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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Spy knowledge boosted McLaren - Briatore
  • Mateschitz backs his two F1 teams
  • Press vents opinions after Hungarian GP
  • September date likely for spy appeal
  • Drivers think time running out for Prodrive
  • Storms damage Shanghai circuit

Spy knowledge boosted McLaren - Briatore
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has suggested that McLaren was only able to keep up with Ferrari this year because of the spy scandal.

The Renault boss, who respectively beat McLaren and Ferrari for the world championships in 2005 and 2006, said he does not believe his counterpart Ron Dennis that no-one except Mike Coughlan at McLaren knew about the 780-page dossier of Ferrari secrets.

Briatore said the biggest disadvantage compared to Ferrari this year was its rivals' lack of knowledge of the Bridgestone tires.

"Had I only known Ferrari's weight distribution, or how big their tank is, if I had a bit of those documents, then we surely wouldn't be in this situation today," the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

McLaren is currently subject to the suspicions of the FIA about the espionage saga, but Dennis insists that his suspended chief designer Coughlan acted entirely alone.

Briatore charged: "Dennis says he's immaculate, but it's hard to believe him. No, I don't believe in his good faith.

"In a team everyone knows everything."

He also criticized Dennis for not yet sacking Coughlan, while Ferrari has on the other hand dismissed alleged McLaren informer Nigel Stepney.

"It's an extremely serious thing that he hasn't yet been fired," Briatore said, referring to Coughlan.

"All the team managers should say that in F1 there's no more room for them."

Mateschitz backs his two F1 teams
(GMM) Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz last weekend refused to criticize Red Bull Racing for struggling to break out of the formula one midfield in 2007.

In its third consecutive season on the grid, Milton Keynes-based RBR is still far from a regular podium-getter and has also struggled notably with reliability with the Adrian Newey-penned RB3.

But Mateschitz said in Budapest: "We will simply increase our efforts.

"This is only our third year. Even Jean Todt said once that he took five years to have Ferrari where he wanted it," the Austrian billionaire, on a rare visit to a formula one paddock, told the newspaper Kleinen Zeitung.

He also defended the decision in late 2005 to buy Minardi and run a second team, with the jointly Gerhard Berger-owned Toro Rosso project also yet to bear fruit.

Niki Lauda said recently that it is harder to succeed in formula one if efforts are split.

"He is right," Mateschitz agreed. "But we want Toro Rosso for our rookies. It is their door into formula one."

Press vents opinions after Hungarian GP
(GMM) The fervently pro-Fernando Alonso Spanish press refused to congratulate Lewis Hamilton after the British rookie won the Hungarian grand prix.

The 'El Periodico de Catalunya' described the 22-year-old's 70 laps at the Hungaroring as "victory with a gifted pole position".

It refers to the qualifying pit stop scandal, in which Alonso was penalized for deliberately delaying his teammate.

The split has created a rift that has brought into question the future at McLaren not only of Alonso, but also Hamilton and the wearied 60-year-old McLaren boss, Ron Dennis.

The Italian press, by contrast, generally praised Hamilton after Hungary, amid the claim of 'Tuttosport' that Ferrari could be about to launch a $35 million bid for Dennis' protege.

Il Tirreno observed: "Even the (team) poison can not stop Hamilton", while L'Unita said victory was "Hamilton's revenge".

France's L'Equipe also praised Hamilton: "In the face of a storm, he demonstrated the personality and temperament of a potential world champion."

Spain's El Pais, however, saved its temper for the governing FIA, calling its interference in the McLaren drivers' spat "intolerable".

"If Fernando delayed his teammate, even though both he and the team denied it, it is up to Dennis to take steps.

"The FIA should not interfere in these matters because they concern the internal dynamics of an individual team".

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport picked up the theme: "The excessive severity towards Alonso and McLaren seems like a compensation to Ferrari for the joke of (the World Council in) Paris.

"But Ferrari wants its justice in a more serious way.

"The goings-on of qualifying was a team subject that Dennis, not the FIA, should have solved."

Germany's 'Die Welt' also called the stewards' call an "unjust and arbitrary decision".

September date likely for spy appeal
(GMM) A visibly wearied Ron Dennis left Hungary on Sunday night looking forward to a glass of wine at home in Woking and then a good holiday.

The McLaren boss said he would for a while hand over the reigns to deputy and future successor Martin Whitmarsh, after perhaps the most tumultuous weekend of his nearly three decades in charge of his team and company.

He also revealed that F1's August break and test ban would probably not be interrupted by the deliberations of the FIA Court of Appeal, which is due to hear the espionage case soon.

"First of all I think it is incorrect to describe this as a case of espionage," he told the Spanish newspaper 'As'.

"I believe the situation is quite clear -- an employee of Ferrari has provided information to an employee of McLaren completely independently of both teams.

"Has it affected me? Possibly, you could say that. It is particularly painful when somebody comes along and questions you and your company's integrity."

Dennis also revealed to the newspaper that he did not expect the FIA to convene the case in August.

"We think (it will be in) the second week of September, but we don't know."

Drivers think time running out for Prodrive
(GMM) Real fears about F1's twelfth team for 2008 are now starting to emerge.

The publication motorline.cc reports that although Pedro de la Rosa and Alex Wurz are keen to explore the option of driving for David Richards' fledgling Prodrive outfit next year, they are concerned that the team is running out of time to get ready.

The expected car and engine link-up with McLaren-Mercedes is still yet to be signed, and Prodrive is also yet to announce a sponsor package or name major personnel appointments for its first season in formula one.

McLaren test driver de la Rosa said: "We have to wait -- at present nothing at all is fixed. It is not clear at the moment if there will be a team at all."

A mere seven months before the opening grand prix of 2008, Williams' Wurz also admits to having his doubts about Prodrive.

"I am a bit skeptical," the Austrian said, "because it is already very late in the season and we have not heard much from them."

Wurz added that he saw September as a sort of final "deadline" for Prodrive to send a strong signal about its readiness for 2008.

Storms damage Shanghai circuit
(GMM)  Severe weather in Shanghai last week has affected the circuit's preparation for the Chinese grand prix in October.

The local newspaper Shanghai Daily said gale force winds damaged guard rails and destroyed four grandstands at the venue.

"We may not repair the damaged stands this year as dismantling the seats, clearing debris and rebuilding work all require time," Wang Ying, the Shanghai circuit's deputy general manager, said.

He insisted, however, that the race will go ahead, and that ticket holders for the damaged grandstands would be accommodated elsewhere.

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