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Latest F1 news in brief
  • No 'plan B' for Button in 2009
  • Bourdais admits US return was possible
  • Hartley named 2009 Red Bull reserve
  • Senna still has future in F1 - Barrichello
  • Mosley to face parliament over UK press
  • Heidfeld drops below 60kg for 2009
  • Innovations flow as test period nears end
  • Points change not yet on FIA agenda
  • Brawn GP can be 2009 surprise - Haug
  • Hamilton to receive MBE on Tuesday
  • 'Mixed emotions' as Brawn becomes team owner

No 'plan B' for Button in 2009
(GMM)  Jenson Button and Toro Rosso did not have talks about teaming up in 2009, Franz Tost insisted on Monday.

While a spokesman for 29-year-old Button said other options existed following the withdrawal of the carmaker Honda, Toro Rosso chief Tost denied speculation that one of them was a move to replace Sebastian Vettel.

"To be honest, Jenson was never a choice for us," said Tost, despite the fact that confirmation of Sebastien Bourdais' contract was announced only recently.

"As far as I know Jenson Button has an agreement with Honda and therefore there was never any negotiations with Jenson Button or his management," the Austrian added.

Briton Button, an impressive fourth quickest in the new Brawn GP car as all teams began testing at Barcelona, seemed to confirm Tost's comments by admitting that his "plan B" for 2009 was to "not race" this year.

He has accepted a more than 50 per cent cut to his contracted retainer, with Ross Brawn's team to survive fundamentally on money provided by the departed Honda.

Button said he is relieved the team has not folded.

"What would I do sit at home?  There's nothing out there for me at the moment.  In five or six years, if this sort of thing happened, then I might walk away and look to do something else.  But that's not my aim at the moment," he said.

Also attending Brawn's maiden test on Monday was Brawn himself, Button's father John and teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Bourdais admits US return was possible
(GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais has confirmed he explored the possibility of returning to America this year, before his Toro Rosso contract for 2009 was signed.

Team boss Franz Tost on Monday insisted there was always an unwritten "agreement" for the Frenchman to race a second year with the Faenza team, even if the actual contract was only signed at the end of January.

While the secondary Red Bull team considered teaming up with Takuma Sato in the meantime, 30-year-old Bourdais - a highly successful champion of the US-based open wheeler scene - admitted he considered re-crossing the Atlantic.

"Yes, obviously it was an alternative.  I'm a professional driver and the worst thing that could have happened to me was not to have a seat, not to drive," he told reporters at the Barcelona test.

"So I investigated different things, and going back to the States was one of them."

Hartley named 2009 Red Bull reserve
(GMM)  Brendon Hartley, a 19-year-old New Zealander, will be reserve driver for both Red Bull teams in 2009.

The news was confirmed on Monday as Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost spoke with reporters at the Barcelona test.

"We (Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing) will share the third driver.  It is Brendon Hartley, who is the driver from the Red Bull driver pool," the Austrian said.

Japanese grand prix veteran Takuma Sato, previously the favorite for the reserve role and also a Toro Rosso race seat, last week revealed he was disappointed an agreement with Red Bull could not be reached for this season.

Hartley, who contested British F3 last year, recently qualified for a mandatory FIA superlicense by completing the requisite mileage at a winter test.

Senna still has future in F1 - Barrichello
(GMM)  Bruno Senna's hopes of racing in formula one have not been dashed despite him missing out on the second seat at Brawn GP.

That is the assurance of the Brazilian youngster's countryman Rubens Barrichello, who admitted on Monday that he has not spoken with his "good friend" for several months while they were both in the running for the drive.

"I tried to ring him (now) and have left a message on his answering machine.

"I wish him all the very best," Barrichello, whose mentor when he entered F1 in the early 90s was Senna's late uncle Ayrton, said at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"For someone who has three or four years of experience, he has done fantastically well and he has a future in formula one," the 36-year-old added.

Barrichello admitted one of the bitterest moments of the winter was an "absurd" report that Senna had secured a three-year deal with the team formerly known as Honda.

But the veteran of 271 grands prix now insists that 25-year-old Senna, who has been linked with a move to DTM and this week tested a Le Mans prototype car, would have been fully qualified to move into F1.

"I'm just lucky that at this time formula one has changed a little bit, and because of the lack of testing it is going to more experienced (drivers) again," Barrichello added.

Mosley to face parliament over UK press
(GMM)  Max Mosley, the FIA president who last year was embroiled in a tabloid sex scandal, will face the UK parliament on Tuesday.

Together with Gerry McCann, the father of missing British child Madeleine McCann, the pair will address Westminster MPs as part of an inquiry about press standards, privacy and libel.

Mosley, 68, faced intense pressure to stand down as head of F1's governing body last year after the News of the World tabloid revealed his alleged "sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers".

McCann, meanwhile, is expected to be asked about the libel action against Express newspapers, who were ordered to publicly apologize to the family and the McCann's holiday companions following press accusations.

The parliament committee is reportedly probing whether "the balance between press freedom and personal privacy is the right one".

Heidfeld drops below 60kg for 2009
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld, already one of the two lightest men on the formula one grid, lost a full 2.5 kilograms ahead of the 2009 season.

The diminutive BMW-Sauber driver, who topped the timesheets at the end of the first day of Barcelona testing on Monday, now tips the scales at 58 kilos, Germany's Bild newspaper reports.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa is also believed to weigh 58kg, with the pair set to benefit most from the introduction of heavy KERS systems this year.

"Never in my life had I counted calories.  I would not have thought I had anything to lose," Heidfeld said.

"But this winter I paid attention to taking in less carbohydrates and fat and I trained harder than I ever have before," the 31-year-old added.

Innovations flow as test period nears end
(GMM)  With sweeping new regulations re-setting formula one teams' focus, the innovations have flown thick and fast at winter test tracks.

At Barcelona, for the final group test of the 2009 pre-season, more new ideas were on display, including a new variety of 'shark fin' engine cover on the Red Bull, and McLaren's radical new floor concept.

The shark fin on the RB5 driven by Mark Webber is the most visibly striking, extending all the way from the top of the roll-hoop air intake to the main elements of the rear wing.

The Red Bull Technology cars are also noteworthy and unique in the way the rear-wing endplates extend nearly all the way to the ground.

The technical boffins were also excited at Circuit de Catalunya by the new undercarriage of the McLaren MP4-24, with a section ahead of the rear wheels 'cut out' in a triangular shape.

Another unique bodywork 'cut out' on the Woking-designed racer can be found in the corner of the rear wing endplate.

Much has been said of McLaren's lack of test pace this winter, culminating in Heikki Kovalainen's spot at the bottom of Monday's timesheets, but test driver Pedro de la Rosa played down the speculation in interview with the Spanish newspaper AS.

"Nobody knows what everybody else is doing in the testing," he said.  "We are relaxed and plan many changes before the start of the season."

De la Rosa insists the recent chopping and changing of rear wings does not suggest an inherent problem with the rear of the car.

"We are doing a lot of comparative work with different configurations.  What has surprised us is that other teams are not doing the same," he added.

Also interesting is the different interpretations to aerodynamic detail in the area of the rear-view mirrors on the BMW-Sauber, Force India and Ferrari.

Points change not yet on FIA agenda
(GMM)  The FIA is yet to receive notice of the formula one teams' intention to install a new points system in time for the 2009 season.

The FOTA alliance announced the pending change at its Geneva press conference last week, but it must first be tabled for ratification by the World Motor Sport Council.

The only opportunity for this to happen is the meeting scheduled for March 17, less than ten days before the beginning of official action at the Melbourne season opener.

"If the points system is to be changed for this season, the Council must approve it on this day," FIA spokesman Richard Woods is quoted as saying by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Up to now, the teams have not placed a request," he explained.

Brawn GP can be 2009 surprise - Haug
(GMM)  Norbert Haug said he would not be surprised if Brawn GP continue their good form into the 2009 world championship.

Despite the uncertainty about the former Honda team's survival this winter, team figures remained bullish about their 2009 car.

With a customer Mercedes engine, the BGP001 - originally intended to be the Honda-powered RA109 - has now finally appeared at test tracks, and at Barcelona on Monday it was the fourth quickest of the entire field of 2009 cars.

Haug, in charge of Mercedes' motor racing programs, said: "I believe the people around Ross Brawn and Nick Fry have carried out good work.

"All the conditions to build a competitive car remained.  Ross knows how to develop a team to a competitive state, which he has proved often enough," the German added.

Hamilton to receive MBE on Tuesday
(GMM)  2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton on Tuesday will receive his MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The 24-year-old McLaren driver was named a recipient in the New Year Honors late last year, having become the youngest ever drivers' title winner.

"I am very fortunate to have been awarded for achieving my dream," the Briton said.

'Mixed emotions' as Brawn becomes team owner
(GMM)  Ross Brawn had "mixed emotions" when the formula one car bearing his name rolled onto the Barcelona tarmac on Monday morning.

That is the belief of veteran driver Rubens Barrichello, who will get his first taste of the Mercedes-powered Brawn GP BGP001 single seater at the Spanish circuit later this week.

Alongside new team owner Brawn, the 36-year-old Brazilian on Monday watched Jenson Button begin the car's test program.

Understood to have paid a symbolic British pound, Brawn became the team's 100 per cent owner following the Honda Motor Co's withdrawal from the sport.

"I don't think he ever thought he could become the owner," Barrichello told reporters at the Circuit de Catalunya.  "It was a solution for him to become an owner.

"The idea was always to sell the team to somebody who had money and who wanted to take the team on board and make it happen.

"I can't answer for him but I think he had mixed emotions when the car went out," added Barrichello.

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