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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Teams to fund budget cap accountants
  • FIA confirms 8pm night sessions for Singapore
  • BMW on track for better season - Theissen
  • Wurz happy to race if needed in 2008
  • Klien still jobless for 2008 season
  • 'Paper slams Hamilton for mixed messages
  • Hamilton plays down winter test defeat
  • Piquet Jr has 'no chance' - Lauda

Teams to fund budget cap accountants
(GMM)  F1 teams' financial experts will meet in Paris with the FIA on Thursday to determine an appropriate budget cap for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.

It is expected that the budget limitations will phase in over the initial three year period, with FIA president Max Mosley to preside over a special department of 30 forensic accountants to police the cap.

Mosley will headhunt the experts from the UK's customs and tax department and its equivalents in Italy, Germany, Japan and France, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The teams will fund their salaries to the tune of about $3m per team per season.

"The first reaction from the team principals will be that it is intrusive and they do not want people poking around their factory.

"But when you think about it, they will be happy with the budget cap and happy to spend less because it keeps them in business," Mosley said.

The Briton said he was emboldened to seriously explore the budget cap issue after the FIA's forensic investigation of McLaren last year as part of the espionage scandal.

"The experience with McLaren taught us that if you can deploy the resources and you have sufficient expertise, you can find almost anything and the chances of someone doing work we could not find traces of is very small," he said.

FIA confirms 8pm night sessions for Singapore
(GMM)  Practice and qualifying sessions for the Singapore grand prix will also take place significantly later than usual, the governing FIA confirmed on Wednesday.

Friday practice for the island state's inaugural street race, set for late September this year, will take place at 4pm, preceding a night session at 8pm, it was revealed in the sport's official timetable for the 2008 season.

On Saturday, the Singapore practice session will take place at 5pm local time, preceding qualifying at 8pm.

Sunday's race will also take place at 8pm, where in Singapore in September it is almost completely dark.

BMW on track for better season - Theissen
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber chief Mario Theissen has countered team driver Nick Heidfeld's fears by insisting that the German squad is still on course to fight at the front of the field in 2008.

Heidfeld recently expressed concerns about the drivability of BMW's newly-launched F1.08 single seater, but German countryman Theissen on Wednesday said he is "convinced" that the car is in fact better than its predecessor.

Hinwil-based BMW was F1's third force in 2007, finishing the championship second only to Ferrari following McLaren's exclusion for spying.

"We are convinced that the BMW Sauber F1.08 represents another significant step forward," Theissen told the BMW-Sauber website.

He said the team is aware that the task of moving closer to F1's 'big two' teams will not be easy.

"Consequently, we have to expect that they also have made progress with their new cars.

"We are very confident that we have got what it takes to turn the duel involving the two teams ahead of us into a three-way battle," Theissen added.

Wurz happy to race if needed in 2008
(GMM)  Alex Wurz says he will be happy to step in and race for Honda if required in 2008, despite retiring as an active formula one racer last October.

The Austrian veteran will attend most races this year as the Japanese team's official reserve and test driver, having explained last year that he quit as a race driver because he began to have "doubt" about his previous role at Williams.

"In such a hard fought environment as formula one, I have always maintained that if you have a moment's doubt about what you are doing then it is time to stop," he said in October.

At the launch of Honda's new car for 2008 earlier this week, however, Wurz joked when it was put to him that he might have to rescind his race retirement at some point this season.

"How horrible!" he grinned.

"Look, no problem.  If someone calls me in the morning and tells me that Rubens or Jenson slipped cleaning the bathroom, then I will jump in.

"I know what to do and I will do it 100 percent," the 33-year-old added.

Wurz also explained that he has no hard feelings for the chiefs of the Williams team, despite his shock departure as race driver prior to the season finale last year.

"I really, really enjoyed my time at the team, and the way it looked - that it finished very suddenly - was definitely not how we are standing now," he said.

Klien still jobless for 2008 season
(GMM)  After leaving Honda and missing out on a Force India vacancy, Christian Klien is still without a drive in motor racing for the 2008 season.

The 24-year-old Austrian has confirmed that he has not yet concluded a deal to race in the DTM series this year, after testing recently for Mercedes-Benz at the Estoril circuit.

"At the moment no decision has been made," Klien, who raced 48 times for Jaguar and Red Bull before testing for Honda last season, told Europolitan.

He was, however, impressed with the German touring car machinery when he tried the C-Class Mercedes for the first time in Portugal.

"I was surprised," Klien said.  "The performance of the car - the power and braking - was impressive for a touring car.  The driving characteristics were rather similar to a formula one car," he added.

If he does not secure a role in motor racing this year, Klien is likely to have to serve his six months of mandatory Austrian military service.

'Paper slams Hamilton for mixed messages
(GMM)  A Spanish newspaper has slammed Lewis Hamilton for sending out mixed messages about his attitude to former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

In recent days, the 2007 championship runner-up expressed doubt that Alonso, the Spaniard and former double world champion, would be able to single-handedly bring Renault back to the front this year.

He also said he would use Alonso's behavior at McLaren last season as "how not to behave" as a front-running formula one driver.

In an interview with Hamilton conducted by the Woking based team this week, however, the 23-year-old Briton is quoted as wishing Alonso "all the best" for 2008.

The Spanish sports daily Marca said Hamilton had let the "daggers fly" about Alonso when he addressed the media at the Valencia test last week.

"Now it is the time for the official version," Marca added, apparently expressing cynicism about the sincerity of the interview provided by McLaren.

Hamilton plays down winter test defeat
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has clarified some publications' claims that he said he "must" win the world championship in 2008.

"No, that is not correct," the Briton said in an interview provided by his team, McLaren.

"I want to win, I want to work harder than ever and I want to do whatever I can to win for sure," Hamilton added.

"(I have) no expectations, but we plan to be at the front."

The 23-year-old also played down the significance of going slower than the Ferraris and his new teammate Heikki Kovalainen at the Valencia test last week.

"Well, (testing) is not qualifying or the race.  I don't need to go out on low fuel to test if I can do the fastest time; it is not the most important thing," he said.

"When it comes to qualifying runs we will see who will do the best one when the time comes," Hamilton added.

He acknowledges, however, that with just over six weeks to go until Melbourne, Ferrari seems to be leading the pack at present.

"They have had some very impressive runs with their car, but it is not much different to last year," Hamilton said.

"I think we still have work to improve but we have made a good step closer to them this year."

Piquet Jr has 'no chance' - Lauda
(GMM)  Niki Lauda has rubbished Nelson Piquet Jr's chances of showing up Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso in 2008.

Piquet, the Brazilian rookie, is - like reigning champion Timo Glock - among the latest graduates to formula one of the sport's main feeder category, GP2.

The 22-year-old, who was Renault test driver last year, is also the son of the famous triple world champion Nelson Piquet, and the new teammate for double world champion Fernando Alonso.

But Lauda, another triple world champion and a winner of 25 grands prix, told RTL that he does not have high expectations for Piquet Jr's debut campaign.

"Nothing against Piquet," the Austrian legend said, "but he is not a Hamilton.  And Fernando is an exceptional pilot, perhaps the best of all.

"Piquet will have no chance," Lauda added.

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