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  • Kovalainen does not want to be Alonso's no.2
  • Renault vow 'transparency' for spy probe
  • No government money for British GP - minister

Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen does not want to be Alonso's No. 2
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen says he would enjoy having Fernando Alonso as a Renault teammate next year but only if he enjoys equal status with the double world champion.

"If the team can guarantee that we are equal, it would be perfect for me to have Fernando beside me," the Finn told the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report.

Alonso won world championships in 2005 and 2006 at Renault and then switched to McLaren.

But after one season with Ron Dennis' team, the 26-year-old Spaniard is back on the market having spent an uncomfortable year alongside rookie Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso has said he expects to be properly treated by his team as a multiple world champion, and Renault chiefs Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds agree that modern formula one requires a 'number one' role to be clearly defined.

Kovalainen, linked with a move to McLaren to replace Alonso but still under contract to Renault, added: "I am still young, but I cannot afford to spend any time playing second fiddle.

"Rather, I need to better establish my name.

"On the other hand, I am not in the kind of position where I can have something to say about who my teammate is," he added.

26-year-old Kovalainen's current Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, meanwhile, is widely expected to be pushed out of the team for 2008; either by Alonso or Brazilian test driver Nelson Piquet Jr.

"There have been discussions from our part with the teams that have a free seat, but there are no ongoing deal talks," the Roman's manager Enrico Zanarini told the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport.

"When Renault decide, we'll know a bit more," he added.

Renault vow 'transparency' for spy probe
(GMM) Renault has vowed to act "with complete transparency" after the FIA announced that the French team is under investigation for spying on McLaren.

Amid accusations that Renault possessed detailed information about its Woking based rival's single seaters and systems, one spokeswoman for the 2005 and 2006 world champions said "for legal reasons" she could not comment.

A Renault spokesman added: "Ever since this matter came to light we have acted with complete transparency towards McLaren and the FIA and we will continue to do so."

At the height of the Ferrari versus McLaren espionage saga this year, it emerged that McLaren had evidence that Renault could also be implicated in a separate case of spying.

Media reports identified former McLaren engineer Phil Mackereth as having taken to Renault three disks of detailed information about the Ron Dennis-led team.

An FIA statement on Thursday said Renault chiefs would appear at the World Motor Sport Council in Monaco on December 6 to answer the charge.

Renault recently granted McLaren access to its computer systems in order to internally investigate the accusations.

One insider told The Independent newspaper: "The amount and depth of the information (found at Renault) makes 'Stepneygate' look like a walk in the park."

Aside from the hefty penalties that the Flavio Briatore-led outfit could face, the issue might also blight Renault's efforts to return Fernando Alonso to the team in 2008.

The FIA will also be under intense pressure to be even-handed, after the Stepney-gate case was interpreted by some as an anti-McLaren 'witch-hunt'.

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph observed: "Renault's participation in F1 is under constant review and could even be threatened by a crippling fine".

No government money for British GP - minister
(GMM) Britain's sports minister has vowed to "do everything we can" to save the grand prix at Silverstone but ruled out direct financial support.

Gerry Sutcliffe visited the Northamptonshire site on Thursday, as the circuit owning British Racing Drivers' Club advances plans to develop the home of the perennially endangered formula one race.

"We all want to see the British grand prix remain here," he said at Silverstone, where he was taken around the F1 layout in a Lotus sports car by 1996 world champion and BRDC president Damon Hill.

Sutcliffe MP said in a statement: "I offer my full support to the Master Plan and will work with my colleagues to help with its delivery."

But to the news agency Reuters, he ruled out direct government financial backing.

"We can't do that and we've not been asked to do that at this stage," Sutcliffe said.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has long criticized the British circuit for its ageing facilities, casting doubt on the future of the race beyond its 2009 contract.

Hill suggested that the British government's reluctance to directly help could cost the country the event.

"It may well be that the market has changed whereby formula one can only be afforded around the world by government expenditure, as we have seen a number of times," he said.

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