Latest F1 news in brief
- Drivers get one free engine change in 2008
- Klien summoned for military service
- Mosley confirms F1 budget cap for 2009
- Hamilton plays down Alonso effect
- 'I miss Alonso' says McLaren test driver
- Former Spanish racer dies
- New Ferrari better than old - Raikkonen
- McLaren will make me better - Kovalainen
- Kovalainen not afraid of TC ban
- Ralf likely to pen Mercedes DTM deal
- Glock - I almost abandoned F1 dream
Drivers get one free engine change in 2008
(GMM) F1 drivers will not be penalized for their first unscheduled engine change in 2008, FIA president Max Mosley has confirmed in a letter to team bosses.
The rule tweak, ensuring that each driver will not lose ten grid places or be sent to the back of the grid for his first engine change of the season, was apparently agreed at the team principals' recent meeting with Mosley in Paris.
It must now be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council, but this is imminently likely.
"It was agreed that each team could have one engine failure per car without penalty during the 2008 season," Mosley wrote in a letter seen by some media outlets.
"This would be the first engine failure suffered by each car," he clarified.
Klien summoned for military service
(GMM) After missing out on the vacant Force India race cockpit for 2008, Christian Klien has been summoned by the Austrian army to do six months of mandatory military service this year.
According to reports in the former Jaguar, Red Bull and Honda driver's native country, the 24-year-old was on Thursday ordered to report for duty at Vorarlberg, the western province that houses his home town Hohenems.
Klien, however, lives across the border in Switzerland, moving him to write to Austrian authorities asking for an exemption from the army summons.
The Austrian army refused his request, confirming that he should report to the Vorarlberg barracks in March.
Klien was this week testing Mercedes-Benz's works DTM car in Portugal, the Austrian broadcaster ORF said.
Some reports said Klien's mandatory duty could be postponed if he secures another job in motor sport for 2008.
Mosley confirms F1 budget cap for 2009
(GMM) In a letter received this week by F1 team principals, FIA president Max Mosley confirmed that a budget cap will be introduced in 2009.
Mosley's letter, summarizing the conclusions of a recent meeting in Paris, said a financial working group will between now and June determine the details of the restrictions, including the size of the cap.
Some of the details, however, are already clear, including the fact that engine, driver, marketing and team principal remuneration costs will be exempt.
It is also believed that the annual cap will be set around the (US) $150m per team mark.
The next meeting on the subject between the teams and the FIA's Tony Purnell is scheduled for January 31 in Paris.
Mosley said the budget cap, if successfully imposed and not blocked by the majority of F1 teams, will be instead of proposed restrictions on wind tunnel and CFD use.
He also confirmed the reduction of the current engine freeze from ten to five years, preceding a completely new engine formula in 2013.
Hamilton plays down Alonso effect
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has played down the impact that his former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso will have at Renault in 2008.
After the double world champion's spectacular falling out with Hamilton and McLaren team boss Ron Dennis last year, Spaniard Alonso has returned to the scene of his title triumphs of 2005 and 2006.
But after Alonso, 26, topped the times on the only fully dry day of running at Jerez last week, Hamilton doubts that his former teammate has already dramatically improved the form of the French squad.
"Renault is a strong team that can improve on its own, especially if the two drivers work and cooperate together," the 23-year-old, Hamilton, is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.
Hamilton also played down suggestions that McLaren will struggle to develop its own car this year in the absence of Alonso.
"It will be the same as last year," he insisted. "Heikki and I have the responsibility to develop the car, and it will not be a problem for us."
'I miss Alonso' says McLaren test driver
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa says the departure of his countryman from the McLaren driver lineup in 2008 is a loss to the British team.
The Spanish test driver has made it clear that the spat involving Fernando Alonso, the former double world champion, and team colleagues Lewis Hamilton and Ron Dennis last year, did not also involve himself.
"I personally miss him," de la Rosa, who is 36, explained to the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.
"Fernando is always a great contributor to a team; it is better to have him with you than to have him somewhere else.
"But we will get used to working without him," the Spaniard added.
De la Rosa tested McLaren's new MP4-23 single seater earlier this week at Jerez.
"For now it resembles the car of last year," he revealed. "It's easy to drive but there is still much room for improvement.
"At the moment we are working on the reliability rather than seeking lap times. And so far there have not been any problems," he said.
De la Rosa also admitted that, with his chances of ever returning to the grand prix grid receding every year, he is beginning to contemplate a return to racing elsewhere.
Asked if Le Mans might be an option after losing the 2008 seat to Heikki Kovalainen, he admitted: "After what happened, my chances of racing for McLaren are small.
"Looking ahead, yes, I am thinking about some other series. I am eager to return to racing."
Former Spanish racer dies
(GMM) Former Spanish racing driver Jorge de Bagration has died at the age of 63.
A descendent of Georgian royals, de Bagration made two attempts to start official formula one races; first when his entry to race a Lola in the 1968 Spanish grand prix was refused, and again in Spain in 1974 for similar reasons.
He later competed in rallies and retired from motor sport in 1982.
According to the Spanish sports newspaper Marca, de Bagration died of hepatitis on January 16.
He will be interred at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia, on Sunday.
New Ferrari better than old - Raikkonen
(GMM) Ferrari's 2008 car is better than its title-winning predecessor, Kimi Raikkonen said earlier this week at Jerez.
The Spanish sports newspaper Marca quotes Raikkonen, the 28-year-old reigning world champion, as discussing the early performance of his new mount, the F2008.
"The car has improved in quite a few areas, especially its behavior in the slow curves," the Finn revealed.
Raikkonen added that at the car's next outing, in Valencia for the group test beginning next Tuesday, the car will be tried with some more new bodywork pieces.
"So far the car is behaving well and I think we are in a very good starting position," he said.
McLaren will make me better - Kovalainen
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen says McLaren will help him to become a better driver than he was at Renault last year.
After a disappointing start to his F1 career as a rookie in 2007, the promising Finn improved steadily throughout the season but was replaced for 2008 by the Brazilian youngster Nelson Piquet Jr.
Kovalainen, who is 26, has been signed by McLaren to fill the race seat alongside Lewis Hamilton that was occupied last year by departed twice world champion Fernando Alonso.
He revealed that he has made some fundamental changes to his personal preparations since leaving the French team.
"I wasn't spending enough time with the (Renault) team so as soon as I joined McLaren we straight away made changes to my fitness program; we started working on making me a better athlete," Kovalainen said.
"Already I have changed many things and I will be a much better driver when I go to Melbourne compared to last year," he added.
Kovalainen also said McLaren's single seater is better in every area than the Renault he drove in 2007.
"This car just has more mechanical grip everywhere," he revealed.
"There is no one magic thing, it all just adds up over the lap and I can feel the difference everywhere."
Kovalainen not afraid of TC ban
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen does not agree with F1 competitor David Coulthard that the ban on traction control makes the sport less safe, particularly in wet weather.
"No I don't think so, formula one is always a bit dangerous and I am not scared of anything," the Finnish McLaren driver said. "You just have to be more alert and focus very hard."
Toyota driver Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, a veteran of more than 180 grands prix, said at the launch of the TF108 recently: "I am concerned but I'm not afraid."
Ralf likely to pen Mercedes DTM deal
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher is likely to switch to Germany's DTM series in 2008 after declaring himself happy with a two-day test at Estoril.
The 32-year-old German, who lost his Toyota seat at the end of 2007, completed more than 100 laps of the former Portuguese grand prix circuit this week in a black Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
"The cars are really cool to drive," Schumacher told Bild newspaper.
The German publication asked the winner of six grands prix if he will race in the premier touring class category this year.
"You should also ask (Mercedes competition boss) Norbert Haug," Schumacher smiled.
"We will get together next week and talk about how we go ahead together," he added.
"The fact is, I really had a lot of fun. These cars are good in the high speed corners, which is not what I previously thought, and the engine is at a really high level."
He also welcomed Haug's comments that he logged competitive lap times throughout the test on Wednesday and Thursday.
Schumacher laughed: "What did you think, that people had been paying me (in F1) for nothing?
"Seriously, although the times were okay, to go completely to the front would need a lot of hard work," he added.
Glock - I almost abandoned F1 dream
(GMM) Timo Glock has revealed that he contemplated giving up his formula one dream after the setbacks of a few years ago.
The 25-year-old German made his grand prix debut towards the end of 2004, racing four times for Jordan before stepping back into the lower Champ Car and GP2 categories.
In the F1 support category in 2006 and 2007, however, he performed strongly, becoming BMW-Sauber's test driver in late 2006 and going on to win the GP2 crown last year.
For 2007, following a three-year absence from formula one, he has signed to race alongside Jarno Trulli at Toyota.
But he told the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung: "I did think about quitting."
Asked how he felt when Jordan did not offer him a contract to stay in formula one in 2005, Glock explained: "Well, I thought: that's it!"