- Grand prix circuits create union to influence F1 rules
- Hungary GP promoter Tamas Frank dead at 65
- F1's American future speeding ahead
- Red Bull floor ruling 'is what it is' - Vettel
- New minister says 'no agreement' for French GP return
- More surgery as Kubica's F1 return bid continues
- Haug tips Vettel to hit back at Webber
- Ferrari denies Alonso paid EUR 30m
- Brawn hints Mercedes wants Schumacher to stay
Grand prix circuits create union to influence F1 rules
Formula one's circuits have created a union designed to give them a greater say on the future of the sport, according to business journalist Christian Sylt.
He revealed in the Independent newspaper that the Formula One Promoters Association, created in May, is chaired by Australian grand prix chief Ron Walker.
Last year, it emerged that - led by Walker - F1's race promoters were threatening to switch to Indycar because the new six cylinder engines in 2014 will not be loud enough.
Now, Silverstone chairman Neil England has confirmed the founding of the F1 circuits' union.
"We have historically lacked a coordinated voice and the formula one promoters association gives us the opportunity to have that.
"There are a number of matters of common interest and I think it is important that those are voiced," he said.
The formation of the circuits' union coincides with the negotiations over the next Concorde Agreement.
"The circuits' desire to have a say in (the technical regulations) is the driving force behind their decision to unite," said journalist Sylt.
Union chairman Ron Walker confirmed: "The circuits are concerned by the constant changing of rules by the FIA which is confusing the fans and affecting ticket sales."
He revealed that a survey in March showed that 92 per cent of the spectators at Albert Park this year did not understand F1's latest rules.
Hungary GP promoter Tamas Frank dead at 65
A cloud has moved above the future of the Hungarian grand prix.
Tamas Frank, a Hungarian businessman and the driving force behind race promoter Hungaroring Sport Zrt, was found dead on Tuesday in his Budapest apartment.
Foreign language European media reports said the cause of the 65-year-old's death is not yet known.
Hungaroring Sport Zrt confirmed the death.
The reports said Tamas was the influential modern figure in the Hungarian race, and a close confidant of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
Hungaroring Sport Zrt confirmed Frank shared an "excellent relationship" with Ecclestone.
A new contract for the Hungaroring race, which was regarded as one of the most established events on the F1 calendar, runs until 2016.
"Tamas' death is a great loss to Hungarian and international motor sport," said a race spokesman.
F1's first race held behind the former 'iron curtain', Hungary has hosted the grand prix in Mogyorod, near Budapest, without interruption since 1986.
F1's American future speeding ahead
F1's new future in America moved up a gear this week.
We reported on Tuesday that reigning and back-to-back world champion Sebastian Vettel will appear on David Letterman's iconic New York talkshow next week.
It now emerges that, while in the famous city, the Red Bull driver will race around the street layout of the 2013 grand prix of America amid the Manhattan skyline, in a road car supplied by team sponsor Infiniti.
Vettel will then attend a press conference with race promoter Leo Hindery, after organisers were forced to deny Bernie Ecclestone's claims the New Jersey race is in doubt.
There have also been developments this week in Austin, Texas, the scene of November's scheduled return of the US grand prix on a bespoke circuit.
Organisers on Tuesday revealed ticket prices and said they will go on sale this Sunday, the day of North America's other formula one race in Canada.
"In the final analysis," said a spokesman, "we wanted to make this event affordable to F1 fans around the country."
Also on Tuesday, a local county judge finally issued a 'mass gathering permit' for the US grand prix.
Red Bull floor ruling 'is what it is' - Vettel
Sebastian Vettel has played down suggestions Red Bull's title hopes have been struck a blow.
Following the reported complaints of rival top teams Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, the FIA clarified in the wake of the recent Monaco grand prix that the holes in the floor of Red Bull's race-winning RB8 are not legal.
Vettel reportedly won last month's Bahrain grand prix with the offending floor design, as did his teammate Mark Webber last time out in Monaco.
When asked about the floor ruling, German Vettel said: "It is what it is.
"I don't feel it is a big disadvantage," he told Bild newspaper.
The German news agency DAPD also quotes the 24-year-old as saying: "We are developing very quickly and so in Canada, as always, we are using a new aerodynamics package."
New minister says 'no agreement' for French GP return
New French sports minister Valerie Fourneyron declared on Tuesday "no formal agreement" exists that will see the country host a grand prix next year.
Before former president Nicolas Sarcozy lost the recent general election, Bernie Ecclestone was confirming that Paul Ricard would annually alternate a formula one race with Belgium's Spa Francorchamps.
Everything changed, however, when new president Francois Hollande appointed Fourneyron as sports minister.
She met with a Paul Ricard delegation on Tuesday, and will reportedly meet with representatives of the former grand prix host Magny Cours on Friday.
She said on Tuesday: "There is still much to do regarding the feasibility" of a French grand prix.
"I knew that this issue had been a little rushed in the election period, so I wanted to meet with everyone involved," Fourneyron told Tuesday's L'Equipe sports daily.
The Paul Ricard delegation, including the mayor of Le Castellet, admitted their concern after the meeting with Fourneyron.
"The delegation is not convinced of the new government's desire to maintain the commitments of the state to organise a grand prix de France at Paul Ricard," a spokesman said.
"The new sports minister said she did not believe the financial estimates and that the communities had not been well informed of the reality of the state of negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone."
More surgery as Kubica's F1 return bid continues
Robert Kubica underwent surgery on Tuesday as the former BMW and Renault driver continues his bid to return to formula one.
Reports recently suggested the 27-year-old Pole, who was seriously injured in a rally crash early last year, would almost certainly never return to F1.
But reports in Italy on Tuesday said Kubica has been testing in a formula one driving simulator.
On the basis of those tests, he underwent orthopaedic surgery in a Verona hospital in an operation performed by Ruggero Testoni.
ANSA news agency said the surgery, which was completed successfully, involved the insertion of prostheses in order to restore mobility to Kubica's right elbow.
"Now he can turn the steering wheel completely. Before, he was unable to turn his palm down and was forced to take a hand off the wheel to perform left hand curves," Dr Testoni said.
"The operation was preceded by a series of simulator tests for a formula one car," he added.
Kubica, who lives in Tuscany, will reportedly return to Verona frequently for hand function physiotherapy.
Haug tips Vettel to hit back at Webber
Was Monaco the turning point in Sebastian Vettel's so-far meteoric F1 career?
"Not at all," Mercedes' Norbert Haug told the German news agency DPA on Wednesday.
Almost two weeks ago in the famous Principality, it was Vettel's teammate Mark Webber who broke through with victory, meaning the Red Bull duo is now level-pegging in the championship.
They are just 3 points from Fernando Alonso's lead.
So does Webber's new form represent the turning poing for Vettel?
"Sebastian did not win two world championships by fluke," Haug insisted.
Haug is also hoping lucky seven is on Mercedes' side in Canada this weekend.
Like Webber, Michael Schumacher is also enjoying a new run of form, having secured the first pole of his F1 comeback in Monaco.
Luck, however, has not been on his side in 2012, delivering him just 2 points so far.
That's where lucky seven comes in. If he wins this year, 43-year-old Schumacher would be the unprecedented seventh different winner of the seventh race in a world championship calendar.
The great German has won seven titles, seven grands prix in Montreal, and he even carries the number on his silver racer.
"The characteristics of the circuit should suit us, and we are counting on our car performing well there," said Schumacher.
Ferrari denies Alonso paid EUR 30m
Ferrari has denied claims it pays Fernando Alonso a cool EUR 30 million per season.
A French publication called Business Book GP 2012 had claimed the Spaniard is easily F1's highest paid driver, with earnings almost equal to McLaren's drivers put together.
"A shame then that it's another case of utter balderdash," Ferrari's anonymous website reporter known as The Horse Whisperer said.
The columnist said Ferrari is "always put on top" in money matters, but "the reality is very different".
The famous Italian team has also rejected the latest round of speculation about the identity of Alonso's 2013 teammate.
When asked if the struggling Felipe Massa will be replaced, president Luca di Montezemolo told CNN: "In this moment my concentration is everywhere except the drivers.
"It's too early in the season and we will see after that."
Montezemolo said he was pleased to see the Brazilian perform strongly in Monaco recently, but also indicated Massa's place in the Ferrari hierarchy is clear.
"I count on him to take off points for Fernando's competitors," he said.
Brawn hints Mercedes wants Schumacher to stay
Ross Brawn has given the clearest sign yet that Mercedes would like to keep Michael Schumacher on board beyond his 2012 contract.
It has been an odd season so far for the 43-year-old: more competitive than the past two years but caught up in incidents, penalties and bad luck and with only 2 points on the board.
It has revved up speculation about the great German's future, but so far neither side has been willing to talk about it.
"We need to analyse the start of the season very carefully," team boss Brawn told Germany's Sport Bild.
"We have not reached our goals with Michael. It was not about the car and Michael being too slow, it's just been a few unfortunate circumstances coming together."
The Briton hinted that Schumacher's future is in his hands.
"After his accident in Barcelona, Michael was very unhappy, but after qualifying in Monaco he was very happy," Brawn smiled.
"I think basically the positive feelings outweight the negative this season."
He indicated that Mercedes is convinced of Schumacher's talent and value.
"With the pole position, Michael showed what he is still capable of, so there is no reason for us to not want to continue with him."
Brawn said therefore that, later this season, "if we achieve our goals together with him, he like us will probably be interested in going on".
"If we all feel that it is right to continue, it will happen," he insisted.
If Schumacher does, however, decide to return to retirement, there is speculation Paul di Resta is at the front of the queue.
"We have no real plan B," insisted Brawn, "although one or two people have asked us about our situation for 2013."