Latest F1 news in brief

  • Villeneuve admits F1 return chances 'slim'
  • Friday: another important day in F1 crisis/PR Stunt
  • Webber 'stronger' than Vettel – Button
  • Hamilton wants F1 to axe 'no fun' rules
  • Glock rejects McLaren switch rumor
  • Alonso admits Ferrari an 'option' for future
  • Angry Bourdais slams Toro Rosso axe rumors
  • Glock's race engineer quits Toyota

Villeneuve admits F1 return chances 'slim'
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has admitted his chances of making a return to formula one next year are "very slim".

The international media has been getting excited by the 1997 world champion's recent attendances at grands prix, and declarations in the press that he is in talks to reprise his career that netted 11 wins until 2006.

But as he prepared to contest a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event near Montreal on Thursday, the 38-year-old confessed his negotiations so far have been "mostly exploratory".

"I would return tomorrow if the opportunity was there," Villeneuve said. "And there's not many years available to do it so I guess it's now or never."

He said the feeling he got from talks at Silverstone three weeks ago was "quite positive" but admitted a firm contract is not yet on the horizon.

Friday: another important day in F1 crisis/PR Stunt
(GMM) Friday is yet another deadline in F1's long-running political saga, with rumors the FOTA group set the date for either a final solution or the re-announcement of a breakaway series.

After walking out of the FIA meeting on Wednesday, FOTA chiefs dashed back to London for emergency talks, reportedly to quickly re-establish plans for an alternate championship.

BMW's Mario Theissen denies Friday is the final deadline.

"We only said that want to have the Concorde Agreement signed by tomorrow (July 10)," the German told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport on Thursday.

It is suggested in the Nurburgring paddock that peace is indeed near, with FOTA and commercial rights holder CVC agreed over a new Concorde, and the FIA revealing that it is nearly ready to sign the document.

The puzzle's missing piece seems to be the head of Max Mosley, with yet another bone of contention – FOTA's concerns about Cosworth engines – now resolved.

The FIA has agreed to limit the British engine maker to 18,000rpm, like the other manufacturers.

Theissen paused for several seconds before answering "no comment" to whether the removal of Mosley as FIA president would lead to immediate peace.

FOTA vice-chairman John Howett, meanwhile, answered to a similar question: "The commercial rights holder understands what's required to get our signatures on the Concorde Agreement."

Webber 'stronger' than Vettel – Button
(GMM) Championship leader Jenson Button has stepped up the psychological war with title rival Sebastian Vettel by suggesting the German is a shaky contender for the 2009 title.

German Vettel, 22, dominated the recent British grand prix by securing pole, setting the fastest lap of the race and winning, while his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber finished second.

Vettel and Webber are separated by only 3.5 points in the drivers' standings and Briton Button, with a big points lead over the pair, suggested his Australian opponent is the rival to watch at the Nurburgring.

"I think Mark is going to be quick here. He has more experience round here than Sebastian does. Sebastian has never raced in an F1 car here.

"Consistency-wise, Webber looks stronger," Button added. "He's a lot smoother and looks less ragged than Sebastian."

As a heavy downpour fell on the German circuit late on Thursday, the weather forecast for the remainder of the weekend looked similarly cold and fickle.

But Button believes the situation will be different to Silverstone three weeks ago, when his BGP001 struggled to gets its tires up to temperature.

"I'd rather it was hotter, but … the softer tire is better for us," he said. "It should be okay."

Hamilton wants F1 to axe 'no fun' rules
(GMM) F1's authorities should dump the rule prohibiting post-race doughnuts, burnouts and flag-waving, according to reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Three weeks ago at Silverstone, the stewards turned a blind eye to the Briton's series of 'doughnut' spins, probably because he had finished well out of the points.

That kind of celebration, however, is strictly forbidden in formula one, but Hamilton believes it is flamboyance of that nature that inspires so many to follow the sport's two-wheeled equivalent MotoGP.

"They give even more back to the fans with what they do after a race," the McLaren driver is quoted as saying by the Mirror from the Nurburgring.

The rules arrived in F1 amid the push for greater safety some years ago, but Hamilton denies they are defensible on those grounds.

"It wasn't unsafe for anyone," he said of his Silverstone display, "so why shouldn't we be allowed to do it? If you want to want to celebrate a win you should be able to."

Hamilton said he was impressed by "the number of people who came up to me afterwards and said, 'That was incredible'.

"When Nigel Mansell picked up Ayrton Senna on the side of his Williams (in 1991) that was fantastic. It makes it fun and exciting," the Briton continued.

"I'd love to do the flag-waving too. Whether they would allow me is a different matter, safety has taken over a lot of things," said Hamilton.

Glock rejects McLaren switch rumor
(GMM) Timo Glock on Thursday rejected a rumor in the Nurburgring paddock that he is a contender for Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren seat in 2010.

Finn Kovalainen revealed at the circuit that McLaren, whose engine partner Mercedes is openly keen to see a German at the wheel of its works car, has an option on his services for next year that runs out at the end of July.

"I'm happy here and I've got a contract for 2010 so it's nothing, just a rumor I guess," 27-year-old Glock, who drives for Toyota, said.

Another big rumor at the Nurburgring is that Toyota may be within a week of announcing its decision to withdraw from formula one.

Alonso admits Ferrari an 'option' for future
(GMM) To the English-speaking media on Thursday, Fernando Alonso swore blind that reports of a looming Ferrari switch are not true.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, however, also gave interviews at the Nurburgring to reporters in the native tongues of Spain, France and Italy.

To the Spanish sports newspaper AS, he admitted that Ferrari is an option for the future.

"I have often said that I want to be in a car that allows me to win. In 2005 and 2006 everyone dreamed of the Renault, but in the last ten seasons Ferrari have won more championships than us.

"That's why Ferrari is the option that everyone has in mind, because of their successes of the past decade. You want to go where you will have the best car," said Alonso.

In another newspaper, El Mundo, the 27-year-old insisted he has "always been ready to go to a team like Ferrari".

"What I mean is that I am not demoralized, I am not sad, I am simply in delay. It's like in the Tour (de France). I'm now in the stage where I am reserving my energy for the mountains, because it's then that I am going to be on top," Alonso added.

He refused to predict how his native country would react to the official news that he is switching to the famous Maranello based team.

"I don't know, I am not a fortune teller. It is necessary to have this race in Germany, to see what happens in the championship, and what happens in the future is difficult to predict," said Alonso.

Angry Bourdais slams Toro Rosso axe rumors
(GMM) Sebastien Bourdais has reacted furiously to reports that Sunday's German grand prix could be his last race in formula one.

The French publication Auto Hebdo believes the 30-year-old will be replaced after the Nurburgring round.

"I don't know anything," Bourdais told the French language radio station RMC.

He told the reporters: "If that is the only thing that interests you then I don't have anything to say. Is that clear to everyone?

"We are at the Nurburgring, there is a race to do and that is all that counts. Since this morning I have had cameras completely stuck to me; I feel like an animal.

"This rumor, it has been going around for a year and a half," said the Frenchman, referring to the entire length of his F1 foray since switching from an ultra-successful career in American open-wheelers.

"At every race someone says this is my last race, but with Toro Rosso nothing has changed since the beginning of the season. No-one has said anything in particular to me," Bourdais added.

Glock's race engineer quits Toyota
(GMM) Timo Glock has revealed he is disappointed by the departure of his Toyota race engineer Francesco Nenci.

The German driver is working with a new engineer beginning at the Nurburgring, Juan Pablo Ramirez, who joins from the Cologne based team's testing unit.

"He made a very good impression on me during the winter, but tests are not race weekends," Glock told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"I was very content with the cooperation with my engineer," he added.

It is believed Nenci departed after disagreements with Toyota's technical management. "He understood me completely," the disappointed Glock explained.

"When I told him something about the car, he knew immediately what I wanted."

Red Bull, meanwhile, confirmed that Geoff Willis has departed the Milton Keynes based team because his role as technical director became redundant.

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