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  • Champion's parents to wave Brazil GP checker
  • Banana boy back in Brazil as title charger
  • Locals to hurl 'dirty words' at Hamilton - Massa
  • Piquet fears Grosjean to take Renault seat
  • Moss doubts Donington to host British GP
  • Report shows another record loss for Aus GP

Champion's parents to wave Brazil GP checker
(GMM)  Family members of the 2008 world champion will be invited to wave the checkered flag at the end of Sunday's championship showdown in Brazil.

Organizers of the race at Interlagos said that, depending on the outcome of the preceding 70 laps, either Felipe Massa's parents Luiz Antonio and Ana Elena, or Lewis Hamilton's father and brother Anthony and Nicholas, will be invited to officially mark the end of the race.

"We believe it would be a very special thing if the families can participate in such a way," race official Carlos Roberto Montagner said, according to Brazilian sports publication Gazeta Esportiva.

Banana boy back in Brazil as title charger
(GMM)  When he swipes his paddock pass and enters the Interlagos paddock on Thursday, championship contender Felipe Massa will undoubtedly recall 1999.

Then a teenager, it was the Brazilian's first visit to the circuit's inner sanctum, where nine years later the now 27-year-old local is in contention to succeed Ayrton Senna as the latest Brazilian winner of the drivers' title.

Massa, then a Formula Renault racer, earned his 1999 credential by convincing someone to let him deliver pasta and bananas to Benetton's hospitality area.

"I'll be back in formula one.  Remember me," he told Benetton's chef, Felice Guerini.  Today, Guerini is the cook at Ferrari, the famous Italian team for whom Massa now drives.

It was not a smooth ride for Massa between then and now, however.  Some paddock sages still find it difficult to rate the Paulista, given his less than impressive debut season with Sauber in 2002.

"Because of the first year, my reputation was bad for so many years," he now admits.

"That was not a great thing for my image and it took very long to recover and change.  But, fortunately, I think we changed it," said Massa.

He admits, however, that his early days do still haunt him, such as when he has a bad day with Ferrari.

"I am sometimes massacred by the press," Massa told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "but my team always supports me unconditionally."

With just Sunday's race left to run in 2008, Massa is 7 points behind title favorite Lewis Hamilton.

Locals to hurl 'dirty words' at Hamilton - Massa
(GMM)  Juan Pablo Montoya has joined Eddie Jordan in warning that hostile tactics could play a role in Sunday's championship showdown in Brazil.

The Colombian, who won seven grands prix before switching to NASCAR two years ago, believes Ferrari's Felipe Massa might again make contact with championship leader Lewis Hamilton, as they did in Japan earlier this month.

Given that Hamilton only needs to finish fifth at Interlagos to win the title, 33-year-old Montoya advises the Briton to steer clear of Brazil's Massa, who has much less to lose.

"Lewis has got to play this pretty smart, then he'll be champion," he is quoted as saying by The Sun.

"I think Felipe will win the race.  If he comes anywhere near Lewis, I'd let him by," Montoya said.

Track tactics aside, crowd favorite Massa told local reporters in Sao Paulo this week that he thinks Hamilton will be given a tough time by the 70,000 Brazilians scheduled to throng the track on Sunday.

"He will be taunted.  It's natural the fans will be against him," he said.

In La Gazzetta dello Sport, Massa is also quoted as saying: "Knowing Brazilians at Interlagos, there could be some dirty words."

Piquet fears Grosjean to take Renault seat
(GMM)  Nelson Piquet has admitted he might lose his Renault seat because the team is under pressure to sign a French driver in 2009.

The Brazilian rookie has enjoyed better form lately at the wheel of the improved R28, but he said a mostly difficult 2008 season could mean he will drop out of the team.

"I think Renault are in need.  It's been a few years since they had a French driver," the 23-year-old is quoted as saying by Reuters.

22-year-old Romain Grosjean, a Renault test driver and GP2 racer, was born in Switzerland but he competes with a French racing license.

It is rumored that, should Piquet Jr be replaced, he could head to Honda next year, where new backer Petrobras is pushing for a Brazilian driver for 2009.

"There are always discussions," Piquet admitted.

"Paddocks are not very big: we talk.  Everyone knows what everyone is doing.  Everyone is waiting for the other's decision."

First and foremost, he is waiting on Renault's decision, as the Enstone based team pushes for Fernando Alonso to stay for next year.

"I don't know what is happening," Piquet is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

"(Renault) will make a decision, maybe they have already done that.  But I haven't been told anything yet."

He believes even a great performance and result at his home race this weekend, the last of the 2008 season, will not alter the outcome.

"I don't think it will make a difference, we've had 17 races already," he said.

"It wasn't the year I expected, but I learned a lot."

Moss doubts Donington to host British GP
(GMM)  Sir Stirling Moss, a great British racing driver of the 50s, is skeptical that Donington will actually take over from Silverstone in 2010 as the new annual host of the British grand prix.

Moss, who is 79, joins a growing number of observers who are uncertain the venue in Leicestershire can find the money to upgrade its facilities in time to fulfill its new contract with formula one authorities.

"I don't think Donington is capable of holding it because it's a tremendous change," he told BBC Northampton.

"Have they even got planning permission yet?  I doubt that and to get it done it's very difficult."

The race is currently held at Silverstone, an historic grand prix circuit whose facilities and promoters have long been derided by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

But Moss believes the Northamptonshire venue is more suited to hosting F1.

"Silverstone can cope with it, it's greatly improved.  The drivers like it and it's quite exciting there," he said.

Moss fears, however, that if Donington's plans do not materialize, Britain could drop off the calendar altogether.

"I think you'll find that when it comes to it there won't be anywhere else it can go other than to another country," he said.

Report shows another record loss for Aus GP
(GMM)  A report filed in state parliament on Thursday revealed the latest growing cost of Melbourne's Australian grand prix.

The report showed a loss of (AUD) $40 million for the 2008 race, representing a $5m increase in expenditure, and a decline in sponsorship revenue compared with the 2007 race at Albert Park.

Last year, the race lost $34m, which was $12m worse than in 2006.

The 2005 event lost only $13m.

The Victorian government's hosting of the grand prix is controversial within the state, but earlier this year a new deal securing the race's future through 2015 with a 5pm 'twilight' start time was announced.

"We recognize there is a cost to the state for holding the event.  We're always up front about what that cost is," said government minister Tim Holding.

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