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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Italians collect evidence in McLaren raids
  • Hamilton's 'honeymoon' is over - Rosberg
  • Toyota to end shame as F1 host - newspaper
  • Rosberg not sure if BMW has made last step
  • Sutil must beat old-hat Fisi - Keke Rosberg
  • Renault to 'defend' in first three races - Briatore

Italians collect evidence in McLaren raids
(GMM)  Italian police have contradicted reports that no useful evidence was collected in the raids on the British homes and office of senior McLaren chiefs earlier this week.

A statement issued by the authorities said the searches, believed to have involved the cooperation of up to fifty Surrey police officers, resulted in evidence from which "clearly emerges the responsibilities of the management and some technicians at a high level in McLaren".

It also emerges that the Italians took copies of a number of storage devices relating to the senior McLaren personnel, including Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh, and copied computer directories and email mailboxes.

McLaren said after the raids on Wednesday that the police were "completely satisfied with the co-operation they have received.

"These actions are part of a normal judicial process in connection with the ongoing investigation, and are supported by McLaren Racing," the team added.

Hamilton's 'honeymoon' is over - Rosberg
(GMM)  Keke Rosberg has joined a growing chorus who predict that Lewis Hamilton's second season in formula one in 2008 could be much more difficult than the first.

Hamilton, now 23, earned widespread acclaim as he won four races for McLaren in 2007 and only narrowly missed making history as the sport's first rookie world champion.

But Rosberg, the 1982 world champion, reckons last year was the young Briton's F1 "honeymoon".

"Only now will his normal life (in F1) begin," the Finn, whose German born son Nico races for Toyota-powered Williams, told the magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Rosberg said of Hamilton, who in the departure of Fernando Alonso becomes McLaren's de-facto number one: "The expectations of him now are incredibly high.  He has big boots to fill.

"There will be highs and lows, and he has to get used to that," said Keke Rosberg, who in 2008 will travel to all the grands prix as a commentator for German TV.

Although he will be on-site for all the races this year, though, Rosberg ruled out assuming an Anthony Hamilton-like grip on his own son's career.

"Nico would rather talk to me about the weather than about motor racing," he laughed.

For the sake of Nico's career, he also promises to tone down his criticisms in 2008, after calling Michael Schumacher a 'Drecksack' - a rude German-language insult - a couple of years ago.

"My words harmed Nico," Rosberg admitted to the German newspaper Bild, "so I will be a little calmer in the future."

Toyota to end shame as F1 host - newspaper
(GMM)  Toyota will work hard to restore its honor later this year after the shambles of the inaugural Japanese grand prix at Fuji.

The circuit, which is nearly 100 per cent owned by the Japanese car manufacturer and F1 competitor, recently announced that it would better organize the race this October after traffic problems and substandard facilities cast a pall over the 2007 event.

The Japan Times newspaper this week headlined an article with the claim that Toyota's "reputation as F1 host (is) on the line".

The newspaper said Toyota had "wiped out" in the organization of the 2007 race, and is now "under the gun to prove it can run a major motor racing event".

"We want to restore the public trust that was lost because of last year's event and make this year's event successful at any cost," Fuji Speedway vice president Yukio Takase confirmed.

Toyota has already added eight more senior officials to its Fuji Speedway subsidiary ahead of the event this year, the newspaper reported.

Rosberg not sure if BMW has made last step
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld is facing a big challenge to emerge as a grand prix winner in 2008, according to former world champion Keke Rosberg.

The 1982 title winner says that while BMW Sauber's goals are ambitious for 2008, many obstacles are still facing the 30-year-old German as he prepares to start his ninth full season in F1.

"Last season, he (Heidfeld) had Robert Kubica slightly under control, but the Pole was a bit faster throughout the winter," Rosberg, the 59-year-old Finnish father of Heidfeld's countryman Nico Rosberg, told the magazine Sport Bild.

Another hurdle for Heidfeld is the true competitiveness of BMW's new single seater, the radical F1.08, which although promising endured a difficult birth earlier this winter.

"We need to see what the true picture is," Rosberg, to attend all the races in 2008 as a German-language commentator, added.

"BMW have said very clearly that they want not just one but several wins.  This is a very high goal.

"The jump into the class of the two top teams is enormous, complicated and expensive, and the question is whether BMW have made it," Rosberg said.

"I know Alonso has spoken very highly of them, so either he wants a contract or, as a driver, he knows more than we do."

Interestingly, Rosberg says the difference between BMW and Williams - his son's employer - this season is the respective "risk" the teams have applied to finding their way to the front of the grid.

"Williams have a more conservative attitude," he pointed out, "while BMW has gone for an extreme solution, which is make or break.

"But I do not know how good the (Williams) car is," he admits.  "When I talk to Nico, we talk about other things; he tells me nothing (about F1), even when I push him!"

Sutil must beat old-hat Fisi - Keke Rosberg
(GMM)  German duo Adrian Sutil and Timo Glock are facing make-or-break seasons in formula one this year, 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg has said.

The former Finnish driver, who in 2008 will attend all the races for German television, observes that the presence of veteran Giancarlo Fisichella in the sister Force India car will be a true test of the promise shown by 25-year-old Sutil in 2007.

"He will be measured against Fisichella, and he must clearly beat him, because he (Fisichella) is a discontinued model," Rosberg, 59, told Sport Bild.

Referring again to Sutil, he added: "If he fails, he will be in problems."

Rosberg also warned reigning GP2 champion Timo Glock to be wary of his Toyota teammate in 2008.

"He must be careful," he said.  "Jarno Trulli is a very fast qualifier, and qualifying basically characterizes the race results.

"Timo has to keep pace with Trulli, otherwise he too will have problems," Rosberg added.

Keke Rosberg, meanwhile, spoke glowingly about another German in the 2008 field; 20-year-old Sebastian Vettel, of Toro Rosso.

"In a very short time he has built a very good name," he said of the baby-faced racer.

"He is a man of the future," Rosberg added.

Renault to 'defend' in first three races - Briatore
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore thinks Fernando Alonso was being "optimistic" when he declared a 30 per cent probability of emerging with a third drivers' title in 2008.

The Renault boss, despite earlier expecting that the new R28 single seater was the French team's ticket back to the front, was even more downbeat about Alonso's chances for the upcoming Australian grand prix.

"If Fernando says that we have a 30 per cent chance of winning, then he is optimistic.  I see (our chances at) about 25 per cent," Briatore told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The flamboyant 57-year-old, interviewed by the national sports daily alongside his 27-year-old fiancée Elisabetta Gregoraci, says Renault's target for the first three 'flyaway' races of the season will be looking ahead to an improved showing when back in Europe.

"We must defend our position and take some points in the first three races," he explained, "because when we go back to Europe we have some important changes that should make us move forwards."

Briatore also played down suggestions that Alonso might choose to exercise his 'out' clause at the end of 2008 if Renault do not show rapid signs of becoming a contender again.

"Is there a risk that he will leave if we are not competitive?  At the moment I can not see those conditions," Briatore is quoted as saying.

He also ruled out the possibility that Alonso will face the same sort of problems with his teammate in 2008 as he did alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren last year.

"I don't think Nelsinho (Piquet) is going to commit suicide in his first year," Briatore stated.

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