Change of heart on tyres fiasco delights Dennis

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The Independent Online

But yesterday it was confirmed that the World Motor Sport Council of the FIAhas voted to accept the recommendation of the FIA Senate to drop the guilty verdicts which they made on 29 June against the seven Michelin-tyred teams who did not participate at Indianapolis on safety grounds.

The FIA said that "new evidence" had led to the change of mind, though no details have been given. What matters is that the right decision was taken after the madness that had left the sport scarred and embarrassed.

"Being an ambassador was a new experience for me but I am very happy with the outcome," said the McLaren-Mercedes team principal Ron Dennis, who attended the FIA meeting in Monaco with Red Bull Racing's Christian Horner.

"The verdict that the teams are not guilty was better for everybody. Nobody came out of Indianapolis with anything positive and I'm pleased the Senate and the WMSC felt that way too."

This weekend the manufacturer-based teams may disclose their own proposals for the sport's future.

"We are about to put together a very good framework," said BMW's motorsport director, Dr Mario Theissen. "We will talk about it this weekend. I don't know if we will be ready to disclose details by the end of it but it is coming and it will be very positive."

Dennis said: "Everything that remains to be discussed is less than 25 per cent of the whole, so I'm optimistic that we'll come to a position where we can all look forward to a 2008 season that, to the best of our ability, will be better than those that remain under the existing Concorde Agreement."

On the track, Dennis's cars dominated as the Finn Kimi Raikkonen chased McLaren's Friday test driver Alexander Wurz, well clear of the points leader, Fernando Alonso, and the British Grand Prix winner, Juan Pablo Montoya. But Dennis was adamant that McLaren are not thinking of the title.

"We go to every race trying to win," he said. "There is a mathematical possibility that we can do it, but we have to win. But we are not into any form of mathematics or considering our strategy, we just come focused to win and intend to finish the season that way.

"We are a grand prix team and we exist to win. Finishing first and second is our objective, but we are certainly not different in that respect to any other team. To win, we will have to push our equipment to the limit, so reliability is the challenge for us and we are under no illusions. Winning is great but Renault don't have to go 100 per cent and that will enhance their reliability. We just have to try and get them under pressure."

The Renault chief, Flavio Briatore, said: "Ron is right. For the moment we have less pressure. But we respect McLaren absolutely. Every race is different, and the fact is that we have a little bit of an advantage, so to finish second is not so bad for us and finishing third is not a drama. It is a good face for Formula One, to have two young drivers fighting for the championship."

Two team bosses discussing the nuances of a sporting contest rather than the politics? It was as refreshing as the cool weather that has so far supplanted Hockenheim's traditional sweltering conditions.

German Grand Prix (Hockenheim) First free practice session: 1 A Wurz (Aut) McLaren-Mercedes 1min 14.277sec; 2 R Zonta (Br) Toyota 1:14.893; 3 K Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.634; 4 J Button (GB) BAR-Honda 1:15.851; 5 J P Montoya (Col) McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.901; 6 M Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1:16.259; 7 R Barrichello (Br) Ferrari 1:16.280; 8 V Liuzzi (It) Red Bull-Cosworth 1:16.733; 9 T Sato (Japan) BAR-Honda 1:16.795; 10 R Schumacher (Ger) Toyota 1:17.197; 11 D Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Cosworth 1:17.277; 12 J Trulli (It) Toyota 1:17.341; 13 C Klien (Aut) Red Bull-Cosworth 1:17.423; 14 F Massa (Br) Sauber-Petronas 1:17.442; 15 N Heidfeld (Ger) Williams-BMW 1:17.665; 16 M Webber (Aus) Williams-BMW 1:17.689; 17 J Villeneuve (Can) Sauber-Petronas 1:18.132; 18 N Karthikeyan (Ind) Jordan-Toyota 1:18.988; 19 C Albers (Neth) Minardi-Cosworth 1:19.151; 20 T Monteiro (Por) Jordan-Toyota 1:19.400; 21 N Kiesa (Den) Jordan-Toyota 1:19.933; 22 R Doornbos (Neth) Minardi-Cosworth 1:20.108; 23 G Fisichella (It) Renault no time; 24 F Alonso (Sp) Renault no time. Second free practice: 1 Wurz 1:13.973; 2 Raikkonen 1:14.576; 3 Alonso 1:15.560; 4 Montoya 1:15.772; 5 Zonta 1:16.091; 6 Fisichella 1:16.146; 7 Massa 1:16.161; 8 Liuzzi 1:16.297; 9 Trulli 1:16.411; 10 M Schumacher 1:16.474; 11 R Schumacher 1:16.575; 12 Klien 1:16.658; 13 Button 1:16.752; 14 Webber 1:16.879; 15 Heidfeld 1:16.893; 16 Barrichello 1:16.913; 17 Villeneuve 1:16.938; 18 Sato 1:16.992; 19 Karthikeyan 1:17.506; 20 Albers 1:17.830; 21 Doornbos 1:17.978; 22 Monteiro 1:18.227; 23 Kiesa 1:19.484; 24 Coulthard no time.