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Latest F1 news in brief
  • De la Rosa likes criticized chicane
  • Valles hopeful of Friday drive in Spain
  • Brawn to decide F1 future in July
  • Crash can't dent Kimi's better mood
  • Better Barca weather for Wed, Thurs
  • Ralf predicts mid-year comeback
  • Heidfeld hopes BMW keep up with 'big boys'
  • F1 engine ace hits rock bottom with two wheels
  • FIA wants to spice up F1 - Mosley

De la Rosa likes criticized chicane
Countryman and fellow McLaren employee Pedro de la Rosa disagrees with world champion Fernando Alonso about the new chicane at Circuit de Catalunya.

Spaniard Alonso commented that he didn't like the slower solution, which has altered the two sweeping corners at the end of the lap, after testing it for the first time in February.

But de la Rosa, who is a test driver for the Woking based team, insisted in Barcelona this week that it is hypocritical to complain on the one hand about the loss of quick corners and on the other about wanting better safety.

"If we want things to be safer then we cannot be sorry about sacrificing those two corners," the 36-year-old is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

De la Rosa said he personally likes the chicane, which now feels better to drive than in the winter tests.

"Firstly, it is safer, and secondly it is easier to overtake at the end of the straight.

"In February there was no grip but now there is almost as much as the rest of the circuit," de la Rosa added.

Valles hopeful of Friday drive in Spain
Spyker test driver Adrian Valles says he is hopeful of driving for the Dutch team in official practice next Friday ahead of the Spanish grand prix.

The 20-year-old Spaniard is not flavor of the moment at the Silverstone based squad at present after heavily damaging the only F8-VII single seater at the Barcelona test.

But he told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that Spyker chiefs are currently deciding whether to buck the trend of the season and sit out a race driver for Friday practice at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"I will know in the coming days," Valles said.

He indicated that his prospects of the drive appear positive.

"When I spoke to the team before this test they said it was essential that I gather enough kilometres so that I qualify for the Super License," Valles said.

We can confirm that, despite his heavy shunt on Monday which was apparently caused by a brake disc problem, Valles did indeed pass the mandatory 300km mark and should therefore obtain the necessary FIA document.

The only spanner in the works for Valles may be a lingering stiff neck; a slight injury triggered by the 240kmh side-impact into the barriers.

Valles said that, accident aside, he was "very happy" with his performance at the test.

"And so is the team," he added.  "I adapted quickly to the car, drove consistently and was quicker than (Giedo) van der Garde."

Brawn to decide F1 future in July
Ross Brawn says he will meet with Ferrari's Jean Todt in July before deciding where his future lies within the formula one paddock.

The highly respected Englishman, who was Maranello based Ferrari's technical director throughout the ultra-successful Michael Schumacher era, is currently on a twelve month 'sabbatical' with no contractual ties to any team.

But Brawn, 52, has been linked with a return to the sport with several teams, including Honda, but he insisted this week that his first priority is the upcoming meeting with Todt.

"In July I will make a decision," Brawn is quoted as saying by 'As'.

He added: "Before that I will speak with Ferrari, and if we do not reach an agreement and I still want to continue (in F1), I will begin to think about other options."

Crash can't dent Kimi's better mood
Even a crash could not dent Kimi Raikkonen's bolstered mood after dominating the Barcelona test for a second day on Tuesday.

In a Spanish downpour, the 27-year-old huddled under a marshals' awning following his light slide into the Turn Three tire barrier -- but a few minutes later greeted his Ferrari crew in the gravel trap with a rare smile.

So far this week, Raikkonen has broken Felipe Massa's record at the Catalan track, despite struggling to get on terms with his Brazilian teammate at the last couple of races.

To reporters in the Barcelona paddock, he enthused about an apparent breakthrough with his car's set-up, aided by the aerodynamic update.

"The car feels good," Raikkonen is quoted as saying with his typical understatement and ennui.

"It is now behaving more in the way I want it to.

"We have got a better understanding of the car, so I approach the race (next week) with a much better feeling than the other ones.  I feel like I can use all of the car's potential now.

"You never know what the others are doing but our car feels very good," Raikkonen went on.

"We will see what happens.  A lot can change in a week but I feel much more in control.  We have improved a lot since Bahrain, especially for me."

Despite failing to shine in Malaysia and Bahrain after winning in Australia, Raikkonen said he did not become downbeat because he jointly leads the drivers' championship.

He continued: "The championship began three races ago but the situation is very even and nothing has been won or lost yet."

Massa takes over the sole F2007 at Barcelona on Wednesday and Thursday.

Better Barca weather for Wed, Thurs
Thunder and lightening put a pall on most meaningful testing at Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday, but the forecast for the outskirts of Barcelona on Wednesday looks better.

The risk of showers in the morning is still very high, but F1's eleven formula one teams should enjoy a clear afternoon -- threatened only by the sporadic risk of light rain.

On Thursday - now the final day of the test following an inter-team agreement to extend it - the weather should be even finer, but Spyker (and possibly also Super Aguri) have apparently decided to return to their base at the close of the original three day session.

Despite Tuesday's appalling conditions, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen continued running unperturbed, while his McLaren rival Fernando Alonso did no more than a single untimed installation lap.

To placate the Spaniard's countrymen, who whistled with discontent when Alonso returned to the shelter of his garage without setting a time, McLaren mechanics - with little else to do - showed the opposite grandstands a pit board which read 'Alonso P1 - Kimi slow'.

Ralf predicts mid-year comeback
Ralf Schumacher says he and Toyota could make a major step forward in the middle of the 2007 season.

The German has been the subject of intense speculation and criticism so far this year, after conspicuously struggling to match the pace of his lesser-paid teammate Jarno Trulli.

"I estimate that we should start to look much better, and be much closer to the fastest teams, by the middle of the year," 31-year-old Schumacher is quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

Ralf already seemed more comfortable with the handling of his heavily updated TF107 at the Barcelona test on Monday, when he was fourth quickest of the twelve runners.

"I had a problem with low grip at the front end in the last races, but it seems to be better here," he reported.

Schumacher said at Circuit de Catalunya: "We made quite a few changes in the set-up and after that I was able to brake and turn in the way I am used to."

He told 'RTL', meanwhile, that not every new piece that will appear on the revised Toyota at the Spanish grand prix next week has yet been tested at Barcelona.

Heidfeld hopes BMW keep up with 'big boys'
Team race driver Nick Heidfeld agrees that the next step for the impressive BMW-Sauber camp is to keep up with the development pace of Ferrari and McLaren in 2007.

Hinwil based BMW-Sauber is clearly the third force in formula one this year, but observers note that the real test of mettle after producing a quick grand prix car is keeping up with the frantic pace of top-team development.

Whether BMW is up to the job is "something that I am also keen to find out," 29-year-old Heidfeld reportedly told sport1.de at the Barcelona test this week.

Heidfeld said he is delighted with BMW's step up from the midfield on the evidence of the first few races of 2007 but warned that the goalposts have now moved.

"The quality of our opponents is now completely different (to last year)," he insisted.

"Now what we have to do is develop the car at the same rate as Ferrari and McLaren -- which is really playing with the big boys."

Heidfeld added: "It will be exciting to find out how we do."

F1 engine ace hits rock bottom with two wheels
He soared to championship-winning heights with Mika Hakkinen and McLaren-Mercedes in formula one, but Mario Illien's MotoGP project is on a fast-track to rock bottom.

The 57-year-old Swiss engineer, whose Ilmor power plants have also won the Indy 500 in the past, turned his attention to the world of two wheels after selling his F1 operations to Mercedes-Benz.

Ilmor, with Illien as team principal, made its MotoGP debut late last year, but pulled out of the championship after an uncompetitive showing in the first round.

The outfit has now let most of its staff go, after Illien decried a lack of sponsorship and vowed to focus instead on development of the engine.

He insists, however, that the racing lull is only "temporary".

"I know that it's hard for people to understand why we have stopped racing and some people have been quick to judge our withdrawal," Illien said.

He added: "But I remain upbeat and still strongly believe that we will find a financial partner for the team."

FIA wants to spice up F1 - Mosley
F1's governing body is still committed to improving the spectacle of grand prix racing, according to FIA president Max Mosley.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore recently slammed the sport's Sunday afternoons as usually "boring" and proposed a radical shake-up of the weekend format.

"I still don't understand why we don't try to make excitement in every race," he said, insisting that the two-race and reverse-grid GP2 format - including a ban on in-race refueling - is better.

While admitting that there should be more overtaking in formula one, however, Mosley said a working group is already investigating ways to spice up the show -- including the possibility of re-introducing slick tires.

"We've got four of the top teams working together to see if they can improve the situation," Mosley is quoted as saying by the Bridgestone Motorsport website.

"It remains to be seen whether they'll succeed, but if they don't we'll probably do something really radical in 2010."

Mosley also said all the controversy about the incoming 'engine freeze' rules last season had now been discredited after it made "no difference" to the sport so far this year except to save the carmakers millions of dollars.

He insisted: "And ending up after the first three races with three drivers on the same points, that is all quite good."

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