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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Teams question McLaren 'bridge' wing - report
  • Massa receives Bandini trophy
  • Haug rules out driver hierarchy at McLaren
  • Mateschitz keeps eye on Kubica
  • Gascoyne blames Japan for F1 teams' woes
  • Test limits 'bad' for drivers - Karthikeyan
  • McLaren backs Paffett for Prodrive seat
  • Newey confirms interest in yachting role
  • Alonso lends name to go-kart venue
  • Schu to sit on Ferrari pit wall - spokeswoman
  • Wurz plays down Rosberg threat

Teams question McLaren 'bridge' wing - report
(GMM)  A new controversy surrounding the legality of allegedly flexing bodywork could be set to rear its head at the Spanish grand prix this weekend.

The German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports that some rival teams are concerned about the behavior during testing of the radical bridge-like element on McLaren's new front wing, which could be raced at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The controversy would be the latest installment in the so-called and long-running flexible wings saga, which has involved rear wings and - most recently - the under-bodies of formula one cars.

It is suggested that some unnamed teams have already asked FIA observers to keep a close eye on the behavior of McLaren's 'bridge' wing via on-board cameras as the Barcelona event progresses later this week.

Massa receives Bandini trophy
(GMM)  Felipe Massa last Sunday received the coveted Lorenzo Bandini trophy in Italy.

Capping his successful 2006 season alongside Michael Schumacher and a similarly impressive start to 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen as his teammate, the Ferrari driver received the trophy from the late Lorenzo Bandini's widow Margherita in the town of Brisighella, near Imola.

Imola's San Marino GP, usually the scene of the prize-giving in late April, does not feature on the 2007 calendar.

Bandini, the leading Italian driver of his period, was burned to death in an horror accident at Monaco in 1967.

Among previous recipients of the trophy are Raikkonen, Jenson Button, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Alex Wurz, Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve.

"The award is very important and prestigious," 26-year-old Massa said this week.

"It is usually given in the early stages of one's career and reflects also on how well you have done in the previous year's championship."

Massa added: "I was extremely happy to accept it and I was given a very warm reception by the people in the town square for the ceremony."

Haug rules out driver hierarchy at McLaren
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has once again ruled out the establishment of a 'number one' driver at McLaren-Mercedes in 2007.

After world champion Fernando Alonso and impressive rookie Lewis Hamilton ended the opening three races of the season jointly leading the drivers' championship, the competition director for Mercedes-Benz said they will continue to be treated equally.

"There are not only two drivers in the team, but also the two crews who look after their cars," 54-year-old Haug told the magazine 'Spiegel'.

Not implementing a driver hierarchy within a top formula one team, such as like Michael Schumacher's former position at Ferrari, has traditionally impeded its quest for the title.

But German Haug said McLaren's philosophy is different to Ferrari, the Italian team which is likely to get behind either Felipe Massa or Kimi Raikkonen as their superiority becomes clearer later this year.

Haug explained: "The drivers and the other team members only perform at their best if they know that they are fully respected with no disadvantages."

He added that top formula one drivers are usually sensitive, "like first-rate talents in other industries".

"And if you cooperate as closely as you do in a F1 team, mutual respect is particularly important," said Haug.

Mateschitz keeps eye on Kubica
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber rookie Robert Kubica is near the top of Red Bull's wish list for future drivers, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz has hinted.

The Austrian billionaire said that of F1's current crop of youngsters - excluding the very impressive Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton who are firmly ensconced with top teams - Poland's Kubica had made the best mark so far.

"Yes, without question he has pleased me the most, if you leave out Hamilton and Massa," Mateschitz is quoted as saying by the magazine Motorsport Aktuell.

"I had higher expectations for Heikki Kovalainen, and the same is true for Nico Rosberg."

To the news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst, meanwhile, 63-year-old Mateschitz said Red Bull's fans can expect to see the Milton Keynes-based team continue to improve throughout the season.

He said: "We believe that we can catch up to the teams that are in front of us, including BMW, and also maintain our lead over the others."

Gascoyne blames Japan for F1 teams' woes
(GMM)  Toyota and Honda are struggling to make a mark on the world of formula one because of the "Japanese corporate culture".

That is the claim of Mike Gascoyne, who has taken up the leading technical role at Dutch squad Spyker after falling out with Toyota in 2006.

After nearly six seasons on the grid, Toyota has in 2007 again failed to produce a front-running car, while the unmitigated catastrophe of Honda's campaign has been well documented.

Referring to the Japanese culture of bureaucracy and its unique perception of failure and shame, Gascoyne said: "It is undoubtedly part of the problem.

"They have each tried to do it the Japanese way, with lots of bureaucracy and control from Japan.  And it is not working," he is quoted as saying by The Times.

Former Jordan technical director Gary Anderson backed Gascoyne's assessment by recalling that he thought officials in Japan were "cut off" from the reality of the formula one world when Honda supplied works engines to the now defunct team.

"They could not get to grips with the fact that things were going wrong," he recalled.

Gascoyne, however, said the teams' problems cannot be blamed on drivers.

The Briton said: "Those who do so simply do not understand the nature of the relationship between drivers and technicians."

Test limits 'bad' for drivers - Karthikeyan
(GMM)  Williams' Narain Karthikeyan has added his voice to criticism of the rules governing testing in formula one this year.

The Indian, who is a secondary tester for F1's Grove based team, turned to a cockpit in the A1GP series recently because the test drivers' workload is so low in 2007.

Karthikeyan's plight is similar to that of his colleagues, as teams' needs for secondary test drivers has been reduced.

19-year-old Sebastian Vettel, for example, hit out this week at the restrictive rules, which has forced BMW-Sauber to scrap his role as a Friday driver in 2007.

"If you ask any of the test drivers, everyone will speak about how it has affected them," Karthikeyan told the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times.

The changes to the Friday rules, meanwhile, were complemented in 2007 with a limit of just one car for group tests.

Karthikeyan continued: "I am sure teams will realize that it is not going to be beneficial in the long run.

"As far as development of the car goes, and nurturing new test drivers is concerned, it is bad."

Williams' race driver Alex Wurz, meanwhile, insisted that he thought the restrictive rules had not even cut costs.

"Money is never saved in formula one," he told motorline.cc.  "All the money that comes in is spent, and the amount that comes in is dependent on the value of the sponsorship and nothing else."

McLaren backs Paffett for Prodrive seat
(GMM)  McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh has backed part-time test driver Gary Paffett's push to secure a race seat on the formula one grid next year.

26-year-old Briton Paffett was quoted this week as saying he is "quite confident" of landing a job at Prodrive next year if the expected linkup between McLaren-Mercedes and David Richards' new outfit is sealed.

Paffett is racing a year-old Mercedes C-class in the German touring car championship DTM in 2007, where last weekend he secured a surprise victory.

"I think that Gary is a very talented driver and if he gets the opportunity to race in formula one I am sure he has the potential to be very competitive," Whitmarsh, who is team boss Ron Dennis' right hand man, told the British newspaper The Guardian.

Newey confirms interest in yachting role
(GMM)  Red Bull's Adrian Newey has reaffirmed his desire to look into the world of America's Cup yachting once he has retired from formula one.

The designer of championship winning cars for Williams and McLaren, 48-year-old Newey joined Red Bull last year after long speculation that 'burn-out' made him consider quitting formula one for a less stressful life.

For a sponsor event last week, he went to Valencia to check out the America's Cup circus, according to the newspaper Daily Telegraph.

"I have a personal interest in America's Cup as well," Newey said.

"If I was to stop going motor racing for whatever reason, and I am bit young to retire still, then getting involved in the America's Cup would be an interesting challenge."

He added: "It really is as simple as that."

Alonso lends name to go-kart venue
(GMM)  World champion Fernando Alonso will lend his name to a world-class go-kart circuit in his home region of Asturias in Spain.

Spanish publications reveal that the 25-year-old McLaren driver is also involved financially in the $6.7m project, which will feature a museum dedicated to his career.

At a launch this week, attended by Alonso's father Jose Luis and his manager Luis Garcia-Abbot, it was declared that the circuit - to also enjoy regional government support - would seek official homologation in order to host tests for the karting world championship.

The Alonso circuit, whose layout will also be contributed to by the joint 2007 championship leader, could be completed by 2009.

Schu to sit on Ferrari pit wall - spokeswoman
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher could occupy a berth on the Ferrari pit wall this weekend, according to his media spokeswoman.

The seven time world champion's trip to Barcelona is his first attendance at a grand prix since he raced for the last time last October.

Spokeswoman Sabine Kehm is quoted as saying: "He might sit on the pit wall, but Michael does not want to interfere with the racing.

"His only function will be advisory," Kehm told 'Bild'.

The German newspaper added that Schumacher, 38, is scheduled to fly into the Spanish city in his private jet on Friday morning, and address the world's press at the Circuit de Catalunya at midday.

But Kehm suggested that Schumacher's interview will be short and relate only to himself, rather than to the Ferrari team or F1 in general.

Wurz plays down Rosberg threat
(GMM)  Alex Wurz has fended off suggestions that Nico Rosberg is already threatening his position on the formula one grid just three races after spending six years as a test driver.

Triple world champion and TV commentator Niki Lauda suggested after the Bahrain grand prix that Austrian Wurz, 33, should "watch out" after another race in which young teammate Rosberg had bettered his pace.

But Wurz told motorline.cc that the pressure he is under in 2007 is no different to anyone else in the sport.

"Whether you are in front or behind, everyone has to watch out," he said.

Referring to Lauda's failed tenure as a team principal a few years ago, Wurz continued: "The same was true for Niki when he was Jaguar boss."

He played down the internal rivalry with German Rosberg, who is 21, insisting that they get along "well".

"And we are usually within a few tenths of a second of one another, which is closer than most other driver pairs," Wurz added.

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