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GP Week : Issue 163
BRIEFLY » Williams driver Bruno Senna was honoured with the 2012 Lorenzo Bandini Trophy in the run-up to the German Grand Prix. The trophy, which has been given annually since 1992, is awarded to ‘an outstanding figure from the world of motor-racing’. Past winners include all six of the grid’s current champions, plus Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, and Nico Rosberg. “I have to thank everyone at Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini and all the people involved in organising the event,” the Brazilian racer said. “It's a huge honour to be chosen to receive such a prestigious award. I've seen some of the names who have won this in the past and what they have gone on to achieve in their careers, so let's hope this is just the start of greater things for me too. I'm really happy I was able to be here to see it all come together and thank you again to everyone for letting me be a part of this special event.’’ » Despite political problems earlier this year, organisers of the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi insist that work is progressing on schedule. “We solved all the problems in projecting the track,” said Mikhail Kapirulin, director general of the company in charge of the construction work. “We're building the track in tight co-operation with our colleagues, who are building Olympic venues in Sochi. It makes us confident that we will build a top-class racing track in Sochi. It will be a great track.” Talk of a London Grand Prix will not go away, despite the obvious impracticalities that surround a race in the city. As GPWEEK reported last month, one London race proposal sees Formula One on a shortlist of four possible re-uses for the Olympic Stadium in Stratford after the London 2012 games. At that time, F1 was thought to be the least likely of the four options on the table. But an official statement released by the Legacy Corporation this week asserts that Formula One is being given serious consideration, and is currently being evaluated for compliancy. “Following an extension to the bidding period, the Legacy Corporation can today reveal it has received four bids for the venue,” the statement read. “Bids from West Ham United, Intelligent Transport Services in association with Formula One, UCFB College of Football Business and Leyton Orient will now be assessed to ensure they are compliant before being evaluated ahead of negotiations.” Despite this positive confirmation, it remains unlikely that Formula One will find its second British home in east London. The internal dimensions of the stadium make it impossible to house the starting grid inside the structure, and plans to have the cars racing around the Olympic Park with brief forays into the stadium are also impractical. The existing access tunnels to the stadium are not wide enough for F1 cars to navigate safely, and some of those tunnels cannot be widened as their walls contain structural supports for the stadium building as a whole. Add to that the difficulty of creating a track that will offer overtaking opportunities inside the stadium, where the bulk of theoretical spectators will be sitting, and the difficulty of creating a pit complex, and it seems that the Olympic race proposal is based in as much reality as Santander’s CGI city centre fantasy. NO LET-UP ON LONDON GP CHAT F1 >>> NEWS According to reports in the German media this week, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone looks likely to face charges in the Gerhard Gribkowsky scandal. At the end of June, the German banker was sentenced to eight- and-a -half years in prison following Gribkowsky’s admission that he had taken corrupt payments, avoided paying tax, and committed a breach of trust in his work for employers BayernLB in the sale of their Formula One stake to CVC Capital Partners. Despite his admission of guilt, Gribkowsky is appealing his sentence. Gribkowsky was interrogated by the Munich prosecutors for eight hours earlier this week, and his statements have reportedly piqued the prosecutors' interest in Ecclestone, who thus far has appeared before the courts solely as a witness. The prosecutors have refrained from passing on any details concerning what is an on-going investigation, although they did confirm reports of Gribkowsky's interrogation. According to the Financial Times (Deutschland), Gribkowsky was allowed to lie in an attempt to save his skin when he was the one on trial, but as a potential witness in this latest investigation involving Ecclestone he is obligated to tell the truth. Gribkowsky retains the right to refuse to appear as a witness, but does not appear to have invoked it. The FT report further states that – in German legal circles – the rumour doing the rounds is that the Munich prosecutors planned to arrest Ecclestone in the Hockenheim paddock. Apparently there was enough new information in Gribkowsky's comments to provide grounds for an arrest. However, despite the fact that Ecclestone had long avowed that he would be in Hockenheim from Sunday, the Formula One boss was not to be found in the paddock all weekend. While the German courts have the option of issuing an EU-wide arrest warrant for Ecclestone should they feel that they have a case to pursue, it is better for the F1 boss if any arrest happens outside of Germany. As the owner of a long-rang private jet, Ecclestone is enough of a flight risk that he could be imprisoned for up to eighteen months while the prosecutors bring a case together. GRIBKOWSKY SINGS LIKE A CANARY 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: