F1

News round up in quiet time

There's little happening in Formula One in the aftermath of the New Year, although testing and launches will commence in the not too far distant future. Toyota is currently the first team scheduled to launch its 2007 challenger, on January 12th...

There's little happening in Formula One in the aftermath of the New Year, although testing and launches will commence in the not too far distant future. Toyota is currently the first team scheduled to launch its 2007 challenger, on January 12th in Cologne, Germany.

McLaren plans to reveal its new car over two days from January 14th at Valencia in Spain, while BMW Sauber will also launch at Valencia, one day later on the 16th. Renault will launch in Amsterdam, home of the team's new title sponsor ING, on January 24th and Honda the next day in Barcelona. The new Williams will reportedly break cover at its home base of Grove, UK, on February 2nd.

New drivers are joining the F1 ranks this year and McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton reckons Spyker's Adrian Sutil will give Christijan Albers a run for his money. Previously teammate to Sutil in Euro F3, Hamilton told Autosport he believes that the young German will make an impression.

"Everyone knows what Albers can do," Hamilton commented. "But I think it's going to be like (Robert) Kubica joining (Nick) Heidfeld at BMW and giving him a big wake-up call. Adrian will do the same to Albers. In fact, I expect him to be quicker. He's a really good driver who taught me a lot when we were together."

Over at world champion team Renault, where Heikki Kovalainen joins Giancarlo Fisichella to form the race line up, Fisichella claims he is ready to cope with the pressure of being team leader. The departure of Fernando Alonso leaves Renault without its champion driver but Fisichella brushes off speculation that Kovalainen will be the star in 2007.

"I was faster than him in the first Jerez session," he told the official F1 website when questioned about the Finn being quicker in testing. "You see at the tests we do our job and we never chase lap times. Sometimes we have different set-ups or work on different programmes. Badoer was quicker than Massa at Ferrari. Do you think that Luca is going to replace Felipe just because he was quicker at the test?"

Renault's ever-opinionated managing director Flavio Briatore thinks McLaren will struggle again this season, despite having Alonso on board. "It will be a tough year for them," Briatore said, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They have always had fantastic drivers like (Kimi) Raikkonen, and they always announce them early to demonstrate they're changing. But this year the book of excuses has come to its last page."

Ferrari also didn't escape Briatore, as the Italian opined that the Maranello outfit would suffer without technical director Ross Brawn and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. Meanwhile, Schumacher's replacement, Kimi Raikkonen, reportedly claimed Ferrari boss Jean Todt is "a normal bloke" as opposed to McLaren counterpart Ron Dennis being a "control freak".

Ron a control freak? Surely not…

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