Latest F1 news in brief

  • Title trio stay out of spy scandal
  • Alonso, Raikkonen, back on attack for title
  • Spy scandal hits new low for McLaren
  • Some critical of Honda status quo

Title trio stay out of spy scandal
(GMM) After Lewis Hamilton vocally backed his embattled McLaren team on Thursday, all three of his championship rivals at the Nurburgring vowed to stay out of the spy scandal.

Rookie Hamilton described Ron Dennis' outfit as "the most honest" in the sport ahead of its hearing at the World Council meeting next Thursday.

His Spanish teammate and reigning world champion Fernando Alonso, however, acknowledged that as a driver he is not armed with enough information to have an opinion.

"I think we don't know the full history and we don't have the full information," he said, albeit admitting that he had followed the story at home on the internet.

"I think that as a driver we will stay away from that. I only watch it from a distance.

"I didn't even speak with the team about it because I am not an engineer and I don't know.

"We are not thinking too much about next week. My only thought is to concentrate on always being on the podium and working towards the championship," Alonso added.

"What will happen, will happen anyway."

Ferrari teammates Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa also dodged the media's bullets on the topic.

"I am not thinking about it at all," back to back race winner Raikkonen said, "and it has changed nothing about my approach or the work of the team.

"I just want to win races — (the saga) has nothing to do with me."

Brazilian Massa added: "I don't want to comment because it is not a positive matter and it has nothing to do with the drivers. I prefer to concentrate on my own job which is driving the car."

Asked if the outcome of the upcoming FIA hearing might change his attitude when the circus reconvenes for the Hungarian grand prix next month, the Ferrari driver continued: "I don't know because I don't know what is going to happen.

"We have to wait and see and then maybe I can say something."

Alonso, Raikkonen, back on attack for title
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he has overcome his early season difficulties and is now much more comfortable at the wheel of his silver McLaren.

The reigning world champion lags Lewis Hamilton by 12 points in the 2007 standings, but at recent grands prix he has come to terms with the pace of his rookie teammate.

"I feel much better in the car now compared to the first few races," Alonso, 25, told Spanish speaking reporters in the Nurburgring paddock on Thursday.

"I am going into the second half of the season much more relaxed than the first, because I was still learning about the car.

"Now I am approaching each weekend with maximum confidence."

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is the other high-profile driver who was outperformed by his previously lesser-rated teammate in early 2007, but – after his back to back successes in France and Britain – the Finn has now won more races than any other driver this year.

"It's starting to get back in the right direction now," Raikkonen, a single point ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa, said.

"The car works better now for me, that's the only difference.

"I haven't really changed anything, we just tried to get the car working as I want and that's why we have got the speed."

Spy scandal hits new low for McLaren
(GMM) F1's worsening espionage scandal has reached a new low for beleaguered McLaren.

In addition to the 780-page dossier of secrets, it is now reported that Nigel Stepney, the sacked former chief mechanic, may also have telephoned and emailed Mike Coughlan with tip-offs about Maranello based Ferrari — including its moveable floor.

It is a fact that McLaren asked the FIA for a clarification about the underbody rules at the Australian grand prix this season, which resulted in Ferrari having to change the design.

Italian investigators are also scouring Stepney's bank account details to see who might have paid him, and have confiscated several mobile phones that he could have used.

Stepney's Italian lawyer Sonia Bartolini, meanwhile, revealed that Ferrari has turned down her client's request for a meeting with team boss Jean Todt.

She told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "We are disappointed. Surely it is in everyone's interest to clear this up."

Some critical of Honda status quo
(GMM) Some sections of the media reacted critically to Thursday's news that Honda will field an unchanged race lineup in 2008.

Germany's Sport Bild headlined that the Japanese squad have chosen to "continue to count on ineffective drivers", notwithstanding the ten grand prix wins between them.

Brackley based Honda, however, has had an appalling 2007 with the dreadful RA107 single seater so far, collecting just one point from the first half of the season despite pre-season boasts about a likely championship dig.

After the 2008 driver announcement at the Nurburgring, Australia's Fox Sports noted: "Z-grade Honda retains 'B' men".

The publication is probably referring to the fact that Brazilian Barrichello, 35, played second fiddle to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher for years before switching to Honda, where he has failed to score a point in 2007.

Briton Button, meanwhile, only won at the rain-affected Hungarian grand prix last year after 113 career attempts.

The news outlet AHN Media Corp. said the pair were being retained "despite poor performances".

But Honda team principal Nick Fry insists that the pair have turned in an "exceptional" performance this year in a difficult situation.

"If there are young drivers out there looking at how to act under these kind of circumstances, then both Jenson and Rubens have been a case study in how to work," he told reporters.

"I would say it has been a first-class performance from both of them, and that is why we have gone for continuity for next year."

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