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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Bernie fires back at 'circus' jibe
  • Hamilton in Grenada deal probe
  • Santander may stick with McLaren
  • Mateschitz thinks again on STR sale
  • Sauber urges caution on F1 night races

Bernie fires back at 'circus' jibe
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone, the chief mastermind of the night racing concept for F1, has hit back at Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo's claim that the Singapore grand prix was akin to a "circus".

Also lashing out at the lack of overtaking opportunities at new street circuits, and the farcical safety car rules, Montezemolo said last week that "all this is humiliating for F1".

But Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, hinted to Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper that the attack by Montezemolo was perhaps to divert attention from Ferrari's woeful showing under the city-state's floodlights.

"If the Ferrari president is right about the Singapore grand prix being a circus," he said, "then we have to be grateful to him for providing the clowns."

The 77-year-old is undoubtedly referring to title rival Felipe Massa's botched pitstop, when the Brazilian ripped the fuel hose from the rig and pulled it the entire length of the pitlane.

Ecclestone continued to fire: "After the weekend Ferrari had, their president should have shut up and kept his head down.  If Massa loses the world championship, he will know the team were responsible."

The British billionaire also slammed Ferrari's unique pitstop gantry lights system, used instead of a traditional lollipop, as "over the top".

"Why do you want to have some other piece of technology that can go wrong?" Bernie wondered.

Hamilton in Grenada deal probe
(GMM)  A deal whereby Lewis Hamilton this year invested millions of dollars in Grenada, the home of his paternal grandfather, is under investigation by the Caribbean island's government.

We reported in July that the McLaren driver was set to invest in a luxury beachside hotel development.

The $35 million deal reportedly included secret talks with then prime minister Keith Mitchell about acquiring adjoining lands, and significant tax breaks.

But with Tillman Thomas becoming Grenada's new prime minister just a few days after the deal was brokered, it now emerges that the government has ordered an investigation.

The news agency Associated Press reports that the deed to Hamilton's property includes $15 million in lands "free from encumbrances", in exchange for Grenada being able to use the Briton's image to promote the island nation.

Santander may stick with McLaren
(GMM)  McLaren is not yet resigned to losing its Spanish sponsor Santander, a major banking group, to championship rival Ferrari.

We reported recently that, even without Fernando Alonso in the Italian team's red car, Santander's likely switch from McLaren to Ferrari in 2010 is still on track.

The Spanish newspaper Sport said Banco Santander confirmed that, at the end of a three year contract with McLaren next year, the company does not intend to exercise an option to renew for a further two years.

But now the British newspaper Daily Mail claims that Santander would be reluctant to leave McLaren if Lewis Hamilton wins the 2008 title.

"McLaren are determined to prevent their backers ... defecting," the newspaper said.

A McLaren spokesman confirmed only that "Santander will be a McLaren partner next year".

The Daily Mail added: "It is understood that negotiations with Santander to broaden their involvement with the team are in progress."

Mateschitz thinks again on STR sale
(GMM)  Dietrich Mateschitz has hinted he might reconsider his earlier pledge to sell his 50 per cent share in the formula one team Toro Rosso.

With the customer car saga possibly back in a state of flux, and Sebastian Vettel's breakthrough Monza win, the Red Bull mogul told an Austrian newspaper "It is possible that we leave everything as it is".

Billionaire Mateschitz earlier baulked at the looming end of the customer car era, arguing that it makes no sense to bankroll two full F1 constructors.

But he now tells Salzburger Nachrichten that he is waiting for the actual rules for 2010 to be written before making a final decision.

"It will show us whether we have an interested buyer, and it could also be that we no longer want to sell," Mateschitz, 64, said.

At the same time, Gerhard Berger, the other half-owner of the Faenza based team, has been publicly and privately urging his Austrian countryman to stay on board.

And, referring to Mateschitz, the former ten-time grand prix winner told Austria's O3 radio: "He manages a fantastic balance of business sense, private life and the joy of living."

Sauber urges caution on F1 night races
(GMM)  Peter Sauber has urged caution at the advent of the night racing era in formula one.

In the wake of the widely acclaimed Singapore grand prix, the first F1 race in history to be staged after sunset under floodlights, Bernie Ecclestone admitted he has set his sights on adding more night races to the future calendar.

"I would urge caution on this," Sauber, team founder and now a small shareholder and consultant of the BMW-Sauber squad, wrote in his column for the Swiss newspaper Blick.

The 64-year-old said the floodlit Singapore grand prix, amid the backdrop of the city-state's striking skyline, made aesthetic sense as well as providing a better live broadcast time for European viewers.

"But there are also tracks that would (at night) seem like no-man's land and look like a computer game.  That was the impression I got from the pictures I saw of the MotoGP in Qatar," he added.

Living up to the unique Singapore atmosphere is not Sauber's only concern for future F1 night race hosts.

"An important question remains even after Singapore: what effect will the artificial light have when it rains?  Change in F1 is definitely good, but we should not get carried away.

"In my opinion, a maximum of two night races per season would be enough."

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