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Latest F1 news in brief
  • 'Always a No.1 at McLaren' - Montoya
  • Briatore backs Alonso to win 2007 title
  • Lewis could 'destroy' Alonso - Lauda
  • Bad weather expected for day two in UK
  • Fittipaldi to Flavio - 'give Piquet his debut'
  • Alonso at McLaren won't last - expert
  • Alonso says Hamilton relationship 'good'
  • Hamilton factor to help save British GP
  • Briatore to stay at Renault in 2008

'Always a No.1 at McLaren' - Montoya
(GMM) Juan Pablo Montoya has backed Fernando Alonso's recent complaint that Lewis Hamilton is receiving more support from his McLaren chiefs this season.

The Colombian, now a fixture of America's NASCAR scene, joined the Woking based outfit as one of F1's brightest stars at the beginning of 2005 but brusquely left mid-way through last season after failing to shine alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

Montoya observed in an interview with the Associated Press this week that rookie Hamilton, albeit partnered at the Mercedes-powered outfit by F1's reigning world champion, is "clearly the number 1 on the team".

He explained: "But there's always a No. 1 at McLaren. I mean, Fernando Alonso said it himself."

Montoya admitted that championship leader and back to back winner Hamilton is a "really good" driver but pointed out that team boss Ron Dennis supported the 22-year-old since he was a child.

"He has an advantage that ... there really always is a favorite driver on the team," Montoya said.

Briatore backs Alonso to win 2007 title
(GMM) Fernando Alonso's former team boss has backed the Spaniard to recover and beat Lewis Hamilton to the title in 2007.

Renault principal Flavio Briatore, who guided his ex-protege into formula one before the 25-year-old switched to McLaren this year, rejected theories that Alonso has "changed" since he became a high-earning double world champion.

"Like many drivers, he has had some difficulty adapting to a new team," the Italian told the Spanish newspaper Diario As.

"He has gone from Michelin to Bridgestone, whereas Hamilton already knows the tires from GP2.

"People exaggerate everything. I do not believe that Fernando has changed and I believe that he will win the championship.

"He has to be calm, to focus on himself, forget everyone else, and he will win it."

Briatore said there was a point last year when Alonso looked surely defeated by his championship rival Michael Schumacher.

"Everybody thought it was lost," he said, "but we proved that it was not. So for him to do it again he has to do what he did again -- to think about his work in the car and not get distracted by outside pressures.

"He does not have to read the English press, nor the press of his own country.

"But I don't believe the British journalists are going to do him any harm. That is not the problem."

Lewis could 'destroy' Alonso - Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda has warned Fernando Alonso that Lewis Hamilton could destroy his formula one career.

The great Austrian won the world championship for McLaren by half a point in 1984, but only after the arrival of his young teammate Alain Prost usually set the pace on the track.

"With each race in which he is beaten, Hamilton destroys Alonso a little more," the triple world champion is quoted as saying by the German newspaper 'Abendzeitung'.

Lauda said: "And with each race that he cannot turn around this trend, it gets even harder for him."

The 58-year-old said Prost "began to destroy me piece by piece" throughout the 1984 season, before retiring for good the following year.

"I would set a fastest lap in practice and before I had even returned to the pits, he was quicker. I was completely finished.

"To win (the title), I had to change my approach. I stopped trying to beat Prost lap for lap and won by a half point at the end, because in the races I was smarter."

Lauda also confirmed that McLaren officials in the mid-80s similarly operated a policy of driver equality, but said he soon began to notice Prost getting the best treatment when he was quicker.

Bad weather expected for day two in UK
(GMM) The rain stayed away from warm and cloudy Silverstone on Tuesday, but day two of the group formula one test is likely to be affected by bad weather.

Nine of F1's eleven current teams kicked off a three day test in England on Tuesday, just two days after the checkered flag at the US grand prix across the Atlantic.

Honda's two teams, meanwhile, ran on Tuesday in ideal conditions at Jerez in Spain.

The ultra-short turnaround was not without its hiccups, though, after Toro Rosso's Vitantonio Liuzzi started testing late due to flight delays, while Spyker had to go on without some of its equipment due to the bad weather in the States.

"A thank you to Ferrari for helping us this morning when we had the delays," said technical director James Key.

BMW's Nick Heidfeld, meanwhile, had to finish his day early with slight back pain, while Ralf Schumacher set the pace for Toyota after a low-fuel qualifying run.

Fittipaldi to Flavio - 'give Piquet his debut'
(GMM) Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi says Renault boss Flavio Briatore "likes the idea" of giving Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr his grand prix debut this year.

We reported last week that 60-year-old Fittipaldi, who won two drivers' titles in the 70s, thinks the team's young test driver is "ready" to arrive on the grid.

Fittipaldi, the Brazilian veteran, knows countryman Piquet Jr well after running the 21-year-old - who is the son of the triple world champion of the same name - in his A1 GP team.

Piquet senior, meanwhile - a close friend of Fittipaldi's - was a guest of the Renault team at Indianapolis last weekend.

Reuters quoted Fittipaldi as saying this week: "I talked to Flavio Briatore in Canada. I said 'Flavio, you want to put Nelsinho in immediately'.

"He likes the idea but he said 'but I want my cars to be stronger for Nelson to be a competitor'.

"If I were Flavio I'd put him in this year," Fittipaldi added.

Alonso at McLaren won't last - expert
(GMM) Fernando Alonso will not last long at the McLaren team.

That is the prediction of Antonio Lobato, who is described by the Spanish newspaper Marca as the 'journalist who knows him best'.

Lobato is the director of sport for the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco, and he also presents the country's coverage of formula one.

In a column for Marca, he said 25-year-old Alonso feels "suffocated" under Ron Dennis' regime this year, after winning two titles for the more laid-back Renault team in 2005 and 2006.

"I don't see him staying there for long," Lobato wrote.

He claimed that McLaren "do not listen" to Alonso "because they think that there is nobody who can teach them anything."

Alonso, meanwhile, reckons he sensed an improvement in the McLaren garage at Indianapolis last weekend, after complaining before the US grand prix that team members were "happier when Hamilton won".

The reigning world champion told The Sun: "They are now being more careful with their manners.

"Now I'm more comfortable than before and full of confidence everything will go well from now on."

In the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, he said he still feels like the favorite for the world championship, despite trailing his teammate Hamilton by 10 points.

"There are still 100 points left to win," Alonso insisted, "and in many ways the championship for me begins now with the very important European races at Magny Cours, Silverstone and Nurburgring."

Alonso says Hamilton relationship 'good'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has joined his teammate Lewis Hamilton in rubbishing reports that they do not get along.

Experts have described the tension inside the McLaren camp at the moment as akin to the ferocious relationship shared by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the 80s.

But world champion Alonso, who shook his fist and swerved at the pitwall after failing to pass Hamilton at Indianapolis last Sunday, said there is a difference between on and off-track rivalry.

"On the track you can have your run-ins," he is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, "but this is normal. Our relationship is good."

Rookie and championship leader Hamilton revealed recently that, in the McLaren motor home, he often plays computer games with Alonso.

"Off the track, we laugh, we joke," the 25-year-old Spaniard confirmed.

Alonso added: "Clearly I was not overjoyed (at Indianapolis) because I believed that I was faster and I wanted to win. So it did not leave a good taste in my mouth."

Hamilton factor to help save British GP
(GMM) Promoters of the British grand prix are looking to Lewis Hamilton to help save the annual Silverstone race.

The ageing venue at Northamptonshire is a constant object of criticism by F1's supremo Bernie Ecclestone, but owner the British Racing Drivers' Club notes that championship leading rookie Hamilton's enormous popularity in his home country "could be helpful" to retaining the grand prix.

"(Club) members like Lewis are only helping us," BRDC chairman Robert Brooks, mindful that Silverstone's current F1 contract runs out in 2009, is quoted as saying by the BBC.

He said: "The Hamilton factor is very positive and helpful in keeping the British grand prix."

Brooks insisted, however, that the circuit's owners are in the "advanced stages" of applying for planning permission to upgrade the track, which was the scene of the very first modern championship grand prix in 1950.

He said: "Then we will look to agree a new contract with formula one.

"We will do all we can to retain the British grand prix."

Briatore to stay at Renault in 2008
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has confirmed that he will honor the second year of his new Renault contract in 2008.

Much speculation surrounds the longer term future of the French team's managing director and principal, but he said in an interview with Diario As that he will "definitely" still be in the paddock next season.

"It would not have been right to leave Renault at the same time as Fernando (Alonso) did," said the Italian, referring to the switch to McLaren this year of F1's reigning double world champion.

Briatore added: "There are a thousand other reasons -- like out of respect to the people who are in our team because I asked them to be.

"People who moved house, who moved their kids from one school to another, for us.

"We are a team where the human element is fundamental."

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