Latest F1 news in brief
- Montezemolo moves to cool Ferrari optimism
- F1-standard circuit to be built near Moscow
- Barcelona ramps up anti-racism measures
- Montreal to improve F1 circuit
- Schu predicts two-horse race for 2008 title
- Schu names Rosberg as '08 racer to watch
Montezemolo moves to cool Ferrari optimism
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has expressed concern about the excessive optimism surrounding Ferrari's forthcoming formula one campaign.
With just over two weeks to go until the 2008 season opener, the widespread paddock perception is that Ferrari's F2008 single seater will be the car to beat -- even if McLaren seems to have closed the gap in recent tests.
"I sense too much optimism about Ferrari, as if we will fight alone for the world title," the Italian said on Monday.
Montezemolo insists, however, that he is pleased that the Maranello based team's preparations for the season are going well.
"I am happy that our drivers feel the new car to be competitive," he said, "but it is important that we have our feet on the ground.
"There will be a very tough championship, we know that," said Montezemolo, who announced that Ferrari had entered an agreement with Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI).
Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, who tested the F2008 for the first time on Monday, said he is not concerned about Ferrari's position as pre-season favorite.
"I do not think expectations are a problem," the German is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"We know precisely where we are and we know we can win grands prix. We also know that there is a long road ahead of us.
"In short, we are prepared," the seven time world champion added.
F1-standard circuit to be built near Moscow
(GMM) The former manager of formula one circuits in Austria and Bahrain has been appointed to oversee the construction of a F1-standard venue near Moscow.
Hans Geist will lead the project that is to take place 80 kilometers west of Moscow, in the town of Volokolamsk, although it is not definite that the venue will bid to host a grand prix.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is reportedly keener to bring his sport to St. Petersburg, while the Volokolamsk venue intends to play host to DTM and MotoGP races when it is ready in 2010.
"The track will be designed by Hermann Tilke to formula one standards. But the operator may not necessarily have a grand prix, even if the opportunity would be accepted if presented," Geist told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten.
Barcelona ramps up anti-racism measures
(GMM) The operators of Barcelona's formula one circuit on Monday admitted that security has been tightened since the racism scandal erupted three weeks ago.
Lewis Hamilton seemed unperturbed as he drove to the top of the time sheets, but a Circuit de Catalunya spokesman revealed that much effort has been put into ensuring that the bigotry of some Spanish supporters is never again seen.
"We have made some changes," he told Britain's Guardian newspaper, after the FIA warned that a repeat of the incidents could cost Spain its two grands prix.
The spokesman said fans' banners and clothes are being checked this week, while the grandstand opposite the McLaren garage and the roof above the team's pit area is closed, and access in the paddock has been reduced by the erection of barriers.
"We want McLaren and Hamilton to be comfortable," he insisted.
Germany's Bild newspaper revealed that extra security people are on duty in the paddock.
"It is a purely precautionary measure," the spokesman said.
Montreal to improve F1 circuit
(GMM) Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will receive a facelift with the aid of state funds ahead of June's Canadian grand prix.
The German news agency SID reports that the $4.5 million modernization will come courtesy of the city and the Quebec province, involving a new media centre and updated pit lane and paddock.
After the demise of the US grand prix at Indianapolis, the Canadian race this season will be the only North American stop on the 2008 formula one calendar.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone warned one year ago that Montreal must update its F1 circuit or risk losing the race.
"Montreal does not need to build the Taj Mahal or compete with Shanghai or Bahrain," he said.
"But we do want to represent the city in this new era of the sport," Ecclestone added.
Schu predicts two-horse race for 2008 title
(GMM) Michael Schumacher felt optimistic about Ferrari's forthcoming formula one campaign after testing the F2008 single seater for the first time on Monday.
Although the retired seven time world champion, as well as reigning drivers' title winner Kimi Raikkonen, narrowly trailed the pace of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren at Barcelona, 39-year-old Schumacher told reporters that Ferrari is ready to charge for wins beginning with the Australian grand prix next month.
"The new car is better than last year's in all areas," the German said.
"The world championship will be fought again between two teams -- us, and the Silberpfeile (silver arrows)," he told the German newspaper Bild, referring to Maranello based Ferrari and Mercedes-powered McLaren.
"Behind us are some others with question marks," he added.
But while not including Renault and BMW Sauber as immediately in the hunt for wins this season, Schumacher is keen to play down the suggestion that Ferrari will run away with the title.
"I see Ferrari's advantage as not as big as many believe," he is quoted as saying by the Swiss newspaper Blick.
Schumacher hinted to the German broadcaster RTL, meanwhile, that he is not planning to test too regularly for the Italian team.
"Driving for me is still fun, as long as it is not too often," he said.
Schu names Rosberg as '08 racer to watch
(GMM) Retired seven time world champion Michael Schumacher has named countryman Nico Rosberg as his personal standout of the 2008 winter.
Even though 22-year-old Rosberg was on Monday outpaced by his Japanese rookie teammate Kazuki Nakajima at Barcelona, Schumacher has earmarked the driver as one to watch this season at the wheel of Williams' Toyota-powered new FW30 model.
"I have been most impressed by Nico," Schumacher, 39, is quoted as saying by the Swiss newspaper Blick after testing for Ferrari at the Spanish circuit.
Williams' 2008 single seater has been a regular performer of the pre-season period, leading some to believe that the formerly ultra-successful British team could be set to become F1's third force this year.
Rosberg, too, is pleased with the FW30 but also keen to keep expectations in check.
"The (lap) times have been very satisfactory," he is quoted as saying by Sport Bild, "even in moments when we have not really been searching for quick times."
The German, however, said it is his hope to bring the Grove-built car "regularly into the points" this season, with the ultimate target being podium places.