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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Button wants Barrichello as 2009 teammate
  • Ferrari to join Toyota in Bahrain testing
  • Schu forgives Massa for drunken insult
  • Some F1 costs 'unnecessary' - Klien
  • Coulthard backs Ecclestone amid racism storm

Button wants Barrichello as 2009 teammate
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello's hopes of retaining his Honda race seat next year have been given a vote of confidence by his 2008 teammate.

At a press conference promoting the forthcoming Race of Champions event at Wembley, Jenson Button said he would prefer an experienced teammate next year rather than a young gun.

Honda is set to evaluate rookies Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi at the Barcelona test later this month, with team executive Nick Fry insisting F1 needs "fresh blood".

But given the sweeping rule changes for 2009, 28-year-old Button does not agree.

"They (the team) need a lot of feedback from us and having a new boy in the car, I don't feel that you get as much feedback.

"But it's not my decision," the Briton, who is widely expected to stay at Honda next year despite not yet agreeing a new contract, said.

Button notes that Barrichello, the most experienced driver in F1 history, has stated he is driving better than ever despite recent uncompetitive Hondas.

"I don't think Rubens lies," he said.  "I think he tells the truth which is always good in a teammate and he has put in some very good performances."

Ferrari to join Toyota in Bahrain testing
(GMM)  Like Toyota, Ferrari is also planning to conduct extensive winter testing in Bahrain in preparation for the 2009 season.

It emerged this week that Toyota has scheduled six days of testing in December at the scene of the annual Bahrain grand prix.

According to Gulf Daily news, Ferrari has also selected the desert venue at Sakhir for some F1 testing.

The local newspaper said Toyota will join the Italian team for six days of testing in February next year.

"We have a number of testing dates in December; Toyota are confirmed, but we still have interest from a lot of the other teams," circuit boss Martin Whitaker said.

"Whether or not (other teams) will come depends on where they are in terms of their development program.

"Toyota and Ferrari will then come back in the beginning of next year," he confirmed.

Schu forgives Massa for drunken insult
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has dismissed as the result of too much alcohol a controversy that brought into doubt his relationship with Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

It emerged this week that, at a season-ending party in Sao Paulo following the Brazilian grand prix, Massa joined in an insulting song about Schumacher with the former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.

But after experiencing plenty of end-of-season parties himself, the seven time world champion told the German newspaper Express: "There is always plenty to drink!"

He said the incident poses no threat to his mentor-style bond with Brazilian Massa, the 2008 championship runner-up.

"Felipe is my friend," Schumacher said.

The 39-year-old German's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm added: "Michael will meet with Felipe at the Ferrari World Finals in Mugello.

"It will be a great reunion," she said.

Some F1 costs 'unnecessary' - Klien
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber test driver Christian Klien has dismissed as "unnecessary" some of the expenditure in formula one.

"Perhaps too much money is wasted," the Austrian, who last season tested with the Honda team, said in interview with the newspaper Kurier.

"Take Jenson Button: he uses 18 helmets per season and every one costs 6,000 euros before the paint.  I ask myself if this is necessary," said Klien.

Coulthard backs Ecclestone amid racism storm
(GMM)  Amid the latest racist scandal, Bernie Ecclestone has found an ally in the form of formula one veteran David Coulthard.

Ecclestone, F1's 78-year-old chief executive, found himself condemned by bureaucrats and the press this week, after he played down this year's racist incidents involving Lewis Hamilton.

"Bernie's remarks have been taken out of context.  It is trying to be built into something much bigger than it is," said Coulthard, at a press conference for the forthcoming Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium.

Coulthard, who contested his last of 247 career grands prix in Brazil last Sunday, agrees with Ecclestone that the episode involving 'blacked up' Fernando Alonso fans at a Barcelona test this year was overblown.

"What happened in Spain because of those four guys, I'm sorry, but it hardly represents a nation of racists," said the 37-year-old Scot.

"I've seen some people having a pop at Bernie for trying to play it down, but what would you expect him to do?  He is the ringmaster, the guy that has created this amazing foundation of business success that enables all of us to earn our pennies.

"To turn around and try to get Bernie to offer an apology to Lewis is just ridiculous," Coulthard added.

He insists that, in comparison with football, F1 cannot be referred to as a racist sport.

"How many footballers have been subjected to racial taunts and had bananas thrown at them?  It wasn't acceptable then and it's not acceptable now, but what you're talking about in formula one is not on that level," said Coulthard.

Billionaire Ecclestone, meanwhile, revealed he has clarified his comments with Hamilton's father and manager.

"I've spoken with Lewis' dad and he understands, everything's fine," Bernie said.

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