Latest F1 news in brief
- Bernie tries to calm Spanish storm
- Alonso 'rattled', thinks former champion
- Alonso indifferent to 'bridge' wing
- Kimi, Alonso, dismiss Friday hierarchy
- Spyker delay 'B' car debut
- News briefs from Barcelona
- News briefs from Barcelona: 2
Bernie tries to calm Spanish storm
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has attempted to calm a political storm by denying that he wants to interfere with the outcome of Valencia's election results.
The F1 supremo angered the region's incumbent leader Francisco Camps' opponents this week when he announced that the contract for a street circuit grand prix would only be signed "when Mr. Camps wins" at the polls later this month.
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega reacted that "these are lamentable, unfortunate and worrying statements."
Camps has reportedly pledged more than $30 million a year to obtain the rights for a race.
"This is a means of blackmailing the electorate," said Camps' Socialist rival in Valencia, Joan Ignasi Pla.
Ecclestone was embroiled in another political storm ten years ago when he donated $2m to Britain's Labor Party, which had to be returned following similar criticism.
The 76-year-old F1 supremo explained in Barcelona on Friday: "I said I wouldn't formalize a contract until after the elections because I didn't know who I would be signing it with."
Alonso 'rattled', thinks former champion
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has rattled F1's reigning world champion Fernando Alonso.
That is the claim of former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who after watching Friday practice from the pit lane at Barcelona said he had seldom seen McLaren's 25-year-old make so many mistakes.
"He missed the apex of one turn completely this morning," said Stewart, after rookie Hamilton led the pace in the morning. Alonso was then quickest in the second session.
Stewart continued to observe to the Telegraph: "He made three big mistakes. He was over-driving. After the first mistake he should have backed off. Instead he compounded it by carrying on.
"Usually he is so smooth. I don't think there is any question that Alonso is feeling it. Hamilton's brilliant start has definitely given him something to think about."
In another British newspaper, however, fellow former champion Niki Lauda said Alonso may simply be feeling the heat of his home race, where on Friday an incredible 67,000 Spaniards filled the stands.
A sell-out crowd of 145,000 is expected on Sunday.
"It does bring with it its own sort of pressure," the Austrian told The Guardian, referring to home races.
"Having said that, I think that Fernando has what it takes to handle whatever pressure is thrown at him."
Alonso indifferent to 'bridge' wing
(GMM) Fernando Alonso said on Saturday that the radical 'bridge' wing is likely to appear on both McLaren race cars for the rest of the Spanish grand prix weekend.
The innovation, now painted silver after it ran in bright red in the recent Barcelona test, was used during free practice on Friday and Spaniard Alonso, 25, said at the Circuit de Catalunya that he does not have a preference in comparison with the more conventional design.
"The car responds equally with both wings," he said. "We have tested it several times now with similar results."
It is understood, however, that engineers for the Woking based team nonetheless want to use the 'bridge' wing, despite lingering suggestions that it may flex at speed.
Kimi, Alonso, dismiss Friday hierarchy
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen shrugged on Friday when a throng of reporters pointed out that he ended the first day of practice for the Spanish GP just sixth quickest.
"Worried? No," the Ferrari driver droned in his usual monotone, nonetheless hinting at a lack of balance aboard his F2007 car in warmer weather compared to the recent test.
Finn Raikkonen, 27, added: "We have been working on specific things and you never know what McLaren are doing.
"We will see on Saturday."
McLaren's Fernando Alonso had set the pace on Friday but he stopped short of saying it would be a continuing trend for the rest of the weekend.
"It was a good Friday for us but the times are a little bit difficult to understand," the Spaniard said.
"Our car is better after the test, but Ferrari were a long way ahead of us last week and now they are a long way behind.
"I am sure that neither are true and we will find out some more on Saturday."
Spyker delay 'B' car debut
(GMM) After accelerating the proposed debut of its 'B spec' car, Spyker officials say they have now reverted to the original Turkish GP target.
Technical chief Mike Gascoyne explained at Barcelona that he has decided that the 'B' car can not be ready for the earlier-targeted debut date of late July, at the Nurburgring.
As originally intended, then, the car will now race for the first time in Istanbul some four weeks later, according to the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report.
"Unfortunately it is not possible to race the new car before the Turkish grand prix," Gascoyne said at the Circuit de Catalunya, "because we want to thoroughly test it first."
A record crowd in excess of 100,000 is expected for qualifying at the Spanish grand prix venue Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday.
News briefs from Barcelona
(GMM) Robert Doornbos is in Barcelona this weekend to be Red Bull's official reserve driver.
The Champ Car racer and Dutchman is filling in for regular reserve Michael Ammermuller, who is sitting out the Spanish round with a wrist injury.
Another warm and dry day will grace the Circuit de Catalunya for qualifying on Saturday. The chance of rain is zero per cent, despite the presence of some cloud.
Red Bull Racing is debuting its seamless shift gearbox this weekend.
"It ran over 1000 kilometres last week in testing, so we are reasonably confident from a reliability point of view that there won't be any issues with it," said team boss Christian Horner.
BMW-Sauber's Mario Theissen has played down rumors linking Ralf Schumacher with a move to the team in 2008.
"That is pure speculation," the German squad's team principal said in Barcelona, insisting that he is happy with the current lineup of Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and test drivers Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock.
Theissen added: "We have four drivers on board and no plans at present to add anyone else."
News briefs from Barcelona: 2
(GMM) Red Bull's head of aerodynamics Ben Agathangelou elected to leave the team following a demotion during a recent technical reshuffle led by Adrian Newey.
The 35-year-old started out in formula one at McLaren in 1994, and also worked for Honda, Tyrrell, Benetton and Jaguar.
Jenson Button has warned Honda's followers to not expect the Japanese team to leap up the grid in Spain.
"It feels better," the Briton said of the RA107's handling, "but it doesn't look a lot better on the time."
Button added in Barcelona: "We've just got to grin and bear it for the next few races because the team is concentrating a bit more on the longer term."
Jarno Trulli says Toyota is not going to introduce a 'B-spec' version of its 2007 car later this season.
"We would much rather concentrate on the steady development of our present TF107," he told F1's official website.