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Latest F1 news in brief
  • 'New' Honda car awaits Jerez assessment
  • No 'Paris' GP this weekend
  • Red Bull modifies bendy wing for Monaco
  • Sato gossip leaves Ralf unruffled

'New' Honda car awaits Jerez assessment
(GMM) Honda officials must be nervously anticipating the results of an upcoming private test at the southern Spanish circuit Jerez.

The beleaguered Japanese squad will struggle on with the dreadful RA107 for at least one more race, but after Monaco a heavily revised chassis - described by some insiders as effectively a 'B' model - will be tried.

Rumors suggest that Honda is also about to follow McLaren's lead by running the car on the long Menorca runway, to verify the performance of the new machine away from the wind tunnel.

The 'B' car could then debut at June's Canadian grand prix, after some developments ran successfully on the existing RA107 at the recent Barcelona event, and others - such as revised sidepods - were tested last week in France.

"The car had a half of a second improvement," Rubens Barrichello revealed, "and it is more stable on the brakes."

In the press, much of the blame for Honda's dire situation is falling on the shoulders of team boss Nick Fry and technical chief Shuhei Nakamoto, who replaced Geoff Willis last year despite notably lacking formula one experience.

"What he did have - and still has - is a firm friendship with Takeo Fukui, Honda's president and CEO," the British magazine F1 Racing observed, adding that Honda engineers openly describe Nakamoto as "out of his depth".

No 'Paris' GP this weekend
(GMM) American socialite and hotel heiress Paris Hilton has called off her scheduled visit to the Monaco grand prix.

She was set to visit the glamorous Monte Carlo event as a guest of the Spyker team, to promote the fizzy alcoholic drink Rich Prosecco.

But shortly after 26-year-old Hilton was booked for her Monaco appearance, she was handed a looming prison term for violating the terms of probation for a drink-driving charge.

She will start the 23-day jail term on June 5.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that cigarette logos will be displayed at the Monaco grand prix this weekend, despite widespread tobacco advertising bans.

Sections of the famous street circuit have also been resurfaced since the race last year, we have learned.

Red Bull modifies bendy wing for Monaco
(GMM) Red Bull will use a different rear wing design on the streets of Monaco this weekend, as a new flexible-wing saga threatens to explode.

The Austrian squad, however, may simply have sidelined the contentious aerodynamic device because it would not have been effective on the low-speed Monte Carlo layout, rather than as a reaction to suggestions that it was photographed illegally flexing two weeks ago in Spain.

Milton-Keynes based Red Bull's Barcelona wing captured the attention even of the mainstream press in recent days, with the German newspaper Bild modifying the energy drink company's popular catchphrase (Red Bull gives you wings) for the headline "Red Bull bends wings".

The FIA clamped down on flexing wings last year, but a technical insider told Auto Motor und Sport that, "compared with what Red Bull are doing, the Ferrari offence was minor".

Another expert was surprised at how bendable the entire Red Bull wing appeared to be on the Barcelona on-board camera footage. "It must have been intentionally designed (to flex), otherwise it would break."

The Swiss newspaper Blick, meanwhile, estimated the advantage of the flexible wing at 6kph, or 0.25 seconds per lap, coinciding with David Coulthard's season-best fifth place in the Spanish grand prix.

Sato gossip leaves Ralf unruffled
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher says he is confident of securing a good seat on the formula one grid beyond 2007.

The 31-year-old German, who is out of contract at the end of the year, has struggled to match the pace of his teammate Jarno Trulli at the wheel of the TF107.

But despite speculation that he might not be offered a drive either at Toyota or elsewhere next season, Schumacher insisted that he is not entertaining the concept of early retirement.

The German broadcaster RTL reported this week that Toyota could already be eying Japan's Takuma Sato as a worthy occupant of the ride alongside Trulli in 2008 and beyond.

Ralf told the news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) that his manager Hans Mahr has scheduled contract talks with the Cologne based team's officials for the upcoming summer period.

He insisted: "There is no time pressure. I am absolutely certain that I will be in formula one also next season."

Schumacher said he had not given "a single thought" to suggestions that he might have to involuntarily follow his elder brother Michael into the slow lane.

Speculating as to his problems with the Toyota this year, Ralf attributed some of the blame to the 'car' and some to 'bad luck'.

"And I probably made some mistakes too," he said.

Ralf added: "But I have proved over the past ten years that I am one of the best F1 drivers, and with a better car I will prove it again."

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