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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Ferrari tested new pit system in Bahrain
  • Lauda says Hamilton doesn't need charisma
  • Drivers to leap out of KERS cars in 2009
  • Modena court fines McLaren spy engineers
  • No 'serious buyer' for F1 team yet - Honda

Ferrari tested new pit system in Bahrain
(GMM)  Ferrari appears on schedule to bring back its controversial 'traffic lights' pitstop system for the 2009 season.

The Italian team abandoned the unique automated system late last season following several incidents, including at the Singapore grand prix where Felipe Massa dragged the fuel hose down the pitlane.

Team manager Luca Baldisserri, however, said recently that engineers have improved the system so that the car will be electronically prevented from driving away if the fuel hose is attached.

It has now emerged that Ferrari trialed the revised system, which by the use of sensors, buttons and lights replaces the traditional 'lollipop' holder, at the recent Bahrain test.

Lauda says Hamilton doesn't need charisma
(GMM)  Niki Lauda has played down reports he derided 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton as lacking charisma.

The former triple world champion and German-language commentator told the Austrian news magazine Profil recently that the modern sport produces drivers who have failed to develop personalities.

"The only kind of charisma someone like Lewis Hamilton has is his (pop singer girlfriend) Ms Scherzinger," Lauda, who turned 60 on Sunday, was quoted as saying.

But in a subsequent interview with Italy's La Stampa, the winner of 25 grands prix backtracked and claimed his comments about the British reigning world champion were "misinterpreted".

But he added to the Italian newspaper: "Anyway, charisma doesn't make you any faster."

Drivers to leap out of KERS cars in 2009
(GMM)  Formula one drivers have been given advice about how to dismount their cars as the controversial new energy re-use technology KERS is set to be introduced this season.

It is unclear how many teams will actually deploy their systems in Melbourne late next month, but it is nonetheless obvious that meticulous preparations for the potentially dangerous technology has been used in the development and testing phase.

At the winter test tracks, mechanics wear big rubber gloves to touch the cars, which bear 'high voltage' or other warning stickers and signs alongside the usual sponsor decals.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, meanwhile, claims that clothing manufacturers associated with F1, such as Puma, are developing special racing boots that would prevent the drivers from being shocked as one of their feet touches the ground and the other the KERS-equipped car.

The newspaper also asked Sebastian Vettel if fear of electrocution was the reason for his springboard-style leap from his new Red Bull after a breakdown at the recent Jerez test.

Observers saw the German driver climb from his driving position onto the RB5's bulkhead before performing a huge two-footed jump onto the track.

"I would rather jump too highly than not highly enough," the 21-year-old said.

Modena court fines McLaren spy engineers
(GMM)  An Italian court has closed another chapter of the F1 'spy saga' by fining four engineers of the McLaren team, according to reports emerging from Italy.

Dailies including 'Il Resto del Carlino' said agreements with the British engineers Mike Coughlan, Rob Taylor, Jonathan Neale and Paddy Lowe, relating to the knowledge of secret information belonging to Ferrari, were reached.

The agreements with the Modena court include fines of 150,000 euros apiece for Taylor, Neale and Lowe, and 180,000 euros for Coughlan, the Mercedes-powered team's sacked former chief designer who allegedly originally received the 780-page Ferrari dossier from Nigel Stepney.

Stepney, who was sacked by Ferrari, is also being pursued by Italian prosecutors for the espionage as well as the alleged sabotage of the Italian team's Monaco-bound 2007 cars.

No 'serious buyer' for F1 team yet - Honda
(GMM)  Honda is yet to find a "serious buyer" for its formula one team, the Japanese carmaker's outgoing chief executive Takeo Fukui told a news conference on Monday.

"There are various offers for the team but we have not seen any serious buyer yet," he is quoted as saying.

"We find the sale process difficult."

Fukui's comments follow speculation that the interest of the Virgin Group might have scuppered the finalization of a management buyout headed by Nick Fry and Ross Brawn and some other chiefs of the Brackley based team.

30 days remain until scrutineering for the 2009 season opener in Australia.

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