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Thread: Formula 1 News (February):

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    Ferrari promise equal status

    Ferrari have vowed to give both their drivers equal status this season, despite Kimi Raikkonen being the reigning Formula One World Champion.

    Raikkonen clinched the title last season while his team-mate Felipe Massa could only manage fourth place.

    But despite the Finn clearly having the edge over Massa last year - especially during the latter part of the season - Ferrari have insisted that both drivers will start the year on an equal footing.

    "We have our drivers who start on an equal basis," team boss Stefano Domenicali said during Ferrari's annual winter event at Madonna Di Campiglio.

    "They are going to play it out with their own chances of victory, and there are no changes from this point of view. They are both on an equal basis."

    Driver policy

    Domenicali, who has replaced Jean Todt at the helm of Ferrari's F1 team, added his belief that Ferrari's driver policy speaks for itself, given the number of Drivers' Championships the Scuderia have won in recent years.

    "One of the fundamental factors for the success of the last few years, not only of last year, has been having been able to manage our drivers," he said.

    "It is clear that in the spirit of the driver, each one wants to be the strongest and it is correct to be so, but this must be implemented within the team spirit and from this point of view, I have to say that Felipe last year did an extraordinary job.

    "It wasn't easy for a driver, in general, to make himself available to the needs of the team to be able to win a Championship.

    "So I think that one of the strengths of Ferrari has been the fact that we've always well defined the rules with the drivers and there's been a great professionalism on the part of all the drivers who respect the needs of their team-mate but also the need for coming first and it's correct for them to have this desire."

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    Button - Honda contenders in '09

    Jenson Button has said he thinks that Honda can fight for the Formula One World Championship in 2009.

    The Englishman made his assertion after the team suffered a dreadful 2007 season, Honda's RA107 proving a dud to the extent that Button's average result was 11th.

    Nonetheless, the British driver is upbeat about the team's chances next season, adding that 2009 could well find them challenging for honours.

    "I think we will be a lot closer to the front in 2008, and in 2009 we have to be fighting for the World Championship," he said at the Autosport Internationalshow in Birmingham.

    "If we can get to that position with a good car, then this team will win the World Championship. As a team, we are very, very strong."

    Improving fortunes

    Crucial to Honda's improving fortunes is the arrival of former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn - who masterminded their resurgence in the late 1990s - as team principal.

    "I'm so happy that we've got Ross," Button added. "When he first walked into the team, there was the biggest round of applause I've ever seen.

    "On his own he's not going to turn the team around but I think that everyone is positive and doing a great job. He's fitted in quicker than everyone imagined and the way of working in the team has changed a lot already."

    Button also said that the travails of last season have assisted the team in their quest for success in F1.

    "If we'd had a reasonable year, we might have carried on in the direction we were going," he said. "But after such a bad year, we've realised we do need to change something and we have done that now."

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    Raikkonen sets early pace


    Ferrari were quickest on the first day of official testing for the 2008 Formula One season.

    Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa topped the timesheets ahead of McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa as both teams ran their new cars in Jerez.

    World champion Raikkonen completed 59 laps in total and was fastest with a best unofficial time of one minute 19.845 seconds.

    Ferrari team-mate Massa was 0.3 seconds adrift, with McLaren tester de la Rosa a further 0.4 seconds behind.

    The second McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen was fifth overall, sandwiching the Toro Rosso's of Sebastien Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais.

    McLaren's British driver Lewis Hamilton, who missed out on the title by one point to Raikkonen last season, did not take part on Tuesday but is due on track on Wednesday.

    Overall, nine teams tested with only BMW Sauber - who were in Munich launching their car - and Honda absent.

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    BMW look to close the gap


    BMW-Sauber unveiled their new F1.08 in Munich on Monday, with the team confident of making another step forward this season.

    The new car, which incorporates a low triple-plane front wing and X-wings behind the cockpit, is BMW's third Formula One car since taking over the Sauber team in 2005.

    "We have come quite a long way in two and a half years since the new team was created," said BMW motorsport boss Mario Theissen during the launch.

    "We had two strong seasons and we spent a lot of effort on the new car. The F1.08 includes everything we learned, everything we experienced in the past two years. It will be a big step forward again.

    "We are very confident to turn the battle with the cars in front of us into a battle with more than two years."

    Gap

    BMW-Sauber were the 'best of the rest' behind Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes last season, their second place in the Constructors' Championship coming after the latter were disqualified.

    However, Theissen downplayed the possibility of BMW-Sauber drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica claiming their first grand prix win in 2008, saying the gap to the top two is still too big.

    "It will certainly be difficult because the two teams in front of us are the strongest and most experienced," he added.

    "They will do a big leap so we have to improve more than they will. We made good progress in the past two years I am confident we can do it again and close the gap."

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    Alonso feeling optimistic

    As he made his return to the track with Renault, Fernando Alonso said that he was looking forward to a problem-free Formula One season in 2008.

    The double world champion took to the track at Jerez on Wednesday for the first time since he and McLaren-Mercedes prematurely ended their partnership last November.

    Alonso has returned to the team with whom he won his world titles in 2005 and 2006 - Renault's fortunes fading somewhat last season after the Spaniard jumped ship to McLaren.

    With Renault not launching their new car until the end of the month, the Spaniard tested the team's 2007-vintage R27 without driver aids such as traction control - banned under new regulations.

    And Alonso immediately set the pace, his best time of one minute 19.503secs being 0.147secs faster than McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

    Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest in his Ferrari, followed by Nico Rosberg for Williams and then Felipe Massa and Heikki Kovalainen in the second Ferrari and McLaren.

    After a fraught year alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren - not to mention the breakdown in his relationship with team boss Ron Dennis - Alonso said he was simply pleased to be back on familiar ground.

    Good feelings

    "There were a lot of good feelings meeting up with the team again today, good memories and plenty of optimism," said Alonso, who was also sporting a new crash helmet design.

    "There are new colours for me, a new helmet that I designed for the new season - the only thing we are missing is the new car!"

    When asked whether he saw 2008 as the start of whole new adventure with Renault, or simply another chapter from a familiar story, he replied: "I think both are true.

    "The team is completely different to the one I left in 2006.

    "There have been some big changes, they have improved a lot of things and strengthened many areas, so in one sense it is a new adventure with a new team.

    "At the same time, it is impossible to forget the six years I spent as a Renault driver, and my memories of that time are still strong."

    Number one

    As with last season at McLaren, Alonso has a rookie driver as a team-mate in Nelson Piquet Jnr.

    However, unlike last year when Hamilton and Alonso were given equal treatment by McLaren - a stance the latter thought belittled his status as world champion - he will be number one driver at Renault.

    And, with Hamilton pointedly absent from a list of past team-mates Alonso counts as friends, not to mention his lauding of Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, he seems happy with the situation.

    "I haven't really got to know Nelsinho yet, but he seems to me to be a normal, nice guy who wants to enjoy his time in Formula One," he continued.

    "That is no different to (Tarso) Marques, (Jenson) Button, (Jarno) Trulli, Fisi (Giancarlo Fisichella), (Franck) Montagny or (Allan) McNish, all of whom were my team-mates, all of whom I got on well with and who are still friends.

    "For 2008, I don't anticipate problems with anybody, and Flavio has always demonstrated that he can manage these situations very well."

    Jerez Day Two Test Times
    1. Fernando Alonso E Renault 70 1:19.503
    2. Pedro de la Rosa E McLaren-Mercedes 111 1:19.650
    3. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Ferrari 90 1:19.708
    4. Nico Rosberg D Williams-Toyota 81 1:19.755
    5. Felipe Massa BR Ferrari 86 1:19.772
    6. Heikki Kovalainen FIN McLaren-Mercedes 130 1:19.780
    7. Sebastian Vettel D Toro Rosso-Ferrari 86 1:20.305
    8. Sebastien Bourdais F Toro Rosso-Ferrari 76 1:20.346
    9. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull-Renault 80 1:20.392
    10. Kazuki Nakajima J Williams-Toyota 120 1:20.525
    11. Timo Glock D Toyota 109 1:20.598
    12. Giancarlo Fisichella I Force India-Ferrari 76 1:20.764
    13. Kamui Kobayashi J Toyota 56 1:22.060

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    Toyota not given ultimatum

    Tadashi Yamashina has denied rumours that Toyota have said his team must succeed in two years or leave Formula One.

    According to reports based on previous comments made by Yamashina, Toyota are unhappy with their F1 team's lack of success and have given the team boss a two-year deadline to start winning races.

    "To become stronger it is more important to improve the level of organisation in general rather than to rely on the power of one person," Yamashina said earlier this month.

    "And my job is to mobilise the resources to achieve that.

    "I have been given two more years. So, we will work and fight to make sure we prove ourselves in the 2008 season."

    Yamashina has now come out saying he was misinterpreted.

    "My words were misinterpreted," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

    Committed

    "When I mentioned the two-year deadline to get results, it wasn't an ultimatum, I wasn't referring to Toyota's presence in F1, I was talking about the extent of my appointment."

    Team president John Howett has backed up these comments and states that Toyota are committed to Formula One until 2012.

    "The rumours about us leaving the sport have always been groundless," he said.

    "Having signed the Concorde Agreement, we are in it at least until 2012.

    "We never received deadlines from Japan regarding the next two years."

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    F1 bosses to instil cap

    FIA president Max Mosley has revealed that a budget cap will be introduced at the start of the 2009 Formula One campaign.

    Mosley addressed a letter to all teams expressing plans for a budget cap that was discussed during last weeks meeting in Paris.

    The president stated that the cap would apply to all costs excluding engines, drivers' salaries and promotion and marketing.

    In his letter Mosley said: "Starting in 2009, there will be a cap on expenditure for all Formula One costs other than engines, drivers and expenditure exclusively for promotion and marketing.

    "Because of the variety of arrangements, particularly shareholdings, team principals' remuneration will not be included in the cap."

    Welcomed

    A financial representitive from each of the 11 teams will meet in Paris at the end of the month to deduce the exact cap amount.

    A financial working group will also be appointed at the same time to try and finalise regulations before June 2008.

    "If the financial working group are unable to devise a satisfactory method of checking expenditure or if a majority of the competing teams do not agree the proposals by June 30th 2008, the cost reduction measures voted by the World Motor Sport Council will be adopted for 2009 in their entirety," Mosley added.

    The budget cap proposal was welcomed by all teams apart from current World Constrctors Champions Ferrari - during last week's meeting .

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    Five-year deal for Hamilton





    Lewis Hamilton has signed a new five-year contract with McLaren, taking him through to the end of the 2012 season.
    The 23-year-old from Hertfordshire narrowly missed out on winning the World Championship in his first season in Formula One last year.
    He won four races and led the championship for much of the season before ultimately finishing second behind Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.
    Hamilton, who turned 23 just 11 days ago, has been associated with the Woking-based team since an early age.
    Fantastic

    He said: "It's fantastic for me the team has extended my contract until 2012.
    "Whilst last year was my first year with the team in Formula One, I have been connected to McLaren and Mercedes-Benz since 1998 and feel that I could easily drive for this team for the whole of my Formula One career.
    "I am with the right team to compete for race wins and both the drivers' and constructors' world championships in the future.
    "We will have a lot of challenges ahead, but I am 100% positive I am with the people to take them on.
    "The first of those challenges is the 2008 season. We have 57 days to go until the lights go out on the grid at Albert Park (for the Australian Grand Prix).
    "We are motivated to make the most of this time and arrive in Melbourne with a competitive car."
    McLaren chairman Ron Dennis added: "Following our initial agreement with Lewis, which we announced in November 2006, he went on to exceed all expectations for a rookie in Formula One, even those of us in the team who have known him for over a decade.
    Terms

    "Given Lewis' performances over the course of the 2007 season, it is clear improved financial terms were fully deserved and this formed part of the friendly negotiations with Lewis' manager, Anthony.
    "Today's announcement will take the length of our relationship with Lewis to a total of 15 years, which we believe is among the longest running associations between a sportsman and a team in the history of sport, particularly motorsport.
    "This is a great achievement for everyone involved, including Anthony. "Lewis is an exceptional human being, on both a personal and professional
    level, and will continue to be a credit to this team. "We are looking forward to the new season, and we all expect that, with Heikki (Kovalainen) coming on board to partner Lewis, we will have a very competitive year."

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    'Vettel could be a star'

    Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz reckons Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel will be one of F1's big stars in the future.

    Vettel is set to compete in his first full season in Formula One this year after initially replacing Scott Speed ahead of last season's Hungarian GP.

    Five races later the German scored his first points for the team when he finished fourth in the Chinese GP.

    The 20-year-old made his F1 debut in June when he graduated from his third driver role at BMW Sauber to replace the injured Robert Kubica at the United States Grand Prix.

    Vettel finished eighth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, thus becoming F1's youngest ever point-scorer.

    Promise

    Such promise resulted in Red Bull-backed Toro Rosso offering him a full-time drive for the 2008 Championship during which he will partner Sebastien Bourdais.

    "Vettel is one of the young guys with extraordinary potential," Mateschitz told Autosport. "He is fast, he is intelligent, and he is very interested in the technical side.

    "He has everything it takes to become a big star. And he is "back home" now with us. His future looks brilliant."

    The Red Bull owner was also full of praise for Vettel's new team-mate, Bourdais, whom he believes will help Toro Rosso build on their strong finish to 2007.

    "Bourdais will come up with the expectations we have set him," he said. "STR can be a solid midfield runner in 2008."

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    Re: Formula 1 News (january):

    Mosley convinced by budget cap

    FIA President Max Mosley is pushing ahead with plans to impose a budget cap in Formula One by the start of the 2009 season.

    Although the suggestion has been met with scepticism by some - Ferrari coming out against the idea at a recent FIA meeting of team principals - Mosley believes it is accomplishable and is the way forward for the sport.

    The proposed budget cap would exclude drivers' salaries, engine costs as well as funds spent on marketing promotion.

    Important

    Mosley told the official Formula One website: "I think for a long time the feeling was with the big manufacturers that costs doesn't really matter, that they don't care.

    "Now everybody understands that they do care and in fact it became of big importance to them. The teams at the last meeting were strongly in favour - or almost all of them were strongly in favour - of a cost cap rather then specific regulations.

    "With the cost cap, the amount of money is limited, but you can spend it any way you want, whereas if we start saying this is for the use of the wind tunnel or the computer, one team has a big wind tunnel, the other has got a big computer, so you end up getting everybody unhappy.

    "But obviously the problem with the cost cap is we have got to agree how we are going to enforce it, how are we going to check - and what the figure should be.

    "I am very convinced that we are able to do it, but people are still sceptical, saying: 'How will you know for sure they haven't had something given to them?' The answer is we've got some very good plans for that. It will all be discussed in the next few months."

    It is hoped that a meeting between the FIA and financial representatives of the teams, to be held in Paris on January 31st, will result in a budget cap figure for 2009, and perhaps 2010 and 2011.

    The FIA is also setting up a Financial Working Group in an effort to try and finalise more detailed regulations regarding a budget cap before June.

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