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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Bernie wants GP2 winter series in Asia
  • Mansell to return to wheel of Ferrari
  • Press, Ferrari, criticize Massa
  • Sun and cloud for Bahrain GP weekend
  • Gascoyne rues lack of Spyker testing
  • Germany wants own anthem for McLaren wins

Bernie wants GP2 winter series in Asia
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says he is determined to establish an Asian winter series for F1's feeder category GP2.

Eager to continue expanding the sport into emerging markets, the F1 supremo thinks establishing a premier open-wheeler category in Asia is a key way to attract more non-European drivers to the grid.

Ecclestone, 76, said only top single seater drivers will be taken seriously by grand prix teams.

"You can't just pick anyone out of a saloon car (for F1)," he told the newspaper New Straits Times in an interview.

"So, really, we have to run (a) championship in Asia at a higher level, and then for sure, we're going to find more drivers."

Referring specifically to GP2, Ecclestone said: "I want to make sure we bring that series to Asia in the winter, so hopefully we get to find a few drivers through the exposure."

Mansell to return to wheel of Ferrari
(GMM) Nearly two decades after driving in formula one for Ferrari, former world champion Nigel Mansell will next month return to the wheel of an Italian made racing car.

For the Scuderia Ecosse team, the 53-year-old Briton - nicknamed Il Leone (The Lion) by Ferrari's Tifosi - is signed up to drive a Ferrari 430 GT on May 6 in the two-hour FIA GT Championship race at Silverstone.

He tested the car in Scotland last week.

After the run, Mansell said: "It remains to be seen how I will get on in a race situation as ex-F1 drivers tend to race with a target on their backs."

Mansell, also a former IndyCar champion, was the last Ferrari driver in F1 to be personally selected by Enzo Ferrari before the great man's death in 1988.

Press, Ferrari, criticize Massa
(GMM) The notorious Italian press and Ferrari directed varying levels of criticism at Felipe Massa after the Malaysian grand prix.

For letting both McLarens past at the first corner and then falling off the track in a battle with rookie Lewis Hamilton, the sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport refused to mince its words in contemplation of the Brazilian's form.

"Massa did everything wrong," the editorial said.

La Repubblica, meanwhile - which is Italy's major broadsheet - excused fellow Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen for managing only third place because the Finn had to run a de-tuned engine for the Sepang race.

But the newspaper, perhaps recalling the Maranello based team's disastrous 2005 season, nevertheless wrote: "Ferrari rediscovers its fears". The Maranello fan club noted that the retired Michael Schumacher "would not have let this happen".

Ferrari chiefs' criticism of Massa, 25, was gentler, but nonetheless fairly plain.

For example, team principal Jean Todt made it clear that while Raikkonen's engine was "compromised", Massa's V8 unit was "quite fresh" after a pre-race change in Australia.

Technical and strategic chief Luca Baldisserri expressed his disappointment by pointing out that mere "data" can not explain Ferrari's apparent lack of performance last Sunday.

"We have to see what happened," he said, "especially close to turn one where Felipe didn't tuck into the corner."

Todt continued: "We know we are facing very strong teams and quite simply, (in Malaysia) they were better and they deserved their success.

"Nothing to say. Next week, we will try to do a better job.

"We have a car that I think should be able to be competitive in Bahrain. Hopefully if we do a better start we should be able to race with our competitors," Todt said.

Sun and cloud for Bahrain GP weekend
(GMM) The desert surrounds of Sakhir should on Sunday host a warm, sunny and dry Bahrain grand prix.

Local weather forecasts are calling for a race-day top of 28C on the desert island, located off the coast of Saudi Arabia.

Although dry heat is the norm in Bahrain, rain is an occasional visitor, and high cloud is expected to be present above the formula one circuit throughout Friday and Saturday.

The chance of precipitation, however, is low, although forecasters warn that grand prix travelers should not be surprised if an afternoon thunderstorm strikes on Friday.

Gascoyne rues lack of Spyker testing
(GMM) Spyker may be regretting its decision to not test at Sepang prior to the recent Malaysian grand prix.

The Dutch squad argued at the time that it preferred to stay at the Silverstone factory to prepare a new bodywork package for round two of the 2007 season.

But after Christijan Albers and Adrian Sutil were clearly the slowest qualifiers at Sepang, before a double DNF in the race, technical chief Mike Gascoyne admits sitting out the test might have been a mistake.

"Perhaps we should have (tested)," Spyker's chief technology officer told the magazine Formule 1 Race Report.

"The price for skipping the test was far higher than we had assessed," Gascoyne reportedly added, admitting that Spyker struggled to adapt to the circuit on Friday while its rivals had already enjoyed four days of running at Sepang.

And Gascoyne warned: "In Bahrain I expect that we could again be at a disadvantage because we also did not go to the winter test (there)."

Germany wants own anthem for McLaren wins
(GMM) A controversy in Germany is brewing over the anthem played on the podium following Fernando Alonso's victory for McLaren-Mercedes in Malaysia.

After German commentators hailed the win as a triumph for the three-pointed star, some viewers were surprised to hear Britain's 'God Save The Queen' mark the occasion for the winning constructor.

McLaren is based in England, but Mercedes-Benz - with a 40 per cent stake in the silver-clad team - is the largest shareholder.

The major German newspaper Bild-Zeitung argues that the national anthem 'Das Lied der Deutschen' - made so famous on the F1 podium by the 91 victories of Michael Schumacher - should be played whenever a McLaren greets the checkered flag first.

On behalf of Germany, Bild said the McLaren MP4-22 is "OUR car!"

"It is difficult to understand," said former German formula one driver Hans-Joachim Stuck.

"The heart of the silver arrows is in Germany," he added, referring to Mercedes motor sport's Stuttgart HQ.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug reacted: "I can understand the feeling of the German fans. But we are an international team and the really important thing is that we win, not what is heard on the podium."

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