Mike Stevens | Sep 29, 2011

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 Grands Prix 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.

(GMM)

 

Doctor says Kubica will return to F1

Robert Kubica is going to return to F1 in 2012, according to F1 doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli.

And 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 line-up.

"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."

(GMM)

 

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.

(GMM)

 

Hamilton still respects Massa after clash

Lewis Hamilton insists he still respects Felipe Massa despite their confrontation after the Singapore Grand Prix.

McLaren's Hamilton left the street circuit still wearing his sweaty overalls and declining to complete his media duties after Brazilian Massa, his 2008 title nemesis, accosted him during an interview with German television.

He finally spoke about the issue this week during a demonstration in India.

"He (Massa) was a bit angry... he was a bit forceful at the end," said Briton Hamilton, "but I just ignored it and moved on.

"This is the most competitive sport in the world. And there are going to be instances like this. I have a lot of respect for Felipe still, regardless of how he has behaved."

His boss Martin Whitmarsh said before leaving Singapore that 2011 "has not been a good season" for Hamilton, who has been regularly involved in track incidents.

And his teammate Jenson Button is now the only driver still mathematically in the running for dominant Sebastian Vettel's title crown.

"Jenson is doing a great job," Hamilton acknowledged. "I am not really going to even try and compete with him anymore (in 2011) because he has deserved it.

"He has done better than me right through the season and even if I did well in the remaining five races, it wouldn't matter."

(GMM)

 

Schumacher 'can't go on' predicts Damon Hill

Damon Hill has tipped his former championship nemesis Michael Schumacher to soon quit F1.

The pair fought mercilessly for titles in the mid 90s - famously clashing at the 1994 Adelaide decider - and were never friends throughout the period until Hill retired in 1999.

When the Briton last raced for Jordan, he was 39.

"By then I was too old to go on," Hill told Italy's Motorinside. "After a certain age you're no longer able to be as fast or consistent, much less able to handle the pressure.

"Michael is now 42; in my opinion it's too old to be competitive, plus he doesn't have a car for the top positions. He can't go on like this for much longer," he predicted.

(GMM)

 

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.

The German is tipped to secure the single point he needs to mathematically wrap up his second consecutive drivers' crown next weekend in Japan.

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 EUR29.95, 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.

(GMM)

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