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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 teams eye next winter tests
  • Toyota boss slams F1 quit reports
  • No permanent F1 steward in 2008
  • New Honda better than old says Barrichello
  • Heikki vows to make a mark at Hamilton's team
  • Campos happy Alonso left McLaren
  • Raikkonen to end F1 career with Ferrari
  • Massa expects even faster Ferrari
  • Rosberg happy with new Williams racer

F1 teams eye next winter tests
(GMM)  Thursday brought an end to the multiple-day F1 group test at the Valencia circuit in Spain.  For the majority of teams, the action will resume for a rare weekend test beginning on 1 February at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, but Ferrari and Toyota are heading to Bahrain for six days of running at the grand prix track at Sakhir.

Toyota boss slams F1 quit reports
(GMM)  Toyota team president John Howett has rubbished claims that the Japanese team could pull out of formula one as early as 2010 if rapid progress is not made.  "The media reports of the squad withdrawing are pure, malicious scare-mongering," he told the British print magazine Autosport.

No permanent F1 steward in 2008
(GMM)  F1's governing body will not replace outgoing permanent race steward Tony-Scott Andrews in 2008, the website of the British magazine Autosport reports.  Instead, three officials will be selected for each grand prix, to be assisted by permanent FIA delegate Alan Donnelly.

New Honda better than old says Barrichello
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello has cautiously assessed Honda's new car for 2008, the RA108, as better than its abysmal predecessor.

The Brazilian veteran gave the unliveried  single seater its track debut at Valencia on Wednesday, languishing at the bottom of the time sheets with a best lap some 3.5 seconds shy of the pace.

A day later, in teammate Jenson Button's hands, the RA108 was nearly a second quicker, but still outpaced by every rival team at the Spanish group test.

"I'm certain that this car is better than the 2007 one because it's difficult to do worse," Barrichello, 35, told the Italian magazine La Gazzetta dello Sport after trying the car for the first time.

"Lap times were slow but also because on the first day it made no sense to push too hard," he added.

"In any case we are awaiting the new aerodynamics," Barrichello said.

He also explained that the Brackley based team experienced normal shakedown gremlins with the new car, but confirmed that the RA108 already feels better than its predecessor under braking.

Heikki vows to make a mark at Hamilton's team
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has vowed to make a mark at McLaren despite acknowledging that he is the team's new boy.

To the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, the 26-year-old admitted that, in filling Fernando Alonso's recently departed shoes, teammate Lewis Hamilton undoubtedly occupies the high ground.

"I need to take it over and make it mine, don't I?" he smiled.

Kovalainen suggests that he is not likely to suffer the same fate as his Spanish predecessor at Ron Dennis' team, however, also because he is happy to accept his fledgling status in the sport.

"I don't know what went wrong last year," he said.

"I think I can bring things to this team.  And I can learn a lot.  I can't see myself getting into trouble politically.  It's not my business.  I'm not interested too much in that side of things."

Kovalainen, who on Thursday outpaced Hamilton for the second consecutive day at the Valencia test, also admits that - in contrast to his British teammate's stellar impact on formula one - his rookie season with Renault was far from perfect.

"I learned a lot from last year.  I got a kick in the butt to raise my game.  It was important to work with the team to understand why I was slow.

"My goal is to win the world championship.  I believe I can beat Lewis.  The team guarantees me the same car, so I have a chance.  I just need to make it work.

"Lewis almost won the championship last year.  He gets a lot of attention.  He is the superstar.  What can I do?  I need to make my own mark.

"If I win the championship then this time next year people will be more interested in me," Kovalainen said.

Campos happy Alonso left McLaren
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso's former manager is confident that the Spaniard will in 2008 not suffer a recurrence of the problems that dogged his ill-fated single season at McLaren last year.

Adrian Campos, currently a GP2 team boss who raced in the 80s for Minardi, pins the blame for Alonso's irreparable problems last year squarely on the British team run by Ron Dennis.

"I am sure it will be different at Renault, although Piquet will be a tough opponent," he said.

"But Renault never lost a title because of such things," Campos added, in an apparent dig at Dennis' handling of his drivers' feud last year.

He told the Spanish news agency EFE that one of the differences between McLaren and Renault is the teams' differing attitudes towards Alonso, a former double world champion.

"Renault love him, they understand him, and give him what he needs," Campos explained.

"I think that if he cannot win the title this year, he will secure the next one, but he will certainly be competitive and always in the fight," he predicted.

Campos is bitter about Alonso's calamitous and curtailed tenure with Mercedes-powered McLaren, which at its peak had the 2005 and 2006 title winner labeled a traitor who suspected reverse favoritism and even internal sabotage.

"Fernando did not deserve treatment like that.

"He fought hard to be number one and it is incomprehensible that a newcomer gets the same treatment without doing the same work," Campos added.

Raikkonen to end F1 career with Ferrari
(GMM)  2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen suspects that he will never again be a feature of the formula one driver market.

The 28-year-old Finn has told a Spanish newspaper that he will more than likely end his career with Ferrari, either at the close of the 2009 season, or beyond.

"I see no reason to leave this team," Raikkonen told Marca at the Valencia tests this week.

He said: "I have two years remaining on my contract, but in any case I believe that, whatever happens, this will be my last team."

Raikkonen suggested that he does not fear life after formula one.

"The one certainty is that one day I will feel the need to do something else.  I would do a few rallies maybe, or something else -- I don't know.  I will do what I want, basically," he explained.

He refused to speculate as to when his retirement might beckon.

"I have no idea," said Raikkonen.  "For the moment I am here and I have no intention to change that.

"When I end my contract with Ferrari I will be 30 years old, and it will be the time to decide whether to keep going or not."

Massa expects even faster Ferrari
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has fired a warning shot at Ferrari's F1 rivals by suggesting that the already ultra-competitive F2008 will likely be even faster at by the time of the Australian grand prix in March.  "We are basically just using the aerodynamics of last year," he revealed to the Spanish newspaper Diario AS at the Valencia tests, "and we are hoping for improvements for Melbourne, which are not yet ready.  We still have progress to make," the Brazilian added.

Rosberg happy with new Williams racer
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg is delighted with the early progress of Williams' new car for 2008, the FW30.

The Toyota-powered single seater made its track debut this week over four days at Valencia, and Rosberg and his 2008 teammate Kazuki Nakajima spent the balance of the test not far from the leading pace.

"My feeling from the very beginning was good, and that is always a good sign," said 22-year-old Rosberg, who on Tuesday was outpaced only by Ferrari's impressive F2008.

The German, who scored 20 of the Oxfordshire based team's 33 points in 2007, told the website of the broadcaster RTL: "(The car) is certainly a step forward.

"I wouldn't say, 'wow, this is amazing' -- that would be excessive," Rosberg remarked.

"And it is still early.  But for the season it is a good and promising start," he added, insisting that Williams should be targeting Renault and BMW for 2008.

Williams technical director Sam Michael was also pleased with the FW30's opening test, saying Valencia had been a "good beginning from a reliability and performance point of view".

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