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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Montreal makes Kubica crash wall safer
  • Lack of title keeps DC going - Hakkinen
  • Hamilton also in talks with Pepsi
  • Alonso vows to enjoy title-less 2008
  • Major F1 demo on track for Moscow in July
  • Four teams to scrap for Monaco crown
  • Kimi on track for 2008 title - Keke Rosberg
  • BMW boss backs struggling Heidfeld

Montreal makes Kubica crash wall safer
(GMM)  Less than a month prior to the Canadian grand prix, organizers of the Montreal race have confirmed changes to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in response to Robert Kubica's huge crash there one year ago.

Racing for BMW-Sauber last year, the young Pole was fortunate to emerge relatively unscathed after striking an unprotected concrete wall at high speed and at a sickeningly acute angle.

A change to the wall adjacent to the left-hand kink, located before the hairpin, was ordered by the FIA in its regular post-event report.

Francois Dumontier, executive vice-president of the Montreal promoter, is quoted as saying by the Canadian news agency CP that, if the same accident occurs in June this year, "the car will slide on that wall instead of hitting" it.

The change is among the $4.5 million of improvements at Montreal this year, including better paddock facilities and several resurfaced corners.

It is also understood that proper paddock toilets for each team have also been installed, after David Coulthard earlier this year slammed the usual Canadian GP "portaloos".

Lack of title keeps DC going - Hakkinen
(GMM)  David Coulthard is now the oldest active formula one racer because he does not want to quit before he has achieved his goals.

That is the opinion of the 37-year-old Scot's former McLaren teammate Mika Hakkinen, who retired at the end of the 2001 season with two drivers' championships under his belt.

"I'm surprised some drivers, like DC, can hang on for so long in formula one," the 39-year-old Finn, who left F1 at the age of 33, is quoted as saying by the Canadian news agency Canwest.

Coulthard, the winner of 13 grands prix, left McLaren at the end of 2004 and took up residence at Red Bull Racing, for whom he still drives.

Hakkinen, in Montreal on sponsorship duties, added: "On the other hand, I understand why, because if I never would have won the championship I probably would still be (in F1).

"The story is different for a lot of drivers, but for some, if you haven't reached your goal, you just keep going and going and going," he explained.

Hamilton also in talks with Pepsi
(GMM)  Hot on the heels of news that Lewis Hamilton is discussing a $20m deal with Reebok, it has emerged that the McLaren driver is in talks about yet another lucrative personal endorsement agreement.

The British newspaper The Times reports that Hamilton's talks with PepsiCo, the American drinks company, could mean that the 23-year-old takes over from David Beckham as the highest earning British sportsman.

The newspaper said the Pepsi deal "could be worth the same as the Reebok contract, or substantially more".

A McLaren spokesperson, meanwhile, confirmed the existence of Hamilton's Reebok talks, despite the British team's usual reluctance to allow its drivers to negotiate personal sponsorships.

"Any marketing activity undertaken by Lewis on behalf of Reebok will be fully consistent with his existing obligations to McLaren, and will run in complete cooperation with Lewis's primary marketing commitments to the team and its partners," the spokesperson said.

Alonso vows to enjoy title-less 2008
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso wants to return to title contention next year, but the Spaniard has vowed to enjoy his 2008 season in the midfield anyway.

For the first time since 2004, the Spaniard this year does not have a realistic hope of winning the current drivers' championship; an achievement he secured back-to-back in 2005 and 2006.

26-year-old Alonso, however, vowed to make the most of his sojourn away from the prestigious podium steps.

"I'm calmer now.  I do not have the pressure of fighting for the championship or having to worry about losing a point here and there.

"It allows me to have some fun with the car, and having lower pressure also means you can take more risks," he told the Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

Despite making the most of 2008, however, Alonso said he hopes to return to contention in 2009.

"Schumacher left Benetton and spent four years without a title with Ferrari," he observed.

"This is my second year without a title, and hopefully there will not be so many more."

Alonso also played down speculation that BMW, or his Renault team, might be in with a shout of victory at Monaco, where driver performance can have a higher than normal influence on the usual car hierarchy.

"Whenever we go to Monaco, those things are said," he remarked, "and then a McLaren or a Ferrari always wins.  There are less surprises there than it seems."

Major F1 demo on track for Moscow in July
(GMM)  The prospect of a grand prix in Russia in the near future has increased, as news emerges that plans are being put in place for a major formula one car demonstration later this year on the streets of Moscow.

The Russian news agency Interfax reports that the demonstration is slated to take place on the weekend between the British and German grands prix in July, around the famous Red Square and in the shadow of the Kremlin.

The Russian capital's deputy mayor Waleri Winogradow, meanwhile, is quoted as fully supporting the project in the pages of the state newspaper Rossijskaja Gaseta, but as yet it is not known which teams will field a car for the prospective event.

It was reported earlier this year that Hans Geist, the former manager of F1 tracks in Austria and Bahrain, was appointed to oversee the construction of a Hermann Tilke-designed grand prix-standard venue in Volokalamsk, near Moscow.

Last year, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said of his efforts to organize a race in Russia: "It won't take forever, because I won't be around for ever and I want to see it!"

In early 2007, a similar demonstration took place in Abu Dhabi, and Ecclestone used the occasion to announce that the emirate had secured a contract to host a grand prix from 2009.

Four teams to scrap for Monaco crown
(GMM)  Up to four teams could be in with a chance of victory at the forthcoming grand prix at Monte Carlo, according to the pre-race rhetoric.

Championship leader Ferrari is still believed to possess at least marginally the quickest car of the 2008 field, but last year on the Principality's streets, the Italian team struggled to keep up with McLaren.

BMW-Sauber, meanwhile, had a slightly lackluster Istanbul outing, but the team's star driver Robert Kubica thinks the team's F1.08 will perform best on slow tracks like Monaco.

Monaco can also provide an opportunity for teams like Renault.  Not only will the French squad's current horse power deficit be less obvious on the ultra high downforce circuit, the race also tempts ambitious teams' strategists to go aggressive in qualifying to achieve an all-important higher grid position.

"I think that not only McLaren will be strong (in Monaco), I am expecting BMW of course, and Renault," Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali told reporters before leaving Turkey last Sunday.

Kimi on track for 2008 title - Keke Rosberg
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen is perfectly on track to win a second successive drivers' world championship in 2008, his countryman Keke Rosberg thinks.

Finn Rosberg, the 1982 world champion and father of Williams' German born driver Nico, said that notwithstanding Raikkonen's lackluster run to third in Turkey, the reigning title winner is plotting a solid course to another crown.

Reigning champion Raikkonen, 28, is seven points ahead of his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa and McLaren's highest-placed challenger Lewis Hamilton, after winning in Malaysia and Spain and finishing on the podium at every other race except Australia.

"Kimi does not win every race," Rosberg, 59 and today a commentator for German television, observed to the Berlin newspaper BZ.

Keke Rosberg said Raikkonen will not be too unhappy to have finished third at Turkey, a circuit at which his teammate Massa usually excels.

"A champion is someone who scores well on his bad days and wins on his good days.

"For Kimi, everything is going exactly to plan," he concluded.

BMW boss backs struggling Heidfeld
(GMM)  Team boss Mario Theissen has defended the performances so far in 2008 of BMW-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld.

The experienced German driver has been outqualified by his teammate at every event so far this season, and he only outshone Robert Kubica in the Australian grand prix because Kubica was shunted out of the race.

Theissen concedes that Heidfeld's results have sparked speculation about his future.

"But I have a very relaxed point of view regarding this issue," the German said, insisting that BMW's current driver lineup is "equal".

Theissen points out that, one year ago, it was Kubica who was struggling to adapt to life with Bridgestone's new control tires.

He explains that, in 2008, 31-year-old Heidfeld's smoother driving style than the aggressive Kubica means he is struggling to get heat into the tires for a fast qualifying lap.

"In the races, however, Nick makes us happy with his spectacular overtaking maneuvers," Theissen insisted.

"Now we are going to analyze the entire package together with Nick to get to the bottom of the (qualifying) problem," he added.

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