Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
- Confidante 'worried' about Alonso intrigue
- Dennis 'praying' for no road rage - Fittipaldi
- Alonso walks Fuji as third title beckons
- Hamilton to seek out Alonso after Spa anger
- Honda, Toyota drivers play down Fuji specials New
- Code of silence with boss now over - Alonso New
- Rosberg happy to pair with Hamilton New
- Heidfeld plays down 2007 victory for BMW New
Confidante 'worried' about Alonso intrigue
(GMM) One of Fernando Alonso's closest confidantes says he is "worried" about how off-track pressures might affect the Spaniard's late-season charge for a third consecutive title.
Fabrizio Borra, the 26-year-old's long time physiotherapist who also shows Alonso his pit board during official sessions, said it is easy to assume that a double world champion is mentally strong enough to deal with the events of 2007.
"Nobody should forget that he is only 26 and is having to fight on every front," Borra, who was central to the famous pit-delay incident in Hungary last month, told the Italian magazine Autosprint.
Alonso has been the subject of intense media attention of late, including suggestions that he tried to blackmail his McLaren boss.
"I have worked with many elite sportsmen," Borra continued, "so I know how even great champions can react when they are besieged.
"I am worried about Alonso; not because of what happens on the circuit, but what is written in the newspapers about him."
Italian Borra has known and worked with Alonso since he debuted in formula one with Minardi in 2001.
Dennis 'praying' for no road rage - Fittipaldi
(GMM) Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi said he can imagine the 2007 title race ending in an eerily-reminiscent bout of formula one road rage.
The 60-year-old Brazilian, who once held the record as the youngest world champion, recalls the Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost era, where crucial championship finales were decided only after collisions.
Fittipaldi said McLaren team boss Ron Dennis will also be anxiously remembering the turbulent Senna-Prost era when he talks over the situation with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in the coming days.
"He can talk to them but he will be doing a lot of praying that they do not take each other off," Fittipaldi told the Daily Express.
With three races to go in 2007 and two points separating the battling duo, Fittipaldi is not willing to waste money betting on the eventual winner.
"Fernando is an extremely talented driver," he said. "If you have two world titles, it goes without saying and he really seems to have the momentum which could carry him through the final three races.
"But Hamilton is incredible. I've watched him for a while, long before F1, but no one, not me, not the team, other drivers, not even he could have believed he could be so good so quickly."
Alonso walks Fuji as third title beckons
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Thursday broke with his usual preparation for a grand prix in 2007 by taking in the Fuji Speedway layout on foot.
Accompanied by three of his chief McLaren engineers, including Mark Slade, the 26-year-old pored over the finer details of a circuit for the first time in 2007 -- almost certainly because it is the only new venue on this year's calendar.
But it should also be pointed out that Alonso, just two points behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the championship chase with three races to go, always walked the circuits during his Renault days, culminating in back to back titles in '05 and '06.
Hamilton did not walk the Fuji layout on Thursday, where weather reports are calling for weekend rain, and told reporters in Japan that he has not even sampled its curves on a computer.
Alonso, on the other hand, did a few laps in a Renault road car last year.
"I haven't -- but my brother's been round it on the PlayStation," Hamilton smiled.
Hamilton to seek out Alonso after Spa anger
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he will seek out his McLaren teammate and championship rival Fernando Alonso at Fuji to talk about their on-track encounter at Spa-Francorchamps two weeks ago.
The 22-year-old rookie, who in Japan on Thursday revealed that he had not yet spoken to Alonso after Belgium, had criticized the Spaniard following their close encounter at turn one.
"For both of us, we have got to be careful and remember that we are teammates," Hamilton on Thursday was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
"I have my feelings on what happened. If that is how aggressive he wants to be then I can be just as aggressive as anyone else."
Alonso has narrowed the points gap to just two points after a strong run of recent performances, but Hamilton insists that it is the Spaniard who should feel under pressure.
"I feel I have nothing to lose," he explained under grim skies at Fuji Speedway. "He is the one defending the world championship, so really he should have more pressure on him."
But amid Alonso's reportedly tumultuous relationship with the Woking based team, and rumors that he might switch to Ferrari or Renault at the end of the year, Hamilton says he has observed a change in the reigning world champion.
"I don't know if he has unloaded a load of baggage and is not feeling any weight off the team or anything," he said.
Hamilton added: "He seems to be quite happy in the team all of a sudden, or with himself at least."
Hamilton says he used the two week gap since Belgium to focus on how his feeling for the McLaren single seater has changed in relation to Alonso.
"I have a feeling that this weekend will be a lot better than the previous few," he told reporters.
"Usually Fernando and I have similar setups, and more often than not it is the setup I found from tests.
"(But) at the last race especially I went somewhere else on my setup, thinking it was the right way and we were wrong."
Honda, Toyota drivers play down Fuji specials
(GMM) Drivers for both Honda and Toyota have played down reports that their teams are set to unleash a special performance at their home race this weekend.
Honda always famously rolled out a 'Suzuka Special' engine for the Japanese grand prix, and after the Belgian grand prix two weeks ago the team tried an updated bodywork package that will be raced at Fuji.
But Rubens Barrichello said at the circuit on Thursday: "I don't think we're going to solve our problems with anything special (here)."
The Brazilian blankly denied that Honda is using a special engine here.
"Well, it's the second race for the engine, so of course there's nothing on that side," he insisted.
"We are trying some different aero configurations for here. Some of them worked in (testing at) Jerez, some of them were no use, so we have something to try here."
It was also reported on Thursday that Toyota has a heavily revised single seater to use at Fuji; a circuit renovated at huge expense by the Japanese giant.
But Ralf Schumacher, whose future at Toyota is unclear, doubts that the team can expect a significantly better weekend in Japan.
"Like any other team we had some tests at Jerez with new bits and pieces on the car because this is a very specific track with a very long straight obviously," said the German.
"(But) I don't know (if we have) any more than other teams brought to this race."
Code of silence with boss now over - Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso in Japan says his code of silence with McLaren boss Ron Dennis is now over.
Dennis told the World Motor Sport Council earlier this month that he had not spoken to his Spanish driver since an argument in Hungary.
But Alonso, 26, was quoted on Thursday as telling the German news agency 'sid': "I chatted with him at the last race (in Belgium) when I saw him in the hotel."
He added: "I do not want to answer every day what everyone has been saying about me; I will not lose time on that."
Alonso also cooled widespread speculation that he will almost certainly leave the Woking based team to join Ferrari or Renault next year.
"For next year I have a contract with this team and I don't see any problem on that," he told reporters in the paddock.
"I won four races, I make some good podiums and I am fighting for the world championship so everything is going quite well for me and I am happy."
Rosberg happy to pair with Hamilton
(GMM) Nico Rosberg said on Thursday that he would happily become Lewis Hamilton's teammate at McLaren.
Amid intense speculation that a disgruntled Fernando Alonso is set to leave the Woking based outfit, Rosberg - albeit with a solid Williams contract for 2008 - is estimated to have the highest chances of filling the seat.
"We get along well," the 22-year-old German, referring to the similarly aged Hamilton, is quoted by the news agency 'dpa' as saying at the Fuji Speedway.
"So one day I could imagine that, sure."
Sir Frank Williams, however, insists that he is not prepared to sell Rosberg's contract; even to a very high bidder.
"I want my team back at the front," he commented, "and I can only do that with the best drivers.
"Our obligation for 2008 is to give Nico a car that is good enough at least for podium places."
Heidfeld plays down 2007 victory for BMW
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld on Thursday said he doubts that his BMW-Sauber will be good enough to win one of the last three races of 2007.
The Swiss-based team, almost certainly guaranteed second place in the constructors' championship, has openly divulged that it is therefore now concentrating exclusively on its 2008 car.
30-year-old Heidfeld told Financial Times Deutschland that it is unrealistic to expect to beat Ferrari and McLaren in Japan, China, or Brazil next month.
He also said BMW's hopes of becoming a serious title challenger in the future depends not only on building a quick car, but ramping up the ability to keep up with the top teams' rate of in-season development.
"In the long term we do not want to be equivalent to the others, but better," he insisted.