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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Brundle escapes penalty for live F1 gaffe
  • Fisi working hard to trigger $1.5m contract
  • McLaren to 'rotate' F1 staff next year
  • 2008 was best attended Hungarian GP
  • French teen starts on road to F1
  • F1 teams in action during August break

Brundle escapes penalty for live F1 gaffe
(GMM)  Former grand prix driver Martin Brundle has escaped penalty for using an off-beat remark on live British national television on the grid of the Canadian grand prix in June.

While interviewing Bernie Ecclestone prior to the Montreal race, the 49-year-old ITV commentator asked the F1 chief executive what he thought about the "pikeys putting tarmac down at turn 10".

Used mainly in the UK, pikey is a slang term referring to gypsies, and Brundle's comment is thought to have been a humorous reference to door-to-door vagrants who ask householders to do odd jobs.

The watchdog Equality and Human Rights Commission condemned Brundle's use of the word, and a spokesman for the British formula one broadcaster apologized for the gaffe.

It now emerges that, despite the 36 complaints to ITV and Ofcom, the TV watchdog accepted the explanation that Brundle did not intend the use of the word to cause offence.

After missing the recent Hungarian grand prix while on his usual mid-year holiday, Brundle will be back in the F1 paddock at Valencia later this month.

Fisi working hard to trigger $1.5m contract
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella is on the cusp of a significant pay increase if he is retained by Force India for a second season in 2009.

According to the German trade magazine Auto Motor und Sport, the Roman veteran - following the loss of his works Renault seat last year - agreed to rescue his formula one career with the backmarker team by racing practically for free in 2008.

Only in 2009, the specialist publication claims, will 35-year-old Fisichella trigger a $1.5 million pay-packet.

The looming deadline of Force India's contract option on Fisichella - reportedly August 31 - coincided with a strong performance for the Italian, following a notable lean patch in comparison with his young teammate Adrian Sutil.

In Hungary, Fisichella brought their qualifying duel back to 6:5 in his favor, before he finished a strong fifteenth, also recording the 15th fastest lap of the race.

McLaren to 'rotate' F1 staff next year
(GMM)  McLaren will begin rotating staff members on its travelling race team next year due to the absence of the August break on the provisional 2009 calendar.

The sport is currently in the deliberate three-week gap between the Hungarian and European grands prix, which coincides with a summer test ban.

But even though the pause was designed to give respite on the ever-expanding F1 calendars of today, it will not appear in 2009, despite the addition of one more race next year.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis is a staunch supporter of a break he deems "essential" for travelling team members including mechanics.

"They don't get the right amount of time with their families and this gives them an opportunity to have at least one week where they are not at the office or workshops," he is quoted as saying by CNN.

"It's a key ingredient of keeping people motivated and happy when you are addressing the calendar, which makes next year's difficult for them.

"We will have to accommodate that by rotating people.  They will not be expected to go right through the season," Dennis revealed.

2008 was best attended Hungarian GP
(GMM)  The recent Hungarian grand prix was the best attended in the race's 22-year history at the Hungaroring, according to government spokesman David Daroczi.

In 1986, Bernie Ecclestone's coup of taking his sport behind the iron curtain was rewarded memorably with a huge crowd in excess of 200,000.

Since then, attendance has always been high at the circuit near Budapest, also because it has been adopted as a semi-'home' race by fans from Finland, who use a similar language.

The even bigger audience in 2008 is explained by the influx of additional supporters from nearby Poland, whose interest in formula one has been spurred by the success of Robert Kubica.

Daroczi said the 2008 crowd was "10 to 15 per cent bigger" than last year.

At the Hungarian grand prix, Ecclestone and the Hungarian sport minister signed a new contract, guaranteeing the race at the Hungaroring until 2016.

Subsequent local reports said the cost of the new deal for the race promoters is $17.25m per year.

Daroczi said the race brings in at least $16m in revenue to the state.

French teen starts on road to F1
(GMM)  A new hope to end France's dry spell on the formula one grid hit the headlines with victory at the prestigious Masters F3 race at Zolder last weekend.

While the grand prix world takes in a three-week vacation, 18-year-old Jules Bianchi was recording an important single seaters victory - ahead of his much-vaunted teammate Nico Hulkenberg - in only his second season out of karts.

He is the grandson of Mauro Bianchi, a GT world champion, and the nephew of Lucien, Le Mans winner and competitor at 19 grands prix in the 60s.

According to the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell, he not only drives for Nicolas Todt's ART team, he is also managed by the Frenchman.

Todt, the son of the former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt, already handles the formula one careers of Felipe Massa and also Sebastien Bourdais, who is currently the only Frenchman on the grid.

Also knocking on the F1 door to represent France is Romain Grosjean, the Renault test driver who is an outside candidate to debut for Toro Rosso in 2009.

Bianchi plans to also contest the 2009 season in the F3 Euroseries.

"This year is for learning and next year I want the title," he said.

F1 teams in action during August break
(GMM)  F1 is in the midst of its summer testing ban, but the Renault team has nonetheless turned out for development action.

Even during the August break, teams are still allowed to conduct short shakedowns and aerodynamic tests not exceeding 50kms.

According to the local Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard newspaper, Renault - believed to be working on a new braking system - has been in action at Kemble Airport, which is located about an hour's drive from the French team's Enstone (UK) base.

Two of the team's F1 cars were in action on the runway, but the identity of the drivers is not known.

McLaren and Force India also tested at Kemble last week, sparking six complaints about the noise from local residents.

"I have written to the airfield letting them know how many complaints we got this week and last week," said environmental health officer Ray Brassington.

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