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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Briatore delays 2008 driver decision
  • Dark cloud hangs over Speed's F1 future
  • Piquet - I turned down Albers' Spyker drive
  • Stepney, Ferrari, step up legal attacks
  • Kubica slams teammate after Heidfeld clashes
  • Lauda sides with Alonso over Massa scrap

Briatore delays 2008 driver decision
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has told Renault's current driver lineup that they will have to wait a few more weeks to discover if they are a part of the team's plans for 2008.

The Italian team principal originally promised Giancarlo Fisichella, Heikki Kovalainen and test driver Nelson Piquet Jr that they can expect clarity at the end of July.

But Briatore is now quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport: "I am giving myself a few more weeks (to decide).

"I want to give my drivers a better car so that I can judge their achievements better."

It is rumored, however, that the real reason for the delay is that Briatore senses an opportunity to rehire his former charge Fernando Alonso, who is reportedly unhappy at McLaren.

Moreover, it is believed that the Spanish double world champion's multiple year McLaren contract might actually be voided if Ron Dennis' team is punished at Thursday's World Council hearing.

Alonso aside, Piquet Jr looks a favorite to step up to a racing seat with the French team. He is scheduled to drive for two of the three days at Jerez this week, while Fisichella has been used at tests on just three occasions this season.

Auto Motor und Sport claims that veteran Fisichella's manager Enrico Zanarini has taken up negotiations with Sir Frank Williams about 2008.

Dark cloud hangs over Speed's F1 future
(GMM) A dark cloud hangs over Scott Speed's formula one future after he claims he was assaulted by team boss Franz Tost.

Despite reports that the American driver will be immediately replaced by Sebastian Vettel, however, a spokesperson for the team insists that 23-year-old Speed is scheduled to test the STR2 car at Mugello both on Wednesday and Thursday.

Indeed, it has emerged that he has in fact traveled to the Italian circuit near Florence.

But prior to taking to the Ferrari-powered single seater, he has revealed further details about his altercation with Tost in the Nurburgring pits after spinning last Sunday.

Speed told Speed TV that after a verbal argument with Tost, "he hit me in the middle of the back with a closed fist. Everyone in the team saw it".

The Californian says Tost then followed him behind the garage partitions and "grabbed me from the front of my shirt, jerked me around and pushed me against the wall".

Speed said he then told other team officials, including co-owner Gerhard Berger, that "if my team chief ever touches me again, I'm going to knock him out".

He admits that his formula one future is essentially now over, but hoped his relationship with STR's co-owner Red Bull is not permanently damaged.

But referring to Tost and Berger, Speed asserted: "You couldn't pay me enough money to race for those two people again."

Piquet - I turned down Albers' Spyker drive
(GMM) Nelson Piquet Junior has revealed that he turned down the opportunity to fill axed Spyker racer Christijan Albers' car for the rest of the season.

The young Brazilian is managed and supported by Renault boss Flavio Briatore's management company, and he was seriously linked with the seat that is still up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Piquet Jr, who turns 22 on Wednesday, told Auto Motor und Sport that his triple world championship-winning father urged him to jump at the chance to race.

"But with that car you could only lose," he said.

"It is clearly difficult to drive, and (Adrian) Sutil knows it off by heart already. I would be last until I caught up to his experience level.

"In the meantime my market value could be destroyed, because unfortunately in this game, the people are very short-sighted."

Stepney, Ferrari, step up legal attacks
(GMM) Both sides have stepped up their legal attack as the Stepney-gate espionage scandal rolls on.

It is reported in the Italian press this week that sacked Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney, who is accused of sabotaging the team's cars and sending reams of secret information to fierce rivals McLaren, has commissioned a private detective to work on his case.

The Briton claims that he is the victim of an international conspiracy waged by Ferrari to forever foul his switch to rival teams.

Ferrari, meanwhile, has also stepped up its attack by hiring former British police commissioner Lord Stevens to investigate the leaking of confidential information to McLaren.

"I can confirm that (Steven's company) Quest have been retained by Ferrari, as evidenced by mention of Quest in papers filed at the High Court," a spokesman for Quest told The Telegraph.

Kubica slams teammate after Heidfeld clashes
(GMM) Robert Kubica has lashed out at his BMW-Sauber teammate Nick Heidfeld following their Nurburgring clash last Sunday.

The pair consistently deny that they struggle to get along, but in Germany they both blamed one another for the first lap coming together.

Kubica and Heidfeld also crashed in Malaysia this year, sparking a disagreement in the media about who apologized to who.

This time, Kubica has hit out at his veteran German teammate in the Cologne newspaper Express.

"A driver who punts two of his competitors off the road within 20 laps does not have a very long future in formula one," the Pole said.

Kubica, 22, is referring to Heidfeld's subsequent crash in the European grand prix, which left his countryman Ralf Schumacher incensed. He is probably also referring to the fact that Heidfeld is yet to have his contract renewed for 2008.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda also put the blame for the crashes at Heidfeld's door, after the German flew home to Switzerland on Saturday afternoon following the birth of his son Joda.

"Surely his concentration was lacking," the triple world champion told Bild-Zeitung, "after he spent the night with his newborn son.

"I wouldn't have done what he did. Yes, I would have flown to my son, but I would have taken a quick look and gone straight back to the track."

Lauda sides with Alonso over Massa scrap
(GMM) Niki Lauda has joined the Italian press in siding with Fernando Alonso following the Nurburgring winner's wheel-banging scrap with Felipe Massa.

"No one can justify (Massa's) exaggerated reaction to Alonso's criticism," La Gazzetta dello Sport observed on Monday after the Ferrari driver launched into foul-mouthed abuse behind the podium last Sunday.

Triggering the attack, Spaniard Alonso had told Massa, who is also 25, that he thought he had driven into the left sidepod of his McLaren on purpose as they diced for the win.

"Why (Massa) drove straight into Alonso, I can not understand," Austrian legend Lauda is quoted as saying by the newspaper Bild-Zeitung.

He speculated: "Childishness, carelessness, or Brazilian temper?"

Lauda rejected suggestions that Massa only reacted badly after Alonso verbally provoked him.

"He should have just shown him the middle finger. There is no need to get so excited. Alonso attacked on the track with full strength -- no, he was perfect."

So do Massa and Alonso hate each other now?

"Another question," Lauda suggested. "Do you like someone who takes away your victory?"

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