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The spy storm settles - for a while at least 03 Aug 2007

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari talks with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 2 August 2007 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 2 August 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 2 August 2007 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso talks with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 2 August 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 2 August 2007

In truth, all anybody was really talking about in the paddock here on Thursday was the ongoing war of words between Ferrari and McLaren.

But in the aftermath of McLaren chief Ron Dennis’s letter to CSAI president Luigi Macaluso, who had secured an appeal against the recent World Motor Sport Council decision on behalf of Ferrari, nobody seemed to be saying anything official.

Ferrari’s attitude is that they will now wait and see what happens in the Court of Appeal. McLaren withdrew their drivers from media activities on Thursday; Fernando Alonso did not attend the FIA press conference, and Lewis Hamilton was not at the circuit for his usual media debrief in the afternoon.

Inevitably, that focused all the attention on Sebastian Vettel, who was here in his new role as Toro Rosso race driver, who had learned of his new job at the beginning of the week. “All our talks and stuff started a bit earlier than that but 100 per cent I knew it at the start of the week and then on Tuesday there was the announcement, so it wasn't a long time ago,” he explained of his position as Scott Speed’s replacement.

But is he a primarily a BMW driver on loan to Red Bull, or a Red Bull driver who was on loan to BMW?

“I think the most important thing is that I was supported by both of them quite early on,” he said carefully. “Since 2005 I was supported by BMW as well and earlier than that by Red Bull. I did the race at Indy for BMW as a reserve driver standing in for Robert [Kubica, who had crashed in Canada]. For sure, as a race driver, you want to race, so I took the possibility to come to Toro Rosso and race.”

This will be a tricky weekend for the German teenager, who made a little bit of history at Indianapolis by becoming the first teen ever to score a world championship point with his eighth place finish. “It's difficult to predict because I've never been in the car,” he confessed, “so tomorrow will be the first time but for sure, the car is not as strong as the top cars in front and there is a lot of work to do, but I think I can bring some motivation to the team and try my best to improve the situation and then finally get some points.”

It will help that he knows the circuit well, having raced here in the Renault only a matter of weeks ago. “Everybody can understand that this year the testing regulations are very restrictive,” he added. “You don't get to drive a lot. So the one that suffers most is the third driver, or even the two test drivers. Therefore, I think it was a very smart decision and a great opportunity for myself to do the step and that's it. For sure the car is not on the same basis as the BMW car for instance. But you know this is the challenge. The car is not up there but you know there is a lot to work on and a lot to improve so I try to do the best on the circuit and also off the circuit to improve the situation. I don't care too much what happened in the past, I prefer to focus on what is coming next and I am really looking forward to it.”

Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, is seeking to get his championship campaign back on track in the closest thing to a Finnish Grand Prix. He deflected the inevitable questions about the Ferrari McLaren fight, and said: “I haven't really followed it too much apart from what I hear from other people and I don't really want to get involved, so it doesn't matter if I like it or not. What I think isn't going to change things, so I just follow what happens and there are people who make decisions. I guess for everything there is a reason, so we will see what happens in the future.”

His focus is the race, and maximising his points score. Ferrari are confident they will be in better shape on this high-downforce track than they were in Monte Carlo. “I think we have made some progress [since then],” the Finn said, “and we should be stronger than we were in Monaco. If this is closer to that, we could be in a good position, but we will really see tomorrow how the car works here.”

David Tremayne