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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Good weather at last in Bahrain
  • Letter invites angry F1 drivers to IndyCar
  • Petrobras rules out '09 Honda/Senna backing
  • USF1 not interested in Honda team bailout
  • F1 overhaul could hurt 'show' - Mark Webber
  • More F1 theme parks possible

Good weather at last in Bahrain
(GMM)  After sandstorms ruined last week's running in the island Kingdom, the three teams in Bahrain were relieved to find perfect conditions on Monday as a second consecutive test kicked off.

Christian Klien, the fastest of the trio in the BMW-Sauber, as well as Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Jarno Trulli did much more than 100 laps apiece, and were separated on the final timesheet by just half a second.

"It was a very intense day," said Raikkonen.  "We tried to make up the time we lost last week."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told the Italian newspaper La Stampa: "Fortunately the sandstorms are over."

Letter invites angry F1 drivers to IndyCar
(GMM)  With a tongue-in-cheek "open letter", America's IndyCar series has offered to house formula one drivers who do not want to pay the FIA's high Superlicense fees.

In a response to the disgruntled Grand Prix Drivers' Association's (GPDA) letter of last week, FIA president Max Mosley told F1's stars that they should switch to more affordable categories if they believe their current mandatory credentials are too expensive.

In the GPDA letter, the F1 drivers compared the cost of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton's 2009 license - $270,000 (USD) - with the flat $4000 fee per license charged by NASCAR.

"Please note that an IndyCar Series license fee is only $1,000 -- a bargain that includes your/three guest hard cards for venue admittance, participant accident medical insurance coverage and other benefits," the fictitious open letter signed by "Indy Racing League management" and posted on indycar.com read.

"There are no closing fees, user fees, points fees or even landing fees for your aircraft," it added.

The most recent Champ Car license cost $2500.

Petrobras rules out '09 Honda/Senna backing
(GMM)  Petrobras, the former Williams sponsor that was set to switch to Honda in 2009, has ruled out becoming involved with the Brackley based team's new guise.

It has been reported that, with Brazilian rookie Bruno Senna at the wheel, the Rio-based energy company as well as Embratel might support the Nick Fry and Ross Brawn-led attempted management buyout.

But even though a deal was believed to have been in place for Petrobras to sponsor Honda this year, the Japanese manufacturer's shock withdrawal from the sport voided the contract.

Petrobras' head of sponsorship Claudio Thompson is quoted by Brazil's TV Jornal as saying he has "no idea" where the most recent speculation came from.

Senna, meanwhile, confirmed that he has "good chances" to race with the Brackley team in 2009 if it survives, but insisted that "no contracts have been signed with anyone".

The Brazilian newspaper O Globo, meanwhile, carried an official statement from Petrobras, with Thompson insisting the company is not interested in a solely commercially-based relationship with a team.

"When Honda announced it was leaving formula one, we also decided to stop because all the teams funded by automakers already have fuel suppliers for 2009," the statement read.

Petrobras also said it is not interested in sponsoring individual drivers.

Meanwhile, Honda team principal Ross Brawn told the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport: "The less that is spoken, the greater the chance that we can save the (Honda team) project."

USF1 not interested in Honda team bailout
(GMM)  USF1, the prospective American formula one team targeting a 2010 debut, prefers setting up a brand new entrant than rescuing the embattled Honda outfit.

That is the admission of Ken Anderson, one of the principal USF1 figures working on establishing a Charlotte (North Carolina) base with a secondary European season headquarters in northern Spain.

It has been suggested, however, that with Honda on the market for a token fee and with state-of-the-art facilities at Brackley (UK), USF1 might be wiser to step up as the outfit's savior.

But Anderson told the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell that there is more to the Honda situation than that.

"In the same way you could go and buy GM, because those shares are cheap," he said, referring to the embattled American carmaker that is said to be facing bankruptcy.

F1 overhaul could hurt 'show' - Mark Webber
(GMM)  Despite the efforts to increase overtaking, Mark Webber thinks F1's "show" could actually be negatively affected by the sweeping 2009 rules changes.

In an effort to make it easier for drivers to pursue and pass their rivals, the cars' aerodynamic profiles have been totally overhauled, and measures like KERS and cockpit-adjustable front wings introduced.

But when asked if the racing is set to be closer and better this season, Red Bull's Webber answered: "Not necessarily.

"I think the time gaps (between the cars) will be bigger," the Australian said in interview with motorline.cc.

"Last year if the gaps (between cars) in qualifying were about two tenths, this year it will be maybe four tenths.

"You can calculate how big the gaps will be after three laps.

"Everyone says the show needs to be improved, but last year there were some exciting races.  The last two years have been absolutely spectacular.

"They're dreamers if they think they can make the show better," said Webber.

The 32-year-old also said too much overtaking is actually boring, as "oval racing" in America demonstrates.

"It's not very exciting if there are 10,000 passes every race: it has to be a challenge.  It is not meant to be easy, otherwise it's like IndyCars, not very exciting."

Webber observed that even though the aerodynamic profile of the cars has changed dramatically, arguably the biggest obstacle to overtaking - F1's extremely short braking distances - remains the same.

"We are still going to brake really late, and here (at Jerez last week) we're not lapping much slower than last year.  The limit is the limit."

More F1 theme parks possible
(GMM)  More official F1 theme parks could be constructed around the world, an executive of developer Union Properties says.

'F1-X', the sport's first official theme park, is set for completion in Dubai later this year.

Through an agreement with Formula One Administration, Dubai based Union Properties has exclusive rights to the concept of F1 theme parks.

The Emirates Business publication said talks have already begun with "a number of countries".  "We are still at the discussion stage regarding F1-X theme parks abroad," marketing officer Michael Jackson said.

Jackson admitted that the global financial crisis has changed the company's business strategy for 2009, but insisted that all existing projects are "ongoing".

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