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DATE News (chronologically)
04/28/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Many teams clamor for budget-capped future
  • Teams race for Barcelona upgrades
  • Toyota, Red Bull, have no plans to use KERS
  • Kubica renews criticism of stalling BMW team
  • Swine flu threatens Spanish grand prix
  • Piquet needs support not pressure - father
  • Tost agrees Bourdais too 'negative'
  • Mercedes can expect 'fair' punishment - Ecclestone

Many teams clamor for budget-capped future
(GMM)  Up to seven potential teams are eagerly awaiting the outcome of talks and decisions relating to annual budget caps in formula one.

FIA president Max Mosley is pushing for a low figure, currently 33m euros, but last week invited current teams to submit their proposals ahead of this week's World Motor Sport Council meeting.

The FOTA alliance replied that they need more time to discuss the issue, but the German newspaper FAZ reports that Williams, Red Bull, Brawn, Toro Rosso and Force India believe 60 million euros - not including driver salaries - is a workable number for 2010.

The budget cap has triggered many stories about teams wanting to enter formula one, including the British GP2 outfit iSport, who in 2007 won the feeder series with Timo Glock and last year ran runner-up Bruno Senna.

Already mentioned have been David Richards - who would enter either with the Prodrive or Aston Martin names - Lola and USGPE, but also interested is the Spanish operation Epsilon Euskadi, as well as the Campos outfit.

Tensions between the FIA and existing big F1 teams, however, are running high, and Ferrari and FOTA boss Luca di Montezemolo admitted on a visit to Bahrain that he is uneasy about the budget cap speculation.

"I personally have a lot of passion (for F1) and Ferrari has a lot of passion, but this is not a never ending story," he told reporters.

Teams race for Barcelona upgrades
(GMM)  Before the next grand prix in Spain, formula one teams will be engaged in a different race -- for development.

With the opening four flyaway races now complete, the outfits have decamped to their European bases to prepare for the first continental round of the season, in Barcelona next month.

Most - if not all - teams will unveil at the Circuit de Catalunya substantial upgrades for their 2009 cars.

"Whether our upgrade will be as big as some others, we don't know," Brawn chief executive Nick Fry admitted.

For some of the struggling teams, including giants Ferrari, McLaren and BMW, the progress made in Spain will be crucial to their championship campaigns.

"I'm not one of those people who was saying after two races that the championship was over," McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said before leaving Bahrain.

BMW-Sauber, having put only 4 points on the board so far, are desperate that a major Barcelona upgrade works.

"Today, it looks like we are behind, but if the package is good the picture can change within two weeks," said boss Mario Theissen.

The same is true of Ferrari, which despite finally opening its points account in Bahrain is still in the midst of its worst ever start to a world championship tilt.

"For sure it's an important race, because it will be an important step on the car, but I don't want to say that Spain is our last chance," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.

Toyota, Red Bull, have no plans to use KERS
(GMM)  With the start of F1's European season now looming, two teams not yet running KERS systems have revealed they have no immediate plans to implement the new technology.

Toyota, who locked out of the front row of the Bahrain grid last weekend, announced last year that they would begin the 2009 season without KERS, which converts otherwise lost braking energy into additional power bursts.

"So far at the moment we are not planning to use KERS," German driver Timo Glock said in Bahrain.

The same is true of Red Bull, who as Renault's engine customer would use the energy recovery technology developed by the French squad.

But team boss Christian Horner said: "In terms of ultimate performance we don't feel it has earned its place on our car yet but that's not to say it will not do in the future.

"We retain a very open mind about KERS but at the moment there is no fixed date at which to introduce it," he added.

Similarly, Toro Rosso, Force India and Brawn would use the active systems of their engine suppliers Ferrari and Mercedes respectively, but are currently holding off.

Williams is working hard on its unique flywheel system and intends to race it as soon as possible.

But two teams already using battery-based KERS systems are having second thoughts.  Renault's Flavio Briatore in Bahrain said the team will "maybe use it for another one or two races, if everything goes well".

Ferrari, meanwhile, were analyzing the KERS benefit in detail last weekend, running it in practice on Felipe Massa's car but not Kimi Raikkonen's.

Said boss Stefano Domenicali: "Our project was born around KERS and it is very difficult to change the complete car, thinking that KERS is not there, so we need to find the best compromise."

Kubica renews criticism of stalling BMW team
(GMM)  Robert Kubica, having last year questioned BMW-Sauber's development direction, renewed his criticism of the Swiss based team before leaving Bahrain.

After a disastrous outing at the Sakhir circuit, the Pole is quoted by the German news agency SID as saying: "We perhaps need to take a different path, because like last year the speed of our development has not been good."

Similarly, his German teammate Nick Heidfeld was heard to remark in Bahrain that the F1.09 has seemed to get "worse and worse" with every passing race so far this season.

Back from a hip injury to be trackside in Bahrain, the typically blunt pundit Niki Lauda observed of the BMW: "The car is scheisse (shit)."

Boss Mario Theissen said: "This situation is unusual for all of us.  Since we began three years ago we only ever were going uphill."

In the Swiss newspaper Blick, he added: "If we had nothing in the pipeline for Barcelona, we could be talking about us being in a low moment."

But 24-year-old Kubica is even pessimistic about BMW's planned development upgrades for the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

"Overall I don't think the picture is going to change much.  We might be a bit closer (in Barcelona) but we are not suddenly going to jump from the seventh to the front row."

Swine flu threatens Spanish grand prix
(GMM)  The rapidly-worsening outbreak of deadly swine flu threatens to affect the world of formula one.

Next week, the grand prix circus is scheduled to be preparing for a race at the Circuit de Catalunya, which is located about a half hour from downtown Barcelona.

It is reported that, in the whole of Europe, the Catalunya region has the greatest number of suspected swine flu cases.

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised their pandemic alert level to 4, in the wake of the spreading infections and nearly 150 deaths in Mexico.

As F1 raced in Bahrain on Sunday, schools and public events in Mexico were closed or suspended.

It is expected that the raising of the WHO alert could result in governments of the world setting travel restrictions, with spokesman Peter Cordingley admitting that air travel is an easy way for viruses to spread.

But WHO assistant director General Keiji Fukuda added: "With the virus being widespread, closing borders or restricting travel really has very little effect in stopping the movement of this virus."

Piquet needs support not pressure - father
(GMM)  Nelson Piquet needs support rather than intense pressure if he is going to permanently turn around a run of poor form.

That is the insistence of the 23-year-old Brazilian's namesake and famous father, 56-year-old triple world champion Nelson Piquet Snr.

Observers in Bahrain were questioning the level of support being provided for the struggling Brazilian by Flavio Briatore.

Later, after Piquet Jr finished tenth at Sakhir, the Renault boss praised his "excellent race" in which he drove "aggressively and consistently".

Piquet Snr told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I said to Flavio that he will only get the maximum from Nelson if he gives him cover.

"If the engineers are roaring on the radio that he is driving badly because he lost his first quali lap in traffic, then how can a driver develop confidence?" said Piquet, who so far in 2009 has attended every race with his son.

He suggests that his son's problems can also be helped in other areas by the French team.

"Too often he has to drive in practice with a lot of fuel in the tank.  The team knows that his problems are with lower fuel so they should let him drive more often in qualifying trim," Piquet Snr said.

However, he believes that Bahrain will have boosted Piquet's confidence.

"In Barcelona he will do even better than Bahrain.  Nelsinho knows now that he can do it," said his father.

Tost agrees Bourdais too 'negative'
(GMM)  Team boss Franz Tost agrees with Alain Prost's recent criticism of Toro Rosso racer Sebastien Bourdais.

Last week, quadruple world champion Prost said France's only formula one driver "begins to look at things in a negative way very quickly".

In Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Austrian Tost, 53, agreed: "He knows how to drive a racing car fast, however his negative attitude gets in the way too often."

Bourdais has scored just one of Toro Rosso's 4 points so far this season, but even the impressive rookie Sebastian Buemi did not escape Tost's reprisals.

Buemi and Bourdais qualified 17th and dead last respectively in Bahrain, and although hard braking circuits apparently do not suit the STR4, team figures suggested driving errors worsened the situation last weekend.

Tost said: "With such a close field, you can not afford errors.  Our drivers must understand that."

Mercedes can expect 'fair' punishment - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone is sure Mercedes-Benz will deem the outcome of Wednesday's World Motor Sport Council "fair".

On April 29, the FIA congregation will consider multiple fraud charges levied against McLaren amid the 'lie-gate' affair.

Last weekend, Mercedes and Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche warned that an "unreasonable punishment" on Wednesday could cause the carmaker to "consider our engagement" in F1.

But the signs ever since have strongly indicated that while a penalty for McLaren is likely, the prospect of multiple race bans, huge fines or championship exclusion is not.

"I am absolutely positive that Mercedes would like to look upon this as fair for everybody and, if there is any punishment to be meted out, it will be fair and I am sure they would support that," Ecclestone told London's Times newspaper.

"I don't think they would decide to leave Formula One because somebody had done something wrong and been punished.  I think they will be very fair," the F1 chief executive added.

It is rumored that a points deduction, or even a single race ban for Lewis Hamilton, is possible, and the Spanish press reports that McLaren reserve Pedro de la Rosa is on standby for the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

Former McLaren driver David Coulthard thinks the Woking based team should not be formally punished.

"Their card has been marked, their reputation tainted.  Do we really need to see more?" he wrote in his Telegraph column.

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