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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Later season start gives McLaren 'more time' - Hamilton
  • HRT absent and Lotus packs up early as Barcelona test ends
  • Pirelli 'marbles' to make overtaking hard - Vettel
  • Journalists slam FIA, Todt, over Bahrain handling
  • Berger doubts Mercedes can catch up in 2011
  • Most Melbourne councilors support grand prix - report

Later season start gives McLaren 'more time' - Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has admitted he is not too disappointed that the 2011 season will begin two weeks later than originally scheduled.

The early life of McLaren's radical 2011 car, the MP4-26, has been troubled, after it debuted one test late and has so far made little impression in the reliability and performance stakes.

"We are trying to understand how the car, the tires and all the systems work together," 2008 world champion Hamilton is quoted by Turun Sanomat.

"We are not yet in the position to do 140 laps a day, like Webber did," he added.

On Monday, it was finally confirmed officially that the Bahrain grand prix has been postponed until later this season due to the political situation in the island Kingdom.

"I am not too unhappy about the world championship only starting in Australia, because it gives us more time," said Briton Hamilton.

"We have some catching up to do and not a lot of time until the season starts," he added.

A major shareholding of Woking based McLaren is held by the Bahrain government's Mumtalakat company.

HRT absent and Lotus packs up early as Barcelona test ends
(GMM)  HRT was absent as the four-day Barcelona test concluded on Monday.

The Spanish team, having already sat out the recent Jerez session, was at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this week, running drivers Narain Karthikeyan, Tonio Liuzzi and Giorgio Mondini.

Blick newspaper in Switzerland, however, reports that 30-year-old Mondini - from Geneva - is not really in contention for the vacant race seat alongside Karthikeyan.

"The Swiss simply bought the 32 laps for around 200,000 (Swiss) Francs ($211,000)," the report read.

And Mondini admitted: "It's been two years since I raced competitively and physically I could really feel it."

Hispania is yet to launch its 2011 car.

Also mainly absent on Monday was Team Lotus, whose Jarno Trulli crashed the green T128 an hour into the session.

The team had to pack up early due to not having the relevant spare part to repair the damage.

"It (the crash) was not his fault -- it was caused by a car failure," confirmed technical boss Mike Gascoyne.

Pirelli 'marbles' to make overtaking hard - Vettel
(GMM)  A feature of new supplier Pirelli's tire wear could make overtaking difficult in 2011, world champion Sebastian Vettel has revealed.

The Red Bull driver said that the new tires this year leave a lot of rubber 'marbles' off the racing line.

"At half distance (at races) there will be so many on the track that the adjustable rear wings won't help you," German Vettel told Auto Motor und Sport.

"It's because when you're off the line, you have to brake so much earlier," he explained.

Journalists slam FIA, Todt, over Bahrain handling
(GMM)  A group of British journalists are highly critical of Jean Todt's leadership during the saga leading up to the cancellation of the Bahrain grand prix.

When the unrest in the island Kingdom first began, FIA president Todt told reporters during a trip to Ireland that he would not "overreact", insisting that "at the moment there is no reason to have unnecessary concern".

But as the peaceful protesters then clashed more violently with Bahrain's security forces, raising strong calls for the season opener to be called off, the FIA and Todt went silent.

Finally, as the Bahrain royal family called off the race late on Monday, the FIA issued a three paragraph statement confirming that it "supports the decision".

The statement also made clear that it will be the sport's Paris based federation that decides if the race can be held later in 2011.

A group of British journalists are openly unimpressed.

Daily Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary described the situation as a "complete lack of direction from the sport's governing body".

Via Twitter, The Times' Kevin Eason agreed: "I still say the FIA's lack of leadership has been astounding.  Where is Max (Mosley) when you need him?"

The Mirror's Byron Young described the official FIA statement as "late" and "irrelevant".

Eason agreed: "A press release from the FIA arrives.  They are alive!"

Ian Parkes, who covers formula one for the Press Association, tweeted when he received the statement: "The FIA finally speaks."

Young, describing the FIA as "worse than useless" throughout the Bahrain affair, continued: "You can criticize Max Mosley for many things, and he'd take them on the chin, but he was a good leader.

"Todt has been Mr. Invisible so far."

Cary, agreeing that the "silence from Paris has been deafening" in recent days, offered one possible explanation for Todt's reluctance.

He said the Frenchman's "relationship with Bahrain is a particularly sensitive one.  The Bahrain royal family has close ties to FIA president Jean Todt".

Cary added that the Bahrain king's second son is a member of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council "and played a key role in Todt's election in 2008".

Meanwhile, Bahrain's crown prince is "a shareholder in Nicolas Todt's - Jean Todt's son's - (GP2) team", he reported.

Berger doubts Mercedes can catch up in 2011
(GMM)  Over a month ahead of the new 2011 season opener in Australia, Gerhard Berger doubts Mercedes can be a contender for the world championship.

The former Ferrari and McLaren driver notes that the silver W02 car is already behind on the winter test tracks and "there is no logical reason why they should catch up".

Mercedes' Norbert Haug has admitted that, if a race was held today, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg would not finish in the top ten.

But hopes are high for a major upgrade package for the first race.

"I have my doubts", Austrian Berger told Sport Bild magazine.

"I believe Red Bull have the best car again, and I see Ferrari and McLaren at eye-level behind them," he said, adding that Renault could be "a surprise".

As for Mercedes, Berger is concerned that the Brackley based team's recent revamp is in the area of "new race engineers" and new technical boss Bob Bell rather than a boosting of "the aerodynamics department".

"So there is no logical reason why they should catch up with McLaren or Ferrari," said Berger, "let alone Red Bull."

Most Melbourne councilors support grand prix - report
(GMM)  Most Melbourne city councilors believe the Australian grand prix should stay in the Victorian capital.

The annual event, which dates back to 1996, has attracted international media coverage recently, particularly after Melbourne's Lord Mayor said the state government should not sign a new contract.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone angrily hit back, but the story returned to the headlines this week.

Federal MP Michael Danby, whose electorate includes the Albert Park area, told parliament that his constituents overwhelmingly support the ditching of the event.

But the Herald Sun newspaper claims that Danby and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle's views are actually not widespread.

The report said Doyle has eight fellow Melbourne City councilors, and seven of them "want to keep the annual event despite him saying its time was up".

"I want it to be here as long as possible," said councilor Carl Jetter, and his colleague Kevin Louey agreed that F1 is "unlike other sporting events" and "it enhances Melbourne's name".

Meanwhile, the 2011 event, scheduled for March 27, is now in the spotlight as the new season opener following the cancellation of the Bahrain race.

"We'll have the eyes of the formula one world and the sporting world on us," said Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott.

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