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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hamilton likens F1 sagas to 'jail'
  • Hamilton 'not bothered' by budget cap fight
  • No Rome GP without Ferrari - mayor
  • Work to begin at 2011 French GP site
  • Stewart slams Mosley's budget cap plans
  • Briatore thinks criticism is positive - Piquet
  • Britain has a new favorite - Horner

Hamilton likens F1 sagas to 'jail'
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has likened his current state of mind in formula one to wrongful imprisonment.

As a diamond number '1' was unveiled on the top of his helmet ahead of the prestigious Monaco grand prix, the reigning world champion said the recent battering of his reputation has left him not overly enjoying his job.

From the criticism of his Swiss tax exile, his personality, and now 'lie-gate', the 24-year-old said: "It's got to be a similar feeling to anyone who goes to jail but feels they shouldn't be behind bars.

"That is the feeling I have had, although I know what happened in Australia was wrong," said Hamilton at the McLaren factory on Thursday, where the team's usual sponsor linkup for Monaco with a diamond company was announced.

"I just feel knocked about by it all," he is quoted as saying by The Times newspaper.  "I want to be a driver -- I am not in the sport to be a politician."

Hamilton insists the controversies have not affected his driving, but admits he is disillusioned with formula one because of its constant politics.

"It affects your life, it affects the way you are.  I used to enjoy formula one and part of that has been taken away from me," he explained.

"Unfortunately, it is the way the formula one world works for some reason.  It's much nicer in the lower categories, where all the people are there just to race and the teams are there just to race," added Hamilton.

Reporters have also noticed a marked change recently in Hamilton's attitude with the media, which now prioritizes his take on off-track sagas over his work in the cockpit.

"Talking to the media and having interviews on television used to be great fun, but it has changed.  I have no doubts in my mind I can enjoy formula one just as much as I did before.  Just not now," he said.

Hamilton 'not bothered' by budget cap fight
(GMM)  With Ferrari at the eye of F1's colossal power struggle, both of the team's drivers this week emerged with apparently strong personal views.

Felipe Massa called the FIA's proposed budget cap rules "absurd" and confusing for the fans, while Kimi Raikkonen said the plans would ruin the sport as we know it.

Both fully backed the Scuderia's threat to quit formula one and race elsewhere in 2010.

For once away from the glare of controversy, however, is the sport's reigning world champion, Lewis Hamilton.  So far - perhaps wary of annoying the governing body so soon after 'lie-gate' - his team McLaren-Mercedes has stayed fairly quiet amid the new storm.

It is therefore interesting to contrast the Briton's view on the budget cap saga with the official line towed by his red-clad rivals.

At a media event at the McLaren factory, 24-year-old Hamilton stayed right out of the melee, insisting that he is "not really bothered" so long as he has a cockpit to occupy in the future.

"For sure you can see both sides of the argument," he said.  "It's not for me to focus on too much.  I've got to let the team get on with it.

"If they change the cars, they change the cars.  I'm not really bothered either way.  I get in the car and drive my heart out.  As long as I enjoy it, I'll keep going," added Hamilton.

No Rome GP without Ferrari - mayor
(GMM)  Rome is pushing ahead with its plans to join the formula one calendar, but a huge spanner in the works is the sport's current political spat.

"I do not want to consider the idea of a grand prix of Rome without Ferrari," the Italian city's mayor Gianni Alemanno is quoted as saying by Corriere dello Sport on Thursday.

Nonetheless, despite the famous Italian team's threatened exit from the sport, the plans for a 4.7km street circuit in the 1930s Eur district - comprising more than $200m of private investment - were unveiled.

"We are going to set up a promotional committee and then officially launch our candidature," said Alemanno.

A formal bid to F1's authorities has not yet been made, but a target debut date of 2012 was set.

Work to begin at 2011 French GP site
(GMM)  Plans to reunite a French grand prix with the F1 calendar are pushing ahead, with media reports claiming excavation on a circuit site near Paris is set to begin.

Following the demise of the Magny-Cours event, authorities in March unveiled detailed plans for the new venue at Flins-Les-Mureaux, northeast of Paris.

Bernie Ecclestone said earlier this week that there is no guarantee France's planned F1 return will happen in 2011.

But the German news agency DPA reports that there is activity at the Flins site, despite the objection to the project by environmentalists and local residents.

Stewart slams Mosley's budget cap plans
(GMM)  Habitual Max Mosley critic Sir Jackie Stewart has slammed the FIA president's efforts to set a budget cap for formula one teams.

Many of the car manufacturers involved in the sport have threatened to quit at the end of this season over the issue, and their plight has found support in one of F1's most famous names.

69-year-old Stewart, who won three world championships and in the 90s ran his own team, said the FIA should leave the teams to determine the size of their budgets.

"These are private enterprise companies that are run to make profit by building cars," the Scot told the Daily Express tabloid.

"The FIA simply take money, they don't make money without the teams and yet they want to tell BMW, Ferrari, Renault, Toyota, Mercedes - these huge successful companies - how much they can afford in F1," added Stewart.

Stewart, still involved in F1 as a sponsor ambassador working closely with Williams, also dismissed fears the controversial stand-off could lead to the decimation of the sport as we know it.

"Formula one is not under threat from the teams," he insisted.  "The sport is huge and it will continue no matter what.  It doesn't need being told what to do."

Briatore thinks criticism is positive - Piquet
(GMM)  Nelson Piquet has told a Dutch magazine that he is now accustomed to Renault boss Flavio Briatore's unique style of driver management.

The Brazilian, whose future has regularly been the subject of intense speculation this season, explained that in his nearly 18 months with the French squad, he has learned how to "deal with" Briatore's famous public critiques.

"He thinks openly criticizing drivers puts pressure on them in a positive manner," 23-year-old Piquet is quoted as saying by Formule 1 Race Report.

Earlier this year, Briatore said Piquet would currently not win a world championship in "any car", while after China, the Italian remarked that he wondered if his driver thought "the more you spin, the more points you have".

Piquet commented: "That sort of thing I simply have to ignore.  I can't let it worry me."

Britain has a new favorite - Horner
(GMM)  Britain's formula one audience has a new favorite, and he does not wear the number 1 on his car, according to Christian Horner.

Horner is the British boss of the Red Bull team, whose German driver Sebastian Vettel looks likely to be the biggest threat to the championship aspirations this year of Jenson Button.

After four out of a possible five 2009 wins so far, 29-year-old Button is the clear leader in the drivers' championship, which was won last year by his countryman Lewis Hamilton.

But in the wake of the 'lie-gate' saga and the lack of competitiveness of this year's McLaren, reigning world champion Hamilton has dropped out of the British headlines amid the emergence of a new favorite.

"In Britain Jenson is much more popular than Lewis Hamilton," Horner is quoted as saying by Germany's Sport Bild, "because he comes across more naturally and is more easy-going.

"Jenson is just as likeable and funny as is Sebastian.  Both are easy to get along with but are also extremely professional," he added.

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