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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Rain in Spain!
  • Schu's still keeping busy
  • Ecclestone still F1's richest
  • Shunts and dodgy lap times in Spain
  • Williams inks new $42m 'RBS' contract
  • Ferrari debut new sidepods in Spain
  • Work continues at 'new' Spa
  • Alonso plays down 'radical' McLaren

Rain in Spain!
(GMM)  Bad weather will blight Tuesday's testing in Barcelona after heavy rain fell on the Circuit de Catalunya.

It is believed that most teams will run their cars anyway, however, following an agreement to extend the session to include a fourth day on Thursday in the event of wet weather.

Schu's still keeping busy
(GMM)  A few races into the first formula one season since 1991 without him, Michael Schumacher is still keeping busy.

The retired seven time world champion, to attend the Spanish grand prix next weekend in his advisor role for Ferrari, showed up at the awards night for the 'A1GP' category on Monday.

To a standing ovation at the gala event in London, Schumacher gave the champions' trophy to Team Germany and Nico Hulkenberg, who are both run by Schumacher's long time manager Willi Weber.

"Nico has everything he needs for the future -- it is a long way to go but he is working hard, so why can he not achieve everything?" Michael, 38, commented.

Later this week, the former Ferrari driver will set sail in Valencia with a sponsor and the New Zealand America's Cup team, according to Radio New Zealand.

Ecclestone still F1's richest
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone is still the richest man in motor sport, according to the Sunday Times newspaper's list of the 1000 wealthiest people in Britain.

With his wife Slavica controlling the money via Jersey-based trusts, their fortune is estimated at (US) $4.5bn.

The Times says F1 supremo Ecclestone is also a "generous" but "anonymous" donor to charity, to the tune of about $100 million every year.

Interestingly, retired former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine features higher on the list than team bosses Sir Frank Williams and Ron Dennis, due to his flourishing property empire and ownership of Jenkins Shipping; one of Ireland's largest paper importers.

41-year-old Irvine's fortune is estimated at $300m; more than Williams ($190m) and McLaren's Dennis ($160m).  Former Minardi chief and aviation mogul Paul Stoddart's personal fortune is a reported $186m.

Dennis' 2007 rookie Lewis Hamilton popped up on the under-30s list as a newcomer, with the Times crediting him with $10m following his impressive debut this year.

Honda's Jenson Button, meanwhile, is apparently worth about $60m, and 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter built on his racing fortune to the tune of $160m by subsequently running a firearms training company and an organic farm in Hampshire.

Shunts and dodgy lap times in Spain
(GMM)  Spanish test driver Adrian Valles ended his return to the wheel of a Spyker formula one car on Monday with a trip to hospital.

The 20-year-old crashed heavily at the Circuit de Catalunya's Turn Three in the late afternoon, after every formula one team began a three-day test on the outskirts of the city of Barcelona.

Some reports estimate the speed of the impact at more than 240kph, and although Valles was not seriously hurt, the new FIA-mandated impact light on his dash board required him to visit the medical centre for a check.

He was then sent to the Hospital General de Catalunya, but was immediately released following some tests.

In a statement, the Dutch squad Spyker said the single seater "sustained heavy damage", which will be worked on overnight so that team regular Adrian Sutil can hopefully take over on Tuesday.

"It looks as though he had a problem with the car through turn one and then lost control through three," Mike Gascoyne said of the crash.

Meanwhile, many teams and media representatives left the circuit on Monday evening thinking that Ralf Schumacher had turned his fortunes upside-down by setting a blistering pace.

It turned out, however, that the German's sizzling best had been set after he cut a chicane, relocating his Toyota to fourth place and establishing Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen as the dominant runner on day one.

Indeed, a handful of the Finn's fast laps had been good enough to outpace the next best contender on the final time sheet, which was Takuma Sato in the ever-impressive Super Aguri.

Prior to Valles' crash, Williams' Kuzuki Nakajima was responsible for the other two red flags; one for a mechanical stoppage and the other for a sizeable shunt at turn 9.

"He's ok and the car will be fine to run tomorrow," said the Grove team's test manager Dickie Stanford.

Rain is predicted to spoil running on Tuesday, but team managers have already agreed to extend the test for another day should the clouds turn dark.

Williams inks new $14m 'RBS' contract
(GMM)  Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland has renewed its sponsorship of the formula one team Williams for another three years.

The now-familiar 'RBS' logos will therefore remain on the Grove-built single seaters' liveries until at least mid-2010, following the signing of a new contract this week.

"It is a fruitful relationship that has developed and strengthened over the last two seasons and I look forward to it continuing successfully," Sir Frank Williams is quoted as saying in a statement.

Reports of the renewal was accompanied by photos showing elite equestrienne and British royal family member Zara Phillips, who is also sponsored by RBS, leaping over a modern Williams F1 racer on the back of a horse.

The deal should also ensure the presence of Sir Jackie Stewart in the Williams garage for the foreseeable future, as the triple world champion is also a 'global ambassador' for the Scottish bank.

The financial details of RBS' Williams deal is not known, but it is estimated at around $14 million per season.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Spyker announced that Dutch beer brand Heineken has become an official supplier.

The two companies will also launch the first-ever formula one sports bar in the Netherlands, a statement said.

Ferrari debut new sidepods in Spain
(GMM)  The media on Monday fixated on McLaren's visually obvious new front wing, but arguably the biggest change to a formula one car at the Barcelona test emerged from the Ferrari garage.

The Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport said the updated sidepods of the F2007 steered by Kimi Raikkonen was a "more significant" update than the bridge-like element on the McLaren wing.

It is understood that the reshaped and smaller sidepods veil part of a novel cooling system that engineers at Maranello have been working on for several months.

At the wheel of the updated car on Monday, 27-year-old Raikkonen collected not only the quickest time, but also the five next-best laps of the day.

Test driver Luca Badoer had shaken down the heavily revised F2007, also featuring new front and rear wings and an updated diffuser, at the Vairano circuit last Wednesday and Thursday.

La Gazzetta dello Sport cited a Ferrari source as confirming that the new package had "worked well".

Work continues at 'new' Spa
(GMM)  Ahead of Belgium's return to the F1 calendar in September, work is continuing apace on the Spa-Francorchamps track facelift.

On the promise of a new paddock and pits complex at a cost of about $80 million, the historic venue is back on the '07 schedule following a one year absence.

The new spacious double-storey and modern-looking pit buildings are now basically complete, while the layout of the much-loved circuit is fundamentally unchanged.

The final chicane, however - previously known as the Bus Stop - has been completely re-profiled and now turns right before sweeping left -- the opposite of the former left-right flick.

The new pitlane entrance is now in the middle of the chicane.

Meanwhile, the start-finish stretch is now not curved but fully straight, and its longer length means that the tight hairpin at turn one, La Source, has been moved further north.

Alonso plays down 'radical' McLaren
(GMM)  McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa have played down the significance of the Woking based team's revised package for the upcoming Spanish grand prix.

The press made much of a 'radical' front wing that appeared on the MP4-22 at the Circuit de Catalunya on Monday, but world champion Alonso - who arrived in Barcelona in the evening ahead of his scheduled running on Tuesday morning - denied that the impact on the time sheets will be equally revolutionary.

"Everyone's cars will improve by two or three tenths (before the Spanish GP).

"I doubt that the hierarchy is going to change too much," the 25-year-old insisted to the Spanish newspaper Diario As.

Test driver Pedro de la Rosa steered the updated silver car to the third best lap time on Monday, and he kept his praise moderate.

In the 'Marca' newspaper, he is quoted as being "satisfied", explaining that the developments "worked very well".

Spaniard de la Rosa, 36, also tried to downplay the significance of the bridge-like front wing by pointing out that "many other new features" have also been added to the Mercedes-powered car.

He did, however, point out that Barcelona is a crucial test.

"The championship really begins now," de la Rosa added, referring to the fact that Spain is the start of the European season and an important development race.

He said: "Traditionally, the titles are decided based on what happens in Europe."

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