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DATE News (chronologically)
02/21/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Renault 'a long way behind' - Alonso
  • Better weather expected for Spanish tests
  • F1 nearly bled Spyker to death - CEO
  • Alonso dismisses Hamilton racism scandal
  • Fuji to limit attendance for 2008 GP
  • Damon Hill's son begins racing career
  • Renault, Alonso, dismiss 'W' wing rumors
  • Ralf spurred on by brother's DTM warning

Alonso climbs aboard his Renault that he says is too slow
Renault 'a long way behind' - Alonso
(GMM)  Three weeks before the formula one circus congregates in Melbourne for the season opener, Fernando Alonso has reported that his 2008-spec Renault is not in a position to compete for race wins.

In fact, the former double world champion is quoted by the Spanish news agency EFE as suggesting that even podium places early this year are not likely.

"Where are we?  Quite a long way behind," 26-year-old Alonso said in Barcelona this week for the penultimate test of the winter.

"We are not in a position to do anything about McLaren, Ferrari or BMW.

"Ferrari are favorites but they're not in a different world.  We however belong more to the group including Williams and Red Bull," he added.

Interestingly, despite the mixed messages coming out of the BMW Sauber camp recently, Alonso singles out the German team's 2008 car as one of the standouts of the pre-season.

"They are very fast," he said.  "They always use full tanks (of fuel) and record very good times."

Better weather expected for Spanish tests
(GMM)  After adverse weather affected the opening two days of this week's Barcelona test, forecasters are calling for better conditions for the final session on Thursday.

Ferrari joined the action at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday, where four other teams are running ahead of the pre-season's last test at the same Spanish venue next week.

After a rainy opening day on Tuesday, conditions on Wednesday remained cold and wet, moving McLaren to again sit out the action altogether as teams altered their scheduled programs.

"Tomorrow the forecast is better -- we have been waiting for these conditions all week, so fingers crossed," said Renault's Fernando Alonso.

Conditions at Valencia for BMW Sauber's exclusive test were slightly better on Wednesday, but Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld did have to conduct their race simulation on a wet track.

F1 nearly bled Spyker to death - CEO
(GMM)  The CEO of the Dutch sports car maker Spyker has indicated that he is relieved to have offloaded the Silverstone based formula one team to new owners Force India.

Spyker spent much of its short lived participation on the grid amid speculation that its parent group was in financial crisis.

The specialist builder of hand-built sports cars is now reportedly in better shape.

"Formula one turned out to be a massive bleeder, losing two million euros a month because some sponsors did not pay," CEO Victor Muller told Automotive News Europe.

"This drained our production capital," he added.

Under the new ownership of Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol, Force India's F1 budget for 2008 will be up to $50 million higher than in the Spyker era.

"70 million dollars is barely enough to get to the races," the team's continuing technical boss Mike Gascoyne told India Times.

"(With the former budget) there's nothing left for research and development," he added.

Alonso dismisses Hamilton racism scandal
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has played down the racism scandal involving his former McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton and dismissed the FIA's response as "not needed".

"Spain is not a racist country," the 26-year-old former double world champion was quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency EFE.

Spaniard Alonso, who has returned to Renault for 2008 after falling out with Hamilton and the British team McLaren's leadership, this week finally broke his silence on the racist incidents as he returned to the Barcelona circuit for testing.

"This was an isolated case," he explained, referring to the group of his supporters who wore black makeup and wigs and sparked an international furor.

"The less we talk about it, the better.  They got dressed up for Carnival and you can see what happened then.

"I am called a dog but nobody comes out to defend me.

"The anti-racism campaign that the FIA wants to organize for the grand prix here, I don't think is needed," Alonso said.

Fuji to limit attendance for 2008 GP
(GMM)  Japanese grand prix officials intend to better organize the Fuji race for 2008 by reducing the number of spectators allowed at the circuit, it has emerged.

Organizers of the inaugural 2007 event issued a statement to the international press late on Wednesday promising a smoother running of the grand prix this October.

Visitors to the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway last year complained about traffic problems and poor facilities.

But among the proposed remedies outlined in the statement, the Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri reveals that organizers will also restrict attendance for the 2008 race.

140,000 Sunday spectators congregated for the rain-affected race last September, but attendance for 2008 will be limited to around 110,000, it is revealed.

The newspaper said spectators' experience last year was marred by a "transportation nightmare", while organizers had to refund seats that were obstructed.

Damon Hill's son begins racing career
(GMM)  1996 world champion Damon Hill's teenage son will contest the Ginetta Junior series in 2008.

Josh Hill, 17, is also the grandson of double world champion of the 1960s Graham Hill, and therefore the British family's third generation to embark on a motor racing career.

Ginetta Junior is a one-make sportscar series for teenagers, as a next step up from karting.

Josh will also remain at school this year, the magazine Motorsport News said.

"He could have done another season of karting, but he is a tall teenager so cars were the ideal route at this stage," said Damon Hill.

"We aren't making any great claims about how he will get on, and this is simply a toe in the water," he added.

Renault, Alonso, dismiss 'W' wing rumors
(GMM)  A spokesman for the French formula one team, as well as Fernando Alonso, have rubbished claims that Renault will use a revolutionary rear wing at the Australian grand prix next month.

Citing a source close to the Enstone based team, a Dutch website recently reported that the concept, nicknamed the 'W' wing because of its shape, would not be tested before Melbourne so that it is not copied by rival outfits.

The reports added that the piece could be worth up to five tenths per lap for the new R28 car.

But on the sidelines of the Barcelona test this week, a spokesman ridiculed the rumor when asked by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

Marca suggests that the story arose after fake photos of the supposed wing were posted on the internet by inventive fans.

To the Spanish news agency EFE, meanwhile, team driver Alonso insisted that Renault is not planning to "present anything revolutionary" on its 2008 single seater for the start of the season.

The 26-year-old former world champion did, however, suggest that the team will shortly test some improvements to the front of the R28 that should yield "one or two tenths" per lap.

Ralf spurred on by brother's DTM warning
(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher has said the advice of his elder brother Michael to avoid DTM is an "added incentive" to do well in the German touring car series.

Before 32-year-old Ralf committed to switching to the category with Mercedes-Benz in 2008, former seven time world champion Michael Schumacher - who is seven years older - warned him to stay away.

"I believe that neither of us have the talent to drive those cars quickly -- I have even tried them and it is a completely different world," Michael said in January.

Now that he has signed a minimally one year contract for 2008, Ralf was asked by the German newspaper Bild if he contemplated heeding his elder brother's advice.

"It is more of an incentive for me," he said, amid speculation that the German brothers no longer have a close relationship.

"To find out if it comes easily to me or not, I can only try, so we will see," Ralf added.

Schumacher also indicated that he may attend some grands prix in the future.

"If I come to the formula one paddock, I will certainly eat my supper in the Mercedes motor home," he vowed.

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