Latest F1 news in brief

  • Sutil confirms McLaren, Williams talks
  • UK government to be pressed for support
  • Hamilton risks becoming F1 'loser' – Hill
  • Irvine slams F1 as 'tiddlywinks'
  • BMW to be third force again – Heidfeld

Sutil confirms McLaren, Williams talks
(GMM) Winter speculation that he was a contender to switch to a more competitive team was right, Force India driver Adrian Sutil has confirmed.

The 25-year-old German driver told the SID news agency that, following an impressive rookie season in 2007, his management entered talks with McLaren and Williams about this year.

After both British teams selected other drivers for 2008, however, Sutil insists that he is simply happy to have impressed some of the right observers with his performances last year.

"I am not sure that disappointed is the right word," he said, on the verge of another season at the rear of the grid with the Silverstone based team.

"All winter I was content that I had a solid contract with Force India. When we signed the contract, it was always planned that we would be here longer than one year."

Sutil says he was pleased when paddock gossip singled him out as a possible replacement for Fernando Alonso at McLaren, and Alex Wurz at Williams.

"Of course it was good when, after only one year (in F1), my name is being associated with McLaren and Williams," he said.

"We certainly looked at what we could do, and of course it is a dream to move to a top team. Talks did take place," Sutil said.

"Let's see what the future brings."

Sutil insists, however, that despite the takeover of Spyker by Vijay Mallya and a bigger budget, Force India in 2008 can only realistically expect to begin the new season "where we ended last year".

He says he will be open to offers for 2009.

"My goal is to be with a competitive team as quickly as possible.

"It is also important to wait and see what can happen with this team in the next few years. Perhaps we will get some success," Sutil added.

UK government to be pressed for support
(GMM) The government's role in British motor sport will on Thursday be debated in the House of Lords.

Kevin Eason, the sports business correspondent for the Times newspaper, revealed in his column that the UK government will face questions by Lord Astor of Hever, who "wants to know how ministers will help Britain's ($2.5bn) motor sport industry to retain its world leadership".

The British government's minimal role in motor sport has come under the spotlight recently, as it becomes clear that the annual race at Silverstone is perhaps the only event on the F1 calendar that is not directly helped financially by the state.

British grand prix promoters, the Silverstone-owning BRDC, have also been warned by Bernie Ecclestone that its race fees will no longer be subsidized beyond 2009, while also under pressure to move ahead with plans to update the ageing former World War II airfield.

Hamilton risks becoming F1 'loser' – Hill
(GMM) Damon Hill, Britain's last world champion, has tipped Lewis Hamilton to resist becoming a 'loser' in 2008 on the back of immense pressure to perform.

Hill, the 1996 drivers' title winner for Williams, has been among the most vocal admirers of the 23-year-old's sensational rookie season for McLaren last year, when Hamilton won four races and nearly the championship.

But to the Times newspaper, Hill – now boss of British grand prix promoter the BRDC – points out that the flip side of Hamilton's form last year is that "he has created very high expectations and anything less and he's a loser".

"It's a case of 'welcome to the sharp end — in this game there is only one winner'. But he knows that.

"Lewis is tough and I think he won't disappoint us," Hill added.

Irvine slams F1 as 'tiddlywinks'
(GMM) Former grand prix winner Eddie Irvine has slammed F1's governing body for turning the pinnacle of motor racing into "tiddlywinks".

The 42-year-old Ulsterman, who nearly won the title for Ferrari before retiring as a Jaguar driver in 2002, accuses the FIA of dumbing down formula one to the point that it is no longer a true sport.

Irvine told the Guardian newspaper that he subscribes to legendary American novelist Ernest Hemingway's quote that only bullfighting, mountaineering and motor racing are sports — "all the rest are merely games".

But "formula one seems intent on trying to become a game," Irvine said.

He does not agree that trying to slow down the cars and ramping up safety should be the primary focus of the FIA.

"Now it's not much of a gladiatorial contest," he said, observing that the FIA has been influenced by governments "who have other agendas than sporting competition".

"Take Monaco," Irvine said. "It used to be the ultimate test of a driver not making a mistake. Now they have changed the swimming pool, taken out barriers.

"It's as if they have said: 'Let's make this circuit as easy as we can'."

BMW to be third force again – Heidfeld
(GMM) Exactly a week before he strolls into the Albert Park paddock, Nick Heidfeld has declared that BMW Sauber's 2008 car is no longer suffering from some of the problems that blighted its pre-season preparations.

Shortly after the F1.08 single seater made its winter debut, the 30-year-old German expressed disappointment that his target of winning his and the team's first grand prix this year did not appear to be on track.

With several thousand kilometers now on the car's odometer, however, Heidfeld told Sport Bild that Ferrari and McLaren are no longer far away.

"Since the rollout in January, we have steadily caught up," he said. "In other words, the large lap time gap to the front is no longer there."

In fact, Heidfeld estimates the current deficit to the front runners at just two tenths per lap, meaning that BMW is on course to retain its place as formula one's third force.

Meanwhile, the German driver revealed to the newspaper Bild-Zeitung that he did not engage in any recreational skiing over the winter period, even though he lives in Switzerland.

"Because of my (2005) injury, it is in my contract that I am not allowed to," he said.

"But in the summer I do like to rent a boat and do some water-skiing — there is nothing in the contract about that!"

Leave a Reply