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DATE News (chronologically)
09/30/07
f1
Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

09/30/07  
  • Ralf under fire after deer hunt
  • Dennis blames FIA for Alonso mix-up
  • Wurz frustrated with media at wet Fuji
  • Only miracle can save title now - Alonso
  • Webber slams 'kid' Vettel after crash
  • Todt says no room for Alonso at Ferrari
  • Alonso's dad won't shake my hand says Hamilton Snr
  • Kimi blames FIA for wrong tires gaffe
  • Tearful Vettel takes blame for Webber smash
  • Late email cost Ferrari dear - spokesman
  • Drivers say GP should not have started
  • Haug - no sympathy after Ferrari gaffe
  • A busy evening for Fuji stewards New
  • Alonso can come to Ferrari in future - Todt New

Ralf under fire after deer hunt
(GMM)  Struggling Toyota racer Ralf Schumacher has come under fire from an animal rights group.

PETA, supported by the 32-year-old German's brother Michael and his wife Corinna, reportedly wrote Ralf a scathing letter after it was discovered that he recently embarked on a deer-hunt in Serbia.

Cologne newspaper Express claims that PETA was outraged when it heard that Schumacher successfully shot and killed three animals.

PETA chairman Ingrid Newkirk was quoted as saying in the fax to Ralf: "Leave the deer in peace."

At the deer range in question, the location of the animals is apparently controlled so that well-paying amateur hunters are guaranteed a successful day.

Newkirk said a hunt of this type requires "about as much talent as shooting fish in a barrel", and urged Ralf to "follow the good example of your brother; not only regarding the winning or races but also in terms of kindness to animals".

Schumacher responded by telling Express that he always abides the law on hunts, and that they are not solely about killing animals.

Dennis blames FIA for Alonso mix-up
(GMM)  Ron Dennis has blamed the bad transcription of the World Motor Sport Council hearings for a misunderstanding with McLaren driver Fernando Alonso.

Alonso, 26, expressed surprise earlier this weekend when he denied Dennis' apparent admission to the Paris meeting that they were not on speaking terms.

"That was not true," the Spaniard had said.

Dennis responded by telling the Spanish news agency EFE at Fuji Speedway that the "transcription of the World Council was not very good" in quoting him as describing his chilly relationship with Alonso.

"The feeling inside the team is tense and competitive, but the emphasis that is being put on all of this (by the media) is ridiculous," he added.

Wurz frustrated with media at wet Fuji
(GMM)  Alex Wurz expressed frustration with the media in Japan.

It was pointed out to the Austrian veteran that his qualifying defeat to Williams teammate Nico Rosberg at Fuji Speedway extended the dreadful tally to 1:14 for 2007.

Even with Rosberg's ten-position penalty for an engine change, Wurz will still start the Japanese grand prix behind the impressive German.

"Why do we have to talk about the same topic eternally?" Wurz, 33, snapped at journalists when asked about his struggle for qualifying pace, according to sportnet.at.

True to the adverse weather forecasts, the area surrounding Mt. Fuji dawned wet on Sunday, although not as foggy as it was for qualifying.

A start behind the safety car is a very real possibility, as it was still raining less than an hour before the scheduled green light at 1.30pm.

Only miracle can save title now - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso on Sunday had to admit that a rare crash has put a third consecutive championship triumph all but out of reach.

With the McLaren driver's rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton skillfully winning at a sodden Fuji Speedway, 26-year-old Alonso said only an upset in China or Brazil can now prevent his rival from clinching the first ever title earned on debut.

"I'm not throwing in the towel, but unless there is a retirement from Hamilton we have to be realistic and see that it's very hard to recover six points per race," said Alonso, referring to his now 12-point deficit.

He refused to be despondent, however, insisting that the difficult situation might even be a reason to think the pressure has eased.

"We only need to race and wait for a miracle, a retirement from our rival, so maybe I can race more relaxed now," Alonso added after his high speed crash at the exit of turn five on lap 42.

A delighted Hamilton also said he senses that the title is now near.

"Obviously driving in the wet and leading and doing the last lap and thinking of races Senna and Prost were in, makes we feel I am on my way to achieving something similar to them," said the Briton.

Webber slams 'kid' Vettel after crash
(GMM)  Mark Webber slammed his rookie Red Bull stablemate Sebastian Vettel on Sunday after getting punted out of a career-best finish at Fuji.

The Australian, who was running high in the order in the treacherous conditions despite reports of food poisoning and vomiting in his helmet, was knocked out of the race by Toro Rosso's Vettel while the safety car circulated.

Talking live to the British broadcaster ITV, Red Bull driver Webber slammed the German 20-year-old - hailed in the paddock on Saturday night for an impressive performance in qualifying - as a "kid".

"It's kids isn't it?" Webber said, amid whispers that Vettel's separate earlier collision with Fernando Alonso may have contributed to the Spaniard's almost certainly title-ending spin and high speed crash.

Webber, adding that he noticed Vettel being "a bit wild" in his mirrors, continued: "They have not got enough experience –- they do a good job and then they f-ck it all up.

"He did a very good job of hitting me very hard."

Todt says no room for Alonso at Ferrari
(GMM)  Jean Todt has added his denial to speculation that Fernando Alonso might be bound for Ferrari at the end of the season.

The Italian team's boss confirmed that both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa are under contract for 2008.

"We respect our contracts," Frenchman Todt told the British broadcaster ITV.

"Alonso is a great driver, I have a lot of respect for him as a driver, but we are very happy with our contracted drivers."

Rumors persist that Alonso, under contract to McLaren next year but unhappy at the British team, might sit out 2008 before moving to Ferrari the year after.

Alonso's dad won't shake my hand says Hamilton Snr
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's father says Fernando Alonso's dad "has a problem" with him.

At the height of the McLaren teammates' dizzying rift, Hamilton Snr said he has tried three times to shake the hand of Jose Luis Alonso.

"You know me -- I get on with everybody," Anthony on Sunday told the Australian broadcaster Ten at Fuji Speedway.

"You need to ask Fernando's dad that question -- how does he get along with me?

"He won't shake my hand for some reason.  I've offered my hand to him on many occasions and he always turns me down.  At least three times.

"No explanation, no discussion.  Even when his lad wins.

"If he's got an issue with me, I've got no idea what it is, other than maybe (the fact that) my son's leading the world championship."

Lewis' father says he has tried to stay out of the internal politics at McLaren in 2007, but expressed concern about the obvious rift between the two sides of the garage.

Asked jokingly about the 'happy family' at the Woking team this year, Anthony laughed: "You've been reading some kind of funny book!

"Obviously that would be a dream -- that's the way it's supposed to me, but it's not quite how it is.  But we're open to it."

Kimi blames FIA for wrong tires gaffe
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday blamed the FIA for not informing Ferrari of a last minute rule change.

The Maranello based team had to pull into the pits early in the Japanese grand prix after trying to start the race behind the safety car on intermediate tires.

Third placed Raikkonen, now a distant 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the world championship with two races to go, later told reporters at Fuji Speedway that Charlie Whiting and FIA race control failed to tell Ferrari that it had to start on extreme wet tires.

"They forgot to tell our team," the Finn claimed.  "That forced us to pit behind the safety car."

Although no other team wrongly started the race on intermediates, Renault's Pat Symonds confirmed that Whiting only publicized the rule change just over an hour before the race.

"It's a little bit surprising, I guess," he told the British broadcaster ITV.

Raikkonen's teammate Felipe Massa finished sixth at Fuji, meaning that he can no longer become world champion.

Tearful Vettel takes blame for Webber smash
(GMM)  Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel on Sunday apologized to Red Bull stablemate Mark Webber after pitching the Australian out of a possible win in the Japanese grand prix.

An irate Webber, 31, swore live on British television after the incident, but rookie Vettel - later caught on camera crying in the pits - took the blame for "ruining" his race while circulating behind the safety car.

20-year-old Vettel, branded a "kid" by Webber despite qualifying and racing competitively at Fuji Speedway until the crash, said he took his eyes off the action when he noticed Lewis Hamilton heating his brakes.

"By the time I looked forward again, I was already in the back of Mark's car and I think he had also reacted to Lewis," the German said.

"I apologize now to Mark because I ruined both our races."

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost famously lost his temper with the now sacked Scott Speed following a similar wet-race accident earlier this year, but he excused Vettel on Sunday.

"The mistake is one that can also happen with more experienced drivers," he said.

"I continue to look forward to working with him in the future.

"Of course, we are unhappy about the incident, especially as it happened under the safety car and especially as it happened with a Red Bull car.  But that's part of the game, that's racing," Tost added.

Late email cost Ferrari dear - spokesman
(GMM)  An FIA email informing Ferrari of a late tire-rule change arrived seven minutes too late, a team spokesman said on Sunday.

After Kimi Raikkonen's comments following the race, Luca Colajanni confirmed that the Maranello based team was not aware until 1.37pm - seven minutes after the race began behind the safety car - that it had not been allowed to fit intermediate tires.

"Now there's nothing we can do," he said, after the damaging pit stops had to be organized to change to extreme wet tires.

Raikkonen's race engineer Chris Dyer reportedly used even harsher language in a post-race television interview.

Apparently, the Australian said FIA race control "f-cked our race" before he was stopped by a Ferrari PR representative.

Drivers say GP should not have started
(GMM)  A group of drivers think the FIA's Charlie Whiting was wrong to start the Japanese grand prix after 19 laps behind the safety car on Sunday.

Racers including Honda's Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced current driver in formula one, said the treacherous rain, fog and zero visibility made the race at Fuji Speedway one of the most dangerous he has faced.

"In my view, the race should have been stopped very early on," said the Brazilian.

"The conditions were so difficult and it was impossible to see anything for the entire race."

BMW's Nick Heidfeld, who made his grand prix debut in 2000, added: "In my opinion the race should not have been started under these weather conditions."

Jenson Button said: "The conditions and visibility were so bad that it felt really dangerous out there and it was really difficult to keep the tires warm enough to be effective."

Williams' Nico Rosberg told a television interview that he also thinks the race should never have started, and called the conditions "the worst I have ever raced in".

His veteran teammate Alex Wurz crashed out, and compared the sensation of driving in Japan to "closing your eyes and running through your house at high speed".

BMW's Robert Kubica added: "The beginning of the race was very risky.  For me the decision (to start) was a bit too early and it was a bit mad to drive."

Haug - no sympathy after Ferrari gaffe
(GMM)  Norbert Haug on Sunday had little sympathy for Ferrari after the Italian team's tire gaffe in the Japanese grand prix.

Felipe Massa is now out of the running for the drivers' title, and Kimi Raikkonen is a distant 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton, amid Ferrari's complaint that it only found out after the race that the FIA had forbidden cars to start the race without extreme wet tires.

"The message reached the other ten teams," Haug, competition director for McLaren's engine and equity partner Mercedes, told German television.

Referring almost certainly to the recent espionage scandal - a bitter conflict that cost McLaren $100m and expulsion from the constructors' championship - he added: "There have already been punishments with even less proof.

"Ferrari always excite themselves when they do not win," said the German.  "That is not new," he told the broadcaster RTL.

Haug refused to speculate as to how the FIA stewards' email about the rule change only arrived in sporting boss Stefano Domenicali's laptop inbox nearly 90 minutes too late.

"I am not the Ferrari press person -- I have no idea what they were doing at noon," he added.

A busy evening for Fuji stewards
(GMM)  Stewards at the Japanese grand prix had a busy Sunday afternoon at Fuji Speedway.

After a tumultuous wet race, Spyker's Adrian Sutil was handed the team's first ever point after it was found that Vitantonio Liuzzi had in his Toro Rosso overtaken him under a yellow flag.

"It is a great feeling, even if we didn't get it on the track," Sutil said.

The occupant of the other Toro Rosso, Sebastian Vettel, was also punished for crashing into Mark Webber in a safety car period.

He will start next Sunday's Chinese grand prix probably from the back of the grid when a ten-position qualifying penalty is applied in Shanghai.

The Spanish publication 'Marca' claimed after the race that stewards were investigating race winner Lewis Hamilton for braking unnecessarily behind the safety car, and possibly contributing to the Vettel-Webber incident.

The news was, however, discredited elsewhere in the paddock.

The FIA, meanwhile, is believed to have apologized to Ferrari after an email detailing the tire rule change did not arrive in time.

Ferrari was particularly upset that, as is often the case, the important information was displayed neither on the official pitwall monitors, or via a pitlane courier who - under article 15.1 of the sporting regulations - requires a signature verifying receipt.

"Very important communications should be issued using a very direct system, because you aren't necessarily in the office at that time," said sporting director Stefano Domenicali.

Alonso can come to Ferrari in future - Todt
(GMM)  Jean Todt insists that a "zero per cent" chance exists of Fernando Alonso joining Ferrari for 2008.

But the Maranello based team's boss is now not as adamant as he has been in the past about the Spaniard never driving a red car some time in the future.

"People have said that while I'm at Ferrari, Alonso can't come.  That's not true," Todt told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

"I never said that.  It wouldn't be right. I am employed by Ferrari.  If at some point I knew Ferrari was interested in signing Alonso, I'd say okay.  I wouldn't oppose it.  My principal interest is Ferrari."

World champion Alonso is openly unhappy at McLaren this year, and Bernie Ecclestone revealed apparent insider information earlier this weekend when he predicted a sabbatical in 2008 before a move to Ferrari the year after.

Todt's latest comments also follow speculation of his falling out with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who is reportedly keen to unite the Prancing Horse with F1's youngest ever world champion.

Todt admits that he was unimpressed with Alonso before he joined Minardi in 2001.  Reportedly, the Spaniard reached a verbal long term deal with Ferrari before he dropped it and signed for Flavio Briatore.

"I didn't like the way he acted with me," Todt said.

"He's got a lot better.  He's strong physically and mentally.  As a driver I have great respect for him so I say 'never say never'."

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