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Latest F1 news in brief
  • 'Car sharing' fight goes from bad to worse
  • Spyker wants 'b' car debut in July
  • Boss exit not death knell for Aus GP
  • Schu 'still part' of Ferrari - Massa
  • Group wants Ferrari sponsor butted out
  • BMW has 'fixed' gearbox flaw - Theissen
  • Spyker scraps Friday driver plans
  • Berger saves hype for another charger
  • McLaren probe Alonso's Bahrain struggle
  • No quick fix for career crisis - Ralf
  • Cigar-smoking Schu enjoying retirement

'Car sharing' fight goes from bad to worse
(GMM)  Red Bull is reportedly considering legal action against a former employee who leaked confidential car blueprints to its embittered rival Spyker.

The German magazine Auto Motor und Sport also reports that Red Bull, a main subject of the acrimonious and ongoing 'car sharing' row, is exploring possible action against Spyker, after the Dutch squad used the stolen blueprints in a stewards' protest at the Malaysian grand prix.

The latter would presumably involve the police, and possible criminal charges; and if authorities decide that the evidence was obtained illegally, it could not be used in the pending arbitration case.

It is also claimed that Red Bull has identified the source of the leak; a team member who left the Milton-Keynes based squad shortly after March's Australian grand prix.

Spyker wants 'b' car debut in July
(GMM)  Spyker is hoping to accelerate its plans to debut a 'b' version of its current F8-VII formula one car later this year.

After originally targeting a debut at the Turkish grand prix in late August, it is now believed that Silverstone based Spyker wants to race the Mike Gascoyne-devised update as soon as the Nurburgring in July.

Team boss Colin Kolles ordered the hurry-up following the realisation that closest rivals and fellow backmarkers Toro Rosso and Super Aguri are more competitive than the Dutch team in 2007, according to the magazine Formule 1 Race Report.

Kolles said: "At the next race in Spain we have a small update; a bigger one is coming for Monaco and then in Germany we want to drive with the new car."

Boss exit not death knell for Aus GP
(GMM)  The outgoing boss of the Australian grand prix, Tim Bamford, has played down suggestions that his departure could be the death knell for the embattled formula one race.

The annual event, staged in Melbourne since 1996 at Albert Park, came in for intense criticism recently as local commentators and politicians argued that it is now a government expense that cannot be justified.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone did not help matters when he reportedly told organisers that the event in 2008 must be floodlit and run at night -- at its own expense.

The race was then poorly attended last month, but Bamford denied that he had been eased aside in a move that could leave him looking like a scapegoat.

He insisted to the Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun: "I don't agree with that proposition.

"It's been a discussion between myself and the chairman (Ron Walker) over the past couple of months."

Schu 'still part' of Ferrari - Massa
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher may be retired but he is still an "important part" of the Ferrari team, according to Bahrain GP winner Felipe Massa.

Brazilian Massa, who was the seven time world champion's final teammate last year, revealed on Tuesday that he was again telephoned by the German after Sunday's race.

"He congratulated me and said I had a very good race," Massa, 25, was quoted as saying by the Terra website.

Last week, Massa revealed that he also spoke with Schumacher before and after the Malaysian grand prix a few days prior, where he had scored pole position and then finished fifth following a couple of mistakes.

He refused to say what the conversation was about.

"It's confidential," Felipe explained.  "He's an important part of the team and it was a nice conversation."

38-year-old Schumacher, currently on holiday with his family in Miami (USA), is still an unspecified 'advisor' to the Maranello based outfit.

Group wants Ferrari sponsor butted out
(GMM)  An anti-smoking lobby group has slammed Ferrari's formula one sponsor Philip Morris for displaying cigarette logos at the Bahrain grand prix last weekend.

We reported last month that Maranello based Ferrari, the last in formula one to be associated with a tobacco giant, intends to use a full 'Marlboro' livery at certain races this year despite the advertising bans.

Matthew L. Myers, who is president of the body 'Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids', claims that Philip Morris has therefore broken its own pledge to end all sports sponsorships that require 'above above physical fitness for someone of the age group of those taking part'.

The agreement was signed by Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco on September 11, 2001.  The two latter companies duly pulled out of formula at the end of last season.

Myers argues that Philip Morris demonstrated at the Bahrain grand prix that "profit comes before health".

"The continued formula one sponsorship is only the latest example of irresponsible conduct by the Philip Morris companies," he said.

BMW has 'fixed' gearbox flaw - Theissen
(GMM)  BMW has finally solved a mechanical problem that severely hampered its winter season and the opening races of this year.

"It is fixed," BMW-Sauber team principal Mario Theissen, referring to the recurring hydraulic flaw in its new seamless gearbox, told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

The German said the problem was a materials defect from an external supplier.

Backing Theissen's claim, Nick Heidfeld drove to a highly competitive fourth place in Bahrain last Sunday, with teammate Robert Kubica - sixth - finally finishing a race without a major problem.

Spyker scraps Friday driver plans
(GMM)  Spyker has apparently abandoned its original plan for 2007 to use Friday test drivers throughout the season.

The Dutch squad changed its plans for the initial races because of the contractual uncertainty involving Giedo van der Garde and also the need to give its race drivers Adrian Sutil and Christijan Albers more track time to assess a new bodywork package.

The new strategy put paid to Fairuz Fauzy's scheduled test drive at Sepang, and looks set to leave fellow tester Adrian Valles on the sidelines for the upcoming Spanish grand prix.

Valles may, however, test at the same Barcelona circuit at the upcoming pre-race test.

It was also rumoured that Markus Winkelhock would get a run during Friday practice for his respective home race, at the Nurburgring in July.

But team boss Colin Kolles is quoted as telling the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report: "There are more important things to consider at the present time."

Kolles also denied that the decision to sideline the testers had angered the pay drivers' respective sponsors.

Berger saves hype for another charger
(GMM)  While the rest of the motor racing world enthuses about Lewis Hamilton, ten time grand prix winner and team co-owner Gerhard Berger has saved his superlatives for another young charger.

The Austrian, who alongside Dietrich Mateschitz runs the Toro Rosso outfit, thinks the Hamilton hype has put in the shade the laudable performance so far this year of Williams' Nico Rosberg.

"I have nothing against Hamilton," Berger explained in an interview with Sport Bild.

"He is a great talent, he is doing everything right, but it must be said that he is in a really good car.

"But what I have seen Nico do with the Williams has been deeply impressive.

"The car is clearly difficult to drive but he is nonetheless faster than the works Toyotas who have the same engine," Berger said.

The 47-year-old, who famously was teammate to champions Ayrton Senna at McLaren and Nigel Mansell at Ferrari, said German Rosberg had managed to build on the foundation of his first season in formula one last year -- a task not always achieved by a rookie driver.

"Nico's performance curve has always gone upwards," Berger insisted, "and it should not be forgotten that he is still the youngest driver in the field.

"I absolutely see championship potential in him."

McLaren probe Alonso's Bahrain struggle
(GMM)  McLaren will strip Fernando Alonso's MP4-22 McLaren car at its Woking factory this week in a bid to get to the bottom of the Spaniard's lack of pace in qualifying and on Sunday at the Bahrain GP.

The reigning double world champion lagged the pace of his rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir circuit, leaving him fifth at the flag and only jointly leading the drivers' championship.

But according to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, it is possible that an incident in the Mercedes-powered team's garage on Friday night literally put a dent in Alonso's podium ambition.

Although he himself played down the possible effect on his car's speed of the incident at the time, it is true that some parts at the front of the single seater had to be replaced on Saturday morning after a lighting gantry fell from the ceiling of the garage.

'El Mundo' said only the front wing of Alonso's car was changed but it is now thought that the entire monocoque might need to be scrapped prior to the upcoming Spanish GP.

Alonso will also be given two of the three days of the upcoming Barcelona test to get to the bottom of the problem.  His impressive rookie Lewis Hamilton will test for only one day, we have learned.

Alonso told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Maybe a mistake was made while re-assembling the car after that mishap.

"The fact is the car had a strange behaviour from then on."

No quick fix for career crisis - Ralf
(GMM)  Struggling Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher is not confident that his current lack of pace will be fixed in the very near future.

The German veteran, who is competing in his eleventh consecutive season of formula one racing in 2007, this week insisted that he will "move forward" this season despite currently not getting to grips with the TF107 racer.

But although he does not have a contract beyond 2007, he now says that he is unlikely to look any quicker when the season emerges from a three week break at the Spanish grand prix next month.

Like most teams, Cologne based Toyota intends to unveil a fairly major car update for the Barcelona event.

But the German news agency 'sid' quotes 31-year-old Schumacher as saying: "The problem will go on for me for quite a while.

"The changes that we will make for Barcelona will probably not help all that much.  This problem is not just going to disappear overnight."

BMW's Mario Theissen, who worked with Schumacher at Williams between 2000 and 2004, lamented the reports that this season could be Ralf's last on the grid.

He said: "This is of course not a happy situation, neither for Ralf or for his team."

Christian Danner, meanwhile - a former formula one driver who contested 36 races in the 80s - said it is up to Schumacher to help to improve his career crisis.

"If the car does not suit his driving style then Ralf will have to change," the German said.

Cigar-smoking Schu enjoying retirement
(GMM)  Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher is showing no sign of regretting his decision to retire from formula one.

The major European newspaper Bild on Wednesday published a paparazzi photograph of the 38-year-old German, wearing nothing but bathers and sunglasses, lying beside a luxury hotel swimming pool in Miami (USA) with a huge cigar between his fingers.

Another photo snapped the former Ferrari driver, perched on a sun bed alongside his wife Corinna at South Beach's Ritz-Carlton, flipping idly through the pages of a racing magazine.

'Bild' humorously concluded that Schumacher had swapped pole position for 'pool position', and an observer added that the former driver was enjoying his holiday with his family without being recognised as a famous racer.

Schumacher's schedule will get a bit more serious next Monday, however, when he speaks at the launch of the UN Road Safety Week in London.

Schumacher, who recently played a match for his local squad FC Echichens, has also signed on to become a 'Swiss ambassador' for the UEFA Euro 2008 football tournament.

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