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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Aus GP future to be decided in 'weeks'
  • Dennis refuses to rule out F1 'breakaway'
  • Dennis hits back at Hamilton criticism
  • Hamilton - No regrets after Swiss tax move
  • Alonso to decide F1 future by July
  • Bourdais deserves F1 seat - Patrick Head
  • Test driver sues Force India for $2m
  • Briatore to marry in Rome on weekend

Aus GP future to be decided in 'weeks'
(GMM)  Talks to possibly extend Melbourne's formula one grand prix are winding down.

It is not known if the Australian race will feature on the sport's annual calendar beyond 2009, but the Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun reports that a final decision is expected "within weeks".

Race boss Ron Walker has reportedly been in intense negotiations with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone since the Albert Park event in March, but organizers will not agree to hold the race at night.

"It's (an event) we want to keep and it's one we'll be doing everything possible to ensure that it does remain here in Melbourne in the years ahead," state major events minister Tim Holding said.

"There are ongoing negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA but we have ruled out a night grand prix and that is not negotiable," he added.

Dennis refuses to rule out F1 'breakaway'
(GMM)  In the wake of the Max Mosley sex scandal, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has refused to rule out backing a formula one 'breakaway'.

It emerged recently that splitting with the Mosley-led FIA was discussed between team chiefs and Bernie Ecclestone during a series of meetings at the Canadian grand prix.

British team McLaren, last year fined $100m by the FIA for its involvement in a spy scandal, said in the wake of Mosley's retention as FIA president that it hoped the sport "will now enter a period of stability".

But at the Mercedes-powered team's Woking factory on Wednesday, for the launch of a British motorsport campaign 'Go Motorsport', Dennis refused to rule out a shakeup.

"If anything is put forward as an initiative that is in the best interests of formula one and this company I will support it," he said in an interview with the news agency AP.

"That does not mean I favor any particular path at the moment.  We need stability, consistency and the right values and images for formula one and whatever process is put forward if it's the right one I'll support it," he added.

Dennis, McLaren's chairman, CEO and co-owner, said he was disappointed about the leaks following the Montreal meetings, including speculation that his team and also Honda support Ecclestone's rumored 'breakaway' threat.

Dennis hits back at Hamilton criticism
(GMM)  Ron Dennis has hit out at the criticism leveled at McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton following his pitlane crash in last Sunday's Canadian grand prix.

The British press, so usually giddy in its patriotic adoration of their 23-year-old countryman, rounded on Hamilton after Montreal, where he was penalized for missing a red light and smashing into Kimi Raikkonen's stationary Ferrari.

But Dennis, Hamilton's long-time mentor and boss, played down the importance of the error.

"It's an accident you see often in the road and it's an accident you will see again in formula one," he is quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Dennis accuses the British press of Tall Poppy Syndrome.

"It almost seems to be a British failing that we build our heroes and then take delight in focusing on their efforts or mistakes that occasionally occur," he said.

The 61-year-old denied that McLaren or Hamilton, to start the French grand prix at least ten places down the grid, will be affected by the setback or criticism.

"We as a team - and certainly Lewis - are far too immune to that sort of thing.  We've locked that part of this season away in our minds," Dennis added.

Hamilton - No regrets after Swiss tax move
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton says he has no regrets about relocating to Switzerland, despite the controversy that surrounded the move.

The McLaren driver announced last year that he was moving to the alpine country because his supporters in Britain were making it impossible for him to lead a normal life.

He subsequently had to admit, however, that choosing a tax-haven as his new home was also a factor.

But to reporters at McLaren's Woking factory on Wednesday, 23-year-old Hamilton said life in Switzerland is "great".

"I never have to think to myself that I'm being followed by someone or somebody's going to come up to me and ask me for an autograph or something," the Briton said.

"I'm generally left alone.  I'm able to live a normal life."

Meanwhile, despite McLaren executive Martin Whitmarsh's admission that the ten-place penalty will make victory unlikely, Hamilton insists he is still aiming to win in France.

"I feel confident we can win there -- that's my job.  I have that belief in myself and the team," he said.

Alonso to decide F1 future by July
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso's second tenure at Renault is likely to end at the close of the current season, according to the latest reports from Spain.

The former world champion signed a one year contract for 2008, with an option to automatically include 2009 should the French team reach certain performance targets by the British grand prix in July.

But with Alonso, 26, unlikely to be compelled to stay next year, the newspaper Diario Sport claims that he will shortly inform Renault bosses of his intention to move on -- probably to BMW-Sauber.

The newspaper said Alonso must contractually either commit to Renault, or inform the team of his intention to leave, no later than July 31.

Bourdais deserves F1 seat - Patrick Head
(GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais has proved he deserves his place on the formula one grid.

That is the opinion not just of his Toro Rosso chiefs, but also Williams co-owner Patrick Head, who is expecting to see increasingly impressive performances from the Frenchman.

"Like a lot of things, you've got to get everything working together," Head is quoted as saying by AP, noting that - until Monaco - Faenza based STR was using an old car.

Head added: "I think he well justifies his place in formula one and I quite expect to see him starting putting results together soon."

Bourdais, 29, struggled for years to earn a place in formula one, despite his immensely impressive career in American open wheelers.

He is therefore accustomed to winning, but insists that he is nonetheless enjoying his new career at the pinnacle of European racing.

"If the car is only good enough for 15th and you finish 12th, sometimes it's even more satisfying than just winning the race with a car that everybody knows is capable of winning," he said.

Test driver sues Force India for $2m
(GMM)  Former formula one test driver Giedo van der Garde has launched a legal claim against Force India.

The 23-year-old last year was employed by the Silverstone based team's previous owner, Spyker.

However, a contractual tussle ensued, because his Spyker contract clashed with a previous agreement made with Super Aguri, and his mileage last year was limited.

According to the Dutch publication Formule 1 Race Report, van der Garde - now competing in the World Series by Renault - is demanding sponsor money back from the team because he did not do as much testing as he was contractually promised.

It is reported that he wants two of the three million dollars that his sponsors paid to Spyker back.

He this week submitted papers with a court in Breda, a southern city of the Netherlands.

Van der Garde claims that the $3m payment to Spyker guaranteed him 6000 test kilometers, but he only actually drove 2000.

The court will hear the case on June 20.

Briatore to marry in Rome on weekend
(GMM)  Renault boss Flavio Briatore, and his 28-year-old fiancĂ©e Elisabetta Gregoraci, will marry in Rome on Saturday.

The flamboyant Italian, who is 30 years older than his soon-to-be bride, is to say 'I do' to the Italian model in the 'Santo Spirito in Sassia', a 12th century basilica church near the Vatican, Italian media reported.

Gregoraci's dress has been designed specifically by the Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, the reports added.

Among the guests of the garish two-day celebration will be F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

The wedding reception is reported to be taking place at Rome's Castello di Torcrescenza, a park and castle that dates back to the year 1400.

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