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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Massa plays down stance against new F1 teams
  • Established teams want Virgin to fail - Wirth
  • Sauber reveals red logo and likely new name
  • Mercedes' Haug says early podiums not likely
  • Qatar almost ready to join F1 calendar
  • Bahrain to be HRT 'shakedown' - Chandhok
  • Coulthard admits F1 comeback not possible
  • Alonso tips Red Bull as Bahrain favorites

Felipe Massa
Massa plays down stance against new F1 teams
(GMM)  Felipe Massa on Sunday played down reports that quoted him as saying F1's influx of three new small teams is "not good for the sport".

After Ferrari recently bitterly attacked the entrance of its struggling new competitors Virgin, Lotus and Campos, 28-year-old Massa appeared to be on message when his employer published a translation of an interview with Corriere della Sera.

"It's not good for the sport and not good for them: it's like two different series," he told the Italian newspaper, according to Ferrari's official website.

During a Santander sponsor event at Interlagos on Sunday, however, Massa said he is not opposed to F1 boasting a full grid of teams.

"I read the stories in the press that I spoke badly about the new teams," he is quoted as saying by Brazil's Globo.

"I didn't do that, I just said the (lap) time difference (to the established teams) is too big.

"It cannot be good for anyone if a car is three seconds slower: not for the sport, for the people who watch, or for the teams themselves.

"But I am in favor of new teams coming in, because the more cars racing the better," said Massa, who drove a 2008 Ferrari fitted with demonstration tires around the Interlagos circuit in his native Sao Paulo.

Virgin's new F1 car
Established teams want Virgin to fail - Wirth
(GMM)  Nick Wirth is not surprised that some of F1's establishment are opposed to the arrival of small new teams in formula one.

In the case of the new British entrant Virgin Racing, its VR-01 single seater was designed without the aid of a wind tunnel but instead with only the sophisticated computer technology CFD.

Ferrari and other established teams were staunchly opposed to moves last year to install a EUR45m budget cap, but technical director Wirth and sponsor Sir Richard Branson have confirmed that Virgin's budget comes in beneath that figure.

It means that should Virgin be able to catch up with its bigger spending rivals, the use of expensive wind tunnels and other research and development methods would be rendered worthless.

"I think a lot of the establishment teams will want us to fall flat on our faces," Wirth is quoted as saying by the BBC.

After Ferrari's recent attack on the new teams, Branson hit back by describing the 'Horse Whisperer' column as "sad".

"Ferrari already won the battle to make sure that new teams are shackled," said the British billionaire.

"I think the one thing the Virgin team will prove is that you can have a really good racing team, running very fast, within a very tight budget," he added, albeit acknowledging that it will take two years to catch up.

Sauber reveals red logo and likely new name
(GMM)  Sauber has revealed a red logo and name - Sauber Motorsport - that will surely soon replace the Swiss team's current official 'BMW Sauber F1 Team' title.

The new logo - the once-familiar 'S' logo in a red-colored box and 'Sauber Motorsport' in a grey font - was included for the first time at the header of the team's media preview of the season opening Bahrain grand prix.

In the wake of former owner BMW's departure from the sport, Sauber has retained the 'BMW' in the name in order to fully benefit from the commercial rewards of the team's sixth place in the 2009 world championship.

Insiders had expected to see a new name listed in the final entry list for the 2010 season, but last week the FIA confirmed that Sauber will be known as 'BMW Sauber Ferrari'.

Currently on the official bmw-sauber.com website, there remains only a message informing that the German carmaker has turned "its hand to other motorsport projects from 2010".

After the BMW departure and the failure of the Qadbak takeover, founder Peter Sauber stepped in and this year is once again running the team as a privateer.

"There is only one reason why I did it," the 66-year-old told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"If I hadn't, the company would now be dead and the staff would have been dismissed," Sauber added.

He said the objective for 2010 is to maintain sixth place in the constructors' championship.

"We have reduced our budget heavily so it would be good if we could just keep our level," said Sauber.

The C29 often seemed quick in the February tests, but Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa does not think Sauber can emulate Brawn and emerge from a carmaker withdrawal to be a championship contender.

"The rules this time are well known and now exploited 100 per cent by all the teams, so there will be no 'Brawn 2'," the 39-year-old former McLaren test driver told Diario Sport.

Mercedes' Haug says early podiums not likely
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has further downgraded Mercedes' title chances for 2010 by admitting that even early podiums are not likely.

Although the Brackley based team won last year's championships and now boasts Michael Schumacher in the cockpit, the grey W01 car is not considered among the quickest of the top four teams.

And German Haug, the marque's motor sport director, told Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung newspaper: "In my opinion, we will not challenge for the podium in the first few races, but we will definitely show up afterwards."

It is reported that Schumacher, 41, is currently relaxing at his Swiss home, with his first scheduled appearance in Bahrain a press conference on Thursday.

It is in the island Kingdom that Mercedes' race to catch up to the expected pacesetters Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren will begin.

But within the garage, a rivalry between seven time world champion Schumacher and his 24-year-old teammate Nico Rosberg will already be in full swing.

Rosberg told the news magazine Focus that not every piece of data will be shared between his engineering camp, led by Jock Clear, and Schumacher's side of the garage headed by Andy Shovlin.

"What is important for the whole team will be disclosed," he promised.  "But when it comes to specific needs, the small details, there are some things you can keep for yourself," said the German.

Schumacher's long time manager Willi Weber told Monday's Der Taggespiegel that the record 91-GP race winner "absolutely" must beat Rosberg to the checkered flags.

"The first thing you need to do as a racing driver is to get a grip on your teammate.  For Michael in the first two or three races this could be difficult.

"But once everything is back to his liking, I really cannot see why Michael cannot beat him.  Can, must," added Weber.

Qatar almost ready to join F1 calendar
(GMM)  Qatar could soon be ready to join the formula one calendar.

FIA president Jean Todt has just visited the Arab emirate, which already holds MotoGP races at the Losail circuit.

Modifications at Losail are taking place with the aim of hosting formula one.

"Surely formula one is part of our future plans," Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation president Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah confirmed, according to the Gulf Times.

"Once everything is in place the track will be evaluated by the safety commissioner and then the track will be licensed for official formula one testing.  After that we will be ready to be part of the formula one circuit," he added.

The FIA's Charlie Whiting is scheduled to arrive in Qatar in the days following Sunday's season opening Bahrain grand prix.

"We will do what Whiting will suggest.  We shall fulfill all F1 requirements before we bid for a race," al-Attiyah is quoted as saying by the daily Peninsula newspaper.

Todt added: "It is easy for Qatar to host an F1 race.  It is a commercial matter that has to be solved by the formula one body (FOM) and the local organizers.

"We already have two formula one races (Bahrain and Abu Dhabi) in the Middle East.  It will be a welcome addition if Qatar also gets it," he said.

Bahrain to be HRT 'shakedown' - Chandhok
(GMM)  Bahrain will be the equivalent of a 'shakedown' for HRT's new and unnamed formula one car, according to its Indian driver Karun Chandhok.

When the 26-year-old and his fellow rookie teammate Bruno Senna begin free practice at Sakhir on Friday, it will be the first time the grey Dallara-built cars have ever turned a wheel.

"There will be problems," two time GP2 race winner Chandhok is quoted as predicting by the Indian tabloid Mail Today.

"Even the established top teams have problems in the shakedowns and our shakedown will be FP1 on Friday.

"But we have to stay optimistic and battle through the first few races before we start to see some fruitful results," he said.

David Coulthard
Coulthard admits F1 comeback not possible
(GMM)  David Coulthard acknowledges that his formula one career is over.

The Scot, who vacated his Red Bull race seat for Sebastian Vettel for the start of last season, is now linked with a return to the cockpit in the German touring car series DTM.

He still attends grands prix as an expert pundit for British television.

Coulthard, now 38, told Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell that he is not thinking about joining Jacques Villeneuve in pushing to return to the F1 grid.

"I think deep in my mind the desire is still there to race a formula one car at the front," said the veteran of nearly 250 grands prix dating back to 1994.

"But in exactly the same way I can see the reality that I had a good and a long career.  I had great opportunities but I don't have them any more.

"And so I don't use up my energy thinking about non-existent options," said Coulthard.

Adrian Newey, the genius Red Bull car designer.  His cars have won titles for many teams
Alonso tips Red Bull as Bahrain favorites
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso is not ready to place a bet, but his tip as the favorite for Sunday's 2010 season opener is Red Bull.

"I think Red Bull were a little bit ahead at the last test," said the Ferrari driver, who has been named as the Bahrain favorite by some of his own rivals.

The Spaniard said during an interview with Cadena SER radio that Red Bull, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the wheel, are "perhaps very strong now, but Bahrain is an unusual track so it's hard to bet on a winner".

Beyond this weekend's race, 28-year-old Alonso predicts a close battle for the title.

"There will be four or five drivers in the fight.  I'd like to know who it will be," he smiled.

Alonso insists he will not be personally disappointed if he is not able to commence his new tenure with Ferrari by adding to his two world titles.

"This is sport, not everything is two plus two," he said.  "Winning a world championship is not a logical thing and it would not be a disappointment, even if we will work hard so that we do not disappoint our fans."

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