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F1 Gossip

Button Steps Up Pre Season Training With Lance Armstrong

Jenson Button teamed up with record breaking cyclist Lance Armstrong, as he continues to prepare for another Formula One season.

The McLaren driver excitedly tweeted that he would be riding with Armstrong, the 7 time Tour de France winner, in Hawaii.

Armstrong responded via Twitter “I hope he doesn’t ride as srong as he drives F1 cars…!”

Lance Armstrong is of course famous too for the Livestrong brand, something he set up after being diagnosed with cancer – and suriving – himself.  The yellow colour of the leader of the Tour de France is replicated in the charities products, most notably in the yellow wristbands.

Lance Armstrong @ the 2006 Indianapolis 500


Bernie Ecclestone Injured In London Mugging

Bernie Ecclestone was left injured following a mugging in Central London last night.

The 80 year old boss of Formula One was hurt leaving the headquarters of Formula One Holdings in Knightsbridge.  He was with his girlfriend, Fabiani Flosi at the time of the incident.

Ecclestone was punched, kicked and thrown to the ground sustaining head injuries in the process.  Around £200,000-£250,000 worth of jewellery was stolen in the incident according to reports from other media stations.

Following a brief admittance to hospital, Ecclestone was said to be OK.  London police issued this statement:

“There were no reports of any other injuries.   The items stolen are believed to be a quantity of jewellery.”

The investigation continues.

 


F3 Euroseries Winner Shifts Target From F1 To DTM

The 2010 Formula 3 Euroseries winner, Edoardo Mortara has confirmed he is shifting his career target away from Formula One, and instead now focussing on securing a drive in the competitive DTM series.

Mortara was successful in the junior open wheel series, which has long been a test bed for future F1 stars.  Previous competitors include Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg.

Upon winning his title Mortara said that his target was no necessarily F1.

“If you win you can gain a good possibility to be successful in other series, especially F1, but F1 is not the only series; you can also aim for other categories.

“From my point of view, at the moment it’s looking to be quite difficult to reach Formula 1 but we will continue to look at all of the various options.”

Now he has confirmed a change in his focus to DTM, after securing a test with Audi following his victory in the Euroseries.

“I’ll try to give my very best,” he said. “My Formula 3 Euro series season was really good and now I want to confirm this performance in the cockpit of a DTM car.”

“DTM is a highly professional racing series and a manufacturer such as Audi offers its drivers numerous possibilities,” he began to sum up. “Being a part of the Audi squad sometime would be great.”

He added later that the F1 test ban had also discouraged him from following the normal route into the sport.


Raikkonen Should Come Back To Formula One – Renault Isn’t Such A Raw Deal

Kimi Raikkonen has always been a whirlwind character, a proper playboy – the modern day James Hunt if you please.   Back in 2001 he came out of nowehere to join Sauber, and immediately proved a quick racer.  A few years with McLaren and those oh so nearly titles, led him to go off to Ferrari and take his first and only F1 crown in 2007.  A tough 2008 and 2009 meant that he walked away from F1 to spend the current year in World Rally.

The World Rally experience has been very tough for the Finn, who only has a handful of finishes to his name let alone winning an event.  Again, in the current French World Rally he crashed and went from 7th down to 50th place.

Since leaving, there has been massive speculation about him returning to Formula One.  Initially with Red Bull, although now that looks unlikely as Webber and Vettel will be retained for next year.  Some link Raikkonen with a return to Ferrari, to replace the underperforming Felipe Massa but the more likely scenario is that Raikkonen heads off to Renault.

Renault have been a resurgent force this season.  The manufacturer sold out to Genii Capital Group following the crash gate saga, and with a new management, technical and driver team they have had some great results including podium finishes.  Robert Kubica has proved a solid driver choice, although Vitaly Petrov less so.  The rookie Russian has had sparks of brilliance, but all too often is off the pace or ending his races in the wall.  In Singapore, he was slow and then crashed out in qualifying.

The problems with Petrov have caused him not to get a contract for next season just yet, with Renault boss Eric Boullier confirming they are talking to Raikkonen about a return to F1.

“It is definitely getting closer to when we will make a decision,” Boullier told Autosport. “But we really want to consider all of the options.

“I decided to tell some drivers that we will not carry on discussions with them, so we know wait and see – but Kimi remains one of our scenarios.

“I have said many times that I want to meet with him first before we do anything more. I want to understand more about his wish to come back.”

Like many drivers, Raikkonen has said that once he won the world championship there was little point in staying in F1.  However, with his WRC career not looking good, and the 2011 cars appearing to take some adapting to, perhaps now is the right time for a come back.  Renault might not have been his choice some seasons ago, but now it might not be such a raw deal.  2010 has proven they can design and produce a good car, even on a budget.  With Raikkonen at the wheel there is no reason why it shouldn’t win races.

Kimi doesn’t need the money now, so it would probably best for him not to ask for a Ferrari level salary.  It was assumed in 2008 he was paid some $52million by the Scuderia.  Renault hold concerns over the possibly outlay on wages, however they should consider the amount of sponsorship and interest they could gain from having him on board.  More sponsors could be attracted to the cars, and Raikkonen has a loyal band of supporters who would raid the merchandise section and give Renault a huge presence at the races.

I really do hope Kimi does return to F1, as that would make 2011 a truly thrilling prospect.  Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Button as world champions – maybe a new one to add to that list but we won’t know until the end of the year!  Add into that mix Vettel, Webber, Rosberg and Kubica and it looks like it could be a classic season.


Porsche Evaluating F1 Entry Possibility

Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller has told reporters from AutoCar Magazine that Porsche are considering entering Formula One in attempts to diversify their competition portfolio and to reduce competition among the brands it owns.

Currently Porsche compete in Le Mans Prototype (LMP) racing, as do Audi who Porsche now own through their deal with Volkswagen.  VW have previously expressed some interest in joining F1, but in the distant future.  However those plans to join, which were considered initially to be done under the Bugatti name, appear to have been pushed forward rapidly.

“With LMP1, there are two classes and two brands – Audi and Porsche. We do not like to both go into LMP1 [against each other]; that is not so funny,” Mueller told Autocar’s website at the Paris Motorshow

“So therefore we have to discuss whether it makes better sense for one of the [two] brands to go into LMP1, and the other brand into F1. So we will have a round-table to discuss the pros and cons.”

Initially the plan looks likely to be entering as an engine supplier, but it could turn into a whole team as there is still an empty slot on the grid which was not filled for the 2011 season.  Surely Porsche would be a better candidate than many who attempted to get onto the grid for 2011.  They would be likely to join from 2013 when the new engine regulations take effect.


Jordan Wants Dennis Charged With Criminal Damage Following BBC Stunt

Eddie Jordan has allegedly told the BBC that he wants Ron Dennis charged with criminal damage following a practical joke that was played on the Irishman while he was live on British television.

Jordan, who formerly owned the Jordan F1 Team, has been working with the BBC as a main anchor on their F1 coverage since it returned to the channel last year.  However it all got a bit nasty at Silverstone last weekend while live on air, Jordan was interviewing Christian Horner of Red Bull.  He was asking Horner about the team’s controversial weekend, when Ron Dennis stepped behind Jordan, before EJ’s microphone went dead and Dennis ran off into the crowd laughing.

While many saw it as a fun practical joke, according to The Sun newspaper EJ didn’t see it quite in the same light and wants to prosecute the former McLaren team boss.

A BBC source told tabloid: “Eddie was really spitting feathers and wanted the BBC to charge Dennis with criminal damage.”


Raikkonen Backs Away From 2011 F1 Return But Considers 2012 Date

Kimi Raikkonen has backed away from claims he was about to make a shock return to Formula One next season with the Renault team.

Raikkonen, who won the F1 world championship in 2007, left the sport at the end of last season.  He now races in World Rally with the Citroen Junior Team in partnership with Red Bull.

Reports from within the Renault team camp suggested that they had made an offer for Kimi to join Robert Kubica at the team for next season replacing Vitaly Petrov.  However today Raikkonen suggested he was happy with rallying, for the time being at least.

“I don’t miss Formula 1 and I am enjoying what I am doing now,” Raikkonen told reporters

“I have still not decided what I am doing next year yet. Soon I have to decide, maybe it will be just after Rally Finland.”

Meanwhile Oliver Quesnel of Citroen Motorsport was confident the Finn would sign for another season.

“I’m sure this will happen,” he said. “For myself, he is really involved in rallying and he wants to succeed. I will be pleased if he will stay. he has done one year and he needs to do one more year to make sure.”

Red Bull are said to be very happy with their partnership with Raikkonen, and there is still a possibility he could return to F1 in 2012 but with the high flying Red Bull team in place of Mark Webber.  He would theoretically be racing alongside Sebastian Vettel.


Ecclestone Tips Schumacher For Retriement

Bernie Ecclestone has tipped former 7 time world champion Michael Schumacher for retirement at the end of the season, echoing claims by Sir Jackie Stewart that the German is to leave F1.

Schumacher only returned to racing this season following an absence since the end of 2006.  He joined up with the newly formed Mercedes Benz team, but so far his performances have been relatively lacklustre compared to the Schumacher of old.

Despite Michael, 41, claiming he will stay and see out his 3 year contract, Ecclestone believes he might call it a day.

“If Schumacher doesn’t perform I doubt whether he will want to stay,” Ecclestone told City AM

“He is obviously fit, motivated and talented but the car hasn’t been up to him,” he added


Raikkonen Linked To Renault Drive For 2011

Former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen is been linked with a return to Formula One next season with the Renault F1 Team.

Raikkonen, 30, is currently racing for Citroen Red Bull in the World Rally Championship with varying degrees of success.  Consistent top 10 performances are sometimes marred by heavy accidents.

The Finn is said to have some interest in a return to the sport which he left at the end of last season, following a pay-off from Ferrari to make way for Fernando Alonso.  Raikkonen delivered Ferrari its last World Championship back in 2007.

Gerard Lopez, the new boss of the Renault F1 Team is said to want to bring Kimi back to F1 with his team, to partner Robert Kubica.

“As I always say, I have no problems with my team mates.” Kubica told Eurosport at Silverstone

“If Kimi will join us it will be very good. I think he is a great, talented driver.

“It might be very, very good (to have a) driver line-up with him but I don’t know what the future will bring us and who will be my team mate next year. I think it’s still too early to say,” added the Pole.

Meanwhile Raikkonen received praise from former Ferrari favourite Jean Alesi for his performances in WRC.

“Imagine what it means for a driver to start anew in a discipline the exact opposite of what he has always done.” Alesi  told motorsport.com

“For that, for his courage to challenge himself in such a way, I admire him,”


ART Confirm Their Withdrawl From 2011 Team Bid

ART Grand Prix, the French team who run many cars in motorsport around the world have confirmed they will not be pursuing their bid to become the 13th team in Formula One, starting next season.

ART were heavily tipped to become the final team, taking over USF1’s slot on the teams list.  Top F1 sources including the FIA, Autosport and this website all believed ART had what it took to become the next new team.

The team emphasised it still wanted to get to F1, but the economic conditions were just not right.

“ART Grand Prix has decided to withdraw their application to the International Federation of Automobiles (FIA) to take part in the 2011 Formula One World Championship,” said a statement from ART.

“The team has been working for several months on this ambitious project that they had undertaken with determination and lucidity.

“ART Grand Prix had forged strong bonds with several technical and financial partners but with unfavourable economic conditions they could not gather the necessary guarantees to ensure the stability of the project in the long term.

“Therefore, the company will have to postpone its project until a later date, however it remains completely focused and dedicated to the other single-seater championships in which they are successfully involved in.”