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Friday, June 27, 2008

Force India considering Honda power?

The latest rumor making its way around the F1 world is Force India is considering dropping current engine supplier Ferrari for Honda in 2009, with Takuma Sato part of the deal.

It is believed that Honda are still interested in supplying customer engines, and Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell reports that meetings between the two parties may have taken place in Montreal earlier this month.

One incentive for Force India is that the Japanese manufacturer is offering its KERS system for €10 million less than Ferrari in exchange for giving Sato a seat.

Ferrari power has never been cheap, it could be argued the prohibitive costs of Ferrari engines have broken more than one team in recent years, so swapping engine suppliers for a better financial package makes sense.

Additionally, Sato is a proven driver who seemed to mature into a team leader with Super Aguri.

Ferrari will never let a customer squad outshine the parent team. For an owner with the ambitions of Vijay Mallya, Honda power may be a better option for success.

Despite the Japanese manufacturer’s somewhat spotty record in recent years, Force India will still be saving money. Mallya may see an opportunity to emulate Frank Williams’ relationship with Toyota.

The deal would seem to fly in the face of earlier rumors Honda was interested in backing a Ken Anderson-led U.S. team effort.

Bernie warned Max

Bernie Ecclestone warned Max Mosley of a plot to remove him from office prior to the News of the World scandal.

Dean Attew, an intelligence consultant close to both Ecclestone and Mosley, told The Times he received information in January something was afoot, which he immediately relayed to Ecclestone. The Formula One ringmaster then passed the information along to Mosley, months before the scandal broke.

“In January this year I received a call from a friend, We had a meeting and I was approached and told there was an open budget to effectively go out and source material that would bring Max to his knees and, more importantly, remove him from office and discredit him publicly," Attew told The Times. "During the conversation I said to the guy, 'What's your budget?' and he said, 'It's an open budget,' and I said, 'OK, be specific here, are you after Max, are you after the FIA or are you after Bernie? They then went back and they came back a little while later and said, 'We are not going to pursue it for the time being.'”

Attew said he knew Ecclestone told Mosley because Mosley later talked to him about it. Prior to the scandal, the consultant said Ecclestone felt Mosley had nothing to hide.

“When I sat down with Bernie I said to him, 'Is there anything anyone is going to find out about Max?'” Attew said. “And Bernie said, 'Dean, you are not going to find anything because there's nothing there - he's Mr Boring in that sense.' Mosley had kept this a good secret," he said.

The fact the News of the World story broke proves Mosley did not take the threat seriously, Attew said.

“It was very clear that Max had disregarded both the advice he had been given and had failed to realise his vulnerability at that stage,” Attew said. “The issue for me was his total disregard for genuine advice from individuals that he knew had his best interests at heart. When we saw what was in the News of the World, Bernie was as flabbergasted as I was.”

Raikkonen respects Hamilton, Kovalainen

Many may be writing off McLaren’s chances with the relatively inexperienced Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, but one person who isn’t writing them off is world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

The Ferrari driver said he doesn’t believe the pairing’s youth is a detriment.

“I don't think so because there are a lot of people who know what they are doing. Sometimes you have a difficult car, sometimes you have a better one. That's normal,” Fox reports Raikkonen said.

Raikkonen said he expects a close battle with McLaren at Silverstone.

“McLaren are always strong here, and I'm expecting that next weekend. I think it's going to be quite close between us and them. I don't see the other teams being close enough for the win,” he said.
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