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Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • 'Donkey ears' bring victory to Ferrari
  • New car leaves Button relieved, not excited
  • Schu eyes more specific Ferrari role
  • Alonso friend dead in F1 helicopter crash
  • Stewards hand 'woeful' Albers $6,800 fine
  • Italy hails Kimi, Spain thanks Ferrari New
  • Hamilton Snr wants $3m pay-rise for son New

'Donkey ears' bring victory to Ferrari
(GMM) A formula one veteran and expert has played down suggestions that new 'donkey ear' fins helped Ferrari to dominate the French GP.

Off the back of a three-race victory drought, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa at Magny Cours defeated their nearest McLaren rival by half a minute -- with the most visible addition to the F2007's bodywork being the unique fins located on the upper monocoque just in front of the cockpit.

"It is a little puzzling that they were so dominant here," said German's Hans-Joachim Stuck, a commentator and veteran of 74 grands prix in the 70s.

Also coinciding with Ferrari's boost in form last weekend was news that the Maranello based team got its wind tunnel back up and running following a breakage of the metallic rolling road a couple of months ago.

Stuck told the broadcaster Premiere: "Obviously they had some serious problems, but I do not believe that the new wings brought them so much pace.

"Surely not enough (pace) for the 30 second lead over McLaren.

"I think they have, however, demonstrated how closely together victory and defeat lie in formula one."

New car leaves Button relieved, not excited
(GMM) Beleaguered Honda took a step forward at Magny Cours on Sunday, but the single point was not enough to excite Jenson Button.

With his eighth place behind both Ferraris, McLarens, BMWs and a Renault, the Englishman finally opened the Brackley based team's 2007 points account at the wheel of the heavily updated version of the RA107 car.

"It is still one point," the 27-year-old told the British broadcaster ITV after the French grand prix, where he finished in the top ten for the first time since Brazil last October.

He said: "We want to be at the front, so there is a long way to go."

Button, however, admits that the new single seater, unofficially nicknamed the 'B' car in the press, is better than the version he and teammate Rubens Barrichello used to little effect in the opening seven races of the season.

"It is a good place to build on, and it's a relief to drive a car that feels good," he agreed.

"This is a good starting point ... we've got the basics right now, which is good."

Schu eyes more specific Ferrari role
(GMM) Michael Schumacher at Magny Cours refused to rule out assuming a more specified role within the Ferrari team in the future.

For the first time since Barcelona in May, the seven time world champion addressed the media in France and said he tries to now keep a low-profile because he is deadly serious about his new job.

His precise role at the moment, however, remains vague, but 38-year-old Schumacher said it might not be forever.

"There are many ways in which I can be active within Ferrari," he said.

"I am only at the very beginning in this phase and I am still working out with the team how my experience can be used most effectively."

Schumacher revealed: "I will sit down with the team at the end of the year to discuss it again."

Alonso friend dead in F1 helicopter crash
(GMM) A personal friend of world champion Fernando Alonso was among the two F1-related people who were killed in the helicopter crash near Magny Cours on Saturday night.

It emerges that personnel for F1's tire supplier Bridgestone were aboard the aircraft but escaped death, and are currently recuperating with unspecified serious injuries in hospitals in Nevers and Dijon.

"I apologize for being brief but my thoughts today were with those who were involved in (the) accident. It was difficult to concentrate on the race," the Japanese marque's Kees van de Grint said on Sunday.

Alonso's friend was Emmanuel Longobardi, who worked on public relations for Quiksilver, a sportswear clothing brand. It is believed that Spaniard Alonso, who finished seventh in the French grand prix wearing a black armband, had spoken with Longobardi just hours before the crash at 8pm.

Also killed was a member of the F1 clothing company Alpinestars, while Nicolas Duqesne and his niece Chloe survived, although their condition is not known.

Stewards hand 'woeful' Albers $6,800 fine
(GMM) Spyker's Christijan Albers was fined (US) $6,800 by French GP stewards after he sped out of the Magny Cours pitlane on Sunday with a huge fuel line still attached to his F1 racer.

Not only was the sport's governing body unamused -- widely circulated European newspapers including The Sun and Bild-Zeitung ridiculed the Dutchman for making the dangerous error of dropping the clutch while his 'lollipop' was still firmly down.

"I think the most important thing is that the guys were ok and nobody was hurt in the accident," Albers said, also admitting the blame.

Bild headlined: "Christijan Albers -- the idiot from Holland", while Britain's The Sun called the affair a "calamity cock-up" that could have "seriously inured his pit crew".

The Daily Telegraph referred to the 28-year-old as the "woeful Christijan Albers".

Italy hails Kimi, Spain thanks Ferrari
(GMM)  The notorious Italian press heralded the apparent return to form of Kimi Raikkonen and his Ferrari team after the French grand prix on Sunday.

Corriere dello Sport said the famous outfit from Maranello "awoke from its slumber" at Magny Cours following three recent defeats.

And Finland's Raikkonen "drove like Schumi.  After Ferrari's one-two victory the world championship is open again".

"Kimi's slump has come to an end.  Now the Finn has a real chance for the title."

Tuttosport agreed: "Raikkonen is back, and with the double (one two) victory a crisis is over."

La Gazzetta dello Sport added: "Raikkonen did not have a simple task to take Schumacher's place.  But in Magny Cours he proved again that he also has the talent of the German."

La Repubblica also focused on 27-year-old Raikkonen, after he struggled in recent races to match the pace of his previously less-rated teammate Felipe Massa.

"The difficult phase for him is over," the newspaper observed.  "He struck a large blow at his critics and can now go on to prove that he is a worthy successor for Schumi".

Spain's Diario As turned to Fernando Alonso's continuing problems, remarking that the reigning world champion "tried everything" to rise above his seventh place.

But at least "Ferrari's success reduced the damage with regards to (Lewis) Hamilton," the newspaper wrote.

"Alonso continues to lose ground in the championship while Ferrari dominated the race from A to Z", 'Sport' added, while Marca agreed: "Thanks, Ferrari!  Your double victory prevented Hamilton from extending his lead too much more".

Hamilton Snr wants $3m pay-rise for son
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's father may be in the process of negotiating a pay-rise for the superstar F1 rookie.

The Spanish sports newspaper 'Marca' reports that there is a clause in the 22-year-old's McLaren contract permitting the revisiting of his $300,000 per year retainer in the event that he is leading the world championship by the mid-point of the season.

A healthy points bonus aside, Hamilton's contract pales in comparison with teammate Fernando Alonso's multi-million dollar deal.

'Marca' says Anthony Hamilton, who manages his son's affairs, met team officials about the issue at Magny Cours and could be eyeing an extra $3m from the Woking based team for the balance of 2007.

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