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Latest F1 news in brief
  • McLaren 'disappointed' by FIA summons
  • Spyker praise Klien after Spa test
  • Drivers flag safety of new Spa pitlane
  • No US GP at Indy or elsewhere in 2008
  • Ralf says no GPDA action over Spa pitlane
  • Hamilton finds fame in Germany too New
  • Spy saga involves more people - Stepney New
  • Coulthard backs McLaren amid spy scandal New

McLaren 'disappointed' by FIA summons
(GMM) McLaren on Thursday said it was "extremely disappointed" after F1's governing body summoned the team to answer charges of alleged espionage.

An extraordinary meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council will take place in Paris on July 26, leading the press to speculate about penalties ranging from points deduction, fines, to total exclusion from the world championship as the Stepney-gate scandal rolls on.

Ferrari's sacked Stepney is accused of sending nearly 800 pages of team data to McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, who along with his wife is being sued by Ferrari in England for receiving, keeping and trying to copy the documents.

Woking based McLaren answered in a statement that it wishes "to make it very clear that the documents and confidential information were only in the possession of one currently suspended employee on an unauthorized basis and no element of it has been used in relation to McLaren's formula one cars."

Spyker praise Klien after Spa test
(GMM) Christian Klien's chances of filling axed Spyker racer Christijan Albers' seat seemed to increase even more after he drove 63 laps at the Spa Francorchamps test on Thursday.

A damp Belgian track, minor technical trouble, and the slowest lap time of the day aside, the Dutch squad praised the 24-year-old Austrian test driver's progress at the wheel of the orange-liveried car after he was released by his usual employer Honda.

"Despite this being (his) first ever run in the Ferrari powered F8-VII, he recorded a best lap of 1min 49.119, just 2.4secs from the fastest time of the day," a statement enthused.

Spyker's chief race and test engineer Dominic Harlow, meanwhile, praised Klien as a "professional" who "contributed to the day from the start".

Klien said: "There is a good bunch of people here and I felt at home straight away.

"Obviously today's focus was to get used to the car and how the engine and gearbox works. I think it all went well, there is potential in the car and I enjoyed the day testing with Spyker," he added. [Editor's Note: We hear Klien and his father's checkbook are a shoe-in for this buy-a-ride seat so of course the team will praise him. They need his money.]

Drivers flag safety of new Spa pitlane
(GMM) Spa-Francorchamps' recently updated formula one layout smoothly hosted a three-day test this week but few drivers paid tribute to the new pitlane entry.

Key figures including Mark Webber and David Coulthard even used their clout to commission a letter to the FIA from the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, arguing that the concrete-lined, narrow and blind stretch of road is not safe.

Other changes, including at the La Source hairpin at turn one and to the reprofiled Bus Stop chicane, were given the thumbs-up; Super Aguri's Takuma Sato said the modifications on a whole are "very well done".

"There is a new track surface giving it a bit more grip and there is a greater opportunity to overtake and race before the old Bus Stop chicane as you now have to slow down and brake heavily for the revised section," he said.

But Sato added: "All of the changes seem to be quite safe, although the pitlane entrance is quite narrow.

"If they look at this before the grand prix I think that we will be in for a good race."

No US GP at Indy or elsewhere in 2008
(GMM) A United States grand prix will not take place at Indianapolis or anywhere else next year, it emerged on Thursday.

Tony George, chief executive of F1's annual American home since 2000 - the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - failed to reach an agreement with his counterpart Bernie Ecclestone to extend the expired contract before a self-imposed July 12 deadline.

George added in a statement: "However, we have agreed to leave the door open for a potential future date."

Facing the media in a news conference, he did not hide his disappointment amid speculation that the main sticking point was money.

"It's tough to have a hiatus like this," he admitted.

The news follows the pleas of many figures for F1-involved carmakers that America is such a crucial market for them that one or preferably two races in the US should be held.

In informal poll on WTHR.com, though, revealed that 48 per cent of Indianapolis' locals won't miss the sport.

However, the race was always well attended, with an estimated 100,000 spectators watching trackside at this year's event just two years after the six-car debacle of 2005.

The Indiana Convention and Visitors Association estimated the financial impact on the region of F1's departure at about $100 million.

George said of his failed negotiations with Ecclestone: "We did agree that it was prudent to leave the door open for the future."

Ralf says no GPDA action over Spa pitlane
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher has contradicted reports that the Grand Prix Drivers' Association are concerned about the new pitlane at Belgian GP venue Spa-Francorchamps.

David Coulthard reportedly confirmed this week that the safety-oriented GPDA, expressing the concerns of fellow drivers who tested at the venue following circuit modifications to the layout, wrote to the sport's governing body requesting that the new narrow and blind pitlane be changed prior to the grand prix in September.

But Schumacher, who drives for Toyota, succeeded Coulthard as the GPDA's president last year and told motorsport-total.com: "The pitlane is certainly a bit tight.

"A little more room would have for sure been better, but personally I don't find it too bad."

Schumacher, 32, confirmed that he would not be intervening on behalf of the GPDA.

"No," Ralf answered plainly. "It has nothing to do with safety, because the speed in the pitlane is so low -- it is up to the FIA."

Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso are the other two current GPDA directors.

Ralf, meanwhile, had a strong weekend at Silverstone for the recent British grand prix, silencing those who were predicting the looming end of his career.

He insists that he will definitely have a seat on the grid next year, even though it is understood that Toyota is yet to take up its option on his services for 2008.

Schumacher was asked if he is also having talks with other teams.

"There are discussions going on, but nothing that I would like to go into greater detail about."

Hamilton finds fame in Germany too
(GMM) After the commotion of his first home race, British formula one sensation Lewis Hamilton thought he would find refuge in Germany.

The 22-year-old rookie championship leader was in Berlin this week to attend the Power Meets Fashion show, where he took a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Streamliner grand prix car for a spin.

"I thought I might find some normality here but the German people seem to know me as well," Hamilton, who according to the news agency Sport-Informations Dienst was hounded by autograph hunters, journalists and cameras, said.

Next weekend, he will be back in Germany for Mercedes' home race at the Nurburgring.

Hamilton said of the W196, which won 9 of the season's 12 races in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss: "I can hardly believe that people used to race these things.

"The seat is so hard, and there was clearly hardly one thought about safety."

Spy saga involves more people - Stepney
(GMM) More formula one personalities could be dragged into the spy saga.

According to comments made by sacked Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney's Italian lawyer on Friday, the espionage scandal which has also involved McLaren and Honda is deeper even than its meticulous coverage by the media.

Police searches took place at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters on Friday, the Roman newspaper La Repubblica reported.

"Mr. Stepney protests his innocence," Stepney's lawyer Sonia Bartolini is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He is sure that the truth will come out and that other people will come under the eye of the examinations," she added.

Italian prosecutors are expected to complete the investigation of the white powder - thought to be detergent - that was allegedly poured into Ferrari fuel tanks by Stepney prior to this year's Monaco grand prix, by the beginning of next month.

But La Gazzetta claims that the entire saga could be set to continue until 2008, as the thorough criminal investigation drags on.

Coulthard backs McLaren amid spy scandal
(GMM) Long-serving McLaren driver David Coulthard has backed his former team in the midst of the spy scandal.

The FIA has summoned Ron Dennis' Woking based team to answer a charge of possible espionage but Scot Coulthard said on Friday that he doesn't "doubt (Dennis') position on it".

Mercedes-powered McLaren vigorously denies any wrongdoing, insisting that it is "extremely disappointed" with the World Council summons and distancing itself from suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan, who was recently found in possession of nearly 800 pages of sensitive Ferrari material.

Coulthard, who now races for Red Bull but spent nine seasons at McLaren until 2004, told his column for ITV: "They are too clever and their integrity is too high to be involved in (this)."

The 36-year-old said he was disappointed with the entire spying and sabotage saga, arguing that it could have a "long-lasting damaging effect" on F1's image.

Coulthard explained: "I think the sport is strong in its media coverage right now and the type of companies that invest in F1 consider any whiff of insider trading on technology to be a taboo subject."

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