- Raikkonen to find F1 comeback 'easier' than Schumacher
- HRT seat for Alguersuari 'not realistic' - boss Sala
- HRT hopes to test new car before Melbourne
- France now close to F1 calendar return
- Berger's nephew on track for F1 future
Raikkonen to find F1 comeback 'easier' than Schumacher
McLaren doctor and fellow Finn Aki Hintsa does not think Kimi Raikkonen will struggle on his return to F1 next season.
2007 world champion Raikkonen's decision to come back to the sport with Lotus after a couple of seasons away has been compared with Michael Schumacher's recent struggle to readjust after a three-year sabbatical.
But Hintsa, who knows Raikkonen well after the now 32-year-old's five-year tenure at McLaren until 2006, plays down that comparison.
"Physically, Kimi is definitely as strong now as he ever was," he is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper. "It is clear that a return to F1 for Kimi will be easier than it was for Michael Schumacher two years ago.
"First of all, Kimi is so much younger than Michael, and secondly, he was not away for as long and while he was away, he kept driving in a very demanding category," said Hintsa, referring to Raikkonen's world rallying exploits.
Indeed, while Raikkonen only turned 32 some weeks ago, Schumacher is clearly F1's oldest active driver as he approaches his 43rd birthday in January.
"At that stage of life a ten year age difference is a major factor in top-level sport," said Hintsa.
"When an athlete turns 40, the response time begins to slow down naturally and there's nothing you can do about it. It is not possible to turn back the clock."
HRT seat for Alguersuari 'not realistic' - boss Sala
HRT boss Luis Perez Sala has played down Jaime Alguersuari's hopes of rescuing his F1 career with the Spanish team.
Spaniard Alguersuari has lost his race seat at Toro Rosso, but one of the last spots on the 2012 grid is at HRT, raising the prospect of an all-Spanish super-team with the 21-year-old alongside Pedro de la Rosa.
Sala, a former Minardi driver, admitted he was surprised to hear Red Bull's bad news.
"Absolutely. It's bad news and incomprehensible," he said when asked about Alguersuari's ousting.
"It's clear that it would be a dream to have him, the very best Christmas present, but I doubt it is realistic because we already have a path with very long conservations with other drivers," Spaniard Sala told Radio Marca.
He acknowledged that long-time McLaren test driver de la Rosa's signing has helped to attract Spanish sponsors, but it is likely that HRT is looking to pair the 40-year-old with a paying driver.
HRT hopes to test new car before Melbourne
New team boss Luis Perez Sala has admitted HRT might struggle to get its 2012 ready for pre-season testing.
With a change of ownership during 2011, the Spanish team has now split with boss Colin Kolles and installed former Minardi driver Sala as principal.
In the background, HRT is also reorganising its scattered headquarters and Sala admitted that it will be a tough winter for the former Hispania team.
"Inevitably we will be delayed by this reorganisation," he told Radio Marca.
"Additionally, the FIA now requires us to pass the crash tests before we can test, which sets the bar even higher.
"I hope it is all done in late January and we make the preseason, but if it gets difficult then at least I hope we make the shakedown before Melbourne," added Sala.
France now close to F1 calendar return
France's return to the F1 calendar after a three year absence is now looming.
That is the claim of Gilles Dufeigneux, who in June was appointed directly by French prime minister Francois Fillon to lead efforts to arrange the race's comeback.
It is reported by the Nice-Matin newspaper that the event would be staged at Paul Ricard, with an annual race date alternating with Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps.
"Things are moving in a very real way," said Dufeigneux.
"All the indicators are green now, or soon will be. My current mood is summarised with three words: optimism, prudence, humility.
"We have entered the stage of completion and we can say that final decisions will be made very soon, in January or early February," he revealed.
Berger's nephew on track for F1 future
Gerhard Berger's nephew is speeding down the road to follow his famous uncle into F1.
Two decades ago, ten-time winner Berger shared the McLaren garage with Ayrton Senna, whose own nephew Bruno went on to race in F1 with HRT and Lotus/Renault.
Now, 17-year-old Lucas Auer - the son of former BMW motor sport director and Toro Rosso co-owner Berger's sister Claudia - is getting serious about his single seater racing.
This year, he raced in the JK Racing Asia Series and was recently crowned champion.
"It's really important for my future," he said of the title. "I had to win this season and now I can see what I will do in the future."
Last week, according to motorline.cc, the young Austrian tested a F3 Euroseries car at Valencia, with 52-year-old Berger watching on.