Latest F1 news in brief
- Schu to attend July's French GP
- Ferrari aim for three-tenth step in Spain
- Ferrari to tweak floor design - Marc Gene
- Gene expects Alonso to beat Hamilton
- Hamilton has 'long way to go' - Wurz
- Heidfeld slowed for 'Green Hell' attack
- Heidfeld holds back after Howett insult
- Spaniards want to drink beer with Alonso
Schu to attend July's French GP
(GMM) Michael Schumacher will attend the French grand prix in July this year, organizers of the Magny Cours race announced on Thursday.
The seven time world champion's visit, after he retired at the end of last season following a nearly 16-year career in formula one, is in connection with an agreement between the race and the charity ICM, which is also supported by Ferrari boss Jean Todt.
Schumacher, 38 and still an 'advisor' to the Ferrari team, won eight times at Magny Cours, including in 2006.
France may not, incidentally, be Schumacher's first visit to a grand prix since racing for the last time in Brazil last October.
His spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said recently that the German could attend the upcoming Barcelona race, and Schumacher is also rumored to be planning a trip to the Nurburgring later in July.
Ferrari aim for three-tenth step in Spain
(GMM) Ferrari aim to counter any step forward by McLaren at the upcoming Spanish grand prix by improving by as much as two or three tenths per lap.
That is the revelation of Marc Gene, who is an active test driver for the Maranello based team.
"We will also race in Barcelona with important aerodynamic modifications," the 33-year-old, fresh from victory in a recent sports car race at Monza, told the newspaper Marca on Thursday.
"It will be our first major update of the year, and we want it to deliver between two and three tenths."
Spaniard Gene said Ferrari's F2007 had been specifically designed to allow for unproblematic and genuine developments.
Explaining that the car's update will be tested at Barcelona next week, he added: "We knew that there were many ways in which we could improve this car."
Ferrari to tweak floor design - Marc Gene
(GMM) Team test driver Marc Gene has played down the impact that the FIA's new clamp-down on flexible floors will have on Ferrari's pace at the upcoming Spanish grand prix.
The Spaniard said Maranello based engineers had to slightly modify the under-body of the F2007 single seater following the first rule clarification earlier in 2007, which was sparked by the informal complaint of rival team McLaren.
But "our car has been legal all season," Gene, 33, is quoted as saying by the newspaper Diario As.
"We made some adjustments to pass the test and it made no difference to our lap times.
"I see this as an issue that affects all teams, not just us. Our floor moves only so it doesn't break in the event of an impact."
Gene explained that he thought the renewed flexibility tests, to quadruple the load applied by the governing body's scrutineers, would require another tweak for the existing design.
Gene expects Alonso to beat Hamilton
(GMM) Ferrari's test driver has warned formula one rookie Lewis Hamilton to expect to be outpaced by Fernando Alonso in 2007.
Much is being made of 22-year-old Hamilton's defeat of the reigning world champion recently in Bahrain, but 33-year-old Marc Gene said on Thursday that he expected the true pecking order at McLaren to be established soon.
"(Hamilton) has surprised everyone, including myself, and probably himself as well," Gene told the Spanish newspaper Marca.
"But I am sure that Fernando will soon begin to get the upper hand, although of course I hope that Ferrari do most of the winning!
"I may be Spanish (like Alonso) but I am with Ferrari and we do not want Fernando to be winning," Gene said.
He also refused to join calls for Kimi Raikkonen to up his game at Ferrari, after some have pointed out that the Finn seems to focus all of his energy into simply racing his car.
"Michael (Schumacher) would happily test all day, trying new things and thinking about his work constantly," Gene noted, "but not everyone is the same.
"Thankfully, Ferrari is open to all personalities."
Hamilton has 'long way to go' - Wurz
(GMM) Alex Wurz has backed F1's world champion to bounce back at the upcoming grands prix.
Joint championship leader Fernando Alonso, 25, had a difficult race recently in Bahrain, where his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton's superior pace only intensified the hype surrounding the British rookie.
But 33-year-old Wurz, the long time test driver who in 2007 returned to the race tracks with Williams, said Alonso is strong enough to not be rattled.
"When you are a double world champion and you have beaten (Michael) Schumacher I do not believe that you are afraid of anyone," Wurz told the newspaper Marca.
He said the current pecking order at Woking based McLaren could simply be down to Hamilton feeling more settled than Alonso so far.
"Lewis is new (to F1) but he has been with McLaren for many, many years," Wurz pointed out, "while Alonso has just joined (the team).
"Honestly I don't think Alonso sees himself in a difficult situation. He knows that while Hamilton has arrived in a very strong way, honestly he still has a long way to go before he is winning championships like Fernando."
Wurz said Hamilton's comfort after several years of being associated with McLaren could be "similar" to the situation at Ferrari, where Felipe Massa currently has the upper hand over newcomer Kimi Raikkonen.
Heidfeld slowed for 'Green Hell' attack
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld will have his wings clipped when he tackles the Nurburgring's famous 'Nordschleife' layout in a BMW-Sauber this weekend.
For a BMW event, the German will drive the 22km layout known as 'Green Hell' that almost claimed Niki Lauda's life back in 1976.
But team officials have clipped Heidfeld's wings by arranging that his formula one car is equipped only with 'demonstration' Bridgestone tires -- which are significantly slower than the real thing.
Heidfeld is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport as revealing that he is "disappointed" with the news.
It also emerges that 29-year-old Heidfeld will not round the Nordschleife's notorious and famous banked 'Karrussell' section.
"Obviously not," team principal Mario Theissen told the news agency 'sid', explaining that the steep and bumpy concrete banking will be off-limits to a modern formula one racer.
Ultimate performance of Heidfeld's car will also be compromised by an extraordinarily high ride-height, but Theissen insisted that he thought the BMW-Sauber would still reach impressive top speeds in excess of 300kph.
30,000 spectators are expected to watch the event unfold trackside on Saturday.
Heidfeld holds back after Howett insult
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld has refused to respond to the insult of a Toyota boss, after John Howett said the German driver belongs no higher in formula one than the "upper midfield".
"With him, we would not improve," team president Howett recently told Sport Bild.
Howett's comments follow the speculation that the Cologne based squad might be contemplating signing Heidfeld - who has an expiring BMW-Sauber contract - as a replacement for the embattled Ralf Schumacher in 2008 and beyond.
But even though it appears that Heidfeld, 29, can now strike the Japanese team off his list of potential suitors, he refused to rise to the bait of firing back at the hugely-financed outfit that in nearly six years has failed to win a grand prix.
Heidfeld said: "I know what I can do.
"I would rather keep driving quickly than try to respond with my mouth."
Spaniards want to drink beer with Alonso
(GMM) World champion Fernando Alonso has appeared third on a list of people Spaniards would most like to have a beer with.
The 25-year-old attracted 5.9 per cent of a vote published by the Ipsos News Center, on behalf of the Spanish beer producers association.
Alonso was beaten to the top spot by Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, with six per cent, and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who got the nod from 11.8% of the respondents.
The McLaren driver's notable popularity among beer drinkers is, however, interesting, given team boss Ron Dennis' imposition earlier in 2007 of a total alcohol ban for the team's driver lineup.
Dennis had said: "We don't see why (our) drivers need to have even one drink in the course of a season."