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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Monza safe despite Rome GP bid
  • Coulthard, Nadal, say Alonso best in F1
  • Former McLaren boss, founder, dies
  • Sacked Gascoyne sues Force India
  • Renault takes new R29 to British airfield
  • Ecclestone calls for 'patience' amid crisis

Monza safe despite Rome GP bid
(GMM)  Rome's bid to host a formula one street race should not pose a threat to the future of the existing Italian grand prix at Monza.

That is the insistence of Gian Carlo Minardi, the former boss and owner of the Faenza based team that is today known as Toro Rosso.

"The grand prix in Monza is untouchable because it is part of the history of the sport," the Italian, echoing the attitude of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, told minardi.it.

Monza mayor Marco Mariani last week responded angrily to the Rome reports, accusing the potential organizers of a street race on the outskirts of the capital of trying to "steal" the F1 date from the famous Autodromo Nazionale.

But Enrico Gelpi, president of the Italian sanctioning body ACI, played down the fears about Monza being replaced by Rome.

"The Italian grand prix is staying at Monza," he is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Even (Rome GP promoter) Flammini acknowledges that a Rome GP must not interfere with the one of Monza."

Alonso is considered by most to be the best driver in F1
Coulthard, Nadal, say Alonso best in F1
(GMM)  He finished almost forty points behind Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa's championship battle, but Fernando Alonso was the "best driver in 2008".

That is the belief of David Coulthard, outlined as the newly-retired grand prix veteran made a visit to Spain for the Zaragoza Motor Show Festival.

Alonso's Renault was not as good as the contending McLaren and Ferrari last year but "he continued working and eventually achieved two wins at the end of the season", the Scot is quoted as saying by Diario AS newspaper.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is also fully convinced of the performance last year of 27-year-old Alonso, amid speculation he may in the future switch to Ferrari.

Ecclestone said on a visit to Valencia that the Spaniard is "one of the world's best drivers who should one day demonstrate his quality with Ferrari".

Spaniard and world number one tennis player Rafael Nadal, who early on Monday morning won the Australian open in Melbourne, agrees.

"Ferrari should have the best driver in the world, and that is Fernando," the 22-year-old said.

Former McLaren boss, founder, dies
(GMM)  One of the original McLaren team's founders, former boss Edward Everett 'Teddy' Mayer, has died aged 73.

The American entrepreneur, also successful in the world of open wheel racing across the Atlantic, became involved with Bruce McLaren in the 1960s.

Mayer assumed control of the team in 1970 when McLaren died at the age of 32, winning titles with Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt until the merger with Ron Dennis' company in the early 80s.

"The origins of our many and ongoing successes are with Bruce and Teddy," McLaren Group CEO and chairman Dennis said in a condolence statement.

Mike Gascoyne
Sacked Gascoyne sues Force India
(GMM)  Mike Gascoyne has commenced legal action against Force India following the former chief technical officer's dismissal late last year.

The website of the British magazine Autosport said Gascoyne, 45, is unhappy that his contract was terminated more than a year before it was due to expire.

He is seeking more than 2m euros in damages, including mainly lost 2009 wages.

Gascoyne's previous tenure with Toyota in 2006 was also prematurely ended, but in that case the parties parted as the result of a mutual agreement.

When he subsequently joined Force India at the end of 2007, he said: "I have said to (team owner) Vijay (Mallya): if at the end of next year we are still in last place, then I should already have been dismissed.  And rightly so."

Renault R29
Renault takes new R29 to British airfield
(GMM)  Amid reports of early problems with Renault's 2009 car, the French team last week moved from the Portimao test to a British airfield.

The Spanish newspaper Diario AS said the R29, clearly the slowest of the four new formula one cars in Portugal, was subsequently in action at Kemble Airport, about an hour's drive from Renault's Enstone (UK) base.

AS explained that while usually only one transporter accompanies the test team to an aerodynamic or 'straight-line' test, on this occasion there were five trucks on site.

The newspaper also said it is expected that a revised nose will be unveiled for the R29 at the final test at Barcelona, in mid March, prior to the long haul trek to Australia for the first race of the season.

Before then, Fernando Alonso will be present for Renault's next test at Jerez and "hopefully we can make some good progress with the performance of the car there", he told the sports newspaper Marca.

Ecclestone calls for 'patience' amid crisis
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has called for "patience" while the effects of the global financial crisis on the world of formula one become clearer.

Amid frantic cost-cutting, diminishing sponsor dollars, the wavering commitment of carmakers and reports of loss-making grand prix promoters, the F1 chief executive admitted that "everyone" will be affected by the drastic economic slowdown.

But on a visit to Valencia, the 78-year-old billionaire defended the health of his empire.

"We have many sponsors and we believe that the other teams will continue," Ecclestone is quoted as saying by the newspaper AS.

As the teams cut costs and the FIA mandates new regulations, Ecclestone was asked whether he will preside over some measures to tackle the situation: such as lowering ticket prices and reducing the fees paid by struggling race organizers.

On the first point, he answered that promoters set their own ticket prices and that attendance at grands prix is strong.

And as for helping struggling races to survive, Ecclestone said the financial crisis "affects everyone and everyone is going to suffer".

"Nobody knows how it is going to turn out so we should probably all be patient," he added.

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