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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Melbourne happy with F1 'twilight' racing
  • F1 needs clearer rules - Haug
  • Five teams already focused on new diffusers
  • Brawns could win every race in 2009 - Alonso
  • KERS 'no help at all' in Melbourne - Alonso
  • Schumacher questions Vettel penalty

Melbourne happy with F1 'twilight' racing
(GMM)  F1's first 'twilight' race was a success for Melbourne, Victorian state premier John Brumby said on Monday.

Despite some drivers complaining of poorer visibility, he said the television images beamed around the world as the sun set low in the sky "couldn't be better".

Sunday's official crowd figure at Albert Park was 105,000, three thousand less than for the 2008 afternoon race.

But major events minister Tim Holding said: "We're in very difficult economic times, so it's not unreasonable that people are cautious as to how they spend their money."

Premier Brumby backed organizers' agreement with Bernie Ecclestone to stage the race later in the day, to better serve the European TV audience.

"Melbourne is an absolute picture, Albert Park is a picture, and the vision, the images that are going overseas now at a better viewing time just couldn't be better," he said.

F1 needs clearer rules - Haug
(GMM)  F1 needs clearer rules in order to steer away from controversial race weekends, Mercedes' Norbert Haug insists.

Melbourne last weekend staged a highly-controversial 2009 championship opener littered with protests and technical infringements, and results blemished by the specter of looming appeal hearings.

"Controversy in formula one is as old as the sport itself," Haug told the news agency SID, "and it is quite often exaggerated at the first race of the season."

But the German stressed that "clearer regulations" would go some way to minimizing the controversies, for example in the rear diffuser saga and other areas of the technical rules.

"We have been demanding it (less vague rules) for a long time.  Different interpretations are fatal for the reduction of costs: obviously designing something twice costs twice as much," added Haug.

He said it is not good for the sport if the drivers who stand on the podium are only able to celebrate provisionally.

"That is a justifiable criticism," Haug admitted.  "We are no different to the fans in wanting absolute clarity."

Five teams already focused on new diffusers
(GMM)  At least five teams have already turned their attention to copying the Brawn-esque diffuser design, according to gossip as the Albert Park paddock packed up ahead of this week's dash to Malaysia.

The appeal against the stewards' decision to allow the controversial diffusers to race in Australia will only be heard in Paris next month, but it is rumored that BMW, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault are resigned to going down the path of readying for a negative outcome.

"For us it is not really possible to copy it," BMW's Nick Heidfeld told the German news agency SID, "because not everything on our car can be changed at short notice."

Red Bull's Christian Horner added: "The ramifications could be the whole rear half of the car which obviously has a huge amount of cost implications in a not fantastic economic time."

Whispers indicate McLaren is quite advanced with a 'double decker' diffuser design, and the Spanish newspaper Marca said Renault - despite boss Flavio Briatore's anger - is also working on the issue.

The sports newspaper said the same is true for Ferrari, while Fernando Alonso could be racing a new diffuser by the time of next month's Chinese grand prix.

"What is happening with the diffusers is stupid, forcing teams to spend money in a time of crisis," Briatore fumed.

"It is also about safety: we have already put similar pieces in our wind tunnel and it gives 14 per cent more downforce.  That is not in the spirit of the regulations.

"(And) once they are developed we could be talking 30 or 40 (per cent additional)," Briatore added.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said the team's design department began investigating the 'double diffuser' weeks ago during winter testing.

"There is lap time to be gained," he told the BBC.

"The diffuser issues opens up a development path that was not previously open.  That is potentially big performance gain because the floor is the most powerful aerodynamic tool on the car," Horner added.

Brawns could win every race in 2009 - Alonso
(GMM)  If the design of the 2009 Brawn car does not change, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello could win every race this season.

That is the suggestion of double world champion Fernando Alonso, whose Renault crossed the finish line sixth in Sunday's season opening Australian grand prix.

The Mercedes-powered BGP001 car - and also the Toyota and Williams - is the subject of high controversy, with many teams questioning the legality of its so-called 'double diffuser' at the rear.

The piece is the subject of a hearing on April 14 of the International Court of Appeal.

"They (Brawn) are on another level to everybody else," Spaniard Alonso told his native country's AS sports newspaper.  "They're running rings around us because they are playing in another division.

"If the Court does nothing on April 14, you can assume that they will win 17 races," the 27-year-old said.

It was rumored that McLaren might be set to join or actively support the appeal, but Mercedes' Norbert Haug told Germany's SID news agency that the team instead needs to put all its energy into making the MP4-24 more competitive.

But he said: "We agree totally with the protesting teams that a wrong interpretation of the regulations has been done."

Haug pointed out, however, that only "four per cent" of cases before the Court of Appeal succeed.

Former triple world champion Niki Lauda said it is simplistic to put the speed of the Brawn car entirely down to its diffuser.

"It has many precise, innovative and detailed solutions that altogether makes the car very strong," the Austrian told Germany's Sport Bild.

"To say that the diffuser alone is the secret is complete rubbish," he added.  "That's a cheap excuse.  The fact is, Ross Brawn has simply done the best job."

KERS 'no help at all' in Melbourne - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso was unimpressed with the performance of his KERS system in Sunday's Australian grand prix.

The Spaniard was one of just seven cars fitted with the controversial new energy re-use technology in Melbourne.

"It was not very useful," he told Spain's AS sports newspaper.  "In terms of lap time we knew it doesn't give us an advantage, but I used it when I was right behind Glock - without a KERS - and the truth is that it was no help at all.

"At this circuit there was no benefit.  But let's see what happens at tracks with very long straights, like Bahrain, or Monza," the Spaniard added.

Schumacher questions Vettel penalty
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher in Australia questioned the stewards' decision to penalize his countryman Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel, driving for Red Bull, apologized to his team and BMW's Robert Kubica for the crash near the end of the 2009 season opener.

The 21-year-old was also quoted by media as calling himself "an idiot", and it is believed he was equally as frank during the stewards' inquiry.

However, not everyone agreed that Vettel was entirely to blame, as he tried to defend his second place to the charging Kubica.

"He (Vettel) was on the inside -- he couldn't make his car dissolve into thin air," Ferrari advisor and seven time world champion Schumacher said at Albert Park, according to Germany's Bild newspaper.

1982 world champion Keke Rosberg remarked that Vettel may have been penalized because he is an overly "honest chap".

Stewards ruled that he caused the crash and ordered Vettel to start ten places lower than his qualifying position in Malaysia this weekend.

"I think it's hard but we just have to accept it," Sebastian said.

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