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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Whitmarsh confirms wheel failure for Hamilton
  • FIA installs higher curbs for 2010 Monaco
  • Brawn happier without name above team garage
  • Alonso leading 2010 title under old points system
  • Monaco traffic just an 'extra challenge' - Alonso
  • Mercedes 'wrong' to focus on Schumacher - Jordan

Whitmarsh confirms wheel failure for Hamilton
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh has confirmed that a failed wheel rim caused Lewis Hamilton to crash on the penultimate lap of last weekend's Spanish grand prix.

Shortly after the Briton's sudden tire deflation, the McLaren team boss speculated that "debris" rather than an actual tire problem probably caused the accident.

Bridgestone's initial analysis was similar, but it did not stop some pundits from hinting that Hamilton's aggressive driving style might have been a contributing factor.

But the damaged parts were returned to Woking for analysis on Monday, and Whitmarsh confirmed on Tuesday that a wheel rim failure looks the likely cause.

"The rim failure is being investigated," he told reporters during a teleconference.

"It could be debris related, it could be an issue of deflection, or it could be a lack of tightness in the wheel nut, which allowed some flexing.

"What we know is the rim failed, probably human error somewhere in the process caused it, and that led to a deflation and the accident," Whitmarsh added.

FIA installs higher curbs for 2010 Monaco
(GMM)  Higher curbs have been installed at key sections of the Monaco circuit ahead of this week's formula one race.

Last year, race director Charlie Whiting warned the drivers about cutting the curbs and installed observers at the Nouvelle and Swimming Pool chicanes.

It is at those corners that new "higher elements have been added behind the existing curbs" for the 2010 event, the governing body confirmed on Tuesday.

F1 photographer Mark Sutton inspected the new curbs on Tuesday and remarked on Twitter that the drivers will "not want to touch them!"

Sutton was also disappointed to find new debris fencing at the Rascasse corner, recalling that in previous years "you could just lean over the barrier and shoot as the driver went past at speed".

The Monaco circuit has also been resurfaced in the pitlane, from Ste Devote all the way up the hill, from Place du Casino to the tunnel entry, and from the tunnel exit to the chicane.

Brawn happier without name above team garage
(GMM)  Ross Brawn has revealed that he is "happier" now than when he was solely in charge of a team bearing his own name.

In the wake of Honda's shock exit at the end of 2008, the Briton and a group of team management took over and won last year's title.

But for 2010, Brawn GP was bought out to become Mercedes' new works team, with the 55-year-old staying on board as team principal.

Brawn's passion and focus has always been on the engineering side, and he told the Financial Times this week: "To perform in the best possible way, I'm happier not being the majority shareholder."

He said he only ever owned the team "by default", and while able to run the highly-competitive chassis designed with Honda's huge resources, was financed only by the Japanese marque's parting EUR2 million gift.

Brawn explained that F1 teams usually work "to a budget that is guaranteed two to three years ahead.

"But here I was in a situation where there was no budget.  You had to do as well as you could and make the company as viable as possible while spending the minimum amount of money doing it."

Alonso leading 2010 title under old points system
(GMM)  With F1's points system of 2009, Fernando Alonso would currently be the world championship leader.

Before this season began, the FIA tweaked the points system so that two extra finishers per race score points, while the points gap between the winner and second place was widened.

But under last year's system, Alonso would currently be leading Jenson Button by a single point, according to an analysis by Spain's Diario AS.

Instead, Button - who has won 2 races compared with the more consistently-competitive Alonso's single victory in Bahrain - is leading the Spaniard by three points.

Briton Button told the Spanish sports newspaper that when he moved from Brawn to McLaren for 2010, he did not expect to be leading the world championship after five races.

"For the first five races my goal was to feel at home and adapt to the car," said the reigning world champion.

"Leading the championship at the moment is a great feeling, but it's only the beginning.  There's a long way to go in a championship that is going to be very challenging and close," added Button.

Monaco traffic just an 'extra challenge' - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has refused to echo the McLaren drivers' claims that traffic is set to make Monaco a "disaster" and "nightmare" this weekend.

With four more cars than in 2009 on the grid this season, and six very uncompetitive runners, it is feared that congestion around the famous barrier-lined 3.3 kilometer street layout will be potentially dangerous.

David Coulthard wrote in his latest column for the Telegraph that it is a "serious issue", with the slow cars potentially posing "a risk both to themselves and others".

But Alonso said on Tuesday that traffic was "already a problem when we had 20 cars on track".

The Spaniard wrote on his Ferrari blog that "we must try and look at this situation as an extra challenge, both for us drivers ... and for the engineers, who will have to work out just the right moment to send us out on track in qualifying".

McLaren boss and FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh said he advocated splitting the initial Q1 qualifying phase into two parts, but that proposal was voted down in Barcelona last weekend.

He predicts a "very difficult" weekend for all.

"It has always been difficult but with more cars and a greater performance differential, I think there will be controversy," the Briton told reporters during a teleconference on Tuesday.

Mercedes 'wrong' to focus on Schumacher - Jordan
(GMM)  If Mercedes has moved development of its 2010 car in the direction of Michael Schumacher, that tactic is "simply wrong".

That is the belief of the seven time world champion's first formula one team boss, Eddie Jordan, who gave a then 22-year-old Schumacher his grand prix debut in 1991.

Although denied by Mercedes, it was reported that the focus on the changes made to the W01 car ahead of Barcelona was with the former Ferrari driver's preferences in mind.

But Irishman Jordan said that, five races into the now 41-year-old's return to the grid in the wake of a three-year retirement, Ross Brawn needs to forget the way that he previously worked alongside Schumacher at Ferrari.

"Let's be clear; in the Ross Brawn era, Ferrari was basically a one-driver team," said Jordan, who now travels to the grands prix as an expert pundit for British television.

He told the German newspaper TZ: "This (approach) is a mistake.  The first four races showed entirely clearly who is able to keep up with the new generation of drivers such as Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton; namely Nico Rosberg."

Rosberg, 24, was on the podium twice in the first four races.  With the revised car in Spain, Schumacher took over as the team's pacesetter, but was a minute down at the checkered flag.

"Schumacher is now more capable of dealing with the car, but the gap to Red Bull has become much greater," Jordan observed.

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