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F1: Raikkonen Confirms Williams Talks Photo:
 
 
Mike Stevens | Nov, 10 2011 | 0 Comments

He says a deal is not done, but Kimi Raikkonen has finally admitted talking to Williams about possibly returning to F1 next year.

Amid intensifying speculation about the 2007 world champion's plans, Williams co-owner Toto Wolff confirmed last week that the talks with former McLaren and Ferrari race winner Raikkonen about next season are "serious".

Ahead of the last world rally round of 2011 in Wales, Raikkonen on Wednesday finally admitted the same.

"We have been talking with them (Williams)," the 32-year-old is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat, "but I do not have any agreement in any direction.

"Nothing has changed," added Raikkonen, referring to the last time he insisted he is not sure what he is going to do next year.

After leaving F1 at the end of 2009, Raikkonen has raced almost full time in world rally, also dabbling in the world of NASCAR.

"It's been fun and, compared to where I started, I have developed a lot," he said, referring to rallying.

"I wasn't expecting anything even though I always try to go as fast as I could. Sometimes the results were good, sometimes not so good."

With Michael Schumacher having struggled to readjust after a three-year sabbatical, Raikkonen played down the challenge of coming back to F1.

"It is the thing I have done most of my life. Much more challenging would be to try to do something else," he said.

And the winner of 18 grands prix also does not think F1 has changed too much since 2009.

"From what you can see on TV, no. The main difference is the tyres," he said.

Kaj Lindstrom, Raikkonen's recent co-driver, would like to see the Finn keep rallying.

"He will make his own decision but it would be interesting to see how far he can go in the rally," he said. "The only way to develop is to drive.

"I said at the start that this is a four-year project if you want to get to the top," added Lindstrom.

(GMM)

 

Abu Dhabi F1 talks 'more important than race'

Martin Whitmarsh would be happy if the forthcoming negotiations over F1's future results in the teams owning a slice of the sport.

With the bitter political battle of 2009 still in memory, many of F1's paddock players are looking nervously towards the expiry next year of the crucial tripartite Concorde Agreement.

As ever, everyone wants a bigger slice of the lucrative pie. But this time around, talk of a 'breakaway' series is unlikely to be used as a weapon - perhaps because the existing agreement now forbids it.

Instead, the big talking point could be the teams' interest in joining up with CVC and Bernie Ecclestone as actual co-owners of the commercial rights.

"If you are trying to create partnership in most businesses then a bit of cross equity is useful," confirmed Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal and also chairman of FOTA, the 11-team alliance.

"At the moment the teams contract for a finite period to the Concorde Agreement. If teams were equity holders - even on a small scale - then it encourages all stakeholders and potential investing partners that you have some continuity," he added.

It goes without saying, however, that in the highly competitive world of F1, it is perhaps surprising that FOTA has essentially stayed together for so long.

That could be about to change, with a burgeoning disagreement over the voluntary cost-cutting resource restriction agreement (RRA) heading for crucial talks this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Writing in O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, Livio Oricchio said the meeting is arguably "more important than the grand prix" this weekend.

Mercedes' Ross Brawn agrees that the body's continuing harmony is "essential" and "everyone should do everything to keep it together".

HRT has already left FOTA, and the temptation for others to join the small Spanish team might be high, with F1 chief executive Ecclestone famous for 'divide and conquer'.

"If the small teams want the money split 12 ways equally then that is unrealistic," Whitmarsh told the Financial Times. "But it falls on all of us to get to something that is fair and equitable.

"(Without) the small teams we are in trouble. We need them to race against and we would be diminished if we lost them.

"It's a challenge and it is something that can be preyed upon in a negotiation," he added. "Bernie is very, very good at that."
The obvious tactic for FOTA, then, is to stick together.

"We wouldn't be very smart if we didn't," Whitmarsh insisted, urging F1's strong personalities to "overcome our respective egos, leave the past behind and look forward".

And a joker in the pack is the Jean Todt-led FIA, who lease the commercial rights to Ecclestone/CVC but do not otherwise have a stake.

"We do not want to grab the rights back. But we definitely want an input in these rights in some sort of capacity," confirmed FIA spokesman Norman Howell.

(GMM)

 

D'Ambrosio looks around but no Virgin decision yet

Nov.10 (GMM) Virgin has refused to confirm reports it has already decided to replace Jerome d'Ambrosio with French rookie Charles Pic in 2012.

The French sports daily L'Equipe reported on Wednesday that 21-year-old Pic, fourth in GP2 this year and backed by the Lagardere group, will be Timo Glock's new teammate.

It is believed Pic will test for Virgin, to become Marussia next season, at the forthcoming young drivers' test in Abu Dhabi.

"We expect after the testing of young drivers and after the end of the season to make our (2012 driver lineup) decision with a public statement," a team spokesperson told the Belgian news agency Belga.

"The final decision on Timo Glock's teammate is not done yet," the official added.

The French sports.fr portal, meanwhile, quoted Pic's agent as insisting that the youngster has not yet signed up with any team for 2012.

The report said Pic, who has definitely travelled to Abu Dhabi, could also test with Team Lotus/Caterham at Yas Marina.

D'Ambrosio's manager Benjamin Mignot, overseeing the Belgian's career for the Gravity group, insisted all is not lost for the 25-year-old.

"I'm not going to tell you that we are looking at being at Ferrari instead of Ferrari," he joked to Le Soir newspaper.

"But we know that Barrichello is still not confirmed at Williams and there are also seats available at HRT and also Virgin.

"Clearly we are not willing to have any seat at any price, but we believe firmly that Jerome has a place in F1 in 2012," added Mignot.

(GMM)

 
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