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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Aguri to launch 2008 car in February
  • Rio plans to demolish former Brazil GP track
  • Confusion over status of McLaren sponsor
  • Only racing lure keeps de la Rosa in F1
  • F2008 to suit Raikkonen better - Ferrari
  • Theissen adds voice to McLaren ECU rhetoric
  • Schu is Ferrari 'third driver' - Montezemolo
  • F1 trio criticizes new technical era
  • NewsCorp buys into German F1 broadcaster

Aguri to launch 2008 car in February
(GMM)  Super Aguri will launch its new car for 2008 at Barcelona next month, the Japanese formula one team announced on Tuesday.

The Honda-powered single seater, to be called the SA08, is scheduled to be unveiled at the Circuit de Catalunya on 19 February -- less than a month before the 2008 season kicks off in Australia in mid March.

Super Aguri, likely to again field Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson this year, began winter testing in November with a car that strongly resembled last year's works Honda RA107.

The so-called 'customer car' situation in F1 is highly contentious, with Prodrive's 2008 entry falling by the wayside.

The former Spyker team, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with arbitration against both Super Aguri, which is run by former grand prix driver Aguri Suzuki, as well as Toro Rosso.

Rio plans to demolish former Brazil GP track
(GMM)  A piece of formula one history in Brazil has come under threat by Rio de Janeiro's bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016.

The city on Tuesday released details of the bid, including plans to demolish the Jacarepagu√° race track, which hosted the Brazilian grand prix ten times until 1989.

The site, a reclaimed flat marshland that was cleared for the so-called Autodromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in 1978, would be used as a base for a number of Olympic sports, according to the plans.

Jacarepagu√° has more recently been used for CART and MotoGP races, and survived plans in 2005 to demolish the circuit to make room for the Pan American Games.

Nigel Mansell won the last F1 race there, but Alain Prost won at Jacarepagu√° five times.

Confusion over status of McLaren sponsor
(GMM)  Confusion has arisen over the status of the Spanish formula one sponsor Mutua Madrilana, an insurance company.

It emerged last month that the Madrid based firm had followed the example of countryman Fernando Alonso by leaving McLaren after the first of a multi-year contract, with intentions to rejoin Renault.

But even though the 'MM' logos did not feature on the front wing endplates of the 2008 McLaren when it was launched in Stuttgart this week, the company was still represented on the overall right-arms of drivers Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett.

Moreover, a McLaren spokeswoman said Mutua Madrilena is still a sponsor of the Mercedes-powered team.

Only racing lure keeps de la Rosa in F1
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa says he will only continue as McLaren's primary test driver while the possibility of a return to the race grid still exists.

The Spanish veteran, who turns 37 next month, was disappointed to miss out on the vacancy left by his departed countryman Fernando Alonso for 2008.

The daily newspaper Marca quotes him as saying: "While the possibility to race is present, I will continue (in formula one as a test driver)."

De la Rosa, like his McLaren test colleague Gary Paffett, had also been among the leading contenders to race for Prodrive in 2008, but team boss David Richards' withdrew his entry over the customer car issue.

De la Rosa insists that "the day I see there is no likelihoods to go behind the (racing) wheel, I will reconsider the situation".

He said discovering that Heikki Kovalainen had been signed to race alongside Lewis Hamilton this year was a disappointing moment.

"It was not the decision I had expected, but you can't be looking back.  My job is to think about the future, with the same desire as always," he added.

After suffering a similar setback before 2007, however - when McLaren procrastinated about giving Hamilton his race debut as Alonso's teammate - de la Rosa said it gets "more difficult to accept the decisions each year".

"Every time," he explained, "you have fewer years remaining of your sporting career.

"But I think I am mature enough to realize that while it is not a decision that I have encouraged, there is no way to change it," de la Rosa said.

At Jerez, the Spaniard will share the track debut of McLaren's new MP4-23 with Kovalainen on Wednesday, before Hamilton joins the exclusive test a day later.

F2008 to suit Raikkonen better - Ferrari
(GMM)  Piero Lardi Ferrari says the Italian team's new car, the F2008, will be better suited to Kimi Raikkonen than was its predecessor.

Despite winning the 2007 world championship at the Interlagos season finale last October, Raikkonen, the 28-year-old Finn, struggled for much of the season following his switch from McLaren.

"He will have a car (this year) that better suits his driving style," Ferrari, the only living son of the Maranello based team's founder Enzo Ferrari, is quoted as saying by the Electric New Paper.

Ferrari, also a 10 per cent owner of the famous marque, added: "That was the problem at one time last year: his style did not suit the F2007 and vice versa."

Theissen adds voice to McLaren ECU rhetoric
(GMM)  The rhetoric about F1's new era of standard electronics continues to increase, with BMW boss Mario Theissen now stepping up his critique of the mandatory system supplied to all teams in 2008 and beyond by a McLaren subsidiary.

Renault has until now been the most outspoken team about being compelled to use a system developed by the Woking based company, particularly after a 2007 season that was marred by spying scandals involving Ron Dennis' team.

Ferrari's Jean Todt, also central to the McLaren espionage affairs, said this week: "We would have preferred that the (ECU) was built by another company."

BMW-Sauber team principal Dr Mario Theissen voiced his qualms to the German newspaper Bild on Wednesday.

"The move to standard electronics was a mistake," he said.  "We have incurred substantial additional costs.

"And the fact that (the ECU) is dispensed by a competitor, which receives and looks at our procedures, does not make things any better," the German added.

McLaren engine partner Mercedes-Benz's competition boss, Norbert Haug, is keen to play down the ruckus about the jointly Microsoft-developed unit.

"Our partner McLaren presented the best and cheapest offer (in the tender process), so for the FIA it was the logical choice.

"We are very confident that the concerns are totally unfounded," he added.

Schu is Ferrari 'third driver' - Montezemolo
(GMM)  In an interview with a popular Italian newspaper, Luca di Montezemolo has hinted that Michael Schumacher is set to test Ferrari's newly launched car in 2008.

To the Turin-based daily La Stampa, Ferrari president Montezemolo described retired seven time world champion Schumacher as the team's "terzo pilota" -- 'third driver' in English.

Asked by La Stampa about the Maranello based outfit's 2008 lineup, Montezemolo said: "Like only Fangio and Scheckter before him, Raikkonen won the title with us in his first year.

"Now he knows the car and the team better, so it can only improve more.

"Massa has shown he is a winner, and especially in the races he always thinks about the team.  The strength of Ferrari is our teamwork.

"And then there is a third driver, Schumacher.  We can rely on his experience of driving without traction control," he added.

Montezemolo also mentioned Stefano Domenicali; Ferrari's new team boss after fifteen years with Jean Todt at the helm.

"I wish Stefano the same luck that I had in the 70s, when Enzo Ferrari chose me as head of the team when I was not a technician," he said.

Referring to himself, Montezemolo then said: "In two and a half months I will complete the mandate as head of the Confidustria, and then I will be present at Maranello much more often."

F1 trio criticizes new technical era
(GMM)  A trio of experienced pit wall residents have criticized F1's new era of restrictive rules.

In 2008, the introduction of standard electronics coincides with a crackdown on sophisticated driver aids, including bans on traction and launch control.

The developments come just a year after the governing body introduced a long term freeze on engine designs.

But while the FIA's ambition is to cut costs and improve the spectacle, Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa points out a side-effect.

To the Berlin newspaper Die Welt, he said: "The new rules are so restrictive that there is no longer room for groundbreaking developments."

The Maranello based team's Luca Baldisserri added: "Technically, we have gone backwards ten years."

Finally, also cited in the German newspaper report, new Honda team boss Ross Brawn observed: "From the middle of the season, from a technical point of view, F1 will be essentially a single formula."

NewsCorp buys into German F1 broadcaster
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has acquired a 14.58% stake in German Pay-TV broadcaster Premiere, making it the company's biggest single shareholder. The deal is reported to have been worth $422m to Unitymedia, Germany's second largest cable-based service provider, which bought 16.6% of Premiere last year as part of a deal involving the Bundesliga soccer organisation. The move has fuelled speculation that News Corporation may make a bid for control of Premiere, which has held some of the rights to broadcast F1 in Germany in recent years alongside the major deal that exists between Formula One Management and RTL.  Grandprix.com

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