Latest F1 news in brief

  • Hamilton un-Buttons triathlon challenge
  • Head – Todt would make bad FIA president
  • Another safety car rule 'test' for Silverstone
  • Vettel addresses Red Bull rumors
  • F1 news briefs: Friday
  • Alonso, Raikkonen, deny latest 2009 rumors

Hamilton un-Buttons triathlon challenge
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton accepted and then quickly retracted a challenge to go head-to-head with British F1 rival Jenson Button in a triathlon event.

Hamilton, the 23-year-old McLaren driver, said earlier this week he believes he is fitter than Button, despite the Honda driver's affection for competing in triathlons.

"So if someone wants to get us going up against each other I'd look forward to it," he had said.

When Hamilton and Button, 28, both appeared in a Silverstone press conference on Thursday, Button challenged his countryman to go through with a contest.

He was even armed with a date — his next triathlon, in Bath (UK) on July 27. "What if I say 10,000 pounds to the charity of your choice if you beat me? What do you think?" Button said.

"I'm not putting myself into it … I don't know, I'll probably be working or doing something else. We'll see, we'll see," Hamilton replied to Button, as he got on his mobile phone to check his calendar with an assistant.

Eventually, egged on by F1 veteran David Coulthard, Hamilton agreed — until 30 minutes later, when his father and manager Anthony issued a media statement.

"Unfortunately for Lewis, we are withdrawing him from this," Hamilton Snr said.

"We are in the middle of a championship and that is the focus of our attention."

Head – Todt would make bad FIA president
(GMM) Patrick Head, co-owner of the Williams team, says he would rather have the scandal-ridden Max Mosley as FIA president than Jean Todt.

Amid the ruckus about Mosley's caper with five role-playing prostitutes, Todt – the former Ferrari team boss – was slated as the most likely candidate should the FIA need to fill the role.

Ultimately, Mosley survived the scandal, apparently to the quiet relief of Head and fellow team stalwart Sir Frank Williams.

"Our view is that Max, sometimes with our resistance, has done a number of things in recent years which have been good for this company," he told The Independent.

"It is not in our interests to undermine Max, especially in the light of threats of him being replaced by Jean Todt."

Head does not believe Todt, the diminutive Frenchman, is suited to running the governing body of world motoring and racing.

"We have been to many meetings at which (Todt) has been present representing the interests of Ferrari 100 per cent. He is confrontational, argumentative, and not impartial, everything that the president of the FIA should not be," he charged.

Another safety car rule 'test' for Silverstone
(GMM) Another trial of proposed new safety car rules will take place during Friday practice for the British grand prix at Silverstone.

The first test took place at Magny-Cours two weeks ago, drawing a mixed reaction from the drivers.

As the practice session checkered flag came out, drivers in France were sent a message by race control and had five seconds to respond by pressing a button.

A target minimum lap-time was then calculated and displayed on the driver's dash, which they then had to monitor as they slowly made their way back to the pits.

Some drivers said monitoring the 'delta' lap-time was distracting, and that the proposed system is too complicated.

Vettel addresses Red Bull rumors
(GMM) F1's youngest driver, Sebastian Vettel, marked his 21st birthday on Friday with a cake in Toro Rosso's Silverstone pit garage.

The German rookie's real present, however, may have been the announced retirement of David Coulthard, as speculation hits top gear that Vettel is first in line to fill the Red Bull race seat for 2009.

He acknowledged the rumors as he spoke to reporters at the British grand prix venue.

"All I can say is that we haven't spoken about that so far," Vettel said.

"Perhaps we will in the future, but so far we are only concentrating on this season," he added.

Vettel joked that moving to Red Bull, with whom he is already under direct contract, would be simpler than going elsewhere in the paddock.

"I know the boss so that should help!" he laughed.

When asked specifically if he would move to Red Bull if the opportunity presented itself, Vettel answered: "Why not?"

F1 news briefs: Friday
(GMM) The latest paddock whisper is that Nico Rosberg is on BMW-Sauber's 2009 shopping-list to replace German countryman Nick Heidfeld. Rosberg, however, is under contract to Williams for next year, and his team boss Sir Frank Williams says he would not sell the document even for "50 million dollars".

Amid the argument over costly F1 superlicenses, an FIA spokesperson at Silverstone suggested that the body might instead agree to receiving a flat fee based on 15 per cent of the income of wealthy drivers living in tax exile. "What's the license got to do with where we live?" Honda's Jenson Button – who lives in Monaco – scoffed to reporters. Swiss resident Lewis Hamilton declined to comment, but David Coulthard said: "Our lifestyle choice is our choice and I think it's wrong to have a dig at someone else who's having perceived financial success and choosing to live in a country that suits his needs at that time."

Alonso, Raikkonen, deny latest 2009 rumors
(GMM) Fernando Alonso walked through Silverstone's paddock gates wearing a bright red shirt, but he insists it was not a hint about his preferred formula one team.

"No, I'm not about to sign anything," the current Renault driver told Spanish reporters when asked about the lingering Ferrari rumors on the verge of the British grand prix.

The red shirt, incidentally, was the jersey of Spain's national football team, which – with Alonso watching from the stands in Vienna – recently won Euro 2008.

Back to F1 matters, the former double world champion said: "After the summer I will have some time to think about what I am going to do.

"So far I have not talked to anyone, nor has anything happened. I am focused 100 per cent on doing good races."

Elsewhere, the German publication Auto Bild Motorsport is reporting that – backed by sponsor Marlboro – Ferrari could launch an awesome 60 million euros bid to lure Sebastian Vettel to the Italian team for 2009, just in case Kimi Raikkonen retires.

"Me retiring?" Finn Raikkonen said at Silverstone. "I have a contract for next season."

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