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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 fans push ahead with Fuji lawsuit
  • Alonso admits Renault departure possible
  • Aus GP boss short on detail after F1 talks
  • Hamilton blows $400,000 on number plate
  • Patrick yet to accept Honda test offer - Fry

F1 fans push ahead with Fuji lawsuit
(GMM)  More than 100 irate spectators have now filed legal action against new Japanese grand prix venue Fuji Speedway.

The 109 plaintiffs claim organizers failed to provide adequate toilet, convenience and other spectator facilities for the formula one event - the first at the venue for years - last September, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said on Tuesday.

It also emerged following the 2007 Japanese grand prix, now hosted at the Toyota owned facility following years at Suzuka, that some badly planned grandstand seats featured obstructed views.

The suit filed with the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday also alleges that spectators were stranded outside the circuit in the rain at one point due to transport problems.

The plaintiffs are seeking 32 million yen (about $300,000) in damages.

Alonso admits Renault departure possible
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has left open the possibility that he will leave the French owned formula one team Renault at the end of 2008.

"I do not know what is going to happen," the Spaniard told reporters in Madrid, where he received the 'V Premio Dialogo' prize, celebrating the burgeoning friendship between Spain and France.

"We have improved the car a bit and I hope that by the end of the year we will be aiming for podiums and victories," the 26-year-old former double world champion added, according to the news agency EFE.

"At the end of the year we will see where Renault is and then make a decision," he said.

Alonso said his R28 single seater will sport some improvements at Magny Cours this weekend, but he admits that he was expecting better this year after switching from McLaren in 2007.

"The truth is that we have not been so good so far," he explained.  "It's worse than we expected because we are far away from where he wanted to be."

Aus GP boss short on detail after F1 talks
(GMM)  Australian grand prix boss Ron Walker on Tuesday gave few hints about the future of the Melbourne race, after meeting with Bernie Ecclestone in London.

Earlier reports suggested the state Victorian government was set to sign a new promoters' contract with the F1 chief executive through 2015.

Walker, a renowned Melbourne businessman and chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), subsequently emerged in London, where he was due to engage in reportedly final negotiations with F1's commercial rights holder.

It is now almost certain that the final sticking point is an increase in the annual race promoters' fee.

"There is a proposal on the table," Walker, 68, told the local Herald Sun newspaper following his meeting with Ecclestone.

"It's up to the government whether they accept it.  The meeting was very cordial.  We have a great relationship and discussions will continue," he added.

Hamilton blows $400,000 on number plate
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has reportedly spent an eye-watering nearly $400,000 for a personalized number-plate.

The British formula one driver is now the flamboyant owner of the plate 'LEW 1S', which he will attach to his black 4x4 Mercedes-Benz for use in Switzerland, his adopted tax-haven home.

The plate was formerly owned by property tycoon Bob Lewis, who bought it last year for less than $100,000.

"A friend said he had been reluctant to part with the plate but (Hamilton's) offer had been too good to refuse," the British newspaper Daily Telegraph revealed.

In contrast, Hamilton's track rival Nick Heidfeld has vowed to pledge some of his earnings to a worthy cause.

"I am lucky to have quite a lot of money and I would like to be able to give some of it away," the German told ITV.

Heidfeld, who drives for BMW-Sauber, said he is considering pledging some money towards an invention that would clean water for underprivileged people.

"That's something I find very interesting and its something I'm considering," he added.

In other brief news, it has emerged that McLaren race team member Steve Hewitt had a ride in the medical helicopter to hospital during the Montreal weekend after he hurt his thumb in the paddock.

The thumb was not broken as feared, and Hewitt returned to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with a stitch or two, Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell reports.

Patrick yet to accept Honda test offer - Fry
(GMM)  Nick Fry has clarified reports that said Danica Patrick, a high-profile female competitor of America's IndyCar Series, is set to make her formula one test debut for the Honda team.

It was reported earlier this month that the 26-year-old is likely to climb aboard the RA108 challenger in November at the Spanish winter test circuits Barcelona or Jerez.

But to the virtual magazine GPWeek, the Brackley based team's chief executive Fry says the truth has been "exaggerated" by the press.

"What we actually said was that if Danica wants to have a drive in our car at the end of the season, we'd be very open to the idea," the Briton clarified.

"But just to make it very clear, there has been no request thus far from Danica.

"If she would like to, we'd be very happy for her to drive the car.  The door is open if she's interested," he added.

Fry also insists that, contrary to speculation that the test would be purely promotional, Patrick would be in the running for a competitive position should she take up the offer of a Honda test.

"These things are too expensive just to run for a bit of fun," he said.

"With an intensely competitive person, they want to be doing it for a purpose."

Fry said more than one test for Patrick, who tips the scales at a petite 45kg, would be the best option.

"I would say that the first step for both of us would be for her to find out what it's like, and what our team's like, and secondly for us to get a fix on how good someone is.

"A single test is probably not enough to do that.  Normally what we find, even with somebody with a lot of experience in motorsport, doing two tests is the best thing because the first day is all about understanding the car and the systems, the g-forces and the braking forces.

"So a first day of exploration and a second day of getting down to business is frequently a better way of doing things," Fry added.

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