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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Beating Hamilton not my priority - Kovalainen
  • Alonso factor not reason for McLaren slump - tester
  • Criticism and critique amid Hamilton slump
  • FIA pressing ahead with anti-racism campaign
  • Rivals say Alonso unlikely to shine in Spain
  • Strength a barrier to F1 for women - de la Rosa
  • Ferrari right to not want Alonso - Briatore
  • New F1 motor home among biggest in paddock
  • Driver slams Fisi's GP2 team for 2008 snub
  • Briatore to marry on June 14
  • No Williams shares sold yet says Head
  • Schu agent patents invention

Beating Hamilton not my priority - Kovalainen
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen insists beating his highly rated McLaren teammate is not his priority.

"If we are third and fourth and I'm ahead of him, then to be honest I'm thinking about the two guys in front of me," the Finn, referring to 2007 championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton, told the Daily Star, a British tabloid.

Kovalainen, 26, has had a solid start to the beginning of his new McLaren tenure, just as Hamilton comes under fire for some recent lackluster showings.

"I have confidence in myself.  I'm not afraid of anyone," he added.

"In the race it does not enter my head at all to think 'Where is Lewis?'"

Kovalainen does admit, however, that he has been a little surprised by his better than expected start to 2008, his second season on the formula one grid.

In the drivers' championship he lies equal on points with Hamilton, and just five behind the leader, reigning world champion and countryman Kimi Raikkonen.

"I did not expect to be fighting for podiums and pole positions straightaway.  That has been a little surprising," he said.

Alonso factor not reason for McLaren slump - tester
(GMM)  Team test driver Pedro de la Rosa has played down suggestions that the absence of Fernando Alonso has hurt the McLaren team in 2008.

Following the departure of the former double world champion at the end of last year, Ron Dennis' team selected Heikki Kovalainen to race alongside fellow second-season racer Lewis Hamilton this year.

The new driver pairing has coincided with a slump in performance for the Anglo-German outfit, as BMW now challenges its mantle as the top team alongside Ferrari.

"We are below our normal level, and that is why we are so determined to do better in Barcelona," de la Rosa is quoted as saying by Spanish newspapers.

Asked specifically if the absence of Alonso's experience is hurting McLaren, de la Rosa added: "I do not think so.

"It is not something that is directly proportional.

"It is true that BMW has surprised us a lot, but we have proved on many occasions that we are very good at developing the car throughout the season."

Criticism and critique amid Hamilton slump
(GMM)  1996 world champion and countryman Damon Hill has backed Lewis Hamilton to bounce back from his current performance slump.

Despite winning the Australian grand prix last month, Hamilton was the worst performer of the top five formula one drivers over the past five races, a leading F1 magazine claims ahead of Sunday's Spanish event.

In the last five races, including the final two events of 2007, Hamilton scored just 16 points, in comparison with Robert Kubica's 18, Nick Heidfeld's 21, Felipe Massa's 24, and Kimi Raikkonen's 39.

Hill defended Hamilton's collection of recent mistakes.

"Sometimes with a driver who is extremely ambitious, they can overextend," he told The Times.

Hill also believes Hamilton is simply at the point in his career when he discovers that success is not easy in F1.

"It doesn't matter whether you are Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna or Nigel Mansell, it is always more difficult than you thought, and that's the tough bit," he said.

Former grand prix veteran and ITV commentator Martin Brundle believes that Hamilton's position as McLaren team leader this year has put him under immense pressure.

"He lost his composure on the first lap in Bahrain –- he just thrust his car into difficult situations and was asking for trouble," he said.

Hamilton's McLaren colleague, test driver Pedro de la Rosa, defended his teammate.

"He has made some mistakes," he told Spanish press on Wednesday, "but two or three in a season is normal."

To the newspaper Berliner Kurier, Mercedes boss Norbert Haug also backed the team's 23-year-old British driver.

"Even stars make mistakes," the German is quoted as saying, "and Hamilton has owned up to them.  Forget it."

FIA pressing ahead with anti-racism campaign
(GMM)  F1's governing body intends to push ahead with the launch of its anti-racism campaign at Barcelona this weekend, British newspapers insist.

Despite some uncertainty as to whether the Max Mosley sex scandal might delay the launch, newspapers including the Telegraph, Daily Mail and Independent report that the FIA plans to kick-start 'Race Against Racism' on Thursday at the Circuit de Catalunya.

In the recent pre-season testing period, the track was the venue of ugly racist scenes waged against local anti-hero Lewis Hamilton by a group of Spanish Fernando Alonso loyalists.

Hamilton, F1's only black driver, said earlier this week: "The circuit is great.  We can't ever lose it from the calendar.

"It always sees competitive racing and there are so many enthusiastic fans there all the time which makes for a great atmosphere."

Rivals say Alonso unlikely to shine in Spain
(GMM)  McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa is sure that the improvements made to the Renault package are not going to propel countryman Fernando Alonso to the podium at the Spanish grand prix.

"They do look like they have improved, especially on the long runs, but I don't think it will be enough to be at the level of the top teams," the 37-year-old said at a sponsor event in Madrid.

De la Rosa insists that Ferrari, McLaren and BMW will remain ahead of the pack at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Elsewhere on PR duty in Spain, Williams driver Nico Rosberg said Alonso is not going to feature prominently at Barcelona this weekend.

"There are three top teams that are unbeatable," the German said, "and then Alonso has maybe the slowest car of the middle pack.

"He will be fighting only for the last points.  I think that, generally, we (Williams) are ahead of them," Rosberg added.

Strength a barrier to F1 for women - de la Rosa
(GMM)  Physical strength may be the last obstacle to having a female competitor on the formula one grid, according to veteran McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

26-year-old American woman Danica Patrick made history last Sunday by winning the IndyCar race in Japan, prompting a question to de la Rosa about the prospect of a similar feat being achieved in F1.

"There are less and less obstacles because there are now many women in kart racing," the 37-year-old Spaniard said at a team sponsor event this week.  "The base of the pyramid is expanding.

"I would be delighted to see it happen sooner or later, but it is more difficult for women because of the important physical elements of racing in formula one," de la Rosa insisted.

Ferrari right to not want Alonso - Briatore
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore has backed Luca di Montezemolo's claim that an Alonso-Raikkonen pairing at Ferrari would not be wise for the Italian team.

Fernando Alonso, disappointed at the pace of his 2008 package, has been making noises about a team switch for next year, with speculation hinting strongly that his first preference is Ferrari.

But Ferrari president Montezemolo this week reacted that the Spaniard's arrival might "damage" the team.

"It is always very difficult to have two really good drivers in a team," Renault boss Briatore told reporters at a sponsor press conference in Spain.

"When your two drivers are equally good, the teammates become their greatest enemies.

"Drivers like Fernando, Schumacher or Raikkonen are complicated, and putting them together does not always produce positive results," he added.

With respect to Alonso's current teammate Nelson Piquet, Briatore insisted that the best strategy for F1 is to establish a "degree of hierarchy" while "working for both" drivers.

"Take last year, with Alonso and Hamilton -- at the end McLaren lost the drivers' championship, and the reason was the rivalry," he said.

Briatore refused to respond to whether he was 'relieved' that Montezemolo has ruled out hiring Alonso for 2009.

"I am here to talk about Renault," he told the reporters.  "If you want to talk about Ferrari, I will even pay for your journey to Maranello."

New F1 motor home among biggest in paddock
(GMM)  Force India's brand new paddock presence rivals the grandeur of its Barcelona neighbor; McLaren's famous 'Brand Centre'.

Under the new ownership of Vijay Mallya, the Silverstone based team's new 'motor home' - really a giant temporary building - is making its debut in Spain this weekend, and most observers agree that it is a match for the glass splendor of Ron Dennis' pride and joy.

Due to McLaren's championship exclusion last year, and Force India predecessor Spyker's 2007 underperformance, the two motor homes are now neighbors in the paddocks at European races.

Force India's graduation to the motor home big league, meanwhile, leaves struggling Super Aguri with easily the least impressive paddock facilities.

But if the presence of a functioning coffee machine means anything, the tiny Honda-powered team looks likely to be in action in Spain this weekend.

Driver slams Fisi's GP2 team for 2008 snub
(GMM)  A Spanish racer has slammed Giancarlo Fisichella's GP2 team for dumping him just days ahead of the season opener of the 2008 Main Series.

Andy Soucek, 22, has been testing for Fisichella Motor Sport in the pre-season, and he told motorline.cc that he had signed a contract to race this year and even organized his trip to Barcelona.

But when FMS's 2008 car was unveiled in Force India colors, the team - a joint venture of Fisichella and Colini - said Roldan Rodriguez, not Soucek, will be racing alongside Adrian Valles this season.

It is suggested that Fisichella plumped for Rodriguez because he came awash with personal sponsorship.

"I am very upset and angry," Soucek said.  "I have a valid and watertight contract with Fisichella Motor Sport."

He explained that his goal of reaching F1 in the near future now seems shattered, as his chances of finding an alternate full time cockpit are "zero".

Fisichella Motor Sport International said in a statement: "FMSI thanks Andy Soucek for his precious contribution to the team during pre-championship testing."

Briatore to marry on June 14
(GMM)  Renault boss Flavio Briatore, and his 28-year-old fiancée Elisabetta Gregoraci, will marry on June 14; between the Canadian and French grands prix.

The news was confirmed with the couple's elaborate wedding invitation, sent to about 500 expected guests.

The Italian magazine 'Chi' said the location for 58-year-old Briatore's wedding is a closely guarded secret.

No Williams shares sold yet says Head
(GMM)  Team co-owner Patrick Head has confirmed that, contrary to recent speculation, the Icelandic investment group Baugur did not buy a slice of Williams over the recent winter period.

The British team is, however, heavily involved with Baugur, with associated brands including All Saints, mydiamonds.com and Hamley's all prominently displayed on the FW30 livery.

"It is true that a large portion of our sponsors are part of the Baugur group," Head admitted to the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.

As to whether there are negotiations about the sale of team shares, the Briton adds: "No comment.

"That is something about which we do not wish to talk," Head said.

Schu agent patents invention
(GMM)  Willi Weber, Michael Schumacher's long time agent, is hoping to add to his huge personal fortune with a new invention.

According to the German newspaper Bild, the 66-year-old - who famously took 20 per cent of Schumacher's huge formula one earnings - is seeking a patent for a soft-drink can design that can be re-sealed once it has been opened.

"I am convinced that in ten years everybody will be using it," he said, adding that he wants to "conquer" the market that involves the sale of 250 billion cans every year.

"With this I can make more money than I did with Schumacher in 15 years of formula one," he boasted.

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