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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Liuzzi blames Berger for Toro Rosso exit
  • Jani confirms interest in Force India seat
  • Kolles confirms arbitration to continue
  • Piquet says gap to Alonso closing at tests
  • Ferrari has margin over 2008 rivals - Fisi
  • Fisi eager for Force India update
  • 2008 pre-season nears end

Liuzzi blames Berger for Toro Rosso exit
(GMM)  Vitantonio Liuzzi has pinned the blame for his departure from the formula one grid on Toro Rosso co-owner and former grand prix winner Gerhard Berger.

With Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais taking his place at the Faenza based team for 2008, 27-year-old Liuzzi says he was pushed out because Berger, the Austrian veteran of more than 210 races, does not like him.

"He has never been a fan of mine, just like Adrian Newey, who in the past blocked my arrival as a regular Red Bull driver," Liuzzi, now Force India's reserve driver, told the Italian magazine Autosprint.

The Italian insisted earlier this week that he is maintaining a relationship with Toro Rosso's other owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, in order to keep the Red Bull door open.

Liuzzi also suggests that his new Force India contract includes the possibility of racing again in 2009.

Jani confirms interest in Force India seat
(GMM)  Neel Jani has confirmed that he is hoping his Indian descent will open a door for him at formula one's newest team.

The 24-year-old, who formerly tested for Sauber and Toro Rosso, races under the flag of Switzerland, but his father was born in India.

Rumors this week are linking him with a possible role at Force India, which is co-owned by the flamboyant Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya.

"I would certainly like to race for Force India next year," Jani, who currently drives for the Swiss team in the A1GP series, told the publication DNA India.

He refuses to give much else away, but suggests that he has already chatted with Colin Kolles, the team's German team boss.

"It's too early, but things move fast in F1," Jani explained.

"It is better to be prepared.  I am yet to have an eye to eye contact with Mr. Mallya and Kolles and am looking forward to it."

Jani also confirmed that he still has a relationship with the Red Bull stable.

"But I am free to do my own thing.  Let's see," he added.

Kolles confirms arbitration to continue
(GMM)  Colin Kolles has confirmed reports that, even after the buyout of Spyker by Force India, the Silverstone based team will pursue arbitration against F1 rivals Super Aguri and Toro Rosso.

In an interview with motorline.cc, the German boss said he still fervently believes that both the teams are using customer cars, which is not allowed in formula one.

Kolles initiated arbitration through the Swiss based Court of Arbitration for Sport about one year ago, and confirmed that it will now continue under the Force India banner.

He declares emphatically that Toro Rosso and Super Aguri, who it is believed source their basic chassis from the Red Bull and Honda teams respectively, are "not F1 constructors".

"Therefore we are continuing our arbitration; our objection against the customer cars," Kolles said.

He explained that more will be known about the legal challenge in about six months' time.

Kolles also agrees that, until then, Force India will effectively have to fight against close rivals that he believes are not adhering to the rules.

"But as we saw with McLaren-Mercedes last year, it is possible for a team to lose all its points in the constructors' classification, or even be excluded from the championship altogether," he said.

But Kolles refused to clarify what outcome he is specifically seeking from the arbitration.

"I only hope for justice and clarity," he said.

Piquet says gap to Alonso closing at tests
(GMM)  Rookie formula one driver Nelson Piquet insists that, with each passing pre-season test day, he is closing the gap to his famous 2008 teammate, Fernando Alonso.

At the beginning of the intensive winter period earlier this year, the 22-year-old - who now wants to drop the 'junior' from the end of his name - was often conspicuously slower than Spaniard Alonso, the French team's drivers' world champion of 2005 and 2006.

"I was missing the confidence I needed," the Brazilian confided to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport magazine as he tested this week at Jerez.

When they went head-to-head at the circuit on Wednesday, Piquet's fast-lap deficit had dropped to just a few tenths, even if the gap is a bigger over longer runs.

He recalls of earlier tests: "At the beginning of longer distances, I was basically as fast as Fernando but then the gap opened up; Fernando going faster and me slower."

But at Jerez, Piquet insists that he is now beginning to fully understand the R28, which he says is a better car in all areas compared to last year's Renault.

"The gap to Alonso is shrinking," he proclaimed, albeit acknowledging that his teammate's experience is still paying dividends.

"Fernando carries more speed into the corners than I do.  Sometimes I brake later than he does but I then have a problem going into the apex.

"Sometimes I go into the corner well, but then give away time to him at the braking point," he explained.

Piquet, however, says doing a lot of testing recently is getting his race-fitness back up to scratch, but he would also enjoy spending lots of time in a McLaren-style driving simulator.

"If we had one I would sit in it day and night," the Brazilian said.

He insists that he will not be pushing for stand-out performances at the beginning of the season, which kicks off in Australia in four weeks.

"For me I think it is important that at the start I don't make any stupid mistakes," Piquet said.

He also revealed that Renault engineers are busily working to bring more performance to the R28.

"I believe they now understand the characteristics of the Bridgestone tire.  That is not our problem any more.

"Now we have to work on the aerodynamics and quite simply find more grip," he added.

Ferrari has margin over 2008 rivals - Fisi
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella has confirmed the now common paddock sentiment that Ferrari is likely to dominate at least the early part of the looming 2008 season.

Although the Italian team has been missing from the last couple of group tests as the F2008 circulated in Bahrain, Force India's Fisichella estimates that the Maranello based single seater maintains a margin over McLaren, the next quickest contender.

"They are clearly better than the rest.  It is obvious that the Cavillino is in the front, and then there is McLaren," said the veteran Roman, referring to the Italian word for 'little horse' (Cavillino), which is also the nickname for Ferrari's famous logo.

"McLaren are just behind, and then there are others," the 35-year-old is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Fisi eager for Force India update
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella is pleased with the testing performances of his Force India mount, and says the single seater should be even faster following an upcoming update.

"At the next test we will get the new aerodynamic package," he said, referring to the bodywork that will adorn the current test car in Melbourne next month.

"At the beginning of the season it will be hard to stay out of the bottom (of the field), but we hope that we can gradually improve," Fisichella is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Roman veteran, who has switched to the newly Vijay Mallya-owned Silverstone based team following three years at Renault, compares the former Jordan outfit with Red Bull's recent progress.

"We can go the same way as them," Fisichella said in an interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport magazine.

"We now have the necessary money, good people and two wind tunnels.  We just need time," said the Italian, who has signed a two-year contract.

"I believe in the project," he continued.  "The first half of the season will surely be tough, but it is something we have to go through."

Auto Motor und Sport reveals that one technical development scheduled by Force India for debut this season is a quick-shift gearbox.

2008 pre-season nears end
(GMM)  The pre-season period of formula one tests is rapidly coming to a close.

The group test at Jerez this week was the penultimate session at which most outfits will congregate, with only Barcelona late this month to follow.

Before Barcelona kicks off for three days at the Circuit de Catalunya on February 25, however, some teams will run privately at the Spanish circuit next week, and others intend to conduct straight-line aerodynamic track sessions.

BMW Sauber, meanwhile, will test at Valencia from next Tuesday, but the racing world will fix its glare particularly to the subsequent Barcelona group test, when apparent pacesetters Ferrari will go head-to-head with its top rivals for the last time before Melbourne.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said: "Whilst this (test) will give us the possibility of a more comprehensive comparison ... the real litmus test of performance will take place in Australia."

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