Formula 1 gossip and rumours from international media

SUNDAY - 18 MARCH

Bernie Ecclestone is preparing Formula 1 for a $10bn (£6.3bn) flotation on a Stock Exchange in Asia.

Full story: The Sunday Times (subscription required)

The long-term future of the British Grand Prix is back in jeopardy as a proposed 'takeover' of Silverstone, backed by Qatari money and potentially worth £500m, is off.

Full story: Mail on Sunday

SATURDAY - 17 MARCH

Bernie Ecclestone is adamant that the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead because the organisers would not take unnecessary risks.

Full story: Daily Telegraph

A protest group in Bahrain has written to Ecclestone demanding that the forthcoming grand prix in the country is cancelled.

Full story: Pitpass

Pastor Maldonado leads the F1 drivers who bring money to the cockpit, bringing in an estimated £45m in sponsorship cash for Williams.

Full story: The Guardian

FRIDAY - 16 MARCH

The FIA will renew attempts to remove stepped noses from Formula 1 next year. The idea of a mandatory cover to hide the height transition was considered at the end of 2011 but failed to win the necessary unanimous support needed for rule changes to be implemented at that time.

Full story: Autosport

Michael Schumacher of Mercedes laments Melbourne's changeable weather ahead of the weekend's opening race. "Today was a nice start into a hopefully exciting season, and certainly two promising sessions for us," he says. "However, I would not go so far as to speak about being confident, as the weather conditions were too mixed to gain a clear picture."

Full story: Formula1.com

The Ferrari team also found the brief but heavy showers in Melbourne made it difficult to gauge. Fernando Alonso finished fourth in both the morning and afternoon and Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa was 18th in the F2012 in the morning after a harmless spin left him stuck in a gravel trap and then seventh in the afternoon.

Full story: Ferrari.com

THURSDAY - 15 MARCH

The first design innovation debate of the new season has arisen already. Mercedes' rear wing concept, which improves drag reduction when DRS is activated, has been cleared by the FIA as within the rules. Mercedes boss Ross Brawn says: "We have a system and we don't believe there is anything contentious about it."

Full story:Autosport

Brawn also believes that the presence of Jenson Button in the McLaren team has made Lewis Hamilton a better driver. While saying that Hamilton is sure to come back stronger this year, he added: "I think, with Jenson, Lewis has seen someone who is maybe not as ultimately quick as him, but someone who is able to apply himself more effectively."

Full story: The Telegraph

Caterham's new driver Vitaly Petrov has hit back at criticisms he is a 'pay driver', who gets seats by bringing lucrative sponsorship to teams. "I see no difference between myself and Alonso," he said. "Everyone knows that he is funded by the money from [Ferrari sponsor] Banco Santander. Anyway, you only get to F1 because of talent." The Russian, who has taken over the Caterham seat from Italian veteran Jarno Trulli for 2012, also said that Italian drivers lack passion.

Full story:La Stampa (in Italian)

Formula 1 could soon be returning to Argentina, according to the country's president Cristina Fernandez. A three-year race deal is close to being finalised, starting from the 2013 season. And a new circuit is being earmarked to host the grand prix, at the seaside resort of Mar del Plata, 400km from the capital Buenos Aires. "For us it will be very important because, after football, racing is the second favourite sport for Argentineans," said Fernandez.

Full story: Autosport

WEDNESDAY - 14 MARCH

Sebastian Vettel has named his new RB8 car "Abbey" after the legendary Beatles album Abbey Road. Vettel has previously named his cars "Luscious Liz" and "Kinky Kylie", but is yet to affix an adjective to Abbey. "Let's see how she behaves," he said.

Full story: tThe Sun

Staying with Vettel, the double world champion has warned his rivals he is hungry for more success in Formula 1 as he bids to secure a third consecutive World Championship title. "I have never had to ask myself the question, do I want this again or why am I here? Nothing has changed," he says. "I am still hungry, and I am still getting upset when there is someone else beating me - which is a good thing for sure."

Full story: Autosport

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso believes first few rounds of the 2012 season could be a struggle for his team, but he is confident they can resolve their development struggles before it is too late. "Sure, we will have to grit our teeth for the first few races, but first of all, we have to see exactly where we are in terms of being competitive and then give our all to bring home as many points as possible in this early stage of the championship," Alonso says.

Full story: Formula1.com

Kimi Raikkonen will not bow to convention as he prepares to make F1 race return with Lotus in Melbourne. "I do what I want," Raikkonen tells the paper. "If I want to go out and have fun with my friends I can. There's no one who tells me I'm not allowed to do it. As long as you do your work at 100 per cent then I don't see the problem."

Full story: the Telegraph

TUESDAY - 13 MARCH

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has said Ferrari should appoint someone like Red Bull design legend Adrian Newey as an answer to their current woes. He believes Ferrari's problems are not from a lack of leadership, but are more technical and that someone like Newey could change their fortunes.

Full story: Corriere dello Sport (in Italian)

There are going to be some big surprises during the early part of the season, according to Lotus boss Eric Boullier. "Yes, it is going to be a freaky one! Qualifying in Melbourne and the first races are going to be unpredictable. The tyres are going to make things very interesting. If you push too hard in qualifying then you are going to be screwed for the first part of the race - and if you pit too early it may mean you need to make an extra stop."

Full story:Autosport

Damon Hill has said he understood why something "cracked" for Lewis Hamilton last year, but believes he will be back to his best in 2012: "Lewis was a child prodigy - this is the problem. When you have been brought up from an early age to be a product, at some point something will crack. It is an artificial, overprotective development. It is almost a form of brain-washing and not healthy for anyone. I really hope Lewis has found what he has been looking for. It certainly looks as though he is settled."

Full story: the Sun

MONDAY - 12 MARCH

Lewis Hamilton has admitted that last season he did not get the balance right between socialising and focusing on his job. "It's all about sacrifices," he says. "It's about the travelling that you do, the decisions you make in your life, keeping your focus when you're training, not wasting energy. If I get a call from a friend saying, 'Why don't you come out tonight?' I stay at home ready to get up and train. Last year there were quite a few times when I went out and enjoyed myself."

Full story: Daily Telegraph

Another from Lewis. This time he believes his recent move to Monaco has helped increase his feel-good factor ahead of the new Formula 1 season.

Full story: Daily Mail

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali says he is "realistic" about the team "not reaching our targets" in terms of the performance of the new F2012 car. He says the team are still working on the "extreme" exhaust design that they had to abandon after it overheated the rear tyres at the first pre-season test. A revised version will be tried at the Mugello test after the fourth race of the season.

Full story: Ferrari website

Robert Kubica has returned to the cockpit for the first time since his rallying accident more than a year ago. The Polish driver took to the wheel of a Skoda Fabia for a test on Thursday in Genoa.

Full story: Joe Saward's grand prix blog

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says he would "welcome" a budget cap restricting the spending of the top teams compared to the level of the smaller teams as a way of allieviating the financial problems being encountered by a number of outfits. He also adds that it would be a "surprise" if Sebastian Vettel did not win a third consecutive world title this year.

Full story: Formula1.com

F1 race director Charlie Whiting says it is "quite likely" the regulations restricting exhausts will have to be tightened again at the end of this season, despite major restrictions being introduced this year to stop the teams using exhausts for aerodynamic effect.

Full story: FIA

Michael Schumacher has insisted he remains one of the best drivers in the world. "I was out [of F1] for three years, I'm now 43 and I don't know if I can compare myself to when I was 30," he said. "But I know I'm still one of the best in the world, that I'm motivated, that I enjoy myself and that most people are happy to have me still in F1."

Full story: Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian, requires subscription)

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