- Vergne defends 'hard' Marko after Toro Rosso cull
- Three F1 rumours before Christmas
- F1 needs American drivers to crack market - Cheever
- Kubica splits with rehab doctor Ceccarelli
- Bruno Senna visits Williams factory - report
- 'Niceman' Kovalainen not ruling out 2013 team switch
Vergne defends 'hard' Marko after Toro Rosso cull
Jean-Eric Vergne has defended Dr Helmut Marko after the Red Bull driver manager ousted Toro Rosso's entire line-up for the 2012 season.
Rookie Frenchman Vergne as well as Daniel Ricciardo are the beneficiaries after team regulars Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi were axed.
"Surprised? Yes, but I had belief," the 21-year-old told France's Auto Hebdo.
"Toro Rosso's policy is to develop young drivers. I think Jaime and Sebastien did a great job, but they were no longer a part of this policy.
"It is true that Helmut Marko is hard on his drivers, but I've always said that if I was him, I would do it exactly the same.
"I have always known that if I was not good enough, I would not be there," added Vergne.
It is obvious the longer ambition for Vergne, whose friends call him 'Jev', is to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull's senior team.
His father Jean-Marie told La Parisien: "Red Bull does not invest at random, but we are not thinking beyond next year."
Three F1 rumours before Christmas
F1's rumour mill is refusing to idle, even in the last days before Christmas.
One rumour has been triggered by former McLaren driver and lead British television commentator Martin Brundle, writing on his Twitter page.
"(I) suspect Vitaly Petrov may re-emerge at Caterham in 2012," he wrote, amid earlier rumours Jarno Trulli could lose his seat. "Music has stopped, there'll be a mad scramble for seats."
In the pages of Spanish newspaper AS, meanwhile, Toro Rosso refugee Jaime Alguersuari is being linked to the reserve driver role at Mercedes for 2012.
And multiple international reports in recent days have galvanised rumours that Ferrari junior driver Jules Bianchi is to replace Nico Hulkenberg as Force India's Friday practice driver.
F1 needs American drivers to crack market - Cheever
Bernie Ecclestone has acknowledged that cracking the US market will be difficult for F1.
The F1 chief executive plans to take his sport first to Texas next year and then to New York the season after, with the last US Grand Prix having been held at Indianapolis in 2007.
"We've been there, years ago, and it's a little bit like the rest of America, they want to see a profit before they start something and it's not easy to do that," he told Al Jazeera.
"We've got maximum two races in America, and when you consider the country is as big as Europe and we've got (eight) races in Europe, it's difficult.
"If we had a lot more races there and a lot more television, it would be ok," added Ecclestone.
Arizona-born Eddie Cheever, who raced in F1 in the 70s and 80s, thinks the key is to have some American drivers on the grid.
"There would be a lot more success with American drivers," he is quoted by CNN.
"Just having one driver won't do it," Cheever said. "Maybe having one in F1 would galvanise F1 in America so more young drivers wanted (to race there).
"Almost all of the young drivers in America want to be in NASCAR and we need more to want to get to F1."
Kubica splits with rehab doctor Ceccarelli
Robert Kubica has split with his rehabilitation doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli, according to reports in the Italian and Polish media.
The reports said the parties disagreed over the final phase of the Polish driver's recovery from horror injuries sustained early this year whilst rallying.
"I can confirm that there were differing views as to the next phase of rehabilitation," Ceccarelli confirmed.
"Robert will continue with this process under the direction of someone else. Who it will be, I don't know."
Dr Ceccarelli said he stands by his earlier prediction that Kubica could be fit enough to return in 2012.
"I've always said that and I stand by it, even though expectations that he could be back in a Renault in November were probably somewhat exaggerated."
Also according to Omnicorse, Ceccarelli said he doesn't know if Kubica's management has been in talks with Ferrari.
Bruno Senna visits Williams factory - report
The job-seeking Bruno Senna visited Williams' Oxfordshire headquarters in recent days, Brazil's Globo Esporte reports.
The nephew of late Ayrton Senna, having started 2011 as Lotus/Renault's third driver, lost his race seat to Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean at the end of the season.
A return to the reserve role has been rumoured for 2012, and he has also admitted to contemplating a switch to Nascar.
But Globo reports that Senna, as well as team incumbent Rubens Barrichello, were both separately spotted at Williams' Grove factory this week.
The report said the 28-year-old underwent some physical tests and met with engineers at Williams, who still have a race seat vacancy alongside Pastor Maldonado for next season.
He apparently made a "good impression" on the famous British team, who are reportedly also interested in Senna's experience with Renault power, as Williams switches from Cosworth for 2012.
Globo also said Barrichello, who according to Auto Motor und Sport has amassed $5 million in personal sponsorship in a bid to keep his seat, was at the factory on Monday and Tuesday.
The report said the Brazilian veteran did not know about the candidacy of his countryman Senna.
'Niceman' Kovalainen not ruling out 2013 team switch
Heikki Kovalainen has refused to rule out switching to another team if Caterham does not take a big step forward in 2012.
With his reputation damaged after disappointing subsequent tenures at Renault and McLaren, the Finn moved to the start-up Team Lotus in 2010 where in the past two seasons he has rebuilt his confidence and form.
He was even mentioned earlier in the 2012 'silly season' but remains under contract to Caterham for next season.
According to Turun Sanomat newspaper, Kovalainen was asked if he now feels a sense of 'obligation' to stay at Caterham for the long term.
"Not in any way," he answered. "I want to see what we can do together and let's see what is the situation in the summer."
The 30-year-old would not say therefore whether he will definitely be at the team in 2013.
"It depends on the car's performance," said Kovalainen. "I can not give an exact percentage but if we continue to develop next season then it (the chance) is high.
"Otherwise it is small," he admitted.
Kovalainen was also asked about his new nickname 'Niceman' that is doing the rounds - a mischievous play on countryman Kimi Raikkonen's Iceman moniker and an intimation that he might be 'too nice' to truly succeed.
"I don't take it too seriously," he smiled. "I am myself and cannot be someone else."
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