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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Ferrari hits back at media after Massa-Alonso reports
  • Button happy to prove F1 doubters wrong
  • F1 world seeks bizarre routes back to Europe
  • Lotus eyes plans for Sepang HQ in 2010 - report
  • International press blasts 'snail Schumi' after China
  • Buemi asks Toro Rosso for new STR5 chassis - report

Ferrari hits back at media after Massa-Alonso reports
(GMM)  Ferrari has hit back at reports that said Felipe Massa was unhappy with Fernando Alonso's pit entry overtaking move in China.

In a website entry headlined 'False polemics', the Maranello based team said the Brazilian driver's comments were "taken out of context" in an attempt by "some news outlets" to "create bad blood" between him and Alonso.

On Monday, we reported 28-year-old Massa's comments to the Brazilian media when he said he ran onto the grass to let the charging Spaniard through in order to avoid "an accident".

But the Ferrari report said the incident "won't change anything at all regarding the relationship" between the pair, with Massa and Alonso "travelling back to Europe on the same flight".

Team boss Stefano Domenicali suggested after the clash that Massa might be upset.

"I have to say that Fernando, he is a racer, and I have to say that Felipe behaved very, very well," said the Italian.

"It is not easy, and I can understand what could be his (Massa's) feeling, but this episode has not changed our philosophy and for me that is the most important thing," added Domenicali.

The veteran Italian reporter Pino Allievi said Spaniard Alonso's aggression could have been a turning point in his relationship with Massa.

"(It was) an abrupt way of reclaiming the team leadership with an unexpected and chilling maneuver," he wrote in La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Typical of someone who, behind the peaceful exterior, hides the killer instinct of a champion," Allievi added.

Button happy to prove F1 doubters wrong
(GMM)  The first races of his McLaren career prove that F1 should not always leap to quick judgments, Jenson Button said before departing for a holiday in Thailand as the new championship leader.

The reigning world champion joined the British team in 2010 amid widespread claims he would be destroyed by McLaren's much-loved incumbent Lewis Hamilton.

But after four races, 30-year-old Button has outqualified Hamilton on three occasions, while winning two races compared to his 25-year-old teammate's none.

In comments published in the Guardian, Button suggested he had been hurt by the F1 world's pre-season predictions.

"Sometimes we should sit back and watch and enjoy instead of speaking out aloud too much.  It (the predictions) might be true in the future, you never know.  I don't know.

"But I feel happy with what's happening now," said the Melbourne and Shanghai winner.

Hamilton, however, is expecting the tide to turn soon, after his recent drives through the field were described by some pundits as among the best of his career.

"I feel I have had great races," he agreed, "but he (Button) has taken the right decisions and taken the easier route.  I have had the harder route and got good results but hopefully soon I will take the easier route."

Hamilton said in the Telegraph that he is not surprised about Button doing well so far in 2010.

"There was a lot of stuff about him joining my team and I would be favored ... I am really happy for him.  He did a better job and I am sure that when the tables turn, as they will, it will the same for me," said the Briton.

He also played down suggestions that, while the first cracks appear in the relationship between Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the same will happen at McLaren.

"I don't think it will happen with us," said Hamilton.  "The good thing with me and Jenson is that we clearly want to beat each other, but Jenson is very smart and does not have that too-aggressive flair in him and neither have I."

In the Daily Express, meanwhile, Button described Hamilton's unyielding racing style as "like a pitbull", adding that he loves "having a teammate who's like that".

F1 world seeks bizarre routes back to Europe
(GMM)  Two days after the checkered flag in Shanghai, the world of formula one is still clamoring to leave the venue of the Chinese grand prix.

Although there are signs the volcanic ash cloud above Europe might soon clear for a few days to allow its hordes of absent residents to return home, multitudes of F1's travelling personnel are currently embarking on elaborate journeys to reunite with team bases and families.

Mark Webber flew from China to Dubai, then to Rome, and woke up in Nice on Tuesday morning after five hours of sleep with a mission to return to the UK.

Others have tackled even more bizarre routes back to Europe, including Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari who headed to Madrid via Shanghai, Beijing and New York.

Some, like Indian rookie Karun Chandhok who flew to Madras, were essentially unaffected; Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg went on vacation to Thailand, while Lewis Hamilton had a sponsor date in South Africa.

Peter Sauber went on business to Dubai and Japan.

But Nico Hulkenberg, like hundreds of others involved in the sport, are simply holed up in Shanghai with an hopeful eye on the air timetables.  Sebastian Vettel is hoping for a direct flight to Switzerland on Tuesday.

Michael Schumacher proved that in F1 it's all about who you know, as he has hitched a ride on Bernie Ecclestone's private plane, but at last word they were still awaiting a green light to fly to Europe.

There are reports that Norbert Haug and Timo Glock found seats on Lufthansa flights to Europe on Monday night, while Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali and Aldo Costa also somehow managed to head straight for Europe.

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were aboard Ferrari's first of several flights home, with subsequent flights also scheduled even though their destination is not entirely known.

A shared charter with fellow Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso and Sauber is plan-B.

Alonso's friend Robert Kubica was also aboard Ferrari's initial VIP flight, so as to be in Italy to drive a Renault Clio in this week's Rally 1000 Miglia.

When asked by Spain's AS correspondent if the Ferrari favor was the first sign that Alonso will have a new teammate in 2011, Kubica rolled his eyes and answered: "Sure, sure, sure."

The Lotus team, owned by Malaysian aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes, was jetted to Kuala Lumpur to await an AirAsia charter back to Europe.

McLaren's chartered jet, with buses waiting in Spain to then take team members on a long road trip back to the UK, is scheduled to leave Shanghai on Wednesday.

"We have said if it is a big enough plane, then anyone else can come on board," said team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

Williams' aviation partner Cloud9 is also looking into a private team charter, while bosses Sam Michael and Adam Parr flew from Shanghai to Dubai but then found themselves unexpectedly diverted to Beirut.

It is rumored that some teams are looking into moving their cars back to Europe while the FOM planes are stuck in Europe, but the idea of putting the containers on boats has been ruled out.

"You need a plane," said Mercedes' Haug.  "By boat, we will run out of time before Barcelona."

Lotus eyes plans for Sepang HQ in 2010 - report
(GMM)  Lotus is hoping to put in place plans for a Malaysian headquarters and wind tunnel later this year.

The Norfolk based team, headed by Malaysian airline tycoon Tony Fernandes, said at its inception that its longer plan was to call Malaysia home.

A report in the Malaysian newspaper The Star said Lotus is planning a facility with a wind tunnel and CFD centre at the Sepang circuit.

"We are already moving towards getting this project off the ground and we are hopeful that it could be completed by this year," confirmed team principal Fernandes.

He also said Lotus needs to find more sponsors.

International press blasts 'snail Schumi' after China
(GMM)  The reaction prior to Sunday's Chinese grand prix was already not positive, so Michael Schumacher is advised to avoid the media in the wake of the Shanghai race.

After finishing a minute behind Nico Rosberg at the checkered flag, and seven tenths off his teammate's pace in qualifying, the specialist Auto Motor und Sport said China was probably "the worst weekend in the record winner's whole career".

The German magazine gave 41-year-old Schumacher just 3 out of 10 for his performance at the wheel of the grey Mercedes.

One of his former Ferrari teammates, who did not want to be named, told the Independent: "After the beating he got on Sunday, in conditions in which the old Michael Schumacher excelled, I don't think he'll ever come back to his old level."

The Cologne publication Express published a photo-shopped image of a snail with the seven time world champion's head and cap, while France's Auto Hebdo observed that in China "the former rain king seemed lost".

Bild newspaper's headline read: "Rain God?  Schumi got flooded!", while Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport asked of Schumacher's return: "Why did he do it?"

The sports newspaper Tuttosport said Schumacher "is only a shadow of himself", while another sports daily Corriere dello Sport called him "an old lion attacked by a group of young and hungry animals".

The broadsheet La Stampa said: "F1 without overtaking?  Just ask Schumacher, who was passed constantly", while the major La Repubblica said the German "is no longer in the league of the best formula one drivers".

Hamburg's Abendblatt called Schumacher a "learner driver", while the Frankfurter Rundschau blasted his "horrible performance" and Austria's Kleine Zeitung said he had been "humiliated" in China.

Britain's The Guardian recalled the moment in the post-race press conference when Lewis Hamilton was asked how it had felt to race wheel-to-wheel with his childhood hero.

Jenson Button leaned over and demanded Hamilton "tell the truth" before the pair both laughed, and the Guardian said the exchange "may have been the unkindest cut of all" for Schumacher.

"The way things look, it would be no surprise to see him bowing out with as much dignity as he can salvage before the formula one season is very much older," added the newspaper.

According to the Independent newspaper, one of Schumacher's former teammates was 'shocked by what he saw'.

"I can tell you, he was always very vulnerable when he lost, whenever I beat him; it was as if he needed a cuddle afterwards," the source said on conditions of anonymity.

"You can see his head has dropped after four races in which Rosberg has been quicker; he just isn't used to that. He is the kind of guy who even when we were at the Madonna di Campiglio pre-season skiing publicity event with Ferrari in the old days, he had to be the fastest. And if he wasn't, he would keep demanding another go until he was. That's how driven he used to be.

"After the beating he got on Sunday, in conditions in which the old Michael Schumacher excelled, I don't think he'll ever come back to his old level."

Buemi asks Toro Rosso for new STR5 chassis
(GMM)  Sebastien Buemi has asked his bosses at Toro Rosso if a new STR5 chassis can be built up for him ahead of the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

The 21-year-old Swiss' Ferrari-powered car had a brutal weekend in China, with the front suspension famously shattering on Friday before Vitantonio Liuzzi's crashed into him at high speed in the race.

He was also smashed out of the Melbourne race on the first lap by Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber.

France's Auto Hebdo reports that the actual chassis did not suffer lasting damage in the shunts, but that Buemi has nonetheless asked for a new one for Barcelona and beyond.

The report said it is a "psychological" move so that Buemi can end his run of bad luck.

He joked to the Swiss newspaper Blick after China: "First I need to go and see the Pope and then to Lourdes.  I need to get better luck in some way!"

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