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DATE News (chronologically)
02/01/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • McLaren let Hamilton down - Ecclestone
  • No Tokyo 'deadline' for Honda - Fry
  • Renault expect no driver status problems
  • New Renault one second behind - Alonso
  • Alonso returns fire after Hamilton jibe
  • Photo leak reveals new Williams livery

McLaren let Hamilton down - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has accused McLaren of last year fouling countryman Lewis Hamilton's attempt to become F1's first ever rookie world champion.

The sport's chief executive said it was the British team run by Ron Dennis, rather than 23-year-old Hamilton himself, that spoiled the young Briton's chances to succeed Fernando Alonso as reigning title winner.

It was not clear what Ecclestone, 77, was specifically referring to; McLaren's involvement in the espionage scandal, the spat with former teammate Alonso, strategy errors such as the decision to leave Hamilton on worn tires in China, or the technical fault in Brazil.

"Lewis could have won the championship last season, but the team let him down," Ecclestone said in an interview with the Spanish sports daily Marca.

Ecclestone also said he was happy to see Alonso back at Renault after a tumultuous single season with McLaren in 2007.

"I think he is going to be more at home there, because the truth is that he was not happy at all where he was," the Briton said.

No Tokyo 'deadline' for Honda - Fry
(GMM)  No executive deadline has been set for Honda to succeed in formula one, according to the team's British chief executive, Nick Fry.

After embarrassingly becoming the sport's least competitive works manufacturer in 2007, Fry said Honda chiefs in Tokyo have not imposed a timeframe by when the team must be back at the front of the field.

"Honda are determined to succeed," he said earlier this week.

"There is and has never been a timeframe associated with Honda's involvement.  They assume they will carry on ad infinitum, as far as we can tell," Fry added.

He admitted, however, that there is a growing sense of impatience about Honda's determination to win again, after the last success was Jenson Button's maiden triumph in Hungary two years ago.

But Fry insists that the impatience of Honda executives is no different to that of the Brackley based team itself.

"I think people make the mistake sometimes of trying to separate out the company ... and the team," he said.  "They are the same.

"The attitude of Honda of being impatient is only a reflection of the views of the rest of us," Fry added.

Renault expect no driver status problems
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore on Thursday refused to formalize speculation that Fernando Alonso has been promised 'number one' status by the Renault team in 2008.

As the French team's new car, the R28, was unveiled outside Paris, talk quickly turned to former double world champion Alonso's McLaren spat last year, and how Renault might handle its driver lineup differently this year.

"I don't want to hear about having a number one, number two, number three," Italian Briatore said.  "You just have to anticipate the problem before it comes.

"We have not discussed it.  He knows the way we work in the team.  He's a professional, not a lunatic," he added, referring to Alonso.

The Spanish racer himself also refused to confirm his favored status, but revealed that Renault sees him as the more experienced and successful of the pair, completed by Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr.

"There is nothing in the contract, nothing strange," Alonso, 26, said.

"They will put new parts in my car first and that's something I feel comfortable with.  And I know Flavio will help the driver who has more possibilities," he added.

Alonso later told Spanish reporters: "We have some inexperienced drivers on board and I feel the responsibility to improve the car, but I do not mind that at all."

Playing to the same tune, 22-year-old rookie Piquet said he planned to drive as quickly as possible but also recognizes Alonso's status in formula one.

Alonso said he is not worried about facing up to another determined young teammate in 2008.

"Nelson seems a normal person like me and Flavio is special," Alonso said.

"He is the best in F1 at controlling situations and I don't foresee any problems."

New Renault one second behind - Alonso
(GMM)  If the Australian grand prix was held this Sunday, or even in two weeks time, Renault's newly launched car would not win, Fernando Alonso has admitted.

"I am being realistic," he told Spanish reporters in the presence of his 2008 racer, the R28.

"Not pessimistic; I just prefer to speak the truth."

Following the single seater's maiden test outing at Valencia last week, 26-year-old Alonso admitted at its launch in Paris on Thursday that the per-lap deficit to those teams at the front is about one full second.

"The car is not competitive enough but in a way it is better than expected so I have mixed feelings," the Spaniard said.

He told reporters from his native Spain that he would currently give the R28 only "six or seven" out of ten.

"The main expectation is to close the gap on McLaren and Ferrari, but it will be extremely difficult to recover that one second gap," Alonso added.

Instead of clearly target a third championship with the team, the Spaniard said Renault should begin the season thinking about podiums.

After proving just the fourth force in F1 last season with drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen, team boss Flavio Briatore shares Alonso's appraisal.

"Sometimes the driver gives you 90 per cent of the car's potential, with Fernando you know you have 100 per cent, so that is important.

"We want to fight usually for podiums.  And if we are up there regularly, perhaps we could think afterwards about the world title," the Italian added.

Alonso returns fire after Hamilton jibe
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has finally returned fire at his former McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The former double world champion, who left the British team after a tumultuous single season alongside rookie Hamilton in 2007, made clear to English-speaking media on Thursday that he would not be talking about those shattered relationships.

"I am convinced it is better not to say anything," Alonso, 26, said at the launch of Renault's new car outside French capital Paris.

But later, in a short interview with the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco, the Spaniard's patience expired when even his native media wanted to talk at length about Hamilton.

Asked what his response was to the British rookie's recent claim that he is an example of "how not to behave" as a F1 driver, Alonso said: "I don't think this is worth an answer.

"In my view the less that is talked about it the better, otherwise we are always talking about someone who, for the moment, has not done anything (in F1)," the 26-year-old added.

Alonso also made it clear that he is doubtful that McLaren can win the title in 2008, and expressed relief that he broke his multiple-year contract after just 18 races with the British team.

Asked who has the biggest chances of the 2008 title following recent pre-season tests, he replied: "Ferrari, for sure."

Telecinco also asked Alonso to select one of four descriptions to explain his current demeanor: a child with a new toy, a liberated prisoner, a dethroned king or a runner wearing lead shoes.

He replied: "A prisoner who has been released."

Will this be the Williams livery?
Photo leak reveals new Williams livery
(GMM)  A new sponsor of the Williams team has apparently accidentally revealed the British team's tweaked livery for the 2008 season.

The Oxfordshire based outfit intended to make public its new paint job just prior to the Australian season opener, after opting against a formal launch for the FW30 single seater.

But on the website of the Dutch clothing company McGregor, a new sponsor of the Grove team in 2008, photographs of a Williams decked out in an updated new blue and white livery were posted on Thursday.

To the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report, however, a team spokesman denied that the photos depict Williams' formerly-secret new livery for 2008.

The spokesman said the photos appear to date back to December, when the team were testing several potential liveries for the FW30.

What the photos do apparently depict, however, are the logos of a new team sponsor -- British jewellery firm Mappin and Webb, whose name appears prominently on the sidepods of the car in the leaked photos.

Interestingly, Mappin and Webb is owned by Baugur, the Icelandic investment group that is said to have recently bought a slice of the team that is owned by Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head.

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