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Latest F1 news in brief
  • McLaren check delayed, new innovation spotted
  • Drivers begin to arrive in sunny Bahrain
  • Rome to be on 20-race calendar in 2013 - Ecclestone
  • Renault 'not running smoothly' - Hulkenberg
  • Chandhok thanks Ecclestone for 'superb support'
  • Webber lost weight after final leg surgery
  • New teams to make practice 'more difficult' - Button
  • Gauteng terminates Sauber sponsor deal
  • Coulthard joins Ferrari in slamming F1's new teams

McLaren check delayed, new innovation spotted
(GMM)  An inspection of McLaren's 2010 car has been deferred until Thursday, the day of official scrutineering for the season opening Bahrain grand prix at the Sakhir circuit.

FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting accepted an invitation to visit the British team's Woking factory last Friday, following reports about the questionable legality of the MP4-25's rear wing design.

The issue had been brought to the public and media's attention by Red Bull's Christian Horner, who said Ferrari was also concerned.

But Whiting was unable to reschedule his McLaren visit after delays in the wake of a flight from Brazil.

It is believed the concerns about the wing relate to air channeled via the engine airbox above the drivers' heads through the 'shark fin' engine cover and exiting through a slot.

The innovation is believed to have contributed to McLaren's up to 6kph straight line speed advantage as seen at the final winter test in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has brought attention to yet another unique innovation on the Mercedes-powered car, to be raced this weekend by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Photos taken at the Barcelona test depict a small air inlet on the left-hand side of the upper monocoque, in front of the drivers' helmets.

The magazine speculates that Button and Hamilton may operate the intake, allowing or disallowing air to travel through the car and exit at the rear, by hitting a trigger with their left knees.

Drivers begin to arrive in sunny Bahrain
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg have already touched down in warm and sunny Bahrain ahead of the weekend's 2010 season opener.

Spaniard Alonso's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa is expected early on Tuesday morning, while Rosberg's Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher is set to be accompanied by his wife Corinna on a private jet.

Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi's commercial flight is scheduled to touch down on Tuesday evening.

FIA president Jean Todt was spotted at Bahrain International Airport on Sunday, while at the Sakhir circuit, the pitlane and paddock are already abuzz with F1 personnel activity.

"My flight leaves on Tuesday," confirmed Williams' German rookie Nico Hulkenberg.  "It is important to have a little time to settle in and get ready with the team for the weekend."

The returning Schumacher, 41, warmed up for Bahrain with a weekend on the Genk go-kart track near the Belgian-German border.

Also expected in Bahrain this weekend is the Spanish bank Santander's boss Emilio Botin, to witness the competitive debut of the Alonso-Ferrari-Santander sponsorship combination, as well as former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi.

Rome to be on 20-race calendar in 2013 - Ecclestone
(GMM)  The F1 calendar will for the first time feature a grand prix in Rome and nineteen other races in 2013, Bernie Ecclestone has announced.

It has long been the ambition of the sport's chief executive to extend the annual schedule to 20 races, while it was already known that the Briton had approved a future street race in the Italian capital.

"Rome will come onto the calendar in 2013.  We will have 20 races and the teams will be happy with it," the 79-year-old is quoted as saying by the German-language Speedweek.

Previously, it had been expected that the inauguration of a race in Rome would not be to the detriment of Monza's historic Italian grand prix.

But Letizia Moratti, mayor of the nearby Milan, is now worried that Monza is set to lose its race at the famous Autodromo Nazionale.

"I think competition between cities is right, but it is equally correct to respect their traditions," she is quoted as saying by the Ansa news agency.

Renault 'not running smoothly' - Hulkenberg
(GMM)  With four teams within mere tenths and another four teams not far behind, Renault is expected to struggle for pace in the 2010 world championship.

After the 15 days of pre-season testing in February, it emerged that among the pecking order's eight aforementioned top teams are Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Sauber, Williams, Force India and perhaps even Toro Rosso.

"At Renault it doesn't seem to be running smoothly at the moment, but they should not be underestimated," said Williams' German rookie Nico Hulkenberg.

Name and the physical appearance of its car aside, the last few months have staged fundamental change at the Enstone based team.

The French carmaker Renault sold its controlling stake to the Genii group, major sponsors and figures have departed in the wake of the 'crashgate' scandal, and Robert Kubica has arrived to lead his rookie Russian teammate Vitaly Petrov.

New team boss Eric Boullier revealed that a "big" update will be added to the yellow R30 in Bahrain.

Said 25-year-old Kubica: "There was a big gap to make up at the end of 2009 so we will have to take two steps forward if we want to catch the top teams.

"Performance is what we need -- it's always the best medicine," added the Pole.

Chandhok thanks Ecclestone for 'superb support'
(GMM)  Karun Chandhok has returned the compliment to Bernie Ecclestone, after the F1 chief executive welcomed the sport's second ever Indian driver to the grid.

Briton Ecclestone, 79, was rumored to have been instrumental in brokering the rescue of the Campos team by Jose Ramon Carabante and new boss Colin Kolles.

Renamed HRT, the Spanish outfit then appointed 2-time GP2 race winner Chandhok as Bruno Senna's teammate, triggering Ecclestone's statement that India is among "the most important and powerful players in the world of business, culture and sport".

"Bernie has always been a superb pillar of support to me and my family," the 26-year-old, whose father is the well-connected Indian motor racing official Vicky Chandhok, responded in an interview with F1's official website.

"It's amazing how much that man (Ecclestone) can do in a single day!" Chandhok added.

HRT will begin Friday practice in Bahrain this week with two rookie drivers and a car that has never turned a wheel, but Chandhok is happy with his role for the 2010 season.

"Of course everyone wants to drive for a top team, but if the opportunity isn't there you have to evaluate the options," he said.

"Undoubtedly I would rather be racing for HRT than a test driver somewhere else under the new regulations."

Webber lost weight after final leg surgery
(GMM)  Mark Webber scrambled to lose 5kg in the approach to this weekend's Bahrain grand prix.

After finishing last year's world championship in fourth place, the 33-year-old Australian finally had the main metal rod removed from the leg he broke badly in the winter of 2009.

But at 6 foot 1 (185cm), the lean Webber already struggles to keep his weight at 75kg, so as to keep up with the advantages enjoyed by F1's more commonly smaller drivers.

The lay-off in the wake of the surgery combined with Christmas meant the Red Bull driver's weight tipped the scales at 80kg.

It was "the heaviest I have ever been in my career", Webber told the Daily Express newspaper, but he has now returned to his regular racing weight in time for Bahrain.

His RB6 car is believed to be arguably the best of the field, but Webber - although highly rated - is rarely named alongside his teammate Sebastian Vettel as a genuine contender for the 2010 title.

"I don't get wound up about it," he told the Daily Star newspaper.  "Let's see if I can do as last year and have people saying 'Bloody hell, he's in the hunt'.

"I accept that I might be a bit of a dark horse, but that is a good position for me to be in," said Webber.

"It's normal people will go for Jenson, Lewis, Michael, Sebastian, who is young, Massa, who has fought for the championship, and Alonso, who has two titles," he continued.

"The big difference for me this year is physically and mentally.  I don't have the worry of waking up wondering if the leg has improved.  It's hard to say if it affected my performance (in 2009).

"Maybe mentally I was a bit drained because I did have an off-season with operations and recuperation," said Webber.

New teams to make practice 'more difficult' - Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button has played down fears the arrival in F1 of several struggling new teams is a safety concern.

Ferrari and Felipe Massa have expressed reservations about the fact Lotus and Virgin were several seconds off the pace at recent February tests.

The third new team HRT, meanwhile, will make its track debut on Friday with two rookie drivers at the wheel of a car that has not turned a single lap.

In an interview published by Italy's La Stampa, the reigning 2009 world champion Button was asked if the new teams are set to make the sport more dangerous.

"It's not so much a question of danger," the McLaren driver replied, "but it will make it more difficult for us to work in practice.

"It could be we're starting a fast lap with low fuel and you come across a Lotus or a Virgin with full tanks running 12 seconds slower.

"Even in qualifying, with 24 cars on the track, it will be crucial to get it right.

"In the race it will be better, because the difference between first and last will be more like 3 or 4 seconds," the Briton added.

Gauteng terminates Sauber sponsor deal
(GMM)  The South African province Gauteng has decided to wind up its motor sport program.

The Gauteng Motor Sport Company earlier looked into reviving a South African grand prix, and sponsored the Renault and BMW-Sauber teams.

BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen said last year its Gauteng backing was a "long-term" deal.

But executive council member Firoz Cachalia has announced that the province is paying to wind up its contracts within the next two months.

"We're dealing here with a lot of money, a lot of interested parties, and international contracts," he said.

A statement confirmed that the BMW-Sauber deal was "terminated amicably".

Coulthard joins Ferrari in slamming F1's new teams
(GMM)  David Coulthard has revealed he is worried about the debut in 2010 of three small new formula one teams.

The Scottish veteran, with 13 wins and almost 250 grands prix to his name, said it is the "standard" of Virgin, Lotus and HRT that is concerning him "greatly".

Coulthard, 38, wrote in a column for the Daily Telegraph that he sympathizes with Ferrari, who were criticized recently for their scathing dismissal of the new teams.

"Well, I have to admit, I have some sympathy with Ferrari's point of view," said the former McLaren and Red Bull driver.

"Formula one is not a finishing school," said Coulthard.  "Either you come prepared, or prepare to fail.  This is the pinnacle of world motor sport.

"It's no use them bleating about the fact that the goalposts moved after they joined under a budget cap.  The Formula One Teams Association never signed up to that cap."

Coulthard said he has been dismayed by the "carry-on" regarding the new teams' gestation periods, including the failure of USF1, the feisty statements put out by Stefan GP and the takeover of Campos/HRT before a wheel was turned.

He said it has all been "a poor advertisement for F1".

"Has the world gone mad?  F1 is a dangerous sport at the best of times but asking teams to just turn up at practice on a Friday before a race is plain irresponsible," Coulthard added.

"Even if the new teams negotiate Bahrain without a hitch - and I hope they do - they will be miles off the pace."

He said his advice to HRT's rookies Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok, who will be debuting the Spanish team's unnamed car in Bahrain on Friday, is to "drive as quickly as possible".

"One of the most dangerous things you can do in F1 is to go slowly on the racing line," said Coulthard.

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