Mike Stevens | Aug 22, 2011

Robert Kubica has answered "we'll see" amid expectations he might be fit enough to return to formula one in the coming months.

It emerged this week that the injured Renault driver's recovery from his horror February rally crash will speed up after another elbow operation this month.

There have been varying reports that estimated a return to the grid could take place as soon as November's Interlagos finale, while Italy's Autosprint said it is "unlikely" the 26-year-old will be ready for the start of next season.

"I always enjoy setting a goal, when circumstances allow," the Pole is quoted as saying. "We'll see how my rehabilitation goes over the next few months.

"I'm satisfied with what's been happening until now, there are no complications. There is no hurry. What is important is that Renault is keeping my place."

Renault doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli is quoted by the Sapa-AFP news agency as saying the forthcoming surgery is to improve the mobility of Kubica's right elbow.

"With his elbow blocked, we haven't had the chance to work on a full recovery programme as we would do normally," he said.

(GMM)

 

F1 cheaper than cricket for Indian sponsor

The value of Indian telcom Airtel's three-year naming rights deal for the Indian grand prix is $8.5 million, according to the Times of India.

"The deal is ... worth much less than Indian corporates pay for a slice of the cricket pie," said the report.

Earlier this month, Airtel pulled its reported $40 million title sponsorship of the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament.

Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday he is hopeful F1's new Indian date can ultimately rival the country's love of cricket.

"It will take efforts to generate interest. We will never catch cricket, but we can get close to it, perhaps with some extra effort," said the F1 chief executive.

"India is a major part of the world and we wanted a race here."

Airtel official Sanjay Kapoor would not confirm the brand switched from cricket to F1 because it is cheaper, but Ecclestone sounded very happy with his latest sponsor.

Although reports said the Airtel deal is for three years, the 80-year-old smiled when he said he has been "sloppy" in leaving the contract wide open.

Ecclestone told reporters he would like the deal to continue "forever, until we stop".

(GMM)

 

Raikkonen tips friend Vettel to keep title lead

Kimi Raikkonen has tipped his friend Sebastian Vettel to pip F1's class of 2011 to become world champion for the second time.

In 2007, former Ferrari driver Raikkonen came from a long way behind to beat the feuding McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to the championship at the final race of the season.

Now as a F1 spectator and world rally driver, the Finn was asked by Turun Sanomat newspaper about German Vettel's 85 point lead with just 8 races to go.

"Quite often the situation levels off by the end if someone has pulled out early in the season," Raikkonen said.

"(But) Vettel probably doesn't even have to win any more races in order to stay in front until the end."

Raikkonen, meanwhile, will turn 32 in October but he is not yet making any plans for 2012 -- nor ruling out a shock return to formula one.

"I don't know," he answered after a series of probing questions.

"Even if you ask the same thing a hundred different ways, the answer stays the same. If I don't know then nobody else does either."

Raikkonen, like his contemporary Jacques Villeneuve, admitted to being not so keen on the 2011 formula, including the DRS overtaking rear wing system.

"It doesn't have anything to do with real overtaking," he insisted. "All you do is move close and push a button and the guy in front can't do anything about it.

"I guess they are trying to push it in the right direction, maybe it's good for the TV, but for the drivers it's not so good."

(GMM)

BBC 'held the cards' in split Sky deal - Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone claims the BBC's ongoing contract meant he could not keep formula one on free-to-air television in Britain.

The BBC has a lucrative deal to televise F1 through 2014 but, amid the need to cut costs, the public broadcaster has delegated half of next year's live coverage to the pay channel Sky.

The move has enraged many British fans, particularly amid reports Channel 4 and ITV were open to negotiating to broadcast formula one live.

"They (BBC) got to grips with Sky themselves," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told the Mirror.

"I spoke with ITV too, and came up with the same problem as Channel 4 had. We had a contract with the BBC which didn't run out until 2014."

Asked if the BBC "held all the cards" when it came to selecting a co-broadcaster, Ecclestone insisted: "Yes, absolutely.

"If they (Channel 4) had said they wanted to sign a contract today to start broadcasting for 45 million pounds a year, then we would have probably done it.

"But that's the problem. We couldn't deal with them, even if they had wanted to."

Ecclestone denied that the loss of full free-to-air coverage for F1 in the crucial British market will affect the popularity of the sport.

"In the short-term, I think that collectively taking in the amount of broadcasting that's going to be scheduled between the two of them next year, there will be more eyeballs watching than we have now.

"That's good for us, good for the teams and good for the fans," he said.

(GMM)

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