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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Dennis slams Ferrari as saga enters third month
  • Berger fails to back beleaguered Liuzzi
  • Kimi admits title chances fading
  • Brawn admits rival team talks likely

Dennis slams Ferrari as saga enters third month
(GMM) Media reportage of the espionage scandal entered a third consecutive month on Wednesday.

McLaren made public a lengthy letter from team boss Ron Dennis to Italian motor sport president Luigi Macaluso, whose own letter to Max Mosley this week resulted in the re-opening of the FIA investigation into the spying affair.

In his letter, Dennis refers to sacked Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney as a 'whistleblower' who alerted chief designer Mike Coughlan to illegal floors and rear wings on the 2007 Ferrari.

"McLaren took steps to confirm whether (Stepney's) allegations were true, and we concluded that they were," Dennis wrote, accusing Ferrari of then winning the Australian grand prix with the illegal floor still attached.

He added: "Were it not for Mr. Stepney drawing this illegal device to the attention of McLaren, and McLaren drawing it to the attention of the FIA, there is every reason to suppose that Ferrari would have continued to race with an illegal car."

Dennis slammed as "completely misleading" Ferrari's claim that Stepney's whistle-blowing amounted to the divulgence of "confidential information".

"He acted properly and in the interests of the sport in blowing the whistle about this," Dennis said of Stepney.

He added: "No team can expect their employees to keep quiet if they suspect - correctly in this case - that their employers are breaching the rules of the sport."

Dennis also defended not telling Ferrari about Stepney because "it is in the interests of formula one that whistle-blowing is encouraged and not discouraged".

"If team members think that their identity will be revealed they will not whistle-blow," he wrote.

As for the separate issue of Coughlan's receipt of 780-pages of secret material, Dennis said Ferrari "has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to maximize the damage to McLaren".

He describes as "offensive and false" Ferrari's claim that other McLaren staff were aware that Coughlan was in possession of the Ferrari dossier, which the now suspended chief designer subsequently copied, shredded and burned in his back garden.

Dennis also rejects Ferrari's claim that it was not allowed to participate in the World Council hearing, revealing that Ferrari submitted a dossier of evidence, attended the meeting in Paris with lawyers who were "given several opportunities to ask questions and make submissions", while Jean Todt also spoke.

He said: "McLaren's reputation has been unfairly sullied by incorrect press reports from Italy and grossly misleading statements from Ferrari.

"We believe that the Ferrari press releases, the leaks to the Italian press and recent events have been damaging to formula one as well as McLaren."

Berger fails to back beleaguered Liuzzi
(GMM) Gerhard Berger has declined to shed light on whether Vitantonio Liuzzi might suffer the same fate as his dumped 2007 teammate Scott Speed.

Speed has been immediately replaced by Sebastian Vettel, while rumors linger that multiple Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais is waiting in the wings for Liuzzi's seat in 2008.

Former grand prix winner Berger, who today co-owns and runs the Toro Rosso team, was asked by the news agency APA about the future of Italian Liuzzi, who like Speed was also a protégé of Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko.

Austrian Berger last month questioned countryman Marko's judgment when he surmised that he had "never experienced a pair of drivers such as ours".

Berger now tells APA: "First things first. In the past ten days we have been trying very hard to secure Vettel."

He also revealed that energy drink Red Bull's billionaire chief Dietrich Mateschitz led the negotiations with BMW and with Vettel's management to secure the 20-year-old rookie.

"We absolutely wanted him," Berger said.

Kimi admits title chances fading
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that another race out of the points could leave him unable to mount a challenge for the 2007 drivers' title.

The Finn, dominant until the rain-hit race day at the Nurburgring two weeks ago and winner of the previous two rounds before that, retired from the recent European grand prix with a broken hydraulics system aboard his Ferrari car.

Raikkonen, 28, is now 18 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton with seven races left to run.

Ahead of this weekend's Hungarian grand prix, he said: "The only way for me to make up ground is to finish ahead of all the other three drivers who compete for the title.

"I'm more or less in the same situation as I was at the Nurburgring, but it's clear that I can't allow myself another race without points."

Raikkonen insists, however, that it's not over quite yet.

"I archived the European GP already," he said. "I don't want to talk about it anymore.

"What is for sure is that I will not come to Hungary as someone defeated. Not at all."

Brawn admits rival team talks likely
(GMM) Despite distancing himself from alleged saboteur, spy and foiled defector Nigel Stepney, former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has refused to categorically rule out switching to a rival team.

The Briton, who was a friend, colleague and close ally of Stepney's throughout the ultra-successful Michael Schumacher period, on Wednesday contradicted Stepney's claim that he intended to lead a disaffected 'breakaway' group who wanted to take their talents elsewhere in formula one.

But while confirming that exclusive talks about a new role at Ferrari are presently taking place, Brawn said he will not rule out subsequently discussing his future with other teams.

"Ferrari is the only project I'm discussing at the moment," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

As was Stepney and suspended McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, Brawn has been linked strongly with a move to Honda, with the Japanese team's boss admitting in April that he is an "incredibly talented person" who "would be an asset" to any team.

Brawn said on Thursday: "I haven't discussed anything with any other team at any point in the past.

"Discussions with Ferrari are ongoing. I will not be exploring other options until those negotiations are completed, successfully or otherwise."

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