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DATE News (chronologically)
12/18/07
f1
Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

12/18/07
  • Renault blame 'stupidity' for spying
  • No Super Aguri seat for Filippi
  • Race of Champions wants Hamilton boost in 2008
  • Alonso to test Renault on January 14
  • Ferrari never an option for 2008 - Alonso
  • FIA agrees to end McLaren spy probe New
  • French police catch Hamilton speeding, revoke license New
  • Watch out for Piquet, Fittipaldi tells Alonso New

Renault blame 'stupidity' for spying
(GMM)  "Stupidity" and "recklessness" moved suspended F1 engineer Phil Mackereth to take confidential McLaren data with him to Renault, the French team argued at the recent World Motor Sport Council hearing in Monaco.

Late on Monday, the FIA released a 77-page page transcript of the meeting, after which no penalty was imposed on Renault despite the team being found guilty of breaching the International Sporting Code.

In the transcript, Renault technical director Bob Bell is quoted as describing Mackereth as a "very genuine and straightforward individual" who made a mistake.

"He is someone I would trust," Bell told the FIA panel.  "He is someone with a high degree of respect within his peer groups.

"His actions in this situation were stupidity, naïveté and a degree of recklessness -- and little more than that," he added.

Mackereth himself told the World Council that he took the McLaren information as a personal record, but also "to do with professional interest and some insecurity at joining my new job".

However, he said he could not remember why he copied the technical specifications of McLaren's 2007 car, but did recall that he changed the name of the computer file because of its "sensitivity".

"I must have been trying to disguise it," he acknowledged.

Later, asked to explain why he destroyed a document, Mackereth said: "I made a mistake.

"At the time, I was reeling with the expanding problems I felt I was creating," he added.  "I was not able to think very clearly about what I was doing."

The transcript also highlighted the role FIA president Max Mosley played in the hearing, such as when he stopped McLaren lawyer Ian Mill from asking Mackereth if one of the drawings could have been used for the design of Renault's 2008 car.

"If we become engaged in discussion as to whether a schematic drawing can inform about the detailed design of a pump, we are not using the limited time we have very constructively," Mosley told Mill.

Parts of the transcript, meanwhile, were blacked out, including a section where Renault lawyer David Philips refers to the details of a "financial dossier" submitted to the Council, that would have been relevant only if the team was fined.

No Super Aguri seat for Filippi
(GMM)  Luca Filippi has dropped out of the running for a Super Aguri race seat in 2008.

The Swiss newspaper Blick recently said the Italian rookie, who is 22, was a contender to replace Anthony Davidson as Takuma Sato's new teammate.

Blick said Filippi, who tested for Honda and Super Aguri recently, could bring around 10 million euros to the financially struggling team in the form of personal backing.

But the GP2 team ART Grand Prix, which is run by Jean Todt's son Nicolas, announced late on Monday that Filippi will stay in the support category next year.

In 2007 he finished the championship in fourth place for Super Nova.

Race of Champions wants Hamilton boost in 2008
(GMM)  Race of Champions organizers have singled out signing Lewis Hamilton as a major priority ahead of the next edition of the popular event.

After the 22-year-old rookie's sensational formula one debut in 2007, he was a notable absence when prominent motor sport stars gathered at Wembley stadium last Sunday.

It is understood that standard McLaren contracts do not permit team drivers from participating in such events.

David Coulthard, who switched to Red Bull in 2005, revealed recently that attending Race of Champions "was not possible" in the past "because of my contract with McLaren".

London's Wembley stadium had a slightly empty feeling on Sunday evening when only 50,000 of the 90,000 seats were occupied.

Clashing football matches were partly blamed for the failure to pack the stands, but Fredrik Jonsson, creator of the Race of Champions, admitted that a Hamilton-factor was probably also in play.

"Lewis has always said he wants to do it, and we certainly hope we can work something out so he can make it next year," he is quoted as saying in the Scotsman newspaper.

Alonso to test Renault on January 14
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso will mark his return to Renault with a test in the 2007 car in mid January, newspapers in Spain revealed on Monday.

Sports dailies including Diario AS and Marca reported that the 26-year-old Spaniard, who drove for McLaren this year after winning back to back titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, is scheduled to test the R27 alongside new teammate Nelson Piquet Jr at Jerez on January 14-16.

It will be his first formula one action since the season ending Brazilian grand prix, where he finished the race third and equal on points with his McLaren teammate and championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton.

Renault's 2008 car, the R28, will make its track debut one week after the Jerez test.

The R27s to be used by Alonso and Piquet at Jerez will simulate next year's regulations, including the ban on traction control, the newspapers added.

Ferrari never an option for 2008 - Alonso
(GMM)  Every team "except Ferrari" approached Fernando Alonso about working together in 2008, the former double world champion revealed on Monday.

While visiting the site of a 1995 mining accident near his home region of Asturias, the 26-year-old told the sports program El Larguero that he was open to offers when his ill-fated 2007 season with McLaren reached its end eight weeks ago.

"It was not clear to me at that time what I was going to do," Alonso, who ultimately chose to return to his former team Renault for 2008 after negotiating an early end to the McLaren contract, said.

"There was a chance I would stay at McLaren," he added, "but in the end we came to the common position to take different paths.

"When I left them, logically all the teams, except Ferrari, made their approach -- nothing too specific, just expressions of interest," Alonso said, refuting rumors of near-moves to Honda, Toyota or Red Bull.

"I have just signed with Renault, so it is wrong to say that I want to go to Ferrari.  If I can win with Renault, it is clear that I do not want to leave," he added.

Alonso also took issue with the way the press misrepresented his relationship with his former teammate Lewis Hamilton.

"We were not enemies," he explained.  "Not 10 per cent of what was written was true.

"It was not a perfect year, but with 20 laps to go in the last race I still had a chance to win the world championship.

"I prefer now to talk about the future.  I have a good feeling that next year it will be better, but to think now about winning the title again with Renault is madness," he said.

Alonso explained: "The leap would be too large, thinking about the level of the 2007 (Renault) car.

"Right now I am focused about trying the new car and then having the time to implement the necessary changes," he said.

FIA agrees to end McLaren spy probe
(GMM)  The World Motor Sport Council has rubber-stamped FIA president Max Mosley's request to finally end the McLaren-Ferrari espionage affair.

A short statement issued by the Paris body on Tuesday confirmed that the Mercedes-powered team is no longer required to face a hearing in mid February to consider the 2008 car's legality.

The news follows what the British press described as a "groveling" apology by McLaren last Friday, including an undertaking to freeze certain aspects of development of the MP4-23.

Mosley had said that the matter should now be closed "in the interests of the sport".

French police catch Hamilton speeding
(GMM)  McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has been caught speeding on a French highway.

The 22-year-old rookie was clocked by radar on the A26 motorway, linking the towns of Calais and Reims, at 196kmh at the wheel of a Mercedes CLK, the news agency EFE reported.

It is claimed that French police suspended the Briton's license privileges for a period of one month and fined him 600 euros.

The car was also confiscated, but police gave Hamilton a lift to his hotel, the reports added.

Watch out for Piquet, Fittipaldi tells Alonso
(GMM)  Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi has warned Fernando Alonso to be wary of his new formula one teammate.

The Brazilian veteran, who won the drivers' titles in 1972 and 1974, told the newspaper 'A Bola' that he thinks Nelson Piquet Jr can be every bit a threat to Alonso as the Spaniard's troublesome 2007 teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

"Nelsinho Piquet is an excellent driver," he said.

"Last year he racked up 15,000 miles for Renault.  I predict he is going to give the same problems, more problems, to Alonso than Hamilton did at McLaren," he added.

Fittipaldi acknowledges, however, that among Alonso's most valuable contributions to Renault will be his ability to develop the car.

"He is very good at that," the 60-year-old said.

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