Latest F1 news in brief

  • Honda to launch RA108 in late January
  • Bridgestone confirms official F1 contract
  • Piquet confirms desire to beat Alonso to title
  • Ecclestone, Briatore, secure football coup
  • Ferrari fumes at McLaren spy saga end
  • Stolen F1 champ statue found

Honda to launch RA108 in late January
(GMM) Honda on Thursday announced that its 2008 car, to be called the RA108, will be launched officially on 29 January.

In a media statement, the Japanese team also revealed that the event will take place at its formula one headquarters in Brackley, Northamptonshire (UK).

"CEO Nick Fry, new Team Principal Ross Brawn and race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will be present to discuss the debut test of the RA108 and the season ahead," Honda said.

Bridgestone confirms official F1 contract
(GMM) Bridgestone on Thursday confirmed that in 2008 it will commence a three-year tenure as F1's official sole tire supplier.

The Japanese marque was this year the only tire manufacturer on the grid, but only because former competitor Michelin had pulled out of the sport at the end of 2006.

2008 is the first year in which the F1 regulations enforce the situation, after the FIA selected Bridgestone in a tender process in mid-2006.

"This is an exciting step for us as a company," said the company's director of motorsport Hiroshi Yasukawa.

Bridgestone entered F1 in 1997, initially in competition with Goodyear, and then Michelin from 2001.

Piquet confirms desire to beat Alonso to title
(GMM) Nelson Piquet Jr has confirmed that he does not intend to settle for second best alongside Fernando Alonso at Renault in 2008.

It has been made clear by the French team's management that a hierarchical structure is the most efficient way to manage a top formula one driver lineup.

But Piquet Jr's famous father and namesake, the former triple world champion Nelson Piquet, recently hit back by suggesting that his son's objective for his first formula one season will be to beat his teammate.

"I'm here to try to win," 22-year-old Piquet Jr said in Brasilia on Thursday, after a meeting with Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn.

"I think I'm capable of becoming the world champion," he added.

The Spanish press believes that, despite Renault's apparent desire for a driver hierarchy in 2008, Piquet Jr could give double world champion Alonso as much grief as did Lewis Hamilton at McLaren this year.

Piquet confirmed: "I'll try to be faster than him, of course, but I don't even know him yet.

"We are working for the team and don't want any fights. Our relationship is probably going to grow as the season progresses," he added.

Alonso and Hamilton, who in 2007 was a formula one newcomer, famously clashed at McLaren, before Spaniard Alonso and the British team agreed to end their multi-year contract.

Piquet Jr said of the 26-year-old Alonso: "I don't think he will want to repeat the same mistake again."

Ecclestone, Briatore, secure football coup
(GMM) F1 powerbrokers Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore have concluded a major deal with one of the world's richest men.

The pair, who jointly own Queens Park Rangers, on Thursday confirmed that 20 per cent of the west London football club has been sold to Lakshmi Mittal.

Mittal, an Indian steel baron, is listed as the fifth richest man in the world by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of more than $34bn.

"As a family, we love sport and particularly enjoy English football, and alongside Bernie and Flavio, we hope that we can improve the club's performance, with the ultimate ambition of a place in the Premier League," said Amit Bhatia, Mittal's son-in-law who takes up a spot on the QPR board.

In 2004, Mittal bought a London mansion from Ecclestone for a record $129m.

In May of this year, the F1 chief executive gave Mittal a tour of the paddock before the Monaco grand prix.

Ferrari fumes at McLaren spy saga end
(GMM) Ferrari's highest ranking officials have made it clear that they are still furious about the McLaren espionage scandal.

The FIA has drawn a line under the saga "in the interests of the sport", after the British team McLaren agreed to freeze several aspects of development of its 2008 car.

But Luca di Montezemolo, the Ferrari and Fiat president, responded cynically to the team's belated admission that Ferrari secrets did penetrate its organization in preparation for next season.

"I'm convinced that at least the colors (of the Ferrari and McLaren 2008 cars) will be different. I don't expect a red McLaren," he scowled to Italian reporters.

"It's better if we talk about something else," the Italian added.

Jean Todt, Ferrari's long time team boss and now CEO of the entire Maranello based marque, is particularly scathing about McLaren's apparent dishonesty at the initial World Council hearing.

The Frenchman recalls how McLaren presented sworn statements from managers stating that no-one beyond Mike Coughlan had seen the leaked Stepney secrets.

"Then, three months later, when the FIA did its verifications, it was demonstrated that was completely false," Todt told Corriere dello Sport.

"They went corrupting their own personnel to make them sign false documentation," he added.

Todt would not even rule out a change of management at McLaren before the start of the 2008 season.

"Should Ron Dennis be banned? We can't rule in place of the FIA," he said.

"Let's see what the organization is like in 2008. It's December now and the championship starts in mid March. Many things can happen in three months," Todt added.

Stolen F1 champ statue found
(GMM) A priceless bronze statue of double world champion Graham Hill will soon be returned to its owner.

The bust of the 1962 and 1968 drivers' title winner, who was also father to 1996 world champion Damon Hill, was stolen from the British grand prix venue Silverstone in 1999.

Police this week recovered the Hill statue from a house in Bolton, about a two hour drive away, after executing a search warrant, according to reports by the BBC.

A 47-year-old man was arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of burglary and handling stolen goods.

The statue is owned by Silverstone owner and British grand prix promoter the British Racing Drivers' Club, and will be returned after formal identification checks.

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