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DATE News (chronologically)
04/30/10
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Lotus set to run AirAsia logos in Spain
  • McLaren most reliable team, Sauber at bottom of pile
  • Ferrari rejects 'subliminal' cigarette branding reports
  • Silverstone coffers 'stretched' by circuit changes
  • Schu lacks energy to return to top form - Hakkinen
  • Donington aims to repair GP bid damage by August
  • Schumacher, Fernandes, awarded France's Legion d'honneur

Lotus set to run AirAsia logos in Spain
(GMM)  The logo of team boss Tony Fernandes' AirAsia airline could soon feature on the 2010 Lotus car.

We reported last month that because the logos are already seen prominently on Williams' FW32, Fernandes was instead content to advertise his investment firm Tune Group on the green T127.

But according to a report in Finland's leading newspaper Turun Sanomat, the situation might be different when the heavily updated cars emerge from the pits in Barcelona next week.

The report said the AirAsia logo "will be displayed" on the Lotus in Spain.

Meanwhile, we also reported in March that the logos of the Brazilian oil company Petrobras might be added to the T127's livery in Barcelona.

But Turun Sanomat said the deal has not been done in time to debut at the Spanish grand prix.

Jenson Button in his new McLaren
McLaren most reliable team, Sauber at bottom of pile
(GMM)  Drivers' and constructors' championship leaders McLaren are also winning the race as F1's most reliable team.

The British outfit, whose Jenson Button leads the drivers' table by 10 points over Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, completed every single lap with both MP4-25 cars at the initial Bahrain, Australian, Malaysian and Chinese grands prix.

In second place, a 100 per cent record for Ferrari was tarnished only by Fernando Alonso's engine failure in the closing stages in Malaysia.

Red Bull is third with a 92.4 per cent finishing record in 2010, despite the RB6 appearing to have suffered from several reliability glitches so far.

In fact, Sebastian Vettel's wheel nut problem in Melbourne was the team's only DNF, while teammate Mark Webber has completed all four races within the top 9.

Similarly, only one Mercedes car - Michael Schumacher's in China - has failed to reach the checkered flag, but the German team is fourth in the list with a 89.2 per cent record due the stoppage occurring early in the race.

Williams' single DNF culminates in a 86 per cent reliability record because Nico Hulkenberg was taken out on the first lap in Australia.

Renault is sixth of the ten teams with 75.1 per cent, for while Robert Kubica has finished every race with the R30, rookie Vitaly Petrov's first race finish was in China.

In Bahrain the Russian damaged the suspension by hitting a curb too hard, in Melbourne he spun into the gravel, and in Malaysia he had to stop with a gearbox problem.

Impressively, the new team Lotus also has a 75 per cent finishing record, even though Jarno Trulli was not actually a classified finisher at Sepang because he was ten laps behind.

And in Melbourne, the Italian's T127 was not even on the grid due to a pre-race hydraulics problem.

Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari has finished all the races, but teammate Sebastien Buemi was taken out on the first lap in both Australia and China -- first by Kamui Kobayashi and then Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Force India is now increasingly mentioned as a serious F1 competitor, but its reliability record so far in 2010 is just 65.9 per cent.

Liuzzi crashed in China and had a throttle problem in Malaysia, while Adrian Sutil had a Ferrari engine problem in Melbourne.

HRT's F1 career started badly with only one car crossing the line in the opening two races.

But the Dallara-built cars of Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok both finished in Malaysia and China, giving the Spanish team a 65.2pc finishing record.

Virgin and Sauber are at the bottom of the pile, with Virgin achieving a mere 33.8pc reliability record with only Lucas di Grassi able to cross the line in Malaysia by aggressively saving fuel.

Sauber is last, with only Pedro de la Rosa recording a race finish in Melbourne for a reliability record of just 25.5 per cent.

"We've suffered too many reliability issues on both the chassis side and with our engines," team founder Peter Sauber said on Thursday.

"That's very unusual -- we've always been one of the best teams in this respect over the years.

"We've closely analyzed all the chassis-related problems and already put measures into effect.  Our engine partner Ferrari is doing the same," he added.

Ferrari rejects 'subliminal' cigarette branding reports
(GMM)  Ferrari has rejected reports that it is running illegal subliminal advertising on the livery of its 2010 formula one car.

A report in the British newspaper The Times this week said the UK government has been urged by health experts to investigate the 'barcode' branding on the F10 that resembles the cigarette packaging of Ferrari's sponsor Philip Morris.

In a statement issued by Ferrari, the Italian team insists there has been "no (Marlboro) logo or branding on the race cars since 2007, even in countries where local laws would still have permitted it".

Silverstone coffers 'stretched' by circuit changes
(GMM)  Silverstone has admitted to stretching its financial abilities "further than ever before" to pay for its circuit changes.

The Northamptonshire venue's new 760 meter 'Arena' section was launched on Thursday, and for the 2011 race the start-finish line and pit and paddock complex will be moved to the straight after Club corner.

It is believed the new facilities are a requirement of the new 17-year grand prix contract, and BRDC chairman Damon Hill admits the financial cost is a risk to the circuit owners.

Asked if Silverstone's coffers are now stretched to the limit, the 1996 world champion answered: "Not to the absolute limit, but certainly stretching further than has been stretched before.

"I think it's a necessary risk.  The alternative was very possibly that the British grand prix would have gone off the calendar."

Hill talked up the talents of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at Thursday's event, admitting that Silverstone is now relying on Britain's "tradition for producing world class drivers who will eventually drive people through the gate".

Schu lacks energy to return to top form - Hakkinen
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's age and family could be counting against him as he struggles back to full speed in formula one.

That is the assessment of Mika Hakkinen, who although the same age as Schumacher retired at the end of the 2001 season and returned only to race for a time in the German touring car series DTM.

The Finn thinks his former championship rival returned because he missed the sport's thrill and challenge, but questions the German's ability to now dedicate the same energy as F1's current generation.

Asked to explain the German's struggle so far in 2010, Hakkinen told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper: "It's about the new technology of the cars and the tires.

"Another reason is he is up against young drivers who know nothing else in their lives other than the battle to win.  Their lives consist only of formula one in a sport that requires total concentration and attention.

"It is much more difficult when you're older," said Hakkinen.  "If you're 41 then your life is about other things -- family, for example."

He does, however, think Schumacher will break through for a win in 2010, but recalls a sport that supplies "no mercy and no excuses".

"I'm glad I don't do it any more," Hakkinen admitted.

Donington aims to repair GP bid damage by August
(GMM)  Donington Park is aiming to reopen the beleaguered circuit in August.

The track is currently unusable, after renovations for the financially failed bid by former leaseholder Simon Gillett to host the British grand prix ceased.

Owner Kevin Wheatcroft said on Thursday that plans to repair and restore Donington are being finalized, but insiders estimate the cost at between 600,000 and 1 million pounds.

Wheatcroft said in a statement that he is confident "the new improved race track can be reopened, subject to obtaining the necessary racing licenses, during August 2010".

Schumacher, Fernandes, awarded France's Legion d'honneur
(GMM)  On Thursday evening at Paris' Hotel Matignon, Michael Schumacher accepted the Legion d'honneur prize from French prime minister Francois Fillon.

Among the guests at the ceremony were the seven time world champion's friend, former Ferrari boss and current FIA president Jean Todt, as well as ex-F1 driver Jean Alesi.

"To find a relevant comparison (to Schumacher), one must go back to the origins of formula one and the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, your only rival," Fillon is quoted by French media as having said to the 41-year-old German.

Earlier this month, Lotus team principal and AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes received the same French decoration for his contributions to aviation.

Established by Napoleon in 1802, the Officier of the Legion d'honneur is the highest honor the government of France can award to a non-French citizen.

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