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F1 News in Brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Ralf loses cool amid Turkey nightmare
  • Stop press - Alonso shaves tatty beard!
  • Lewis watches GP2 for quick F1 getaway
  • Barrichello follows Button to back of grid
  • Bernie wants Schu back on F1 grid New
  • Dennis denies manhandling Alonso physio New
  • Moaning Alonso 'not focused enough' - Lauda New

Ralf loses cool amid Turkey nightmare
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher's frustration was obvious on Saturday after qualifying an abysmal 18th.

The German, desperate to have his Toyota contract renewed for 2008, looked set for a much-needed boost in Turkey after going third quickest in a free practice session.

But he dropped out in the company of Spykers and Toro Rossos in the first qualifying cut-off.

After exiting the back of the Japanese team's pit garage, he irritably walked straight through the throng of waiting media, and only returned when Toyota media manager Fernanda Villas-Boas warned him about his commitments to the press.

Schumacher, 32, said he had grappled with an unspecified handling issue.

"I had many problems and I do not know what," he told the press, "but the situation is not good."

Ralf's terrible Saturday coincided with a paddock rumor that his last option to remain in formula one next year is a direct swap with Toyota-powered Williams' Nico Rosberg.

Sir Frank Williams, who employed Ralf between 1999 and 2004, interestingly mentioned his former charge when he was asked in Turkey about his unassigned lineup for next year.

He said: "Alex (Wurz) is very highly regarded in our team, as Ralf is in the other Toyota team, and our short list is very short."

Stop press - Alonso shaves tatty beard!
(GMM) F1 insiders found significance in the state of Fernando Alonso's very appearance this weekend in Turkey.

Amid the reigning world champion's obvious discomfort at McLaren, and his apparent spats with British team colleagues Lewis Hamilton and Ron Dennis, paddock observers in Istanbul noticed that the 26-year-old arrived here sporting a tatty short beard.

Team boss Dennis is notoriously fussy about corporate image, and is believed to have a long-standing 'no facial hair' policy. Upon switching from Renault to McLaren last December, Alonso famously cropped his bedraggled hair for a more conservative look.

The suggestion is backed up by the example of David Coulthard; who for nine years raced clean-shaven at McLaren before sporting stubble for the entire nearly three years of his subsequent stint to date at Red Bull.

It is worth noting, therefore, that - after practicing with his short beard intact on Friday - Alonso turned up to qualifying in Turkey having shaved overnight.

Spanish reporters asked if he had been ordered to whip out the shaver.

"No; I saw myself on television and decided (to shave). Even my grandmother did not like it!"

Seven points behind title leader Hamilton, Alonso starts Sunday's grand prix fourth but refuses to rule out having a shot at the win.

And asked if he might be ordered to hold station, he insisted: "There will be no team orders."

Lewis watches GP2 for quick F1 getaway
(GMM) After qualifying second in Istanbul, Lewis Hamilton was an astute spectator when the GP2 race kicked off on Saturday afternoon.

The championship leader and his fourth placed teammate and title rival Fernando Alonso have both qualified on the 'dirty' or unused side of the grid.

"I wanted to see how the guys on the dirtier side of the grid coped at the start," Hamilton, 22, explained, "because that's something I'll have to deal with.

"Conditions looked quite difficult, but I'll do the best I can."

He is also likely to have watched with some nostalgia, after his stirring race through the field from sixteenth to second in the junior category last year.

"It was a defining moment for Hamilton," observed former grand prix driver and British commentator Martin Brundle.

Referring to Hamilton's GP2 performance a year ago, the Briton wrote in his column for The Times: "That's when everyone in the paddock realized he was fully ready for formula one."

Barrichello follows Button to back of grid
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello will on Sunday join his Honda teammate at the back of the Turkish grand prix grid.

Jenson Button's 2.4-litre V8 power plant had to be changed after a problem developed during Istanbul qualifying on Saturday.

It now emerges from the scene of the race on Sunday that Barrichello, driving an identical RA107 single seater, must also move back ten places because of an engine change.

The Brazilian will, however, still line up in front of Button on the last row, after out-qualifying Button by a few hundredths for fourteenth quickest in Q2.

Bernie wants Schu back on F1 grid
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday vowed to try to woo Michael Schumacher out of retirement and back onto the formula one grid.

In an interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the 76-year-old F1 chief executive admitted to missing Schumacher, who retired at the end of last year as a seven time world champion, in 2007.

"I would of course be very happy if Michael came back," Ecclestone said, admitting that the loss of the former Ferrari star was potentially a big blow for his sport.

He continued: "Thank God for Lewis.  But can you imagine the duel of Michael versus Hamilton?  That would be great -- I'll have to work on it."

Speculation was already doing the rounds that Ecclestone was trying to entice Schumacher out of retirement after they met privately inside Bernie's motorhome recently at the Nurburgring.

Ecclestone plays down the story.

"We just talked about his new life," Bernie explained, "and we played backgammon -- and as far as a remember, it was a draw!"

Ecclestone also admitted to enjoying the current spat between McLaren drivers Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

"It's like Prost and Senna," he said, "which is good for the fans.  "I hope they continue to fight freely with one another with the fastest one winning -- I hate team orders.

"I know it is not easy for the bosses to deal with but it is fascinating for us.  These types of confrontations have been too rare recently."

He also denied that the ongoing espionage saga is damaging formula one.

"I think it's good," Bernie said, "because it fills up the newspapers.  Every big sport has controversies, which makes it exciting."

Dennis denies manhandling Alonso physio
(GMM) Ron Dennis in Hungary denied manhandling Fernando Alonso's physiotherapist three weeks ago in Hungary.

Directly after the infamous qualifying blockade in Budapest, McLaren boss Dennis was caught by cameras grabbing Fabrizio Borra by the shoulder and removing his headphones, amid speculation that the physio contributed to delaying teammate Lewis Hamilton in the pit lane.

"When I went to Fabrizio, I wasn't at all upset with him," Dennis told reporters in Turkey on Saturday, despite only seconds earlier angrily discarding his own headphones and swearing on the radio.

Dennis said he simply wanted Fabrizio to accompany him to parc ferme so that "nothing physical" took place between Alonso and Hamilton.

"He was the best person to make sure that Fernando was cool, I was the best person to make sure Lewis was cool," the Briton told the website of American broadcaster Speed TV.

Some television replays of the pit stop delay incident had depicted Borra giving Alonso hand-signals, but Dennis denied that he had anything to do with the episode.

He acknowledges, however, that "for a few seconds (Fabrizio) thought I was angry at him. I thought he couldn't hear me so I took off his headset to say please come with me".

Moaning Alonso 'not focused enough' - Lauda
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is only handing the advantage to his McLaren teammate and nemesis Lewis Hamilton.

That is the assessment of triple world champion Niki Lauda, who said all of the team's mollycoddling of the drivers will mean nothing when they pull away from the grand prix grids for the balance of the 2007 season.

"When they sit in the car, you cannot control them," the Austrian legend told the German newspaper Die Welt.

He predicted that the pair will "try everything" to become this year's world champion, but - in the light of Alonso's behaviour - sees the advantage with Hamilton.

"He is complaining, he is thinking about (going to) Renault or BMW; it cannot be helpful for him now. He is not focused enough."

Lauda observed that Alonso's standoffish attitude towards his own team is "dangerous" because it has made him an "outsider".

"It could be the beginning of a negative spiral for him," he added, "especially if he does not get a grip on it."

To the newspaper Kleinen Zeitung, meanwhile, Lauda said the Spaniard would be "imbecilic" to leave McLaren at the end of the year.

"He has a contract with McLaren until 2009; so, Dennis would need $10 million for his release, Alonso would want $20 million from his team -- no driver is worth that much."

Lauda, however, said he is not surprised that the 2007 championship battle has boiled down to a catfight of clashing personalities.

"F1 drivers are assholes," he said plainly.

"Nothing is different to in my day. Only with arrogance can you be successful. But instead of complaining constantly, Alonso needs to simply try to beat his teammate on the track."

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