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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • McLaren to scrap expensive diffuser
    Berger no fan of F1 overtaking debate
  • Raikkonen to combine rally with NASCAR in 2011 (April Fools Joke?)
  • Alguersuari says Buemi to blame for Heidfeld damage
  • McLaren to scrap titanium diffuser for Malaysia
  • Briatore tells Ferrari to 'focus on 2012'
  • Fallout continues after costly Sauber blunder
  • HRT hopes to qualify with new wing - Karthikeyan

Berger no fan of F1 overtaking debate
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has admitted he is no fan of the ongoing debate about overtaking in formula one.

After watching the Australian grand prix on television, the ten-time race winner said the new moveable rear wings made "barely" any difference.

But "This is the wrong approach," he said on Austrian Servus TV.  "I want to see racing, where if you want to get past you have to brake later.

"I don't even know why we always have to talk about overtaking.  Everyone seems to complain but in recent years, the world championships have been very interesting.

"In most cases it (the champion) is decided at the last race; last year there were four drivers in with a chance.  And there has been overtaking," added Berger.

He thinks that instead of seeing boosted overtaking with complicated technical systems, F1's audience actually wants to watch a simplified sport.

"The audience does not want to be completely overwhelmed but rather see very simple rules and racing -- the same for formula one as with football."

Berger also talked about Red Bull's current domination of F1, crediting designer "genius" Adrian Newey.

"Something like him is very hard to find," he said.

"Mercedes have Brawn who is a good manager and a good strategy man, but it's a real artist that is lacking there."

Somehow we just don't see former Ferrari F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen driving in the lowly NASCAR Truck series
Raikkonen to combine rally with NASCAR in 2011 (April Fools Joke?)
(GMM)  As the second F1 season without him kicks off, Kimi Raikkonen has revealed plans to branch into NASCAR racing this year.

Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper said the 2007 world champion will combine his world rally championship foray in 2011 with America's premier motor racing category.

The 31-year-old's NASCAR adventure will begin in between rally outings with some events in the lesser truck and Nationwide categories with his own Ice1 entry.

The Finnish report said Raikkonen will "make his debut before the summer" in business with Foster Gillett, former managing partner of premier Sprint Cup team Richard Petty Motorsports.

"I look forward to exploring the world of NASCAR," Raikkonen is quoted as saying.  "I've been following it for a long time and I know it's a great series.  I like the American style.

"It will definitely be fun and challenging."

Turun Sanomat said talks with a car manufacturer are well advanced.

Raikkonen's former McLaren teammate Juan Pablo Montoya switched to NASCAR in 2006.

Alguersuari says Buemi to blame for Heidfeld damage
(GMM)  Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari has revealed that his teammate was responsible for Nick Heidfeld's damage in the Melbourne season opener.

The crash was not captured on television or by photographers, but Heidfeld had a notably poor debut with Renault in Australia and it emerged only afterwards that his right sidepod had sustained significant damage.

But the German did not know who had hit him, and neither did his team nor any significant F1 insiders.

"I would definitely have scored some points," Heidfeld told Auto Motor und Sport, "but a Toro Rosso hit me in turns 10 and 11 and I lost 1.5 seconds every lap."

Team boss Eric Boullier explained: "He lost KERS and the balance was affected."

The prime suspect for the crash was Alguersuari, who had already been blamed for running into his own teammate Sebastien Buemi on the first lap.

"It's not the first time it has happened, so I think we (Buemi and Alguersuari) will be having a chat about it," said an angry Buemi, who is fighting for survival at Toro Rosso.

But faced with the further accusation about the Heidfeld crash at Melbourne airport, Spaniard Alguersuari said he was not to blame.

"I hit with Schumacher, but for Heidfeld I am not responsible," he insisted.

"I was right behind and saw exactly what happened.  Seb (Buemi) was in corner ten fighting with the Renault and he hit him at corner 11."

Buemi did not mention the incident after the race, and it was not investigated by the stewards.

McLaren to scrap titanium diffuser for Malaysia
(GMM)  McLaren has good reason to expect another step forwards in Malaysia next weekend.

After a dire winter period, the British team scrapped its complex 'octopus' exhaust system before Melbourne and moved onto the pace with a Red Bull-inspired layout.

And the same layout is set to be lighter at Sepang next weekend, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

"We had to manufacture the parts for the new exhaust in a very short time," confirmed team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

"So we had to build the diffuser entirely of titanium which, of course, cost us some extra weight," added the Briton, clearing up the mystery of McLaren's oddly light-colored diffuser at Albert Park.

For Malaysia, the significantly lighter diffuser in carbon and exotic Pyrosic heat shielding will be ready.

In a spot of bad news for Mercedes fans, however, Norbert Haug has revealed that the struggling W02 will feature "no radical changes" in either Malaysia or China a week later.

"Our goal in Malaysia and China is to drive as much as possible without problems in order to set up the car well for the track, which is something we did not achieve in Melbourne," said the German.

Briatore tells Ferrari to 'focus on 2012'
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore has advised Ferrari to write off 2011 after this year's 150 Italia car struggled in Melbourne last weekend.

The Italian team, featuring Fernando Alonso as its lead driver, is currently investigating why the new car was not as good in Australia after a promising winter test campaign.

"It may sound absurd, but I think Ferrari should focus on the 2012 car now," Briatore, the ousted former Renault boss and Alonso's manager, is quoted as saying by Finland's Turun Sanomat.

"Ferrari, of course, have all the engineering skills and resources that you need, but the half-second difference to Red Bull is an eternity," he added.

Briatore said that gap cannot be closed in two months, by which time Sebastian Vettel could be unassailable "If Red Bull maintain their condition and he (Vettel) keeps the same lead on Mark Webber".

The flamboyant Italian also reinforced his criticism of Michael Schumacher's continuing F1 comeback.

"I've always been against it -- a 40-year-old can never be the same as someone who is 20.  Michael is half-retired already and his great career is having a nasty end," said Briatore.

Meanwhile, former ten-time GP winner Gerhard Berger agrees with Briatore that Red Bull is unlikely to be caught by its rivals this year.

"Why should there be a big change?" the Austrian told Bild newspaper.  "All the same people will all keep working, so I don't foresee a turning point."

Fallout continues after costly Sauber blunder
(GMM)  After Sauber's Melbourne disqualification, angry fans have demanded to know why the C20 was cleared to drive all weekend with an illegal wing.

Team owner Peter Sauber has said the Swiss team had two wing specifications on hand in Australia, with one of them fitted to Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi's cars on Sunday breaching a technical rule by mere millimeters.

Given the tough midfield championship fight in modern F1, Swiss newspaper Blick estimates the potential cost of the disqualification in the millions.

So given that scrutineering takes place on the Thursday before practice, why did the FIA not discover the illegal wings before they were raced?

"The checks before practice is only to see if the 24 cars meet the safety requirements," explained Paul Gutjahr, one of the three stewards at Albert Park.

Indeed, only the Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Toro Rossos were given the same post-race rear wing legality check after the race in Australia.

Another question is whether Sauber's technical director James Key will be fired for the oversight.  "How can I answer that?" gutted team boss Sauber said.

"It will certainly be days before we can even mentally deal with this," he added.

HRT hopes to qualify with new wing - Karthikeyan
(GMM)  Narain Karthikeyan insists he supports F1's 107 per cent rule and is confident he will be quick enough to qualify for the second event of his return to the sport.

Struggling Spanish team HRT had a horror opening weekend of its second season, hardly running at all in practice and then not lapping quick enough to qualify for the Australian race.

When the F111 finally did get up and running in Melbourne, it featured the 2010 front wing cobbled onto the new chassis, after the 2011 nose failed a mandatory crash test.

"If we get the new front wing ... not if, we are going to get it," Indian Karthikeyan told Reuters ahead of next weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

"We are reasonably confident that we will qualify and if all these things happen then we don't have any excuse not to qualify for Malaysia," he said.

Many insiders will be surprised if the car does qualify at Sepang, but Karthikeyan insists the 107 per cent rule - having returned for 2011 after a long absence - is right for formula one.

"Basically, they don't want jokers to come in," he said.  "We respect the 107 per cent rule.  We are a serious team.

"When it all gets kicking off, I think we are going to surprise a few people," he added.

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