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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Force India releases Liuzzi for A1 debut
  • Alonso, Kubica fans' choice for Ferrari
  • Put Schu on the pitwall, Lauda tells Ferrari
  • KERS not to blame for teams' struggles
  • Trulli reveals Abruzzo earthquake 'shock'
  • Experts think 4pm Sepang start wiser
  • Also Rosberg, Heidfeld, unwell in KL

Force India releases Liuzzi for A1 debut
(GMM)  Force India test and reserve driver Vitantonio (Tonio) Liuzzi has signed to race for the Italian team in the open wheeler championship A1GP.

The 27-year-old's debut in the series will take place this weekend in Portugal.  The next round in the UK does not clash with the F1 calendar, but the May 24 finale in Mexico takes place on the same weekend as the Monaco grand prix.

With the ever-tightening restrictions on track testing in formula one, Liuzzi said he is "really looking forward" to returning to racing.

"Racing is the thing I like to do most," he said.  "I am pleased that Vijay Mallya and Force India agreed to release me for these races so I can feel the adrenalin of a race atmosphere again."

A1 Team Italy would not confirm if Liuzzi will be available to race in Mexico.

Liuzzi has contested 39 grands prix, most recently for Toro Rosso in 2007.

Alonso, Kubica fans' choice for Ferrari
(GMM)  As far as Italian sports fans are concerned, Ferrari made the right choice in signing Fernando Alonso for the future.

It is a well-known secret that the Spaniard has inked a deal to move to the Maranello team either in 2011 or (depending on Kimi Raikkonen) even next year.

A survey conducted by La Gazzetta dello Sport claims the 27-year-old is the driver most Italian fans want Ferrari to put into a red car.

Alonso captured nearly 42 per cent of the total vote, ahead of Robert Kubica (24.6%), Felipe Massa (16.8%) and Kimi Raikkonen (8.9%).

Of the five drivers cited, Lewis Hamilton netted the lowest percentage of the vote, with 8.2 per cent.

Put Schu on the pitwall, Lauda tells Ferrari
(GMM)  As Ferrari staged a nearly 3 hour 'crisis meeting' at Maranello, Niki Lauda leapt to the defense of Michael Schumacher.

It is believed that Schumacher, the Italian team's former seven time world champion and advisor, was not invited to the meeting chaired by president Luca di Montezemolo.

The meeting followed Ferrari's worst start to a world championship since 1992, where after the Malaysian grand prix at the weekend the Italian and German press chided Schumacher's role in the strategy blunders.

Even French newspapers joined in, one suggesting that Sepang proved that 'the Schumacher myth is over'.

"There should be more respect for a seven time world champion," his manager Willi Weber told Sport Bild.

Former triple world champion Lauda, although scolding the team for making a wrong call last Sunday, now defends Schumacher.

He deflects the criticism to Ferrari, for leaving Schumacher's actual role too ambiguous.

"If I was Ferrari I would have Michael on the pitwall," said the Austrian, "and not half-way here and half-way there.

"He would be making decisions a hundred times better than some engineer.  What would I say to Ferrari?  'Use his experience!  Put him up there!'  There is no-one better," Lauda added.

It is rumored that Stefano Domenicali does not have plans to summon Schumacher to the third round of the championship in China next weekend.

KERS not to blame for teams' struggles
(GMM)  A cursory assessment tells another tale, but KERS is not responsible for the struggles of some formula one teams this season, Pedro de la Rosa insists.

At the opening two races of 2009, only seven cars used the voluntary energy recovery technology, while fully non-KERS teams including Brawn, Toyota and Williams excelled.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen grappled with his malfunctioning KERS unit throughout the Sepang weekend, and Fernando Alonso believes Renault should reconsider its deployment of the heavy technology prior to China.

But McLaren test driver de la Rosa told Spain's Marca newspaper: "Our problems are in other areas, not KERS.

"If it was just a matter of getting rid of it and going faster, we would have done that already," the Spaniard added.

"We are not using it for commercial reasons or anything like that, it is simply that it makes us faster.  The balance of the car is almost identical with or without (KERS).  It does not harm us," de la Rosa insisted.

It is also true that, while assessing the wisdom of deploying KERS, Alonso burst up the grid from ninth to third at the start in Malaysia.

Williams is fine-tuning an unique flywheel-based KERS system, and technical director Sam Michael said: "We want it on our car as soon as possible."

Trulli reveals Abruzzo earthquake 'shock'
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli has revealed his 'shock' to hear about the devastating earthquake in his native region of Italy.

The 6.3-magnitude quake struck the central Abruzzo region on Monday, about the same time that the Toyota driver was aboard a plane bound for Frankfurt from Kuala Lumpur.

At least 150 people were killed in the worst Italian quake in 30 years, many are still trapped under rubble, and up to 100,000 people homeless.

"As soon as I landed in Frankfurt I received a call from my mother who told me about the tragedy," Trulli, who was born in the Abruzzo region, told Corriere dello Sport.

"I am shocked, but selfishly I can say that my family is far from the epicenter," he added.

Experts think 4pm Sepang start wiser
(GMM)  A compromise between fully daytime and a 'twilight' start time for next year's Malaysian grand prix is likely.

In the wake of Sunday's rain-drenched and shortened evening race, organizers questioned the wisdom of the twilight concept, while Bernie Ecclestone expected to reap the benefits of hugely better television figures.

Indeed, the respectively German and British RTL and BBC broadcasters have confirmed hugely superior ratings compared with one year ago.

Moreover, following the 'twilight' debut in Melbourne last month, viewing figures for the Australian grand prix were double those of 2008 and three times higher than in 2007, Formula One Management has announced.

But experts at the verge of the races widely agreed that while a 5pm start worked fine for Melbourne, the earlier sunset and evening weather of Malaysia means a tweak for 2010 and beyond is necessary.

"I think (next year's race) should start at 4pm," Williams technical director Sam Michael admitted.

Also Rosberg, Heidfeld, unwell in KL
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso was not the only formula one driver grappling with less than perfect health in Malaysia last weekend.

Many regular pundits were surprised at Sepang, when the Spaniard openly admitted he would face the official Malaysian action at substandard fitness with an ear infection.

Indeed, the other two drivers struggling with minor ailments at the event kept quiet, perhaps for fear of attracting the attention of the FIA, or not wanting to admit to their rivals a weakness on the eve of battle.

Throughout the Malaysia weekend, Williams' Nico Rosberg felt "quite ill" with a cold or 'flu, he now reveals.

The German said the complaint is "typical" of the Sepang race.

"We're always going into and out of air conditioning because of the heat, and it's only so long before your body cries 'enough'," Rosberg said.

It also emerged that Nick Heidfeld struggled through the weekend with an unidentified virus.

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