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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Ferrari to debut next week, Red Bull in Feb.
  • McLaren boss racist says sacked employee
  • Kubica starts own kart team
  • Glock says post-Brazil storm 'hardest moment'
  • Ferrari to bring back pit 'traffic lights'
  • Verstappen avoids jail over wife assault

Ferrari to debut next week, Red Bull in Feb.
(GMM)  Red Bull Racing has announced that its 2009 car, the RB5, will make its track debut in February at the Spanish test circuit Jerez.

The confirmation coincided with Ferrari's announcement that its own single seater for the forthcoming season is to be the first 2009 car to hit the tracks next Monday.

But Red Bull boss Christian Horner said the RB5 debut date of 9 February is designed to "take full advantage" of the later start to the 2009 championship.

"We are using the time to ensure we have optimized the car as much as possible, within the regulation  changes, to start on the grid in Melbourne," he added.

The unveiling of the new Ferrari is scheduled to take place at the Italian team's Maranello headquarters, with Felipe Massa to debut the car later that day at Fiorano.

Ferrari clarified that the car, probably to be designated the F2009, will not yet be in its race-legal 2009 specification.

McLaren boss racist says sacked employee
(GMM)  Having already been labeled homophobic, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has now been accused of racism by a sacked employee.

It emerged last year that the employee, Peter Boland, was bringing legal action against Dennis and his companies because he said rumors he was gay led to him being unfairly dismissed.

The case has now returned to a Southampton (UK) employment tribunal, where 27-year-old Boland, who worked as Dennis' private jet steward, claims the Briton had been "insensitive" to Arab business colleagues.

Hong Kong-born Boland said Dennis had offered the Arabs alcoholic drinks when he knew they would not accept them because of their religious beliefs.

And after another trip to the Middle East, Dennis "came onboard and was offered a drink," Boland, who is representing himself, said.

"Ron said he did not want a drink.  Ron said he wanted to go to the bathroom to wash his hands because he had been shaking hands with Arabs all day."

Boland claims he was sacked by Dennis in the wake of the false rumors about his sexual orientation, but McLaren say he was rude, made mistakes and fell asleep during some flights.

But as well as accusing Dennis of sexual discrimination and racism, Boland - who turned down a settlement offer of $11,000 - also said his boss once called him "fat" before he was fired in May of last year.

McLaren, partly owned by the Saudi Arabia-born Mansour Ojjeh as well as the Kingdom of Bahrain, declined to comment.

Kubica starts own kart team
(GMM)  Robert Kubica has joined the growing ranks of formula one drivers who are also involved with teams in the lower categories of the sport.

The BMW-Sauber racer is reported to have founded a karting team, in collaboration with the kart manufacturer Birel, with which he was successful during his own days in the junior class.

"I wished to do something active in the world of kart racing, the discipline which allowed me to stand out and take the path leading to F1, and which I still love," Kubica, 24 and from Poland, told his F1 team's website.

After his F1 testing duties in December, Kubica tested the new chassis.

It is said he intends to take a hands-on management role with his team, which is set to participate in major international events starting this year.

Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli are also involved with their own kart outfits, while Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella have teams in F3 and GP2 respectively.

Glock says post-Brazil storm 'hardest moment'
(GMM)  Timo Glock has described the aftermath of the 2008 season finale in Brazil as the "hardest" off-track moment of his formula one career.

Following the Interlagos race, the Toyota driver was accused of having deliberately slowed on the last lap in order to gift Lewis Hamilton the world title.

"When I saw everyone's reaction it was very tough and difficult to understand," he admitted to Spain's Onda Cero radio.  "Even the next two weeks were really hard."

The German said he and his engineers, including his teammate Jarno Trulli, took a risk by not using wet tires in the closing stages of the grand prix.

"It was like driving on ice," Glock explained, "but still it was the right decision because it meant I finished one position higher than if I had changed tires.

"I did my own race and had no interest in getting involved in the fight for the title.

"Afterwards when all the journalists were coming up to me I began to wonder if Lewis going past me meant he was world champion.

"But during the race I had no idea of the position I was in, let alone what Hamilton and Felipe Massa were doing," the 26-year-old insisted.

He said the post-race reaction and conspiracy theories were "a little strange" but simply a price of being involved in a popular global sport.

"I believe in formula one and so you have to live with these things," Glock said.

Ferrari to bring back pit 'traffic lights'
(GMM)  Ferrari plans to bring back its controversial 'traffic lights' pit stop system for the 2009 season.

After several incidents last year, the Italian team abandoned the unique automated system following the Singapore grand prix, where Felipe Massa dragged the fuel hose down the pitlane.

But team manager Luca Baldisserri told the Italian newspaper La Stampa: "We have analyzed the errors of 2008 and improved the system.

"Now an electronic program will prevent the car from leaving the box when the fuel hose is attached," he said.

The automated system, using sensors and buttons to show colored lights to the drivers during pitstops, replaces the traditional 'lollipop' approach.

Verstappen avoids jail over wife assault
(GMM)  Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen has avoided a jail term following accusations he harassed and assaulted his wife.

In December, the 36-year-old Dutchman appeared in a Belgian court and was facing a maximum of eight months in prison for threatening his wife Sophie Kumpen, as well as assaulting her and slashing her car's tires.

The specialist Dutch publication Formule 1 Race Report said Verstappen, who contested 107 grands prix between 1994 and 2003, was sentenced on Monday to a conditional suspended jail term of three months and a 1650 euro fine.

The judge found that the sports car driver did not assault his wife, but elected to punish him for sending threatening text messages and violating an existing restraining order.

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