News round up in quiet time

It's fairly quiet in the holiday season but there are still bits and pieces of news and rumours doing the rounds. There always seems to be a circuit in trouble somewhere and currently it appears that the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim is in difficulty. Reportedly poor ticket sales in 2005 contributed to an operating loss of around ?1.5million.

Welcome to Hockenheim.
Photo by Honda F1 Press Office.

According to sports news agency SID, Hockenheim's mayor Dieter Gummer hopes the state of Baden Wuerttemberg, where Hockenheim is located, will provide some assistance otherwise the circuit could face bankruptcy by April 2006. However, after restructuring the debt he expects the race will go ahead for the next three years as planned

The Belgian and Italian GPs are also under threat -- Spa-Francorchamps is in financial difficulty, while Monza is trying to overturn a court ruling related to noise levels. Meanwhile, the Honda-owned Japanese tracks of Suzuka Circuitland and Twin Ring Motegi will merge to form Mobilityland Co. Ltd. Combining the management is expected to benefit both circuits.

Super Aguri is rumoured to be looking at Formula Nippon racer Yuji Ide to be teammate to Takuma Sato next season, for an all-Japanese line up. Sato has not been confirmed but it's believed he will be one of the new team's racers. Honda tester Anthony Davidson was thought to be a possibility but now it seems Ide is favoured, although so far it's only speculation.

Since McLaren announced it has signed champion Fernando Alonso for 2007, Kimi Raikkonen's future has been the focus of more speculation. The latest rumours suggest that Toyota is interested in the Finn and the Cologne-based squad has the budget to afford him. Raikkonen has also been linked with Ferrari, although what Michael Schumacher decides to do in 2007 may play a part in Raikkonen's decision.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told reporters at an end-of season dinner that he hopes Schumacher will continue for another few years but admitted Ferrari is watching "a number of drivers" for when Michael retires, or perhaps moves on -- but there are not likely to be any announcements in regard to 2007 any time soon.

FIA president Max Mosley believes a few more teams will enter the championship come 2008 if the running costs are reduced. He didn't mention any names, although former BAR boss David Richards and American team owner Roger Penske are speculated to be interested, but said "they are racing people."

"There are three, perhaps even four people who are very well known -- I'll leave it to you to guess the names -- who want to join F1, but who are currently unable to because of the costs involved," Mosley told L'Equipe. "If we manage to reduce the costs, to 100 to120 million dollars, for a reasonable budget, they will come."