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F1: Austin Off 2012 Calendar 'For Sure', Ecclestone Says Photo:
 
 
Mike Stevens | Nov, 18 2011 | 0 Comments

Austin's formula one project is close to collapse, with Bernie Ecclestone saying the event will fall off the 2012 calendar "for sure".

With the Texas state funding also in jeopardy and track construction halted, the main problem is a disagreement between Tavo Hellmund - who held the original race contract - and the separate company that is building the Circuit of the Americas.

Asked by the Press Association if the impasse means Austin will be erased from next year's race schedule at the World Council meeting next month, F1 chief executive Ecclestone admitted: "Yes, it will be, for sure."

He insisted: "We've done everything we bloody well can do to make this race happen."

Ecclestone explained that the circuit cannot simply negotiate to have the contract transferred from Hellmund, because "we've cancelled Tavo's contract as he was in breach".

"And these other people haven't got a contract," he said. "All we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.

"If people don't have the money they find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract," said Ecclestone.

He told the Independent that if the Circuit of the Americas gets its act together, it could sign a new contract for "10 years from 2013".

But the Daily Express quotes Ecclestone as saying: "I would be surprised if it happened."

The local Austin American Statesman reports that the heavy machinery and "even the portable toilets" were being removed from the site on Wednesday.

(GMM)

 

Petrov slams Renault and admits exit 'possible'

Vitaly Petrov has admitted he might be in breach of contract for a rant against his F1 team Renault in the Russian press.

He started by telling Russian television Rossiya 2 that the Enstone based team's development of its 2011 car has not been good enough due to early problems with the unique forward-mounted engine exhausts.

"For almost ten races we have had absolutely nothing (new), which, in fact, means we drive basically the same car we began the season with," said Petrov.

"Of course, the first podium (in Australia) was inspiring, for me, the whole of Russia, all the fans. But then I was just angry with everything and tried to do something.

"Unfortunately, I can't say anything bad about the team, it is written down in my contract," said the 27-year-old.

Petrov uses the word 'unfortunately' because he claims the team bosses are often highly critical.

"Read my interviews, I don't criticise a team that lost many times. How much have we lost on pitstops? How much have we lost on tactics?

"Due to that kind of thing we lost, I can say, about ten races, if not more. Unfortunately, I couldn't say in an interview that we lost due to poor pitstops once again, or something.

"I still can't speak about it, but on the same side I also can't remain silent, I've had enough of it, I can't keep everything inside."

The breaking of the silence might be related to speculation Renault, to become Lotus in 2012, is rethinking its entire driver lineup for next year, despite already having a contract with Petrov.

"This is formula one, it's business," he admitted. "Gradually, they're just working to get more -– maybe the price, maybe the sponsors, maybe the drivers around them.

"Look at the queue of drivers at Williams -- I believe there are 20 people eager to take the second place there. Thank god I'm not in it.

"As for me, I think it is quite clear -- I have a contract. But as I said before, even the world champion Kimi Raikkonen was asked (by Ferrari) to leave formula one for a certain amount.

"It's a world where everything is possible, it will be hard to oppose if they want to remove someone," he admitted.

(GMM)

 

Top F1 bosses think Alguersuari deserves seat

The bosses of three top formula one teams agree that Jaime Alguersuari has done enough to secure his place on the grid for next season.

The Spaniard, along with his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Buemi, are at risk of losing their race seats for the 2012 season to Red Bull's latest young chargers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

But McLaren's Whitmarsh thinks Alguersuari, 21, is now an established driver.

"He is no longer a rookie or a question-mark, he is now a driver with full credibility," the Briton is quoted by Spain's TV3 television.

Whitmarsh added that Alguersuari's 2011 season - his second full season in formula one - has been "very good overall" even though he is "still developing, but that's normal".

Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali agrees.

"I think he has done some good races and has been instrumental in the development of the car," the Italian said. "He will only get more experience with some more patience, but he has a very good potential."

And Mercedes' Ross Brawn, whose career has been closely linked with Michael Schumacher's success, said of Alguersuari: "He unquestionably deserves a place in formula one.

"I have been impressed even though it is quite difficult to judge a driver who has only been with one team," he cautioned.

(GMM)

 

Whitmarsh: Hamilton 'destroyed' Alonso but 'underestimated' Button

He "destroyed" Fernando Alonso as a rookie in 2007, but this season Lewis Hamilton underestimated his current McLaren teammate Jenson Button.

That is the claim of the British team's boss Martin Whitmarsh, who admitted to F1's official website that Hamilton has endured an unusually bad season in 2011.

"Lewis expects more from himself and the world expects more from Lewis. There's been a lot going on in his life," he said.

At the same time, countryman Button - written off by some who thought he was entering Hamilton's "lion's den" after his championship year - has surprised the F1 world by beating his highly rated teammate this season.

"Jenson ... is a person that is easily underestimated," Whitmarsh acknowledged, referring to the 31-year-old's "superb manner".

"Sometimes that might be a worry before you know him better, but I have to say that I know him a lot better now."

Whitmarsh thinks Hamilton also underestimated Button initially.

"Possibly. He probably did, yes. Let's be open about it," he said.

"Lewis, throughout his career, has destroyed every teammate that's come his way. Bear in mind that in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso when Fernando was a two-time world champion and Lewis was a rookie."

(GMM)

 

Glock admits need to 'google' 2012 teammate Pic

It is a sign of the times when an established formula one driver admits he will need to 'google' his likely new teammate.

Timo Glock joked to Auto Motor und Sport that, if the reports are true that Frenchman Charles Pic is set to replace Jerome d'Ambrosio at Virgin next year, he will have to unfold his laptop.

21-year-old Pic, fourth in GP2 this year, has been driving German Glock's car in Abu Dhabi this week for the so-called young driver test.

"What does he look like? I think if he's really coming to us (in 2012) then I'll have to google him some time," 29-year-old Glock, already confirmed for 2012 and beyond, laughed to the German magazine last weekend.

Olivier Panis-managed Pic is reportedly backed by his family's business Groupe Charles Andre, a leading European freight company.

Virgin will change its name to Marussia for 2012 and sporting director Graeme Lowdon is expecting the team to finally pull off the last rows of the grid.

"It's no secret that we had hoped for more from this year's car, but that clearly wasn't going to happen once we got it," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

"We're all eagerly waiting to see how we can develop that, but at least we've the processes and resources in place now to develop the car much, much quicker than we have done this one," added Lowdon.

(GMM)

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