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DATE News (chronologically)
07/23/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 teams to discuss KERS issues
  • Hamilton swerved German GP disaster 'by inches'
  • F1 comeback 'not realistic', Ralf admits
  • Alonso career hit low-point at Hockenheim
  • F1 figures play public poker at Hockenheim
  • Haug insists no title conspiracy against team
  • German F1 hosts happy with alternating scheme

F1 teams to discuss KERS issues
(GMM)  Issues arising from the development of KERS systems for 2009 will be discussed at the next meeting of F1's Technical Working Group (TWG).

Before the German grand prix, Red Bull had to evacuate its Milton Keynes factory amid a smoke and fume scare, and at the Jerez test on Tuesday, a BMW-Sauber mechanic received an electric shock when he touched a car fitted with a developmental KERS system.

There are also suggestions doing the rounds that a potentially extremely dangerous by-product of exploded KERS batteries is the poison arsenic.

"First of all we need to understand exactly what has happened," Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said.

"I think that is something which will be discussed at the next Technical Working Group.

"We don't have to over-react to anything at the moment because of course it's a new project, we need to take care of all the safety aspects and all the other things," he added.

Domenicali explained that Ferrari has not itself encountered any of the serious problems that have emerged at some of the other teams.

Hamilton swerved German GP disaster 'by inches'
(GMM)  Hockenheim winner Lewis Hamilton only narrowly averted a disastrous finish to last Sunday's German grand prix.

The championship leader ultimately delivered a second consecutive dominant win for his McLaren team, but he very nearly threw it away in what would have been an embarrassing gaffe at engine partner Mercedes-Benz's home race.

Britain's Independent newspaper reports that Hamilton, 23, very nearly crashed his silver McLaren into the back of the similarly Mercedes-powered safety car following Timo Glock's mid-race accident.

The near-miss was not captured by the TV cameras, but on lap 41 in the stadium section, as he slowed down and then sped up in readiness for the restart, Hamilton missed hitting the safety car by a margin of "literally only inches", the newspaper said, citing eyewitnesses.

The British driver ultimately destroyed the opposition at Hockenheim, pulling out a four point advantage over his nearest Ferrari rival, Felipe Massa.

But amid the plaudits, Hamilton is refusing to agree he is now on a fast track to the 2008 crown.

"We're looking strong, we're looking good, but in a formula one season things change," he insisted.

"We will see in the next few races, I don't know what to expect. All I know is that we will have a competitive car and if we can challenge for wins, then great.

"We need to keep on pushing, simple as that, and I'm sure everyone else will be," Hamilton said.

F1 comeback 'not realistic', Ralf admits
(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher is refusing to rule out a return to formula one, but he admits his chances are very remote.

The former winner of six grands prix dropped off the grid last season, at the end of a disappointing three-season tenure with Toyota.

He now races with Mercedes-Benz in the German touring car series DTM, but said he is open to offers to return to the pinnacle of motor racing.

"If there is something sensible (offered), I would certainly think about it," the 33-year-old told the German broadcaster Premiere.

Schumacher acknowledges, however, that expecting to resurrect his formula one career is "not realistic", given his "extremely bad" final season in 2007.

Alonso career hit low-point at Hockenheim
(GMM)  Now deep into the 2008 season, former double world champion Fernando Alonso has struck the lowest point since his days as a backmarker in 2001.

That is the claim of the ultra-partisan Spanish press, who after last Sunday's Hockenheim race said the 26-year-old has "returned to the Minardi days".

Alonso had a dreadful run in the German grand prix from fifth on the grid to just eleventh at the flag, while his teammate Nelson Piquet threw off his usual critics to deliver Renault's first podium of the season.

Afterwards, team boss Flavio Briatore's official post-race statement counted 62 words, and not a single one in reference to Alonso, who returned to the French team this year from McLaren.

The Spanish newspaper Diario AS said Briatore actually uttered critical words about Alonso "for the first time in a long time" following Hockenheim.

Reportedly, in the Italian press, Briatore said he had "not liked anything" about the Spaniard's race in Germany, amid speculation Alonso is coming under pressure from Renault to commit to the team also in 2009.

It is rumored that Alonso is considering switching teams at the end of the season, while Renault want to know his decision no later than September.

Alonso also came in for some rare Spanish criticism after Hockenheim, when he did not publicly congratulate Piquet for his maiden podium triumph.

Respected El Pais journalist Manel Serras said Alonso actually did congratulate the Brazilian rookie, "if not directly, then by SMS".

"But it is obvious that defeats like that hurt him a lot.  He does not want to lose anything to anybody," Serras added.

F1 figures play public poker at Hockenheim
(GMM)  A group of paddock regulars' penchant for poker stepped into a higher profile at the Hockenheim circuit last weekend.

Apparently, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone accidentally walked in on drivers including Fernando Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil and the retired Michael Schumacher playing the card game in the Force India motor home.

Ecclestone is believed to have told the group that they should also play a game in the Hockenheim Paddock Club, no doubt mindful of possible PR benefits.

Sure enough, the Paddock Club poker game did materialize, and Robert Kubica and his manager Daniele Morelli, Nick Heidfeld and his manager Werner Heinz, Flavio Briatore, Giancarlo Fisichella, Vijay Mallya and Bernie himself all put down $1000 apiece and also took part.

Haug insists no title conspiracy against team
(GMM)  McLaren-Mercedes has not won a title since Mika Hakkinen's final triumph in 1999, but Norbert Haug denies there is a sinister reason for the decade drought.

It has been suggested this year, and before, that the silver collaboration is always on the wrong end of prosperity in formula one; whether it be marginal penalty decisions, or controversies like the espionage saga.

Interestingly, Mercedes boss Haug is not willing to explore the theme that a pang of unfairness may have beset the outfit since Hakkinen conquered the world in the late 90s.

"The fact is that each season we were basically at the front, celebrating a great number of victories," he told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton leads the 2008 drivers' standings by four points, while the Woking based team is 19 points behind for honors in the parallel constructors' title.

German F1 hosts happy with alternating scheme
(GMM)  The Nurburgring is apparently happy with the current arrangement whereby it annually shares the privilege with Hockenheim of hosting a single grand prix in Germany.

We reported recently that the arrangement is guaranteed to continue only until 2011.

Hockenheim marketing chief Jorn Teske, whose circuit reportedly recorded a 3 million euro loss for last Sunday's event, said the venue is happy with the alternating plan.

The Nurburgring, set to return to the calendar next year, is also not looking to move away from the scheme.

"It is quite obvious that we cannot afford to run the race every year," the circuit's chief executive Walter Kafitz said.

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