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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Heidfeld doubts McLaren appeal will succeed
  • ITV profits from Hamilton-effect
  • Hamilton adds denial to 'wrong button' reports
  • Kovalainen admits talks with McLaren

Heidfeld doubts McLaren appeal will succeed
(GMM) BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld says he doubts that McLaren will succeed at its controversial appeal date next month.

The 30-year-old German is among the four drivers who stand to be demoted or excluded from the results of the recent Brazilian grand prix for alleged fuel temperature discrepancies.

But when asked whether he expected the Court of Appeal to overturn the stewards' Interlagos decision, Heidfeld said on the weekly sports program ZDF-Sportstudio: "Going by what has happened before in appeal situations, probably not."

Should the BMWs and Williams' be kicked out of the race classification, Lewis Hamilton may retrospectively move up to fifth place or higher and be crowned world champion ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

But Nick Heidfeld protested: "We were not illegal, because we were not punished. If we had done something wrong, we would have been."

ITV profits from Hamilton-effect
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton may have stumbled at the final hurdle to become champion in 2007, but his debut formula one season nonetheless put smiles on the faces of ITV executives.

According to the media agency Carat, Britain's F1 television broadcaster has opened the bidding for title sponsorship next year by doubling this season's (US) $5m rate-card.

Honda was ITV's premier backer for the coverage in 2007, but the Japanese manufacturer would supposedly have to pay up to or in excess of $10m to remain in the role next year, thanks mainly to the average 40 per cent higher average viewing figures compared with 2006.

Carat also claims that ITV earned an extra $24m in revenue this season, as the broadcaster upped its cost of - for example - a single 30-second advert to nearly $80,000.

But Kevin Alavy, a senior analyst for another media agency, Initiative, says ITV should expect some of its extra revenue to be clawed back in the future by the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

"Bernie will ask for a lot more money from UK broadcasters next time around," he is quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Guardian.

"(Hamilton) is arguably the most commercially attractive driver on the whole grid so there will be a premium rights fee next time.

"He is the reason why people who may not be formula one fans are tuning in. There is a gap in the market for a young sportsman of his pulling power."

ITV, Britain's F1 broadcaster since 1997, holds the rights until 2010.

Hamilton adds denial to 'wrong button' reports
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has finally added his own categorical denial to suggestions that finger trouble cost him the world championship in Brazil.

A journalist for the Montreal newspaper La Presse has now admitted to wrongly quoting the 22-year-old McLaren rookie last week as declaring that an accidental push of a button on his steering wheel slowed his single seater at Interlagos.

McLaren figures have consistently explained that an unspecified technical fault in Hamilton's gearbox caused the car to select the neutral gear.

In an interview with Germany's Bild am Sonntag, the Briton admits to making a mistake in the season finale.

"Yes, right at the beginning, when I fell to eighth," he explained, referring to his poor opening lap.

But when asked if the subsequent gearbox glitch had also been triggered by his own mistake, Hamilton insisted: "That was a technical problem.

"I was coasting, even though the readout said I was in fourth gear. But I am not so stupid as to have put it into neutral myself," he added.

Kovalainen admits talks with McLaren
(GMM) Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen has admitted to staging talks with 'many' formula one teams, including McLaren, about the 2008 season.

The 26-year-old has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Fernando Alonso, particularly amid rumors that the unhappy Spaniard might be set to switch from the Woking based team to Renault next year.

Kovalainen and his teammate this season, Giancarlo Fisichella, have yet to be re-signed for Renault, as a growing swathe of their fellow drivers await a late silly-season rush in the event that Alonso does indeed make a move.

In an interview with ITV, Kovalainen admitted that McLaren might be interested in him for 2008, but jokingly rued his poor qualifying performance at the season finale last Sunday.

"They probably would have thought 'maybe better not to think about him'," he said.

"But honestly, we have been talking to many teams and all I can say is I have a contract with Renault until the end of the year.

"We have to wait and see what the other guys do."

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