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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Kovalainen to sit out practice after coin toss
  • Rain in Melbourne and Malaysia on Monday
  • World's press hails end of F1 boredom
  • Mercedes eyes Barcelona debut for 'F-duct'
  • McLaren supercar caused Mercedes split - Haug
  • Whitmarsh excuses Hamilton for Melbourne outbursts
  • Williams impressed with Barrichello
  • Team boss Fernandes not running Lotus team
  • Schu 'lost instructions' to F1 dominance - report

Kovalainen to sit out practice after coin toss
(GMM)  The loss of a coin throw means Heikki Kovalainen will sit out Friday morning practice ahead of this weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

With Lotus' locally-born test driver Fairuz Fauzy set to drive one of the green T127s on Friday, technical boss Mike Gascoyne proposed a coin toss to decide whether it was Kovalainen or his teammate Jarno Trulli who must give up their car.

"I picked tails," loser Kovalainen, 28, told Finland's Turun Sanomat.

Italian Trulli will be relieved to have won the throw, after missing the start of Sunday's Australian GP with a late hydraulics issue.

"We'll work now to fix that for Malaysia and I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do in Sepang," said the 35-year-old.

Rain in Melbourne and Malaysia on Monday
(GMM)  The weather turned wild in Melbourne on the day after the thrilling Australian grand prix.

Light rain at the start of Sunday's race ensured an exciting race at Albert Park, but Monday's weather was so bad that the red flags would have waved had it fallen 24 hours earlier.

Similar weather halted last year's Malaysian grand prix at Sepang, the scene of this weekend's third round of the 2010 world championship.

As in Melbourne, it is also raining in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, and more of the same weather - including uncomfortably humid temperatures in the mid 30s - is forecast throughout the week.

"I hope we don't get the same weather as last year," said Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, who in 2009 was Toyota's reserve driver.

World's press hails end of F1 boredom
(GMM)  The world's press hailed Sunday's Australian grand prix as the perfect antidote to the lambasted 'Bore-rain' season opener two weeks ago.

After Bahrain, some sections of the media - as well as fans, drivers and the teams - even called for immediate rules changes, with the thinner tires, sophisticated double diffusers and the refuelling ban blamed for the procession.

"Just when it was most urgently needed, the 26th Australian grand prix delivered a race that justified the existence of formula one," said Britain's Guardian newspaper.

The Daily Mail admitted that the reaction after Bahrain, with forecasters predicting a whole season of tedium, had been hasty.

"You may have read such doom-laden nonsense here after the last race in Bahrain, but that verdict is now subject to partial revision.  This was a riot of action," read the article.

The Times said there was "more action in two minutes in Melbourne than in two hours in Bahrain", while the Telegraph enthused: "Boring?  Who said anything about boring?"

Mercedes' Norbert Haug said Melbourne had been "probably one of the best ever" in F1's history, and the New York Times agreed that it was at least "one of the most exciting in the past decade".

The Bloomberg news service said F1 "revved back into life" in Australia, while Germany's Auto Motor und Sport observed that the sport had gone from "Formula Yawn to a Blockbuster".

Said Spain's El Pais: "This grand prix is dedicated to all those who, after the first race, screamed to the sky about today's F1."

The BBC agreed that "the obituaries were premature" after Bahrain, but Canada's La Presse urged F1's fickle observers to "wait a little" before so quickly saying all of the problems are now solved.

Fernando Alonso summed it up: "Now maybe we won't talk about boring races anymore -- for one week at least."

Mercedes eyes Barcelona debut for 'F-duct'
(GMM)  Mercedes is targeting May's Spanish grand prix for the debut of its own McLaren-style 'F-duct' air inlet system.

After Sauber tested (but did not race) a version in Australia, Williams' Sam Michael said the Grove based team aims to be ready with the downforce-spoiling F-duct in China mid next month.

We reported that Mercedes may have been having trouble implementing the system due to the chassis homologation rules.

But Germany's Bild newspaper quoted Norbert Haug as indicating that any such problems for the Brackley based team are not insurmountable.

"There are several teams working on it, and so are we," said the German.

"Maybe we will take it to the race on 9 May in Barcelona," added Haug.

Renault has ruled out designing an F-duct, but it is believed that Ferrari, Force India and Red Bull are all working on systems.

McLaren supercar caused Mercedes split - Haug
(GMM)  Mercedes-Benz split with McLaren due to the British team's efforts to built its own road supercar.

That is according to the German marque's motor sport chief Norbert Haug, after Mercedes took over the Brawn team and then started to sell back its 40 per cent share in McLaren.

Headed by Ron Dennis, McLaren Automotive recently launched the production MP4-12C supercar, powered by a bespoke engine.

Asked by Spain's El Pais newspaper why McLaren and Mercedes decided to part ways in F1, Haug answered: "McLaren wanted to go in their own direction with their street sports car.

"At Mercedes we have been doing it for many years.  It (McLaren's) was not our way and we found an amicable solution.

"We continue to supply them with engines but we have created our own team.  We are grateful about our many joint successes -- only Ferrari was more successful than us (McLaren-Mercedes)," Haug added.

Whitmarsh excuses Hamilton for Melbourne outbursts
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh has excused Lewis Hamilton for his criticisms of McLaren's race strategists in the Australian grand prix.

While his teammate Jenson Button made an inspired decision to pit early for slicks at slippery Albert Park and won, a global TV audience heard 25-year-old Hamilton slam on the radio the "freaking terrible idea" of his two-stop strategy.

"Whose call was it to bring me in?" he also frustratingly asked his pit crew.

A writer in the Independent newspaper said that to "complain while the race was running was a shocking lapse of professionalism", but Hamilton then continued to pan the strategy in conversation with reporters afterwards.

"I think I deserved better," he said.  "I'm happy with the job that I did.  Everyone else in front of me did one stop and I did two."

Team boss Whitmarsh said the episode was simply a demonstration of the passion of Hamilton, who on Friday night was charged by Melbourne police after doing a burnout in his Mercedes road car.

"That is how Lewis is.  He is passionate, he likes to win, he likes to do everything well, he is hard on himself, he is hard on the team.  And that is how Lewis functions," he said.

"If Lewis didn't feel disappointed and frustrated, I'd be worried," added Whitmarsh.

It should be noted that the vastly experienced Williams/Rubens Barrichello combination also stopped twice and regretted the decision, while double world champion and 2010 title leader Fernando Alonso discussed the option over the radio.

"We talked about it but the simulation said it would be faster if we went with one set of tires to the end," said the Spaniard.

Williams impressed with Barrichello
(GMM)  Sam Michael is impressed with Rubens Barrichello, after working alongside the Brazilian veteran for his first two races at the wheel of a Williams.

The 37-year-old outqualified his teammate Nico Hulkenberg, the reigning GP2 champion, at Bahrain and Australia, scoring points in both races with faultless drives.

"Why was Rubens never world champion?" Australian Michael, referring to Barrichello's longest-ever career spanning 290 grands prix, wondered to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"For us he is the best possible driver," Michael added.  "He brings the car home, does not make mistakes, takes every opportunity coming his way and is an incredibly good car developer and despite his age is still extremely fast."

As for 22-year-old rookie Hulkenberg, whose formative career was even more impressive than Lewis Hamilton's, Williams is giving the youngster more time to impress.

"I know he'll deliver," said Michael.

Team boss Fernandes not running Lotus team
(GMM)  The real running of the new F1 outfit Lotus is not performed by team principal Tony Fernandes.

The Malaysian entrepreneur is also the hands-on chief of his low-cost airline AirAsia as well as a chain of hotels through his Tune Group.

He jetted into Melbourne for the Australian grand prix on Saturday, at least three days after all the other team bosses.

And Fernandes, 45, is currently en route to South Africa, despite his native Malaysia hosting its grand prix in mere days.

But he denies he is jeopardizing his ventures by having too many eggs in baskets.

"Just because one person might only be able to do one thing at a time doesn't mean all of us are the same," he told the Financial Times.

"I can run an F1 team and run an airline, and ultimately what I'm doing is setting up businesses and putting other people in there to run them.  Lotus is no different," he added.

Schu 'lost instructions' to F1 dominance - report
(GMM)  Sections of the world's media scoffed at Michael Schumacher after he finished more than a minute down and tenth of the fourteen runners at the end of Sunday's Australian grand prix.

For his highly anticipated comeback following three years of retirement in Bahrain two weeks ago, the 41-year-old German was slower than his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg all weekend.

The lap time deficit was smaller in Melbourne, scene of four of his record 91 wins, but in the race he suffered the ignominy of wheel-to-wheel battles with the likes of a Toro Rosso and a Virgin.

Britain's Sun newspaper called it "an anonymous afternoon" for the great German.

"That's not what Mercedes have paid him 30 million to come out of retirement for.  At this rate, Schumacher may not see out the first season of his three-year deal," predicted the writer.

Italy's La Stampa, still annoyed after Schumacher switched from Ferrari to a German marque, was also scathing.

"The (W01) car is not the best, but one of its drivers - the one with seven titles and earning 30 million - seems to have lost the instructions.

"The proof?  He was overtaken by the Virgin, and Badoer was crucified for much less (in 2009).

"Are we confident that Michael Schumacher is really under that red helmet?  Perhaps Montezemolo was right when he said it is his twin," the article added.

Schumacher, however, said he was happy with his performance, after pitting early on to replace a damaged front wing.

"That incident decided my race, obviously," he insisted.  "I was still having fun as our pace today was promising and for part of the race, we were going quicker than the top group."

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