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DATE News (chronologically)
03/31/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Brawn's financial future still unclear - Button
  • Ferrari to use KERS in Malaysia despite concerns
  • FOTA rift plays into Ecclestone's hands
  • New rules make overtaking harder - Glock
  • New full-time driver for F1 medical car
  • Malaysia to show if Renault car is 'good' - Alonso
  • Nakajima fit to race despite sore hand

Brawn's financial future still unclear - Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button was all smiles as he lapped up the sun and spoils of victory before jetting to Malaysia, but he admits winning the Australian grand prix is no guarantee of a sound future for Brawn GP.

As he took in a light lunch near the beach with his new girlfriend Jessica at the Stokehouse restaurant near Albert Park, he told reporters he is so excited about the 2009 season that he is having trouble sleeping at nights.

But although reaping the benefits of departed Honda's huge investment last year, the long development path of the BGP001 car, and a power boost in the form of customer Mercedes-Benz engines, 29-year-old Button admits the car's mostly blank livery tells another story.

"We haven't got the budget but, hopefully, we will and hopefully people will take an interest in what we have done with a pretty plain (liveried) car," the Briton is quoted as saying by the UK's Express tabloid.

The much-feted Virgin linkup, estimated by analysts as worth millions of dollars in terms of TV exposure alone in Melbourne, is still just a $500,000 two-race deal, with most of the 2009 budget coming from money pledged by Honda in order to keep the team alive and avoid staff redundancy payouts.

Button, who led a one-two victory for the Brackley camp last Sunday, added: "Our factory and facilities are very good, it is just whether we've enough money to run the machines.

"I am hoping and guessing it is going to be ok.  It would be a waste otherwise," said Button.

Ferrari to use KERS in Malaysia despite concerns
(GMM)  Ferrari will again use active KERS systems throughout the Malaysian grand prix weekend, despite suspecting the technology played a role in the team's lack of pace in Australia.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali said problems managing the tires at Albert Park was a leading factor in the F60's struggle for speed.

"Tire use is also linked to KERS, so there are many things that we need to understand now very quickly," the Italian is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Many teams, having spent a lot of time and money developing the newly allowable energy re-use technology in the winter, decided that the compromise in weight distribution is not offset by the 82 horse power bursts.

Domenicali said BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica - not running KERS - had a similar strategy in Melbourne last Sunday "but they did not destroy the rear tires like we did".

"It is something that we must consider: the KERS and the weight distribution," he added.  "But in Malaysia we will use KERS again."

FOTA rift plays into Ecclestone's hands
(GMM)  Two of the most prominent figures of the FOTA team alliance are at loggerheads over the 'rear diffuser' saga.

Despite other chiefs of the Formula One Teams Association insisting that on-track issues are separate to FOTA's totally unified efforts, Renault boss Flavio Briatore could not hide his anger at Ross Brawn last weekend.

Briatore chairs FOTA's commercial aspect, while Brawn is in charge of technical matters.

Toyota is also tangled up in the diffuser saga, as one of the teams being protested against, and its president John Howett is the FOTA vice-chairman.

"I don't like the behavior of the FOTA technical delegate (Brawn), who should have reported this thing immediately," Briatore told the Italian media.

"Brawn should have been fair.  Three months ago he should have come to us to tell us there are two interpretations over the diffusers.  When I go to the FIA or to Ecclestone, I go in the name of the FOTA, not Renault's.

"I don't like the fact that a FOTA representative didn't relate things transparently," he added.

Brawn dismissed Briatore's comments as overly emotional, but it is clear the row is playing into the hands of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, who see FOTA's unity as a threat to their power.

"Can I put something in your mind?" Bernie told the Times newspaper prior to the season opener last week.

"Ross Brawn is the guy that runs the teams' technical committee and probably knows what's going to happen before other people, or is in a position to guide things.  There's a massive conflict of interest," the Briton said.

New rules make overtaking harder - Glock
(GMM)  According to Timo Glock, F1's 2009 regulations have made it even harder to overtake some cars.

One of the main objectives of the new rules, including the introduction of KERS boost buttons and the radical shape of the bodywork, is to make passing less of a rarity.

But after last Sunday's season opener in Australia, Toyota driver Glock said he had rarely found following a rival car as difficult as at Albert Park.

"It's unbelievable how much downforce I lost behind him (Fernando Alonso)," the German told GP Week, when speaking about his battle with the Renault.

"Behind Kimi and the Ferraris it was a bit easier but with Fernando I had no chance and every time I was close enough I lost the downforce overall," Glock added.

The voluntary deployment of KERS technology, meanwhile, means that some cars this season are equipped with a power boost-button, while others - like the Toyota - are not.

27-year-old Glock revealed: "Every time I was behind a car it was a KERS car and I just lost the downforce, and when I was close enough they just pressed the (KERS) button and I had no chance."

New full-time driver for F1 medical car
(GMM)  The official formula one medical car has a new full-time driver.

Late last year, Alex Wurz and Sebastien Buemi stepped in to drive the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate, reportedly because its regular driver, Dr Jacques Tropenat, had fallen ill.

It is not known why Tropenat, a former Le Mans driver, has not returned to the role in 2009, but last year he was promoted to become the FIA's deputy director of medical affairs.

At Albert Park last weekend, 29-year-old South African race driver Alan van der Merwe made his debut as medical car driver, and he will remain in the role for the whole 2009 season.

The former BAR/Honda test driver landed the job due to his links with FIA official David Lowe, who was formerly van der Merwe's team manager at the Carlin British F3 team in 2003.

Van der Merwe has also raced in F3000 and A1GP, and in 2006 was Honda's driver for its Bonneville land-speed record attempts.

Malaysia to show if Renault car is 'good' - Alonso
(GMM)  Renault's pace in Malaysia this weekend will reveal whether the French team is set for a "difficult year", according to Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard qualified his R29 twelfth in Melbourne before racing to sixth, but he believes his speed at Albert Park may not reflect Renault's true form for the rest of the 2009 season.

"The (Australian) circuit is very unique making it hard to draw conclusions," he said in an interview with Spain's Diario Sport newspaper.

"We have to have a bit more patience.  In Malaysia if we don't go into the Q3 (qualifying phase) it will mean that we are probably not fast enough and we are going to have a difficult year," the 27-year-old added.

"I believe that we are going to be more competitive (at Sepang) but anyway it will give us a better idea of where we are," said Alonso.

He said his goal for Malaysia is to qualify in the top five.

Alonso explained: "It is a very demanding circuit for cars, the same with Shanghai, where we will really see who is fast and if we have a good car."

Nakajima fit to race despite sore hand
(GMM)  Kazuki Nakajima insists he is fully fit to tackle the Malaysian grand prix.

Just four days before he was due to begin practicing at the Sepang circuit, the Japanese driver had a heavy crash into Albert Park's concrete walls during the 2009 season opener.

The 24-year-old admitted blame for the lap-17 shunt and headed to the circuit medical centre for a precautionary check.

"Everything is fine and physically I am okay," the Williams driver said last Sunday.

However, Nakajima has now revealed that he knocked his hand in the impact at turn four.

"It was quite a big impact," he said, "but I'm fine except for a sore knuckle on my left hand.  I'll be fine to race in Malaysia."

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