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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Red Bull equipment in road crash near Melbourne
  • Now Monza wants GP contract through 2021
  • Schu says he was faster than Rosberg in opener
    11 per cent of McLaren still owned by Mercedes
  • Prost to reprise stewards role in 2010
  • New teams battling for 'millions' in 2010 - Gascoyne
  • No jetlag for fast-moving Kovalainen

Red Bull equipment in road crash near Melbourne
(GMM)  A truck carrying equipment of the Red Bull team has been involved in a road crash near Melbourne.

A witness told local radio station 3AW that the incident occurred on the major Princes Freeway about 20 minutes from the city.

The witness said there were two trucks in the convoy carrying containers, and "Red Bull Racing is written over the side of the containers".

The Age newspaper quoted a police spokesman as saying a car was also involved in the accident, which was "nothing serious" despite "some debris" being scattered.

An ambulance spokesman said a 32-year-old man was treated at the scene.

The newspaper said the Renault-powered RB6 cars had been due to arrive in the Albert Park pitlane on Friday.

Now Monza wants GP contract through 2021
(GMM)  With a new contract through 2016 in the bag, Monza is now working on securing the future of the historic Italian grand prix for an additional five years, mayor Marco Mariani has confirmed.

Sias, the company that manages the famous Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, has confirmed that a new contract through 2016 has been signed with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

The extension of the deal, which was set to expire in 2012, ended real fears that Ecclestone was prepared to replace Monza with a Rome street race in 2013.

"The news reported by Sias is very positive, but from tomorrow we will start working on a further extension of the grand prix at Monza until at least 2021," mayor Mariani is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

He added that he does not even support the "coexistence" of Monza alongside Rome on a future F1 calendar, but the Italian capital's mayor Gianni Alemanno does not agree.

"By 2012 or 2013 Italy can boast the enviable situation of having two grands prix, which will be mutually beneficial in promoting tourism and sports," he said from Rome.

Tuttosport said the new Monza contract was signed last week.

Schu says he was faster than Rosberg in opener
(GMM)  Although some were underwhelmed with Michael Schumacher's performance on his F1 comeback last Sunday, the seven time world champion is taking small comfort.

Although the German is struggling with the Mercedes car's tendency to understeer, and the narrower front Bridgestone tires, he is expecting to get up to speed in the forthcoming races.

After trailing his teammate Nico Rosberg's pace by a few tenths all weekend in Bahrain, Schumacher finished less than four seconds behind the 24-year-old at the checkered flag.

And he said during an interview with France's Auto Hebdo: "I take a little personal satisfaction at being at the same pace as Nico in the race.

"And I was significantly faster than him in the fastest laps -- three hundredths!" he joked.

However, Schumacher's fastest lap was just the eleventh best in the field.

But former triple world champion Niki Lauda expects the winner of a record 91 grands prix to be setting the pace before long.

"I know what I'm talking about," said the 60-year-old Austrian, who came back from retirement and won his third title.

"The old feelings need some time before they're automatic again, but you don't forget how to drive.  Especially not when you've been at such a high level before," added Lauda.

11 per cent of McLaren still owned by Mercedes
(GMM)  McLaren has not yet bought back all of the 40 per cent stake in the Woking based company formerly owned by Mercedes-Benz.

When announcing they would become competitors late last year, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said the 40 per cent stake in McLaren would be wound back by 2011.

The current engine deal is staying in place until 2015, but McLaren also confirmed that Mercedes' 40 per cent stake would be bought back.

"As a result, the McLaren Group will become a fully independent stand-alone corporate entity," the company said last November.

At the launch of McLaren's new MP4-12C production supercar on Thursday, team boss Martin Whitmarsh suggested that 29 per cent of Daimler's stake has now been acquired by the McLaren Group.

McLaren's other shareholders are the Bahrain state holding group Mumtalakat (30pc), Ron Dennis and the TAG Group (15pc each).

Whitmarsh said "some" of the profits of the sale of production supercars "will come back into formula one", although another project could be taking on its arch-rival Ferrari in GT racing.

He said McLaren officials visited Ferrari's Maranello headquarters last week.

"Our message there was 'We want to race with you.  Where are you going to go?  Why don't we go together?'" said Whitmarsh.

Prost to reprise stewards role in 2010
(GMM)  For the first time since his team collapsed in 2001, quadruple world champion Alain Prost is set to become a near-regular in formula one this season.

The 55-year-old Frenchman kicked off FIA president Jean Todt's new initiative by working alongside the three other stewards in Bahrain last weekend.

Before Sunday's season opener, Prost hinted he might reprise the role elsewhere in 2010.

"It's an experiment; we will see how it goes," he said.

As it happens, the stewards did not have a busy time at Sakhir, but Prost has said he will nonetheless be back.

"I'll do it three or four times this season," he is quoted as saying by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The magazine said double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi is also expected be a steward in 2010, as will 1996 title winner Damon Hill, Alex Wurz, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Johnny Herbert.

New teams battling for 'millions' in 2010 - Gascoyne
(GMM)  According to former Swiss F1 driver and commentator Marc Surer, F1's three new teams are playing in a "third class" this season.

But Mike Gascoyne, the technical boss of the new Malaysian backed team Lotus, has revealed that the battle at the back is actually a dash for many millions.

The Norfolk-based squad was delighted to bring both of its cars to the checkered flag in Bahrain, even if by the end, Jarno Trulli's green T127 was truly limping.

But with 12 teams now on the grid, it is a fact that only one of the new teams will finish the 2010 constructors' championship among the top ten, therefore unlocking the financial benefits of the Concorde Agreement.

"At the next three races, it is important just to finish," Gascoyne confirmed in an interview with the Dutch Formule 1 Race Report.

"For now we focus on reliability.  To score points is not realistic, but tenth place in the constructors' is the goal, because it is worth a lot of money.

"There will probably be no points (for the new teams), so the finishing places will be important -- so one eleventh, twelfth or thirteenth place may eventually yield millions," the Briton added.

Lotus has also earned an early reputation as arguably F1's most open team, with some observers amazed about the live information given away by Gascoyne throughout the Bahrain weekend.

Referring to an advance warning about an impending pitstop posted on Twitter via Gascoyne's mobile phone, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport marveled: "Can you imagine such a thing from McLaren, Ferrari and Co.?"

The Formule 1 Race Report reporter was also surprised after spending time within the actual walls of the Lotus garage during track sessions in Bahrain.

"We want to be open and transparent about what we are doing.  And why not?" said Gascoyne.

"(Boss) Tony Fernandes is a big supporter of this, so we are going to try to tell everyone what is going on rather than hiding it or being cagey.

"We want to distinguish ourselves in that way," he added.

No jetlag for fast-moving Kovalainen
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has been clocking up plenty of miles in the short lull between the Bahrain and Australian grands prix.

While Mark Webber headed straight from the Sakhir season opener to Melbourne, Lotus driver Kovalainen returned home to Switzerland.

He then flew to his native Finland for a day to announce a new personal sponsor, and on the way home stopped in Geneva to watch an ice-hockey game.

28-year-old Kovalainen's next move is the long haul to Australia.

"I've done it for many years and had the same routine on the other side," he is quoted as saying by Turun Sanomat.  "I've never had any major problems with it," he added, referring to jetlag.

And he wrote on Twitter early on Friday morning: "Up early again, trying to adapt to Aussie time already.  Normal procedure for me, helps a lot adapting to their time."

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