Latest F1 news in brief

  • Briatore, Prost, slam modern F1
  • F1 switch not easy for Bourdais – Tost
  • Force India 'too slow' – Adrian Sutil
  • McLaren doomed without Dennis – Ramirez
  • Glock not ready to shine for Toyota
  • Mallya wants to recapture Jordan spirit

Flavio Briatore

Briatore, Prost, slam modern F1
(GMM) F1 stalwarts Flavio Briatore and Alain Prost have hit out at the current state of the sport.

The pair, collectively with nearly half a decade of experience of the inner workings of the formula one spotlight, separately argue that grand prix racing has become boring and too easy.

"The races are too long and predictable," said Briatore, the Italian boss of the Renault team who has long advocated for radical change.

"Formula one is like the Sanremo Song Festival," he told RAI radio, comparing his arena to the beleaguered event.

"It is necessary to change."

Quadruple world champion and former team owner Prost also went public with his concerns about F1's current format this week.

He thinks new drivers can quickly adapt to life in the cockpit because the cars have become like PlayStations.

"It's more speed, less brains, less tactics, less strategy and much less work together between a driver and the engineers — and that is not formula one I like," the Frenchman told BBC's Inside Sport.

Bourdais (R) talks to one of his Toro Rosso engineers

F1 switch not easy for Bourdais – Tost
(GMM) Despite dominating Champ Cars in recent years, multiple series champion Sebastien Bourdais cannot expect to switch to F1 this year and be immediately at home, his new team boss Franz Tost insists.

Indeed, the 29-year-old Frenchman admitted recently that, although fairly close to the pace of his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastian Vettel in winter testing, his early weakness in 2008 is likely to be the qualifying hour.

"So far Sebastien has done a good job," Tost, the Red Bull sister team's principal, said.

"He has to get used to the rhythm of an F1 race weekend and the first few grands prix will not be so easy for him.

"But I expect he will be a front runner from the fifth or sixth race onwards," the Austrian added.

Bourdais, meanwhile, has expressed relief that he escaped the American series Champ Car before it merged with the Indy Racing League for the 2008 season.

"It's not a merger, it's the death of Champ Car," he said. "I'm even more convinced it (moving to F1) was the right thing for me to do."

Force India 'too slow' – Adrian Sutil
(GMM) Adrian Sutil has predicted another year of struggle for the newly renamed Force India team.

The German racer delivered the sobering message following a period of sustained optimism in the press from team figures, after Vijay Mallya took over the ailing Spyker outfit and promised a bigger budget and better results.

Force India's revised car for 2008 has also been showing furtive promise on the winter test tracks, but 25-year-old Sutil warns supporters to not expect a similar leap into the midfield when the racing begins in Melbourne next weekend.

According to Auto Motor und Sport, he insists that the new car handles better than its 2007 incarnation, "which is very helpful".

"But we still have too much drag on the straights. We are simply too slow," Sutil added.

McLaren doomed without Dennis – Ramirez
(GMM) Retired long time McLaren employee Jo Ramirez has questioned the wisdom of Ron Dennis' expected stepping down as team boss.

The 66-year-old Mexican, who for 17 years until he retired in 2001 was McLaren's team coordinator, goes as far as to suggest that the Mercedes-powered team could go into decline without Dennis, who has manned the controls of the ultra-successful Woking outfit for nearly three decades.

"Without Ron Dennis McLaren will be doomed," Ramirez is quoted as dramatically telling the Austrian motor racing magazine Rally and More.

Dennis' long standing deputy Martin Whitmarsh, who is set to inherit the reins of the British team, told the Guardian newspaper on Monday that there is no pressure on his current boss to step down.

"I've been at McLaren for 19 years and am incredibly patient. Nor do I intend to be the Judas who knifed Ron in the back," he added.

Ramirez does rate Whitmarsh, but thinks Dennis is not replaceable by the 49-year-old Englishman, who left the aerospace industry in 1989 to join McLaren as head of operations.

"Martin Whitmarsh is a good man — but a hundred Martin Whitmarshes could not replace Ron. If he does go, it will be very bad for the team," he warned.

Ramirez is still close to Dennis and he reports that the espionage scandal and the politics of 2007 left his former boss in a bad way.

"Ron is really, really down," he said. "What happened last year has really hurt him.

"I think Max Mosley wants to destroy him, but I cannot understand it — Ron does not deserve that," Ramirez added.

Glock not ready to shine for Toyota
(GMM) Reigning GP2 champion Timo Glock has played down his chances of setting the formula one world alight with his Toyota in 2008.

The German has pulled off the rare feat of resurrecting his grand prix career following an abortive debut with Jordan in 2004.

But having being named to replace Ralf Schumacher this season, and at the end of a long winter period for Toyota, Glock has delivered a sober message with just 11 days until the Australian grand prix.

"I have not managed to adapt the car to my driving style, and the speed has suffered," he said after the final test in Barcelona recently, according to the Cologne newspaper Express.

Glock, 24, is also in two minds about the consistency of Toyota's new single seater, the TF108.

Referring to the Barcelona test, he said: "It was strange that our speed on Monday morning was okay, and from then on we went down."

Mallya wants to recapture Jordan spirit
(GMM) Vijay Mallya is keen to use the example of Eddie Jordan's image and success to motivate the Silverstone based formula one team to repeat history in a new era.

Although the Indian billionaire bought the beleaguered team from cash-strapped Spyker, it was founded as Jordan Grand Prix in 1991, earning a so-called 'rock'n'roll' reputation and reaching the unlikely success of multiple race wins in 1999 on a modest budget.

Through the Jordan decline and the Midland and Spyker disasters, however, Mallya – himself known as the 'King of Good Times' in India – senses a waning of the Jordan spirit, and invited the team's Irish founder and former boss back to the factory to play drums at the recent Force India Christmas party.

"He (Mallya) is a bit of a maverick and I like him," Jordan told the British news agency Reuters.

"He's not afraid to spend money, he stands up and says his dream is to be like Jordan again and winning races — not on a regular basis, because that is unlikely to happen.

"But he is going to make a big effort to get it where it was," he added.

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