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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Two more teams conclude 2009 winter
  • 'Rift' opens between F1 teams, authorities
  • New points system sparks more questions than praise
  • Todt severs last ties to Ferrari
  • Brawn car 'not illegal' - Barrichello

Two more teams conclude 2009 winter
(GMM)  Brawn GP, whose new name was being rubber-stamped by the FIA in Paris, returned to the top of the test timesheets on Tuesday as the Brackley based team's short winter program concluded at Jerez.

Jenson Button outpaced Williams' Nico Rosberg - who ended his pre-season with a crash - by two tenths.

Williams will conclude its winter program with Kazuki Nakajima on Wednesday and Thursday, as Brackley based Brawn and Renault now return to their respective headquarters in readiness for the trek to Australia.

McLaren is also staying at Jerez until Thursday.  World champion Lewis Hamilton continued the British team's poor form on Tuesday by being the slowest of the four runners.

It is clear the Mercedes-powered team is working hard to overcome its problems with the rear of the MP4-24.  On Tuesday 24-year-old Hamilton's diffuser bore a green tinge, with the team again reverting to using liquid dye to trace airflow.

'Rift' opens between F1 teams, authorities
(GMM)  The F1 teams' alliance FOTA reacted with "disappointment and concern" to the new FIA rules for 2010.

Headlining the World Motor Sport Council's decisions taken in Paris on Tuesday were the voluntary 33m euro budget cap for next year, and the immediate overhaul of the points system to crown the winningest driver 2009 champion.

"FOTA would like to express its disappointment and concern at the fact that these (decisions) have been taken in a unilateral manner," Ferrari and FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo said in a statement.

The Italian added that the budget cap risks "turning on its head the very essence of formula one and the principles that make it one of the most popular and appealing sports".

Montezemolo said FOTA will "study closely the new situation" and "do everything" to provide stability in F1 "without continuous upheaval, that can be perplexing and confusing for car manufacturers, teams, the public and sponsors".

FIA president Max Mosley on Tuesday acknowledged that the rules had been drawn up without first seeing FOTA's finalized proposals.

"We cannot wait," he insisted, "because new teams wishing to enter the 2010 championship will need to start work immediately."

The masterstroke of Mosley's scheme is that teams have been offered the option of retaining unlimited budgets with the current rules remaining stable until at least 2012, making it appear as if FOTA's objection is to the smaller budget-capped teams being offered more technical freedoms.

Indeed, as some of the FOTA teams are those who would benefit most from the 33m euro budget cap, The Times newspaper claims that the rules have been "cautiously welcomed" by some teams "outside of Ferrari and McLaren".

The Times speculates that Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone are using the initiative to "help to split FOTA", while the Financial Times referred to the new situation as a "dangerous rift".

F1 chief executive Ecclestone said: "What team can afford not to accept the new proposal?"

New points system sparks more questions than praise
(GMM)  The FIA's decision to overhaul the points system for 2009 was not widely welcomed in F1 circles.

Although the principle is simply to crown the winningest driver world champion, rather than he with the most points, the F1 teams' alliance FOTA only wanted to increase from 2 to 3 points the gap between first and second places.

FOTA said its rejected proposal was based on a global audience survey across 17 countries, raising the question of why the FIA instead plumped for a variation of Bernie Ecclestone's 'medals' idea.

"It would be a shame if, while encouraging drivers to do what they are paid handsomely to do by winning races, the FIA has adopted its own flawed scheme purely to snub the teams and keep them in line," a report in the Guardian newspaper said.

It is a fact that, if the new system was retrospectively applied to the 2008 results, Felipe Massa would have won the title.  "Are grand prix bosses out to get (Lewis) Hamilton?" the Daily Mail newspaper wondered.

Former driver, and now BBC commentator Martin Brundle told the Daily Telegraph: "What we may just have is some more exciting races, but whether it will generate a more worthy champion remains to be seen."

Another fact is that, again if retrospectively applied, the new points system alters the outcome of past world championships some 13 times.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who last week said FIA president Max Mosley would have made a better British prime minister than Tony Blair, made clear he supports the new scheme.

"This is what I proposed, just without the second and third place awards," he said.

"What it does is make drivers bloody well go for the win, rather than settle for second.  It will be real racing.  It's good for the fans and the sport," added Ecclestone.

Todt severs last ties to Ferrari
(GMM)  As predicted, former team boss and company executive Jean Todt has now stepped down from all his roles with the Ferrari marque.

The development was formalized on Tuesday at Maranello, where the annual Ferrari stockholders' meeting took place.

"Chairman Luca di Montezemolo announced Jean Todt's decision to resign his membership of the Ferrari board of directors and from all of the other positions he holds in the company," a statement confirmed.

63-year-old Frenchman Todt was appointed team principal in 1993, and he oversaw the subsequent highly successful Michael Schumacher era, before handing over the role to Stefano Domenicali in 2007.

Todt, however, retained a 'special appointments' responsibility after resigning as CEO, but we reported last month that he would shortly also step down as Ferrari's representative at the FIA World Council.

"Jean Todt has been one of the leading protagonists of the Ferrari story of the last 15 years," said Montezemolo.

The Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport said Todt's severing of all ties with Ferrari clears the path should he bid to become the next FIA president.

Brawn car 'not illegal' - Barrichello
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello has scolded suggestions that Brawn GP has pulled clear of the entire F1 field because the BGP001 is "illegal".

Up and down the recent Barcelona and Jerez test paddocks, it has been intimated that the former Honda might not only be running under the mandatory weight, but circumventing the regulations including in the area of the rear diffuser.

"You're asking are we legal?  When someone is behind it is easier to say your rivals are against the rules than to do better work.

"Our team is very much within the regulations," the Brazilian veteran insisted to Spain's Marca sports newspaper.

The test pace of the 36-year-old driver, and his British teammate Jenson Button, has led even cynical observers to contemplate that a winning Brawn could come close to lapping its nearest competitor in Melbourne next Sunday.

Barrichello said: "In Australia I believe we will be within the three strongest teams, these being Ferrari, Toyota and BMW, with (Renault's) Alonso who could be a surprise."

The handsome Brackley built chassis has received much of the credit for the incredible boost in form compared with the car's predecessor, but the move from an underpowered Honda V8 to Mercedes-Benz's engine should not be forgotten.

"It is very manageable, very powerful," Barrichello affirmed, "but I believe that the greatest secret is the team; the quality has always been there."

He is openly excited about the now-looming start to the 2009 season.

"I left Ferrari to find a team that would give me equal conditions, more freedom, not having to race for Michael (Schumacher), and now I have a strong car as well," said Barrichello.

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