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DATE News (chronologically)
01/15/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Added items shown in red below.

01/15/09
  • Boss leaves Ferrari door open to Alonso
  • No engineer rift in Raikkonen's garage
  • New car tests more crucial than usual
  • Nose changes to take longer in 2009
  • Fight over F1 revenue no closer to ceasefire
  • Schu surveys earthquake damage in Costa Rica
  • Toyota reveals 2009 car online New
  • Changes on way for Singapore layout New
  • Higher number a 'mistake' - Massa New
  • Race win crucial to Toyota's F1 future New

Boss leaves Ferrari door open to Alonso
(GMM)  A Ferrari chief has once again left the door open to Fernando Alonso joining the famous Italian team in the future.

Recent reports claimed the 27-year-old twice world champion had penned some sort of agreement to switch from Renault in either 2010 or 2011.

Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen remain under contract, but Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said in December that although he is happy with the pair, "maybe in two years I will tell you something different".

At the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in the Italian Dolomites on Wednesday, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali was asked a similar question about the future of the Maranello based team's driver lineup.

"It is difficult to add anything new on this subject.  Our drivers are under contract and we are happy with them.  In the future, who knows?" he said at the media event.

"We must concentrate on the present.  Fernando is a great driver but we are happy with our two."

Domenicali also clarified that Ferrari's current drivers share equal billing, despite the fact that although Brazilian Massa finished just shy of the drivers' title in 2008, he will this year again wear the lower race number.

"We don't favor one driver over the other," the team boss insisted.

"They get the same opportunities and at the end of the season they are judged on their performances."

No engineer rift in Raikkonen's garage
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has not been assigned a new race engineer for 2009 because of a falling out with Australian Chris Dyer, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali insists.

We reported recently that Dyer, although behind the scenes of Michael Schumacher's latter title triumphs and Finn Raikkonen's drivers' crown of 2007, he had moved on to a broader track engineering role for 2009.

28-year-old Raikkonen, who failed to win a race after last April's Spanish grand prix, will now be engineered by the Italian Andrea Stella.

But while there is no doubt that teammate Felipe Massa's pairing with Englishman Rob Smedley is one of the most harmonious in the entire pitlane, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali played down the speculation surrounding Raikkonen's split.

"First of all let me underline that speculation of a negative relationship between Kimi and Chris Dyer is a complete fabrication.

"It was nothing to with technical difficulties or deficiencies," he said, insisting that Raikkonen's problem last year was simply with the F2008 car.

He said the promotion of Stella from a support role on Raikkonen's car is "a natural development" of his Ferrari career.

It also emerged from the 'Wrooom' media event in Italy that, as the result of a more intense training program, Raikkonen has lost a couple of kilograms since the end of his unsuccessful title defense last season.

New car tests more crucial than usual
(GMM)  Pre-season testing with new cars is going to be even more important in 2009 than in other years, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali says.

Due to the sweeping technical rule changes taking effect this year, in combination with the new total ban on in-season testing, the Italian chief insists that teams' relative competitiveness prior to the season opener in Australia is going to be more relevant than in the recent past.

"I think the crucial factor will be being competitive right from the start since we can't evolve during the season," he told reporters at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort for the annual 'Wrooom' media event.

Ferrari's newly-launched F60 car will go head-to-head with some of its main rivals' new machines for the first time at the Portimao circuit in Portugal next week.

Official drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen will both be in action.

"Starting with the test in Portimao we will compare ourselves with the other teams," Domenicali confirmed.

Nose changes to take longer in 2009
(GMM)  A side-effect of the new aerodynamic regulations in 2009 will be the slowing-down of pitstops, according to McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

In the name of inspiring more overtaking, drivers this year will be able to control from the cockpit a moveable flap on the front wing.

But because damaged front wings so often need to be changed during races, gone are the days when this process can be completed in little more than ten seconds, the 37-year-old Spaniard told the British broadcaster ITV.

"You can use a hydraulic system or you can use an electric motor, but whichever you use you still have to connect some type of cables because you're operating it from the cockpit," de la Rosa said.

"So it's going to add a big loss at the pit stops for everyone."

Fight over F1 revenue no closer to ceasefire
(GMM)  The impasse over the distribution of commercial income in formula one is no closer to a resolution, the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports.

On one side of the dispute is the F1 teams' FOTA alliance, backed up by FIA president Max Mosley, who insist that Bernie Ecclestone should release more than the 50 per cent of total revenue that is currently given to the sport's competitors.

"In no other sport do the participants get so little," FOTA chairman and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is quoted as saying.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who has already publicly scolded Montezemolo over the issue of team income, responded: "I would like Luca to call me with the names of the sports that pay more."

The 78-year-old billionaire added: "No-one has to take part in formula one if they don't want to."

Auto Motor und Sport claims that Ecclestone's cautionary response to the teams' push over income is to threaten a 'TV tax': where the teams receiving more live broadcast exposure pay a sort of revenue 'tax' to the less exposed teams.

The FIA, meanwhile, is siding with FOTA, but warns that it is in the other players' interests to come to a solution.

Mosley claims that if the F1 bubble was to burst, the governing FIA would continue to exist and "only the teams and Bernie would be out of business".

"Thus all the rights would return to the FIA and we would have to create something out of the ruins," he said.

Schu surveys earthquake damage in Costa Rica
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has toured the disaster zone in Costa Rica following the central American nation's 6.1-magnitude earthquake last week.

The death toll is reported to have risen above 20, with the most damage caused by resultant massive landslides.

Former seven time world champion Schumacher was already in Costa Rica for an appearance for traffic road safety, but he diverted his tour to survey the worst-affected region near the epicenter around Poas volcano.

The 40-year-old German, a renowned humanitarian donor, noted that "so many families have lost their homes".

Toyota reveals 2009 car online
(GMM)  Toyota launched its 2009 contender online on Thursday, revealing the goal to finally win a grand prix and scotching rumours this might be the Japanese marque's last season in formula one.

Japanese rival Honda has departed the sport amid the global financial crisis, but Toyota racer Jarno Trulli said the teams and FIA are reacting in the right way by cutting costs.

"The teams more than anyone else understand what's going on in F1, and today the message we are giving is that we are committed to formula one," the Italian told the UK broadcaster BBC.

The online launch of the new TF109 was thwarted by internet server problems, but eventually photos and interviews became available and revealed team boss Tadashi Yamashina setting out the target "to fight to win the first race for Toyota in formula one".

Team president John Howett agreed: "The goal for me is clear, we want to win our first race."

Timo Glock is again Trulli's teammate, and the Japanese GP2 driver Kamui Kobayashi has been retained as third driver.

Changes on way for Singapore layout
(GMM)  Singapore's formula one street layout is likely to undergo changes ahead of the 2009 race, a spokesman for the grand prix organiser has confirmed.

Reports recently suggested the first sequence of corners could be reshaped to aid overtaking, while the track's harsh bumps could be smoothed out.

A spokesman for organisers Singapore GP said talks with the FIA about changes to the night venue are taking place.

"We are currently reviewing all the areas of the track and the event with the FIA," he told the Straits Times.  "However, it is too early to make any specific comments."

Higher number a 'mistake' - Massa
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has questioned his allocation of a higher race number than his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the 2009 season.

The Brazilian bore the number two in 2008, following Raikkonen's title success the year before.

But Massa, 27, was the standout Ferrari performer last season, winning six races compared to Finn Raikkonen's two, and coming within a single point of Lewis Hamilton's drivers' crown.

However, Massa will wear the number 4 on his Maranello-built F60 this year, while the higher-paid Raikkonen wears number 3.

"It means nothing, numbers are just numbers but maybe the FIA has made a mistake," Massa said at the 'Wrooom' Ferrari media event at an Italian ski resort.

Race win crucial to Toyota's F1 future
(GMM)  Without a debut grand prix victory in 2009, Toyota's future in formula one remains clouded.

In official team interviews and statements, the Japanese marque said it was committed to the sport amid the global financial crisis, and mere weeks after rivals Honda pulled out.

But in conversation with the media on Thursday, when the new TF109 racer was revealed, it emerged that the Cologne based team is under high pressure this season to deliver Toyota's first win since it entered the sport in 2002.

"Toyota's message has been very clear: we carry on with F1, however we all have a great responsibility to try to bring home the maiden victory, which could be decisive for the future," Italian driver Jarno Trulli told his country's sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Toyota management echoed the unambiguous 2009 target of a race win, and team president John Howett underlined the importance of achieving this goal.

"We have to win, I think that's clear.  This organisation really only exists to win so we have to realise that we need to really make a change and deliver some outstanding performance this year," he told Reuters.

Trulli suggested that he or Timo Glock must win a race early this season, but said the venue for the achievement is not important.

"What counts is for it to happen in the first six races," he said.

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