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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Long-life engine rules different in 2009
  • F1's TV audience grew in 2008
  • Broken leg 'no excuse' for 2009 - Webber
  • Mercedes says Honda engine deal possible
  • Ferrari analyze 'difficult' F60 debut
  • Davidson wants Friday third cars back in F1

Long-life engine rules different in 2009
(GMM)  Formula one drivers can use eight engines during the 2009 season, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali told the Italian press earlier this week.

It was previously understood that, as part of the new cost-cutting measures for this year, the original one-engine per two races rule had simply been extended to include more races per single 2.4 liter V8 unit.

However, as per the FIA's clarification last month that mandatory engine life in 2009 has been "doubled", Domenicali explained at the launch of the team's F60 racer that drivers will now be allocated eight engines for the whole season.

Unlike in 2008 and before, therefore, this year engines do not need to be used consecutively, meaning that drivers can avoid the risk of using the same engine at arduous power-circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Also crucially, penalties for 'unscheduled engine changes' will not be allocated until a driver has completely exhausted his season's supply of eight power plants.

It means that a driver could theoretically use one engine in qualifying and another for the race, without attracting a penalty.

F1's TV audience grew in 2008
(GMM)  Formula one's global television audience grew in 2008, a report by the sport's commercial authority has revealed.

The figures for last season jumped to 600m per race, which is 3 million more than in 2007, F1's official Global Broadcast Report said.

Italy, with nearly 38 million viewers in 2008, remains the leading television market in Europe, but the British market jumped 7 per cent to over 29 million viewers per race as Lewis Hamilton drove to the title.

However, Germany's audience continues to slip in the wake of the retirement of Michael Schumacher, despite there still being five race drivers on the grid.

With 29.6 million viewers on average per race, the country slipped behind France to now be Europe's third best television audience.

Outside of Europe, China for the first time eclipsed Brazil as the leading TV audience abroad, with 119 million viewers compared with Brazil's 110m.

Moreover, the five final races of the season saw average live audience figures grow by an impressive 25 per cent.

2008 was the fourth consecutive annual increase for F1's TV audience, moving chief executive Bernie Ecclestone to remark that the figures paint "an overall picture of the rude health" of the sport.

Broken leg 'no excuse' for 2009 - Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber has promised not to use his recently broken leg as an "excuse" if his 2009 season does not kick off as well as he hopes.

The Australian driver is now seven weeks into his recovery from a badly broken right leg, sustained in a mountain-biking stage of his annual post-season outdoor endurance event in Tasmania.

"The recovery is going well," he wrote in his column for the BBC.

32-year-old Webber, who drives for Red Bull, said his leg is now becoming stronger after not encountering any complications from either the bone injuries or the wounds caused by the compound breaks.

"Hopefully I will be walking quite soon and once that happens the whole curve accelerates quite quickly," he said.

"I have lost a sizeable chunk of my aerobic fitness but I am very confident that come the last few tests I will be in very good shape again."

Webber is scheduled to return to the car at the beginning of February, when his team gets its 2009 car up and running at Jerez.

He said he and new teammate Sebastian Vettel will then "share the load" at the three subsequent tests prior to the start of the season in Australia.

"I am extremely confident things will be right but if I have to adjust a few things if I get any soreness in the leg, then I will," Webber explained.

"I do not think I will be disadvantaged as a result of breaking my leg and I can tell you now that I will not be using it as an excuse in Melbourne.  I will be there ready to go."

Mercedes says Honda engine deal possible
(GMM)  Mercedes-Benz has now emerged as the most likely engine supplier should a buyer for the Brackley based formula one team currently known as Honda be found.

Although team boss Ross Brawn's links with Ferrari were expected to result in a supply of customer engines for the beleaguered outfit, Stefano Domenicali revealed this week that the chance of a deal with Honda is actually "close to zero".

Subsequently, on Tuesday, Mercedes' competition chief Norbert Haug told the website of the British magazine Autosport that supplying Honda in 2009 is a possibility.

"If there is a feasible solution with an investor for that team, we would be prepared to discuss it," the German said.

Mercedes-Benz, shareholder and works supplier of engines to McLaren, recently reached a wide-ranging technical collaboration with the formerly Ferrari-powered Force India.

Haug said Mercedes is also willing to help the Brackley based team "for the sake of formula one".

Ferrari analyze 'difficult' F60 debut
(GMM)  Following the "difficult" track debut of the F60 on Monday, Ferrari decamped to the engineering transporters on Tuesday to analyze the birth of its new 2009 single seater.

"After such serious rule changes, the shakedown is always a very difficult affair," Brazilian Felipe Massa, at the wheel of the Mugello debut, said.

"In the next tests there will be changes (to the car)," he revealed.

On Monday, the car - also hosting the circuit debut of a Ferrari KERS system - completed only about 100 kilometers.

Even the Italian marque's president Luca di Montezemolo was present for the roll-out debrief.  According to reports, the most troublesome areas of the F60 was KERS, and also the new front wing.

It is also suggested that the F60 features a radical solution to the new aerodynamic restrictions for 2009 in the area of the underbody.

Ferrari's aero-detailing of the side mirror mountings is also distinctive, and a subtly different color of red paint has been used because it is slightly lighter than last year's tint.

Following the Tuesday debrief, Ferrari chiefs arranged to depart Mugello and prepare for the car's proper test debut, alongside other teams next week at the Portimao circuit in Portugal's Algarve region.

"The season is going to be completely unique," team boss Stefano Domenicali said earlier this week.  "We have had to make a great many changes in a very short time, but I hope that from the outset we are competitive."

Technical director Aldo Costa added: "The car is not an evolution of the F2008.  Quite the opposite: we began with a clean sheet of paper and built a completely new car."

Davidson wants Friday third cars back in F1
(GMM)  Anthony Davidson believes formula one should re-introduce rules allowing teams to field a third car in Friday practice for test drivers.

The 29-year-old Englishman is disappointed his advanced talks with Honda about returning to the test cockpit in 2009 were foiled, but he admits that testing roles are no longer as valuable as in the past.

"These days it's not a very good job," he told the German-language adrivo.com.

"It is not what it once was because everything has been cut back so much."

Davidson was a test driver for the Brackley based outfit, then known as BAR and Honda, between 2001 and 2006, latterly running on the Fridays of grand prix weekends the year before he made his full time race debut for Super Aguri.

"We used to test for four days with three cars in Barcelona or even in Bahrain," he recalls of the past.  "They were fantastic times for test drivers.

"The Friday tests were also very good for us and it is really unfortunate that those opportunities for test drivers are no longer there.

"Drivers like myself, Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica had the chance to show in the Friday tests what we can do in a formula one car under pressure.

"We did a good job and all become proper race drivers.  Whoever didn't prove themselves on the Fridays did not get race cockpits.  It therefore functioned very well.

"It's bad enough that this opportunity is gone, and now all the other tests during the season have gone as well."

Davidson said he hopes to contest the famous Le Mans 24 hour race in 2009, and continues to hope for a test or simulator-development role with a formula one team.

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