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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Tester Karthikeyan to leave Williams
  • No room at Ferrari for Alonso, says Gene
  • Rossi says more Ferrari tests 'unlikely'
  • ING happy with F1 sponsorship in 2007

Tester Karthikeyan to leave Williams
(GMM)  Narain Karthikeyan will not stay at Williams in 2008 as a test driver despite again being offered the position, according to his manager.

The 30-year-old Indian, who debuted for Jordan in 2005 but has since tested only part time for Sir Frank Williams' Grove based team, is also not in the running to race for countryman Vijay Mallya's Force India outfit next year.

Karthikeyan started testing for Williams in 2006 but would have been given even less cockpit time next season, manager Mark Perkins told the Asian Age.

"We have decided not to extend the partnership even if they are ready to renew the contract," he said, citing the traction control ban as one of the main reasons for the split.

"All the prime drivers will be looking to do more testing on the off season, so the test drivers will hardly get a chance next year," Perkins explained.

Several contenders are currently being considered for the vacant Force India seat for 2008, but Karthikeyan and countryman Karun Chandhok have both been ruled out.

Perkins said he did not know why Mallya, a prominent Indian businessman who earlier backed Karthikeyan's career, was not now considering Indian drivers.

Karthikeyan explained: "I am not in the fray and I am not even expecting a final minute call from Mallya for the Jerez test.  I would have got the call a month ago if they really wanted me."

He added that his manager is in talks with "a few big teams".

Karthikeyan's Williams contract expires on December 31.

No room at Ferrari for Alonso, says Gene
(GMM)  A Ferrari test driver has backed Fernando Alonso's apparent plan to join the Maranello based team in the future.

But despite speculation to the contrary, Marc Gene, also a Spaniard, says he can not envisage the 26-year-old double world champion in a Ferrari as early as 2009.

It is rumored that Alonso is fervently pushing for a single-year contract for 2008 so that he is free to join Ferrari the year after.

"I don't think he has said that himself," Gene, who is 33, is quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency EFE.

"Anyway, Ferrari already has contracts -- Kimi for two more years and Felipe for three.  And this is a team that honors what it has signed, so until 2010 there is no vacancy," he added.

"But I can understand if he wants to come here -- all drivers dream about it."

Gene thinks Alonso would fit in better at Ferrari than he did at McLaren, even if the Spaniard and Ferrari chiefs have not always seen eye to eye.

"It is true that in recent years there has been some criticism of Ferrari (by Alonso), but I think there has been a change of attitude that is appreciated.  Many other Ferrari people think the same.

"We have nothing against Fernando and consider him to be a great driver," Gene said.

He advises the former Renault and McLaren driver to make up his mind quickly about 2008.

"He would need to do some testing before the next season, and there is really not too much time left," Gene said.

Rossi says more Ferrari tests 'unlikely'
(GMM)  Valentino Rossi says it is "very unlikely" that he will do any more formula one testing for Ferrari in the foreseeable future.

The multiple MotoGP world champion tested the Maranello built cars several times a couple of years ago, sparking intense speculation that he could make the switch to four wheels.

The seeds of new rumors have now been sown with the continuing sponsorship link between his Yamaha team and Fiat, the 85 per cent owner of Ferrari, and whispers that he may leave MotoGP as early as the end of 2008.

"At the moment I really don't know how long I will stay in MotoGP," the Italian told the German magazine Auto Bild.  "A lot depends on how competitive we (Yamaha) are next year."

But Rossi insists to the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport that more testing for Ferrari is "very unlikely" for the time being.

Instead, he is reportedly lining up a sports car test in Audi's Le Mans prototype R10, while last weekend he won the Monza Rally in a Ford Focus.

ING happy with F1 sponsorship in 2007
(GMM)  New formula one sponsor ING Group, a Dutch financial institution, announced on Tuesday that it is satisfied with its involvement in the sport in 2007.

A press released outlined that the Renault title sponsorship and trackside advertising - including naming rights in Australia and Belgium - "increased ING's global brand awareness and created a clear and positive perception of the firm".

"Heading into 2008, the ING F1 strategy will build upon the increase in awareness of ING to drive revenue returns," executive board chairman Michel Tilmant said.

The Amsterdam based company said it had commissioned independent research company Research International to determine the value of its F1 involvement this year, with positive results.

The international sports research agency IFM also showed that ING was the second most visible F1 sponsor in 2007, the press release added.

"In 2008 our goal is to fully activate the F1 sponsorship in all ING markets, in order to make use best use of our increased awareness," director of sponsorship Isabelle Conner revealed.

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