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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Malaysia wants to keep GP beyond 2010
  • Schu is most popular Ferrari driver ever
  • Fisi hopes for quicker Renault in Malaysia
  • Speed ridicules party-animal criticism
  • Alonso denies Hamilton best ever teammate

Malaysia wants to keep GP beyond 2010
The boss of the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur says Malaysia wants to host formula one races beyond the expiration of the current contract.

Sepang chairman Datuk Mokhzani Tun Mahathir revealed that he was telephoned by a reporter this week asking if he was worried about F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's recent negotiations with officials for a Singapore grand prix.

"I replied that we have the mandate from the (Malaysian) Prime Minister and the government to negotiate the hosting of F1 beyond 2010," the Bernama news agency quoted him as saying.

He insisted: "So, I have that mandate and we are talking to F1 management about that."

Sepang, located near Kuala Lumpur, began staging F1 races in 1999. Dakut Mokhzani Tun Mahathir said two meetings with Ecclestone about a contract extension had already taken place since last September.

"It's up to the management of F1 to make a decision," he added.

Schu is most popular Ferrari driver ever
Retired seven time world champion Michael Schumacher is the most popular Ferrari driver of all time.

That is the finding of a survey conducted by the Italian daily sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, which said 49 per cent of the 16,887 readers who responded voted for the recently departed German.

At second place was Gilles Villeneuve, who died in a crash whilst practicing in his Ferrari in Belgium in 1982.

The French Canadian netted 22.6 per cent of the vote, ahead of Jean Alesi (10.8%), Nigel Mansell (6%), Niki Lauda (3.8%), and the late Michele Alboreto (3.7%) and Clay Regazzoni (1.7%).

Conspicuously missing from the top ten were Schumacher's recent teammates Rubens Barrichello and Eddie Irvine, and also the highly successful Alberto Ascari and John Surtees.

Fisi hopes for quicker Renault in Malaysia
Giancarlo Fisichella and Pat Symonds have given a mixed appraisal of Renault's uncompetitive showing at the 2007 opener.

Symonds, the French squad's veteran engineering chief, admitted that the reigning champion team's beating at the hands of McLaren and BMW in Melbourne was a "major surprise".

"We believed that we could race BMW, and that we were not far off McLaren on race pace," he lamented, after Fisichella finished a lowly fifth in Australia, more than one minute behind Kimi Raikkonen's dominant Ferrari.

Roman Fisichella told f1.com: "For sure Ferrari are one step ahead, but I would be very surprised if Renault did not come back to challenge McLaren and BMW for the next race in Malaysia."

The 33-year-old, however, had worryingly told reporters at Albert Park last Sunday that the R27 felt balanced and quick in a straight line.

"Nothing's wrong with the engine," he confirmed, insisting that the switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tires has hurt Renault most.

"We lack grip, or at least (we) did in Melbourne.

"(But it) is an odd track and results (there) can be misleading. So let's wait for the next two races and see."

Fisichella will not test at Sepang next week, as Heikki Kovalainen has been promised all three days to improve for Malaysia after his disastrous debut.

Speed ridicules party-animal criticism
Scott Speed has dismissed as "ridiculous" claims that his party-going ways nearly cost him his seat in formula one.

The Californian was the last driver to be guaranteed his spot on the 2007 grid, after Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger questioned his commitment over the winter.

"It is ridiculous," Speed was quoted as saying by the official website of the US grand prix.

"For sure, I am the person in the paddock who parties the least. I don't even drink alcohol."

Backing up his case, 24-year-old Speed outperformed his teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi all weekend at Albert Park, despite sliding out of the race with two punctured tires.

Alonso denies Hamilton best ever teammate
Reigning world champion Fernando Alonso has played down suggestions that Lewis Hamilton looks set to be his toughest teammate yet in formula one.

The Spaniard only managed to get ahead of debutant Hamilton, 22, in the final pit stops in Melbourne last Sunday, amid some suggestions that McLaren had to employ a pitwall tactic to ensure the finishing order.

Alonso, 25, told Spanish reporters on Sunday that he had felt slightly held up behind Briton Hamilton, but admitted: "It's true that it was a good fight, as I always seemed to have with my teammates in Australia.

"I remember (Giancarlo) Fisichella winning the race (in 2005)."

Prior to Fisichella, Alonso was paired with Jarno Trulli at Renault, and he pointed out: "I had difficult moments with him in 2004, he won in Monaco and he had more podiums than me.

"So I am not agreed with you that Lewis is the fastest one I have been against.

"Fisichella normally started the seasons better than me, last year he won in Malaysia as well.

"So I see it more or less similar to today," Alonso insisted.

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