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Latest F1 news in brief
  • More than 15,000 to flock to Valencia for Alonso debut
  • Williams doubts rivals exploiting low fuel in testing
  • Schu 'more precise' than 2009 drivers - Brawn
  • Schu has lunch with Ferrari at Valencia
  • Barrichello 'bitter' says Haug after Rosberg jibe
  • Ferrari doesn't 'own' color red - Niki Lauda
  • Schumacher not angry after Briatore jibes
  • No Friday sessions for Williams' tester Bottas

More than 15,000 to flock to Valencia for Alonso debut
(GMM)  Thousands of spectators on Wednesday will flock to Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste.

The main attraction will be the local Spanish hero Fernando Alonso, who delighted the crowd of 15,000 on Tuesday by simply arriving in the paddock at 3.30pm.

On Wednesday, the 28-year-old will make his debut at the wheel of Ferrari's new formula one car, after his teammate Felipe Massa topped the time sheets on the opening two days of the test.

The Spanish sports daily Marca said an impressive 7,000 spectators were already in the grandstands for the opening test day (Monday), boosted no doubt by the presence of the returning Michael Schumacher.

Specialist F1 websites have also been recording impressive visitor figures and resultant server crashes this week, as the extended post-season period and test ban finally ended.

Williams doubts rivals exploiting low fuel in testing
(GMM)  Sam Michael has played down rumors that some teams are running low fuel this week to artificially promote the competitiveness of their 2010 cars.

Speculation has linked the consistently fast pace of Sauber's C29 car at the Valencia test so far with the lack of sponsorship on the Hinwil based team's new livery.

"There is always obviously people looking for sponsors -- but I'm not saying anyone is doing that (running low fuel) as there is no point relying on that," said Williams' technical director.

"You've got to assume everyone is not doing that," Australian Michael added.

In an interview with F1's official website, Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa was asked about the fact that the team is being "cagey" with details about its fuel levels.

"Obviously we were trying different fuel loads -- like everybody," said the Spaniard.

Schu 'more precise' than 2009 drivers - Brawn
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher is "more precise" in his feedback about formula one cars than the Brackley based team's recent drivers, according to Ross Brawn.

After Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello finished the 2009 drivers' championship in first and third places respectively, the Brawn GP team - now controlled and renamed by Mercedes - installed an all-new lineup for 2010.

Comparing the departed duo with the returning Schumacher, team boss Ross Brawn said at Valencia: "Michael is perhaps more precise in his opinions and what is happening."

Quoted by the Guardian newspaper, Brawn added: "That is probably the most noticeable difference but both Rubens and Jenson gave very good information on the car so it was never a problem."

Schu has lunch with Ferrari at Valencia
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher returned to Ferrari's motor home on Tuesday.

The seven time world champion's friend and former teammate Felipe Massa revealed that Schumacher, 41, stopped by for lunch during the break from testing at the Valencia circuit.

"What we said to each other?  Nothing in particular," said the 28-year-old Brazilian.

"We're friends and we're talking quite often to each other: today I think he was just homesick for our motor home, because we have the better food here than anywhere else in the world of formula one," Massa smiled.

Ferrari confirmed that Schumacher ate a plate of spaghetti aglio, olio and peperoncino prepared by the team's famous chef Carmine.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Schumacher brought along his doctor Johannes Peil.

"Ferrari has already won over Mercedes in the culinary challenge," said the newspaper.

Massa would not be drawn on how the new Ferrari and Mercedes cars shape up, but third party Rubens Barrichello admitted after Tuesday's running: "Ferrari seemed very good."

Barrichello 'bitter' says Haug after Rosberg jibe
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg on Tuesday spat back at Rubens Barrichello's cheeky advice.

After Michael Schumacher immediately outpaced his new Mercedes GP teammate during Valencia testing, Williams' Barrichello told Rosberg via the media: "Get out of there!".

For six years between 2000 and 2005, Barrichello was Schumacher's subordinate teammate at Ferrari.

Rosberg was initially reluctant to respond, but when pressed by reporters on Tuesday, said according to the Telegraph: "From his point of view, he was beaten for six years so maybe from him it doesn't surprise me."

Asked about the same minor spat, Mercedes' Norbert Haug told Bild newspaper: "When Michael wins 72 races and Rubens 9, the odd team order might be invented.

"Maybe he's a little bit bitter," he hypothesized.

The Telegraph, meanwhile, reported that Mercedes' PR team was openly unhappy at Valencia with those media members who suggested this week that Schumacher's neck might still be injured.

Ferrari doesn't 'own' color red - Niki Lauda
(GMM)  Niki Lauda has brushed away Ferrari's suggestion that a Mercedes is not a "real" red car.

After Michael Schumacher kicked off his new career at Mercedes by appearing at the wheel of a red SLR for a TV commercial, Luca di Montezemolo said the German marque was the seven time world champion's second choice for his F1 return.

"If there was the possibility of a third car, with great respect for Mercedes, Michael would have been promoting a real red Ferrari not a red Mercedes," he said.

Lauda, who won two of his three world championships at the wheel of a Ferrari, told Germany's Bild newspaper: "Ferrari doesn't yet own the color red.

"I still have my red cap!" laughed the 60-year-old Austrian.

Schumacher not angry after Briatore jibes
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher said he has no hard feelings after comments made by Flavio Briatore.

Schumacher's former Benetton boss Briatore, exiled from F1 in the wake of the crashgate race-fixing scandal, said this week that the seven time world champion's return to the sport in 2010 could turn into "a disaster".

"You don't race faster if you color your hair," the 59-year-old Italian quipped, likening Schumacher's switch from Ferrari to Mercedes as an egocentric and "inelegant betrayal".

"I personally have no problems at all with Flavio," Schumacher, 41, responded on Tuesday at the Valencia test.

"I know him very well, I know his strengths and his weaknesses," the German told Bild newspaper.

Referring to crashgate, Schumacher acknowledged that Briatore "certainly exceeded the borders".

"But I think we all make mistakes," he added.  "If he learns from it, I would have no problem if he came back.  Flavio is simply an unique personality."

No Friday sessions for Williams' tester Bottas
(GMM)  Williams has played down speculation it may follow Force India's lead by giving its new test driver some track time during Friday practice sessions in 2010.

Unveiling Paul di Resta's new test and reserve role on Tuesday, Force India confirmed that the 23-year-old Scot will appear in the place of the team's race drivers during some Friday practice sessions this year.

"We'll sacrifice some of the race drivers' track time so Paul can get up to speed," chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer is quoted as saying by the Independent.

Grove based Williams last week signed 20-year-old Finn Valtteri Bottas as rookie race driver Nico Hulkenberg's successor as team tester.

Interpreted as a hint of a Friday role, the youngster said he will drive in Williams' simulator this year, at young driver tests, and "who knows if I might get another opportunity".

But Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper, having interviewed technical director Sam Michael, said Williams does not plan to give Bottas track time at grands prix.

Australian Michael also said Bottas will not appear in the FW32 during the February tests.

"We have an agreement with him, but whether he is the next Finnish driver (in F1) remains to be seen," he said.

"Only in a couple of years will tell whether he made the same progress as the two Nicos," Michael added, referring to Nico Rosberg and Hulkenberg.

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