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F1 - RICCIARDO TOPS ROOKIE TEST DAY 1

Daniel Ricciardo set the quickest lap on the first day of rookie testing in Abu Dhabi, posting a lap over a second quicker than the second best time of McLaren’s Oliver Turvey. After a total of 70 laps, the young Australian's lap of 1:39.616s would have seen him qualify for last Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 3rd place on the grid behind eventual champion Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.


 Fully aware that the pressure was on 12 months after he had impressed the F1 fraternity in Jerez, Spain, Ricciardo told the Australian Associated Press he knew what the expectations would be from both inside and outside the team. "Last year's test went well and now having spent a year with them, they'll expect pretty solid feedback," the 21 year old confirmed. "There is more pressure on me to be fastest, especially as the team has won the Constructors' Championship and everyone knows it's probably the fastest car out there nine times out of ten - but I just want to enjoy it, that's the main thing. Not many 21-year-old kids can drive the fastest car around."

Driving for McLaren, Oliver Turvey impressed after setting a 1:41.094s final lap effort, and gathered plenty of useful data for the team. Gary Paffett is due to take over driving duties tomorrow.

Formula 3 Euro Series race-winner Antonio Felix da Costa was also quick late in the day improving to third-fastest with 10 minutes to go. It was the Portuguese driver's first taste of Formula 1 and his late improvement moved him ahead of Sauber reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez. Force
India
and Sauber will run Yelmer Buurman and Sergio Perez tomorrow.

Formula 2 champion Dean Stoneman improved to fifth place late on. Driving for Williams, he spent the morning concentrating on aerodynamic work and was able to spend more time improving his own driving in the afternoon, setting his best time with a few minutes to go to move ahead of Renault's Mikhail Aleshin.

British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne also made his F1 debut, lapping three tenths off Aleshin and ahead of Force India reserve Paul di Resta, who ran first thing in the morning to create a baseline for da Costa to work from. However, he did not do a comparable run.

Sam Bird completed the first of two days of running for Mercedes, completing 61 laps. He is likely to have the chance to set some more eye-catching times tomorrow after focusing on aerodynamic work today.

Virgin's Jerome d'Ambrosio was best of the new team drivers, pipping impressive HRT debutant Pastor Maldonado in the closing stages. Both ended the day ahead of Ferrari's Jules Bianchi, who spent the day focusing on development work, Lotus driver Rodolfo Gonzalez and Virgin's Rio Haryanto.


Day 1 times

1. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull - 1m39.616s

2. Oliver Turvey - McLaren - 1m40.725s

3. Antonio Felix da Costa - Force India - 1m41.381s

4. Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber - 1m41.432s

5. Dean Stoneman - Williams - 1m41.522s

6. Mikhail Aleshin - Renault - 1m42.073s

7. Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso - 1m42.489s

8. Paul di Resta - Force India - 1m42.736s

9. Sam Bird - Mercedes - 1m42.985s

10. Jerome D'Ambrosio - Virgin - 1m43.518s

11. Pastor Maldonado - HRT - 1m43.750s

12. Jules Bianchi - Ferrari - 1m43.894s

13. Rodolfo Gonzalez - Lotus - 1m44.924s

14. Rio Haryanto - Virgin - 1m49.439s

F1 - NEWS - WILLIAMS CONFIRM BARRICHELLO

Williams have announced that Rubens Barrichello will be continuing with the team in 2011 and also that Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving the British team. The Oxfordshire based team said Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello's 2011 teammate "will be confirmed before the end of the year".

 

Rubens Barrichello enjoyed a successful first season with Williams, and his 18th in the sport. The Brazilian drove his FW32 into the qualifying top ten a total of 13 times and claimed 10 points scoring finishes over the year, all of which helped the team move forward to sixth place in the Constructors' Championship at yesterday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The team can also confirm that Nico Hulkenberg will not contest the 2011 FIA World Championship with AT&T Williams. Nico joined the squad as a rookie at the start of the season, following a dominating career in Formula 3 and GP2 supported by Williams. Convincing performances in his debut year in Formula One culminated in 14th place in the Drivers' Championship and an undoubtedly bright future in the sport. The team wishes to thank Nico for his dedication and team work over the past year, and for delivering a memorable first pole position in five seasons for the team at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Of the announcement Frank Williams, Team Principal of the AT&T Williams team, said, "'First, I would like to thank Nico for his hard work this year, and before that in preparing himself for Formula One. We are very proud to have supported him as he secured the Formula 3 and GP2 titles and during his debut in Formula One. At Williams we have for many years tried to bring new talent into the sport, and we are convinced that Nico will go on to great things. We wish him well and hope that our paths will cross again in the future."

Frank continued, "We recruited Rubens to Williams knowing that he would bring technical expertise, experience and passion. He has delivered everything we could have hoped for this season and we are delighted to confirm that he will drive for us again in 2011."

The news follows comments in Abu Dhabi by Hulkenberg's manager Willi Weber, who said he believes the team has already signed Pastor Maldonado.
 
Rumours now suggest that Force India or Renault may be Nico Hulkenberg's best chance to stay in Formula One next year. Hulkenberg's manager Willi Weber revealed: "I am negotiating with other teams. Nico will have his seat in F1 in 2011."  and that more news will come in the next "one or two weeks

F1 - BRAZILIAN GP 2ND PRACTICE TIMES

As per the morning session, the Red Bull Racing drivers set the fastest lap times, but on this occasion the Ferraris, McLarens and Renaults were all in the mix  

Pos. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1'11.968 28
2 6 Mark Webber Red Bull 1'12.072 0.104 34
3 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1'12.328 0.36 36
4 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1'12.656 0.688 33
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1'12.677 0.709 19
6 11 Robert Kubica Renault F1 1'12.882 0.914 37
7 1 Jenson Button McLaren 1'13.206 1.238 33
8 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1'13.222 1.254 40
9 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1'13.333 1.365 34
10 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1'13.346 1.378 36
11 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1 1'13.520 1.552 37
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1'13.610 1.642 41
13 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams F1 1'13.725 1.757 39
14 14 Adrian Sutil Force India 1'13.741 1.773 32
15 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault F1 1'13.818 1.85 26
16 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India 1'14.045 2.077 37
17 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1'14.304 2.336 33
18 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1'14.578 2.61 37
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus Racing 1'14.984 3.016 47
20 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Racing 1'15.101 3.133 43
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin Racing 1'15.433 3.465 35
22 21 Bruno Senna HRT F1 1'16.070 4.102 42
23 20 Christian Klien HRT F1 1'16.082 4.114 38
24 24 Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1'16.150 4.182 35

F1 - BRAZILIAN GP FIRST PRACTICE TIMES

Red bull comfortably quickest while Ferrari struggle

Pos. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1'12.328 23
2 6 Mark Webber Red Bull 1'12.810 0.482 28
3 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1'12.845 0.517 24
4 1 Jenson Button McLaren 1'13.267 0.939 24
5 11 Robert Kubica Renault F1 1'13.370 1.042 24
6 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1'13.516 1.188 26
7 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1 1'13.546 1.218 26
8 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1'13.643 1.315 25
9 14 Adrian Sutil Force India 1'13.918 1.59 26
10 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1'14.000 1.672 23
11 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1'14.004 1.676 23
12 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams F1 1'14.155 1.827 29
13 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1'14.246 1.918 20
14 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1'14.267 1.939 26
15 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault F1 1'14.370 2.042 23
16 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India 1'14.487 2.159 26
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1'14.618 2.29 30
18 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1'14.734 2.406 29
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus Racing 1'15.603 3.275 25
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1'15.860 3.532 20
21 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Racing 1'16.057 3.729 26
22 25 Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1'16.707 4.379 28
23 20 Christian Klien HRT F1 1'16.839 4.511 18
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT F1 1'17.360 5.032 30

F1 - INTERLAGOS INTRIGUE

The reportedly 'strong rumour' in the Brazilian paddock is that Proton owned Group Lotus, contesting Tony Fernandes' right to call his team Lotus in 2011, could buy into the Renault team.

 

 

Two interesting rumours emerged on Friday during the opening Formula One practice session at Interlagos.

 During the BBC's radio coverage of the first 90 minute session, commentators discussed the likelihood that the team currently known as Lotus Racing will have to use a different name in 2011.

 But a team could still be called 'Lotus', they said. The reportedly 'strong rumour' in the Brazilian paddock is that Proton owned Group Lotus, contesting Tony Fernandes' right to call his team Lotus in 2011, could buy into the Renault team.

 Fascinatingly, the team currently known as Renault could then become known as Lotus-Renault in 2011.

 Lotus Racing has done an engine deal with Renault for 2011, so it also wants to be called Lotus-Renault next year.

Another rumour reported by the BBC on Friday morning is that Mark Webber, following his outbursts in the media 24 hours ago, could leave Red Bull after next Sunday's Abu Dhabi finale whether he is crowned World Champion or not. Webber on Friday would not categorically deny rumours he is set to quit Red Bull and possibly Formula One after next Sunday's season finale Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi.

 After making critical comments at Interlagos about the team's approach on Thursday, the big rumour in the paddock now is that the Australian is set to leave. The chance he will simply retire, particularly if he wins the World Championship, is considered high, although some believe he might be signed by Ferrari to replace the struggling Felipe Massa.

 When asked if he is leaving Red Bull for 2011 despite having signed a contract, the 34 year old told BBC Sport: "That's a pretty big step to take." "As long as I'm enjoying my driving and performing really well, then of course I'll be here next year," added Webber. But in a separate interview, Webber said only that there is "a good chance" he will still be at Red Bull next season.

 Team boss Christian Horner said during the practice session that he had been 'surprised' with the Australian's comments on Thursday. "He needs to get down and focus on the job," added the Briton. 

34 year old Webber has already agreed a contract to race with Red Bull next year, but has admitted he would like to retire whilst at the top.