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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hamilton not popular in Spain - survey
  • Slick tires top times at Jerez
  • Equality makes winning harder - Whitmarsh
  • Rosberg - I'm number one at Williams
  • Honda 'wrong' for Alonso in 2008 - Brawn
  • Villa plays down slow BMW debut
  • Hulkenberg eyes F1 future with Williams

Hamilton not popular in Spain - survey
(GMM)  British 2007 runner-up Lewis Hamilton has spent much of the post-season period so far collecting prizes and plaudits following his rookie formula one campaign.

But the 22-year-old is not globally popular, particularly in the country of his controversial former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, a Spanish racing magazine has found.

The Spanish language publication 'Grand Prix' asked its readers last month to vote on their best driver of the year.

70pc predictably selected Alonso, the 26-year-old double world champion, while another 25pc voted for Kimi Raikkonen, who won his first title for Ferrari.

Hamilton, despite only missing the championship on his first attempt by a single point, registered a miniscule 1.8pc of the vote.

Meanwhile, 43.6pc said McLaren's treatment of Alonso in 2007 was the season's lowest moment, while 39.1pc thought his penalty for obstructing Hamilton during Hungary GP qualifying was the worst decision.

Similarly, 23.2pc selected McLaren's championship exclusion and $100m fine for espionage as the best decision of 2007.  An overwhelming 96.4pc said Ferrari was the season's best team, and the Maranello built F2007 won the best car plaudit.

Half of the respondents, meanwhile, said Ferrari is the ideal team for Alonso's future, ahead of Renault, BMW and Red Bull.

Slick tires top times at Jerez
(GMM)  Slick tires topped the time sheets as the last formula one test of 2007 began on Tuesday at Jerez.

Nick Heidfeld (BMW) and Jenson Button (Honda), using Bridgestone's developmental 2009 slick compound, were half a second clear of Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren), who stayed on regulation grooved tires throughout the cool and sunny day in Spain.

Likely 2008 Renault debutant Nelson Piquet Jr, meanwhile, will test for the French team all week, with Heikki Kovalainen now strongly expected to sign to become Lewis Hamilton's new teammate.

Gary Paffett was McLaren's other test runner on Tuesday.

Giancarlo Fisichella, bidding to rescue his career with Force India, also tried slick tires at Jerez, using them to narrowly outpace his Tuesday adversary Franck Montagny.

Equality makes winning harder - Whitmarsh
(GMM)  McLaren seems determined to maintain its policy of driver equality in 2008, according to the latest comments of chief executive Martin Whitmarsh.

As teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso dueled and squabbled this season, the Woking based team failed to win either title and then brusquely split with Alonso.

But even the unpleasant experience of 2007 has apparently not dimmed McLaren's belief that driver equality produces more meaningful champions, as Whitmarsh wrote in the official F1 season review yearbook.

The Briton, who is 49, admits that appointing a clear number one would probably be easier.

"This (policy) has made our challenges for world championships more difficult.

"A de facto number one is easier and sometimes more efficient, but we believe whoever wins the title should know they won it because they did the best job," he said.

McLaren is yet to appoint a replacement for the departed Alonso, but whoever it is will receive equal treatment to Hamilton, Whitmarsh suggests.

"It's undeniably the case that if you aren't willing to skew the effort, you make it harder to win.

"But when you do win, that title is worth more," Whitmarsh said.

Rosberg - I'm number one at Williams
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg says he is Williams' 'number one' driver.

The 22-year-old German was strongly linked with Fernando Alonso's recently vacated McLaren seat for 2008, but he is firmly under contract to the Grove outfit.

Rosberg's new teammate is Japanese rookie Kazuki Nakajima; the third occupant of the sister car since Rosberg debuted in 2006 alongside Mark Webber.

"That is definitely not a good thing for the team," he told the German newspaper Neue Rhein Zeitung.

"But they are relying on me and need me.  They expect that I am the one to push the team forwards.  For a 22-year-old I find that cool and not a bad job!" Rosberg smiled.

He thinks all the speculation naming him as Ron Dennis' favorite to replace Alonso was undoubtedly "positive".

"Everyone wants to be talked about like that," Rosberg said.  "But I am with Williams, and also very satisfied about that.  I am the team's number one and I have the opportunity to help bring them back where they historically belong.

"No matter what, it is a nice job."

The newspaper interviewer wondered if Rosberg's very early contractual start with Williams, as a hopeful teenager several years ago, had left the team with all the options ahead of 2008.

"Of course," he agreed.  "But you must not forget that Williams gave me the chance to make it into formula one, so it is okay if they have all the options and the freedom.

"I am only 22, there is still time," Rosberg added.

Honda 'wrong' for Alonso in 2008 - Brawn
(GMM)  Honda is now firmly out of the running to place Fernando Alonso as a race driver in 2008.

Despite reports that the job-seeking Spaniard recently toured the Japanese team's Brackley (UK) factory, new boss Ross Brawn tells Auto Motor und Sport that Honda "would be the wrong team for Alonso" in 2008.

Rubens Barrichello also seems unfazed by speculation that he would be moved aside to make room for the 26-year-old double world champion.

"I have heard so many rumors over the last 15 years that I do not get nervous," the Brazilian veteran is also quoted as saying by the German specialist magazine.

"My contract is bullet-proof," he added.

"If Fernando and Honda have spoken about a job for 2008, then it must be about being a test driver," Barrichello said.

Villa plays down slow BMW debut
(GMM)  Javier Villa has played down his slow formula one debut at the Jerez test on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Spaniard is in the running for the BMW-Sauber test seat in 2008, but on Tuesday he was the slowest driver overall and 1.6 seconds off the pace of fellow rookie Marko Asmer who drove the same car in the afternoon.

The Spanish newspaper Diario AS, however, pointing out that Estonian Asmer, 23, got the more favorable afternoon conditions to set his times, quotes Villa as saying: "The goal was not to set a great lap time but to get to know the team."

He said he noticed "big differences" between the F1 machine and his usual GP2 mount.

Hulkenberg eyes F1 future with Williams
(GMM)  Nico Hulkenberg on Tuesday said his test for Williams at Jerez could be the first of many.

The German youngster, who is managed by Michael Schumacher's long time agent Willi Weber, made his F1 debut on Tuesday and impressively emerged marginally quicker than Williams' confirmed 2008 race driver, Kazuki Nakajima.

20-year-old Hulkenberg, the dominant winner of the 2006-7 A1 Grand Prix title and a F3 Euro Series frontrunner this year, will measure up against his highly rated countryman Nico Rosberg on Wednesday.

"This is a first acquaintance between us and Williams, to see whether a further cooperation is possible," Hulkenberg, accompanied at the test by Weber, told the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

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