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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Wet, dark Malaysian GP likely - forecast
  • Sepang slams Malaysia's waning F1 interest
  • Williams aims to keep up with Brawn in Malaysia
  • Big teams confirm new diffusers in works
  • Honda executives applaud Brawn success
  • Toyota drops Trulli podium appeal

Wet, dark Malaysian GP likely - forecast
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg's fears about fading light combined with heavy rain look set to be realized at the Malaysian grand prix this weekend.

"If the monsoon comes down, the race is going to have to be stopped," the German driver said this week.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department is predicting thunderstorms at Sepang all week, worsening between Friday and Sunday.

Combined with the 5pm start, to better suit the bulk European TV audience, there is a risk the skies above the Sepang circuit could be very dark.

"I hope for a safe race but on Monday it rained heavily during the predicted race duration," track boss Razlan Razali told the local Star newspaper.

Sepang slams Malaysia's waning F1 interest
(GMM)  Government support for Malaysia's formula one race has waned, according to Sepang circuit boss Razlan Razali.

It has been a quiet promotional build-up to the 2009 edition, and Razali blames the Malaysian government's indifferent tourism ministry.

Recent reports indicate that ticket sales are also down.

"There's only so much that we can do," he told the New Straits Times.

"We simply don't have the budget to transform KL (Kuala Lumpur) into an F1 city.  We don't see the tourism ministry doing their part, although this is an event that has direct impact on their area and it helps them the most," Razali added.

He said the government has not been involved at all in the promotion of the race overseas.

"The F1 race has been put aside," said Razali.

Williams aims to keep up with Brawn in Malaysia
(GMM)  Sam Michael is predicting a strong weekend in Malaysia for the Williams team.

Although the Grove squad is traditionally cautious rather than optimistic, technical director Michael was buoyed by the new FW31's form on the Albert Park circuit last weekend.

Nico Rosberg topped every timesheet at the 2009 season opener except in qualifying, and the German even set the fastest lap of the race before finishing sixth.

"If Nico had a clear track in front of him, only the Brawn was faster," Australian Michael is quoted as saying by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"On fast tracks we might even keep up with them," he predicted, then referring to this weekend's venue at Sepang which boasts "many more fast corners" than Melbourne.

Michael rejects his rivals' suggestions that teams like Brawn and Williams are only showing strong form because of their controversial rear diffuser designs.

"McLaren and Ferrari had to develop their 2008 cars right up to the end of the season, while Brawn and ourselves could concentrate early on the new rules," he said.

He also sounded hopeful that Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull's diffuser appeal later this month will fail.

"If they are not able to state better arguments than they did in Melbourne, they have no chance," said Michael.

Big teams confirm new diffusers in works
(GMM)  BMW, McLaren and Ferrari have confirmed that they have each commenced working on controversial 'double decker' diffusers.

We previously reported that Red Bull and Renault are going down the same path, despite their looming FIA appeal hearing against what they claim is a misguided interpretation of the 2009 rules.

Red Bull's Christian Horner said the team's design department began investigating the solution weeks ago.

BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen is now quoted in the German press as saying: "We cannot afford to wait until somebody says it is allowed or not allowed."

Mercedes' Norbert Haug added: "Naturally you have to prepare in case it becomes fully legal.  Every team that wants to win must work on it (the diffuser)."

Media reports say the cost of Ferrari's work on accommodating a double diffuser, involving substantial revisions to the entire F60, has been estimated at 20 million (euros).

"We are basically having to build a new car," an unnamed Ferrari team source is quoted by the Munich newspaper TZ as saying.

Honda executives applaud Brawn success
(GMM)  The Honda Motor Co. has congratulated its former formula one team for winning last Sunday's Australian grand prix.

Due to the global financial crisis, the Japanese carmaker announced its complete withdrawal from the sport late last year, handing over to Ross Brawn after a management buyout.

The Brackley based team's efforts last year, however, laid the foundations of the now Brawn GP-branded BGP001 single seater, which with Mercedes power in Australia qualified and finished in first and second places.

Moreover, the bulk of Brawn's 2009 budget was pledged by Honda to ensure the team remained a going concern for this season.

Ross Brawn revealed at Albert Park last Saturday that Japanese executives had been in contact with him to applaud his success.

"We are incredibly delighted that our teammates, with whom we worked until last season, have started from extremely difficult circumstances to earn this victory," Honda Motor Co. said in a statement.

It added: "Congratulations to the Brawn GP formula one team."

Toyota drops Trulli podium appeal
(GMM)  Toyota has decided to drop its appeal against Jarno Trulli's confiscated Melbourne podium.

The Italian's third place at the 2009 season opener became twelfth after stewards ruled he illegally overtook Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car.

Trulli and Toyota argued that he only passed the McLaren "as there was nothing else I could do", and indicated its intention to appeal.

We reported earlier this week, however, that post-race 25-second penalties are usually not admissible by the FIA Court of Appeal, and that Toyota was therefore considering whether to proceed.

Last year, McLaren's appeal against a 25-second penalty relating to Hamilton at Spa-Francorchamps was ruled inadmissible by the Court.

"It is believed that any appeal will be rejected on a procedural point," an excerpt of a statement issued by Toyota on Wednesday said.

Toyota said it has therefore decided "it would serve no benefit" to lodge a formal appeal.

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