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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Singapore set for first night race
  • Salo backtracks after Ferrari spy charge
  • Bourdais now in NASCAR link
  • Title race 'tainted' for McLaren says Watson
  • Vettel disappointed to miss Speed's cockpit

Singapore set for first night race
(GMM) The inaugural Singapore grand prix will indeed be the first ever formula one race to be staged at night.

Following the breakdown of Bernie Ecclestone's night race talks with Melbourne, the local newspaper Today clarified that Singapore organizers are still keen to flood-light the 2008 event in September.

The FIA did not confirm the news, but its provisional calendar for next year lists the Singapore street course as 'subject to circuit approval'.

The Singapore GP's communications director Jonathan Hallett, meanwhile, said race organizers and corporate partners are "in full support of a night race", Today wrote.

Melbourne promoters were worried that spectators would not attend a night race but Hallett said the idea "makes sense" for Singapore.

Referring to Singapore's scorching tropical climate, he said spectators "will find it more comfortable".

But he cautioned: "We will carry out a night race only if the FIA and Formula One Administration find that the safety of drivers and spectators is not compromised."

Salo backtracks after Ferrari spy charge
(GMM) Former Ferrari racer Mika Salo on the weekend back-paddled after suggesting that the Maranello based team has also been guilty of spying.

Following the World Motor Sport Council's decision not to penalize McLaren for espionage, furious Ferrari chief Jean Todt accused the FIA of double-standards by saying "an exemplary punishment" would have been handed down if the Italian team had been in the dock.

But Salo, who in 1999 substituted for an injured Michael Schumacher for several races, told Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat that Ferrari also regularly spied on McLaren.

"After every practice session I had in front of me, on paper, all the discussions Mika Hakkinen had had with his engineer," he was quoted as saying.

After Salo's remarks were widely circulated, Ferrari provided to the media a clarification, quoting 40-year-old Salo as now insisting that the Ilta-Sanomat article did "not match the thoughts I wanted to express".

"I would like to make it clear that I was only referring to formula one in the late 90s, when radio technology was still at an almost amateurish level, which meant it could happen that some radio conversations could be listened to randomly because of interference," he added.

Bourdais now in NASCAR link
(GMM) Sebastien Bourdais may call off his anticipated switch to Toro Rosso after another potential option for the 2008 season landed on his table.

It emerged last Friday that the multiple Champ Car title winner's open wheeler team Newman-Haas would merge with Robert Yates Racing and race in NASCAR next year.

"(Newman-Haas) are seven-time Champ Car champions. They're winners, they're classy people and together with (their) engineering and marketing, we can make this work," said Yates' Racing Engines president Doug Yates.

Some sections of the American press, nonetheless aware that STR bosses have an option on Frenchman Bourdais that runs until Tuesday, speculate that the 28-year-old could be part of the deal.

Other sources say the rumor could be the result of the apparent turmoil in recent days at Faenza based Toro Rosso, with Bourdais possibly concerned that the team's current drivers are involved in public slanging matches and even physical tussles as relationships with their bosses break down. [Editor's Note: Bourdais is going to F1 not NASCAR. Period.]

Title race 'tainted' for McLaren says Watson
(GMM) Former McLaren racer John Watson has characterized the remainder of the 2007 season as a lose-lose situation for the Woking based team.

The 61-year-old Ulsterman, who won five grands prix before retiring in 1985, said that even if Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso emerge from the espionage scandal with the championship, "it will forever be tainted".

"There will always be that stain, that reservation with people asking if the information was used and how long the team had it," Watson told the Sun after McLaren last Friday were found guilty but not penalized by the World Council.

Watson indicated that even he has reservations about his former team, for whom he spent five seasons starting in 1979, and finishing the 1982 drivers' standings in third.

Referring to the spying scandal involving suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan, he said: "McLaren did not just have details about the car but also about how the team operates.

"It was Ferrari's Bible."

Watson also accused the FIA of stirring more negative publicity by handing down such a controversial finding, with even usual Ferrari nemesis Flavio Briatore agreeing that McLaren should have paid "the consequences" having been found guilty.

The verdict has also opened the very real prospect of a Ferrari appeal.

Watson said of F1's governing body: "They haven't helped anybody. The FIA have done more to bring the sport into disrepute by not ending this."

Vettel disappointed to miss Speed's cockpit
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has admitted to disappointment after reportedly missing out on beleaguered Scott Speed's Toro Rosso cockpit.

Following reports of American Speed's spectacular falling out with bosses Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger, reports in Germany said BMW test driver Vettel came within one or two "financial issues" of stepping up to the race seat for the balance of 2007.

A reporter for the newspaper Bild am Sonntag asked 20-year-old Vettel if he should be "congratulated or consoled" for narrowly avoiding a drive at one of F1's backmarker teams.

The German replied: "Just as soccer players want to play, race drivers want to drive and not watch."

Although jointly contracted to Toro Rosso's half owner Red Bull, Vettel attends each race as BMW-Sauber's substitute driver.

He made his grand prix debut at Indianapolis in June, after team regular Robert Kubica had to rest following his horror Montreal crash.

"I would like a racing cockpit," Vettel clarified, "and eventually the world championship. That is my goal."

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