Latest F1 news in brief

  • Toyota boss to miss French GP
  • Renault confirm Dino Toso departure
  • Renault will not write off 2008 car
  • Villeneuve would 'love' F1 comeback
  • Alonso cools rumors of BMW-Sauber switch
  • Le Mans winner Audi again rules out F1
  • Mercedes' Haug backs Hamilton after gaffe
  • Aus GP loses support of hosting council

Toyota boss to miss French GP
(GMM) A significant figure will be missing from the Toyota pitwall as the 2008 season continues at Magny Cours this weekend.

Team boss Tadashi Yamashina, who this time last year replaced his Japanese countryman Tsutomu Tomita in the role, will be attending a Toyota stockholders meeting in Tokyo rather than watching the action trackside in France.

"Actually there was a long discussion because I really, really want to be in France," he said.

"I am sorry to miss this race but I will watch everything from Magny Cours on TV. I will be supporting the team from a distance and calling the team members regularly to find out how we are doing," he insisted.

Renault confirm Dino Toso departure
(GMM) Renault has finally confirmed the departure of its aerodynamics chief Dino Toso.

We reported in April that the engineer, promoted to lead the Enstone based team's new CFD centre just last year, would be replaced by Dirk de Beer.

Toso joined Renault from Jordan in 2001, before he began a battle with cancer in 2004.

The team this week said Toso is "seeking new challenges in motor sport".

"My passion for motor sport has always centered on innovative aerodynamics, and been motivated by a thirst for competition," Toso is quoted as saying in a statement.

"I'm looking forward to tackling new challenges that will allow me to fully express my technical creativity in the years ahead, and take me back to what I love most: the thrill of competition."

Renault will not write off 2008 car
(GMM) Renault will not be abandoning development of its current car, technical director Bob Bell insists.

After Pat Symonds recently admitted the dilemma posed by the sweeping 2009 regulation changes, lead driver Fernando Alonso suggested it might be a good idea for the French squad to turn all its focus towards designing next year's single seater.

But Bell this week insisted that the R28 is not now performing too badly.

"We're under no illusion that we're going to have to work very hard to keep that level of competitiveness up, but we have an aggressive development program for the rest of the season, and we are confident that we have an adaptable baseline to work from," he said.

Interestingly, in the same official Magny Cours team preview, 26-year-old Alonso is quoted as agreeing that "we must now continue our efforts because we can see the rewards".

"I know that everybody in the team is doing their best to improve our performance, and that will pay off in the end," the Spaniard added.

Villeneuve would 'love' F1 comeback
(GMM) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve insists he is open to rekindling his formula one career.

On his visit to the Montreal paddock two weeks ago, the French Canadian played down any suggestion of a possible bid to return to the grid.

But after finishing second at Le Mans last weekend, the 37-year-old told an Italian magazine that he would not totally rule out making a comeback.

"I'm open to the idea, certainly with the new technical situation," Villeneuve, who was released by BMW-Sauber during the 2006 season, is quoted as saying by Autosprint.

"To be honest, I have no idea if it would be possible.

"I have never given up hope of re-entering F1. I have driven in some other series, but that was only because there were no vacant seats in F1.

"If the opportunity would occur, certainly with the new regulations, I would love to get back to work," the veteran of 165 grands prix and 11 wins added.

Alonso cools rumors of BMW-Sauber switch
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has praised BMW-Sauber's emergence as a top three formula one team, but simultaneously cooled rumors that he could be set to switch to the German squad in 2009.

The Spaniard's closest grid ally, Robert Kubica, recently predicted that he and Alonso would have "a lot of fun" if they were paired together next year.

"BMW was a team that was in an ascending phase last year and they have confirmed in 2008 that it was no fluke," Alonso, who currently drives for Renault, is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.

"They have become the third big team with Ferrari and McLaren, and Robert is a great friend of mine and I'm glad he's fighting for the title.

"But you never know if your teammate is your friend or your rival. I think we're going to continue on our own paths," he added cagily.

Double world champion Alonso, 26, has made some notable driving errors of late, but he also commented on the errors made by his former McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton.

"They don't surprise me," he said.

"The results that were strange were the nine podiums in his first nine races last year — that required some element of luck, and wasn't all down to the driver.

"This year is more normal," Alonso added.

Le Mans winner Audi again rules out F1
(GMM) Despite winning the famous Le Mans 24 hour race last weekend, the luxury German carmaker Audi insists it is not contemplating a formula one foray.

"F1 is still not an issue for us," the Volkswagen owned marque's chairman Rupert Stadler told the German news agency SID.

It is suggested that Audi spent as much as 200 million euros in total on its successful 2008 Le Mans campaign.

Mercedes' Haug backs Hamilton after gaffe
(GMM) Mercedes-Benz boss Norbert Haug has expressed a clear vote of confidence in Lewis Hamilton, after the McLaren driver's embarrassing pitlane crash in Canada two weeks ago.

23-year-old Hamilton was the subject of fierce external criticism following his Montreal gaffe, which earned him a ten-position grid penalty for the French grand prix this weekend.

"Everyone makes mistakes," Haug is quoted as saying by the German news agency DPA, "and in Canada he paid the price.

"We support him fully and will continue to do so, but he doesn't require any motivation pills," the German added.

Haug's backing follows Hamilton's admission on BBC Radio this week that he is feeling the weight of the pressure on him this year.

"The sport is fun, but there's a way you have to learn to enjoy it," he told the Five Live program.

"There's so much pressure, and I can't begin to explain how much pressure I have on my shoulders.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself, and when you don't succeed it doesn't feel so great," Hamilton added.

"But these are character-building days and the days that make you stronger."

Aus GP loses support of hosting council
(GMM) Amid the delicate negotiations for a new grand prix contract, Melbourne's F1 race has lost the support of its local council.

City of Port Phillip mayor Janet Cribbes on Wednesday called on the state Victorian government to scrap the event.

"After 14 years, residents have had more than enough," she said in a statement.

"Why should they have to suffer the noise and the inconvenience of a car race in a park for a race whose public price tag blew out to $41.3 million last year?"

She also said the annual race "does not benefit Victoria" or the country and "doesn't stack up on economic, social or environmental grounds".

Melbourne began hosting the Australian grand prix at Albert Park in 1996.

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