Latest F1 news in brief
- Kimi says 'problems' forced McLaren move
- Hamilton quick on test track return
- Briatore threatens to sue McLaren
- Williams 'best' for Hulkenberg - manager
- Hamilton repeats tax motivation for UK exit
- Loeb good enough for F1 switch - Lafitte
- Schu, Raikkonen, star in Fiat advert
- Ralf plays down Force India test
- Kimi would welcome Alonso as teammate
Kimi says 'problems' forced McLaren move
(GMM) New world champion Kimi Raikkonen says he left McLaren at the end of last year because of "problems" he was having with the British team.
The Finn, who drove for Ron Dennis' outfit for five years before switching to Ferrari in 2007, told the Roman newspaper Corriere dello Sport: "I was in a situation that I did not like too much."
Raikkonen's comments echo those of his departed former teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, and also Fernando Alonso, who recently split with the Woking based team after serving just one of a multi-year contract.
Raikkonen, 28, explained that McLaren's qualms with him had little to do with his performance.
"It was more a question of my behavior and what I wanted to do in my free time," he said. "But I have always been very clear: I want to live my life as well."
Raikkonen was asked how he would have felt if he had been in Alonso's shoes at McLaren this year.
"Even worse, I would say. Whenever I am with other teams, I have very good relationships," he answered.
He admits that Lewis Hamilton's mistakes at the end of the season helped him to emerge with the drivers' title.
"I don't know if it was only because he was a newcomer," Raikkonen said.
"I think he found himself in a situation with very high psychological pressure in the decisive moments. But I also won more races," he smiled.
Hamilton quick on test track return
(GMM) For the first time since narrowly missing the 2007 championship in Brazil, Lewis Hamilton returned to the formula one track on Wednesday.
The British driver set the quickest time of the 20 drivers in action, but not before needing his McLaren to be recovered from a gravel trap following a spin.
Tuesday's quickest runner Nick Heidfeld, meanwhile, languished at the bottom of the times.
"I have been using 50 per cent less downforce in preparation for 2009," the BMW driver explained to the Swiss newspaper Blick.
World champion Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa, and the Finn uniquely had two separate Ferraris available to him.
Christian Klien won Wednesday's Force India shootout against Giancarlo Fisichella on slicks, but the veteran Roman was narrowly quicker than his Austrian adversary when both used grooved tires.
Expected 2008 Toyota racer Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, will test at Jerez alongside the team's newcomer Timo Glock on Thursday.
Briatore threatens to sue McLaren
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has threatened to sue McLaren after the FIA's World Council investigates espionage allegations in a Monaco hearing on Thursday.
"A lot of very bad things have been said about us by McLaren in the last few weeks; very damaging," the Renault boss is quoted as saying by the Daily Express.
"We will be cleared and once the verdict is announced we will consider legal action. Our reputation has been defamed," he added.
The Italian's warning followed what other British media described as an "embarrassing" retreat by Ron Dennis' Woking based team, which earlier in 2007 was heavily penalized by F1's governing body for a similar spying saga.
The Daily Mail said the McLaren statement issued to the press on Wednesday amount to an admission of having "falsified information" in what had originally been an anonymous leak to the press.
"The FIA has asked us to correct certain factual errors contained in a press briefing given on our behalf by one journalist concerning Renault F1 and we are pleased to do so," the team said.
The statement described how McLaren's case against Renault had been exaggerated, such as the fact that only 9 - not 18 - Renault employees have admitting to viewing and discussing the stolen McLaren secrets.
Williams 'best' for Hulkenberg - manager
(GMM) Willi Weber has described Williams as the "best place" for his new protégé Nico Hulkenberg to develop his fledgling formula one career.
Weber, who famously guided Michael Schumacher into the sport and became known as 'Mr 20 percent' for his lucrative contract terms, accompanied rookie Hulkenberg to Jerez this week where the 20-year-old tested for the first time over two days.
On Tuesday he narrowly outpaced 2008 racer Kazuki Nakajima, and on day two was about four tenths off Nico Rosberg's testing pace.
Weber admits that he is trying to secure an official test seat at Williams for the young German.
"At Williams, Nico can shine much better than at a big team like Ferrari," Weber, 65, told Auto Motor und Sport.
"Look at Rosberg. He has made a great name for himself with Williams, and now everyone says he would go very fast in a Ferrari," he insisted.
Hamilton repeats tax motivation for UK exit
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has once again admitted that tax considerations contributed to his move to Switzerland.
The McLaren rookie was heavily criticized by the British press recently for insisting that only his desire for a quieter life compelled him to select Geneva as his new home.
But on a British talk show last month, 22-year-old Hamilton performed a swift u-turn by admitting that tax "definitely" factored into his Swiss move.
He was again cornered by the British media this week, when a reporter for the Daily Telegraph asked if his UK visit counted towards one of the 90 days he is allowed to spend in the country during the current tax year.
To be classified as a non-resident, citizens living outside the UK are only exempt from paying tax if they spend all but 90 days in their new homeland.
When asked whether he was using up one of the precious days this week, Hamilton said: "Yes, and I'm already using up too many."
Loeb good enough for F1 switch - Lafitte
(GMM) Sebastien Loeb could successfully switch to formula one if he was offered a good drive, according to former French grand prix winner Jacques Lafitte.
Loeb, who only a few days ago secured his fourth World Rally crown, on Wednesday got his first taste of F1 power when - for a promotional exercise - he swapped his Citroen for Heikki Kovalainen's Renault at Paul Ricard.
It is reported that 33-year-old Loeb, who has competitively contested the famous 24 hour Le Mans race, took only a few laps before setting respectable lap times.
"In a good car, he could exist in formula one," his countryman Laffite, who contested 180 grands prix in the 70s and 80s, told the news agency SID.
"He definitely knows how to drive," he added.
Schu, Raikkonen, star in Fiat advert
(GMM) Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen have starred together in a television commercial for Ferrari parent Fiat.
The advert, filmed recently in Germany, depicts the past and current world champions sitting in the new Fiat Bravo T-Jet road car.
Schumacher, 38, is busily talking about the black hatchback before Finn Raikkonen snaps: "Are we going to talk or drive?"
But talking to the Roman newspaper Corriere dello Sport, Raikkonen insists that he gets along fine with Ferrari's former champion.
"We are not best friends, we don't phone each other every day or go out with each other, but that doesn't mean anything," the Finn said.
"The same is also true with Felipe (Massa)," he added.
After testing at Jerez on Tuesday and Wednesday, Raikkonen flew to Helsinki where he will apparently be honored by the Finnish government with a public holiday in his name.
Schumacher takes over from him on Thursday, where he will drive alongside Raikkonen's 2008 teammate Felipe Massa for the last two test days of the year.
Ralf plays down Force India test
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher has played down the significance of his one-day test for Force India on Thursday.
In the media, the German veteran's Jerez appearance is being billed as a last ditch effort to save his beleaguered career.
But Schumacher, 32, who watched from the sidelines on Wednesday, said: "I am here as a friendly service to the team."
Schumacher told Sport Bild that he promised his friend Vijay Mallya, who now owns Force India, that he would test this winter.
"I am fulfilling my promise," said Ralf, who met Mallya when the Indian billionaire was a sponsor of Toyota in 2007.
Schumacher, however, also responded to Bernie Ecclestone's recent claim that it might not be wise for formula one veterans like himself and Giancarlo Fisichella to change to "small teams".
Ralf suggested that, with billionaires in charge of both Force India and Red Bull, neither can be regarded as particularly small.
Fisichella tested for two days with Force India this week, and at Jerez outlined the possibility of working with the team in 2008 whilst not ruling out staying with Renault.
"There will be a lot more money available compared to last year, so there are a number of things that make me believe that if I stay with Force India for 2008 I'll be able to make the team grow up quite a lot," he said.
Kimi would welcome Alonso as teammate
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen says he wouldn't mind sharing his Ferrari garage in the future with Fernando Alonso.
"I would have no problem with that at all," the newly crowned world champion told the Roman newspaper Corriere dello Sport.
Speculation recently suggests that Alonso is searching for a temporary team for 2008 because he is eyeing a Ferrari race seat in 2009.
Finn Raikkonen, who is currently paired with Felipe Massa, said working with the Spanish double world champion would "not change my life or the way I drive".
"It would be interesting to race against one another with the same car," he added. "I don't know when it is going to happen; perhaps never," said Raikkonen.
Rumors have even suggested that, because Brazilian Massa recently penned a new Ferrari contract through 2010, Raikkonen may actually be ousted to make room for Alonso.
But Raikkonen says he is happy at Ferrari.
"I do not know if this is going to be my last contract, but I hope that this will be my last team," he said.
The reticent Finn also insists that he has not been bothered that, despite the fact that he won the 2007 title, most of the post-season talk has been about other drivers.
Newspaper columns since the season finale in Brazil have been filled with espionage tales, Michael Schumacher's test return, and seemingly endless plaudits for the 2007 championship runner-up, Lewis Hamilton.
But Raikkonen said: "I feel good. I hope the others stay in the spotlight and I can have a quiet life.
"I am the world champion and nothing can change it now. I am only interested in one trophy -- the one I will collect this Friday in Monte Carlo.
"All the other awards - driver of the year, or whatever - I am happy to leave those to the others."