merely to appeal to the newspaper's Italian readers.

"No, I really think so," he insisted. "Ferrari is really something special -- it's like an opera singer who wants to sing in the best and biggest theatre."

Team boss Christian Horner said on Tuesday that he hopes Red Bull and Vettel stay together for "years to come", but Vettel did not want to look too far ahead.

"If you're asked where you see yourself in five or ten years then for all of us it's a difficult question," he told reporters.

It has been reported that if Red Bull finishes outside the top three this year, he will be free to switch to another team.

Horner refused to confirm those reports, but Michael Schumacher told a German newspaper this week that Mercedes would be mad not to consider an approach.

"Firmly, there are no negotiations in place whatsoever," insisted the German marque's Norbert Haug. "What will happen in a couple of years' time? Who knows."

(GMM)

 

Vettel Yet To Name 2011 Car

Sebastian Vettel has revealed that he is yet to think up a name for his new Formula One car.

Last year, the 23-year-old won his first title at the wheel of Randy Mandy, after the original RB6 named Luscious Liz was replaced due to damage after Monaco.

The giving of an amorous female name has become one of the Red Bull driver's several F1-related superstitions, including the sliding of a lucky coin behind his boot laces.

When asked about his new RB7 wearing the coveted number 1 as it was launched at Valencia on Tuesday, Vettel told Welt newspaper: "The number looks good.

"I saw the car in one piece for the first time this morning. So I haven't got a name for her yet," he revealed.

Vettel was also asked about reports that his friend Michael Schumacher suffers from motion sickness at the wheel of driver simulators.

As for whether he has also been sick in a sim, he smiled: "Once, but only very briefly.

"I think it's an important tool with testing so limited, especially with regards to (learning) the tracks," added Vettel.

(GMM)

 

McLaren, Mercedes To Ape Renault Exhaust Trick?

Like the innovative new Renault, McLaren's unlaunched 2011 car reportedly also features a trick exhaust system.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, after the Lotus-sponsored R31 was revealed this week with the engine exhaust exiting at the bottom of the sidepod area.

"The MP4-26 apparently has the same trick," said the German report, referring to the car that will be launched in Berlin on Friday.

A report in Italy's Autosprint said the solution generates more downforce through the flow of air to the now mandatory single diffuser.

Renault has confirmed that the R31's exhaust layout is the reason for the car's slightly different engine note at Valencia.

"Renault's thinking is in the right direction," confirmed Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn. "We are working on a similar solution."

Indeed, most teams' final car specifications will not be released until shortly before the Bahrain season opener.

"There is always a certain amount of nervousness," Red Bull designer Adrian Newey is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "The regulations we have now are pretty narrow.

"Having a stroke of genius is fairly difficult, but should the competition come up with something, we will respond."

Last year, rival teams struggled to ape McLaren's F-duct innovation because the basic chassis had to be homologated at the start of the season.

"That was only for last year," said Newey. "So now we can respond to things if necessary."

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