Latest F1 news in brief

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Briatore fiancée confirms wedding plans
  • Kovalainen never worried about losing job
  • Alonso open to possible Ferrari future
  • Schumacher, Todt, to appear in movie
  • Silverstone erecting new F1 pit wall
  • Raikkonen not top Finnish sportsman New
  • Hamilton to test less this winter New

Briatore fiancée confirms wedding plans
(GMM) Flavio Briatore's girlfriend has confirmed that she is due to marry the Renault team boss in 2008.

It was reported early this year that Briatore, who previously dated supermodel Naomi Campbell and has a daughter with Heidi Klum, had become engaged to 27-year-old Italian former 'Wonderbra' model Elisabetta Gregoraci.

She has now told the German celebrity magazine Bunte that they will become Mr. and Mrs. Briatore in May 2008.

"We are going now for a winter vacation, and after that we will begin preparations for our wedding," Gregoraci said.

Briatore, who is 57, revealed in August of last year that he had survived a brush with cancer.

"His long illness brought us together closely," Gregoraci explained. "Day and night, I was there for him."

Kovalainen never worried about losing job
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen said there was never a danger that he could have been left without a formula one cockpit for the 2008 season.

Four days after Renault confirmed that the Finnish rookie had not been included in its plans for next year, McLaren last week announced that Kovalainen, 26, would become Lewis Hamilton's new teammate.

But asked by the news agency SID if the four days without an official team for 2008 made him nervous, he replied: "No, not at all.

"I always had a contract," Kovalainen said.

He explained that, unlike his 2007 teammate Giancarlo Fisichella who has been testing for Force India this winter, it was never necessary to arrange a 'plan b' to keep his F1 career alive.

"No, everything was always under control," said Kovalainen. "My management did a very good job.

"As soon as Renault announced Fernando Alonso, we were able to sort things out with McLaren," he added.

Kovalainen declined to speculate on what might have happened if Alonso had not shaken-up the 2008 driver market by leaving McLaren and re-joining Renault.

"I am now with McLaren. Full stop," he smiled.

Alonso open to possible Ferrari future
(GMM) Double world champion Fernando Alonso has refused to rule out ever joining Ferrari.

The Spaniard has left McLaren to re-join Renault in 2008, but speculation persists that his new contract will allow him to switch to Ferrari when a seat opens up at the Italian team a year later.

Alonso, 26, told Spanish radio this week that every team "except Ferrari" approached him about working together in 2008.

He also told Cadena Ser: "Contracts in formula one are always flexible. However, I have not signed for Renault so that I can leave after only one year."

Alonso expressed frustration with rumors that he was desperate to arrange his new Renault contract in order to give himself the opportunity to flee to Ferrari in 2009.

"Fifteen days after I sign with Renault, it is unfair to say that I want to go to Ferrari.

"McLaren and Williams are also great racing teams, but Ferrari is the biggest one that you can go to. If one day I go there, I would have to enjoy it, of course," he explained.

Alonso also played down reports that Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr could in 2008 give him just as much trouble as a teammate as Lewis Hamilton did this year.

"All I have to do is go faster than him and, anyway, I believe that Flavio (Briatore) knows how to handle the situation.

"I don't think there are going to be any problems," Alonso said.

Schumacher, Todt, to appear in movie
(GMM) Ferrari stalwarts Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt are set to appear together in the feature film 'Asterix at the Olympic Games' (Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques).

It was reported late in 2006 that Schumacher, the semi-retired seven time world champion, had agreed to appear in the movie alongside other famous sporting faces including Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Amelie Mauresmo.

The Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Schumacher, who is 38, appears as a chariot racer called Schumix, while Todt – dressed in red as per usual – gives orders from the pits.

The seven-minute scene featuring Schumacher and Todt, who have pledged their retainers to the charity ICM, reportedly took a month to film.

The movie, which set a new French record with its budget of 78 million euros, opens in France on January 30.

Silverstone erecting new F1 pit wall
(GMM) Work on a new formula one pit wall at Silverstone, the British grand prix venue, began early this week.

The first phase of the six-week construction process was the destruction of the existing wall, with track bosses explaining that the work is "evidence of Silverstone's commitment to continue to invest in the circuit and its facilities to benefit competitors, teams and fans".

The new wall, designed to withstand impacts of more than 250kmh, will comply with the FIA's latest safety regulations, a statement issued by the circuit explained.

Work on the concrete and steel structure will proceed throughout the Christmas break, and is scheduled to be finished by the end of January.

Raikkonen not top Finnish sportsman
(GMM) Despite winning his first world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has failed to be named Finland's top annual sportsman of 2007.

According to the website of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Javelin world champion Tero Pitkamaki is a more worthy winner than the 28-year-old Ferrari driver.

The title is decided by members of the Finnish Sport Journalists Association, who awarded 4725 points to Pitkamaki, followed by women's triple World Cross Country Skiiing champion Virpi Kuitunen, with 4089 points.

Raikkonen attracted 4022 points for just third place, despite winning more grands prix in 2007 than any of his formula one rivals.

"This result clearly shows that the traditional sports are well respected in Finland. I prefer athletics and skiing when I turn on the TV, but I'd like to see Raikkonen's races, too," Pitkamaki said.

Hamilton to test less this winter
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he intends to test less this winter, compared to one year ago.

The McLaren driver made his highly lauded formula one debut in 2007, following a pre-season of intense preparation, including many on-track tests.

"Last year I did all the test days, from even before the end of the season, from September to February," the Briton, who is 22, clarified to the newspaper Daily Mail.

But with a competitive season now behind him, Hamilton says it is more important this time around that his batteries are fully charged ahead of 2008.

"I did every test day alongside Pedro and Fernando (last winter), but this year I obviously don't need to — it's important at the moment for me to at least take a little bit of a break and spend some time with my family," he explained.

Hamilton insists that missing some tests will not be a disadvantage for him compared with his likely title challengers next year.

"Every day I am in touch with the team and they have an end of day debrief on how the test went, so I always call in for the teleconference and at times I ask questions on how the car was," he said.

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