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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hopes still slim for British GP - Ecclestone
  • Kimi 'in another galaxy' in Bahrain
  • Hamilton racism continues in Spain
  • Hamilton abuse was unprovoked - Haug
  • Renault testing at Menorca with di Grassi
  • Ralf S. testing Merc DTM car again

Hopes still slim for British GP - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has taken the wind out of reports that the future of the British grand prix this week took a turn for the better.

It emerged on Tuesday that South Northamptonshire council's cabinet committee has adopted the British Racing Drivers' Club's plans to significantly improve the facilities at Silverstone.

Planning application for a new pit and paddock complex is the next step, scheduled for spring 2008.

But according to Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, even if satisfactory improvements are made to the circuit, there is no guarantee of a formula one race at Silverstone beyond 2009.

"The next problem is the commercial agreement for us (formula one) to be there," the 77-year-old told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"This has not been discussed other than (with) the (BRDC) guy who came to see me some time ago saying 'there is no way we could pay you even what we have paid you in the past'," Bernie said.

Ecclestone insists that the British grand prix will need to "pay the market rate" to continue hosting the sport in the future.

"There is no sentiment in this from my point of view," the Briton explained.  "I want only what we do in any other country; no more, no less.

"I sincerely hope they are in a position to deliver what they know they have to carry out to get the grand prix in 2010," Ecclestone added.

Kimi 'in another galaxy' in Bahrain
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen continued to set a blistering pace on Tuesday as formula one testing continued in Bahrain.

After on Monday beating the pole position time set at the Sakhir circuit last April, the Finn and reigning world champion on Tuesday went nearly two more seconds quicker for an unofficial circuit record at the wheel of Ferrari's new F2008 during a qualifying run.

"Raikkonen is in another galaxy", the Spanish sports newspaper Marca observed.

"Kimi's (race weekend) simulation was good," Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni told the local Gulf Daily News.

"We didn't experience any problems, and he was able to get a better time than yesterday," the Italian added.

In stark contrast, both Toyotas were struck with gearbox problems, and Jarno Trulli was nearly three seconds off Raikkonen's leading pace.

"I think that we are still far from where we want it to be for the first race," the Italian, referring to Toyota's TF108 single seater, admitted.

La Gazzetta dello Sport surmised: "Toyota in crisis: the car is slow and breaks down".

Hamilton racism continues in Spain
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton will return to Spain for two more pre-season tests in February, despite the continuing racist abuse directed towards formula one's only black driver.

"We will monitor events very closely at the forthcoming formula one tests," a spokesman for the governing FIA told The Guardian on Tuesday, in anticipation of Hamilton's upcoming run at Jerez and, late this month, back at Circuit de Catalunya.

After the racial abuse during testing last weekend, it now emerges that Spanish bigots have taken to insulting the 23-year-old McLaren driver on website comment pages.

One racist wrote in the Spanish sports daily Marca: "Drivers should drive, little monkeys should stay in the jungle and stop talking rubbish".

Another said: "Hamilton, at the end of the day you're not black, you're brown, like shit".

In the comments section of the Catalan sports newspaper El Mundo, one reader wrote: "Hello, I'm Hamilton and I'm going to talk to you in my language: uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh".

The publications endeavored to remove all of the racist comments.

Hamilton abuse was unprovoked - Haug
(GMM)  Norbert Haug, competition director for McLaren's engine partner Mercedes-Benz, has publicly backed the outfit's besieged British driver, Lewis Hamilton.

The German said the racial abuse directed at Fernando Alonso's 2007 McLaren teammate is totally unprovoked.

"Lewis did absolutely nothing to Fernando," Haug is quoted as saying by the German newspaper Bild.

"The Spanish must quickly do everything they can to prevent these sorts of things from happening again," he added.

To the news agency SID, Haug referred to the 2008 Spanish grand prix at Barcelona, scene of the recent testing incidents: "I really hope this is no longer an issue when we go there to race in April.

"Today, it was Lewis Hamilton, tomorrow it could be someone else.

"The only thing Lewis did to Alonso was fairly and squarely challenge him, and sometimes beat him, on the race track," he said.

Renault testing at Menorca with di Grassi
(GMM)  Renault on Tuesday began conducting straight line tests on the Spanish island of Menorca, but speculation suggesting Fernando Alonso would be in action proved wide of the mark.

Instead, the French team's test driver Luca di Grassi piloted the R28 single seater up and down the Mahon airfield runway, testing the car particularly under heavy acceleration and braking.

The Renault test continues on Wednesday.

Ralf S. testing Merc DTM car again
(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher is this week back in action for Mercedes-Benz, increasing the likelihood that the former grand prix winner will race in the German touring car series (DTM) in 2008.

According to publications including Cologne's Express and the German national Bild, the 32-year-old's latest three-day run at the Estoril circuit, concluding on Thursday in Portugal, was intended to be secret.

Schumacher's first run in the black C-Class was in mid January.

Express said an announcement about Ralf's plans for 2008 could be made later this month.

To Bild, he would not confirm that he has already decided to contest the series in 2008, after failing to retain his Toyota F1 seat.

"I don't want to say anything, but I would not be here if I did not find the driving a lot of fun," Schumacher said.

"If we do cooperate, I will be in a 2007 car.  This is my own desire, in order to get used to everything.  And now I want to use every minute in order to get to know the machine."

Mercedes' competition director Norbert Haug agrees.

"No-one should expect any miracles from him, because formula one and DTM are two very different pairs of shoes," the German said.

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