Latest F1 news in brief

  • Patience limited for Renault boost – Alonso
  • Todt steps down as Ferrari CEO
  • UK minister meets Bernie about British GP
  • Hamilton – I'm not as good as Ali, yet
  • Glock's Malaysia GP under injury cloud
  • Tost predicts more hard times for Piquet
  • Ferrari suspects ECU to blame for Aus woes
  • GPDA keeps pressure on Hamilton to join
  • Heikki faster than Hamilton in Aus – Stuck
  • Buemi moves to tax-free Bahrain
  • No night race decision yet says Sepang boss

Patience limited for Renault boost – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has told a Spanish radio station that he will not wait forever for Renault to produce a better car.

The former double world champion finished fourth in the attrition-fuelled 2008 season opener last weekend, but Renault's R28 was not among the fastest single seaters in Australia.

"I have a lot of patience," he answered to a question from Cadena SER, "but if we begin to finish races in poor positions, the patience will slowly go.

"At the moment there is no other thing to do but work and motivate the entire team to a level of 100 per cent."

Alonso, 26, says the R28 has a lot of potential, but he estimates the current deficit to the front at eight tenths in qualifying and a full second per lap in the races.

"This is a lifetime," he explained.

Todt steps down as Ferrari CEO
(GMM) Less than a week after the F1 season kicked off without him at the helm, Jean Todt has stepped down as CEO of the Italian marque Ferrari.

After a shareholders' meeting on Tuesday, a Ferrari statement said the board had "taken note of Jean Todt's wish to relinquish his position as CEO".

Amedeo Felisa succeeds him as CEO, but Todt will remain on the board of directors and continue to represent Ferrari at FIA World Motor Sport Council meetings.

"Jean Todt will furthermore be given special appointments directly by the president (Luca di Montezemolo) in the context of GT activities and sports management," Ferrari added.

Frenchman Todt, who joined Ferrari as its team boss in 1993, was quoted as saying that stepping down as CEO will give him "more time to dedicate to myself and my other interests".

Stefano Domenicali succeeded him as Ferrari's team boss this year.

Interestingly, despite Tuesday's news, Todt is rumored to be making the trip to Malaysia for the grand prix this weekend.

His partner, actress Michelle Yeoh, is Malaysian.

UK minister meets Bernie about British GP
(GMM) The British government is getting involved in moves to keep Silverstone on the annual formula one calendar.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been making clear noises recently that only increased race promotion fees and an improved circuit will save the British grand prix.

UK sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe met with the 77-year-old F1 supremo on Tuesday, according to the Financial Times.

"Britain has a reputation as the home of motor sport, so I think the decade of sport would start to look a little hollow if we lost the British grand prix," he said.

The 'decade of sport' reference relates to an upcoming stream of major sporting events in Britain, including the 2012 Olympics and a bid for the 2018 football world cup.

The Ecclestone-Sutcliffe meeting was reportedly "constructive and positive" and the pair have agreed to keep up the dialogue.

The Financial Times, however, insists that the "government is likely to stop short of providing financial backing to Silverstone".

Hamilton – I'm not as good as Ali, yet
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has recoiled at comparisons with legendary sports icon Muhammad Ali, but admits that becoming as great as the American boxer is the plan.

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart this week said Hamilton, the McLaren driver who last Sunday won the first grand prix of 2008, has had a bigger early impact on F1 than Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost did, and compared him in global sports terms with golf's Tiger Woods.

"Lewis can be as big as Ali," Stewart also said. "He'll be as near to him as anyone else."

Speaking to the British press from Kuala Lumpur, Hamilton responded: "Bloody hell, that is a bit unreal that is.

"I wouldn't put myself in the league of the likes of Muhammad Ali. If I ever could be as good as him that would be my aim."

Glock's Malaysia GP under injury cloud
(GMM) Timo Glock's participation in the Malaysian grand prix this weekend is under a slight cloud.

The team's German newcomer knocked his left wrist during his spectacular crash in Melbourne last Sunday, and he left the Albert Park circuit wearing a bandage.

His scheduled flight to Kuala Lumpur out of Australia subsequently had to be delayed for a medical check.

The publications Blick (Switzerland) and Auto Motor und Sport (Germany) claim that Glock's clearance to race at Sepang was not completely clear on Tuesday, when he celebrated his twenty sixth birthday.

Blick said Glock will undergo a final clearance check by doctors at the Sepang circuit on Thursday, and that reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi has been placed on standby.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that Glock's hand hurts when he tries to move it.

Tost predicts more hard times for Piquet
(GMM) Toro Rosso is a better place than Renault for a rookie to adapt to life as a formula one racer, Franz Tost insists.

Following Renault newcomer Nelson Piquet's nightmarish debut grand prix in Australia, Toro Rosso's team boss told Auto Motor und Sport that he thinks the Brazilian can expect more of the same difficulties in 2008.

"He is in a much worse position compared with our rookie Sebastian Vettel," the Austrian said.

"(Piquet has) the pressure of a works team, a double world champion as teammate, a car that is difficult to drive, no time to learn in pace.

"For Piquet I see him having a really hard year."

Tost's Renault counterpart Flavio Briatore, however, believes that Melbourne might have been a one off for 22-year-old Piquet.

"Nelsinho had the problems of an entire season in one go," he said. "On his side, everything went wrong. It can only go better in Malaysia."

Ferrari suspects ECU to blame for Aus woes
(GMM) With Ferrari-McLaren relations at an all time low, paddock gossip is inevitably doing the rounds that Ferrari is now unhappier than ever about tackling this season and beyond with the new McLaren-developed control electronics.

Following the investigation back at Maranello this week into Ferrari's two failed race engines in Australia, speculation suggests that the Italian team has found that the design of the team's V8 power plant itself was not responsible for the problems.

It is similarly being reported that Ferrari thinks the fuel pressure problem that stranded Kimi Raikkonen down the Melbourne grid last Saturday is also related to the McLaren ECU.

"This kind of thing can happen when you are working with one procedure that you do not know so well. Now we know that there is a conflict we can make sure it does not happen again," a team spokesman told GP Week.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali, meanwhile, also suggested that Ferrari's Albert Park dramas could be related to the new ECU, which is developed jointly by Woking based McLaren Electronic Systems and Microsoft, and awarded the tender to equip all F1 cars until 2010 by the FIA.

Domenicali said of the system: "We must still discover it in full."

GPDA keeps pressure on Hamilton to join
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa has suggested that it is no excuse for his McLaren colleague Lewis Hamilton to cite time constraints for refusing to join the F1 drivers' union GPDA.

Hamilton, undoubtedly now the most talked about formula one driver globally, last weekend resisted pressure from GPDA chairman de la Rosa and director Mark Webber to join the safety-oriented body.

"If you are part of an important organization you have to be committed, and I really don't have time for that at the moment," he said.

But De la Rosa told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS that he would not expect Hamilton, as a GPDA member, to be overly active.

But "it is very important that they are on board," the 36-year-old explained, also referring to other high profile non-members like reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

"It is not about what they can contribute as a member or what ideas they have, but mainly because we have to be a united association.

"When we are missing members like that it weakens us, so it is a matter of making sure that our voice has enough muscle," de la Rosa added.

Heikki faster than Hamilton in Aus – Stuck
(GMM) Even though Lewis Hamilton won the Australian grand prix from pole, former F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck has warned the 23-year-old to beware of his Finnish teammate in 2008.

Stuck, now a motor racing official for the Volkswagen marque, told the German magazine Sport Bild that McLaren newcomer Heikki Kovalainen was a noteworthy star of the season opener last Sunday.

"(Hamilton) really has to be wary of his new teammate," he said.

Stuck claims that, after analyzing the data of the Melbourne weekend, Kovalainen was actually the fastest driver at the wheel of McLaren's MP4-23.

"To be objectively compared, the lap times have to be analyzed in light of the fuel levels," he said, amid the fact that Kovalainen in fact posted the fastest race lap of the grand prix.

"Comparing the practice times and the timing of pit stops, it is clear: Kovalainen was a tenth faster than Hamilton (in Australia)," Stuck added.

Buemi moves to tax-free Bahrain
(GMM) Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi has revealed that he has taken up residence in Bahrain.

According to the Swiss newspaper Blick, the 19-year-old has 'officially' moved in with one of his uncles.

"Should I ever make any real money (living in) the Gulf region would certainly not be a disadvantage," he said, referring to the fact that Bahraini residents do not pay personal income tax.

No night race decision yet says Sepang boss
(GMM) The general manager of Malaysia's Sepang circuit has played down reports that next year's formula one race will definitely be staged under floodlights at night.

Datuk Azmi Murad told the local newspaper New Straits Times that, despite detailed investigations into the feasibility of such an event, a final decision has not been made yet.

"It isn't only about whether to do or not to do it, it is also about how we want to do it and what sort of lighting, where we should locate the lighting and so on," he said.

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