Friday: F1 News in Brief - 1
- Schu flies to Frankfurt as F1 flies without him
- Button writes off title before first race
- BMW plays down Friday practice disadvantage
- BMW boast '90 per cent' reliability
- News briefs from Melbourne: Frida
Schu flies to Frankfurt as F1 flies without him
(GMM) Michael Schumacher was not brooding in his Swiss mansion as, across the globe in Australia, the first formula one season since 1991 prepared to dawn without him.
On Thursday evening, the eve of official practice at Albert Park, the retired seven time world champion traveled to Frankfurt (Germany) for a sponsor event with his long time manager Willi Weber, according to reports in the German press.
While 38-year-old Schumacher appears to not be missing grand prix racing, it seems his old on-track rivals are not missing the German.
"I think I will not miss him," said Fernando Alonso, who was locked in the heat of a controversial title fight with Schumacher mere months ago.
Williams' Alex Wurz once locked wheels with Schumacher on the streets of Monte Carlo, and explained in Melbourne: "Personally I won't miss him, but then I wouldn't miss any one of these guys ..."
Button writes off title before first race
(GMM) Jenson Button at Albert Park rhetorically handed the baton to countryman Lewis Hamilton, as he admitted that Britons must find a new star to cheer to formula one victory.
At the scene of the 2007 season opener, the 27-year-old Honda driver said rookie Hamilton is much better equipped to power to race wins this year.
He disconsolately said to reporters: "Hamilton v Button? There's not going to be any me versus him this year.
"His McLaren is going to be massively quick compared to us and that's it."
Uncompetitive Honda were still gifting cynics free fodder this week, for while fitting local schools with energy-saving light bulbs its fans were faced with the prospect of a points-less start to the new formula one calendar.
Button compared his seven years mostly in the midfield to 22-year-old Hamilton's direct leap from near junior-category obscurity into a top car.
"I don't believe in luck, but I'm starting to a bit," he said.
"We just need to get our heads down, not think of podiums for now. It's important to understand where we are going wrong and not to get negative.
"But I don't want to be qualifying tenth or twelfth or even worse for the whole year, so we have got to improve the car."
BMW plays down Friday practice disadvantage
(GMM) BMW's Mario Theissen on Friday played down the disadvantage to Robert Kubica's weekend by putting Sebastian Vettel in the Pole's race car in opening practice at Albert Park.
Both Kubica, 22, and teammate Nick Heidfeld are unhappy about having to alternate the inconvenience this year.
On Friday in Australia, too, Williams' Nico Rosberg had to join Kubica on the sidelines as the Toyota powered team ran with Japanese test driver Kazuki Nakajima.
Both Rosberg and Kubica will return to action in the afternoon.
"I think (the disadvantage) is overestimated," Theissen told American broadcaster Speed TV, "because there is still much more left on Friday than there used to be."
The BMW motor sport director, meanwhile, contradicted the common paddock perception that the F1.07 is the third quickest car in the 2007 field by suggesting that Renault may have leapt ahead in the final Bahrain test session.
He said: "I think it's not the top three. Currently I think we are among the top four."
BMW boast '90 per cent' reliability
(GMM) BMW's Willy Rampf has offered a more optimistic view of the German squad's questionable reliability going into the Australian grand prix.
The Hinwil based team, although quick, battled with transmission problems throughout the winter off-season.
BMW-Sauber's F1.07 appeared to take a reliable step forward at the recent Bahrain test, though, and technical director Rampf said at Albert Park: "A while ago I would have put our chances (of race finishes) at 60 per cent.
"Now I would say it is more like 90 per cent."
News briefs from Melbourne: Friday
(GMM) At lunchtime at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit on Thursday, 48,000 spectators had passed through the turnstiles.
After his business stopover in Singapore, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone arrived in Melbourne on Thursday night and on Friday morning made his first appearance at Albert Park.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa was wearing a similar but slightly revised blue, green and yellow helmet livery for the start of opening practice.
More than 60 die-hard Australian fans expressed their disappointment at Kimi Raikkonen on Friday morning when he refused to sign autographs. To placate them, the 'iceman' Finn gave them a gentle wave, but one shouted: "Kimi -- you're a wanker!"
BMW's Sebastian Vettel was third quickest in a drying opening Friday practice, but the 19-year-old German played down the achievement.
Talking to the German broadcaster 'Premiere', he said: "Not everyone was on slicks at the end, when the conditions were best.
"At the start it was extremely difficult with no grip."
Vettel went straight from official practice to a handicapped 'car comparison' to entertain the punters in the grand stands. Vettel drove a 2006 BMW-Sauber, Jack Perkins an Australian V8 touring car, and Perkins' father Larry a BMW 320i road car.