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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Red Bull boss denies near Schu coup
  • Ralf tries to spark silly season
  • Renault yet to understand '07 struggle
  • Winkelhock hopes for Friday outing
  • $40m pledge to keep F1 in Germany
  • F1 bursts back into life on Monday
  • Kerr - I could make it in F1
  • Theissen vows to keep BMW small

Red Bull boss denies near Schu coup
(GMM)  A move for Michael Schumacher from Ferrari to Red Bull was never on the cards last year.

That is the insistence of Red Bull magnate and Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, despite widespread speculation last year that said 38-year-old Schumacher was weighing up whether to retire or simply move to another team.

Ferrari boss Jean Todt at the time dismissed the Red Bull gossip as "fantasy"; a description now backed by the man purportedly at the middle of the saga.

"Schumacher never received an offer from us," Mateschitz told the German newspaper Die Welt.

"It would have been wrong both for him and for us."

He agrees with Todt that if the seven time world champion ever returns to the grand prix paddock, it will be with one of the big teams.

"Schumacher's is the biggest name in formula one," Mateschitz insisted.  "If he comes back, surely it would be with Ferrari or one of the other top teams.

"It would of course be fantastic for formula one, but I think it is too premature a topic for the moment."

Ralf tries to spark silly season
(GMM)  Just three races into the 2007 season, a comment by Ralf Schumacher has threatened to ignite the driver 'silly season' by indicating that the embattled German driver is on the market.

Fending off speculation that he might struggle to find accommodation on next year's grid after languishing alongside teammate Jarno Trulli so far, 31-year-old Schumacher nonetheless suggested that Toyota may not be his only option for 2008.

"I am absolutely sure that I will be in formula one next year," he is quoted as saying by the Cologne newspaper Express.

Ralf added: "BMW has a free spot and so have Renault.  There are always other good seats."

As well as putting pressure on Toyota to re-sign him, however, Schumacher also protected the Japanese outfit from suggestions that team principal Tsutomu Tomita has been "fired" after failing to deliver on his promise of a winning car.

"With Japanese enterprises it is completely normal for this to happen every three, four years," Ralf explained.

He added: "He has not been fired; actually, it is completely the opposite.  (Tomita) is moving upwards in the Toyota hierarchy."

Renault yet to understand '07 struggle
(GMM)  A Renault boss has denied that the embattled world champions should attempt to solve their current crisis by making big changes to the uncompetitive R27 car.

"Before you can do anything like that it is necessary to find the answers to your current problems," chief race engineer Denis Chevrier told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

The sentiment is backed by veteran engineering director Pat Symonds, who admitted to still being confused as to how the Enstone based squad dropped so far off the pace mere months after Fernando Alonso secured the titles in 2005 and last year.

"It really makes me wonder where we went wrong," the Briton is quoted as saying by the British magazine Autosport.

"Fernando may have left the team, but it's the same group of engineers responsible for designing, developing and exploiting the car."

Team boss Flavio Briatore thinks Renault's 2007 struggle is simply due to "the normal cycle" of motor racing.

"Look at Ferrari, Williams, McLaren," the Italian told Autosprint magazine, adding that he thinks development of the current Renault car was also hindered by the "heavy obstacles" imposed on the team by the FIA last year.

Briatore is almost certainly referring to the 'mass damper' affair and possibly also controversial incidents including Alonso's qualifying penalty at Monza.

"If it wasn't that way, today we'd certainly be in a different situation, because we could (have started) to develop the car the way McLaren and the others (did)," he said.

Briatore added: "Unfortunately when you must win with handicaps you always run a bit late."

Winkelhock hopes for Friday outing
(GMM)  Spyker's official reserve driver says he may make an appearance during Friday practice at a grand prix later in 2007.

26-year-old Markus Winkelhock travels to all the circuits, but so far this year he has yet to turn a wheel despite the Dutch squad's pre-season suggestions that it would make use of the rule allowing third drivers.

A report on the Spyker website said the team has so far simply "preferred" to let the race drivers maximize their weekend mileage.

"At the end of the day I know what I'm doing here," the German, Winkelhock, said, accepting his role as little more than an observer in the team's garage.

He explained: "I'm the spare driver and the test driver, (but) I hope that I will get some Friday tests this year, although we don't know exactly which races yet."

Silverstone based Spyker will test alongside the other formula one teams in Barcelona this week.  It is expected that the team's test drivers, including Adrian Valles, will be part of the action.

$40m pledge to keep F1 in Germany
(GMM)  The district surrounding the formula one venue Nurburgring has vowed to invest $40 million to help keep the race on the calendar.

"As long as it is financially possible there will always be a grand prix in Germany," said circuit boss Walter Kafitz in a press conference.

From 2007, the Nurburgring has to annually alternate the privilege of hosting Germany's only formula one race with financially embattled Hockenheim.

The Nurburgring's Kafitz said he was pleased with the announcement of extra investment, but added: "I hope that it is not only the money that counts, but also the history.

"Motor sport has always been a part of German sport."

The Nurburgring has a contract with Bernie Ecclestone only until 2009.

BMW did its bit to help to promote formula one and the Nurburgring at the weekend by letting Nick Heidfeld loose around the 21km 'Nordschleife' layout  -- the first time a grand prix car has tackled the awe-inspiring circuit since Niki Lauda's fiery and near fatal crash in 1976.

His tentative time of 8:34, however, compared poorly with Stefan Bellof's all time lap record of 6:11, set in a Porsche 956 in 1983.

Heidfeld's BMW-Sauber was fitted only with hard 'demonstration' tires, though, and he slowed down on all three of his flying laps for a camera car.

"We had implored him to be careful," team boss Mario Theissen also insisted.

F1 bursts back into life on Monday
(GMM)  After a two week break, the formula one world sparks back into life on Monday for the beginning of a three day test in Spain.

All teams are expected to run at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, scene of the upcoming sellout Spanish grand prix.

Much of the media's focus will be on championship contenders McLaren and Ferrari, who - like most other significant outfits including BMW-Sauber - will trial significant mechanical and bodywork updates following the frantic opening three 'flyaway' rounds in 2007.

We can confirm that McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton will not test this week as he leaves the duties to Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso.

Felipe Massa, meanwhile, will be in action for Ferrari for at least a day, but it is expected that his struggling teammate Kimi Raikkonen will be given the most cockpit time to get more comfortable with the F2007.

Indeed, we also understand that Finn Raikkonen, 27, has spent some days since finishing third in the recent Bahrain GP working in Ferrari's driver simulator at Maranello.

"We need to concentrate on finding some improvements in the car," Brazil's Massa said ahead of the test.

After celebrating his twenty sixth birthday in Sao Paulo last week, Massa added: "This is a key moment in the championship, with the top runners all so close in the points."

Kerr - I could make it in F1
(GMM)  Another Briton thinks he could also be shining in formula one rookie Lewis Hamilton's silver car.

27-year-old Robbie Kerr, a frontrunner in the open wheeler category 'A1GP', said at the 2007 season finale at Brands Hatch at the weekend: "I think I could make it in F1."

Kerr is a former karting rival of Hamilton; the impressive McLaren newcomer who has finished on the podium in each of his three opening formula one races.

Kerr proved his worth at Brands Hatch by securing pole and winning the sprint race, but in the main event was beaten to the flag by Willi Weber's latest sensational German protege, Nico Hulkenberg.

Kerr did not shine in the Renault World Series last year, but he was the British F3 champion in 2002.

Theissen vows to keep BMW small
(GMM)  Team boss Mario Theissen says he has no desire to make BMW-Sauber the paddock's biggest formula one outfit.

A report by the British newspaper The Times compared the steady and conservative development of the Hinwil based squad with that of Honda; who, like Toyota, are a languishing team with a huge budget.

Japan's Honda finished ahead of BMW in the constructors' standings last year, but Theissen's team is now not only beating the embattled Japanese giant but also every other rival with the exception of 'big two' runners Ferrari and McLaren.

Theissen happily admits that the German manufacturer is "ahead of schedule" in its F1 project, but hinted that some of the success is down to his desire to keep BMW simple.

"My personal conviction is that resources are to a certain extent necessary but will never guarantee success," he said.

"I see a big chance to get distracted if you have too many opportunities.  So that is why we don't want to have the biggest team, why we don't want to have two wind tunnels or even three."

Theissen explained: "Focus is more important than sheer size."

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