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DATE News (chronologically)
08/04/07
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Todt bars drivers from title photo session
  • Lauda slams Alonso for 'unsporting' pole
  • Stewards investigate Fisichella for blocking
  • Latest intrigue grips paddock in Hungary New
  • Stewards probe Alonso pole New
  • Ferrari take blame for Massa mishap New

Todt bars drivers from title photo session
F1's espionage scandal reached a new and dispiriting low at the Hungaroring on Saturday.

It emerged from the scene of the Hungarian grand prix near Budapest today that Bernie Ecclestone had to think again after summoning the four championship-challenging drivers to his motor home.

The F1 supremo wanted a photograph with himself and the four McLaren and Ferrari drivers; but, because of the tension between the two top teams at present, Ferrari boss Jean Todt barred his drivers from playing along.

The German broadcaster Premiere asked Mercedes' Norbert Haug what he thought of Todt's decision.

"Then we should do a photo with Bernie and the other two drivers," the German said.

It also emerged in Hungary that Renault's Flavio Briatore has well and truly entered the spy argument by calling for McLaren's exclusion from the championship.

Italian media quoted him as also threatening to protest the FIA's decision to use McLaren as its supplier of standard Electronic Control Units (ECU) for 2008.

Premiere asked Haug if he thought Renault's Briatore was wrongly interfering in the issue between McLaren and Ferrari.

"I don't see it that way," the German answered. "If I am right, what he said is that we should be guilty -- but we are not."

Lauda slams Alonso for 'unsporting' pole
Triple world champion Niki Lauda on Saturday slammed Fernando Alonso's apparently "unsporting" tactics that earned him pole position for the Hungarian grand prix.

In Budapest to commentate for German television, Lauda clearly sided with paddock wags who believe Spaniard Alonso deliberately delayed his McLaren teammate in the pits so that Lewis Hamilton could not defend his quickest lap time in the dying moments of the top-ten shootout.

"That was unsporting and wrong," Lauda told the broadcaster RTL after witnessing Alonso sat stationary in the McLaren pit box with Hamilton queuing behind him.

"I hope that Hamilton can strike back at him tomorrow."

Lauda said he does not relate to the kind of tactics apparently employed by F1's reigning world champion in Hungary.

Dismissing Alonso's protest that the delay was a team mistake, the Austrian legend commented: "Everything is meticulously planned by the team -- absolutely it was (on purpose).

"He should have tried harder to beat his teammate on the track, not with a policy such as this."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis looked angry as he spoke with his drivers near the weigh bridge, and told the press: "It is a matter to be discussed within the team, and we will do so."

Stewards investigate Fisichella for blocking
Spyker's Mike Gascoyne on Saturday hit out at formula one veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, while Hungarian stewards were investigating the Roman for blocking.

Team newcomer Sakon Yamamoto seemed destined for last on the grid anyway, but he was held up by Renault's Fisichella on a fast lap in the opening qualifying session at the Hungaroring.

The Dutch team Spyker claimed Japan's Yamamoto was baulked by Fisichella, a veteran of more than a decade in grand prix racing, "for the entire lap".

Spyker's chief technical officer, formerly technical director at Renault, said: "It's a shame that a young driver has been held up by such an experienced driver."

Latest intrigue grips paddock in Hungary
With the espionage scandal now firmly on the back burner, journalists focused in on the latest paddock intrigue following qualifying in Hungary.

According to several observers in the media centre here in Budapest, McLaren boss Ron Dennis had hard words with Fernando Alonso's personal physiotherapist after it appeared that the reigning world champion shrewdly held up teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final pit stop service.

Dennis, after slamming his headphones down on the pit wall in disgust, then walked the length of the Hungaroring pitlane with his arm around the McLaren-clad physiotherapist -- not letting go either when talking briefly with the press or with an FIA representative.

It is alleged by media sources that Alonso had only vacated his pit box after a furtive signal from the physio, despite the fact that his tires had been changed and the lollipop raised.

Alonso protested that he did not mean to prevent Hamilton from completing his out lap in time: "I'm sorry for him but I leave the pits when I'm told to."

Stewards probe Alonso pole
Stewards at the Hungarian grand prix on Saturday afternoon were investigating why Lewis Hamilton ran out of time to defend his provisional pole position.

Anticipating the development, it is understood that McLaren boss Ron Dennis personally escorted Fernando Alonso's physiotherapist Fabrizio Borra to FIA officials here in Budapest.

It is believed that Borra, despite the fact that the lollipop was raised and mechanics were ushering the Spaniard's car out of the pit box, gave Alonso a signal when enough time had elapsed so as to cause teammate Hamilton to run out of time to complete his out lap in the dying minutes of qualifying.

Despite the McLaren one-two on Saturday, Dennis and Hamilton's father Anthony were a picture of fury after the incident, while championship leader Hamilton said: "It definitely needs a good explanation.

"I will definitely ask the team when I go back and have the debrief.

"Your guess is as good as mine," the Briton told reporters. "I'm not angry, I'm curious as to what's gone on."

Ferrari take blame for Massa mishap
Ferrari on Saturday took the blame after Felipe Massa qualified a lowly fourteenth for the Hungarian grand prix.

The Brazilian driver made a mistake on his quick lap in the second of the three-part session at the Hungaroring, but his team then failed to refuel him when he returned to the pits.

"They let me go without fuel," said Massa, which explains why he was pushed back to the pit box by mechanics.

Sporting director Luca Baldisserri admitted: "We made a serious mistake in our management of the second qualifying session for Felipe."

When Massa then tried to qualify for the top ten shoot-out, his tires had lost temperature and he missed the cut.

He said: "I expect a very difficult race, as this is one of the worst places to start from a long way back."

Teammate Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, qualified fourth, behind even BMW's Nick Heidfeld, with McLaren proving to be the dominant package this weekend.

Massa and Raikkonen respectively lie 11 and 18 points behind in the drivers' championship, while Ferrari are 27 points behind McLaren.

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