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Latest F1 news in brief
  • STR to test hopeful trio in Spain
  • Hartley tests F1 car again
  • Meeting eases F1 'war' threat
  • '09 rules maybe not enough - Purnell
  • Button hopes for wins in 2009
  • Speedcar wants to support F1 races
  • Williams expects better Nakajima in 2009
  • '09 title charge realistic - Heidfeld
  • 5m euro engines not 'cap' for big teams
  • Ferrari test car called 'F2008K'
  • Glock also victim of internet racism

Bourdais (L) could still get the axe from team boss Gerhard Berger (R)
STR to test hopeful trio in Spain
(GMM)  Three contenders for a Toro Rosso race seat next year are set to test with the Faenza based team next week.

The Ferrari-powered outfit confirmed that incumbent Sebastien Bourdais, Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi, and Japanese veteran Takuma Sato will all appear in the STR3 over three days at the Circuit de Catalunya next week.

"I hope that the highlight of my 2008 is yet to come," Bourdais is quoted as saying in the German press, "because I am waiting to see if I can continue to drive for the team next year."

Bruno Senna has also been linked with the partly Red Bull-owned team, and he will be in action for Honda at Barcelona.

25-year-old Senna, as well as fellow GP2 driver Lucas di Grassi, are believed to be in contention for the race seat occupied in 2008 by Rubens Barrichello.

The veteran Brazilian has therefore been linked with a role at STR.

The test in Spain begins on Monday.

Red Bull youngster Brendon Hartley
Hartley tests F1 car again
(GMM)  19-year-old Red Bull junior driver Brendon Hartley was recently back in action in a formula one car.

His father Bryan told New Zealand press that the F3 star, who has previously tested with Toro Rosso, ran for the senior Red Bull team at Silverstone prior to the Chinese grand prix.

Hartley, in Macau for this weekend's famous F3 race, finished this year's British F3 series in third place.

His father hinted that Brendon will step up into another category in 2009.

Meeting eases F1 'war' threat
(GMM)  The anger of formula one teams may have eased, following a meeting between Bernie Ecclestone's office and F1 team finance directors.

It emerged this week that team bosses, stridently united within the new FOTA alliance, are unhappy about the debts and subsequent huge interest payments of the sport's owners, CVC.

It was reported that their response might be to demand more commercial revenue and block additional pushes for cost cutting.

But Duncan Llowach, a director of F1's holding company Delta3, believes the opening of the books to the team's finance directors might have changed their opinion.

"The numbers they will receive are well in advance of what was anticipated," he told The Guardian.

It is said that a renewed threat of a breakaway series is unlikely, but it remains a risk, given that the existing Concorde Agreement expired last year.

"For two years I've had a Concorde Agreement available for them to sign," F1 chief executive Ecclestone said, "but the problem is they have so many smart-arses in the teams -- doctors, lawyers, masseurs ..."

'09 rules maybe not enough - Purnell
(GMM)  A leading figure at F1's governing body suspects the incoming radical aerodynamic changes in 2009 will not increase overtaking.

Tony Purnell, the former Jaguar team boss who is now the FIA's technical consultant, said he doubts the rule changes will achieve their target of reducing downforce by half.

"The F1 jungle drums tell me the cars are going to have much more downforce than (that)," he told Racecar Engineering Magazine, "and I suspect that may mean the aero rules do little for racing."

On the advice of the Technical Working Group, comprised of F1 teams' leading technical minds, the FIA ratified drastic changes to the aerodynamic rules for 2009.

But Purnell suspects that, rather than 50 per cent, the rules will only cut downforce by 20 or 30 per cent.

"I suspect that may mean the aero rules do little for racing," he said, warning that if that is so, the FIA will act again.

Purnell said: "If it needs a re-think, then it needs a re-think."

Button hopes for wins in 2009
(GMM)  Jenson Button is hoping for "a bit more" than podiums when he lines up on the 2009 grid with Honda.

The Briton, as well as his teammate Rubens Barrichello, has endured two dramatically uncompetitive seasons with the team, and in 2008 he was the lowest-placed of all the manufacturer-backed drivers.

Honda, however, abandoned development of the RA108 very early this year to focus entirely on the 2009 car, and team boss Ross Brawn has publicly declared the likelihood of podiums next season.

"Ross has said we will get podiums and be at the same sort of level as BMW.  But I'm hoping for a bit more," Button, 28, told The Sun, explaining that "challenging for wins" is his own goal for 2009.

"We need to be very positive and I can't wait to get out there and test the new car."

A new contract for Button has yet to be signed for 2009, but he indicated to the British newspaper that he will certainly stay with the Japanese squad.

Speedcar wants to support F1 races
(GMM)  The promoter of the Dubai based stock car series Speedcar is hoping to pair with the inaugural Abu Dhabi grand prix late next year.

The series is already set to support next year's formula one races in Malaysia and Bahrain, but Speedcar boss Claudio Berro revealed he is "in talks with Abu Dhabi".

This week in Dubai, famous F1 faces including Jean Alesi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Tonio Liuzzi and Sakon Yamamoto were testing Speedcars.

Berro told the local newspaper The National: "We are working with the FIA to race together with formula one.

"This year, we will be racing at two grands prix, next year we want to make it three or more races.  The combination of Speedcar and F1 is a great mix."

Williams expects better Nakajima in 2009
(GMM)  Williams is expecting increasingly better performance from Kazuki Nakajima in 2009.

The Japanese rookie, 23, made his debut at the end of 2007, and although involved in some incidents, and having been outscored by his teammate Nico Rosberg, has impressed many observers.

"Kazuki has had his learning period," Williams' chief engineer Rod Nelson is quoted as saying by Formule 1 Race Report.

He insisted that Nakajima's development has been steady in 2008.

"When you compare the Nakajima from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, you see right away that he has grown tremendously," Nelson said.

He also said he is "very pleased" Williams has retained both drivers for 2009.

"It is just convenient," he said.  "Good or bad, you should always improve compared with the previous season."

'09 title charge realistic - Heidfeld
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld has backed team boss Mario Theissen's target of challenging for the 2009 world championship.

"It is not unrealistic," the 31-year-old German told sport1.de, "because so far the team has achieved all its goals in every season."

BMW finished the 2008 season in a comfortable third place, but Heidfeld scored 15 fewer points than his Polish teammate, Robert Kubica, following a mid-season slump.

Kubica, however, similarly suffered a remarkable slump right at the end of the season, resulting in his loss of third place in the drivers' classification to Kimi Raikkonen.

Heidfeld, who has always had a tense relationship with the 23-year-old, said: "I hope that in 2009 I am still faster than Robert."

In more than 150 grands prix, Heidfeld has scored 11 podiums but no wins.

5m euro engines not 'cap' for big teams
(GMM)  Despite team bosses agreeing on the issue of 5 million euro engines, it is believed they do not wish to enforce that figure as a maximum cap for customer engine deals.

The FIA clarified recently that an alternative to introducing standard engines in 2010 would be for the manufacturers to "jointly guarantee to supply powertrains to the independent teams for less than 5m per season".

FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo said this week that the F1 teams' alliance has "unanimously decided that by 2011 an engine will cost 5 million (euros)".

But in an interview with the French newspaper Liberation, Renault team boss Flavio Briatore said: "FOTA's intention is to say 'let us make our engines according to the specifications of the FIA, and we open the door to an independent manufacturer to make an engine and market it to the small teams.

"It is the cost of the engine to this manufacturer that will be the reference, with the goal being to arrive at a budget that does not exceed 5 million euros per year."

The difference between Briatore's proposition and the FIA's is that Briatore's would allow the manufacturers to continue to spend what they like on their own engine development programs.

Additionally, it would allow them to market their customer engines to smaller teams at their own price.

Ferrari test car called 'F2008K'
(GMM)  Ferrari's winter test car, based on the 2008 single seater, will be designated 'F2008K'.

It is believed the 'K' is a reference to the incoming KERS systems for 2009.

According to sources, the F2008K will be able to run in several key specifications; ranging from using ballast to simulate the weight of the energy-recovery technology, to eventually a fully operational KERS.

The car is set to make its imminent debut at Ferrari's own local test circuit Fiorano, and also in Luca Badoer's hands in Barcelona next week.

Glock also victim of internet racism
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is not formula one's only victim of racism, it has emerged.

According to the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell, the guestbook of the Toyota driver Timo Glock's personal website was attacked in the form of 500 vile messages in the wake of the Brazilian grand prix.

At Interlagos, the fact that the dry-tired Glock slowed dramatically and ceded fifth position to Hamilton on the last lap proved decisive to the outcome of the world championship.

As a result, some racists - unhappy with Hamilton's success as the first black world champion - turned their attention to the 26-year-old Glock, who was born near the Hockenheim circuit in Germany.

The Motorsport Aktuell website did not provide details, but another internet forum quoted one racist as saying: "Glock, you don't look German, more like a Polish toilet cleaner.

"I hope you lose one of your legs in your next crash."

Another message reads: "Is this guy from Germany?  He looks like an Iraqi or a Paki."

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