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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Jean Todt blames races
    Abu Dhabi eyes changes to improve F1 overtaking
  • F1 popularity waning due to 'unacceptable' races - Todt
  • Button glad dominant Red Bull struggling with KERS
  • No 'Korea-type situation' for Indian GP - Kafitz
  • Renault engine burns fuel to help F1 customers
  • No Mercedes offers for Vettel since 2009 - Haug
  • Todt: F1 needs to bring in TV viewers
  • Pirelli add stripes to help identifying tires
  • HRT lands Mercedes wind tunnel deal 

Abu Dhabi eyes changes to improve F1 overtaking
(GMM)  Organizers of the Abu Dhabi grand prix are contemplating making changes to the Yas Marina circuit.

The layout of the otherwise spectacular facility received criticism after last year's mainly processional season finale.

FIA president Jean Todt told Auto Motor und Sport this week that "Races like Abu Dhabi in 2010, where you cannot overtake, are not acceptable".

But Richard Cregan, Yas Marina Circuit chief executive, insists Abu Dhabi should not be singled out.

"You can see it around the world that you have tracks equally as good as Yas Marina Circuit, many of them with a longer heritage and still F1 becomes a procession," he told The National.

Cregan admitted, however, that circuit officials are discussing with the FIA as well as drivers ways to improve the track.

"We are looking at various track modifications that we have to do for MotoGP and also what impact they would have on formula one," he said.

"We want to be active in terms of increasing the spectacle."

F1 popularity waning due to 'unacceptable' races - Todt
(GMM)  F1's global television audience is in decline, according to FIA president Jean Todt.

The Frenchman told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport that he thinks the problem is the questionable spectacle of some grands prix.

"Races like Abu Dhabi in 2010, where you cannot overtake, are unacceptable," said Todt, who appears increasingly at odds with F1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

He said "Recent data indicates a fall in the numbers of spectators.  People have many choices in how to spend their leisure and every day we must ask ourselves how we can improve the entertainment".

Todt repeated his recent claim that one striking problem is the visibility of the drivers.

"On television I can hardly tell who is at the wheel of each car," he said.  "Only the experts know the helmets and many drivers change their design race to race.

"NASCAR does a good job.  A driver, getting a starting number that he keeps for all his career, is immediately identifiable by the fans."

Todt also defended F1's new 'green' engine rules for 2013.

"One day governments will prohibit certain types of cars or engines.  The FIA needs to demonstrate it is moving forward, even if it brings us no new fans," he said.

"The bigger you are, the greater the role model you have to be."

Button glad dominant Red Bull struggling with KERS
(GMM)  Jenson Button believes F1 is yet to witness the true performance of Red Bull's 2011 car.

Reigning world champion and current championship leader Sebastian Vettel dominated the season opening Australian grand prix from pole, finishing 22 seconds clear of Button's McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel's Melbourne feats were without the aid of KERS, with Button believing Red Bull is struggling with the technology.

"That's good for us," the 2009 world champion is quoted by El Pais.

"We need a powerful KERS to compete against them because in every other area they are very competitive," said the Briton.

"At the moment I think we're a long way from Red Bull," the McLaren driver acknowledged.  "I get the impression that Seb is yet to show the full potential of that car."

The Cologne tabloid Express said it is possible Vettel might lap the entire field this weekend in Malaysia.

"At Sepang the aerodynamics are much more important (than in Melbourne)," said Hamilton.  "So Red Bull should be even better there."

Vettel said KERS is worth about five-tenths per lap, and his teammate Mark Webber on Thursday said using the system in Malaysia is a "no-brainer".

No 'Korea-type situation' for Indian GP - Kafitz
(GMM)  An official of the new Indian grand prix has denied the Delhi venue could struggle to be ready for its inaugural October race later this year.

The 5.1 kilometer Jaypee Group Circuit is currently under construction on 100 acres of land in the Uttar Pradesh state.

Organizers had earmarked a mid-year completion date, but some recent visitors to the site have expressed fears the venue is far from ready.

But Dr Walter Kafitz told Speed Week that the Indian grand prix will take place as scheduled on 30 October.

Kafitz, at Sepang to oversee an Indian delegation, is now working on the Delhi project after 15 years as head of the Nurburgring circuit in Germany.

He said the track will be more than ready for F1, despite fears of a repeat of Delhi's controversial hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

"It is a wonderful circuit for spectators as well as for the drivers," said Kafitz.

He insisted that rumors of construction delays are not true.

"There will be no South Korea-type situation with us," added Kafitz, referring to the calamitous preparations for last year's inaugural grand prix in Yeongam.

Renault engine burns fuel to help F1 customers
(GMM)  Renault's 2011 engine is helping customer teams to speed into dominance in the crucial area of aerodynamics, the French marque has claimed.

Supplying identical V8 power plants to the Red Bull, Renault and Lotus teams, Renault Sport F1 revealed in a statement that its engines burned "10 per cent more fuel than normal" in Melbourne two weeks ago.

Renault said its RS27 unit is "extremely good" in the area of fuel consumption, meaning that its drivers can run for longer during grands prix at full power.

That gives "more exhaust flow to its partners using the blown diffuser", the statement revealed.

Since blown diffusers emerged last year, F1's engine makers have been perfecting new engine maps that keep the exhaust gases flowing quickly in the corners even when the driver is not on the throttle.

"Simply put, the more fuel burned, the more exhaust is produced and potentially more downforce," said Renault.

In Melbourne, Renault-powered Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull won from pole, and he was joined on the podium by Vitaly Petrov.

"Renault remained in F1 to show its technical capabilities and high level of performance and this result completely justifies the board's decision," said Renault Sport F1 managing director Jean-Francois Caubet.

No Mercedes offers for Vettel since 2009 - Haug
(GMM)  Mercedes has not made an offer to Sebastian Vettel since wanting to pair the young German with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2009.

With the German marque now having its own team Mercedes GP, competition director Norbert Haug was playing down speculation he recently moved to poach the reigning world champion before he re-committed to Red Bull for the next four years.

"He (Vettel) got the (Mercedes) offer in 2009," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko said in a joint Sport Bild interview with Haug.

Haug confirmed: "Right.  Since then, there was no more (offers)."

He thinks 23-year-old Vettel was right to sign a long contract with Red Bull, while "Red Bull would have made a big mistake not to secure him for the long term".

"They are able to offer him the very best equipment at the moment and we're not quite there," acknowledged Haug.

Todt: F1 needs to bring in TV viewers
FIA President Jean Todt has said Formula One needed to question how it can remain attractive to television viewers.

The latest figures show a drop in the television audience for grand prix races, Todt told Germany's Auto, Moto und Sport magazine to appear Thursday.

"People have many other ways of spending their free time. It's why we have to ask ourselves every day what we can improve in the show," the FIA president said.

"Races like the season finale 2010 in Abu Dhabi, where you cannot overtake, are not acceptable."

To improve overtaking opportunities, Formula One has this season re-introduced the KERS system which converts energy that develops during braking into power that can be used to boost acceleration.

Moveable rear wings which can also boost speed have also been introduced while FIA has returned to Pirelli tires, which are thought to deteriorate faster than last season's Bridgestone tires and thus provide a greater challenge for teams.

However, Todt said Formula One would have to introduce more environmentally-clean technology before being forced to do so by governments.

He also said more would have to be done to make the drivers more visible for viewers.

"In television I can hardly recognize who is sitting in a car," he said.

"The helmets are only known to experts. A lot of drivers are constantly changing the design as well."

He praised the US NASCAR series in which drivers received a start number to be kept throughout his entire career and was "immediately identifiable for fans." Planet F1

Pirelli add stripes to help identifying tires
Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli has added Bridgestone-like stripes to its tires to help distinguish each of the compounds in Malaysia this weekend. The colors of the stripes will continue to vary depending on the type of Slick in use.

For Pirelli’s first race back to the sport in Australia, the Milan-based company marked its Prime and Option compounds with varying colors of Pirelli PZero text on the sidewalls of the tires. However, this proved difficult to see at high speed.

From Sepang onwards, both the text marking and stripe identification will be in use, with the Hard (silver) and Soft (yellow) compounds available again.

HRT lands Mercedes wind tunnel deal
HRT has concluded a deal to use one the spare Mercedes GP Petronas wind tunnel in Brackley, which is not being used by the German-owned team because of the Resources Restriction Agreement. This will allow the team to develop the new car in the months ahead. The team will have its new nose this weekend and there are plans for a string of new parts for the Chinese GP and the team is confident that it will have a better weekend than in Australia.

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