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DATE News (chronologically)
01/16/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

01/16/08
  • Coulthard to debut RB4 on Wednesday
  • NEWSFLASH: Singapore GP lights on one side only
  • Liuzzi 'still a racer' despite test seat
  • NEWSFLASH: Malaysia targets 125,000 for 2008 race
  • Alonso expecting no conflict in 2008
  • 6,500 witness Alonso's Renault return
  • F1 to 'forget' TC after few races - Alonso
  • F1's Head caught in UK political scandal
  • EU wants F1 to adopt cleaner rules New
  • Toyota expectations too high - Schumacher New
  • Mercedes backs Hamilton charge in 2008 New

Coulthard to debut RB4 on Wednesday
(GMM)  David Coulthard will have the honor of giving Red Bull Racing's new car for 2008, the RB4, its maiden track outing at Jerez on Wednesday.

Mark Webber, the Scot's Australian teammate, will continue driving the team's 2007 car after the launch at Jerez, in the sherry-producing south of Spain.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, on the eastern coast of Spain at the Valencia circuit, Robert Kubica for the first time in his career got the privilege of giving a new formula one car its debut.

Watched on by experienced German teammate Nick Heidfeld, the Pole guided a trouble-free first outing for the newly launched BMW-Sauber F1.08.

"The roll-out went off absolutely hitch-free," said team boss Mario Theissen.

"All systems were functioning from the word go and Robert has gained a positive first impression of the new car's handling," he added.

Back at Jerez, Timo Glock played down the performance of the new Toyota TF108 as he powered it to just eleventh quickest of the thirteen runners.

"My first impression of the car is generally positive but at this stage of the year it is too early to truly know how competitive it will be," the German said.

NEWSFLASH: Singapore GP lights on one side only
(GMM)  Lights for the first ever formula one night race in Singapore will be situated on only one side of the city's street circuit, the race's deputy chairman has said in a media briefing.

"This is to prevent the drivers from being disorientated in cases of spinning," Colin Syn explained.

He added that run-off areas will also be brighter than the actual track.

The inaugural Singapore GP is scheduled to begin at 8pm (local) on September 28.  Qualifying will start at the same time the night before, it emerged.

Liuzzi 'still a racer' despite test seat
(GMM)  Vitantonio Liuzzi says he understands why Force India overlooked him for a race seat in 2008, but is not willing to accept a career as a F1 test driver.

The 27-year-old Italian will travel to every grand prix this season as Force India's official reserve, as well as heading the team's test program.

But he told reporters at Jerez this week that "I'm still a race driver".

He also said there are no current plans for him to join the action during Friday practice sessions this season.

Speed TV quotes Liuzzi as accepting the reasons for countryman Giancarlo Fisichella's appointment as teammate for Adrian Sutil in 2008.

"Giancarlo is a very experienced driver and I'm a younger driver," he said, explaining that he has linked up with the Silverstone-based team for the long term.

"I cannot hide that I would have preferred to race, but I understand the decision of the team," Liuzzi added.

"This year I have to try to give the maximum support to the team to improve a lot, because I'm hoping I can be back in the (racing) seat soon and I hope I can profit from this improvement," he said.

NEWSFLASH: Malaysia targets 125,000 for 2008 race
(GMM)  Organizers of the Malaysian grand prix have targeted a race-day crowd of 125,000 in 2008, according to the local Bernama news agency.

The information came as the Sepang circuit in Kuala-Lumpur prepared to begin its promotion campaign for the March 23 event.

Alonso expecting no conflict in 2008
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso is not expecting another season of internal team conflict in 2008.

The double world champion on Tuesday marked his return to Renault, after an ill-fated single season at McLaren in 2007, by testing quickest at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

In an interview provided to the media by the French team, the 26-year-old played down his reported struggle with Lewis Hamilton last year, but said he is not expecting similar problems in 2008.

Alonso's teammate this season will be Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr, the son of the tempestuous triple world champion of the same name.

"I haven't really got to know Nelsinho yet, but he seems to me to be a normal, nice guy who wants to enjoy his time in formula one: no different to Marques, Button, Trulli, Fisi, Montagny or McNish, all of whom were my teammates, all of whom I got on well with and who are still friends," said Alonso.

The only name missing from his roll-call of past teammates was Hamilton, but the Spaniard insists that the press overstated the negativity of his relationship with the Briton, as well as team boss Ron Dennis, last year.

"I said last year that too many false things were written, but I understand that is what sells newspapers," Alonso said.

"For 2008, I don't anticipate problems with anybody, and Flavio has always demonstrated that he can manage these situations very well."

6,500 witness Alonso's Renault return
(GMM)  An unusually large crowd of 6,500 spectators, mostly Spaniards, attended the Jerez circuit on Tuesday to witness Fernando Alonso's return to the cockpit of a Renault racer, the Spanish sports daily Marca said.

"Ron, you should also apologize to the champion (Alonso), just as you did with Ferrari," one banner in the grandstand demanded of the 26-year-old Spaniard's former McLaren chief.

The test also gave Alonso an opportunity to show off a new helmet livery of his own design, featuring a pair of 'ace' cards at the rear, representing his team titles in 2005 and 2006.

Another feature of Alonso's new helmet is the reappearance of the prominent yellow and red of the Spanish flag.

The newspaper Diario AS claims that McLaren boss Ron Dennis objects to the use of national symbols on drivers' helmets, leading to the mainly dark, silver and red livery worn in 2007.

F1 to 'forget' TC after few races - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has distanced himself from some drivers' fears that the ban on traction control is set to make formula one more dangerous.

David Coulthard has been the most vocally opposed to taking away driver aids that make racing in conditions like last year's Japanese grand prix safer.

The Scot had told Autosport magazine: "Fernando Alonso aquaplaned off the road (at Fuji) -- even with traction control."

But even though the Spaniard was used as Coulthard's example, double world champion Alonso did not mention safety when he was asked about driving without sophisticated electronic aids this year.

"The car is not radically different," he said at Jerez after testing without traction control on Tuesday for the first time since 2001.

"It's about the driver finding his limits and adapting his driving style.

"That is what you are going to have to do at the beginning of the season, but I am convinced that after two or three races, we will have completely forgotten how it was to drive with driver aids," Alonso added.

"With the new regulations, we will work in the same way and I believe it will be down to the driver to adapt accordingly."

F1's Head caught in UK political scandal
(GMM)  Williams co-owner and veteran engineering boss Patrick Head has been named amid a British scandal that could end the career of a prominent government minister.

Peter Hain, who is UK work and pensions secretary, is being investigated for failing to declare nearly (US) $200,000 in donations contributing to his campaign to become deputy leader of the Labour party.

Nearly $4,000 of the undeclared donations was made by Head, who like Sir Frank Williams is close to the minister, according to the Times.

It is believed that the Electoral Commission will check the source of all Hain donors.

Hain is said to have attended the 1999 Italian grand prix as a guest of the Oxfordshire based team, British media reports also said.

EU wants F1 to adopt cleaner rules
(GMM)  The European Parliament has asked formula one to "change their rules" in favor of more environmentally friendly technology.

While the FIA has already paved the way for things like electronic energy recovery systems, smaller engines and bio-fuels, a statement on behalf of EU politicians said motor sport can play a bigger role in "changing attitudes and customer behavior towards environmentally friendly technology".

The statement was part of a European Parliament report (CARS 21) that was adopted with 607 votes in favor, 76 against and 14 abstentions.

"The House therefore asks the FIA and others involved in formula one to change their rules accordingly, so that environmentally friendly technologies like bio-fuels, four-cylinder engines or hybrid can be more easily applied," it read.

Toyota expectations too high - Schumacher
(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher has said the pressure and expectations of success at Toyota were immensely and increasingly high in 2007.

The 32-year-old has failed to secure another seat on the grid after a disappointing three year tenure at Toyota, where despite impressive annual budgets the Japanese team has struggled to break out of the midfield since debuting in 2002.

"In such a group, the pressure to succeed becomes larger, especially if so much money flows and, at the same time, so little comes out," Schumacher recently told the German media.

The German was often the most critical of those wearing Toyota uniforms at grands prix, but Ralf believes the team's management kept too low a profile in the press.

"I always had a certain loyalty vis-à-vis my partners, but the Toyota management did not really exist for the media," Schumacher said.

"The drivers stood in the foreground at Toyota.  We always had to explain, and therein lay the main problem.

"Expectations were too high -- Toyota always said 'we will win!', but that did not happen," Ralf noted.

The Cologne based team has appointed another German, reigning GP2 champion Timo Glock, to replace Ralf, and at the launch of the 2008 car recently, president John Howett said Toyota "have to do better" in 2008.

Team boss Tadashi Yamashina was even quoted recently as saying he had two years to deliver wins for Toyota, but the Japanese clarified that this is a personal ultimatum rather than one that threatens the entire team.

He said of 2008: "Our drivers should be aiming to finish in the points regularly and challenging for the podium."

Mercedes backs Hamilton charge in 2008
(GMM)  McLaren's equity and engine partner Mercedes-Benz will fully support Lewis Hamilton's efforts to win the first title for the collaboration since 1999.

"We are determined to lead the field this season," Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche is quoted as saying by the Bahrain newspaper Gulf Weekly.

"Lewis has already publicly promised to bring home the bacon in 2008 and we will do whatever we can to help him fulfill this promise," the German added.

Meanwhile, after the launch of the new Woking built MP4-23 was held recently in Stuttgart, Gulf Weekly claims that the 2009 McLaren could be publicly displayed for the first time next year in Bahrain.

Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding, a company owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain, owns 30 per cent of McLaren; the largest shareholding after Mercedes' 40 per cent.

The newspaper said the scene for the 2009 team launch could be the Bahrain grand prix circuit.

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