- FOTA alliance crumbles as Sauber, Toro Rosso depart
- Red Bull clips Webber and Vettel's wings
- Grosjean signs deal to be Raikkonen's teammate - report
- Work resumes at 2012 US GP site in Texas
FOTA alliance crumbles as Sauber follows Ferrari and Red Bull out the door, Toro Rosso expected to follow
The F1 teams alliance FOTA looks set to dwindle to just seven members, with Sauber confirming it is pulling out, and speculation Toro Rosso will shortly follow.
With HRT already a non-member, the latest development follows last week's news that the biggest-budget Ferrari and Red Bull teams had pulled out.
International media reports quoted official spokespeople for Swiss-based team Sauber as confirming that notice has been given to FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh.
"The reasons were communicated to the teams of the association, but they will not be made public," Germany's Sport1 reported, citing a team official.
Sauber, like Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, is powered by Ferrari engines.
"Toro Rosso has not yet announced its departure, but in practice it is certain," wrote Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.
The report said Toro Rosso - like Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, Sauber and HRT - was not represented at Tuesday's emergency FOTA meeting in London.
Red Bull clips Webber and Vettel's wings
Red Bull has clipped Mark Webber's wings as the Australian attends his regular outdoor adventure challenge in Tasmania this week.
The event has not been run since 2008, when the now 35-year-old badly broke his leg on a mountain biking descent.
It has returned for 2011, but the Hobart Mercury newspaper reports: "Webber was grounded (on Wednesday) by a climb deemed too dangerous for the Formula One star to tackle".
And his participation will be further shortened when he flies to India on Thursday ahead of the FIA prize-giving gala.
"I'm disappointed," Webber said. "I would have loved to have been here for more of it, but it's not to be."
He insisted, however, that he does not allow his non-driving activities to be too controlled by his nervous F1 employer.
"I'm not going to wrap myself in cotton wool," he is quoted by The National newspaper.
"Formula One rules my life for most of the year, but I am going to go away, train and have fun doing it and nobody is going to stop me."
Recently, Webber's teammate Sebastian Vettel wanted to try German compatriot Stefan Bradl's Moto2 motorcycle, but Red Bull disallowed it.
"Not our champion, no," Dr Helmut Marko said firmly on Austrian television Servus TV.
Now, Volkswagen is said to be keen to get the back-to-back world champion at the wheel of its world rally car.
"It would be great for the sport if it was possible," the German carmaker's spokesman Kris Nissen is quoted by Sport1, "but it's not easy (to arrange)."
Grosjean signs deal to be Raikkonen's teammate - report
Lotus has decided to pair Kimi Raikkonen with new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean next year.
That is the exclusive claim of the Italian news source Italiaracing, citing "more than reliable French sources".
"There is no official announcement (yet) but the contract has been signed in recent days," read the report.
Frenchman Grosjean, who made his troubled F1 debut with the same team (then Renault) amid the 'crashgate' scandal in 2009, is handled by Lotus' new owner Genii Capital's management arm Gravity.
Also in the running for the seat were 2011 teammates Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov.
"Breaking the deadlock in favour of the Frenchman was not only his excellent performance in recent testing and his positive evolution as a driver in the last two years," explained Italiaracing, "but also a range of commercial considerations."
The report tipped Senna to now return to the reserve role, with Vyborg-born Petrov possibly ousting German Timo Glock as the Virgin team adopts the name of its Russian supercar partner Marussia for 2012.
Work resumes at 2012 US GP site in Texas
Construction of the 2012 US GP venue in Texas capital Austin is resuming.
Work at the Circuit of the Americas had been halted thanks to a dispute between event founder Tavo Hellmund, the track's new management and financiers, and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
That dispute was settled ahead of Wednesday's deadline of the World Motor Sport Council in India, where the race's inaugural November date was ratified by the FIA.
"We have an agreement," confirmed circuit spokesman Jeff Hahn, according to local KVUE news.
And Ecclestone told the Austin American Statesman newspaper: "Yes, there will be a race. We hope it will be for 10 years."
Founding partner Bobby Epstein suggested that while Wednesday's news is good for the event, it was also a victory for Ecclestone.
"Mr Ecclestone is a masterful negotiator. He fights hard for his company's best interests," he said.
As the news broke, local reports revealed that heavy machinery was rolling back onto the circuit construction site.
But after the most recent delay, time is now tighter than ever to complete the project ahead of the inaugural race date next November.
"Our construction group said they can get it done," insisted Epstein.
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