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  • McLaren not driver-hostile team - Dennis
  • Dennis not rushing to name second driver
  • Liuzzi on Force India training camp
  • Hamilton in London paparazzi race

McLaren not driver-hostile team - Dennis
(GMM)  Ron Dennis has rejected suggestions that McLaren is perhaps the least driver-friendly team in formula one.

After Fernando Alonso ended his new McLaren tenure after a tumultuous single season in 2007, former team driver Juan Pablo Montoya said he sympathized with the Spaniard.

"I understand where Fernando is coming from.  I felt the same," he said.

But Dennis, the Woking based team's long time boss, denies that the Alonso and Montoya examples prove that McLaren is difficult to work for.

"I don't think we have more problems with drivers than other teams," he told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

"Actually, the only relationship that ended badly was with Fernando, but that is over now, there is nothing to do about it, and we are thinking completely about 2008."

McLaren's relationship with former grand prix winner Montoya, who has since switched to NASCAR, imploded in mid-2006.  F1 historians cite an eight-car pileup at his last race at Indianapolis, after which he was named an instigator, as the final catalyst for the split.

El Tiempo quotes Dennis as branding Montoya "a fool" for allowing recriminations after the incident to color his decision to immediately quit the sport.

"We have an agreement to not criticize one another," the Briton explained.  "However, I believe he was unwise to leave formula one over one incident.  He is a good driver and a good person.

"But I can understand it (Montoya's decision), because his position within the team was complicated and it became very difficult, especially with the technical group," Dennis explained.

Dennis not rushing to name second driver
(GMM)  McLaren is in no hurry to name a replacement for Lewis Hamilton's departed 2007 teammate Fernando Alonso, team boss Ron Dennis has said.

The Woking based team's boss told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that McLaren is taking its time to finalize the 2008 driver lineup.

"We have not decided and we do not feel hurried," Dennis, who is 60, revealed.

The Spanish-language newspaper enquired as to whether McLaren's long time test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who was born and still lives in Barcelona, was among the front runners to occupy the second MP4-23 next season.

"Maybe," Dennis smiled.  "There are many options, but I cannot give names.  All I can say is that there is no rush.

"We are already working with Hamilton (for 2008) and once we have decided on his teammate then we will start to work with him as well."

Also in the interview, Ron Dennis revealed that he had considered retiring at the end of the tumultuous 2007 season, which delivered no titles for McLaren and a record penalty for espionage.

"This is a business that requires a lot of effort and concentration," he answered.  "I have spent a lot of time away from my family.  Yes, I have thought about retiring.

"But I am not the sort of person who throws in the towel in the face of adversity," Dennis added.

Liuzzi on Force India training camp
(GMM)  Vitantonio Liuzzi is currently on a fitness camp with two contracted Force India drivers, it has emerged.

The Spanish news agency EFE revealed that the Italian, who is among several contenders for the race seat alongside Adrian Sutil next year, is undergoing a grueling training regime with Sutil and Roldan Rodriguez, who has also inked a contract to be with the Silverstone based team in some capacity in 2008.

Christian Klien was believed the favorite to land the race seat, after emerging slightly quicker than Liuzzi in the recent Barcelona test.

But both men have been invited to test again at Jerez next week, while Sutil said recently that he believes his new teammate "will be decided between Klien and Liuzzi".

Force India announced on Wednesday that Giancarlo Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher, Franck Montagny and Giedo van der Garde will all also test at Jerez as part of the evaluation process.

But only Sutil, Rodriguez and Liuzzi are currently doing outdoor training in the freezing snow-lined forests near Munich.

"It has been a tough few days," Spanish rookie Rodriguez is quoted as saying.

Hamilton in London paparazzi race
(GMM)  2007 championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton this week engaged in a night-time paparazzi race around London, British tabloid media report.

The 22-year-old claims to want a quieter life in Switzerland, but front page photographs depict the McLaren driver hopping around town with Naomi Campbell, a 37-year-old supermodel who is notorious for attracting attention.

Campbell, photographed smoking cigarettes while sitting next to Hamilton in a chauffeured car, famously dated Renault boss Flavio Briatore five years ago, and has also been linked with Mike Tyson, Robert de Niro, Usher, Eric Clapton, Sylvester Stallone and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

"Lewis and Naomi's antics on Tuesday suggests they have something to hide," The Sun daily observed, noting that the pair even switched cars at one point in an attempt to shake off their pursuers.

The newspaper said the pair later tried to hide from the photographers as they went from a hotel to a restaurant, after a photo-shoot together for a men's magazine.

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