F1: Ecclestone Makes Nurburgring Offer Photo:
Mike Stevens | Jul, 28 2011 | 0 Comments

Bernie Ecclestone has proposed to ink a new contract with the Nurburgring with terms equal to those of Hungary's F1 race.

The new politically-sensitive coalition government has announced it no longer intends to offer funding for the Nurburgring's grand prix, which alternates annually on the F1 schedule with the other German venue Hockenheim.

Talks about a new contract began at the German Grand Prix last weekend, and DPA news agency reports that Bernie Ecclestone has offered to lower the sanctioning fee.

The report said Ecclestone is willing to offer a contract identical to that possessed by organisers of this weekend's race at the Hungaroring.

"The contract in Hungary is definitely cheaper," a spokeswoman for Nurburgring GmbH confirmed.

It is believed the Nurburgring's current contract involves a EUR 20 million per race sanctioning fee, and that the race last weekend recorded a loss of EUR 13.5 million.



Spa-Francorchamps not ruling out circuit sale

The local Walloon government is not ruling out selling Spa-Francorchamps in order to secure the fabled circuit's future in F1.

Well-connected Belgian motor racing figure Bas Leinders this week suggested there is a serious buyer for the track, amid reports its race might have to annually alternate with a French venue in future.

Leinders referred to a "big investment company", and Belgian television RTBF suggested it might be Renault team owner Genii.

But the Luxembourg newspaper Wort said both Spa circuit boss Etienne Davignon and Genii have denied the rumours.

The Belga news agency also said Spa chief Pierre-Alain Thibaut played down the link with Genii's Gerard Lopez.

So too did Walloon government minister Jean-Claude Marcourt, but he admitted to La Libre newspaper that Spa-Francorchamps might be interested in linking up with a private investor.

He told La Derniere Heure: "I am open to any interesting initiatives, even though it is difficult to talk hypothetically.

"But I am interested so long as the private investor takes a substantial financial risk," he added.



2012 d'Ambrosio/Virgin talks have begun - report

Talks about Jerome d'Ambrosio staying at Virgin next year have begun, according to a Belgian report.

RTL TVI said that after teammate Timo Glock's new long-term contract was announced at the Nurburgring, attention is now turning to whether rookie d'Ambrosio, 25, is also staying put.

D'Ambrosio, who is managed by the Eric Boullier-headed Gravity company, insisted he is not worried.

"I am very much supported by Gravity. It allows me to just get on with what I have to do at the grands prix," he said when asked about the plans for the future.

D'Ambrosio said he left the Nurburgring happy with the weekend.

"It was a slight turn - I hope - in my season, because until now I have had some bad patches, especially on Saturdays," he said.

"But in Germany I managed to put everything in place and be close to my teammate all weekend.

"I have finished 9 of the 10 races, which is important because it means I have made few mistakes. I have to continue like that," he added.



Texas yet to release US GP funding - report

Organisers of the 2012 US Grand Prix are still yet to access state funding for the Circuit of the Americas project.

The FIA has scheduled a mid-June date for the inaugural Austin event, amid reports race organisers want a different date due to the hot Texas summer.

But time to build the bespoke facility is nonetheless short, with the City of Austin only now filing documents with the state to access the touted $25 million in support.

The Texas comptroller has 30 days to review the request and release the funding from the major events trust fund, according to the local Austin American Statesman.

"It is unclear when the funds ... need to be paid to F1 officials," added the report.



Vettel still 'clear favourite' for Hungary - Lauda

The team has failed to win a race so far in July, but Red Bull remains the favourite for victory this weekend in Hungary.

That is the claim of triple world champion Niki Lauda, who said the energy drink-owned team is usually very fast on the many tight curves of the Hungaroring.

"If normal temperatures prevail, and if everything goes to plan, then yes -- he (Sebastian Vettel) is the clear favourite," the Austrian told APA news agency.

Lauda added that 24-year-old Vettel is "still clearly on course" for the 2011 title, despite Red Bull losing to Ferrari at Silverstone and then McLaren last weekend in Germany.

"He still has a big gap in the standings," said Lauda. "He need not worry."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso agrees that the championship is still heading Red Bull's way.

"We did very well in Britain, McLaren won in Germany, but Red Bull is always on the podium, if not with one driver then the other," he is quoted by La Stampa newspaper.

"They are good on all circuits, so in Hungary they will be competitive. We are the ones who must make further progress," added Alonso.

At McLaren there is a mix of confidence and trepidation, with Lewis Hamilton winning at the Nurburgring amid the suspicion the MP4-26 might revert to struggling in hotter temperatures.

"We might get to Hungary and be massively off because we might overheat our tyres," he said.

Paradoxically, Ferrari is looking forward to better weather in Hungary.

"It should be a good race for us to be able to go on holiday after a formidable July," predicted test driver Marc Gene in El Mundo newspaper.

Hamilton is pushing for a better 'DRS' rear wing system for his McLaren, with boss Martin Whitmarsh telling Auto Motor und Sport it will not be ready until Spa after the summer break.

"We don't have a DRS as efficient as the others," Hamilton said. "That's what we need to work on."

Whitmarsh, meanwhile, thinks McLaren and Ferrari need to unite to combat their common enemy.

"Ferrari is in the same situation as us; we need each other to take points off Red Bull," the Briton is quoted by Corriere dello Sport.



New wheel nut caused Massa pitstop problem

A new wheel nut design was the cause of Felipe Massa's pitstop problem that cost the Brazilian fourth place at the recent German Grand Prix.

Massa entered the pits ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel but a delay cost him the place to the world championship-leading German.

Ferrari's head of track operations Diego Ioverno explained that the team, in the race for faster pitstops in the no-refuelling and multiple tyre-stop era, has been experimenting this year with new methods and equipment.

He said that at Silverstone, a new wheel nut design contributed to Ferrari performing the fastest overall pitstops.

"Then in Germany we were again using this new wheel nut, which does work better, but the system is still not perfect and, at Felipe's last tyre change, we lost the connection between the wheel nut and wheel nut gun, which cost us around one and a half seconds," he confirmed.

"So we have more work to do on perfecting it."


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