Latest F1 news in brief
- Two teams confirmed for Bahrain tests
- Strong debut for new Renault in Spain
- Massa given special Fiat 500
- Button's girl hits headlines
- Villeneuve's uncle injured in snowmobile crash
- Hamilton receives Hawthorn trophy
- Trulli happy with new Toyota teammate Glock
- BMW pleased with copied Ferrari wheels
- Barcelona announces circuit updates New
- Renault to promote South African province New
- Malaysia eyes night race for 2009 New
- Stepney to begin new job in motorsport New
Two teams confirmed for Bahrain tests
(GMM) Only two of F1's eleven teams have confirmed that they will take part in the pre-season Bahrain tests next month.
After nine teams participated in the Sakhir sessions one year ago, officials for the circuit have revealed that, so far, only Ferrari and Toyota look set to make the trip to the Gulf island in 2008.
The Bahrain International Circuit will host six days of testing in total next month; between February 4 and 6, and February 9 and 11.
Last year, only Williams and Spyker (now Force India) did not test in Bahrain. One year later, Williams, Force India, Renault, McLaren, BMW-Sauber, Honda, Super Aguri, Red Bull and Toro Rosso have also decided to stay in Europe.
The circuit's commercial director Steven Umferville says it is possible that more teams will decide at the last minute to accompany Ferrari and Toyota to the tests.
"Surely they are aware of the benefits that testing in Bahrain with a warm climate would bring to their car development, but it can get quite expensive considering the logistics and all the team personnel who would need to travel," he told the Gulf Daily News.
Both Ferrari and Toyota are expected to test at Sakhir with their newly launched 2008 cars, and their race driver line-ups.
All teams will then return to the circuit in April for the Bahrain grand prix.
Strong debut for new Renault in Spain
(GMM) Renault's 2008 car performed strongly on Monday as Fernando Alonso gave the R28 its maiden test run at a foggy Valencia circuit.
Not only was the Enstone built machine a full second and a half quicker than Williams' similarly-new FW30, Alonso's best lap was a few tenths clear of the time Robert Kubica set recently when the BMW-Sauber F1.08 made its debut.
Williams technical director Sam Michael, however, played down his team's performance as a mere 'installation day' with test driver Nico Hulkenberg, who at one point damaged the Toyota-powered car's floor as he beached it in a gravel trap.
"The car is now ready for testing proper tomorrow when Nico (Rosberg) will be driving," the Australian said.
Spaniard Alonso, returning to Renault in 2008 after a disagreeable single season with McLaren, was also cautious after the R28's debut run.
"Everything went well," he said, "but it is still too early to try and compare our performance with that of other teams, and that was not the objective today.
"The good news is that we encountered few problems," Alonso added.
The Valencia test continues on Tuesday, when most other formula one teams will join Williams and Renault on track.
Another foggy morning is expected.
Massa given special Fiat 500
(GMM) In Monaco on Monday, Ferrari F1 driver Felipe Massa became the proud owner of the most powerful Fiat 500 in the world, featuring a turbocharged 120hp engine, 16-inch alloy wheels and red brake calipers.
Button's girl hits headlines
(GMM) Jenson Button's girlfriend hit the headlines on Monday, when it was announced that she has been hired to model for the British department store chain John Lewis. Florence Brudenell-Bruce, who descended from Britain's earls of Cardigan and began dating Honda driver Button last year, was hired to help "sex up" the John Lewis brand, a spokesman said.
Villeneuve's uncle injured in snowmobile crash
(GMM) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve's uncle has been seriously injured whilst racing a snowmobile in Wisconsin (USA).
52-year-old Jacques Villeneuve, the brother of Ferrari legend Gilles, is in hospital with back and lower body injuries, the Journal de Montreal said, after his ailing vehicle was struck from behind by a competitor at more than 225kph.
Villeneuve, who tried to qualify for three grands prix in the 80s, was thrown from the snowmobile and then struck again by his competitor, the newspaper added.
He was airlifted to hospital with multiple pelvis and leg fractures, and a spinal injury.
Hamilton receives Hawthorn trophy
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has been awarded the Hawthorn Memorial Trophy for being the top British or Commonwealth driver of 2007.
The trophy is named after Mike Hawthorn, who died in a road crash within months of becoming the 1958 world champion.
Previous winners include Nigel Mansell, David Coulthard and Jenson Button.
"(Hamilton's) performances have given us a great platform on which to raise the profile and develop the sport in this country," said Motor Sports Association chief executive Colin Hilton.
Trulli happy with new Toyota teammate Glock
(GMM) Jarno Trulli says he is happy with his new formula one teammate, Timo Glock.
Reigning GP2 champion Glock, who is 25, arrives at Toyota in 2008 to replace Ralf Schumacher, who between 2005 and last season partnered Trulli at grands prix.
Trulli, the 33-year-old Italian veteran of more than 180 starts, and F1 refugee Schumacher, were believed to have shared an amiable - albeit not close - relationship at the Japanese team.
But Trulli told the Cologne newspaper Express this week: "In these first days, I have spoken more with Timo than I did with Ralf in three years."
Toyota chief engineer Dieter Gass also expressed satisfaction with the team's new recruit after his initial days of pre-season testing in Spain.
"Timo has surprised us with his suggestions at the first tests," Gass said, after Germany's Glock tested the TF108 at Jerez last week and even topped the times on the third and final day.
Meanwhile, Nelson Piquet Jr is confident that he will get along well with Fernando Alonso at Renault in 2008, even though the Spaniard and Lewis Hamilton clashed spectacularly at McLaren last season.
"I met Alonso last week during testing at Jerez and we are having an excellent relationship so far," the Brazilian rookie told the Rio de Janeiro-based newspaper O Globo.
BMW pleased with copied Ferrari wheels
(GMM) BMW-Sauber technical director Willy Rampf has estimated the benefit of the 2008 car's Ferrari-style wheel covers at up to two tenths per lap.
"The covers optimize the brake ventilation," the German told Bild newspaper, "and reduce air resistance."
The German team, however, rejects suggestions that copying its rival's innovation amounts to a new case of formula one espionage.
Toyota and Renault have also used variants of the carbon-fiber covers, which first appeared on the rear of the Ferrari in late 2006.
"There is a fundamental difference between motor sports and other technical industries," BMW boss Mario Theissen explained.
"(In motor sports) there are no patents, so you cannot protect your own ideas once they come out of the factory and can be seen on the track.
"So applying ideas that are visible on the other cars is absolutely normal," he added. "You get ideas from your competitors, and vice versa," he added.
This 'legal' espionage has resulted in the phenomenon at recent group tests of high two-meter temporary barriers being placed at the entrance to team garages.
The practice is not allowed at grands prix.
Barcelona announces circuit updates
(GMM) Circuit de Catalunya officials have announced that a series of minor changes will be made ahead of the F1 and MotoGP races in 2008 on request of the respective series' governing bodies. These include resurfacing, asphalting in some run-off zones, and tire barrier, curb and artificial grass improvements.
Renault to promote South African province
(GMM) Formula one team Renault on Tuesday announced that it has entered a one-year partnership agreement to promote the South African province of Gauteng.
Malaysia eyes night race for 2009
(GMM) March's Malaysian grand prix is likely to be the last race at the Sepang circuit to be held in sunlight.
The chairman of the circuit located outside Kuala-Lumpur told the local newspaper New Straits Times on Tuesday that he is investigating the possibility of a floodlit night race for 2009.
"Our target is to have the race at night next year and the same consultants who are doing the lighting for the Singapore grand prix are advising us on our lighting system," said Mokhzani Mahathir.
He explained that, as Sepang is a permanent venue, the lighting system required would be different to Singapore's street circuit, which in September will host F1's first ever night race.
"We are still studying all the factors involved," Mokhzani added.
Stepney to begin new job in motorsport
(GMM) Nigel Stepney, the sacked Ferrari engineer who was at the centre of the McLaren espionage scandal, has landed a new job, it has been confirmed.
It was reported last year that the Briton would work for Aston Martin in the UK.
But with that speculation proving wide of the mark, an on-board motor sports camera company announced on Tuesday that Stepney has joined Gigawave Ltd to be 'director of race technologies'.
Interestingly, Gigawave Motorsport is listed as a customer team for the Aston Martin DBR9, with which the outfit plans to compete in all ten rounds of the 2008 FIA GT championship.
"Gigawave Ltd feels that an engineer of Nigel's caliber and experience can only benefit the business's future technological development," a statement read.
The FIA said in July last year that Stepney, and his 'Stepney-gate' conspirator Mike Coughlan, would be pursued by the governing body's legal department and possibly banned from international motor sport "for a lengthy period".