Latest F1 news in brief
- 'Honda' saga rambles on as Melbourne looms
- Force India missing from FOTA meeting
- No panic despite bad test day for Hamilton
- Kovalainen hopes for McLaren KERS advantage
- '08 Spa GP posts 3.8m euro loss
- Webber still limping around F1 paddock
- Senna hints at Mercedes-DTM link
- Massa proposes title for F1 'test champion'
'Honda' saga rambles on as Melbourne looms
(GMM) Only 20 days remain until official scrutineering at Albert Park, and yet the fate of the team commonly known as 'Honda' or 'Brawn Racing' is still yet to be clarified.
It seems clear that team boss Ross Brawn's management buyout has been successful -- he attended the FOTA meeting in Geneva on Wednesday, even though the subsequent statement did not mention his affiliation with a specific team.
Britain's The Sun newspaper, however, confidently "revealed" that the 700 workers at Brackley will be formerly told of the buyout on Thursday, even though a "small number" of jobs may be lost.
The Press Association, meanwhile, reports that the Mercedes-powered 2009 car will be shaken down at Silverstone on Friday ahead of a four-day test at Barcelona next week.
Citing an unnamed source, the news agency also said an official announcement is expected before the beginning of the Spanish group test on Monday.
At the same time, the Dutch morning newspaper De Telegraaf linked the Honda buyout with the Dutch sports car maker Spyker, who amid financial difficulty sold its team to Force India at the end of 2007.
Asked about the speculation, a Spyker spokesman issued a "no comment" to the Dutch website f1today.nl.
Force India missing from FOTA meeting
(GMM) Team owner and boss Vijay Mallya, or another representative of Force India, was missing from Wednesday's meeting of the FOTA alliance in Geneva.
In a press statement, the Formula One Teams Association attached a photo of the gathering, which confirmed the Indian billionaire's team was not represented as final discussions about a blueprint for the sport's future were held.
The statement said "senior management from the FOTA-affiliated" teams had met ahead of Thursday's press conference in the Swiss city.
Many teams, including Renault, Ferrari, Toyota and McLaren had two representatives present, while Ross Brawn - who heads up FOTA's technical arm - was there despite the lack of confirmation about the survival of the team commonly known as Honda.
Christian Horner and Franz Tost both attended, even though their respective Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams are both owned by the energy drinks brand.
It is believed Mallya will be present at Thursday's press conference, where the FOTA proposals - devised with the aid of worldwide market research - will be announced.
Changes to qualifying and the points structure are believed to be on the agenda, as will be the mandatory revealing of more team data including radio transmissions.
No panic despite bad test day for Hamilton
(GMM) A less than shining day of testing for McLaren on Wednesday has raised alarm bells for the title hopes of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The 23-year-old Briton, however, who at one stage returned to the Jerez pitlane with the rear of his MP4-24 on fire, did not seem troubled as he met with the press while his Mercedes-powered car was fixed.
"We're just testing, who knows?" Hamilton, whose car "overheated" according to Germany's Bild newspaper, answered.
"We'll find out when we get to the first race."
In the field of eight 2009-specification cars, however, Hamilton was quicker only than Adrian Sutil's similarly Mercedes-powered Force India at the end of the day, and a full 1.3 seconds off the pace of Wednesday's quickest driver, Fernando Alonso (Renault).
Moreover, the Woking based team has again reverted to using a 2008-specification wide and low rear wing, despite two different 2009 wings being fitted to the MP4-24 earlier this week in Spain.
Kovalainen hopes for McLaren KERS advantage
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen on Wednesday admitted he is hoping few teams touch down in Australia later this month not intending to deploy new KERS energy re-use technology.
The Finnish driver told reporters at the Jerez test that he is "99 per cent confident" the system in his McLaren MP4-24 will be used at the first grands prix of 2009.
Several rival teams, including Toyota, Red Bull and Williams, have declared that their respective cars will not be fitted with the systems at Albert Park.
It is therefore possible that McLaren are the most advanced in the field in terms of the preparedness of KERS, but Renault and Ferrari also seem likely to race it, and BMW-Sauber has always been the staunchest advocate of the controversial technology.
Kovalainen, 27, said: "Hopefully other people don't get it and we get it, but there are other good teams around and I wouldn't underestimate anyone.
"I wouldn't be surprised if many of the other teams had it (in Australia) as well," he added.
'08 Spa GP posts 3.8m euro loss
(GMM) Organizers of the Belgian grand prix are concerned about the financial figures from last year's running of the much-loved formula one race at Spa-Francorchamps.
According to RTL Belgium, the event held in September last year made a loss of 3.8 million euros, moving the promoters to conclude that the displaced spectators of the French grand prix must now be targeted for attendance at Spa in 2009.
The report also revealed a Sunday attendance last year of 52,000, a full 10,000 fewer than in 2007.
Webber still limping around F1 paddock
(GMM) Mark Webber on Wednesday was still limping as he made his way around the Jerez circuit paddock.
The Australian, fifth fastest of the eight 2009-specification cars at the penultimate group test of the pre-season, nonetheless clocked up more than 100 laps -- the third-highest tally in the field at the wheel of his Red Bull.
"The hardest thing is walking at the moment -- I am going easy on a bike and it's easy in the car," said the 32-year-old, who badly broke his right leg in a cycling crash last November.
Earlier this week at the Spanish venue, Webber was spotted in conversation with Ferrari advisor Michael Schumacher, who ten years ago recovered from a broken right leg to win the next five world championships consecutively.
"I have absolutely no problems in the car and actually I prefer it that way than the other way around -- walking beautifully and having problems in the car," Webber was quoted as saying by the Australian news agency AAP.
Senna hints at Mercedes-DTM link
(GMM) Bruno Senna has effectively confirmed speculation he is close to signing with Mercedes-Benz for the German touring car series DTM in 2009.
The 25-year-old Brazilian admitted this week that his chances of making his formula one debut had been scuppered, as the rescued team commonly known as Honda opts instead for the experience of grand prix veteran Rubens Barrichello.
Mercedes' competition boss Norbert Haug on Wednesday confirmed that talks with Senna about DTM are taking place.
And Senna is quoted as saying by Germany's Sport Bild: "Now I have to try to remain as close as possible to a manufacturer that is also represented in formula one."
Massa proposes title for F1 'test champion'
(GMM) After proposing shorter grand prix distances, Felipe Massa has now been quoted as suggesting another reform to improve formula one's appeal.
The Ferrari driver told reporters at the Jerez test earlier this week that, separate to the traditional contests for the drivers' and constructors' titles, a "testing championship" could be inaugurated.
"We could do two, three or four (test) sessions during the season -- not together but separately -- and make a 'testing championship' and the winner could take a bonus for the (world) championship," the 27-year-old Brazilian said.
Despite the new total in-season testing ban, Massa said the idea would increase the value of unofficial testing, potentially attracting "more sponsors" and "more media".
"Maybe we could have a nice practice in the morning and a big qualifying(-style session) in the afternoon," Massa added.
He said his proposal could involve also reforming the format of the official grand prix weekend, such as extending Saturday's events while scrapping the often unexciting Friday sessions "altogether".