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F1 Approves Name Changes And 2012 Calendar, No To Customer Cars Photo:
 
 
Mike Stevens | Nov, 07 2011 | 0 Comments

The F1 Commission on Thursday approved name changes for three Formula One teams ahead of the 2012 season.

Next year, Team Lotus will become Caterham, Renault will be called Lotus, and Virgin will adopt the name of its Russian supercar partner Marussia.

Brazilian Livio Oricchio wrote in his O Estado de S.Paulo column that the Renault team no longer has "anything to do with the French carmaker" and in fact owes money to the Boulogne-Billancourt marque.

And the Telegraph reports that although Virgin will now be known as Marussia, Sir Richard Branson's brand "will continue to pay money" to the team.

"As part of the new deal, believed to be for four years, Virgin will not have any equity but will continue to pay sponsorship", the report added.

The changes - voted on by the 26 members including Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt, race promoters, teams, manufacturers and sponsors - are pending the approval of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council meeting in December.

Also discussed in Geneva was the 2012 calendar, with events in Austin, Korea and Bahrain reportedly in doubt and Turkey apparently hoping to slot back in with a reduced sanctioning fee.

But a source close to Texas' scheduled 2012 US GP reports that the F1 Commission confirmed next year's calendar as originally published by the FIA.

(GMM)

 

F1 panel says no to customer cars

The unofficial news emerging from the F1 Commission on Thursday was the approval of team name changes and the 2012 calendar.

The sources, however, were much quieter about the big-ticket discussion - the speculated liberalisation of the Concorde Agreement to allow the purchase and sale of full 'customer cars' between competing teams.

"In general, but not always, when a controversial topic is discussed by the F1 Commission and the result is not immediately made public, then it has not been approved," wrote Livio Oricchio in his O Estado de S.Paulo column.

Indeed, Italy's Autosprint - also reporting after the Geneva meeting broke - thinks the most likely outcome for the future is a further tightening of the existing rules, which could endanger partnerships such as the one between McLaren and Force India.

Upon announcing the extension of its partnership with Williams on Thursday, for example, HRT found the need to state explicitly that the gearbox and KERS deal "strictly follows the terms agreed in the Concorde Agreement".

The two teams "will compete independently in the formula one constructors' championship", added the media statement.

Along with Ferrari, one team arguing in favour of customer cars is Toro Rosso, who last year was forced to become a full constructor despite previously enjoying a much closer collaboration with its parent Red Bull Racing.

"The precise cause of this change in regulation (in 2010) is hard to determine," team boss Franz Tost told Sportwoche.

"Today, we see big corporations working together, which from an economic perspective makes complete sense. But in formula one a close collaboration between teams is not possible, which to me is absolutely the wrong way."

So for now, enhancing the Red Bull-Toro Rosso relationship will have to be done within the existing limits, with Tost revealing that "in the medium term it is our goal to have the same engine manufacturer (Renault) as Red Bull".

Currently, Toro Rosso is powered by Ferrari.

(GMM)

 

Kubica set for new wrist operation

The likelihood of an early 2012 return to the Lotus (currently Renault) team for Robert Kubica appears to have fallen even further.

The Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Thursday that the Polish driver, who has already undergone five operations since his February rally crash, is scheduled to have more surgery in the coming days.

The next operation will be on his right wrist and will surely intensify speculation that team boss Eric Boullier has already decided to pair Vitaly Petrov with the new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean next season.

Kubica's hand surgeon Igor Rossello suggested that the new surgery is relatively minor.

"The mobility of Kubica's right hand is satisfactory," he said. "Robert has told me that he has already driven a car. This a miracle of his will."

But the report said Kubica is still months from the end of his rehabilitation process.

British tabloid The Sun quoted Renault/Lotus boss Boullier as saying: "We have to assess options and are still waiting for Robert to come back to us to say he can test.

"Until we see him and have the confirmation we cannot say anything. And unfortunately we need to keep the option of not having him back," he added.

(GMM)

 

Rosberg denies visiting Ferrari factory

Nico Rosberg has rubbished suggestions he is close to switching to Ferrari.

It is believed the German remains under contract to Mercedes through next season, but speculation has linked him with Felipe Massa's Ferrari seat alongside Fernando Alonso.

One report even said Rosberg, 26, recently visited the famous team's Maranello headquarters.

"This is all nonsense," he is quoted by the DAPD news agency. "I was not at Maranello."

Rosberg said his goal is to stay with Mercedes for the long term.

"My dream is to win with the Silver Arrows," he said.

 

Wolff confirms Raikkonen, Bianchi among 2012 options

Williams shareholder Toto Wolff has confirmed that "serious" negotiations with Kimi Raikkonen about a 2012 race seat are taking place.

Until now, the rumours linking the 2007 world champion and a return to F1 with the beleaguered British team have been taken with a pinch of salt.

"Yes, it's true!" Wolff, a minority shareholder of the Oxfordshire based team, told Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung.

"The Kimi Raikkonen file is on the table," he confirmed.

"The story is not for show, we are negotiating seriously, but it is only one of several options. There will be a strategic decision," revealed Wolff.

It has been reported that Adrian Sutil is another candidate to replace Pastor Maldonado's experienced teammate Rubens Barrichello next season.

"But there is another aggressive option with the boy Jules Bianchi, and Valtteri Bottas is worthy of consideration at least for Friday's practice," added Wolff.

(GMM)

 
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