Latest F1 news in brief

  • Stepney denies blame for spying penalties
  • Bridgestone to supply similar tires in 2008
  • Toro Rosso not being sold – Mateschitz
  • Three more new cars to debut at Valencia
  • Toyota tests on Spanish island
  • Hamilton to buy houses for parents

Stepney denies blame for spying penalties
(GMM) Nigel Stepney, the sacked Ferrari engineer who is widely credited for triggering the espionage scandals last year, has denied responsibility for the penalties suffered by McLaren.

Despite admitting that he was the source of the 780-page secret dossier found in Mike Coughlan's possession, Stepney said it was the suspended McLaren chief designer who used the information improperly.

"I don't feel responsible in any way at all for what happened at McLaren," Stepney, who was previously best known for being Michael Schumacher's former chief engineer, told Sky Sports.

"My ideas were to make contact with somebody but not to benefit. It was to talk about and see what I could do somewhere else," he added, probably referring to his and Coughlan's meetings with Honda bosses.

Stepney continued: "It got a bit sensitive and somebody used information more than I actually thought. It should never have been used in that, to that extreme."

He also suggested that the whole story has yet to be told. His autobiography, entitled 'Red Mist', is due for publication in July.

"There is a lot being said, but I think there is a lot underneath that hasn't been said that should have been," Stepney said.

"It's been dramatized for various other reasons, which we will have to go into at a later date.

"Some stuff has been done politically. Some stuff should have been brought out probably in a different way."

Stepney, a Briton, is still being pursued legally by Ferrari in Italy, and it is expected that he will be banned by the FIA from holding a position in the elite of motor sports.

He said of his future: "I think I've got a lot of other more interesting opportunities (such as) going back into the grass roots of motor racing.

"I think, at the end of this year or at the end of 2007, I was looking to get out of Ferrari anyway; whether it was going to be in formula one I wasn't quite sure. I think formula one was going away from a direction I really wanted to go."

Bridgestone to supply similar tires in 2008
(GMM) Bridgestone will this year supply to formula one teams essentially the same tires as in 2007.

Although the Japanese marque was the only tire company in F1 last season due to the withdrawal of Michelin, 2008 marks the official beginning of Bridgestone's three year tenure as the sport's mandatory sole supplier.

At the first group test of 2008 at Jerez last week, Bridgestone supplied to teams what was referred to last year as the 'medium' compound.

"Our tires are essentially the same as provided last season, so the teams already have a good understanding of how they work," Tetsuro Kobayashi, Bridgestone technical manager, confirmed.

Bridgestone Motorsport's Kobayashi, however, explained that the marque could make some changes to the selection of tires taken to grands prix in 2008.

And he added: "We have made a minor change to the tire construction for all the compounds, but this is more of a refinement than a big difference.

"We have also adjusted our super soft compound and the difference should be seen in the races where this tire is used."

Toro Rosso not being sold – Mateschitz
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz has once again denied claims that Toro Rosso is on the verge of being sold.

The Austrian billionaire owns Red Bull Racing and he also took over Minardi at the end of 2005, re-branding it Scuderia Toro Rosso before countryman Gerhard Berger bought a 50 per cent share.

It is almost constantly rumored that STR is openly for sale, following links with the German race carmaker HWA and even Michael Schumacher and his manager Willi Weber.

Even Bernie Ecclestone has joined the sale speculation, commenting last year that he cannot understand why Red Bull has "two teams. They should concentrate on one", he added.

But Mateschitz told the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung: "In formula one you can never say never, but at the moment this is not news."

Three more new cars to debut at Valencia
(GMM) Three more new formula one cars will make their track debuts at this week's Valencia group test.

The 2008 Renault R28, piloted by former world champion Fernando Alonso, will be the first to appear on Monday, alongside the new Toyota-powered Williams FW30.

Renault will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, with most other teams to begin running on Tuesday through to Thursday.

Later this week, the 2008 specification RA108 Honda, in interim colors, will make its debut.

Some sources are reporting that Super Aguri will be the only team absent from the tests at Ricardo Tormo, following the Japanese squad's overheating problems at Jerez last week.

Media reports in Spain suggest that 5,000 spectators are expected at the circuit every day, particularly on Tuesday which is a public holiday in the region.

Peter Sauber, the founder and consultant for the BMW-Sauber team, said the formula one world will gets its "first clues" about the likely pecking-order for 2008 at Valencia.

"But there will still be many question marks, even though we analyze the performance of our opponents very carefully," the Swiss wrote in a column for the newspaper Blick.

"We won't know what the other teams are doing," Sauber said.

"Additionally, especially for the top teams, a lot of new aerodynamic pieces will not be seen until just before the season starts."

Toyota tests on Spanish island
(GMM) Toyota has become the third formula one team to test on the Spanish island of Menorca.

Last year, McLaren and Ferrari used the long runway of the Real Aeroclub de Mahon for straight-line aerodynamic testing.

The venue is a private airfield on the small Mediterranean Sea island, which has a population of just 80,000.

The Spanish newspaper Marca reports that Toyota tested at Menorca last week with a new TF108 chassis.

Hamilton to buy houses for his divorced parents
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has vowed to buy new houses for his divorced parents with the proceeds of his new multi-million dollar five-year McLaren deal.

The British team announced last Friday that 23-year-old Hamilton's contract includes "improved financial terms", after he made just $700,000 plus points bonuses en route to second place in the drivers' championship in 2007.

Media reports estimate that the Briton will now earn an average of more than $27m per season until at least 2012.

Asked by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag what he plans to do with his newfound fortune, Hamilton answered: "I do not need much to be happy.

"Mercedes gives me a (road) car, I get watches and clothes from my sponsors. The only thing I really need to buy is food!"

He rejected suggestions that he may now splash out on girls and throwing parties.

"Absolutely not," Hamilton answered. "I am focused on fulfilling my dream to become world champion.

"I would like to buy a house each for my father and my mother. They have done everything for me, and now I can finally start to give something back to them."

Hamilton also denied that his father Anthony was able to increase his annual retainer so drastically because of talks with rival F1 teams.

"No, there have been no talks with anyone except my bosses," he insisted. "My father has worked really hard on this, and I have worked hard in the car.

"McLaren is where I want to be. This is where I feel at home," Hamilton said.

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