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Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE #2 Latest updates shown in red below

09/07/07 Updates shown in red below.

  • Monza intrigue puts drivers at centre of spy storm
  • Axed Albers to attend Monza race
  • Ralf denies 2008 Toyota deal now sealed
  • Letter confirms FIA probing driver spy knowledge
  • FIA confirms spy warning to McLaren drivers
  • Haug plays down Monza silver-wash on Friday New
  • F1 group agrees 'fuel burn' qualifying tweak New

Monza intrigue puts drivers at centre of spy storm
Sep.7 (GMM) As the espionage saga reaches new heights of intrigue in the Monza paddock, Fernando Alonso has refuted rumors that he got involved because he wants to find a way out of his McLaren contract for 2008.

According to buzzing rumors on the scene of Sunday's Italian grand prix, the reigning world champion could be a source of "new evidence" that moved the FIA to reconvene the World Motor Sport Council next week.

Asked by Spanish reporters if he has spilled the beans about emails from team test driver Pedro de la Rosa - containing confidential Ferrari setup information - so as to further implicate McLaren, he answered: "No way."

Elsewhere in the paddock, McLaren representatives explained to the press that, for legal reasons, team members including drivers and management would not be commenting on the spy saga.

But Alonso, 26, explained: "I believe that if the team is sanctioned, then so will I be. I am a part of this team and we would share the problem.

"We are here to win the drivers' and constructors' championships, we are leading both, and there is not one person in the team that doesn't want us to."

The Spaniard declined to comment specifically on rumors that he and countryman de la Rosa had, earlier this season, conversed by email about Ferrari setup information allegedly learned by de la Rosa from suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

It is suggested in the paddock that the FIA asked McLaren's drivers - and no others - to volunteer any relevant information, in exchange for an assurance that they would not personally be held accountable.

"As I said," Alonso responded to another reporter's question, "I am going to try to win these last five races and I am not going to talk about anything else because it has nothing to do with me.

"I have come here motivated, concentrated and isolated from everything else."

Alonso's British teammate Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, counted himself out of the intrigue by revealing that his internet connection at home has not recently been working.

He did, however, spare some time to heavily criticize Ferrari for its role in portraying McLaren as the villain of the espionage piece.

Hamilton, 22, said he would be "extremely happy" to win on the Italian team's home soil on Sunday "because of what they're putting our team through".

"I know my team, I know the people and I think we are being unfairly treated."

He added: "Ferrari are portrayed as the most innocent team and I don't think that is the case."

Axed Albers to attend Monza race
(GMM) Christijan Albers will this weekend attend his first grand prix since being dropped from the Spyker lineup in July.

Although no longer in the driver's seat, the Dutchman is still under contract to the Silverstone based team and it is understood that he will at Monza be undertaking some duties on behalf of sponsors.

But Albers, 28, is undoubtedly also using his trip to Italy, officially beginning on Saturday, to feel out any possibilities as a driver elsewhere in F1.

"In our profession you must be very realistic," he is quoted as saying by the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report.

"What are your choices? What do you want? Do you want to race? Do you want to become a test driver?

"Do you want to think about becoming competitive in a different category?"

Ralf denies 2008 Toyota deal now sealed
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher has scoffed at rumors in the Monza paddock that Toyota has now decided to keep him at the team for 2008.

The German veteran's teammate Jarno Trulli, who is already under contract for next year, reportedly told an Italian reporter at Monza on Thursday that the deal had been done.

But Schumacher, 32, joked: "Obviously Jarno knows more than me!"

He also rejected reports last week that he is seriously contemplating a switch to DTM next year.

"At the moment I am concentrating only on formula one. Everything else will have to wait."

Schumacher blamed the stalled F1 driver market on Fernando Alonso, who is believed to be trying to withdraw from his McLaren contract.

"It doesn't help," he told reporters, "because for some teams, it is worthwhile waiting for Fernando."

Letter confirms FIA probing driver spy knowledge
(GMM) F1's governing body does indeed suspect that "one or more McLaren drivers" are involved in the espionage affair.

Following speculation at Monza on Thursday, a letter sent by FIA president Max Mosley to the teams has now come to light at the scene of the Italian grand prix.

Mosley wrote that the Paris body was recently "made aware" that McLaren drivers - rumored to be Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa - "may be in possession" of evidence relating to the spy saga.

The rumors in Monza suggested that test driver de la Rosa sent to his countryman Alonso emails about secret Ferrari setup data, obtained originally by suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan in the famous 780-page dossier.

An FIA spokesman refused to comment on Mosley's request to the teams for their assistance in gathering new evidence, saying only that it would be "inappropriate to comment in advance of the World Motor Sport Council hearing" next Thursday.

FIA confirms spy warning to McLaren drivers
(GMM) F1's governing body has confirmed that it threatened McLaren's three most senior drivers with "serious consequences" if they did not cooperate with the investigation surrounding the espionage affair.

Following widespread speculation and media reportage on the scene of the Italian grand prix at Monza, and the leaked emergence on Friday of a letter from Max Mosley to the teams, the FIA has decided to release a second letter addressed to Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

A statement on Friday said the Paris based body decided to publish the letter "in the interests of complete transparency".

The letter dated 31 August is similar to Mosley's leaked letter to the teams, in which is was revealed that the FIA had been "made aware of an allegation" that one or more McLaren drivers may be in possession of written evidence relating to Mike Coughlan's possible use of the 780-page Ferrari dossier.

Mosley's letter to the three drivers "formally requests" that they give up any relevant documents, such as emails.

"You will appreciate that there is a duty on all competitors and Super License holders to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of the formula one world championship," Mosley told Alonso, Hamilton and de la Rosa.

The letter also confirmed rumors that the FIA promised the trio that they would not be punished if they cooperated.

Mosley wrote: "However, in the event that it later comes to light that you have withheld any potentially relevant information, serious consequences could follow"

Haug plays down Monza silver-wash on Friday
(GMM) Norbert Haug on Friday played down McLaren's apparent dominance, but nonetheless expressed confidence for the remainder of the Italian grand prix weekend.

Fernando Alonso's quickest time in the Friday afternoon practice session at the high speed circuit near Milan was more than a massive 1.3 seconds clear of the nearest Ferrari challenger.

Kimi Raikkonen, another tenth behind his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa, ranked a distant ninth on the session timesheet after losing time in the second session with an hydraulic problem.

"We therefore don't have much of a reference point on where we actually are," said the Finn.

Haug, Mercedes-Benz's competition director, admitted that the silver-clad team is "not suddenly one and a half seconds faster" than Ferrari, despite also dominating the Monza test here last week.

He told Premiere: "We had plenty of fuel on board; we were not doing any laps for show.

"Today however is only Friday and the challenge is to also be the fastest on Saturday and Sunday."

Possibly referring to the ever-intensifying espionage saga involving the locally based Ferrari, Haug also observed that it would be a "dream" if McLaren won on Sunday.

"I could live with that result," he added.

F1 group agrees 'fuel burn' qualifying tweak
(GMM) F1's Sporting Working Group has agreed to rid the current qualifying format of the controversial phenomenon known as 'fuel burning' ahead of the 2008 season.

Because of the format's clash with the parallel parc ferme regulations, drivers currently approach the opening laps of the top-ten runout with the objective of simply burning fuel and earning 'credits' to add more fuel before the race.

Renault technical director Bob Bell remarked that the unrefined system is at the moment "a completely strange thing to do given we're all becoming eco-friendly".

The agreed solution for 2008 is twofold; the final Q3 session will be reduced from 15 minutes to a new (unknown) timeframe, and teams will no longer be able to replace burned fuel prior to Sunday's race.

The tweaks effectively mean that competitors will have to approach the battle for pole position with an initial load of fuel for the race, plus an additional amount for qualifying.

Should drivers make an error on a flying lap, therefore, they will have to weigh up the benefit of another qualifying attempt with possibly compromising the desired strategy for the first stint of the race.

The revised format will now be sent to the World Motor Sport Council for approval.

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