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Malaysia: Sunday news in brief
  • Raikkonen eyes 'strong' race on Sunday
  • High chance of rain at Sepang
  • Bernie wants shakeup at 'shabby' Sepang
  • Albers has food poisoning
  • F1 to discuss improved cockpit protection
  • Bernie wants new 'car sharing' meeting in Bahrain
  • Ralf must accept huge pay-cut - report

Raikkonen eyes 'strong' race on Sunday
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen sent out a warning to the two drivers who qualified ahead of him at Sepang on Saturday -- watch out for me in the race.

The Finn, whose practice mileage was limited in the morning due to lingering concerns about his two-race Ferrari engine, admits that he struggled to keep up with teammate Felipe Massa and McLaren's Fernando Alonso on Saturday.

"I think over one lap I am suffering more than over the race distance so I think for the race it will be ok," he said.

"I think I will have a strong race."

Brazilian pole sitter Massa in Malaysia, however, is eager to send out the message on Sunday that - like Raikkonen in Melbourne - he can dominate the race from the front and be a real championship contender in 2007.

He ruled out clashing wheels with his Finnish teammate but insisted: "He wants to be in front of me and I want to be in front of him, but I think we need to use our brains not to make any problems for the team."

Massa's fellow occupant of the front row Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, confessed that - despite a qualifying improvement for McLaren in Malaysia - he is unlikely to be able to live with Ferrari's dominant long-run pace on Sunday.

The Spaniard said: "I think we have to be realistic and see how our pace, maybe on the long runs (in particular), is not as good as the Ferrari."

High chance of rain at Sepang
(GMM) Sepang's customary thick cloud cover has assembled above the venue for the Malaysian grand prix on Sunday.

Unlike during qualifying, however, when the threat of rain resulted in just a few drops, local weather sources are reporting a much higher probability of thunderstorms on Sunday.

At noon, it is already 32C degrees and the humidity is higher than on Saturday -- an uncomfortable 60 per cent.

Bernie wants shakeup at 'shabby' Sepang
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has rolled out the old rhetoric whilst urging Sepang to improve the venue for the Malaysian grand prix.

With a contract only for a few more years, and nearby Singapore high in the F1 supremo's affection, he told the local newspaper New Straits Times that Sepang is looking "shabby" after nine years of hosting the sport.

And invoking memories of Bernie's attitude towards Silverstone, he said of the Malaysian GP circuit: "It has become like an old house that needs a bit of redecorating.

"It's starting to get a little shabby and looks a bit tired."

Ecclestone, 76, also criticized circuit organizers for letting rubbish build up "all over the place" at Sepang.

Albers has food poisoning
(GMM) Spyker racer Christijan Albers spent Saturday night with food poisoning.

For one of the first times in any official session so far this season, the Dutchman outpaced his rookie teammate Adrian Sutil in qualifying at Sepang.

But it is believed that Albers, 27, quickly returned to his hotel with nausea and stomach pains.

F1 to discuss improved cockpit protection
(GMM) He escaped serious injury by just a few centimeters in Melbourne, but Alex Wurz says he does not support moves to put a roof over the heads of grand prix drivers in the name of improved safety.

Wurz's hands and head nearly bore the brunt of David Coulthard's flying Red Bull in the 2007 season opener, sparking an investigation into how to better protect the occupants of F1's open cars.

The Austrian, though, told the press agency APA in Malaysia that he wants F1 to keep its open cockpits because it is just one of the ways that F1 differentiates itself from other premier categories like sports cars.

But Coulthard said this weekend that the issue of driver vulnerability should be "talked about" and "looked at" in the near future.

Wurz's team boss Sir Frank Williams, too, confirmed that he has already spoken to FIA president Max Mosley about the Coulthard incident.

Williams told Reuters: "Max has got (the FIA's) Charlie (Whiting) involved with our guys to learn about it.

"There will be a close look at that to see what we can do," he added.

Veteran Coulthard, no longer a director but still an active member of the safety-oriented Grand Prix Drivers' Association, suggests that the most likely solution is not a cockpit roof or roll-cage but simply better head protection.

He said: "That is something to be discussed and agreed and we, as the GPDA, can only encourage them to do that and see what the result is."

Bernie wants new 'car sharing' meeting in Bahrain
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is keen to organize another meeting of team principals in Bahrain next week as the 'car sharing' row moved no closer to a solution in a meeting here at Sepang.

But after Spyker launched protests against Super Aguri and Toro Rosso in Australia and Malaysia respectively, we have learned that the heat could turn on to the Dutch squad amid suggestions of espionage.

It is understood that Red Bull chiefs, supported by the F1 supremo, are furious that Spyker has in its possession confidential blueprints for the design of its current cars.

Worse still, the Red Bull documents were leaked into the public domain when Spyker used them as part of its stewards' protest in Malaysia.

Ecclestone, who met with F1 bosses in Sepang on Saturday, is understood to now be adamant that a compromise to the worsening situation must be reached within the next few days, despite the fact that no party looks set to cave.

And while Bernie personally backs the notion that every team design an unique car, as do several other teams, he is apparently applying pressure on Spyker to drop its Swiss arbitration proceedings and at the same time urging Toro Rosso and Super Aguri to make a commercial deal.

Ralf must accept huge pay-cut - report
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher must accept a huge pay-cut if he wants to stay at the Toyota team beyond 2007.

That is the latest information of German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, amid reports that Nick Heidfeld is linked with a move to the Japanese squad principally because his wage bill is smaller.

According to Bild, 31-year-old Ralf currently earns a whopping $23 million each year, but he has so far this year been matched or surpassed for pace by his teammate Jarno Trulli, who makes less than $10m.

Schumacher refused to comment, but his manager Hans Mahr confirmed that negotiations have begun and a decision will be made in the summer.

He said: "We are completely relaxed."

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