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Latest F1 news in brief
  • More bad weather expected for last test
  • Aguri talks now over, Karthikeyan hints
  • Honda 'happy' despite slow pre-season
  • Ferrari not so superior says Renault's Symonds
  • Piquet will not attend son's GP debut
  • Schu better than Hamilton - Willi Weber

More bad weather expected for last test
(GMM)  After a few days of disrupted testing in Spain, the final week of the 2008 pre-season is also likely to be staged in inclement conditions.

Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, also the scene of the final group test beginning on Monday, turned on better weather on Thursday, as four teams wrapped up the penultimate session of the winter.

BMW Sauber's exclusive test at Valencia has also been disrupted by bad weather, although conditions in the eastern city had improved by Thursday afternoon.

After a damp start, McLaren on Thursday got into action for the first time this week at Barcelona.

Ferrari intends to stay at the Spanish circuit on Friday, before the major action resumes on Monday.

"The weather is still a question mark, with a mixture of sun and rain forecast," said Toyota engineer Dieter Gass.

Honda, meanwhile, intends to conclude its 2008 preparations after Barcelona with another test in early March, at Jerez.

Aguri talks now over, Karthikeyan hints
(GMM)  Narain Karthikeyan has indicated that talks about a race seat this year at Super Aguri are no longer taking place.

It was reported recently that an Indian consortium, led by the telco Spice Group, was pushing for former grand prix driver Karthikeyan to be central to its planned buyout of the Japanese team.

Key Aguri backer Honda, however, was reportedly vehemently opposed to the appointment of 31-year-old Karthikeyan, who raced for a season with Jordan in 2005.

Currently a driver in the A1GP series, Karthikeyan told the publication Mid-Day that he has now effectively given up on the F1 option for 2008, although it is not clear if Super Aguri's Spice Group talks have also been scuppered.

"I am willing to wait," he said.  "Six months, a year.  If F1 happens then good, otherwise I am quite pleased with this."

Honda 'happy' despite slow pre-season
(GMM)  Honda figures on Thursday presented an upbeat mood about the 2008 season, despite lagging the field with its new car in winter testing.

The Japanese manufacturer finished 2007 an abysmal eighth in the constructors' standings, scoring just 6 points for the entire season with the earth-liveried RA107 single seater.

Honda did not attend this week's Barcelona test, but Jenson Button's best time at the wheel of his new mount, the RA108, was over three seconds off the pace at Jerez late last week, and only fractionally quicker than the RA107 in the hands of Super Aguri's Anthony Davidson.

"I must say I'm happy with the way things are going," Briton Button, who is 28, told a news conference in Tokyo.

"We're making improvements at every test in many, many areas.  And for me, I'm happy also because the car is very drivable.

"It's a car we can really build on," he added.

The mood at Honda has also been buoyed by the arrival recently of new team boss Ross Brawn, who had very little to do with the specification of the current RA108.

"I think the performance is okay," Brawn said in Japan.  "It is nothing special at the moment, but there is quite a lot of potential for the season."

Button's teammate Rubens Barrichello is also happier with the RA108, after failing to score a single point in 2007 for the first time in his long formula one career.

"I'm happy that we improved the braking problems that we had last year, and we are still lacking a bit of performance overall," he said.

Ferrari not so superior says Renault's Symonds
(GMM)  Pat Symonds agrees that Ferrari is leading the formula one field at present, but the Renault technical boss does not think the Italian team is so far ahead.

Some figures have expressed the view that Ferrari's F2008 looks set to dominate the new season, but Symonds thinks the car's record-breaking test at Bahrain recently should not be overestimated.

"We are in the group that is behind Ferrari," the Briton confirmed to the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.

"It seems as though they are ahead of everyone else, but I don't think they are as superior as they seemed to be in Bahrain.

"Until you can make a direct comparison with your rivals, you can never have a clear idea," Symonds said, exactly three weeks before opening practice for the Australian grand prix.

After three days in Barcelona this week, he thinks the gap between McLaren, BMW Sauber, and Enstone based Renault is "quite small", with Red Bull and Williams also not far away.

Piquet will not attend son's GP debut
(GMM)  New Renault driver Nelson Piquet has revealed that his famous father, who won three world championships in the 80s, is not scheduled to attend his first grand prix in Australia next month.

"My father will be on business and has no plans to go to Australia," Piquet, 22, is quoted as saying whilst testing at Barcelona on Thursday by the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.

The rookie Brazilian agrees with his Renault teammate Fernando Alonso that the pair will not be fighting for the win at Albert Park with their new R28 single seater.

Instead, Piquet estimates that Renault will be competing behind the leading three teams with Red Bull and Williams, "although I do not know whether we are in front of them or not".

He promised: "We will improve gradually.  This car is better than last year's, but the others have also moved forwards."

Schu better than Hamilton - Willi Weber
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's manager says he does not see a lasting successor to the retired seven time world champion among the current generation of drivers in formula one.

Willi Weber has told Germany's Bild newspaper that not even Lewis Hamilton, revered in the mainstream racing press as the sport's new golden boy, matches up to Schumacher, who retired after the 2006 season.

"Lewis has many prizes, but no titles," 65-year-old Weber said.

"He had his chance last year, when he was sitting in the best car, but still Ferrari won the championship.

"I'm not saying that Hamilton is bad, but Schumacher was in a different world.  And that will remain the case.

"I am sure that in my lifetime we will never witness someone in this sport as great as Michael.  Becoming world champion has never been so easy," he added.

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