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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Barrichello hopeful, Senna 'upset'
  • Schumacher makes surprise visit to Jerez
  • Rivals predict 2009 dark horses
  • Massa confirms Ferrari 'role' has changed
  • Mansell says Hamilton crown "less credible"
  • FIA asks Bridgestone to change 2010 tires

Barrichello hopeful, Senna 'upset'
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello has indicated he is set to prolong his record-holding formula one career for at least one more year, while countryman Bruno Senna admits his hopes for the vacant Honda seat have faded.

It has been reported this week that, despite rookie Senna's strong links with the Brackley based team throughout the winter, the soon-to-be-renamed outfit has plumped instead for an unchanged driver lineup.

"My faith says that next week I'll be driving a competitive car in the tests in Barcelona -- although I have no document in my hands that assures me of that," 36-year-old Barrichello, already in Britain awaiting developments, told Sao Paulo's O Estado newspaper.

25-year-old Senna, meanwhile - the nephew of Barrichello's late mentor Ayrton Senna - admits he met with team boss Ross Brawn on Wednesday "and he cancelled" their prospective collaboration for 2009.

"I'm kind of resigned to trying something else," he told the same newspaper, amid speculation the 2008 GP2 runner-up might switch to the German touring car series DTM.

Senna said: "I'm just a little upset because this situation has dragged on for so long, making me lose better professional possibilities.

"Now I'm going to get together with my family, with my advisors, and decide what way to take."

An announcement about Honda's plans for 2009 is possible on Friday, when it is expected the newly Mercedes-powered car may be debuted at Silverstone.

The team, likely to be known as Brawn Racing in 2009, did not comment.

Schumacher makes surprise visit to Jerez
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher made a surprise appearance at the Jerez test on Wednesday, his first public outing since a sizeable motorcycle testing crash and visit to hospital last month.

The 40-year-old former seven time world champion was wearing Ferrari team uniform and headphones, and was spotted trackside, in the pitlane and the pits, and at one point in conversation with Mark Webber, who like Schumacher in 1999 is facing a racing comeback from a broken leg.

Observers said the team advisor, who arrived in a hired Alfa Romeo, was seemingly not able to move his neck completely freely.  He will return to observe Thursday's action at the Spanish circuit, a Ferrari spokesman confirmed.

"Michael is here advising Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen for two days," Luca Colajanni is quoted as saying by Bild newspaper.

Rivals predict 2009 dark horses
(GMM)  Red Bull Racing and Toyota have been singled out as possible dark horses ahead of the 2009 world championship.

When asked about the winter form of other teams this pre-season, Renault driver Fernando Alonso said: "Ferrari are always fast, like McLaren.

"Toyota have been very good these past days.  We are competing against huge rivals, all giving a hundred per cent, and hoping that they will fail," the Spaniard was quoted as saying by Diario AS at the Jerez test.

On the last two days of the Spanish session - initially in the wet but on a dry track on Wednesday - Toyota's Timo Glock was quickest at the wheel of the new TF109.

Renault's winter form with its unique R29 has been varied, as Red Bull, Toyota and Williams have changeably impressed.  Numerous voices in the pitlane suggest BMW-Sauber may be sandbagging.

Alonso's teammate Nelson Piquet added: "Red Bull seem really fast, but you know that Ferrari and McLaren will be faster.  I believe BMW is just behind the top two and then it's the rest of us."

Ferrari driver and 2008 runner-up Felipe Massa told Italy's Corriere dello Sport: "It looks as though Red Bull and Toyota are going to be strong."

Massa confirms Ferrari 'role' has changed
(GMM)  Following his championship challenge of 2008, Felipe Massa has confirmed that his "role" within the Ferrari team has changed.

Initially seen as a 'number two' driver for first Michael Schumacher and then Kimi Raikkonen, the 27-year-old Brazilian has steadily found his feet and last year only failed to beat Lewis Hamilton to the title by a single point.

"For sure my role has changed," he said in an interview with Italy's Corriere dello Sport.

Massa said he has felt his influence at the Maranello based team grow steadily since 2007, when he compared strongly with the highly-rated and paid Raikkonen.

"You become more of a point of reference," he explained.  "Today, that is what I am; a point of reference for the development, for the daily tasks.  And that appeals to me: to motivate; to be at the heart of things."

In the interview, Massa was also asked what he expects this season of F1's new world champion, his 2008 rival Hamilton.

"The same as always: competitive," he answered.  "He is a phenomenon for sure, but he is not the only one."

Mansell says Hamilton crown "less credible"
(GMM)  1992 world champion Nigel Mansell claims his championship success 17 years ago was more "credible" than the formula one crown of his young countryman Lewis Hamilton.

55-year-old Mansell, a winner of 31 grands prix, dominantly won the 1992 drivers' championship in a field including names like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.

The race grid also boasted 26 cars in 1992, moving Mansell to surmise that the challenge of winning in the modern era is not as great.

"No disrespect to Lewis but what's the point of a championship where you only have 18 or 20 cars running?" he is quoted as saying by The Sun.

"When I won the title, I beat 25 other cars.  That makes Lewis' title 20 per cent less credible than mine," Mansell said.

FIA asks Bridgestone to change 2010 tires
(GMM)  Bridgestone's tires for the 2010 season will feature a bigger difference between the widths of the fronts and rears, a report in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport magazine claims.

Some teams at Jerez this week have been testing proposed changes to the Japanese supplier's products for next year.

It is said that, due to the reintroduction of slicks this year at the same time as radical changes to the aerodynamic regulations - as well as the introduction of KERS - the dimensions of the 2009-specification tires are producing more than expected levels of rear wear.

F1's governing FIA has reportedly asked Bridgestone to change the ratio of tire width for its 2010 tires, either by widening the rears, or supplying a narrower front tire.

"We have to admit that we made a mistake," FIA president Max Mosley is quoted as saying.  "We should have anticipated that the rear tires would be a weak point."

The result, in 2009, is that by producing a better car balance by moving the weight distribution overly forwards, the benefit of the KERS energy re-use systems is effectively negated.

Mosley confirmed: "We will ask Bridgestone to change the tire dimensions for 2010."

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