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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Alonso defended amid 'bribe' claims
  • 'New' Honda not quest for 2007 pace - Button
  • Fired Chinese F1 official convicted
  • Alonso 'talks' to wait until season end - Haug
  • Porsche again rules out F1 return

Alonso defended amid 'bribe' claims
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has been defended after reports in Britain this week accused him of attempting to bribe his McLaren mechanics.

The Daily Mirror on Monday said F1's reigning world champion "pays to beat" his teammate Lewis Hamilton by attempting to offer each of the mechanics on his side of the garage $1300 for a win over the British rookie.

The publication called it an "amazing stunt" that was "vetoed instantly" by team boss Ron Dennis because it is "divisive for team morale".

The Spanish newspaper Diario As hit back at what it describes as "another lie from England" about the 26-year-old.

"Alonso has always offered a bonus to his mechanics," 'As' revealed.

"At Renault he used to pay thousands of euros to his mechanics for each victory, and sometimes he invited them out for dinner near the factory in Enstone as well.

"The troops adored him for it."

'As' journalist Carlos Miquel concludes that the sustained British media attack on Alonso is an attempt "to disturb him and to try to cause a sporting error that Hamilton can benefit from".

Former McLaren driver and Briton Mark Blundell also played down the $1300 bonus claims.

"I can't see what the fuss is about," he wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

"Drivers have been offering bonuses to mechanics for years.  It doesn't split the camp.  It is an extra incentive for the boys."

Triple world champion Niki Lauda said Alonso belongs to one of two camps of formula one drivers.

"There are the ones who see nothing more important than being the best only on the track.  I was one of them.

"On the other hand there are drivers who use politics to try to strengthen their position, and Alonso is like that," he told the German newspaper Bild.

Lauda continued: "Alain Prost was like this too, but Alonso is even worse.  Instead of trying so hard to achieve number one status, he should just drive quicker."

'New' Honda not quest for 2007 pace - Button
(GMM)  Honda's updated formula one car is not necessarily a push for extra speed at the Japanese team's home race next weekend, according to Jenson Button.

The car, which featured a visibly different front wing and other bodywork pieces when it debuted at the Jerez test on Tuesday, has already been nicknamed 'Fuji Special' because of the usual quest for a good performance in Japan.

Special engine upgrades with more horse power were in the past known as 'Suzuka Specials', in reference to the Honda-owned former home of the Japanese grand prix.

But after his teammate Rubens Barrichello lapped 1.4 seconds off the pace at Jerez with the new car, Button revealed that he is not expecting too much for Fuji.

"We've got a new aero package, which is not really necessary with this car," the Briton is quoted as saying by Speed TV.

Button added: "We've just got to keep our heads down and finish the season and concentrate on next year's car.  We've got a few little things to try in testing this week, different ideas aerodynamically."

It has emerged that, among the McLaren and Williams-like 'bridge' front wing concept, Honda's new car also features forward and rear bargeboards, believed to be the first fruits of new aerodynamicist recruits Loic Bigois and John Owen.

Fired Chinese F1 official convicted
(GMM)  The fired general manager of Shanghai's formula one circuit has been convicted of embezzlement, state reports said on Wednesday.

Yu Zhifei, instrumental in bringing the sport to China and a key promoter until his removal, had last October been implicated in a major corruption scandal.

Among other abuses, he was accused of using public money to buy a house.

Yu "embezzled large amounts of money and should bear criminal responsibility", the prosecutor said during his one-day trial this week, according to the China Daily.

His conviction is however unlikely to affect the upcoming Chinese GP in Shanghai, even though a highway connecting the city with the circuit is thought to be among the projects linked with the wider scandal involving the misuse of pension funds.

Yu's sentence, if any, is not yet known.

Alonso 'talks' to wait until season end - Haug
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has hinted that McLaren-Mercedes may be prepared to let Fernando Alonso leave the team at the end of 2007.

Amid claims of blackmail and threats, the Spaniard's already troubled relationship with the Woking based team hit a new low at the height of the espionage scandal.

Following the recent Belgian grand prix, it was reported by the German newspaper Bild that lawyers for the team had now started work on ending 26-year-old Alonso's contract after the first of a two-year deal.

Team boss Ron Dennis gave the first hint about McLaren's willingness to negotiate with Alonso in a press conference following the espionage verdict in Paris.

Referring to the team's agreements with its current drivers, he said last week: "If there is any variation to those contracts, it will be by mutual agreements."

Mercedes' competition director Haug also commented on the story to Bild.

The German said: "If a driver does not want to stay, we have to sit down and talk about it.  But it is perhaps the wrong moment in the middle of the championship fight."

Porsche again rules out F1 return
(GMM)  German sports car manufacturer Porsche has once again ruled out re-entering formula one in the near future.

In February, the marque's head of motor sport Hartmut Kristen denied that recent infrastructure developments were in preparation for a grand prix return.

To the news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst, he has now referred to Porsche as a small independent manufacturer, despite the fact that it was awarded first place last May as the most prestigious automobile brand by New York's Luxury Institute.

"The question for us is: can the capital commitment that would be necessary for formula one return enough to make it preferable to other projects?

"So far we have concluded that it can not," Hartmut said.

Porsche first entered the pinnacle of motor sport in the late 50s, and in 1962 Dan Gurney won the French grand prix before the marque withdrew to concentrate on sportscar racing.

In 1983-1987, they built a turbo engine for McLaren with great success under the TAG banner.

Porsche abandoned its disastrous final attempt to return to F1 after just a handful of races with Footwork in 1991.

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