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Latest F1 news in brief
  • McLaren critical of FIA's ride-height saga handling
  • Button left team to prove critics wrong - Brawn
  • 'Intelligent' Button winning battle with Hamilton - Brawn
  • Sauber needs sponsors to boost 2010 car - de la Rosa
  • Renault, Kubica 'biggest surprise' of 2010 - de la Rosa
  • Alonso, Sutil, expect Red Bull to maintain 2010 edge
  • Only judge Schu after 'half a season' - Coulthard

McLaren critical of FIA's ride-height saga handling
(GMM)  McLaren has reportedly "gently criticized" the FIA over the governing body's handling of the Red Bull ride-height affair.

When the Mercedes powered team earlier suspected Red Bull of using a controversial ride-height adjustment system on its RB6 car, McLaren rushed to design its own for the MP4-25.

But while Christian Horner vehemently denied that Red Bull was running any such system, the FIA finally clarified that it would not be legal even in theory.

A report in the Daily Telegraph said McLaren is quietly critical of the FIA's handling of the affair because the lateness of the ruling wasted the team's time.

"It would have been nice if we had had a clear no at the outset but we didn't," boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted as saying.

Button left team to prove critics wrong - Brawn
(GMM)  Jenson Button left F1's Brackley based team to prove to his critics that he is a worthy world champion, according to Ross Brawn.

When Button, 30, announced as the new champion that he was leaving Brawn to seek a new challenge in 2010 alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, that explanation was not universally believed.

At the time the Briton apparently made his decision, Nico Rosberg was already under contract for 2010 and rumors were building that Michael Schumacher was set to launch a full return to formula one to drive Mercedes' new works car.

Paddock rumors are still rife that Button's "new challenge" reason was a cover-story for Brawn effectively ousting the new reigning world champion.

But Brawn said on Monday: "I was disappointed Jenson left.

"He felt people were of the opinion he only won the world championship because he had the best car.  So he left us to show them he could do it again elsewhere," he told The Sun.

"He also wanted to prove himself at McLaren against the guy who is probably the fastest and most naturally talented in motor racing -- Lewis Hamilton," continued Brawn.

"He's set himself a massive challenge and he is doing very well so far."

Brawn insists that the split did not affect his off-track friendship with Button, who is currently leading the world championship after winning two of the opening four races.

"We are still friends.  We were on the same flight back from Malaysia and we had a good chat.

"Jenson was a fabulous member of our team last year but now he is the history and we have to beat him," added Brawn.

'Intelligent' Button winning battle with Hamilton - Brawn
(GMM)  It is Jenson Button's "really intelligent approach" that is paying off so far in 2010, according to his former boss Ross Brawn.

After two wins on damp tracks so far in 2010, the reigning world champion is currently leading the world championship.

But throughout the winter, most experts predicted that Button, 30, would be blown away at least initially by Lewis Hamilton.

His friend David Coulthard wrote in his latest Telegraph column: "I told you so."

Brawn, who replaced Button with Michael Schumacher this year but insists the Briton switched to McLaren for the new challenge, told Reuters that F1 is again seeing the "natural Jenson" who won many races early in 2009.

Brawn said the more conservative and tense driver in the second half of the season was the result of the "pressures" of the championship battle.

"He's not looked necessarily quicker than Lewis, but he's doing a better job and he's getting the results," he added.

Former long time McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa said most paddock regulars did not expect Button to have the upper hand over Hamilton.

"Hardly anyone counted on that," he told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"He (Button) has stayed calm and had very few problems with the tires.  But I know Hamilton's strengths.  He will soon wake up and strike back," de la Rosa predicted.

Indeed, when asked to name his picks for the eventual title battle, the Spaniard answered: "Good question, difficult answer.

"Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso -- and not necessarily in that order!"

Sauber needs sponsors to boost 2010 car - de la Rosa
(GMM)  Sauber needs some more sponsors to ensure the C29 car can be properly developed, Pedro de la Rosa insists.

Four races into the 2010 season and still with a mainly blank white livery, the formerly BMW-owned team is struggling with poor reliability and lagging pace.

Team boss Peter Sauber insists the team has a guaranteed budget to survive the 2010 season.

But when asked about Sauber's sponsorship situation, de la Rosa told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "This is a very important point.

"With each day it is more difficult to find backers for 2010, but without finances a normal development of the car is hardly possible," said the Spaniard.

Asked about the car's main problems, he answered: "There have been too many engine problems, and at the rear of the car something is not right -- it is too unstable.

"We simply must believe in our abilities and those of our new technical boss James Key.  And also that luck might be with us sometimes as well."

De la Rosa returned to a full time racing role in 2010 after several years as McLaren's test driver, and it is already rumored that Sauber is considering replacing him with a pay-driver on the basis of his initial form.

He admits it has been a trying campaign so far.

"I knew that with Sauber, difficult work was awaiting me.  But after the tests in February I didn't think it would be quite so hard."

Renault, Kubica 'biggest surprise' of 2010 - de la Rosa
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa has singled out Renault as the "biggest surprise" of the 2010 season so far.

With the wounds of the crashgate scandal still fresh, the Enstone based team went into March's season opener with new owners and management.

In winter testing, Renault's was among the slowest of the established cars, with a single seater that closely resembled last year's uncompetitive R29.

But after four races, the R30 is a healthy fifth in the constructors' standings behind the prominent top-four title protagonists.

Team newcomer Robert Kubica, now linked with a move for 2011 to Ferrari, has never been out of the final 'Q3' group this year, and was even on the podium in Australia.

Asked to nominate his biggest surprise of 2010, Sauber racer and F1 veteran Pedro de la Rosa answered: "For most people in the paddock it is Renault.

"The performance of the team, and particularly Kubica, has been sensational.  In testing we were usually quicker than them," de la Rosa told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Alonso, Sutil, expect Red Bull to maintain 2010 edge
(GMM)  Barcelona next weekend will not be the scene of a radical shakeup in the pecking-order of the leading teams.

That is the opinion of drivers Fernando Alonso and Adrian Sutil, ahead of the forthcoming Spanish grand prix where most teams will debut significant upgrades in the wake of the opening flyaway races of 2010.

"I don't expect any major shifts in the (Barcelona) field," Bahrain winner Alonso, third in the championship for Ferrari, is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport.

If anything, "one car will improve by three tenths and another by four", he explained, adding that while he thinks Ferrari can catch Red Bull's quickest car, the Renault-powered RB6 "will be strong until the end of the season".

German Sutil agrees that the top ten will be "very similar" in Barcelona compared to the pecking-order established so far in 2010.

"Nobody will be finding half a second in their car, because right now it's really hard to improve them.

"Everybody is at a point where it's hard to find every single tenth," the Force India driver told F1's official website.

Like Alonso, Sutil also expects Red Bull to maintain its edge.

"There (in Spain) you just need downforce, so I think it's a Red Bull circuit again.  You have a long straight, but if you have a quick car through the corners, it's definitely a better way."

Only judge Schu after 'half a season' - Coulthard
(GMM)  It is "unfair" to not give Michael Schumacher more time to get back up to speed in 2010 after three years of retirement, according to his former F1 rival David Coulthard.

After dropping 40 points behind his teammate Nico Rosberg in the first four races, some pundits are predicting the revised Mercedes package for Barcelona will be Schumacher's last chance before being universally written off.

But while making his own return to racing last weekend, where Coulthard qualified next to last for DTM's Hockenheim opener, the 39-year-old Scot said the seven time world champion needs more time.

"Give him half a season," he told Germany's Bild newspaper.  "Only then can we realistically assess his performance."

Although famed for being able to adapt to less than ideal conditions, Coulthard thinks Schumacher is simply struggling with Mercedes' 2010 car.

"That car was actually designed for Jenson Button," he insisted, referring to the reigning world champion's late switch to McLaren, which made room for Schumacher at the rebranded Brawn team.

"It is obviously that it (the car) is not right for Michael and it will take time for Mercedes to get it right for his driving," said Coulthard.

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