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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Trulli no fan of F1 'twilight' races
  • Renault slices a third off Alonso's pay
  • Raikkonen 'chubby, lazy' in 2008 - Coulthard
  • FIA to consult teams over 2010 scoring change
  • Red Bull ready to protest over diffusers
  • Hockenheim future still unclear after meeting
  • Warm and dry, but Buemi expects GP rain
  • Fisichella expects no points from early races
  • FIA raises Albert Park pitlane speed limit
  • Coulthard appointed Red Bull reserve

Trulli no fan of F1 'twilight' races
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli on Wednesday made clear he is not a big fan of the move to 'twilight racing' in formula one.

This weekend's action in Australia, and again in Malaysia in just over a week, will take place notably later than usual for the benefit of European television audiences, but not late enough to necessitate expensive floodlighting.

Qualifying and the races are scheduled for 5pm local, meaning that by the end of the sessions, the sun will be low in the sky.

"I don't know about it," veteran Trulli, who drives for Toyota, told the Melbourne newspaper The Age.

"I've never raced before this late in the afternoon.  I don't know what the light is going to be.  In Singapore it was totally dark, with lights.  This will be different again.

"In truth, I prefer the sunny day time," the 34-year-old Italian added.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa this week also referred to the later timetables for the opening races of the 2009 championship.

"The first race is always a bit like a leap in the dark, but I can't wait.  As the race starts at 5pm let's hope that it won't also end in the dark!" the Brazilian joked.

Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella said: "It may be a bit darker at the end of the race, but I don't think this will change a lot for the drivers."

Renault slices a third off Alonso's pay
(GMM)  The cut to Fernando Alonso's 2009 retainer represents more than a third of his originally contracted pay, it has emerged.

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore on Tuesday revealed that the Spanish driver, and his teammate Nelson Piquet, agreed to reduce their salaries in reaction to the global recession.

The Milan magazine 'Chi' said the Italian did not mention figures, but the British newspaper Daily Mail claims that 27-year-old Alonso's reduction was from about 13m (euro) in the original contract, to just over 8.5m.

The newspaper did not say how much Brazilian Piquet was due to earn this season, but it is claimed the 23-year-old was one of the sport's lowest earners who will now be paid just 270,000 (euro).

Raikkonen 'chubby, lazy' in 2008 - Coulthard
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen needs to put in more effort if he wants to return to contention for world championships, a former teammate of the Finn claims.

David Coulthard partnered the now 29-year-old Ferrari driver at McLaren between 2002 and 2004.

But the Scot, who retired as a race driver and this week touched down in Melbourne for his new role as a TV pundit and Red Bull advisor, believes Raikkonen let his game slip last year.

In 2008, Raikkonen was outclassed by his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa, ultimately trailing the title runner-up by 22 points.

"Massa has proved himself a world-class driver and Raikkonen should be there, but we saw a chubby, lazy driver, slightly lethargic-looking, last year," Coulthard told the Daily Star.

"I think it could go either way with him.  Has he still got the hunger?  He's a supreme talent, but he's not putting the effort in," the 37-year-old added.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali this week said 2009 is an "important season" for Kimi, who seems "motivated and thinner -- three kilos (lighter) they tell me".

FIA to consult teams over 2010 scoring change
(GMM)  The teams will be consulted before changes to the points system are made for the 2010 season, a spokesperson for the governing FIA has confirmed.

The Paris body's apparently unilateral and eleventh-hour decision to install the 'winner takes all' system for this year was rejected by the teams' alliance FOTA.

The development moved Bernie Ecclestone to observe that the process has simply been delayed for a year, moving Mercedes' Norbert Haug to insist that there is "enough time" for "constructive conversations" to take place before then.

FOTA's own proposal, apparently backed by market research, was to tweak the current system so that race winners score an extra point over his runner-up.

If the rejected 'winner takes all' system was retrospectively applied to the 2008 results, Felipe Massa would now be world champion, having won more races than Lewis Hamilton.

But the Ferrari driver said in Melbourne: "I'm really not interested, I'm interested in what's right for our sport.

"A driver might win more races, but might be very inconsistent in his performance, not gaining many points.  In this case I think he wouldn't deserve the title," Massa added.

The FIA on Wednesday officially confirmed that the scoring system for 2009 will be the same as it was last year.

Red Bull ready to protest over diffusers
(GMM)  Red Bull is ready to protest the legality of the rear diffusers of three rival 2009 cars.

The energy drink marque's motor racing advisor Helmut Marko earlier this week declared that seven teams are "united" in their belief that the Brawn, Toyota and Williams cars fielded in winter testing were "illegal".

Reports that Red Bull had already lodged a protest were wide of the mark, because the cars to be raced at Albert Park this weekend are only due to be presented to scrutineers on Thursday.

But Marko has clarified that if the dubious aerodynamic solutions are indeed presented in Melbourne, "we'll make a protest".

"We'll make a protest on Thursday if the component isn't modified to conform to the regulations," the Austrian said.

Hockenheim future still unclear after meeting
(GMM)  The future of Hockenheim's formula one race remains unclear despite expectations a definitive verdict was due to be declared on Wednesday.

The local council, majority owner of the German venue, was instead urged by the Baden-Wurttemberg state to wait on the outcome of talks between premier Gunther Oettinger and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

It is said that German carmakers Mercedes and BMW are also urged to participate in any meeting, even though all the stakeholders have so far refused to pledge financially towards Hockenheim's multi-million euro race losses.

Instead, the spotlight has fallen on the Oettinger government, and the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper on Tuesday said financial backing is possible.

Warm and dry, but Buemi expects GP rain
(GMM)  Despite some rain on Wednesday, the weather report for this weekend's Australian grand prix weekend looks warm and dry.

However, the only rookie in the 2009 field, Toro Rosso's 20-year-old Swiss Sebastien Buemi, revealed that his information is slightly different.

Asked by the Swiss morning newspaper Le Matin how he is feeling ahead of his grand prix debut, Buemi said in Melbourne: "I believe I am fully prepared, even though as a team we would have preferred more tests with the new car.

"But there is nothing more we can do about it, we will have to make the best of what we have.  However it appears that it will rain on Sunday -- that could help us," he revealed during a shopping outing in the city.

Thursday and Friday should be sunny and in the 20s, before clouds move above Melbourne for qualifying and race days.

However, rain is not widely forecast.

Fisichella expects no points from early races
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella is expecting a difficult start to Force India's 2009 championship this weekend.

While the Silverstone based team has been bullish about its expectations for its new collaboration with McLaren-Mercedes, the winter test program for the 2009 car was short.

A new bodywork package and KERS system for the VJM02 single seater is not scheduled to arrive until after the initial overseas races, leading veteran Fisichella to predict a "very hard" title opener in Melbourne.

"We have tested very little, so my goal is to make a good start, stay clear of incidents and reach the finish," the Roman told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

He does not expect Force India to be able to make much development headway during the Friday practice prior to the races.

"On the Fridays we will be working very hard to be ready for the races and to have a good setup.

"My feeling is that while later in the season we will be in a position to be in the points, in Australia we will have to be most concentrated on reliability," 36-year-old Fisichella added.

FIA raises Albert Park pitlane speed limit
(GMM)  The FIA has raised the pitlane speed limit for the Australian grand prix.

Last year, cars were limited to a maximum of 80kph on the Sunday of the Melbourne event.

In 2009, while a limit of 60kph will have to be observed during all other official sessions, drivers will be allowed to speed up to 100kph in the pitlane during the race.

Coulthard appointed Red Bull reserve
(GMM) Recently-retired grand prix veteran David Coulthard will return to action at Albert Park this weekend, should any of the four Red Bull race drivers fall foul of fate.

Because the energy drink company's preferred 2009 reserve driver Brendon Hartley has not obtained a mandatory superlicense in time, 37-year-old Coulthard - already in town as a TV pundit and team advisor - has been given the nod.

It is believed the Scot's role is only temporary, with Red Bull - owner of both Red Bull racing and Toro Rosso - still intending to push for 19-year-old Hartley to be granted the FIA credential.

Coulthard, however, who contested nearly 250 grands prix between 1994 and 2008, will nonetheless attend every round of the 2009 world championship.

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