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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Lawyer says jailed China GP boss to appeal
  • Hamilton happier with new McLaren teammate
  • Raikkonen positive after new Ferrari debut
  • F1 among 2007's most watched sports
  • Lauda says McLaren to feel spy effects
  • Hamilton expects to cope with TC ban

Lawyer says jailed China GP boss to appeal
(GMM)  The fired general manager of Shanghai's formula one circuit intends to appeal his four year jail term for embezzlement.

Yu Zhifei, who was instrumental in bringing the sport to China and a key promoter until his removal, was last week sentenced amid a major corruption scandal, including using nearly (US) $150,000 in public money to buy a house.

His lawyer told the Chinese news agency Xinhua on Monday that Zhifei, 54, plans to lodge an appeal before the deadline expires under Chinese law on January 13.

Hamilton happier with new McLaren teammate
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton on Monday said he rates his new McLaren teammate highly, but is not expecting to have the same sort of fractious relationship with Heikki Kovalainen that he shared with Fernando Alonso in 2007.

At the launch of the team's 2008 car in Stuttgart, the 23-year-old was asked by Bild newspaper if, given Alonso's departure after the tumultuous past season, he was happy to now have a less star-studded rival in the sister silver car.

"Heikki is also very, very fast," the Briton said.  "Believe me, I do not underestimate him."

While the McLaren duo officially have equal billing again, though, Hamilton said he senses that he will get along well with Kovalainen, the communicative Finn who debuted for Renault last year.

"You know how it is with certain people," he said, apparently referring to Alonso, who recently left the team after the first year of a curtailed multi-season contract.

"Some people you ask questions and they give you one word answers and some people make the conversation and are just easy," Hamilton added.

"With Heikki I don't need to make the conversation, he is happy to start it and we just can talk for ages.

"He loves the car without traction control, he loves racing wheel to wheel, he loves a real true spirit race. With that I think it just makes everything a little bit simpler," Hamilton said.

The 2007 runner-up also told Bild newspaper that he would be delighted if the headlines were true -- that the MP4-23 was indeed a gift to mark his twenty third birthday.

"Unfortunately, it is not in my contract that I can keep it," he smiled.

Raikkonen positive after new Ferrari debut
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen on Monday showed a tentative thumbs-up to Ferrari's new car after giving the F2008 its maiden shakedown at the Fiorano circuit in Italy.

The team's private test facility was bathed in light fog and cold and damp conditions throughout the day, but - in between short runs that ultimately numbered 55 laps - the Finn said his first impression was a "positive" one.

"The weather could have been better today.  Next week we have further possibilities to see how the car behaves," world champion Raikkonen added, referring to the upcoming major test at Jerez, where his teammate Felipe Massa will also drive.

"There were some problems today and we still don't have the final tires; but the impression was really fine.

"You can handle the car even without the traction control," he added.

Also present for the F2008's first miles were Felipe Massa, Luca di Montezemolo, Jean Todt and even Michael Schumacher, the retired seven time world champion who still acts as a part-time 'advisor' for the Maranello based outfit.

Ferrari CEO Todt made it clear that he is not happy that the F2008 is fitted with a mandatory electronics system developed by MES, a company owned by and based at McLaren's headquarters in Surrey.

"It is obvious that McLaren, at least at the start, has an advantage for the championship," the Frenchman is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We are not alone (in this opinion), but I think the FIA has taken notice.

"It is clear that the situation is being closely monitored," Todt said.

F1 among 2007's most watched sports
(GMM)  A formula one race was the second most watched sporting event in the world last year, independent television viewing analysts Initiative Sports Futures has found.

A new report shows that the 2007 Brazilian grand prix, a three-way showdown for the title that saw Kimi Raikkonen crowned world champion, was beaten only by American football's NFL Super Bowl as the most popular sports telecast of 2007.

The Interlagos race attracted an average global TV audience of 78 million, the report found, compared with 97m for the Super Bowl.

Initiative also found that the total "reach" of the 2007 championship finale - the amount of people who watched at least three minutes of the telecast - was 152m.

The Super Bowl's "reach" was lower, at 142m.

Lauda says McLaren to feel spy effects
(GMM)  Niki Lauda is unconvinced that McLaren can emerge from the 'Stepneygate' espionage scandal and be fully competitive in 2008.

"Mercedes still had the investigation to think about, and have volunteered some changes to their (2008) car," the former triple world champion told the German newspaper Bild.

"Ferrari meanwhile was able to calmly get on with its work," the Austrian added, referring to the F1 top teams' preparations for the upcoming season.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh, however, insists that the $100m fine, exclusion from the 2007 constructors' championship and the recent investigations and development freezes have been only "slight" distractions to the work of preparing the MP4-23.

"I hope overall that we have had enough focus and concentration to manage to cope," he told reporters at the launch of the car in Germany.

Hamilton expects to cope with TC ban
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has rejected suggestions that he might struggle to adapt to life in formula one without traction control in 2008 and beyond.

"For sure he won't be able to carry on driving the way he has," Ferrari team manager Luca Baldisserri told La Gazzetta dello Sport recently.

Briton Hamilton told reporters at the launch on Monday of McLaren's 2008 car, the MP4-23, that every driver on the grid has emerged through the ranks without the help of sophisticated driver aids -- such as in GP2 in 2006, when he was crowned champion.

"We all have had the experience and we have all got the ability and talent," he said.

"As you can see in the testing, everyone is adapting quite quickly, and that is what we do as racing drivers -- we adapt as quickly as possible.  I don't believe there is an advantage but I think you will see some drivers can deal with it better than others," Hamilton added.

"Last year I had the ambition and didn't know how to achieve it. Now I do. I'm fitter and stronger, physically and psychologically.

"(Losing last year) gives me 100 times more motivation. Being world champion is my only goal.

"I wouldn't say it was a blow to lose the title that way but I wouldn't be human if I didn't feel anything. But I've recovered and I'm desperate to get back into the car again."

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