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DATE News (chronologically)
05/14/07
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

05/14/07
  • News briefs from Barcelona
  • Ferrari downplays McLaren 'flex' saga
  • Ferrari will help Kimi to improve
  • Ferrari vow to focus on reliability
  • Alonso move 'worth a try' - Hubbert
  • Heidfeld admits BMW pit stop frustration
  • Ferrari rejects Iley gossip
  • Surer hits out at F1 points system New
  • Massa should be 'number one' - Stuck New
  • Two more Toro Rosso tests for Bourdais New
  • Young guns 'encircle' team leaders - press New

News briefs from Barcelona
(GMM) Ferrari's back to back winner Felipe Massa thanked Michael Schumacher for his visit to the Spanish grand prix at the weekend.

"It was a good school for me last year and I learned quite a lot," the Brazilian told Italy's Corriere della Sera.

The German newspaper 'Bild' on Saturday had speculated that Kimi Raikkonen's struggle to keep up with Massa in Spain might have been linked to Schumacher's visit.

A pre-race headline read: "Schumacher and Massa take pole".

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Big screens at the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday confirmed a record race-day attendance of 140,700. In total, 355,000 Spaniards rolled through the turnstiles between Thursday and Sunday -- a figure that is unlikely to be beaten elsewhere in 2007.

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McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton also set another personal record in Barcelona. At the age of 22 years, 4 months and 6 days, he overtook team founder Bruce McLaren's long-standing record of being the youngest ever world championship leader. New Zealander McLaren set the record driving a Cooper-Climax in 1960, at the age of 22 years, 5 months and 8 days.

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It was reported this weekend that Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais will test again for the Toro Rosso team at Paul Ricard later this week.

Ferrari downplays McLaren 'flex' saga
(GMM) Technical director Mario Almondo on Sunday made it clear that Ferrari was not involved in speculation about the dubious legality of McLaren's new 'bridge' front wing.

Whispers at the Circuit de Catalunya suggested that some rivals were concerned that the silver-colored upper element was flexing at high speed; a phenomenon that is contrary to the FIA rules.

Onboard footage from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton's MP4-22s cars appeared to back the concerns, leading a reporter to ask Almondo after the Spanish grand prix if Ferrari was aware of the issue.

He answered: "At the moment, we think we do not have anything against McLaren, full stop."

Ferrari will help Kimi to improve
(GMM) Ferrari will continue to help Kimi Raikkonen to improve his pace in 2007.

That was the message in Barcelona on Sunday of technical director Mario Almondo, who confirmed that the Finn had retired from the Spanish grand prix with an alternator failure.

27-year-old Raikkonen was also notably off the pace of his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa all weekend in Spain, though, despite pre-race boasts that they had got to the bottom of his struggle at the previous three races this year.

"We are continuously going through the methodology of improving the performance of our drivers," Almondo said, "but it's also combined with the characteristic of the package.

He added: "I have to say that we are doing a decent job but we also know that we could do it better and we are planning some action in order to still improve."

Raikkonen left the circuit mid-race on Sunday without attending the usual post-race technical briefings.

Ferrari vow to focus on reliability
(GMM) McLaren lead both the constructors' and drivers' championships after the Spanish grand prix, but both silver clad pilots on Sunday had to admit that Ferrari's pace is superior at present.

"They are a little bit quicker than us; qualifying and in the race especially," said Fernando Alonso, who is second in the standings behind his rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari chiefs, however, left Barcelona acknowledging their own deficits, after confirming that Kimi Raikkonen's terminal failure was a wiring fault in the alternator.

Kimi's teammate Felipe Massa dominated the pace in Spain, meaning that the only time a red car has failed to win this year was Malaysia.

A Maranello-built car has also secured pole at all four race meetings so far in 2007.

But team boss Jean Todt, reflecting on rival McLaren's perfect record with its MP4-22, said: "Twice this year we have been missing reliability.

"We know that it is one of the indispensable ingredients for winning the championship."

Alonso move 'worth a try' - Hubbert
(GMM) Mercedes-Benz's retired big-cheese Jurgen Hubbert, on a rare visit to a grand prix on Sunday, excused Fernando Alonso for his failed overtaking move at the first corner in Spain.

After the Spaniard took to the gravel having bumped into Ferrari's pole sitter Felipe Massa, Hubbert told reporters: "If he had been successful, it could have totally changed the outcome of the race, so from that perspective ... worth a try."

Team CEO Martin Whitmarsh, meanwhile, ruled out lodging a stewards protest, but world champion Fernando Alonso clearly did not agree.

Unperturbed that Massa was sitting right alongside him in the press conference, the Spaniard cried foul.

"The stewards are up and down. They investigated me last year in Monza when I was half a kilometer in front of the other car and this year they don't investigate these things too much," he said.

"I was more than half a car in front."

Race winner Massa rejected Alonso's accusation of "aggressive" guilt.

"I was on the inside, I am not going to move, so I don't understand his point. If somebody was aggressive, it was Fernando.

"In my career I have always been the first one to admit when I made a mistake, but this time don't tell me I made a mistake," said Massa.

"Come on, this is racing. This is formula one and this is the first corner."

The Spanish newspaper Diario As, meanwhile, made no bones about whose side it is on.

Monday's headline exclaimed: "Massa ruined Alonso's home victory".

Heidfeld admits BMW pit stop frustration
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld admitted to frustration on Sunday because he thought a gearbox problem robbed him of a sure podium bid at the Spanish GP.

But the German was also pointing a finger at the BMW-Sauber team for botching a scheduled visit to the pits, when the 'lollipop man' released him before his right front wheel was fitted.

30-year-old Heidfeld said his real dissatisfaction kicked in when, seeing the errant wheel nut flying away, he stopped just meters from his pit area but was not attended to by his crew.

Heidfeld then sped away and had to complete a lap at slow speed before returning to the pit lane for a new nut.

"I have no idea why no-one came to help me," he told the German newspaper Bild.

"We definitely need to talk about that because it must never happen again."

Ferrari rejects Iley gossip
(GMM) Technical director Mario Almondo on Sunday rejected paddock rumors that chief aerodynamicist John Iley is on the verge of leaving Ferrari.

Speculation at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend suggested that, alongside two junior aerodynamicists who are making their way to McLaren, Iley may also be on the move after joining the Maranello squad in 2004.

The rumor said Briton Iley would return to one of F1's UK-based teams -- possibly Spyker, under the guidance of his former Renault boss Mike Gascoyne.

"John Iley is a very important member of our team and that's it," Ferrari's Almondo said.

He added in Spain: "Speculation, exactly, is probably the right word. He's quite happy to stay with us."

Surer hits out at F1 points system
(GMM)  Former grand prix driver Marc Surer has hit out at F1's current points system.

The veteran of 87 formula one races in the 1980s pointed out the anomaly that the nevertheless impressive rookie Lewis Hamilton is leading the drivers' championship, despite being the only McLaren or Ferrari driver yet to win a race this season.

"The points system bothers me," he reportedly told the German broadcaster Premiere.

"In my opinion, it cannot be that someone who has not won a race leads the championship -- or could even become the world champion.

"Instead, the driver who wins the most should be leading."

The four wins so far this season have been divided between Felipe Massa (Bahrain, Spain), Fernando Alonso (Malaysia) and Kimi Raikkonen (Australia).

22-year-old Hamilton, in comparison, has been consistently on the podium, and his second place in Sunday's Spanish grand prix in Barcelona was his third in succession.

Massa should be 'number one' - Stuck
(GMM)  Former grand prix driver Hans-Joachim Stuck says Ferrari should now appoint Felipe Massa its 'number one' driver for 2007.

German Stuck, a formula one racer in the 70s, usually attends races as a commentator but he missed the Spanish grand prix while he recovers from injuries sustained in a recent sports car shunt.

But he nevertheless told the broadcaster 'Premiere' that Raikkonen's performance at Barcelona has now sealed the 'hierarchy' at the Maranello based team.

"Massa has many more points and Ferrari should now concentrate on him," Stuck said in Munich.

Stuck described Fernando Alonso as the 'big loser' in Spain after putting himself 'at risk' by unsuccessfully trying to pass Massa on the first lap.

He has nothing but praise, however, for Alonso's rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Stuck said: "He reminds me of a young Michael Schumacher.  It would not surprise me if, at the end of the season, he is still fighting for the championship."

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone admitted on the weekend that he also sees qualities of Schumacher in the young Briton, but urged experts to lay off over-hyping the McLaren driver.

"I wouldn't want people to start talking about (the championship) because we don't want to put him under that much pressure, do we?" Bernie said.

Two more Toro Rosso tests for Bourdais
(GMM)  Triple consecutive Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais is scheduled to test twice for Toro Rosso within the next few months.

The highly rated Frenchman is set to drive at the Paul Ricard test later this week, and then again when the F1 circus runs at Spa-Francorchamps prior to the Belgian GP, amid rising speculation that he could be drafted in to the Faenza based team's race lineup in 2008.

But, although confirming the F1 appointments on his official website, 28-year-old Bourdais insisted that he has not yet concluded a contract with the team co-owned by Gerhard Berger and Dietrich Mateschitz.

"There is nothing done," Bourdais said, although the website report said STR chiefs 'will have to make a decision' about their relationship for the future after the Spa test.

He added: "I am just very grateful to Toro Rosso for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do in a F1 (car).  It is an exciting opportunity, and I will give 100 per cent."

Young guns 'encircle' team leaders - press
(GMM)  Triple world champion Niki Lauda praised Felipe Massa for executing a "perfect race" on Sunday in the Spanish GP.

"The junior guys really are showing their superiority against the old ones," the great Austrian is quoted as saying by 'sid', referring to Massa's upper-hand over Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and new championship leader Lewis Hamilton's performances alongside Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais observed: "Massa and Hamilton encircle Alonso."

'El Pais' also reserved some unusual criticism for Spain's double world champion, observing that his first corner tactics "risked too much".

The Italian sports newspaper Corriere dello Sport, meanwhile, made note that Massa's growing stature within the Ferrari camp coincided with the paddock visit of a certain retired world champion.

Alongside a photo of the 26-year-old Barcelona winner, the headline read: "Here is Schumi's heir".

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