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Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • 'All drivers want Massa to win' - Alonso
  • FIA not told of Magny Cours axe
  • Ecclestone wants 'no dirty tricks'
  • Hamilton 'good' despite criticism - Massa
  • FIA proceeds with standard engine
  • Kubica deserves 2008 title - Villeneuve
  • Ecclestone spells out ideas to improve F1 New
  • Canada must pay to reinstate GP - Ecclestone New
  • Webber angry about Hamilton headlines New
  • Hamilton 'irritates' rivals - Ecclestone New

'All drivers want Massa to win' - Alonso
(GMM)  Moments after the FIA press conference on Thursday, Fernando Alonso told his Spanish compatriots what he really thinks of Lewis Hamilton.

Last week, the 27-year-old Renault driver admitted he would like to help Felipe Massa beat Hamilton, his teammate during an acrimonious tenure at McLaren last year, to the title.

Seated less than three feet from 23-year-old Hamilton in the official press briefing in Shanghai, however, Alonso was less forthright.

A British journalist asked him to comment on his admission that, although he did not know what Hamilton had done, he agreed with stewards' decision to penalize him at Fuji Speedway.

"I saw it, I was just behind them," he backtracked in China.  "Sometimes what you read in newspapers is wrong."

Alonso then issued a "no comment" to whether he thought Hamilton's recent driving has been dangerous, and when asked if he was jealous of his British rival, he insisted: "I'm very happy."

But not long after leaving the press conference, Alonso made his feelings clear, according to the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco.

"Last year, when the championship was at this stage, everyone said they wanted either me or Kimi to win.

"This year, all the drivers want Massa to be champion.  So I think it is not my problem, it is Hamilton's," Alonso said.

His different attitudes sparked a headline rebuke by the British newspaper The Sun: 'Now tell me to my face', it read, alongside a photo of a menacing-looking Hamilton.

If Alonso really got his way, however, his friend Robert Kubica would beat both Hamilton and Massa to the 2008 crown.

"I know this is quite difficult because I think that with the performance of his car it will be difficult to recover 12 points," Alonso said.

FIA not told of Magny Cours axe
(GMM)  F1's governing body says it is "gravely concerned" with the news that the promoter of the race at Magny Cours has cancelled the 2009 French grand prix.

France's motor racing federation FFSA this week said it will no longer back the event for financial reasons.

A spokesman for the FIA, however, said the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile did not notify them.

"The FIA secretary general has written to the president of the FFSA today to seek an urgent clarification of the situation of the French grand prix," he is quoted as saying by Reuters.

"Up until today we have heard nothing and we are gravely concerned."

Ecclestone wants 'no dirty tricks'
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has ordered a 'hard but fair' conclusion to the 2008 championship, as rivalries threaten to spill onto the circuit with two races to go.

Title leader Lewis Hamilton at Fuji accused his opponent Felipe Massa of deliberately crashing into him.

The first official press conference at Shanghai, meanwhile, was a noticeably tense affair, particularly after Hamilton's nemesis Fernando Alonso promised to help Massa to defeat the Briton.

"We want fair play at all times," Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, told the Gulf News newspaper.  "Hard and close racing, yes, but fair play, too without drivers being put in danger.

"The wider world is watching and waiting the outcome of what has turned into a great championship.  We don't want it spoiled and we will crack down on any dirty tricks," the 77-year-old added.

In China, however, Spaniard Alonso clarified that he was never planning to hinder Hamilton by using dirty tricks.

"If Felipe wins the race and I can be second or third I will be happy to help Felipe to take as many points as possible and this is the only approach," said the Renault driver.

Hamilton 'good' despite criticism - Massa
(GMM)  Felipe Massa, who is Lewis Hamilton's chief rival for the 2008 world championship, has declined to join in the current drubbing of the McLaren driver.

Ferrari's Massa, who less than a week ago was accused by the Briton of deliberately driving into him at Fuji, hailed Hamilton as a "very strong" competitor.

At Shanghai perhaps more than anywhere else this year, there is an obvious air of negativity about 23-year-old Hamilton, who has a 5 point lead over Massa with two races to go.

Some analysts wonder about his calm under pressure, while a group of fellow drivers have bandied together in concern about the safety of his racing style.

Massa, however, warned observers not to confuse Hamilton's brassy character with his credentials as a racer.

"That's Lewis.  That is his personality.  To be aggressive and always over confident.  That is true," the Brazilian told reporters in China.

"It doesn't mean that he cannot be good, cannot be competitive or cannot be strong because of that.  Everybody knows that he is very strong and these things, many races, made him a lot of points."

But another of Hamilton's usual allies, the former grand prix winner Johnny Herbert, has warned his countryman he needs to keep his head if he doesn't want to throw away another shot at the championship.

"You would think this year would be better (than 2007), but he has cut his lead to five points because he didn't use his head in the last race," Herbert, in Dubai testing for the Speedcar series, told Gulf News.

"We have to say that his temperament is letting him down.  What he did in Fuji was not so clever and I hope he learns from that and uses that in China and then in Brazil."

FIA proceeds with standard engine
(GMM)  F1's governing body is pressing ahead with controversial plans to introduce a standard engine formula by 2010.

In a statement on Friday, the FIA confirmed it has opened a tender process "for the appointment of a third party supplier of engines and transmission systems" for the entire grid between 2010-2012.

The statement issued from Shanghai said more details will be provided shortly.

Kubica deserves 2008 title - Villeneuve
(GMM)  Neither Lewis Hamilton nor his main challenger Felipe Massa fully deserves to be 2008 world champion, former title winner Jacques Villeneuve says.

"The one who really deserves it now is Kubica," the French-Canadian, who last contested a grand prix in 2006, told the BBC's radio Five Live.

Kubica, 23, ousted Villeneuve from F1 in mid 2006, when BMW-Sauber promoted its then test driver.

"He has not been in as good a car as either Felipe or Lewis yet he has produced a season without mistakes," 37-year-old Villeneuve said.

Villeneuve heralded Hamilton as "extremely fast" but, after last year, wonders if he will put the lid on a late points advantage or once again lose the title in the final dash.

"He's been thrown in very young and been told for many years that he's the best in the world," the winner of 11 grands prix said.

"At some point you end up believing that and I guess that happens to most drivers at some point in their careers."

Ecclestone spells out ideas to improve F1
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has called for a single F1 "referee" to issue football-style red and yellow cards.

After the spate of controversial driver penalties this year, the F1 chief executive believes there is room for an improved system.

"What I want is a referee, who either immediately announces a penalty or, as in football, shows a yellow card.  For certain offences you get a red card, for others a yellow.

"Once you have a certain number of yellow cards, you are banned for the next race," said the 77-year-old.

He agrees, however, that the crux of the current problem is that too many penalties are being dished out.

"We must be careful that we don't punish every little thing, otherwise the drivers will lose the confidence to try to fight," Ecclestone told Auto Motor und Sport.

There is a mood of radical change in the paddock at present; the FIA is pushing for slashed costs, and teams are looking for ways to spice up the 'show'.

Ecclestone has his own ideas, including a maximum of 40 hours per week in team wind tunnels.

He was also asked about rumors that teams want to reduce the testing limit from 30,000 to 20,000 kms next year.

"I would be even more radical," he said.  "Two things; only one track at which you can test.  And we stay at each grand prix track one day longer so they can test on Monday."

Ecclestone also thinks F1 teams have become too big.

"We could reduce the number of paddock passes for the guys who work on the cars," he said, and he also has proposals for a more exciting sport.

"For qualifying it should all be on low fuel, and there should be points," said the Briton.

Canada must pay to reinstate GP - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Friday said it is not inconceivable that Canada could win back its spot on the formula one calendar.

The F1 chief executive recently cancelled the Montreal race's contract for 2009 and beyond.

"We tried our best, but they have not kept up their obligations for the past three years," he told Auto Motor und Sport in an interview.

"Until this point they have paid only 50 per cent of the money they owe us.  I wouldn't say that Canada has no chance to return, but first they have to pay," the 77-year-old billionaire said.

Since the Canada axe, organizers of the Magny Cours race have called off the 2009 French grand prix for financial reasons.

"They had one more race than we were expecting," Ecclestone revealed.

"We don't have to worry," Bernie said.  "There are four of five new people who are just waiting to get a grand prix."

Webber angry about Hamilton headlines
(GMM)  Mark Webber has responded angrily to media reportage of his comments about Lewis Hamilton.

Amid drivers' concerns about some of the championship leader's recent on-track maneuvers, the Australian had compared Hamilton's start at Fuji a week ago with Monza in 2000.

"We lost a marshal when there were guys moving around in the braking areas.  That is what we want a chat about," said Webber, ahead of the drivers' briefing in China.

Some publications, however, interpreted Webber as indicating that unless Hamilton's tactics are reigned in, a fatality could occur.

"I'm very disappointed at the headlines.  I'm disappointed with the press -- they come to you for your expertise and experience and sometimes they slate you," he told the BBC.

"I know I never said the word 'kill'.  I said a lot of positive stuff about Lewis," the Red Bull driver added.

As it turns out, the Shanghai drivers' briefing was apparently business as usual, although Hamilton conceded afterwards that he knows he is not popular among his peers.

"It's a shame they all think that way but my driving is why I'm here and why I'm leading the championship so I'm not disappointed with the way I drive," he said.

"If other people want to expend their energy thinking about it, that's for them."

The McLaren driver believes it is par for the course for world champion contenders to take stick from their opponents.

"I look at previous world champions and previous seasons, and a lot of people that have been at the front have had these kind of situations, it's normal," he said.

Hamilton 'irritates' rivals - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is "good for business", but Bernie Ecclestone says he knows why the championship leader is not popular among his peers.

"He is good for business," the 77-year-old F1 chief executive told Auto Motor und Sport.  "Out of the car he is a little bit arrogant.

"I think he has slightly too high an opinion of himself and that irritates the other drivers," Ecclestone added.

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