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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Journalist apologized to Massa for Barrichello quote
  • Mercedes losing money on F1 merchandise in 2010
  • 'I need a Red Bull' jokes Rosberg at Suzuka
  • German drivers answer rumors about F1 futures
  • Official says Porsche 'can afford' own F1 team
  • Team member races from UK to fix Hamilton's wing
  • Engine makers want F1 to keep V8s beyond 2012
  • Qualifying rain begins at Suzuka

Journalist apologized to Massa for Barrichello quote
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has scolded a German newspaper for misquoting him ahead of the Japanese grand prix.

German weekly Sport Bild this week quoted the Brazilian driver as insisting "for sure I am not Ferrari's second Rubens Barrichello".

At Suzuka on Thursday, veteran Barrichello said he and countryman Massa are friends and was sure he would not have made disrespectful comments.

Indeed, Massa pointedly denies even mentioning the 39-year-old Williams driver during the German interview.

"The newspaper put in Rubinho's name," Massa told Radio Bandeirantes from Japan.

"It wasn't something I said.  I spoke to the journalist today and they apologized.

"I am very open about what I said, but it wasn't that," Massa continued.  "I was upset with what came into the press, because it's not nice to read an interview and it's completely the opposite of the truth.

"The question was 'would you accept being a second driver' and I said 'no because I race to win,'" said the 29-year-old.

Massa's teammate Fernando Alonso also scolded the publication, hinting that he senses an attempt to destabilize Ferrari for the benefit of fellow title charger Sebastian Vettel.

"I don't think we are going to get nervous about what is said by a newspaper from a country with a driver in the fight for the title," the Spaniard is quoted by the AS sports daily.

Mercedes losing money on F1 merchandise in 2010
(GMM)  Mercedes is reportedly losing money in the area of trackside merchandise sales in 2010.

The Cologne tabloid Express reports that Red Bull is selling the most merchandise at grands prix this year, followed by Ferrari.

The report said Allsport charges teams more than EUR20,000 for merchandise booth rental at races, which in addition to hiring staff and buying the merchandise adds up to about a EUR50,000 spend per race for the top teams.

Red Bull is reportedly selling between EUR90-100,000 of merchandise per race, followed by 70-80,000 sold by Ferrari.

In addition to Michael Schumacher's multi million euro retainer this year, it might be said that Mercedes should look again at its expenditures.

But competition director Norbert Haug is quoted as saying: "The media value is a hundred times the numbers you are talking about.

"But I generally don't comment on figures," added the German.

'I need a Red Bull' jokes Rosberg at Suzuka
(GMM)  Asked what he needed for success this weekend, Nico Rosberg's jovial answer might have raised eyebrows within his Mercedes team garage.

"A Red Bull," laughed the German.

"The car, not the drink," added Rosberg, musing the dominance of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at Suzuka so far while his own W01 looks at least a second off the pace.

Williams' Rubens Barrichello also predicts an easy margin for the Adrian Newey-inked RB6 car.

"For me, the Red Bulls will be a good half a second in front," said the Brazilian.

If Ferrari and McLaren are unable to keep up in Japan, pole and victory is therefore likely to be contested by the two Red Bull drivers.

"I find what's happening incomprehensible," said Webber's manager Flavio Briatore in the Italian press, angry that Red Bull is not ordering Vettel to play a Felipe Massa-style supporting role.

Australian Webber's own needle is more subtle, quietly questioning his teammate's decision to use a new white helmet livery this weekend.

"He always has bad luck when he uses a new helmet," Webber joked.

But so far, the 2009 Suzuka pole sitter and winner is once again obviously enjoying the Japanese layout.

"I was running around the track and I thought 'Why can't they all be like this?'" smiled Vettel.

German drivers answer rumors about F1 futures
(GMM)  A trio of German drivers are the subject of speculation about their future on the formula one grid.

Nico Hulkenberg might be concerned about his career ending after just a single season, with Williams believed to be considering replacing him with the well-funded new GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado.

"At the moment there is no news and I am not concerned," the German insisted at Suzuka.

"I want to stay and generally things look well in that respect," added Hulkenberg.

Another question-mark hangs above Adrian Sutil, although his career looks much more secure.

Switzerland's Blick newspaper thinks the German might have signed a new deal with Force India for 2011, with an out-clause in the event that Michael Schumacher opens up a place at Mercedes by returning to retirement.

"No comment at the moment really," Sutil, who has also been linked with Renault, said in Japan.

"I don't want to wait too long until I make my decision but I will probably make it very soon."

According to APA news agency, a Mercedes spokesman denied that the German squad has warned Schumacher that he needs to up his pace in order to guarantee his race seat.

The 41-year-old German also sounded keen to fulfill the next two seasons of his contract.

"It is a long term project," said the German at Suzuka.  "If you think of how long it took to have success with Benetton and with Ferrari, it wasn't in the short term."

Official says Porsche 'can afford' own F1 team
(GMM)  A second leading figure of the famous sports car maker Porsche has admitted the German marque is considering a new formula one foray.

Porsche's new chief executive Matthias Mueller kicked off the reports with his comments at the Paris motor show last week.

And now Wolfgang Durheimer, Porsche's research and development director, has revealed that the marque is not simply considering becoming an engine supplier as it was in 1991.

"If Porsche was to go to formula one, then it would only be with its own team, because you need complete control over all the competition-related factors, including the car and its technology," Durheimer is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"Porsche is a very profitable company, we can afford that," he added.

Team member races from UK to fix Hamilton's wing
(GMM)  A Woking based team member has been dispatched on a 9,000 kilometer race from Britain to Suzuka.

He must reach the Japanese circuit in about 21 hours, in order to beat the parc ferme deadline so that Lewis Hamilton can be back up and running with the MP5-25's new rear wing for qualifying and the race.

The Briton broke the new wing's left endfence in his morning practice crash, and the only other version in Japan is fitted to Jenson Button's sister car.

When Hamilton returned to the track with 9 minutes of the afternoon session remaining, his car was fitted with the old wing as he drove to the 13th quickest time.

At the same time, a team member had been dispatched from the UK to bring new endplates to Suzuka in his hand-luggage.

"We can repair the wing with the new end plates," team boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

At the track, Hamilton's mechanics are also facing a long night.  The 25-year-old's chassis has also been damaged, and – after a patch-up job for the few afternoon practice laps - a new car will be built up overnight.

Mercifully, Jenson Button's similar Degner spin did not result in contact with the tire barrier, and Michael Schumacher and others also had moments in the same section.

"The bumps in the first part are worse than last year," said Sebastian Vettel, despite the organizers having modified the curbs after last year's multiple crashes there.

Engine makers want F1 to keep V8s beyond 2012
(GMM)  F1's engine makers are banding together against the FIA's plans to introduce a radically new engine formula in 2013.

It was previously believed the bulk of the teams backed the plans for turbocharged 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engines, in accordance with a 'greener' image.

But the sport's engine makers Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Cosworth have now come to the conclusion that Jean Todt's plans will cost EUR100 million to develop, and are lobbying to be able to base the new formula on the existing V8 engines.

Cosworth has reportedly warned that it can develop 4-cylinder engines for EUR20 million but that the costs must be passed on to its small customer teams.

So the engine maker group wants the plans to be delayed until 2015, according to a report in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

They believe the FIA's ambitions can be achieved with the current engines, such as by restricting fuel flow and developing the KERS regulations further.

They met after the Singapore race and agreed that efforts should be made to retain the basic V8 layout beyond 2012.

But also despite some F1 purists' fears about the benign sound the smaller engines will make, FIA president Todt is reportedly adamant the new formula one will be imposed on time.

One marque happy with the FIA's plans, including the possibility of the new engines being deployed outside of F1, is Porsche.

The German sports car maker's research and development chief Wolfgang Durheimer said its interest in entering F1 is "based on the 'world engine'".

"Of course, the rules have to be right," he added.

Qualifying rain begins at Suzuka
(GMM)  Just before 6.30pm at Suzuka on Friday evening, the Japanese skies were raining heavily.

The rain, forecast to essentially keep falling until late on Saturday, could dump as much as an incredible 85mm on the high speed venue between now and sundown after the third practice and qualifying action.

Qualifying rain almost always mixes up the natural grid order, meaning that the prediction of a dry race on Sunday is an exciting prospect.

"It seems we are set for a fun weekend," said Toro Rosso engineer Laurent Mekies.

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