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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Four drivers better than Hamilton - Minardi
  • Spyker struggle hurting Force India - Gascoyne
  • Piquet relieved to feel pressure lift
  • 'Only points' possible at British GP - Alonso
  • Dumping Heidfeld in '08 'not an issue' - boss
  • McLaren witch-hunt rumblings persist

Four drivers better than Hamilton - Minardi
(GMM)  No fewer than four drivers have outclassed Lewis Hamilton so far in 2008, according to former formula one team chief Gian Carlo Minardi.

The Italian told minardi.it that, notwithstanding the McLaren driver's Melbourne and Monaco wins, he believes four of 23-year-old Hamilton's competitors have been more impressive this season.

"Robert Kubica has committed no errors, with his only tally of zero points in Australia with the collision with Nakajima, that was not his fault.

"Without that, he would be far ahead in the championship," Minardi, who at the end of 2000 sold his Faenza based squad to Paul Stoddart, said.

"Another one, certainly, is Fernando Alonso, who even with an uncompetitive machine always shows something.  And, of course, the two Ferrari drivers," he added, referring to championship leader Felipe Massa, and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

However, 60-year-old Minardi is reluctant to be too hard on Hamilton, predicting that he will be among the top drivers in the future.

"But at the moment, he is committing very serious errors of inexperience and displays an excess of nervousness.

"Over the next grands prix he must demonstrate his ability to improve in these areas."

Spyker struggle hurting Force India - Gascoyne
(GMM)  The struggling team Force India will unveil a substantial car upgrade during the pre-British grand prix test at Silverstone this week.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil are yet to break out of the lowly 'Q1' qualifying segment so far in 2008, as they drive what is essentially the Spyker single seater of last year.

"Where we are now really is a sign of the previous years' lack of investment," technical boss Mike Gascoyne told the Indian publication DNA.

At Silverstone - located just across the road from the team's Northamptonshire base - this week, Force India is testing new bodywork, sidepods, diffuser, front wing, inerter damper and 'shark fin' engine cover.

Piquet relieved to feel pressure lift
(GMM)  Arguably the most relieved man in the Magny-Cours paddock last Sunday afternoon was Renault race driver Nelson Piquet.

Before the French grand prix, media reports suggested that the Brazilian rookie's seat at the Enstone team was in doubt, following a dreadful start to his F1 career.

But Piquet, 22, had a better weekend all round in the French countryside, at a circuit he knew much better than most of the circuits that preceded Magny-Cours on the calendar this year.

"These points take a lot of pressure away," he is quoted as saying by the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

"From now on things will go even better -- I didn't want to take any risks in Magny-Cours, because I absolutely had to finish the race," he said.

The next race takes place at Silverstone -- one of Piquet's favorite circuits.

"There, he could trouble even Alonso," the team's engineering veteran Pat Symonds predicts.

"What this result will give him is confidence.  Perhaps what we will see now is the same as what we saw with Kovalainen last year," he added.

'Only points' possible at British GP - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso is not confident that a podium finish is a realistic target for next weekend's British grand prix.

The Spaniard qualified well but ultimately finished just eighth at Magny-Cours last Sunday, stating afterwards that his optimism had been misplaced and that the R28 is in fact only a "middle of the grid" car.

"At this moment I do not know if we're in a position to get closer to the other teams," Alonso, 26, is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper AS.

"I don't think we can go much better at Silverstone.  There have been races at which we seem to have improved but then the car is slow in the race with a lot of fuel.

"In the British grand prix, we will go into the points and not much further," he added.

Alonso, meanwhile, seems to maintain his position that Renault should consider abandoning the R28 to concentrate fully on the 2009 car.

He said continuing to develop the aerodynamics of the current single seater will deliver only "two tenths" by the last race of the season.

Dumping Heidfeld in '08 'not an issue' - boss
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen has dismissed suggestions that the German squad is contemplating replacing the struggling Nick Heidfeld sooner rather than later.

Heidfeld, 31, is believed to have a contract for the 2009 season, but his difficulty in keeping up with Robert Kubica this year has thrown his future into doubt.

He finished a miserable thirteenth in the French grand prix at the weekend, but as to rumors of a seat switch before the end of the season, Theissen said that is "currently not an issue".

Waiting anxiously in the wings, however, is the ever-present test and reserve driver Christian Klien, who was asked by motorline.cc to comment on Heidfeld's predicament.

"If your teammate is always faster in qualifying than you, then it is obvious that there is a certain amount of pressure.

"But he has certainly not forgotten how to drive and I am sure he will get a grip on it."

Theissen said the driver decision for 2009 is some way off yet.

"We will decide in the summer, probably in the second half of August," he said.  "But it could also happen sooner or later.

"The situation is not easy for Nick because he must try to get at the same level as Robert, but at the moment he (Kubica) is quick in every situation."

Theissen said of Heidfeld: "We have given him much support over the past weeks."

McLaren witch-hunt rumblings persist
(GMM)  The two days since the checkered flag at Magny-Cours did little to quiet rumblings about the spate of penalties incurred by McLaren drivers in recent times.

Following Lewis Hamilton's ten-place drop for his Montreal pitlane crash, the British driver was given a controversial drive-through penalty for passing Sebastian Vettel illegally at Magny-Cours last Sunday.

"I would never have given out a penalty for that," triple world champion Niki Lauda told the German newspaper Bild, whose headline wondered, 'Why is Mercedes always punished?'

In qualifying in France, meanwhile, Heikki Kovalainen was ordered to drop five places on the grid for blocking Mark Webber in qualifying.

But the Swiss newspaper Blick quotes Red Bull racer Webber as wondering after the incident: "Did someone block me?"

While the Hamilton drive-through was regarded by some a marginal call, it is also true that stewards could have ordered black and orange flags to be waved at Kimi Raikkonen's flailing Ferrari at Magny-Cours.

So why was the Finn, who finished the race second, allowed to keep driving with his right exhaust pipe hanging on by nothing more than a thin cable?

"The race director considered the risk to be low, as the part in question was light," a FIA spokesperson is quoted as saying by GPWeek.

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