News from Sepang - 2
- Theissen adds fuel to Heidfeld gossip
- Raikkonen avoids engine change penalty
- Toro Rosso slams Spyker protest
- Renault admit pace flattered by low fuel
- Todt not concerned about Raikkonen tattoo
Theissen adds fuel to Heidfeld gossip
BMW team principal Mario Theissen on Friday added fuel to speculation that Nick Heidfeld could be considering leaving the German squad at the end of 2007.
Heidfeld's manager Werner Heinz was this week quoted as revealing the offers of two unnamed "top teams" for next year, amid gossip that Ralf Schumacher might lose his seat at the Toyota team.
"Regarding the driver question, we will express ourselves at the end of the season," BMW motor sport director Theissen told the news agency 'sid' at Sepang.
"I want to first speak with Nick before I speak with you (journalists)," he added.
Toyota team manager Richard Cregan, however, gave the Heidfeld link short thrift by insisting that the Cologne based squad has had "no contact" with the 29-year-old, whose BMW contract runs out at the end of the year.
Cregan added: "We are happy with our current drivers and (we) are not thinking about an association with Heidfeld."
Raikkonen avoids engine change penalty
Championship leader Kimi Raikkonen has avoided a ten-position grid penalty for Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.
Despite the fact that the Finn's two-event power plant ran hot in the closing stages of the Australian grand prix, Ferrari has decided to also use it at Sepang throughout qualifying and the race.
We have learned that Ferrari fitted a separate V8 engine in Raikkonen's car in Friday practice, which had deliberately been run in an earlier test for several laps without a full compliment of cooling water.
It completed 53 practice laps on Friday - three short of a full grand prix distance - without problem.
Toro Rosso slams Spyker protest
Toro Rosso on Friday responded defiantly to formula one rival Spyker's rejected protest at the scene of the Malaysian GP.
The Faenza based team entertainingly rubbished Dutch owned Spyker's apparent evidence showing that parts of the STR2 single seater were illegally designed by its sister team, Red Bull.
"Scuderia Toro Rosso confirms that this press release paper was designed on the same computer as the Red Bull Racing press release paper," an amusing document issued to the press at Sepang read.
"Having flown out a ten strong legal team from Austria, the UK and Italy late last night, we can confirm that our paper complies fully with all regulations regarding media headed paper and the industry standard British Universal Length Layer Size Height Interface Template (B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T.)"
1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen was observed in the McLaren-Mercedes garage during Friday's free practice at Sepang.
Renault admit pace flattered by low fuel Mere tenths slower than Felipe Massa's pace-setting Ferrari, Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen were second and third quickest in the second practice session on Friday.
Renault's Pat Symonds has played down suggestions that the reigning world champions might pose a challenge to the frontrunners at Sepang this weekend.
But Italian Fisichella, who has the 'flu, reported that his R27 is still "lacking grip".
The team's veteran engineering director Symonds explained: "It is relatively obvious that we were running lower fuel and new tires at the right time of the session."
The Renault duo's quick times were also set with the softer tires, which are clearly distinguishable at Sepang thanks to a stark white strip painted inside a groove.
Meanwhile, while Renault looked a little more competitive in Malaysia, Honda runners Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello failed to deliver the small improvement that was promised after last week's test here at Sepang.
The pair languished near the bottom of the timesheets on Friday, and Barrichello in the second session was even slower than runners for Toro Rosso and Spyker.
"It's simply the case that we have had a very bad day," the Brazilian said.
Todt not concerned about Raikkonen tattoo
Jean Todt said in Malaysia on Friday that he is not bothered about Kimi Raikkonen's new tattoo.
Finn Raikkonen turned up at Sepang on Thursday sporting a large black patterned-tattoo on his lower right arm.
But Todt insisted that keeping Ferrari's drivers happy is a higher priority than satisfying the whim of sensitive sponsors.
"Perhaps if he wanted to tattoo his face, I would advise him against it," Frenchman Todt, 61, joked in Malaysia, according to motorsport-total.com.
"If a sponsor was unhappy about it, I would rather change the sponsor than tell Kimi that he cannot have a tattoo."