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Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Regarding the new F1 TV deal in the UK noted below - The five-year deal, thought to be worth more than $400 million, covers TV, radio, broadband and mobile.

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone announced the new contract on Thursday.

In a message on the official F1 website he said he was "delighted" to award the BBC the broadcast rights in the UK.

"I wish to thank ITV for their commitment to formula one and the high quality of their coverage," he continued.

"It is an exciting time in formula one and the BBC has some innovative new ideas to consolidate and expand our UK fan base."

  • McLaren to fix speed limiter glitch
  • Wet weather looms for Malaysian GP
  • Nico as good as Lewis - Williams chiefs
  • Massa caused Coulthard crash - Schumacher
  • Schu slams unfair safety car rules
  • Engines not to blame for Ferrari failures
  • Confirmed - Jean Todt to attend Sepang race
  • Honda progress will take years - Brawn
  • Kimi buys $1.5m house in Phuket
  • Brazil signs to keep GP until 2015
  • Willi Weber survives mid-air scare
  • F1 to switch British channels in 2009

McLaren to fix speed limiter glitch
(GMM)  McLaren will look into modifying its pitlane speed limiting system so that drivers do not lose time if they accidentally press the button during grands prix.

In his first race for the British team last Sunday, Heikki Kovalainen let pursuer Fernando Alonso past at Albert Park when he wrongly pressed the steering wheel button while tearing off a helmet visor rip-off.

Ferrari test driver Marc Gene pointed out this week that the Italian team's speed limit system can only be activated when a driver is in a low gear.

"We'll certainly look at changing it for the future," McLaren's engineering director Paddy Lowe is quoted as saying by The Sun.

"It shouldn't be something you can pick up by accident," he added.

Wet weather looms for Malaysian GP
(GMM)  Formula one teams should prepare for a wet Malaysian grand prix this weekend.

The Sepang circuit's press officer Azhar Ghazali said on Thursday that the official weather report for Friday through to Sunday is for dry mornings but afternoon thunderstorms.

Some drivers fear that wet races this year will be even more dangerous than before, now that electronic aids including traction control have been banned.

"It will be fun to watch how the drivers control the cars without traction control," Azhar said.

Nico Rosberg
Nico as good as Lewis - Williams chiefs
(GMM)  Melbourne podium-getter Nico Rosberg is as good as current championship leader Lewis Hamilton, his race engineer insists.

Tony Ross, who before working with the 22-year-old German was race engineer for former Williams drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Nick Heidfeld, told Auto Motor und Sport that Rosberg and Hamilton's achievements have been colored by the equipment at their disposal.

"Nico's debut in 2006 was just as strong as Lewis' (for McLaren) a year later," he said.

"It was just that Nico's car let him down," Ross added.

Team boss Sir Frank Williams is an unabashed admirer of Hamilton's F1 performances so far, but he too rates Rosberg equally highly.

"If they were in identical cars, they would be on the same level," the Briton is quoted as saying by RTL.

Felipe Massa punts Coulthard
Massa caused Coulthard crash - Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has admitted that Ferrari's drivers contributed to the Italian team's dismal opening outing of the 2008 season last Sunday in Australia.

The seven time world champion told Auto Motor und Sport that Felipe Massa's first corner crash, and subsequent collision with David Coulthard, were both driver errors.

Schumacher said a post-race analysis shows that Massa was in too low a gear when he spun into the barriers on lap one at Albert Park.

"At the moment we do not know why (Massa was in too low a gear)," he said, "but now without traction control, and on cold tires, the car in that moment becomes very critical."

Schumacher also said that, while Coulthard should shoulder some of the responsibility, Massa was to blame for the crash later in the race.

"You have to say that David could have been a little cleverer about it," he said, "but there is no question that Felipe was the cause."

On reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen, Schumacher said the Finn was "too optimistic" as he made two notable driving errors in Melbourne.

Schu slams unfair safety car rules
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has slammed F1's new safety car rules, arguing that they punish innocent drivers while unfairly benefiting others.

The seven time world champion derided the mandatory closing of the pitlane upon deployment of the safety car as "moronic", in an interview with the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Having watched the Australian grand prix from his Swiss home, the Ferrari advisor said: "I saw Kovalainen drive a perfect race but lose a podium because the safety car went onto the track at an unfavorable moment for him."

Another driver notably affected by the rule in Melbourne was Rubens Barrichello, who was out of fuel at the deployment of a SC period and therefore punished when he illegally entered and exited the pitlane.

"In my opinion this is not a good rule," Schumacher said.

The mandatory closing of the pit lane was introduced so that drivers do not unsafely speed around the circuit to rush a pitstop at the beginning of a SC period.

But Schumacher thinks there are better ways to police such speedy drivers.

"For example you could determine with the sector times whether a driver was going too fast," he said.

"With these rules, sheer coincidence plays too big a role for my liking," Schumacher added.

Engines not to blame for Ferrari failures
(GMM)  Engine design had nothing to do with the failure of both Ferrari power plants in the recent Australian grand prix.

That is the revelation of former driver and team advisor Michael Schumacher, following an urgent analysis of the broken units at the Italian outfit's Maranello headquarters.

Ferrari did not encounter engine problems in 10,000 km of pre-season testing, which counters speculation that the McLaren ECU can be blamed.

In an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, Schumacher did not reveal the actual cause of the Albert Park failures, but he insists that they had "nothing to do with the engines themselves".

"I don't want to go into any more detail," he added.

Rumors on Thursday at the scene of the Malaysian grand prix indicate that the problems were of an aerodynamic nature, triggered by the intense heat of the Melbourne circuit.

Confirmed - Jean Todt to attend Sepang race
(GMM)  Jean Todt will attend the Malaysian grand prix, a Ferrari spokesman and team advisor Michael Schumacher have confirmed.

The Frenchman is no longer team boss, and this week it was announced that he is also stepping down as CEO of the entire company.

He will, however, attend the Sepang circuit, but Ferrari officials are adamant that his presence has nothing to do with the team's abysmal showing in Australia a week ago.

"Jean planned two months ago to come to Kuala Lumpur," Schumacher told the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Todt's partner is the Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh.

Honda progress will take years - Brawn
(GMM)  It could take more than three years to turn Honda into winners, new team boss Ross Brawn has admitted ahead of the Malaysian grand prix.

The former Ferrari technical director attended Australia last weekend as Honda team principal, but he told the press before the event that he intended to simply sit back and observe the Japanese team with a view to later implementing changes.

This week, Brawn is quoted by the Daily Star as warning that - despite a better than expected showing at Albert Park - it will probably take years to get the Brackley squad into shape.

"I view it as a minimum of a three-year project -- and probably think it could be even more," he said.

Brawn said Honda will shortly begin work on the 2009 car, with a view to taking advantage of the radical incoming regulation changes.

But even though next year's Honda will be heavily influenced by Brawn, the 53-year-old Briton warned against overly high expectations.

"I never said I was a technical messiah, I never pretended to be," he said.

Kimi buys $1.5m house in Phuket
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen this week eased his frustration following a miserable first race as reigning world champion apparently by embarking on an expensive shopping spree.

The Ferrari driver, who lives in Switzerland, bought a luxurious unit on the beachfront of the Thai holiday island Phuket, for an estimated (US) $1.5m.

"It will be a nice place to go with my family and friends when I have two weeks off in the winter," the Finn said.

Brazil signs to keep GP until 2015
(GMM)  Organizers of the Brazilian grand prix have signed a contract to keep the F1 race at Interlagos until 2015.

It was reported late last year that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone intended to renew the deal, pending the promise of a much needed new paddock and pit complex and a new grandstand at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.

Sao Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab and Ecclestone have now officially signed the contract, local reports say.

Willi Weber survives mid-air scare
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber this week survived a scare aboard his private jet.

The German newspaper Bild reports that the 66-year-old German's six-seater twin-engine Beechcraft was badly damaged when it struck a flock of huge wild geese en route from Geneva to Stuttgart.

"Suddenly, there were massive impacts," Weber recalled.  "I thought we had been shot down!  Everything rocked and trembled -- I had no idea what was going on."

The aircraft's nose, right engine and a wing were badly damaged, but no-one hurt in the subsequent landing.

F1 to switch British channels in 2009
(GMM)  Formula one will switch British broadcasters at the end of 2008.

It emerged on Thursday that the state-owned BBC will air the sport beginning next year.

The deal with Formula One Management is initially set to run for five years.

"We were delighted when Bernie Ecclestone approached us about the return of F1 to the BBC," said Dominic Coles, BBC's director of sport rights.

BBC previously held the rights to F1 in Britain until the end of 1996, when current broadcaster ITV, a commercial network, took over.

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