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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Massa, Kimi, say Ferrari now faster
  • Todt rejects Stepney's innocence vow
  • Brawn, Ralf, deny Schu to solve Ferrari crisis
  • Schu returns to Ferrari cockpit
  • Honda cut lap times with 'B' car
  • Ferrari to 'push' for better rules - boss

Massa, Kimi, say Ferrari now faster
(GMM)  Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are expecting their Ferrari to be more competitive at the weekend's French grand prix.

The red-clad pair fell significantly behind the pace of their dominant McLaren challengers over the past three races, but at the Silverstone test last Thursday Massa set easily the quickest time as he assessed a new aerodynamic package for Magny Cours and beyond.

"I am very happy after this test," the Brazilian revealed at Fiorano on the weekend for a celebration marking Ferrari's 60th anniversary.

He added: "On the track I noticed some positive effects immediately, so I am optimistic for France."

Massa told La Gazzetta dello Sport that the new package should help Ferrari to improve its pace especially in qualifying trim.

"Silverstone is a track that already suits our car but we also learned a lot of useful things about aspects that did not work so well in the past races," he said.

Massa's Finnish teammate Raikkonen agreed that the Silverstone-spec F2007 seemed "much better", but warned: "We don't know yet whether it will be enough to go past McLaren.

"We will have to wait and see, but for sure the car seems much better."

Todt rejects Stepney's innocence vow
(GMM)  Jean Todt has rebutted Nigel Stepney's claim that the British engineer did "nothing wrong" to trigger an investigation into possible sabotage of the Ferrari team.

Speaking through his lawyer from the Philippines, 47-year-old Stepney said: "I am innocent.  I have done nothing wrong."

His Italian lawyer Sonia Bartolini, meanwhile, said Stepney will soon return from his holiday and probably hold a press conference to attempt to "clear his name".

But Ferrari boss Todt countered to La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The fact that we requested the intervention of the public prosecutor's office demonstrates that we have discovered something unlawful."

Asked by the Italian sports daily specifically about reports of "sabotage", however, the Frenchman added: "I will not comment on that at the moment."

Brawn, Ralf, deny Schu to solve Ferrari crisis
(GMM)  Ross Brawn has defended Ferrari amid reports that Michael Schumacher could solve the Italian squad's 'crisis' if he returned to the cockpit as a test or race driver.

The Maranello based team's former technical director, who is presently on a one year sabbatical, reigned over Schumacher's unprecedented Ferrari tenure that included five consecutive drivers' and six constructors' titles.

But Brawn told the specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport that blaming Ferrari's new lineup of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa is wrong.

"It is a false belief that a driver can tell the engineers how to make the car faster," he said.

"The driver's role is limited to describing his impressions to the engineers so that the data can be interpreted correctly."

Michael's brother Ralf Schumacher, meanwhile, also insisted that the seven time world champion would be of little use if he returned to the test tracks.

"He has already been away from the current technology for too long," said the German.

The Cologne newspaper 'Express' quoted 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg - a renowned Schumacher critic - as saying: "All he is for Ferrari now is a garage decoration."

Schu returns to Ferrari cockpit
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher on Sunday returned to the wheel of a Ferrari formula one car.

The seven time world champion, who retired from driving after the Brazilian grand prix last October, appeared at Fiorano in the F2004 single seater -- the car he drove to his last drivers' title in 2004.

The German said the celebration of Ferrari's sixtieth birthday differed greatly to the fifty-year anniversary ten years ago.

He said: "Back then (in 1997) I was a driver and my mind was focused only on the next race.

"But today I could fully enjoy this beautiful moment with Ferrari."

Also present at Ferrari's private test circuit were former team drivers including Niki Lauda, Rene Arnoux, Jody Scheckter, Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger and Eddie Irvine.

Honda cut lap times with 'B' car
(GMM)  Honda's significantly revised RA107 is now nearly a full second quicker than the single seater of its junior team Super Aguri, according to sources.

While the majority of the F1 world ran at Silverstone last week, the Japanese squads tested alone and privately at Jerez in southwestern Spain, away from the glare of the media and rival outfits.

Under wraps was the running of the unofficial 'B' car, boasting new wings and new front suspension, which is to debut at Magny Cours.

"With Super Aguri we can compare not only our lap times but also the data so we can better understand our strengths and weaknesses," said technical boss Shuhei Nakamoto.

In its former guise, the RA107 was only a few tenths quicker than Super Aguri's SA07 - which is basically a modified version of last year's works Honda - at recent races.

But according to sources after Honda's private Jerez test, that gap has now extended to nearly a full second per lap.

"We expect to make a small step forward in performance at the next race," engineering director Jacky Eeckelaert confirmed.

Ferrari to 'push' for better rules - boss
(GMM)  Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has revealed that his team will "push hard" for better rules to be written for formula one.

The Italian, at Fiorano over the weekend for the celebration of Ferrari's 60th anniversary, hit out at current rules including those governing the Safety Car and the design of modern F1 racers.

"No, I do not like the rules much, for various reasons," the Spanish newspaper Marca quoted 59-year-old Montezemolo as saying.

He added: "I think it is necessary that they be changed.  I do not like the rule for the Safety Car, which turned Montreal into a game of roulette.

"And I don't like the fact that races are not fought properly because of aerodynamic considerations, where it is so difficult to overtake.

"I believe that formula one, a great international success with new and enthusiastic locations, must quickly confront these subjects and Ferrari will push hard to make it happen."

Montezemolo did, however, spare some praise for F1's advances in the area of safety, after Robert Kubica amazingly escaped an horror impact in Canada without injuring himself.

"It has been a long and difficult battle," he explained, "after the numerous tragedies of the past, but we must never stop pushing for even more advances."

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