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Latest F1 news in brief
  • McLaren 'comfortable' with FIA probe
  • Voters show green light to Valencia GP
  • Schu exit still hurting German TV
  • Wurz hits back at Lauda criticism
  • Bookmaker to refund angry Hamilton backers
  • World's press hails McLaren dominance
  • Kimi nears title 'danger zone' - Alonso

McLaren 'comfortable' with FIA probe
(GMM) A McLaren spokeswoman on Monday suggested that the Woking based team is not worried about the FIA's investigation into the use of possibly illegal team orders in the Monaco GP.

A storm of controversy - stirred almost certainly by the British media's strident reaction to Lewis Hamilton's forcibly restrained pace on the streets of the Principality - erupted when Ron Dennis admitted that he personally interfered with the outcome of Sunday's race.

But the spokeswoman said: "McLaren are completely comfortable with the FIA's investigation into our race strategy and that all decisions taken both before and during the race were completely in compliance with the International Sporting Code."

Team orders have long and consistently been applied throughout F1's history, but McLaren could fall foul of the FIA's ruling in October 2002, after Ferrari outraged the racing world by swapping places near the finish-line of the Austrian GP.

"Team orders which interfere with the race result are prohibited", the rules now state.

Referring to Dennis' 'hold-position' order in Monaco, an FIA spokesman said on Tuesday: "There was enough for us to be concerned about."

The maximum penalty applicable for a breach of the Sporting Code is exclusion from the championship, or the docking of points, but a merely financial sanction is more likely.

Voters show green light to Valencia GP
(GMM) The green light is shining for the grand prix at Valencia next year, after regional leader Francisco Camps won an election.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone drew political criticism from within Spain recently when he made a seven year contract for the new European grand prix, featuring a $35m per year race fee, contingent on the incumbent Partido Popular party's return to power.

The affair moved Camps' opponents to lodge official complaints of political interference and the breaking of electoral rules.

But the Socialist Party (PSOE) was crushingly defeated in the election on Sunday, paving the way for the signing of the contract, which is expected to take place shortly.

Schu exit still hurting German TV
(GMM) He may still be a regular visitor to the paddock, but Michael Schumacher's cockpit absence this season is continuing to hurt television ratings in Germany.

Just over 7 million Germans tuned-in to the live free-to-air broadcast of Sunday's Monaco grand prix on RTL, where Schumacher watched from the team area some seven months after calling time on his sixteen year career as a driver.

But although McLaren cars powered and majority-owned by the Stuttgart based manufacturer Mercedes-Benz finished first and second, and German speakers Nick Heidfeld and Alex Wurz scored points, Sunday's audience was three million viewers fewer than one year ago.

RTL sport boss Manfred Loppe told 'sid: "Compared to last year the spectator numbers are down, but for the current season the trend is going upwards.

He said: "With a consistent market share of more than 40 per cent, formula one is still without competition in sport-TV."

Wurz hits back at Lauda criticism
(GMM) Alex Wurz in Monaco hit back at claims that a trouncing against Nico Rosberg in 2007 is threatening his race seat in formula one.

The Austrian veteran and former long time test driver finished five places higher than young charger Rosberg on Sunday, who alongside Lewis Hamilton and Nick Heidfeld has been singled out as one of F1's star performers this year.

Rosberg's high profile led triple world champion Niki Lauda to recently observe that Wurz, 33, needed to "watch out" or risk again departing the grid, as he did after a disappointing spell at Benetton in 2000.

Wurz in Monaco put two points on Williams' scoreboard compared with Rosberg's five so far, after he passed both Hondas in the pits and brought to a halt Kimi Raikkonen's charge through the field.

Referring to Lauda's criticism, Wurz generously told the news agency APA: "He is entitled to say that.

"I noticed, however, that he congratulated me (for the Monaco result).

"If you don't have bad times, then you cannot dream about the good ones."

Bookmaker to refund angry Hamilton backers
(GMM) Paddy Power is offering a full refund for any punter who feels cheated after the 'team order'-tarnished Monaco GP.

The move will cost Ireland's largest bookmaker about $100,000.

As the FIA launches an investigation into how British rookie Lewis Hamilton was on Sunday ordered to hold station behind his teammate, Paddy Power is apparently concerned that the affair has angered those who staked their hard-earned money on the fact that McLaren would adhere to the ban on team orders.

"There's an unwritten rule in betting –- if you can't win, you can't lose," the bookmaker is quoted as saying by The Times.

"The only fair thing to do is give punters their money back."

Another British chain, William Hill, suspended betting on the outcome of the drivers' world champion after the FIA launched its probe, but media director Graham Sharpe confirmed that the bookmaker would only pay out to those who correctly predicted Fernando Alonso as the winner.

Sharpe said punters accept that team orders - illegal or not - are part of formula one.

"Whether a team comes out and admits it or not you know full well that on occasion there will be situations where a result, which will suit a particular team better, may well be engineered," he added.

World's press hails McLaren dominance
(GMM) The British press almost exclusively obsessed about the 'team order' saga after Sunday's Monaco grand prix.

Elsewhere on the newsstands of the world, however, the media gushed about McLaren's utter dominance of the glamorous race, and eulogized the mysteriously off-color performance of Ferrari.

"McLaren-Mercedes are not only silver, they are gold," said the German publication Focus, also quoting former '80s F1 racer Christian Danner as saying that Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton reminded him of Ayrton Senna alongside Alain Prost.

Spanish newspaper Diario As heralded Alonso's victory as the rightful restoration of power within the silver garage.

"Monaco puts everything back in the right place," the editorial wrote.

"It is again clear who is the double world champion and who is the debutant."

El Mundo hailed its Spanish countryman as the 'Prince of Monaco' and said Alonso "dominated from A to Z".

Italy's Corriere dello Sport predictably turned its focus to a "disappointing" Ferrari team, adding that the Maranello based marque was "never dangerous" in the battle against its rivals.

"Felipe Massa does not love Monaco," the daily newspaper observed, "(while) Kimi Raikkonen did not shine as he rose to position eight."

Tuttosport, meanwhile, called Massa's charge to third place "professional" but observed that his F2007 "was not the car he had (enjoyed) in the past races".

Kimi nears title 'danger zone' - Alonso
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen is teetering on the "danger zone" of being left out of the fight for the 2007 world championship.

That is the claim of championship leader Fernando Alonso, who along with his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton moved fifteen points clear of Ferrari's Finn at Monaco last weekend.

Ferrari's lesser-paid Felipe Massa, meanwhile, is ten points clear of his high profile teammate, who finished just eighth in the Principality after a qualifying crash.

"I believe that, when you are 15 points behind, you risk entering the danger zone," Alonso is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper As.

"With one more error, yes, (Raikkonen) will be out of it."

25-year-old Alonso observed that Brazilian Massa is only five points behind the silver-clad pair after Monaco.

He admitted: "I would prefer to fight for the title with my teammate, because then I know that we are fighting with equal conditions.

"When you are against Ferrari, how things are going to be is harder to predict."

He also vowed to stay out of the controversy about alleged team favoritism within McLaren, saying that he prefers to simply "enjoy the victory" in the days following his second such win in 2007.

Alonso said: "In five races I have gathered 38 points. If I do the same in the next five, I am going to win the title. I know what I have to do."

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