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Latest F1 news in brief
  • FOTA to discuss Brawn's 30m on May 6
  • Senna confirms F1 remains goal for 2009
  • Ferrari aim to revive KERS for Bahrain
  • Piquet's Renault to have diffuser in Bahrain
  • Webber backs Shanghai safety car start
  • Vettel cut his finger on Shanghai podium
  • Toyota to shed up to 150 F1 staff
  • McLaren boss says foes 'out to get us

FOTA to discuss Brawn's 30m on May 6
(GMM)  The FOTA meeting that could cost the Brawn team up to 30 million euros has been scheduled for May 6, the week of the Spanish grand prix.

Furious about the diffuser saga, Flavio Briatore - FOTA's commercial chief - will propose at the meeting that Brawn GP not receive any of the sport's TV or travel revenue for at least three years.

"I don't want to be Robin Hood," the Spanish press quotes the Renault boss as saying, "but I do not have money in my budget for a diffuser and I cannot finish the season a second behind Brawn.

"I believe the distribution of the money must be reviewed," Briatore said.

Briatore also said in Shanghai last weekend that he will move to oust Ross Brawn as head of FOTA's technical committee.

The German news agency SID reports that 70 per cent of the teams would have to agree that money due to the Honda team in 2009 be paid to the new Brawn guise.

Ross Brawn was reluctant to comment.

"I'm not going to respond.  It's a shame that he brings those things into the public arena as they're FOTA business, but that's his style.  I'd rather not talk about it," he said.

Senna confirms F1 remains goal for 2009
(GMM)  Bruno Senna has confirmed suggestions that his goal is to enter formula one perhaps as soon as this season.

The 25-year-old Brazilian last week turned down Mercedes-Benz's offer of a 2009 seat in the German touring car series DTM.

German news agency SID reports that the reason for the snub is that Norbert Haug could not guarantee the 2008 GP2 runner-up a formula one seat for 2010.

It is claimed that Senna is now holding out for a drive this year, as names including Giancarlo Fisichella, Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Bourdais and Nelson Piquet come under increasing pressure to perform.

"Formula one is the goal, which is subordinate to everything else this year," said Senna, whose uncle Ayrton died during the 1994 San Marino grand prix.

SID reports that his biggest hope of a vacant cockpit this year is for the one currently occupied by his countryman Rubens Barrichello.

"Bernie (Ecclestone) told me that I should not too tightly commit myself (outside of F1)," Senna admitted.

Ferrari aim to revive KERS for Bahrain
(GMM)  Ferrari will try to reinstate a KERS system into its package for this weekend's Bahrain grand prix.

Due to reliability and safety concerns, the Italian team pulled the technology from its F60 single seaters in China.

The heavier Kimi Raikkonen didn't seem to mind not having the power boost, but diminutive Felipe Massa admitted in Shanghai that it is "definitely a handicap in my case".

"This is another area where we must work, to go back to using it as soon as possible," said the Brazilian.

Substantial improvements for the car will have to wait until Barcelona next month, but team boss Stefano Domenicali said Ferrari will attempt to bring back KERS immediately.

"The car will be the same as here," he said before leaving China, "even though we will look at running the KERS again."

Down from seven in Australia and Malaysia, only three cars were using active KERS systems in the Chinese grand prix.

Renault has for now withdrawn the technology, with staunch opponent Flavio Briatore quoted in the Spanish media as saying the energy re-use systems would best be used as "anchors in the sea".

"We are going to analyze the data, the numbers.  BMW were most in favor of them and it seems they have discarded it now," the Italian said.  "I believe it has been a dramatic exercise in throwing away money."

Brawn GP is not yet using McLaren-Mercedes' customer unit, but boss Ross Brawn believes KERS will be "a crucial aspect in the second half of the season".

Piquet's Renault to have diffuser in Bahrain
(GMM)  Nelson Piquet's Renault will be upgraded to feature a 'double diffuser' in time for the Bahrain grand prix.

Mechanics of the French team worked frantically on Fernando Alonso's R29 in Shanghai, after a single set of new components was sped from the UK factory to China aboard Flavio Briatore's own jet.

It was suggested in the Shanghai paddock that, to accommodate the large diffuser, the seats of Briatore's Lear jet had to be removed.

So rushed was the development, meanwhile, that when it was fitted to Alonso's car for Saturday practice, it caught fire after mere laps.

"I feel bad for Piquet, that he could not have it too," the team boss is quoted as saying in the Spanish press.

Briatore said it is certain that the Brazilian driver's Renault will be upgraded in time for the Bahrain grand prix this weekend.

The Spanish newspaper Diario AS, however, said the underperforming Piquet's days at Renault could be numbered.  Takuma Sato, Alex Wurz, Lucas di Grassi and Romain Grosjean were named as potential successors.

Webber backs Shanghai safety car start
(GMM)  Formula one drivers backed the controversial decision to start Sunday's Chinese grand prix behind the safety car.

For most spectators, the start of a race is arguably the most exciting element of a grand prix weekend.

In the Shanghai rain, however, not only was the start called off, the race then fell into an eight-lap monotony of slow driving behind the safety car.

But podium sitter Mark Webber said FIA race director Charlie Whiting's decision was spot on.

"I think we've seen the safety car work quite well on releasing the field in a much more controlled fashion," the GPDA director said.

The Red Bull driver recalled Spa 1998, when an aquaplaning car triggered the biggest start-line crash in F1's history.

"Now we have different methods to maybe make the race a bit safer to start," said Webber.

He also urged circuit officials to improve water drainage ahead of the next race in China.

"I must say, an incredibly challenging grand prix for the drivers and one that was right on the limit for safety," said the 32-year-old.

The only rookie in the field, Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi, backed Webber's stance, while Sebastien Bourdais told the media he does not believe the race should have gone ahead at all.

"To try to start the race normally in those kinds of conditions could have led to a disaster," Buemi told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Vettel cut his finger on Shanghai podium
(GMM)  It was a bittersweet podium ceremony in Shanghai not only for Red Bull, but also the team's grand prix winner Sebastian Vettel.

We have already reported that whoever was in charge of the post-race ceremony at the Shanghai International Circuit played the wrong national anthem to mark the Austrian energy drink-owned constructor's win.

Instead of the Austrian song 'Land der Berge, Land am Strome' being played to honor owner Dietrich Mateschitz, the loudspeakers instead proclaimed 'God Save The Queen', presumably because while Red Bull races with an Austrian license, the team is based in Milton-Keynes.

Bild newspaper, meanwhile, reports that 21-year-old German Vettel sustained a slight injury on the podium as he handled his winner's trophy.

Photos show the Red Bull driver sucking the side of his thumb, and he revealed to the German publication: "When I was raising the cup, I cut myself, no big deal.

"I put on a sticking plaster and still went to the party," he joked.

Toyota to shed up to 150 F1 staff
(GMM)  Toyota will shed up to 150 formula one staff at its Cologne headquarters by the end of 2009, team president John Howett has revealed.

The local newspaper Express said the cuts are a reaction to the diminished F1 budget, brought on by rule changes including the test ban and restrictions on wind tunnel use.

"I estimate that by the end of the year we will have around 100 to 150 fewer workers compared to the beginning of the year," Howett is quoted as saying.

McLaren boss says foes 'out to get us'
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh has denied that a team rift could lead to Lewis Hamilton's premature departure from McLaren.

It was reported last weekend that the reigning world champion is now enduring a trying relationship with many of his mechanics.

Reports said the mechanics lost faith in Hamilton, 24, after the 'lie-gate' saga cost long-serving Dave Ryan his job, while at the same time the British driver made veiled threats about leaving the team.

Hamilton then fuelled the speculation further by twice refusing to simply answer "yes" when asked by reporters in Shanghai if he will honor his full five-year commitment to McLaren.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh told the Mirror: "Lewis has come to me at the last two grands prix and told me he loves the team and this is where he wants to be.  He's asked me what he can do to help.

"This talk of him being disliked by his mechanics over what happened to Davey is just rubbish.

"The reality is that there is an agenda here: some people are out to get us," Whitmarsh continued.

Whitmarsh believes Hamilton's mixed popularity is a failure to understand the two distinct sides of his personality.

"Champions have to be hard as nails, but Lewis is different because he also has this humanity and that gets misunderstood sometimes," he said.

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