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DATE News (chronologically)
03/01/10
f1
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Alguersuari nearly lost 2010 seat - father
  • F1 world holds breath for Mercedes 'super diffuser'
  • Clock winds down for Stefan, Campos and USF1
  • New Lotus car worse than Minardi - Kovalainen
  • Attempts to name 2010 favorite 'absurd' - Massa
  • FIA commissions Aus GP relocation study
  • Lopez looks set to lose 2010 race seat

Alguersuari nearly lost 2010 seat - father
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari's father has confirmed speculation the Spaniard almost lost his Toro Rosso race seat for 2010.

Before the Red Bull-owned team announced the re-signing of the 19-year-old driver for this season, it was rumored Toro Rosso had demanded he bring some sponsorship funding to the seat.

"At the time, it (the speculation) was true," his father Jaume, involved in the running of the Formula Renault 3.5 series, is quoted as saying by El Pais.

"I went to most of the large Spanish companies but had to return to (team boss Franz) Tost and say I found nothing.  He was devastated.

"But in the end everything worked out," Alguersuari Snr said.

The newspaper said Alguersuari, whose 2010 retainer is about EUR300,000, is still not substantially backed by any sponsors.

El Pais said the decision to retain Alguersuari was made by Dietrich Mateschitz's motor racing advisor Helmut Marko.

F1 world holds breath for Mercedes 'super diffuser'
(GMM)  The F1 world is holding its breath to see if Mercedes GP can reveal a diffuser that enables Michael Schumacher to win the season opening Bahrain GP.

According to paddock rumors as the final winter test wrapped up in Spain at the weekend, the new 'super diffuser' will only be fitted to the W01 for the beginning of Friday practice at the desert venue.

Brackley based Mercedes and Schumacher ended the last Barcelona timesheet a few tenths off the pace.

"I do not know what Brawn will have in Bahrain, but we'll see if it is really something new," Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is quoted as saying by the El Pais newspaper on Sunday.

"For me, it is just a rumor, like many others," the Spaniard added.

However, the mumblings about the radical diffuser persist, particularly as Ross Brawn's team originally pioneered the controversial concept and arrived for the first race of 2009 with a dominant car.

But Sauber's Pedro de la Rosa doubts Mercedes is set to shock the F1 world with another radical concept.

"Now all the cars have a super diffuser and there will be no surprises because the rules have been stretched thin by the engineers," said the veteran.

Meanwhile, Red Bull attempted to fool rivals and technical photographers at Barcelona by placing stickers on the rear of the engine cover depicting faux exhaust outlets.

Clock winds down for Stefan, Campos and USF1
(GMM)  As teams prepare to send their cars to Bahrain this week, the hopeful Stefan GP has suddenly taken a more conciliatory tone.

After issuing recent media statements that criticized rival teams and the FIA in broken English, the Serbian outfit issued a final note on Sunday.

In the place of all the previous statements that have been deleted, the media message outlined the "desire and ability" of the Cologne based team to contest the "whole" 2010 season with departed Toyota's cars and equipment.

"It (the team) recognizes that this can only happen with the consent of the FIA and the FOM, but has faith that the formula one 'family' will make the correct decision in the end," read the statement.

"There will be no more press releases on this subject and we look forward to being allowed to show everyone our team in Bahrain."

It follows news that, although merger talks with the failing USF1 have broken down, Jacques Villeneuve has travelled to Cologne on Monday for a seat fitting.

It is also reported that, following the recent visit to Charlotte of the FIA's Charlie Whiting, USF1 has acknowledged that it is not able to contest any of the 2010 season and has applied to delay its official entry until 2011.

Speculation has also questioned Colin Kolles' insistences that two Campos cars will be on the Bahrain grid, but it has emerged that the Dallara factory has now at least taken delivery of its first batch of Cosworth engines.

Yet more rumors have claimed that USF1 driver Jose Maria Lopez is set to oust Bruno Senna and be Karun Chandhok's 2010 teammate.

But closer to the truth is that while Campos looked into replacing Senna for a driver with more personal sponsorship, it was deducted that paying out the Brazilian's contract would not have been cost-effective.

The Spanish newspaper AS said Pastor Maldonado was an outside chance for the Campos seat, but Senna managed to convince Kolles by coming up with some sponsorship from within Brazil.

The well-backed Argentine Lopez could be the reserve driver.

New Lotus car worse than Minardi - Kovalainen
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has admitted that his new car, the Lotus T127, is worse than the Minardi he tested more than six years ago.

Minardi chief Paul Stoddart gave the then 22-year-old Finn a two-day test at Vallelunga in late 2003 and nearly signed him to race.

When asked by Finland's Turun Sanomat to compare the Minardi with the Lotus, fielded by the new Malaysian backed team in 2010, Kovalainen answered: "It's difficult because the tires are so different.

"But the Lotus is probably missing more aerodynamically than the Minardi cars (were) when you compare them with the top (cars)."

At the end of 2003, the Minardis were regularly 5 seconds off the pace of the leaders, while Kovalainen's teammate Jarno Trulli said last weekend that he thinks the T127 is about four seconds behind.

Kovalainen was nearly 5 seconds behind when the 2010 pre-season came to a close at Barcelona on Sunday.

But in 2010, there is more parity between teams in terms of engine and tire performance, meaning the differences in lap time is substantially due to the chassis.

Kovalainen, now 28, admitted that Lotus' "biggest problem" currently is aerodynamics.

To Turun Sanomat, he also rued his pre-season preparations, revealing that he has "never gone into a season with less testing".

Team boss Tony Fernandes thinks Lotus has progressed well this winter.

"We reckon we will be 3.5 seconds off the fastest car (in Bahrain), an improvement of 5 seconds from Jerez.  We keep chipping away," he said.

Attempts to name 2010 favorite 'absurd' - Massa
(GMM)  No single team will be the favorite when free practice signals the official start to the 2010 world championship in Bahrain next Friday, according to Felipe Massa.

After varying reports have singled out Ferrari, McLaren or Red Bull as the stand-out performer of the 15 days of winter testing, Brazilian driver Massa thinks Bahrain will be fiercely contested.

"Today the timesheet says (Lewis) Hamilton (is quickest), but we're all very close together, it's just tenths of a second," the Ferrari driver said at Barcelona on Sunday, which was the last day of the February tests.

He is quoted by the Spanish agency EFE as saying the thought of a single team with a significant advantage is "absurd, given the good performance of the other teams".

His teammate and former twice world champion Fernando Alonso, who recently made headlines by saying the F10 is the best car of his entire career, is similarly cautious.

"This is the best car I've ever had," the Spaniard is quoted as saying by Italy's Corriere dello Sport, "but it doesn't mean it is the best car of the championship."

The latest paddock analysis is that McLaren - with its Barcelona-spec upgrade package - and Ferrari are right at the front, closely followed by Red Bull and then Mercedes GP.

La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes Ross Brawn as admitting the Mercedes W01 is still "a couple of tenths" off the pace, while Ferrari "is the team in best form".

"But the lead they (Ferrari) had at the beginning of the test season seems to be reduced and we are now all closer to them," the Briton added.

On Sunday at Barcelona, Michael Schumacher at one stage attempted to keep Hamilton's McLaren at bay but was overtaken.

"I felt it was harming my own work a little bit, so I gave way and let him do what he wanted to do -- so I could do what I wanted to do," said the German.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari is "very strong" and at the head of the field in the run to Bahrain.

"Behind them (Ferrari) it is between us, McLaren and Mercedes.  I don't see us at the front yet," the 22-year-old is quoted as saying by German media.

"But we are just about there, both with less and with more fuel (on board)," the 2009 runner-up added.

FIA commissions Aus GP relocation study
(GMM)  Organizers are considering moving the Australian grand prix from Albert Park to Avalon, a suburb about 40 minutes from Melbourne.

A report in the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper said the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) has been granted $130,000 in funding by the FIA to look into building a $200m permanent circuit.

The Albert Park race contract runs through 2015, but it is believed the Avalon plans are designed to accommodate floodlight night racing and therefore boost Melbourne's chance of retaining the grand prix in the long term.

The proposed site is owned by Australian transport company Linfox, whose director Andrew Fox said a year ago that moving the race from Albert Park means taxpayers would no longer foot the costs of preparing the temporary circuit each year.

"I'm happy to put the capital up on behalf of the (Fox) family at Avalon and build a world class standard," said Fox.

The CAMS/FIA study is being conducted by UK experts.

"We, as part of the feasibility study, will be looking at a whole range of options and opportunities for a potential venue at Avalon," CAMS chief executive Graham Fountain confirmed.

Victorian sports minister James Merlino added: "A decision to relocate the race is ultimately up to government, regardless of CAMS's findings."

Lopez looks set to lose 2010 race seat
(GMM)  Moves to switch from USF1 to Campos for the 2010 season failed for Jose Maria Lopez, according to reports in Argentina.

The well-funded 'Pechito' Lopez, 26, originally signed with USF1, the American outfit that is believed to have now acknowledged to the FIA that it is not ready to race at all this year.

The Clarin daily reports that a deadline for the Campos switch talks passed at the weekend, and sources agree that the Colin Kolles-led team looks set to confirm Karun Chandhok alongside Bruno Senna.

Lopez's last hope was that USF1 could merge with Stefan GP, but it is believed those talks also collapsed, despite the apparent willingness of both Zoran Stefanovic and YouTube chief executive Chad Hurley to proceed.

Moreover, Stefan GP - even without an official entry for 2010 - looks set to confirm Jacques Villeneuve as Kazuki Nakajima's teammate.

It is believed the Lopez camp paid nearly $1 million to USF1 in advance.

"This is a great disappointment for us, because we were sold a seat (with USF1) that was not there," his father is quoted as saying by Clarin.

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