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GP Week : Issue 156
BRIEFLY » Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region has been victim to two recent earthquakes, the last of which occurred on Tuesday and was felt across northern and eastern Italy. At least 17 people were killed in the 5.8-magnitude quake. Following the earthquake, Ferrari suspended activity at its factory, allowing employees to return to their families. The Italian marque has now announced that it will hold an online auction to raise funds for victims of the earthquakes. Lots will include a £1million 599XX Evo, a V8 engine from one of its Formula One cars, and team kit including race suits and helmets worn by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. A dedicated auction section will go live on www.ferraristore.com this week. » Word in the Monaco paddock is that Sergio Perez is getting too big for his boots, and upsetting members of the Sauber team in the process. The media attention following the young racer’s sterling performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this season combined with constant chatter of a move to Ferrari are said to have gone to his head, and there were grumblings that Perez was becoming something of a prima donna. Whatever might be happening behind closed doors, Perez has continued to present an affable and contented face to the media. Despite the rumours of a mid-season Ferrari switch, Perez has spoken publicly of his desire to honour his contract with Sauber, saying last week: “Should that situation really come about I would reject it as I would not want to make a switch in the middle of a season.” Organisers of the US Grand Prix in New Jersey this week found themselves under fire from Bernie Ecclestone in what has become a predictable part of the process of putting on a new race. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is a dab hand at using the media to his own ends, and often makes public criticisms with the express intention of speeding up progress on one of his projects. This week he called the 2013 New Jersey race into question after revealing that the organisers were late with payments. “I don't know if [the 2013 race] is going to happen,” Ecclestone told ESPN. “I hope everything will be okay. They are sorting things out internally with some of their funds. If they are ready for 2013 we will have them. “We are waiting for different parts of the contract to be agreed,” he added. But representatives of the New Jersey race are confident that they are on course to hold their maiden grand prix in 2013, as scheduled. “We don't comment on our contractual relationship with Formula 1 or its details,” a spokesman for the New Jersey race said. “We are on track for a June 2013 race, with all course engineering and construction progressing precisely on schedule, a strong management team in place, and strong on-going support from New Jersey, New York City and the local communities involved. We are very confident the 2013 F1 Grand Prix of America will be a great event.” While Bernie Ecclestone has never shied away from cancelling contracts if obligations are not met, the one advantage the New Jersey race organisers have over the master negotiator’s previous foes is their location. Ecclestone has long wanted a grand prix against the dramatic Manhattan skyline, and the Hudson River race will afford just the view. Whenever it does get round to making its first appearance on the F1 calendar, the New Jersey race is expected to be twinned with the Canadian Grand Prix in June. BERNIE PUTS PRESSURE ON NEW JERSEY 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS