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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dennis expects a close battle

Well, Ferrari’s performance in Hungary didn’t impress Ron Dennis, but come the end of the season, he expects it will be a close title fight between McLaren and the Scuderia.

“I don't think they were particularly (good). Massa had a good race but Kimi wasn't particularly strong,” Dennis was quoted in multiple outlets. “Really the outcome of the first corner was that people could see Massa in the lead and who was in second place.”

If not for Lewis Hamilton’s untimely puncture, the McLaren boss said the team was in position to overtake Massa.

“We switched into fuel strategy mode, to make sure that we stopped second to him in order that we could do a long second stint and overtake him at the final stop,” he explained. “The slightly flat spotted tyre and the puncture put paid to that strategy but I think that Lewis had the pace to win.”

The McLaren/Ferrari rivalry is a long standing tradition, and one Dennis doesn’t take lightly..

“Confidence is a weakness, you've just got to take every race as it is,” he warned. “I don't think there's any doubt that we're in for a very competitive World Championship and it's going to be a close race between ourselves and Ferrari.”

BMW Sauber not ready to give up on 2008

In the eyes of BMW Sauber’s Mario Theissen, third may be best the team can do this year, but he isn’t ready to pull the plug on development of its 2008 challenger just yet.

After a Hungarian Grand Prix weekend which yielded a single point for Robert Kubica’s drive to eighth, and saw the team drop to third in the constructors race, the BMW Sauber chief isn’t ready to rule out a return to form.

“Based on the performance and points yield of the Budapest weekend, you’d say certainly not,” he told the official Formula 1 Web site. “But naturally we will not twiddle our thumbs, as we still have developments in the pipeline – aerodynamic as well as mechanical. And we will definitely not stop the development of the F1.08 because of one unsatisfying result.”

Theissen was surprised by the team’s lack of race pace, and finding out why is a priority.

“Our performance on Friday was reasonable, the performance on Saturday in qualifying was good to very good, but our performance in the race was completely different,” Theissen explained. “It looked like we weren’t there, that the race went on without us. At no point did Robert (Kubica) or Nick (Heidfeld) come close to the lap times they did in qualifying. And I have to admit that I don’t know the reason yet.

“What we certainly will look into is the equation of car, set-up, tyres and track conditions, he continued. “If you look at Robert’s qualifying time he should have been able to fight at the front but in reality, in certain phases of the race, he was the slowest car on the track. What happened in the race was completely unexpected.”

Williams not selling

Sir Frank Williams is one of the last privateers, and he has no plans to change that anytime soon.

“In the next few years we will not sell,” Williams reportedly told sport.net.

A drop in performance since the team’s split from BMW, and a lack of known successors for Williams and co-owner Patrick Head, have led to an almost constant speculation the duo will eventually sell up.

But unlike compatriot Ron Dennis, Williams insists “We would sell no more than shares, the name Williams is staying in Formula One.”

Williams rules out son Jonathon as a successor, however, saying he is “to nice for Formula One.”

Klien would rather test

Christian Klien said he would rather remain at BMW Sauber as a test driver, considering the options available to him.

With Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella increasingly under a microscope, and teammate Adrian Sutil no sure thing either, an race drive may well be available for 2009.

Klien was involved in the winter shootout for the Indian team’s second seat, and as an experienced F1 driver, would likely be of interest to Vijay Mallya’s squad.

But while Klien would relish a return to F1, the prospect of joining a backmarker does not excite him.

“As it is I would rather test for BMW-Sauber than race with them (Force India),” crash.net reports Klien told motorline.cc. “Of course, a lot of good people are with Force India, but with their car, you can basically only show your talent when it rains.”

When pressed by crash.net, the Austrian also ruled out GP2 and IndyCar.

“I'm still only 25 and I obviously hope a lot to be back again,” he told crash.net, when asked about his continuing F1 aspirations. “On the other hand, Le Mans was a great experience for me as well.”

Bourdais’ struggles continue

Sebastien Bourdais’ F1 woes continued last weekend in Hungary, as the four-time Champ Car champion’s points drought continued.

The Frenchman hasn’t been in the points since the season opener in Melbourne.

“There have been two sides to this weekend: it got off to a good start and then I had some problems in qualifying. The race also started quite well, as I had a good pace,” he said. “Then it all went to hell at the first pit stop, as the guys had to use the fire extinguisher and I got a lot of foam on my visor.”

Adding to the gremlins which have plagued him, Bourdais continues to have trouble coming to grips with the new car.

“I do not feel very good with this car,” crash.net reports he told French language publication RMC. “There is no technical solution – it is a characteristic of the car that does not fit with me at all. The problem is that, of the four drivers, I am the only one complaining [about the issue], and at Toro Rosso it is not for us to talk about the [car's] development.”

We’ve all seen how quickly Toro Rosso can turn on a driver. Even discounting Scott Speed, Bourdais must be mindful of Tonio Liuzzi’s fall from grace. In light of recent comments by Team Principal Franz Tost, the atmosphere in Faenza must be thick. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six

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