Latest F1 news in brief

  • Alonso in standard engine quit threat
  • Honda calls off expensive media lunch
  • Kovalainen wants lighter fuel in '09
  • German state convenes Hockenheim summit
  • Alonso not backing title forecast
  • New Renault to debut on January 20
  • Alonso happy grooved tire era over
  • Barcelona paddock to be re-laid

Alonso in standard engine quit threat
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has said he will consider leaving formula one if the sport enforces standard engines from 2010.

The FIA proposal has been highly controversial, particularly among F1's car manufacturers, who have hinted the move might be reason enough to withdraw from the grid.

Former double world champion Alonso, who drives for Renault, agrees with their logic.

"If they approve a single engine, that would be the last straw. It would be time to start thinking about retirement," the 27-year-old said at a team sponsor event in Spain.

Alonso said standardizing parts like engines would be another "backwards step" for formula one.

He said the last V10 engines with nearly 1000 horse power, before the sport reverted to the current V8s, were "exciting for the drivers — auto racing at its limit.

"We've gone from a glimpse of the future to cars without electronic aids and no grip (and) which are a visual image of the past."

Honda calls off expensive media lunch
(GMM) In the grip of the global financial crisis, Honda's formula one team has cancelled its usual annual post-season media lunch.

About 40 lucky guests were set to meet with chiefs of the Japanese squad this week at the plush Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons restaurant, located near Oxford about a half hour drive from the team's Brackley (UK) factory.

However, in the wake of Japanese rival Toyota's decision to forgo an official launch event for its 2009 car, Honda chief executive Nick Fry is believed to have decided to cancel the lunch.

In an email of apology, Fry confirmed that "severe economic pressure" was to blame for the change of plans.

"Honda, like others, has been forced to put production on short-time," he explained.

"In light of this we do not think it would be appropriate to continue with our lunch," said Fry.

Kovalainen wants lighter fuel in '09
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen believes McLaren's approach to the 2008 season cost him race wins.

We reported recently that the Finn, 27, was seeking winter talks with the British team's bosses, after he usually went into the decisive 'Q3' phase of qualifying with a higher fuel load than his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Now, in a candid interview with the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell, Kovalainen has confirmed that some behind-the-scenes goings-on during his first season with McLaren often made "good results impossible".

"Only once was I lighter (on fuel) than Lewis," said Kovalainen, referring to qualifying, "and that was at Silverstone, where I was on the pole.

"In all the other qualifyings I was fuelled more heavily. I was often the heaviest guy in the top six or seven.

"Obviously this has an effect also in the race," he insisted, pointing out the compromise in track position, tire wear, and time lost in traffic.

When rumors began gathering pace that Kovalainen's seemingly lackluster performances this year might threaten his seat for 2009, the Finn said he had no doubt about his position.

"The team knew exactly what was taking place," he said. "If I had been at the front more often, then I would have won more frequently.

"So that's something we have to look at for the coming year," Kovalainen said.

German state convenes Hockenheim summit
(GMM) The government of Germany's Baden-Wuerttemberg state has convened a meeting to discuss the financial strife of the formula one circuit Hockenheim.

The loss-making venue said this week that it will no longer host the grand prix in 2010 or beyond without state financial support.

And even though state officials have so far declined direct grants, the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper said a meeting with stakeholders of the local region has been organized with the aim of finding a solution.

The German car manufacturers on the grid, however, insist it is not their role to bail out race hosts.

"The teams and manufacturers are responsible for the sport, not for the financing of the race meetings," Mercedes' Norbert Haug told the news agency SID.

A BMW spokesman added: "Commercial considerations are for the organizers and for FOM. It is here that a solution must be found."

Hockenheim's woes have raised doubts that Germany's entire future on the F1 calendar could be in danger, given the current arrangement with the Nurburgring to annually alternate the hosting rights.

"Like some other European races, Germany is a fundamental component of the grand prix schedule," a concerned Hermann Tomczyk, sport president of the German automobile club, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Alonso not backing title forecast
(GMM) Fernando Alonso this week insisted he does not take heart from team boss Flavio Briatore's recent claim that Renault will be in the running for the 2009 world championship.

Following two seasons out of contention for the titles, Italian Briatore believes the French squad has a "good chance" to succeed next year.

But at a team sponsor event in Spain this week, 27-year-old Alonso pointed out that the 58-year-old is always optimistic in the pre-season period.

"He said the same things two years ago with a car (R27) that was not good, and last year as well," the former double world champion said.

"So I'm not sure if what he says is good news or not.

"Flavio is someone who gives strength and encouragement to the team, but sometimes what he says, or fails to say, is a little bit irrelevant," Alonso added.

He confirmed, however, that his personal goal for the 2009 season is to add a third title to his tally.

"You can't allow yourself to start the championship without thinking you're going to win. It's a very clear objective," said Alonso.

New Renault to debut on January 20
(GMM) Renault's 2009 car, the R29, will make its test track debut on January 20, team driver Fernando Alonso said at a sponsor event on Tuesday.

He also declared at the Madrid charity event, organized by Renault title sponsor ING for UNICEF, that he is scheduled to drive the 2008 car with slick tires at Jerez on December 10.

Alonso pointed out that the January car, to feature a KERS system for the first time, will be very different to the final configuration that will be taken to Melbourne in late March.

"The later you get the car ready, the better," he told reporters.

"In fact, the car we will unveil on January 20 will have nothing to do with the car that arrives in the first race."

Alonso happy grooved tire era over
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Tuesday said he is happy formula one will enter a new tire era in 2009.

The Renault driver said the last two seasons, when Bridgestone was the sole supplier of grooved tires, were difficult.

Next year, the Japanese supplier will still be the sole supplier, but for the first time since 1997, the dry specifications of tire will be 'slicks'.

Alonso, 27, admitted in Madrid that he was not a fan of Bridgestone's control grooves.

"The cars had to be driven in an unique way," he said, "with more difficulties than ever.

"The tires were sensitive under braking and offered little grip, and had a strange feeling in the curves.

"They were very different to the days when (Bridgestone) were competing with Michelin," added the former double world champion.

Barcelona paddock to be re-laid
(GMM) Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, home of premier formula one and MotoGP races, is to undergo renovations to its paddock.

The works are slated to take place after both 2009 events, with the Spanish grand prix scheduled for May, and MotoGP's Catalan grand prix in mid June, according to Catalunya Radio.

Circuit boss Ramon Praderas said the bulk of the work inside the venue would be on the 40,000 square meters of asphalt otherwise known as the 'paddock'.

"We are going to pull up the paddock and make it again," he confirmed, explaining that the task will take two or three months.

Praderas said it will be the first time the paddock has been re-laid, at an estimated cost of $6 million, since the circuit was constructed in 1991.

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