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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Silverstone in sound financial shape
  • Alonso impressed with BMW's recent form
  • Ferrari to dominate '08, Trulli repeats
  • Pedro not predicting '08 pecking-order
  • Massa not fazed by McLaren's Barca feats
  • Ozzy to lap up 2008 season opener

Silverstone in sound financial shape
(GMM)  Although the running of the British grand prix beyond next year is in doubt, the operators of the Silverstone circuit appear to be in sound financial shape.

According to the latest accounts for Silverstone Circuits, owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), the venue recently made an after-tax profit of $2.5 million, compared with a $5m loss in the previous accounting period.

The profits, revealed by the Independent newspaper to include the 18 month period of the 2005 and 2006 British grands prix, come amid F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone's demands that Silverstone pay higher race promotion fees and drastically improve its ageing facilities.

The BRDC also reportedly has cash reserves of more than $23m, and the latest accounts do not take into consideration the boost in F1's popularity in Britain since Lewis Hamilton broke onto the scene last year.

Silverstone's current promotional contract with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management company expires after the 2009 race.

Meanwhile, the accounts of the McLaren Group show an operating loss of $4.5m in 2006.  One year earlier, the Woking based company made a $28m profit.

A report in the Daily Mail blames the figures on the loss of F1 title sponsor West and flagging sales of the SLR supercar.

Alonso impressed with BMW's recent form
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso says BMW Sauber could be set to give his former team McLaren a run for its money in the 2008 season.

While the Spaniard agrees that Ferrari is marginally clear of the field for the forthcoming season, he points out that Swiss based BMW Sauber has made solid steps forward since it was recently revealed that the German team was struggling with its new car.

"Two or three weeks ago they were a little bit behind, quite close to us," Alonso, 26, is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper AS.

"But things can change so quickly, and now they are almost on a par with McLaren."

The 2005 and 2006 drivers' champion thinks BMW's F1.08 single seater is "very fast", even if the car's potential is often masked by running high fuel loads.

"Sometimes, you realize that their times were set early on in a batch of 25 or 30 laps, or with 60 or 70 kilos of fuel on board," Alonso marveled.

"BMW is the team that has surprised me the most in the past two or three tests," he confirmed.

While acknowledging Ferrari's strong position with its F2008 model, meanwhile, Alonso does not agree that the Italian team is all but guaranteed the championship.

"I heard that Trulli or Fisico said they (Ferrari) have already won the title, but I don't believe in that," he insists.

Ferrari to dominate '08, Trulli repeats
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli stands by his recent claim that Ferrari is set to dominate the 2008 season.

The Italian driver, however, has clarified his earlier assertion that, so quick is the F2008, that F1 officials could hand the team the world championship trophy before a single racing lap has been completed.

"Well, I didn't want to go that far," he smiled in an interview with El Pais.  "The world championship is very long.

"But I do think Ferrari will dominate the start of the season."

Trulli, who is 33, recently pitted his 2008-specification Toyota against Ferrari's single seater at the Bahrain tests, and came to the conclusion that no team will match the Italian team's pace in 2008.

"If you have an advantage of five tenths already at the beginning, and then you continue to build on that, it will be very difficult for the others."

He has so far delivered a mixed appraisal of Toyota's new TF108, admitting that struggling among the midfield means it is often difficult to stay motivated.

"Things are not so bad now," Trulli explained.  "The car is much faster than in 2007, but the distance to Ferrari and McLaren is very large.

"All drivers are here to win," he continued, "so you have to find smaller goals to keep yourself motivated.

"Our level dropped after 2005, and when that happens, it is so difficult to win back the lost ground, because while you are improving, the distance to the others stays the same because they are working in the same way," Trulli added.

Pedro not predicting '08 pecking-order
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa is happy to wait until the opening race of the 2008 season before predicting the pecking order of the competing teams.

The Spanish test driver, who will again attend every grand prix this year as McLaren's official reserve, is reluctant to join speculation that Ferrari is set to dominate the season while Renault sits out another stint in the midfield.

"When we are talking about these things, it is so easy to get it wrong that I prefer not to say anything," de la Rosa, who turned 37 on Sunday, told the sports daily Marca.

"You could say that Ferrari and McLaren are the favorites, but within a week there could be another team in there," he explained.

"I do not rule out that BMW and Renault will be fighting for victories as well.

"As for Ferrari, I don't see them as good as everyone says, and I believe that Renault is not as far behind as Fernando (Alonso) says," de la Rosa adds.

"Everyone is very close, and that is good for the championship," he continued.  "We have to be cautious, because until qualifying in Australia no-one really knows where they are."

Massa not fazed by McLaren's Barca feats
(GMM)  Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has refused to entertain speculation that McLaren last week bridged the apparent gap between the two teams.

In Barcelona last Thursday for the penultimate pre-season test of the winter period, the 'big two' rivals shared the same track for the first time in a while.

Interestingly, after the surface dried, the MP4-23s driven by Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa were both ahead in the time sheets of the two F2008 models, whose cockpits were occupied by Massa and test driver Luca Badoer.

"If we are talking about the (lap) times, there is nothing to comment on," the Brazilian is quoted as saying by Italy's La Stampa.

"We completed our program the way we wanted to.  In the end, times are important, but they are not the only important thing.

"We were behind by a few fractions, we know there are areas for improvement.  And we must continue to work; we must not stop," he insisted.

Massa also insists, however, that he is not bothered if Ferrari travels to the Australian grand prix in two weeks as the apparent favorite.

"This does not create any additional pressure, because also last year we were always fast," he explained.

Ozzy to lap up 2008 season opener
(GMM)  Rock legend and television star Ozzy Osbourne is set to attend the opening race of the 2008 formula one season.

It is rumored in Australia that the British former Black Sabbath singer, and his wife Sharon, will be in Melbourne that weekend to perform at the nearby Rod Laver Arena.

Also in town, and likely to attend the various grand prix parties and functions, according to local reports, will be Dannii Minogue, the Australian singer and younger sister of Kylie.

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