Latest F1 news in brief

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Stepney-gate won't foul Brawn return – boss
  • 'I need to raise my game' – Hamilton
  • Bernie says no to Austrian GP return
  • Honda make another technical appointment New
  • Button vows to stay loyal to Honda New

Stepney-gate won't foul Brawn return – boss
(GMM) The Stepney-gate espionage scandal will not foul Ross Brawn's likely return to the Ferrari team in 2008.

Ferrari boss Jean Todt at Silverstone stopped short of confirming that the former technical director will certainly be back at the Maranello team next year, but he said the two issues are entirely separate.

"Ross is a great guy. I don't want to speak for him, but he is very sad knowing all that has happened," Todt said.

Brawn and countryman Nigel Stepney, who has been dismissed by Ferrari following accusations that he passed confidential data to a McLaren colleague, were close friends and allies throughout the ultra-successful Michael Schumacher era.

Stepney told British newspapers at the weekend that Brawn's departure was a key factor in his fallout out at Ferrari.

He said: "I missed the one-to-one relationship with Ross. He knew exactly what I could do; I always had 100 per cent support from him."

Todt, though, said a planned meeting to discuss Brawn's future in the next few weeks is still on track.

"There is nothing that will interfere in the choices we have to make for the future," he added.

'I need to raise my game' – Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Sunday vowed to raise his game after finishing more than half a minute behind his teammate Fernando Alonso in Britain.

To the audible disappointment of his countrymen at Silverstone, the McLaren pole sitter struggled to match the pace of the British grand prix leaders, including winner Kimi Raikkonen.

Spain's partisan 'Diario As' newspaper headlined on Monday morning that reigning world champion Alonso "gave Hamilton a lesson" on his home turf.

Hamilton agreed: "I think I need to step up my game, and I intend to.

"For me as a driver I'm still learning, I still have time to find in myself through experience. Here, I've struggled in terms of pace."

But Renault's Pat Symonds, who worked alongside Alonso during his titles in 2005 and 2006, observed that he always expected the Spaniard to ultimately find his feet alongside Hamilton in 2007.

He told the Guardian: "I think the latter half of the season will be, relatively speaking, easier for Fernando and harder for Lewis."

But Alonso, 25, told 'As' that he thinks he is already on top of Hamilton's game.

"From Canada I have been faster than him. There I had a very unlucky race, in Indianapolis I was faster but I could not pass him.

"In France I had the third best time behind the Ferraris but was still unlucky, and here, in much more normal circumstances, I was in front of him by half a minute."

The Spanish press reckons McLaren should have let Alonso, rather than Hamilton, charge for pole position at Silverstone, but Alonso is philosophical.

He said: "Here I trimmed two points off of my teammate's lead and that is all that matters — to win the world championship."

Silverstone winner Kimi Raikkonen trimmed his own title deficit to 18 points on Sunday but he admitted to the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat that it is still a formidable gap.

"At least it is smaller than two races ago," the Ferrari driver observed in Britain, "but unfortunately it would only take another bad race and I am back to where I was before."

Bernie says no to Austrian GP return
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has dashed any hopes that Austria might return to the formula one calendar any time in the near future.

Even though efforts are being made to restore the old A1-Ring venue, which last hosted a grand prix in 2003, F1's chief executive has told an Austrian newspaper that the European country's formula one days are over.

Asked by a Kleinen Zeitung reporter if Austria will feature again on the annual schedule, 76-year-old Ecclestone replied plainly: "No, never again."

He said the sport must seek venues from which teams, sponsors and the car manufacturers can "gain the most profits".

He said teams "now understand that formula one is a giant motor show. And the more people there are to watch, the better it is for them."

Honda make another technical appointment
(GMM) Yet another recognizable F1 engineer has signed to switch to Honda, team principal Nick Fry admitted at Silverstone at the weekend.

The last high profile appointment by the struggling Japanese team was Williams' chief aerodynamicist Loic Bigois, who will start work at Honda this week following negotiations with his former team.

Williams' Francois Martinet is another recent convert, as is BMW's John Owen, while a so-far unspecified signing will assist Shuhei Nakamoto as a co-technical director in the near future.

"His contract would say Christmas but maybe we could do something before, I don't know," Fry is quoted as saying by Reuters, without naming the new recruit.

Honda has scored just a single point so far in 2007.

Button vows to stay loyal to Honda
(GMM) Jenson Button on Sunday denied reports that he could seek refuge after a disastrous 2007 season with Honda by switching back to Renault.

The 27-year-old Briton last raced for the Enstone based team alongside Jarno Trulli in 2002, but he insisted at Silverstone that he will stay loyal to his long term Honda deal.

"I'm staying with Honda," Button is quoted as saying by the newspaper Daily Mail.

He finished Sunday's British grand prix out of the points, insisting that he was "reasonably happy with our performance" on the high speed Northamptonshire venue.

"It's very tough at the moment but I know this team can pull themselves out of a rut. And they definitely will," Button continued, referring to Brackley based Honda, which boasts one of the biggest budgets in the sport.

"They are a very strong team and they won't give up until they get back on the top step of the podium. And regularly as well."

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