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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Spaniard removed from FIA appeal panel
  • Suzuki confirms team sale talks with Agag
  • Toyota admits interest in Alonso
  • Bridgestone apologize for Hamilton failure
  • Spyker 'B' car cleared for Monza debut
  • Ralf future to remain unclear for 'weeks' - manager

Spaniard removed from FIA appeal panel
(GMM) A Spanish lawyer has been pulled from the panel of the FIA's International Court of Appeal ahead of the upcoming espionage hearing.

The panel was to feature Xavier Conesa, but due to his Spanish nationality - the same as reigning world champion and McLaren driver Fernando Alonso - he has been stepped down to minimize suggestions of favoritism, according to the newspaper Diario As.

To further scrutinize McLaren's involvement in the so-called 'Stepney-gate' spy saga, and requested by Italy's motor sport authority, the Paris appeal is scheduled for September 13 -- the Thursday after Monza.

A five-man panel will be made up of lawyers from Belgium, the US, Portugal and Monaco. The fifth member, replacing Spain's Conesa, will be known soon.

'As' also claims that lawyers for Renault have been working alongside Ferrari in the case against McLaren; their common paddock enemy.

It is believed that Ferrari-Renault's argument will be the peculiarity of the World Motor Sport Council finding McLaren in breach of the International Sporting Code, but applying no sanction.

In its ruling last month, the FIA said McLaren faced exclusion from the 2007 and 2008 championships if it is "found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used".

Suzuki confirms team sale talks with Agag
(GMM) Aguri Suzuki has confirmed talks with a Spanish businessman about selling a stake in his struggling Super Aguri team.

It was reported earlier this month that millionaire Alejandro Agag, who with Adrian Campos already co-owns a GP2 team, began discussions with Suzuki when the Japanese's Honda-powered outfit ran into money trouble due to defaulting main sponsor SS United.

Team boss and owner Aguri Suzuki said: "That is correct.

"Agag is one of the prospective buyers. But I do not want to sell the team; on the contrary, I am looking for strong partners that can help us to move further forwards," he told Sport Bild.

The German weekly also reveals that 37-year-old Agag, who like Campos is a close personal friend of Fernando Alonso's, is also a European Union parliamentarian and shareholder of Spanish F1 broadcaster Tele 5.

Suzuki is thought desperate to sell a share of the team not only to secure its survival but to convince Honda to remain a strong supporter of his small outfit.

Toyota admits interest in Alonso
(GMM) Toyota has admitted harboring at least a superficial interest in F1's reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso.

With the Spaniard plainly unhappy at McLaren in 2007, his former boss and mentor Flavio Briatore this week explained that "everybody" in pitlane would be interested in making a bid for the 26-year-old.

The German newspaper Bild on Wednesday then claimed that Cologne based Toyota has spending power of $40m for its second race seat next year and would be willing to receive Alonso if he goes on the market for 2008.

Toyota president John Howett, having decided not to automatically take up the 'option' on Ralf Schumacher's current contract, admits that Alonso is right at the top of his driver wish list.

"Of course," he is quoted as saying by Motorsport Aktuell, "and I would imagine the same is also true for half of everybody else."

Bridgestone apologize for Hamilton failure
(GMM) F1's sole tire supplier on Wednesday apologized to Lewis Hamilton after the championship leader suffered a right-front failure during the recent Turkish grand prix.

At the Monza test, head of track engineering operations Kees van de Grint reportedly walked into the McLaren garage and accepted Bridgestone's side of responsibility for the delamination that dropped Hamilton from third to just fifth with 15 laps to go in Istanbul.

Following detailed examinations back in Tokyo, Bridgestone determined this week that excessive 'chunking' contributed to the failure, as well as a so-far unexplained extra force impacting the damaged surface of the tire.

"It could have been a stone or the edge of a curb that he unfortunately hit," Dutchman van de Grint told Auto Motor und Sport.

Also at Monza on Wednesday, meanwhile, Hamilton's Woking based team demonstrated meticulous driver equality when teammate Fernando Alonso shared the single MP4-22 with his British teammate.

Both drivers lapped the high speed Italian circuit exactly 49 times; Hamilton for three and a half hours in the morning and Alonso after lunch until the close of play at 5pm.

Spyker 'B' car cleared for Monza debut
(GMM) Spyker's delayed 'B' car will debut at the upcoming Italian grand prix next month, the Dutch squad announced late on Wednesday.

The heavily revised single seater was scheduled to race for the first time in Turkey last weekend, and two models even traveled with the Silverstone based team to Istanbul.

But on the eve of opening practice, it emerged that the new orange-liveried car had failed the FIA's mandatory rear impact test and could not be presented for scrutineering.

After the car did 76 laps at the Monza test on Wednesday, however, Spyker confirmed that it had also successfully passed the stringent crash test one day earlier.

The car "will now make its race debut at the Italian grand prix in just over a week's time", a statement read, despite Adrian Sutil experiencing a gearbox problem late on its first full day of running.

"Our progress looks promising and we know that there is plenty of potential in the new car," said chief race and test engineer Dominic Harlow after Sutil logged the slowest best lap of the day.

Sutil added: "It is difficult to say where we are with the new car; Monza is a very special track unlike anywhere else, with less grip, but I think it was a good start."

Ralf future to remain unclear for 'weeks' - manager
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher's manager has essentially confirmed reports that Toyota will not be simply taking up the 2008 'option' on the German racer's existing contract.

It was reported on Wednesday that Cologne based Toyota had decided against extending 32-year-old Schumacher's $19m a year deal; possibly to bring down the price of the huge retainer.

It could also mean that the former six-time grand prix winner will be left without a seat after eleven years on the formula one grid.

"Whether Ralf is going to drive for Toyota or another team in 2008 will not be decided for some weeks," Ralf's manager Hans Mahr told the German news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Former German F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck, meanwhile, advises the Japanese giant to stick with Ralf rather than opt for a rookie such as Timo Glock, who is in talks with Toyota about a $2m deal for 2008.

"For Toyota, there is no better solution on the market than Ralf," the veteran of 74 grands prix in the 70s told the newspaper Bild.

"Ralf already knows how to win races and has a wealth of experience."

Stuck concluded: "His management should explore an achievement-based arrangement; a basic retainer with high bonuses dependant on success."

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