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Latest F1 news in brief - 2
  • Brawn announces first on-car sponsor
  • Stewards say controversial diffusers legal
  • Hamilton becomes GPDA member
  • Comments show Surtees out of touch - Button
  • New role for Wurz, Davidson to be Brawn reserve
  • Button has new model girlfriend
  • Brawn set to shed 275 jobs - report

Brawn announces first on-car sponsor
(GMM)  Melbourne favorite Brawn GP on Thursday unveiled its first commercial sponsor.

The British clothing manufacturer Henri Lloyd will not only supply clothes and shoes to the former Honda team in 2009, its logo will appear on the Mercedes-powered car.

Stewards say controversial diffusers legal
(GMM)  The protest lodged by BMW-Sauber against three formula one teams' diffuser designs was thrown out by the FIA stewards.

It is reported that the paperwork fell foul of a simple technicality, although the other similar protests - signed by Red Bull, Renault and Ferrari - went ahead.

The verdict was expected later on Thursday, but it did not arrive until about midnight.

The stewards cleared the designs, but the protesting teams are likely to now appeal, with a hearing not able to be held until after the Malaysian grand prix.

It is believed a central theme of the arguments against the diffusers is that, despite the loophole, the three teams' interpretation contravenes the spirit of the downforce-reducing rules.

"If this is ruled to be legal there will be much more scope than has been made use of so far by the three teams," BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen said.

It is also rumored that, should the diffusers ultimately be allowed, BMW will be unable to design one due to limitations of the gearbox dimensions.

Another whisper in the Albert Park paddock is that even this diffuser issue can be traced back to F1's power struggle.

Renault and Red Bull have outlined how, when they asked the FIA about designing a diffuser with a similar concept, the answer was that it would not be allowed.

It is has therefore been suggested that by clearing Brawn, Williams and Toyota's designs, the FIA was able to cause tension within the FOTA team alliance.

Toyota's team president John Howett said: "We used the consultation process with the FIA technical department and we are satisfied that they verified our interpretation."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the row is not a threat to FOTA's unity.

"This is a sporting and competitive issue, it's nothing personal against the teams, it's simply looking to clarify regulations and our interpretations and others has been different."

Howett agreed that there are no hard feelings.

"It's part of the sport we're in," he said.

Hamilton becomes GPDA member
(GMM)  World champion Lewis Hamilton is now a member of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

Until now, the McLaren driver has resisted joining the drivers' representative body, arguing he did not feel ready for the responsibility.

But in Melbourne he told reporters that he signed up after talks with GPDA president Pedro de la Rosa, his Woking based team's test driver.

"I just felt comfortable and sat down, had a good chat with Pedro and I said yes because it is something where perhaps I can contribute," the 24-year-old said on Thursday.

Comments show Surtees out of touch - Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button on Thursday was reluctant to weigh into suggestions by a British racing legend that he should have been sacked by Brawn.

The 29-year-old Englishman, the bookies' favorite to win the 2009 season opener this weekend, was asked to respond to 1964 world champion John Surtees' claim that his efforts in the last two years should have led to his departure.

"Look at Button -- frankly, I wouldn't have confirmed him with the team," said 75-year-old Surtees.

"If you don't give 100 per cent even when the car is not so good, you have to be sacked.  You can't be good just when you have a good car, but even when you don't."

Speaking to the press at Albert Park, Button accused the winner of 6 grands prix as being out of touch.

"If they are making those comments they obviously don't know the situation within F1 these days," he said.

"More importantly to me, I just hope that the fans see the situation and they don't read everything and every comment that someone says," said Button.

New role for Wurz, Davidson to be Brawn reserve
(GMM)  Alex Wurz will not be Brawn's test driver in 2009 because the team cannot afford him, chief executive Nick Fry was quoted as saying from Melbourne.

Austrian Wurz, renowned as being among the best and most well paid development drivers, was already under contract when the former Honda team changed hands over the winter.

But Fry told the Austrian news agency APA: "We are not rich enough to employ a third driver.

"Alex will still be with us, but he will have different tasks.  We want to work with him, but he is not going to be driving for us," Fry added.

It is reported that Anthony Davidson, presumably not as expensive as 35-year-old Wurz, has been nominated Brawn's reserve driver.

Button has new model girlfriend
(GMM)  A new girlfriend has accompanied Jenson Button to the 2009 Australian grand prix.

Jessica Michibata, a 24-year-old Japanese fashion model, was in the Albert Park paddock on Thursday, and whispers said she is dating Brawn's British driver.

Brawn set to shed 275 jobs - report
(GMM)  Brawn GP has informed its 700 Brackley based staff that 275 of them will be made redundant.

The team changed hands following a management buyout over the winter, following former owner Honda's decision to withdraw from formula one.

The local newspaper Banbury Guardian said staff were informed of the impending job losses by letter.

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