Mike Stevens | Jun 1, 2011

Australian young gun Daniel Ricciardo's F1 start may not happen at Red Bull, with reports this week suggesting the team is set to sell Toro Rosso.

We reported on rumours last week that the Abu Dhabi government, already part-owning the Mercedes team through the investment vehicle Aabar, might be looking to buy another team.

The rumours were triggered by Aabar's new sponsorship of Faenza based Toro Rosso, originally Minardi, through its Swiss bank Falcon Private.

Spain's AS sports newspaper said Abu Dhabi, through its International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and Spanish oil brand CEPSA, will indeed take over Toro Rosso "imminently".

IPIC chief Khadem Abdulla Al Qubaisi was seen at the most recent Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

The report said the team's cars will eventually be re-liveried in the red and white colours of CEPSA.

AS said the deal "should be done during this season", but the first step has already been completed in the form of a sponsorship with IPIC's Falcon Private bank.

The move could be good news for Jaime Alguersuari's future, as Madrid-based CEPSA is thought keen on having a Spanish driver at the wheel.

(GMM)

 

Bahrain pushing to reclaim F1 race in 2011

Bahrain is ready to host formula one, the chairman of the island Kingdom's Grand Prix circuit declared on Tuesday.

It is the eve of the end of martial law in the troubled state, and two days before the FIA meets to discuss the possible rescheduling of its 2011 season opener that was cancelled in March due to political violence.

Zayed Rashid Alzayani, chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, told the Associated press the Sakhir track is ready to "host the race today".

"We feel we are in position to have that event back," he said.

The decision will be taken on Friday by the World Motor Sport Council, when the FIA body meets in Barcelona.

Within F1, there are several arguments against the Bahrain rescheduling, including the proposed mid-December date, human rights, and the fact that many Bahrain circuit officials are currently detained.

"They weren't detained because they were Shiite but because they had cases against them," confirmed Alzayani. "Some have been released. Some are still under dentition."

Some of the teams are not happy that team members' end-of-season holidays may be shortened, but F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is thought very keen to accomodate Bahrain, who otherwise would not have to pay their 2011 race fee.

"If there's peace there and they're happy, we're happy to compromise and make things happen for them," the 80-year-old Briton told CNN this week.

He denied the teams are unhappy, despite Mercedes chief Ross Brawn saying on Tuesday the new December date for the end of the season is "totally unacceptable".

"I think the teams are happy," said Ecclestone.

(GMM)

 

Red flag tyre rule tweak good for F1: Pirelli

Pirelli has admitted a rule tweak could have ensured an exciting finish to the weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

With leader Sebastian Vettel's tyres wearing, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were shaping up to challenge him when the race was red-flagged for the Vitaly Petrov crash.

On the grid, Vettel was allowed to change to a fresh set of tyres and he duly strolled to victory.

Acting as a steward in Monaco, sports car driver Allan McNish told The Guardian that at Le Mans, tyre changes are not similarly allowed during red flag periods.

"Even if you have bodywork damage you can't repair it, you've got to restart the race as you finished, so that if you've got a good strategy or a bad strategy, you have to restart as if nothing had happened," he said.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli's motor sport director, admits it might be a good idea if F1 adopts a similar rule.

"I had a lot of people shouting at me from the boats around the harbour, saying 'Why were they allowed to change?'" he is quoted by The Sun.

"It (Vettel's tyre change) took away something from the race. I don't really understand why they are allowed to change tyres. It was a shame," he added.

(GMM)

 

Team to keep 'Lotus' chassis name: Fernandes

Tony Fernandes has denied he will have to change the name of his Formula One team.

Despite the Malaysian millionaire Fernandes retaining the rights to the Team Lotus name after a court battle with Group Lotus, F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone suggested the actual chassis might need to be called something else - perhaps Caterham - in 2012.

Fernandes, however, denies this.

"We have the spirit of Team Lotus and the team has always raced with the Lotus chassis name. We are not changing," he is quoted in French by autohebdo.fr.

(GMM)

 

Sauber secret is 'full steam' for 2011: report

Sauber is setting its sights on loftier ambitions for 2011.

The Swiss team is currently a credible sixth in the constructors' standings, behind Mercedes and Renault and leading grandees Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.

"We keep our feet on the ground," managing director Monisha Kaltenborn told the Swiss newspaper Blick when asked if more than sixth is the target.

The newspaper, however, said it has learned Sauber's 'secret plan' for the rest of the 2011 season -- all available resources, and perhaps even some new recruitments, will be pointed towards the development of the C30.

"So full steam ahead," wrote veteran reporter Roger Benoit.

(GMM)

 

Daimler chief Zetsche backs Schumacher return

Michael Schumacher has received the full backing of Mercedes' top brass Dieter Zetsche.

Zetsche, the chairman of the German carmaker's parent Daimler, was responding to renewed calls for 42-year-old Schumacher to return to retirement after disappointing performances since he returned to F1 last year.

But the seven-time world champion had a better weekend in Monaco, where he has won five times, and Zetsche said Schumacher still has time to show he is in top form.

"Last year we gave him a bad car," Zetsche told Bild newspaper. "So it was difficult for him to come back like that and prove himself again.

"I think we will see some positive surprises this year," he added.

(GMM)

 

Perez leaves hospital but stays in Monaco

Sergio Perez left the Princess Grace hospital on Monday but he remains in Monaco.

He spent two nights under observation following his high speed Monaco crash but was discharged on Monday reportedly with some leg and neck pain and a headache.

The 21-year-old is targeting a return to his Sauber cockpit in Canada in less than two weeks, but an obstacle could be concussion that was severe enough to affect his memory of the accident.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Perez must stay in the Principality this week.

"Now I have to stay here for two or three days to recover fully," confirmed Perez, who lives in Berlin.

"I took quite a blow to the head, and now it's still not the moment to fly. I plan to relax here in the hotel, take all the time needed and start to live normally again," he added.

Perez insists, however, that he will be back up to speed in Montreal.

"There is no problem for Canada. It is the main objective and I see no reason why I should not be there."

(GMM)

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