Ecclestone: Sepang could use a “paint job”

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While Formula One leader Bernie Ecclestone hopes he’ll be able to extend the current contract for the Malaysian Grand Prix (due to expire in 2015), the British billionaire is also leaning on race organizers to complete their renovations on the Sepang International Circuit — mentioning that it needed a “paint job.”

“They need to finish what they started,” Ecclestone told The Star of Malaysia. “It is obviously not the same as Singapore. Maybe because they don’t spend the money.”

The Sepang circuit, which can seat up to 130,000 fans and lies south of the country’s capital of Kuala Lumpur, opened in 1999 with Formula One making its debut there that year. Organizers are currently in the second year of a five-year refurbishment project to the facility, with The Star reporting that the next main priority is the installation of a roof at the track’s paddock area, as well as additional public restrooms and surau, or prayer rooms.

The roof is set to be completed in time for the track’s MotoGP event in October.

However, outside of refurbishing Sepang, Ecclestone appears relatively happy with the Malaysian Grand Prix and wants to keep it on the F1 calendar for a while — telling The Star that “there are no dramas” involved in working with organizers there.

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.