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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Dennis quiet in face of Mosley sex scandal
  • Young driver confirms 2008 Toro Rosso debut
  • Ralf keeps mind open to F1 return
  • Schumacher rejects latest MotoGP rumors
  • Young Belgian to test Force India in 2008
  • German F1 carmakers denounce Mosley sex scandal

Dennis quiet in face of Mosley sex scandal
(GMM)  McLaren boss Ron Dennis this week would not be drawn on the sex scandal that has turned the tables on FIA president Max Mosley.

Dennis, the 60-year-old Briton, spent the recent winter pre-season fighting for his future in formula one, following the humiliating 2007 espionage scandal that cost his team the constructors' title and a $100m fine.

But with the circumstances apparently having now gone full circle, after some last year accused Mosley of waging a McLaren "witch hunt", Dennis declined to comment when he appeared at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Bahrain on Wednesday.

Mosley this week openly questioned the origin of the covert investigation into his private life, writing in a letter to FIA affiliates that he had been pursued for "reasons and clients as yet unknown".

But all Dennis would say, when asked by a journalist whether he thought there was no such thing as bad publicity, was "no".

Dennis closed the questioning by insisting that the forum was not the appropriate place to discuss the matter.

Young driver confirms 2008 Toro Rosso debut
(GMM)  New Zealand racer Brendon Hartley on Thursday confirmed that he recently conducted the secret track debut of Toro Rosso's new car, the STR3.

It emerged this week that, with the Italian team's race drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais overseas for the Malaysian and Bahrain grands prix, the task of shaking down the car fell to the highly rated Red Bull junior driver.

Hartley, 18, drove the Ferrari powered STR3, that is based on Red Bull's Adrian Newey penned RB4, at the Vairano circuit in Italy.

The current British F3 competitor, who last year became the youngest ever winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 Euro Cup, has also driven a Renault-powered Red Bull F1 car in a demonstration in Saudi Arabia, after familiarizing himself with the machine over a few laps at Silverstone.

"There's been a lot happening in the last few weeks that I haven't been able to speak about," Hartley is quoted as saying by the New Zealand Press Association.

"The formula one testing with Toro Rosso was a confidential development session for a car that is yet to be publicly launched," he added.

"What I can share is that it was a privilege to be invited to drive the new car for the first time," Hartley said.

Ralf keeps mind open to F1 return
(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher has refused to rule out returning to formula one.

The winner of six grands prix left the series at the end of last year following three consecutive disappointing championship campaigns with Toyota.

But unlike his brother Michael, who voluntarily retired as a seven time world champion in 2006, 32-year-old Schumacher does not consider his professional motor racing career to be over.

Ralf has signed up for the competitive German touring car series DTM with Mercedes-Benz for 2008, and he intends to try to capture the attention of his former F1 contemporaries.

"I am totally concentrated on the DTM," he said in an interview with the news agency SID.

"Of course, I would have been happy to continue in formula one with a competitive car, but now a new challenge begins for me," Ralf, who tested unsuccessfully with the Force India team in the 2008 pre-season period, added.

Now part of the Mercedes family, Schumacher admits to some feelings of envy when he watched Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen debut the competitive McLaren MP4-23 last month.

"It would really excite me to race that car.  Should I ever get the chance to get back into formula one competitively, Mercedes would certainly not stand in my way," he said.

He confirmed that he is only committed contractually to the DTM series for 2008.

"What comes afterwards, I will decide with Norbert Haug at a later date," Ralf Schumacher said.

Schumacher rejects latest MotoGP rumors
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has put a lid on gossip that he intends to step up his foray into motorcycle racing.

The most successful formula one driver of all time, who retired in 2006, has been dabbling on two wheels lately, including his semi-professional debut with a fourth place in Italy last weekend.

But while in Brussels for an anti drink-driving campaign on Wednesday, the 39-year-old German insisted that his hobby motorbike racing is mere "personal entertainment" rather than the launching of a new career.

It was rumored in recent days that Schumacher's next target might be a wildcard entry for the German MotoGP grand prix later this year at the Sachsenring.

"I am not trying to be a new Rossi or Stoner," the Spanish news agency EFE quoted him as saying.

Schumacher is also adamant that he will never again get serious about professional four-wheel racing, insisting that occasionally testing for Ferrari is "fun, but only for a day at a time".

Young Belgian to test Force India in 2008
(GMM)  Promising young Belgian driver Frederic Vervisch will make his formula one test debut later this year.

Thanks to an agreement between the Asian F3 engine supplier TOM'S (Toyota) and the F1 team Force India, the 21-year-old has secured a November winter test as a reward for winning the title.

It is believed that other promising drivers will also get tests with Force India at the end of the 2008 season.

"This is part of our continuous search for young new talent in Asia," a Force India spokesperson confirmed.

Vervisch will contest the German F3 series this year with the Swiss Racing Team, which is headed by the former Sauber F1 engineer Othmar Welti.

German F1 carmakers denounce Mosley sex scandal
(GMM)  The sex scandal has worsened further for Max Mosley, with German manufacturers BMW and Mercedes-Benz distancing themselves from the embattled FIA president.

In a joint statement distributed by the carmakers on Thursday, they slammed the revelations in the British tabloid media at the weekend as "disgraceful", even though Mosley has denied that his escapades with prostitutes did not have a Nazi element as reported.

"As a company, we strongly distance ourselves from it.  This incident concerns Max Mosley both personally and as president of the FIA, the global umbrella organization for motoring clubs.

"Its consequences therefore extend far beyond the motor sport industry.  We await a response from the relevant FIA bodies," the statement read.

It is also rumored that F1's two Japanese manufacturers, Honda and Toyota, could similarly denounce Mosley.

The news from Germany coincides with revelations that the Crown Prince of Bahrain barred Mosley from attending the grand prix this weekend.

London newspaper The Times said Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa told the 67-year-old Briton in writing that he is not welcome in the kingdom at present.

"With great regret, I feel that under the current circumstances, it would be inappropriate for you to be in Bahrain at this time," the letter read.

Mosley had been due to travel to Bahrain for the F1 event and to attend a dinner hosted by the Crown Prince.

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