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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 faces test Speedcars in Dubai
  • Abu Dhabi to be ready for earlier 2009 finale
  • 5m euro engines to arrive in 2011, not '10
  • Boss wants Kimi 'double' to vacate Ferrari
  • Hamilton cuts deal to keep key trophies
  • Hamilton also dismisses 'arrogant' jibe
  • Webber joins Ecclestone in racism 'joke'
  • 'Bad car would test Hamilton's loyalty'
  • Toro Rosso sounded out Montoya for 2009
  • Renault seeks agreement for 2009 engine parity
  • Ferrari name road car in F1 title tribute
  • Hamilton double wants career as lookalike

F1 faces test Speedcars in Dubai
(GMM)  Numerous former formula one winners and drivers on Sunday turned out to test ahead of the Dubai based Speedcar stock car series.

Ferrari race winner Jean Alesi was fastest at Dubai Autodrome, ahead of fellow grand prix victors Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Johnny Herbert and Alessandro Nannini.

Also in the field was Force India test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, and former F1 drivers Sakon Yamamoto, Alex Yoong and Gianni Morbidelli.

1980 world champion Alan Jones' son Christian was also in action, as well as 2003 Champ Car title winner Paul Tracy.

The series begins in Dubai early next month.

Abu Dhabi to be ready for earlier 2009 finale
(GMM)  Abu Dhabi's new formula one circuit will be ready to host the 2009 season finale late next year, according to track chief Philippe Gurdjian.

According to the FIA's latest provisional calendar, the race has been brought forward two weeks, from its original November 15 date to November 1.

"Actually, the (circuit) will be completed and finished some time before the new date of the championship," chief executive Gurdjian told the local Gulf News.

The circuit is currently under construction on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island.

Gurdjian said the track was always scheduled to be finished before the beginning of November next year.

5m euro engines to arrive in 2011, not '10
(GMM)  The proposal to install a 5 million euro cap on the price of customer engine deals has been agreed to begin in 2011, Luca di Montezemolo has clarified.

It had been reported that the measure, believed to be designed to stave off the FIA's threat about standard engines, would begin in 2010.

The issue was voted upon by the F1 teams' alliance FOTA, of which Ferrari president Montezemolo is chairman, last week.

"We unanimously decided that by 2011 an engine will cost 5 million (euros), compared to the more than 20m they used to cost," he said.

At the end-of-season Ferrari World Finals event at Mugello, Montezemolo also revealed that he destroyed his television as Lewis Hamilton clinched the 2008 championship from Ferrari's Felipe Massa earlier this month.

"Luckily we had another television so I was able to watch the podium ceremony, which I enjoyed," the Italian said.

Boss wants Kimi 'double' to vacate Ferrari
(GMM)  Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has joked that he wants dethroned world champion Kimi Raikkonen's less competitive stunt double to vacate the red cockpit ahead of the 2009 season.

"Kimi, was it really you in flesh and bone or was it a friend, a double, who raced for Ferrari in the final grand prix?" the Ferrari president said at Ferrari's end-of-season World Finals event at Mugello.

Raikkonen, 29, had a difficult season as reigning champion, finishing the Brazilian grand prix in third place, and third also in the final driver's classification.

Montezemolo also countered reports that new world champion Lewis Hamilton may be beating off Ferrari's approaches before long.

"With all respect for Lewis Hamilton, I'm happy with my drivers, the best pair in the world."

Hamilton cuts deal to keep key trophies
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has cut a second sweet and unique deal with McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

It had already emerged that, with his third drivers' world championship for the British team, Hamilton has been promised the McLaren F1 LM supercar - worth about $8m - that currently resides in the team museum.

And 23-year-old Hamilton revealed at Mercedes-Benz's end-of-season Stars and Cars event in Stuttgart that he is also being allowed to keep several of the trophies he wins at grands prix.

Dennis, famously an almost obsessive perfectionist, allows McLaren drivers to make replicas of their trophies, but the originals - even those won by famous triple world champion Ayrton Senna - are all housed in the McLaren Technology Centre.

"I made a deal with Ron that I could keep the trophy from my first podium, first win, first Monaco win and first world championship.  I am happy with that," Hamilton said in Germany.

The Briton will collect his world championship trophy at the FIA gala dinner in Monaco next month.

Hamilton also dismisses 'arrogant' jibe 
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has echoed his boss Ron Dennis' defense that he is not arrogant.

Among the criticisms of the 2008 world champion that emerge from the paddock and the wider public, the 23-year-old's sometimes over-zealous confidence is arguably most often repeated.

The McLaren driver admits that some of the negativity surrounding his success "saddens" him.

"It saddens me people get a different view of me," Hamilton is quoted as saying by the Sunday Mirror.

"But I'm young and I'm going to be here for a while.  I'm going to do everything I can to open their minds.

"Hopefully, I'll be able to win them over and show them that I am a normal person and have good values and morals," he said.

Hamilton admits he possesses very healthy "confidence" and "self-belief" but warns against confusing it with arrogance.

"There are some people who express things better than others.  Some are a lot quieter.  It just so happens I'm a bubbly kind of guy."

Another criticism often fired at Hamilton is his decision, for both privacy and tax reasons, to leave Britain and live in Switzerland.

"Britain will always be my love.  I love my people, I love their support and I love the country -- but I'm happy where I am," he said.

Webber joins Ecclestone in racism 'joke'
(GMM)  Mark Webber has joined his 2008 Red Bull teammate David Coulthard in playing down the latest racism storm triggered by Bernie Ecclestone's comments about Lewis Hamilton.

Reacting to the furor sparked when Ecclestone dismissed the incident as a "joke", Coulthard last week backed the F1 chief executive, denying that the Spanish fans with blacked out faces meant that formula one has a serious problem with racism.

"I'll be honest, I did think it was a joke, though the guys who did that obviously went too far," Australian Webber has now told the BBC.

"Racism in our sport is totally in check, I believe," he continued.

"Those guys in Spain certainly overstepped the mark but there will always be popular drivers and unpopular drivers in every race -- I don't think it comes down to race at all.

"We're all on a level playing field," said Webber.

'Bad car would test Hamilton's loyalty'
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's loyalty to McLaren may be tested if the Mercedes-powered team stops providing him with a winning car.

That is the belief of retiring British veteran David Coulthard, who was commenting on 2008 world champion Hamilton's claim that he wants to spend his entire career with the Woking based team.

"In terms of trying to achieve wins it would be silly of him to stay with McLaren if the car wasn't performing," Scot Coulthard is quoted as saying by The Sun.

Hamilton was groomed and financed throughout his junior racing career by Ron Dennis' team, culminating in his current long-term contract.

But 37-year-old Coulthard believes trying to predict the future is futile for Hamilton.

"He wants to win and you would expect him to say that now because they're on top of the world," he explained.

"But I don't think he needs to talk about the future beyond enjoying this world championship success and next year's bid.

"None of us knows what the future holds," Coulthard said.

Toro Rosso sounded out Montoya for 2009
(GMM)  Team boss Franz Tost sounded out whether Juan Pablo Montoya, a winner of seven grands prix, might be interested in returning to formula one with Toro Rosso in 2009.

Montoya, 33, was a frontrunner with Williams and McLaren until a bad spell of form in 2006 led to his switch to NASCAR racing in America.

But with Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost needing to fill Sebastian Vettel's seat, the Austrian admitted he looked into whether Colombian Montoya might be ready to return to premier single seaters.

"Unfortunately he no longer wants to be in formula one," Tost is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport.

The German magazine also said Nelson Piquet was offered Red Bull-bound Vettel's race seat, before the Brazilian was re-confirmed by Renault for next season.

Also in the running for Toro Rosso seats next year is incumbent Sebastien Bourdais, Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi, Japanese veteran Takuma Sato, Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello.

Team co-owner Gerhard Berger said of 29-year-old Bourdais: "He has talent but lacks a bit of confidence both in the car and in himself."

Renault seeks agreement for 2009 engine parity
(GMM)  The real political motive behind Renault's opposition to immediate F1 testing cuts has now emerged.

When the French team recently vetoed plans to halve the current test limit to just 15,000 kilometers next year, some made a link between the news and the FIA's threats about more draconian measures, like standard engines.

But while team boss Flavio Briatore's links with the engine maker Mecachrome do exist, Auto Motor und Sport reports that the real link on this matter is between the Renault veto and the issue of engine parity.

Briatore confirmed to the German magazine that he is seeking the unanimous approval of the other team bosses so that Renault (and Honda) can get back up to speed amid the engine freeze.

"Allow us to make our engines better and then we can talk about any testing restrictions," the Italian is quoted as pleading with his colleagues.

He said being penalized with an underpowered engine for several years is unfair.

"We only followed the rules.  If we had to keep this engine and were then not even able to test, we would be nowhere," Briatore said.

Ferrari name road car in F1 title tribute
(GMM)  The designation of Ferrari's latest road car is a tribute to the Italian marque's constructors' world championship of 2008.

A convertible version of the 430 Scuderia has been launched at the Ferrari World Finals; named '16M' in commemoration of the Italian brand's sixteenth such title.

This year would also have seen Ferrari secure its 16th drivers' crown, but Felipe Massa was beaten by 1 point by Lewis Hamilton.

The 430 Scuderia 16M is expected to cost about $320,000.

Hamilton double wants career as lookalike
(GMM)  In the wake of the 2008 world championship, a Lewis Hamilton lookalike is expected to begin impersonating the McLaren driver full-time.

Neil Davis, a 30-year-old graphic designer, also accepts work as a dead-ringer for the McLaren driver.

According to The Sun newspaper, he is managed by a top lookalike agency and could soon be getting enough offers to make a good living.

"I've been getting busier and busier," he said, referring to his appearances at shopping centers, nightclubs and car dealers.

"I have met Lewis and he said it was weird that I looked so much like him, but he didn't mind," Davis added.

Not surprisingly, he said he had to arrange for a replica McLaren driving suit to be made at his own expense.

"McLaren wouldn't give me one," he explained.

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