Latest F1 news in brief

  • Karthikeyan still eyeing F1 future
  • Cabbie to sell famous 'Schumi taxi'
  • Schu to stay as Ferrari advisor
  • Spy effects could taint McLaren's '08 – Montoya
  • Bernie finds humor in McLaren spy saga
  • Chandhok wants F1 debut in 2009
  • Piquet looks to secure future on F1 grid
  • Kovalainen expects equal treatment in 2008

Karthikeyan still eyeing F1 future
(GMM) Narain Karthikeyan has refused to rule out the possibility of one day returning to formula one, describing the highest category of open wheel racing as "unfinished business" for him.

The Indian, who raced for Jordan in 2005 before spending two seasons as Williams' secondary test driver, on Sunday won for the first time in the 'A1GP' category in China.

It was his first trip to the top step of the podium since before he entered formula one; a statistic that until now has given fuel to his detractors' claims that he does not belong in the elite categories of international motor sport.

Ahead of 2008, Williams has replaced him as a test driver by Nico Hulkenberg, an up and coming German youngster.

"It's good to win and it sends out the signal that I am far from finished," he said.

"Whether anyone likes it or not, I have won at every level I have competed except F1. I never bothered about what some people were saying, I knew what I was up to," Karthikeyan, who is 30, told DNA India.

"But formula one is still unfinished business for me and while Williams is not happening, there is something for me there."

Karthikeyan has not featured strongly in F1's 'silly season' ahead of 2008, but the Indian insists that he is up to the task of performing in the sport's new traction control-free era.

"I deserve another shot at F1," he said. "I am fast and I have always driven well without driver aids."

Cabbie to sell famous 'Schumi taxi'
(GMM) The cabbie made famous for relinquishing the drivers' seat of his taxi to Michael Schumacher is now considering offers to sell the Opel mini-van.

Since the nine-seater made international headlines for getting a seven time world champion and his family to a German airport on time, it has doubled in value, the newspaper Bild am Sonntag claims.

"More than ten people are interested in buying it," the taxi driver, Tuncer Yilmaz, confirmed.

"One has offered 63,000 euros, and I need the money — because of the Schumi-Ride I could be in big trouble with the police," he confirmed.

Coburg traffic authority chief Kai Holland confirmed to Bild newspaper that he will meet with Yilmaz, because the story appears to be "an offence against the Personnel Transport Act".

Schumacher, meanwhile, faces the prospect of a small fine.

"It would be ridiculous to heavily punish the taxi driver after he kindly helped Michael. Wouldn't we all prefer to have helpful taxi drivers?" Schumacher's long time manager Willi Weber marveled.

At the Race of Champions event in London at the weekend, Schumacher himself suggested that the tale had been blown out of proportion.

"You just have to laugh about it," he smiled.

Schu to stay as Ferrari advisor
(GMM) Michael Schumacher on Sunday confirmed that he has no immediate plans to end his role as an 'advisor' to the formula one team Ferrari.

Since retiring as the Maranello based team's principal race driver at the end of 2006, the seven time world champion has attended several grands prix and twice so far this winter tested the F2007 ahead of next year's traction control ban.

"In the future I don't know but right now I am going to stay in my advisory role for Ferrari," the German, who is 38, told Sky Sports at Wembley stadium in an interview with veteran commentator Murray Walker.

"I am quite happy in this role and I want to be a happy family father and enjoy life," Schumacher said in London.

At the Race of Champions, Schumacher and Toro Rosso racer Sebastian Vettel's German team won the teams' trophy, but Schumacher spun within sight of the checker in the individual final against DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom.

But when asked if the competitive action might cause him to reconsider his retirement plans, Schumacher answered plainly: "No."

Spy effects could taint McLaren's '08 – Montoya
(GMM) Juan Pablo Montoya is unsure if his former team McLaren can emerge unscathed in 2008 after the turmoil of this year's Stepneygate espionage scandal.

The Mercedes powered team's newest driver recruit, Heikki Kovalainen, said at the weekend that officials have reassured him that the issue will not affect the team's performance for 2008.

But Colombian Montoya, who left the Woking based team and formula one last year to race in NASCAR, told Spanish newspapers that he is not so sure.

"We will see what happens with McLaren," the winner of seven grands prix said.

"Everything they do (for 2008) will be so carefully reviewed, wondering whether they can do it because it might contain the information from Ferrari. It will be interesting," Montoya added.

He also sent out a warning to Renault that re-hiring double world champion Fernando Alonso will not be enough to guarantee a return to top form next year.

Montoya said that "even with Senna" in the R28, the French team could not expect to win another title in the absence of a "decisive improvement" compared to 2007.

Bernie finds humor in McLaren spy saga
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has revealed a mischievous sense of humor with his latest annual Christmas card.

The F1 supremo traditionally prepares a personalized Christmas card for his friends and closest colleagues, and veteran journalist Roger Benoit – known for his long and close relationship with Ecclestone – has described this year's edition in the Swiss newspaper Blick.

On the front is a cartoon featuring Ron Dennis quivering in fear at a gift-wrapped box, bearing the Prancing Horse logo, being offered to him by Mike Coughlan.

"Sorry, I can't accept, try the conventional way," the cartoon-version of Dennis is quoted as telling Coughlan, as satellite dishes mounted on the Ferrari and McLaren factories communicate with each other.

Peering from behind Coughlan's back, meanwhile, is Nigel Stepney, the sacked source of the 780-page Ferrari dossier that earlier this year sparked the unprecedented Spygate saga.

Chandhok wants F1 debut in 2009
(GMM) Karun Chandhok is confident he can begin a career on the formula one grid in 2009.

Although countryman and long time supporter Vijay Mallya has ruled the 23-year-old Indian GP2 driver out of the running for a Force India seat next year, Chandhok is happy to instead look to 2009 for his grand prix break.

"My chances are looking a lot better now than one or two years ago," Chandhok told the Indian news agency PTI.

He recently made his F1 test debut with Red Bull, deeming it a success as he surpassed the team's expectations.

"They said if I got within one second of David Coulthard, they will be very happy. I got within seven tenths of his time," he beamed.

Chandhok plans to race again in GP2 in 2008, targeting a place in the top five championship standings.

"There will be a good opportunity at formula one (in 2009) because a lot of contracts are expiring at the end of the next season," he said.

Chandhok also ruled out eventually winning an easy ride with Force India, just because of his nationality and Mallya's firm desire to power an Indian to the podium of the inaugural Indian grand prix in 2010.

"As far as Force India goes, Mallya has been very clear that the driver choice will be based on credibility (rather) than nationality and I one hundred per cent agree with him," he said.

Piquet looks to secure future on F1 grid
(GMM) Nelson Piquet Jr says his ambition for his debut season on the formula one grid is to secure the seat also for 2009.

"The important thing is to have a good year, to leave the team satisfied to continue the same way in 2009," the rookie Brazilian told Spanish newspapers, including Diario AS and the sports daily Marca.

Piquet's teammate at Renault is Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who is returning from McLaren after an ill-fated season.

"He is a super driver," Piquet commented. "In 2007 he did not have an easy year, going into an English team with an English driver. McLaren clearly favored Lewis (Hamilton)," he remarked.

Piquet, however, shows no signs of being happy to settle for a 'number two' role alongside the highly-paid Spaniard in 2008.

"The advice of my father has always been important," he said, referring to Nelson Piquet, the hard-nosed triple world champion.

"I will do everything possible to honor the Piquet name," he added.

Kovalainen expects equal treatment in 2008
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen is sure he will be treated equally by the McLaren team in 2008.

Officials of the Mercedes powered team went to great lengths last season to insist that Lewis Hamilton, the British rookie, was treated the same as new recruit and double world champion Fernando Alonso.

But while Kovalainen is replacing the dissatisfied Alonso, while he is understood to have fled Renault to avoid 'number two' status for 2008, McLaren bosses have been making noises about possibly putting more emphasis behind Hamilton's title push next year.

Chief executive Martin Whitmarsh acknowledged recently that total driver equality makes winning world championships "more difficult", and later earmarked Hamilton as the "talisman that can take us to a championship".

Kovalainen, who is 26, admitted to the BBC London radio station 94.9 that he faces a task to reach the status that Hamilton has established at McLaren in 2007 and earlier.

He is not, however, expecting the same sort of problems that marred Hamilton's relationship with Alonso.

"With Lewis I think we can fight on the track as much as we can but off the track we can laugh about it," Kovalainen said.

"One of the important things I wanted to establish before I signed the contact at McLaren was that I would be treated equally," he added.

"I think in the past McLaren have treated drivers equally — including this year. I don't think it will be a problem at all."

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