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Latest F1 news in Brief
  • No 'harmony' between Red Bull drivers - Marko
  • Chaos creeps back into Ferrari culture - Lauda
  • Title favorites cautious after three races
  • Brawn's Ray-Ban deal is 'cut-price' - report
  • Haug hopes Vettel to drive McLaren 'some day'
  • Renault racing back to front in F1 - Briatore
  • Even McLaren not committed to KERS

No 'harmony' between Red Bull drivers - Marko
(GMM)  "Harmony" is not the word to describe the relationship of Red Bull's two drivers, according to team advisor Helmut Marko.

"No.  Rather, I would call it healthy competition," the Austrian, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right-hand man in racing matters, told sportnet.at.

Before the 2009 season began, Marko admitted that Australian Webber's average lap time deficit to 21-year-old Vettel, at a half a second, was "too much".

Now, the gap is smaller, he agrees.

"In the beginning Mark resisted using Vettel's setup.  He would not accept it.  Now he uses it because it is just faster," Marko said.

Not only is Webber eleven years older than Red Bull's new arrival, Vettel has contested 97 fewer races but already won twice.

The 32-year-old Webber, who broke his leg and shoulder in the winter season, qualified behind Vettel in Shanghai and then finished second to him in the race.

"I have been incredibly determined to get in the best condition I can and the best shape possible to overcome the injuries that I have had to give this youngster (Vettel) a hard time and so far it is working and we are pushing each other hard," he said.

Team owner Mateschitz told Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper: "Mark has proved that he is one of F1's best drivers.  The combination of our pair is ideal.

"What we wanted is two drivers who are on the limit and can push each other, and that is so," the Austrian billionaire said.

Chaos creeps back into Ferrari culture - Lauda
(GMM)  The Italian press unloaded on the famous Ferrari team in the wake of the Chinese grand prix.

Not since 1981 has the Prancing Horse kicked off such a bad start to a championship, leading the national La Repubblica newspaper to muse that after three point-less races, "disastro" is too moderate a description.

It is impossible in this moment not to recall Ferrari's often calamitous past, before the efficient and dispassionate German, French and British influences of Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt and Ross Brawn respectively oversaw the highly successful era of the early 2000s.

"In those days," said Niki Lauda, who drove for Ferrari in the 1970s, "Ross, because he is English, was the ideal bridge between the Italians, with their spaghetti culture, and Schumacher, with his German efficiency.

"Now the Italians are running it all.  Does it work?  It could be chaos.  That's the problem," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Title favorites cautious after three races
(GMM)  The current state of F1's pecking-order will show that the 2009 championship tussle could ultimately be between Brawn and Red Bull.

Both teams have recorded dominant one-twos, and shared the victories at the opening trio of races this year.

But neither is willing to accept the tag of favorite as the sport looks ahead to this weekend's contest in Bahrain.

"Our main challengers are going to be Red Bull and Toyota," said championship leader Jenson Button.  "Toyota didn't have a good weekend in China but they are going to be strong."

The Brawn driver thinks the field will then close up when the circus returns from its overseas hiatus to Europe, and powerful rivals unfurl the fruits of their furious factory developments.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished comfortably first and second last Sunday in wet China, but team boss Christian Horner is refusing to characterize the development as the start of a championship challenge.

"It is too early to say," he is quoted as saying by the Telegraph.  "Don't forget that the sleeping dogs of McLaren and Ferrari are going to wake up soon.  You mustn't write them off."

And if weather reports of a fully dry race weekend for Bahrain are correct, Brawn's superiority could return, Red Bull's Webber warns.

Taking into consideration Q3 fuel loads, Brawn's Rubens Barrichello and Button in fact would have dominated qualifying in Shanghai.

"That car is definitely strong and they are the team that is the benchmark for every team to try to close in on," he told the BBC.

Brawn's Ray-Ban deal is 'cut-price' - report
(GMM)  Ray-Ban secured a cut-price deal to continue its sponsorship of the Brackley based formula one team.

The famous sunglasses brand also backed the team's former guise Honda in exchange for car branding, in a deal valued at (US) $2.5m by the sports financials magazine SportsPro.

The new Brawn deal, however, is worth just $500,000 for a single year, although the magazine said the value of the sponsorship is "likely to increase significantly" if it continues in the future.

The Ray-Ban logo appears on the helmet visors of drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

Brawn's new deal with the Swiss foreign exchange trading company MIG Investments, meanwhile, is thought to be worth $1.5m per year for three years.

"In a difficult economic climate, it is a positive sign that the appeal of formula one continues to attract new companies to invest in our sport," said team boss Ross Brawn.

Haug hopes Vettel to drive McLaren 'some day'
(GMM)  Mercedes-Benz is interested in seeing Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of a McLaren at some point in the future.

That is the admission of Norbert Haug, boss of the German carmaker's racing activities, in the wake of countryman Vettel's second dominant race win at the wheel of a Red Bull-branded car.

Haug has previously admitted Mercedes' interest in the 21-year-old German, who is under contract to the energy drink company until the end of next year.

"After that we will have to see, perhaps some day he will drive a silver arrows," he told the German newspaper Bild.

Vettel also has ties with BMW, with whom he debuted as a F1 test driver and first contested a grand prix, in the injured Robert Kubica's car at Indianapolis two years ago.

Part of Vettel's ongoing BMW deal, Mario Theissen confirmed, is that he drives an M5 on the road.

Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher said: "I can see him fighting now for the world championship."

Renault racing back to front in F1 - Briatore
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso could have finished behind the Red Bulls and Brawns in China, Renault team boss Flavio Briatore insists.

Ultimately, the Spaniard's low-fuel 'Q3' strategy was extinguished by the Shanghai rain and long safety car start, and he finished just ninth.

"If everything had gone perfectly, he could have been fifth.  And our car is even better than that," Briatore is quoted as saying by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

"I want to see a race with normal weather conditions because we are much more competitive (than before)," the Italian added.

Briatore insists that the revised R29 in Alonso's hands, complete with new 'double diffuser', was "faster than McLaren, Ferrari and BMW" in China.

And he added: "We have a big step forward for Fernando and Piquet in Barcelona."

Although promising a new diffuser for Nelson Piquet's sister car in Bahrain this weekend, Briatore was not complementary about the Brazilian's performance last Sunday.

"I can understand it happening once, but (in China) it was like a contest: if you spin the most you get the most points," Briatore said.

Even McLaren not committed to KERS
(GMM)  Even McLaren is not staunchly committed to using its KERS system throughout the entire 2009 formula one calendar.

Amid reliability and safety concerns for its system, Ferrari took the controversial energy re-use technology off its cars in Shanghai.

Renault's two cars also did not feature KERS in the Chinese grand prix, despite using it in Australia and Malaysia.  Robert Kubica tested the system aboard his BMW last Friday but it was withdrawn for qualifying and the race.

As well as Nick Heidfeld, then, the two McLarens were the only cars using KERS in China, even though the huge front straight was theoretically ideal for the 82 hp bursts.

Ferrari will attempt to fit KERS to its F60 cars again this weekend in Bahrain, but McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh makes clear that his team is not staunchly committed to using the technology all season.

"Nothing is set in stone," the Briton is quoted as saying by motorsport-magazin.com.  "We will not have it in the car if we do not get an advantage from it," Whitmarsh added.

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