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Latest F1 news in brief - 2
  • Alonso - 'no idea' if he can beat Bulls
  • Virgin - other teams may have fuel tank problems
  • Whitmarsh suggests Red Bull ride-height system illegal
  • Williams targets China debut for own F-duct

Alonso - 'no idea' if he can beat Bulls
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso on Saturday shed no light on suggestions he might be able to challenge the Red Bulls for victory at Albert Park.

As in Bahrain two weeks ago, the Ferrari driver has qualified third, but the cars ahead of him on the Melbourne grid are both on-form Red Bulls led by back-to-back pole sitter Sebastian Vettel.

Asked if Ferrari's race pace might give him the edge on Sunday evening, the Spaniard answered: "No idea", but he did admit that beating the Renault powered cars "was a difficult thing to do here".

Local hero Webber, 33, was visibly disappointed with second on the grid, as he crassly likened the eight-hundredth gap to his young German teammate as a "bee's d**k".

After his brush with the police on Friday night, Lewis Hamilton was half a second slower than his McLaren teammate and missed the cut for the top ten.

His team boss Martin Whitmarsh told the BBC that the 'hoon' story had been "blown out of proportion" by the media, admitting that Hamilton "will be disappointed with his performance".

With a better showing than in Bahrain was Michael Schumacher, who despite still trailing his teammate Nico Rosberg said Melbourne has been "a little bit more fun" than his comeback event.

Virgin - other teams may have fuel tank problems
(GMM)  More cars on Sunday's Melbourne grid might also have fuel tanks that cannot carry enough fuel to the end of races.

That was the suggestion on Saturday of Virgin's primary sponsor Sir Richard Branson and technical boss Nick Wirth, as the F1 paddock expresses amazement at the new British team's apparent design blunder.

Wirth insisted to the BBC that a last-minute switch to lower density fuel for 2010 fudged his numbers, admitting: "We pushed the boundaries and got something wrong; possibly we're not the only people to make that mistake."

British billionaire Branson, in the Albert Park paddock on Saturday, added: "I think you will find that there are a number of cars that are challenged in this area."

Virgin aside, the only teams that did not get at least one car to the checkered flag in Bahrain two weeks ago were Sauber and HRT.

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn admitted on Friday that getting the fuel tank size right for 2010 was a challenge.

"I think all of the top teams, certainly, have had enough knowledge from previous years to be able to judge the size of fuel tank (required) and none of us have made them any bigger than they need to be," he said.

Whitmarsh suggests Red Bull ride-height system illegal
(GMM)  After Red Bull dominated Melbourne qualifying late on Saturday, Martin Whitmarsh suggested the RB6 car might be hiding a controversial driver-adjustable ride-height adjustment system.

With refueling banned in 2010, the 'parc ferme' situation means that in theory cars must run much too high off the ground in qualifying, so that when they are full of fuel for the race the floors are not dragging along the track.

But during the TV broadcast of qualifying on Saturday, on-board footage from Mark Webber's Red Bull appeared to depict the Renault-powered car occasionally bottoming-out.

McLaren boss Whitmarsh told the BBC after qualifying in Australia that, following a similar situation in Bahrain, he wondered why the Red Bulls were not "dragging their arses on full tanks" in the race.

He said it is "evidence of ride-height control systems" being in use, "which many people wouldn't have thought were permissible".

In the wake of last year's diffuser row, and the McLaren F-duct saga in Bahrain, F1 could now be set for its next technical controversy.

Whitmarsh said McLaren is now "working quite hard" on implementing a Red Bull-like ride-height system, and "hopefully by China we'll have something on the car".

Williams targets China debut for own F-duct
(GMM)  Hot on the heels of McLaren and Sauber, Williams could be the next team to implement an F-duct system, designed to spoil the downforce to the rear wing and boost straight line speed.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport quoted technical director Sam Michael as confirming that the British team aims to be ready to debut its version in China mid next month.

It is believed Force India is also close to implementing a system, amid rumors that Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes are also hard on work in the design phase.

Renault's team boss Eric Boullier said in Melbourne on Friday that the Enstone based team is not focused on the innovation.

Auto Motor und Sport said that due to the chassis homologation rules, teams copying McLaren's system will no doubt all need to use holes designed originally for wiring for the air-flow.

However, it is understood that Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes are having trouble with holes that are not big enough.

It is rumored that Ferrari has expressed concern that, while Virgin redesigns its homologated chassis to accommodate a bigger fuel tank, the team will also allow for a fully implemented F-duct system.

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