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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Massa renewal leaves F1 theorists puzzled
  • Title race descends into racist row
  • Rodriguez again tests Spyker at Silverstone
  • Alonso most likely to 'lose nerve' - pundits
  • Mercedes board votes to oust Alonso
  • Trulli advises Alonso against joining Toyota

Massa renewal leaves F1 theorists puzzled
(GMM) The news on Tuesday of Felipe Massa's new Ferrari contract was met by almost universal surprise in F1 circles.

The 26-year-old Brazilian has driven well and won three grands prix this year, but it had been strongly rumored that Fernando Alonso was edging towards a Ferrari deal for 2009 amid high level talks with the Italian marque's president Luca di Montezemolo.

"Everyone here is astonished," Jayme Brito, a producer with Brazil's national TV Globo network, was quoted as responding to the news by the Independent newspaper.

He added: "It is not the proper time for such a thing, and there is a strong suspicion that it may be a smokescreen for other things."

One such theory is that there may be more than meets the eye to Tuesday's 81-word Ferrari press release.

For example, while the team announced that Massa's agreement has been extended through to the end of 2010, it was not specifically made clear that his role must always be as a race driver.

The second sentence of the statement begins with the information that "Felipe has been contracted to the Scuderia since 2001", but Massa only made his grand prix debut in 2002 -- for the Ferrari-powered team Sauber.

He was then Ferrari's test driver in 2003, before returning to Sauber for two more years. Massa only raced a Ferrari for the first time in 2006.

Much has also been made of the tense political situation at Ferrari this year, with Montezemolo supposedly pushing for Ross Brawn to succeed Jean Todt as team boss in preparation for a new era that involves Alonso in the cockpit.

Todt, on the other hand, has previously and publicly lobbied against signing Alonso, while his son Nicolas is Massa's manager.

Spanish 'Diario As' journalist Carlos Miquel on Wednesday concurred that Massa's re-signing through to 2010 is a more than 81-word story.

"The only thing that is for sure is that (Kimi) Raikkonen is now in a weaker position with regards to the possible arrival (at Ferrari) of Alonso in 2009," he wrote.

Title race descends into racist row
(GMM) The British press has returned an accusation of racism to Spain as teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso's bitter championship rivalry reaches its climax in Brazil this weekend.

Amid increasingly hostile formula one relations between Spain and Britain, the head of the Spanish motorsport federation on Tuesday was quoted by the newspaper El Publico as describing Hamilton's British supporters as "racist".

"It is perfectly normal for a British team and British fans to want to succeed in formula one," a translation of Carlos Gracia's comments reads, "but it is ironic that the racists in England are having to rely on a colored pilot."

Britain's conservative Guardian newspaper slammed Gracia's outburst as "suitably crass", while the tabloid Sun widened the brawl by accusing unnamed "Spanish racists" of describing Hamilton as a "black man of ****" on the internet.

Garcia will be a guest of McLaren at Interlagos this weekend, while Spanish reports reveal that he met at Madrid's Torrejon de Ardoz airport with team boss Ron Dennis on Tuesday to calm the waters ahead of the Sao Paulo showdown.

Dennis was reportedly in town to play a round of golf with Emilio Botin, the boss of his team's biggest Spanish sponsor, Santander.

Garcia told the Spanish newspaper Marca that he had received "threats" from Alonso's supporters who believe he has not done enough about the perceived inequality at McLaren in 2007.

He also said his comments about Hamilton and Britain had been misinterpreted.

"What I meant was England has been looking for a formula one idol for years and no matter who he was they were going to give him all their support.

"There was no racist element to what I said," said Garcia.

Rodriguez again tests Spyker at Silverstone
(GMM) Spanish hopeful Roldan Rodriguez returned to the wheel of Spyker's formula one car on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old rookie, who will also test for the Indian-Dutch squad over the upcoming winter period, conducted a shakedown at a wet Silverstone circuit in a car simulating the ban next year on traction control and other electronic driver aids.

"This set-up is going to be entertaining for the public next year and also the drivers, but no so much when the track is wet," Rodriguez commented to the Spanish newspaper 'As'.

Rodriguez, a contender for a Spyker race seat in 2008, later departed for Sao Paulo where he will observe the activities of the team from the pits this weekend.

He is scheduled to return to the cockpit of the Spyker for three more test days at Barcelona next month.

Alonso most likely to 'lose nerve' - pundits
(GMM) If Sunday's championship decider ends with a Senna-Prost style collision, the culprit will be Fernando Alonso.

That is the belief of former German grand prix driver and now travelling commentator Hans-Joachim Stuck, who questions the Spaniard's calm under fire.

"If one of the three candidates loses his nerve, it will be Alonso," he told the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung.

"He has shown it before -- when the going gets tough, he is not under control. Hamilton would do well to stay away from him on the track."

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart accuses the 26-year-old not of driving poorly in 2007, but of not knowing how to respond correctly when he is beaten by his rookie British teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Former Jaguar driver Johnny Herbert told the Sun that Alonso has behaved "like a kid" this year.

"(Alonso's) human skills haven't been good enough out of the car," Stewart told the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

"I've been disappointed by his response to Lewis, by the things that have been allowed to happen under his personal direction. He has allowed Lewis to get under his skin," the Scot, who is not attending the Interlagos race this weekend, added.

Another three time title winner, Niki Lauda, says Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen could be the lucky beneficiary of Senna-Prost style collisions over at McLaren.

"In a way it is the simplest for him," the Austrian legend said ahead of the last race of the season.

"He only needs to win the race and hope that the others screw it up."

Mercedes board votes to oust Alonso
(GMM) The wheels are now fully in motion regarding Fernando Alonso's seemingly inevitable departure from McLaren after Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.

It is reported by the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung that the executive board of the team's majority shareholder and carmaker partner Mercedes-Benz have ruled in Stuttgart that the Spaniard should not represent their brand in 2008.

26-year-old Alonso's current McLaren contract runs for another year, but following the tumultuous events of this season he had been linked with either a sabbatical or a move to another team.

Kai Ebel, the television presenter for Germany's RTL coverage of formula one, said Alonso's departure from McLaren is unlikely to be dependent on the outcome of the 2007 title climax in Sao Paulo.

"Win or not, he will leave anyway," he predicted.

In an interview with the Hamburg magazine 'Stern', Mercedes' competition director Norbert Haug did not deny the possibility of an early split with Alonso.

"If someone expresses his absolute resolve to not want to do something, then there are ways to manage that," the German said.

"We have a contract, and after the last race of the season we will see what the situation is," Haug added.

He dismissed speculation that McLaren could force Alonso to take a sabbatical next year.

"That is not our style," Haug insisted.

Trulli advises Alonso against joining Toyota
(GMM) Jarno Trulli has advised his former Renault teammate and friend Fernando Alonso against joining the Toyota team in 2008.

The Italian switched to the Japanese squad at the end of 2004, where he has struggled through three subsequent seasons.

Following the imminent departure of Ralf Schumacher, Trulli's teammate for 2008 is not yet confirmed, but Toyota bosses say they would be delighted to welcome the Spanish double world champion to the team if he is free.

Asked in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo if he would like to again race alongside Alonso, Trulli replied: "I would be really happy to.

"I never had any problems with him and we got along really well at Renault. But honestly, I do not see him coming here."

When asked why not, 33-year-old Trulli indicated that Cologne based Toyota, albeit with arguably the biggest budget in the paddock, is not yet ready to accept the sport's most successful current driver.

"He must go to a winning car and one of the best teams," the Italian said. "This season we have managed only eleven points, so I do not think that it is us."

Trulli said all that Toyota can offer Alonso at present is "a lot of money".

He denied, however, that he is growing increasingly disillusioned with his job as a grand prix driver.

"I am not bored with the driving but only the results. It is very frustrating," Trulli admitted.

Asked what he thought Toyota's problem has been since entering formula one in 2002, Trulli answered: "We did not find the key to winning races.

"Every year we have had problems. When I arrived in 2005, it was a very tough season, but it has turned out as the best of the three that I have been here.

"I could not have imagined that!" he marveled. "Things have not gone as expected."

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