Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday
Vettel used KERS to pip Hamilton to Sepang pole
- Pirelli use gold line for soft tires in Malaysia
- Red Bull link 'positive' insists Hamilton
- CVC not looking to sell F1 yet - Ecclestone
- Ferrari's gap to leaders 'very big' - Massa
- F1 drivers back moves to change Interlagos corner
- Petrov, Perez say 'shut up!' to pay-driver talk
- Coulthard tells flex rivals to 'put up or shut up'
- F1 overtaking obsession 'silly' - Newey
- Di Grassi to do next Pirelli tire test
- India names F1 track after Buddha
Vettel used KERS to pip Hamilton to Sepang pole
(GMM) Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel used KERS to power to pole at Sepang on Saturday.
The team did not use the energy-recovery technology to dominate in Melbourne two weeks ago, but championship leader Vettel said he needed it to stave off a resurgent McLaren in Malaysia by just one tenth.
"We came here and solved most of the (reliability) problems," the German said. "I think if we did not have it (KERS) today, we would not be here (on pole)."
So significant has been McLaren's progress in recent weeks that Hamilton, happy to be second best in Australia, was visibly disappointed with his P2 on the Sepang grid.
"These guys (Red Bull) still have a slight edge but it seems we've closed the gap a bit," said the Briton.
Also visibly disappointed was Vettel's teammate Mark Webber, but he said Saturday was a "better performance from me" after a poor showing two weeks ago.
"Mark (P3) had a little KERS alarm that we're looking at," Red Bull boss Christian Horner told the BBC, "but I don't think it was anything significant."
Vettel, meanwhile, said he thinks there will be lots of pitstops in Sunday's race given the high degradation of the Pirelli tires.
"I hope the spectators don't lose count," he smiled.
Pirelli use gold line for soft tires in Malaysia
(GMM) Pirelli's soft tires have a gold line around the edge of the sidewall this weekend in Malaysia.
The move follows complaints in Australia that the tire supplier's choice for visibly differentiating the compounds in 2011 - different colored logo lettering - was not noticeable enough.
Pirelli said the gold band "should make the compound easier to spot on television" from Sepang.
A permanent revision to the markings this year will be announced ahead of May's Turkish grand prix.
At Sepang on Friday, there was higher tire degradation than was witnessed in Melbourne two weeks ago.
Fernando Alonso said a Sergio Perez-style one stopper will be "impossible" on Sunday, and Pirelli's motor sport boss Paul Hembery said a "normal" dry race will see three stops.
"Here it's all about the tires," Virgin driver Timo Glock told Speed Week. "They last a lap and then start to break down, so it is just about keeping going as long as possible."
Also on Friday, drivers tested Pirelli's new extra-hard tire that was tipped to be used in Turkey to cope with the famous Turn 8, but it is believed the tire proved too hard.
"We need to be careful that we don't end up with tires that are too conservative," warned Hembery.
Red Bull link 'positive' insists Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has hit back at Christian Horner's claim that pairing him with Sebastian Vettel would risk creating "fireworks" at Red Bull.
"Look at me and Jenson (Button)," said the McLaren driver, referring to his current teammate. "World champions can definitely race together as long as there is quality in the team."
British reporters asked the 26-year-old if the rumors and counter-rumors about his future, particularly the link with Red Bull, had him "rattled".
He denied it and insisted it's "positive I'm being talked about, which means I'm not forgotten", added Hamilton in quotes published by Fleet Street newspapers from Malaysia.
But apparently pouring water on a possible tie-up with Red Bull, Hamilton suggested Vettel is the one who would cause the fireworks if he switched to the reigning championship-winning team.
"Some individuals can take being beaten, some are better losers or better winners," he said.
"When I beat Jenson, he doesn't whine and say 'Oh, Lewis has a better car than me or Lewis did this and I did that'."
And he tentatively committed his future to McLaren.
"I'm contracted for the next two years and I want to win world championships here. I hope that continues, but you never know what happens in the future," said Hamilton.
CVC not looking to sell F1 yet - Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down rumors F1's owner CVC is looking to sell its 100 per cent ownership of the sport.
Several sources told the Reuters news agency recently that a strategic review is underway by CVC for a potential "sale, IPO or debt refinancing".
But F1 chief executive Ecclestone told the Daily Mail that while "People are knocking at their door all the time, CVC is not looking for any exit over the next two or three years".
CVC declined to comment.
The 80-year-old also said CVC's $2.9 billion debt "should be cleared by 2014".
Ferrari's gap to leaders 'very big' - Massa
(GMM) Ferrari's drivers were disappointed at Sepang to learn that pole, victory and even a podium on merit are out of reach at present.
The Italian team was surprised to find itself off the pace in Melbourne, but had high hopes that the more conventional Malaysian layout would paint a different picture.
But RTL commentator Christian Danner said Red Bull and McLaren are "in a different league" this weekend.
"The gap between us to them is very big," Felipe Massa admitted to Agencia Estado. "We will have a tough weekend."
Alarmingly for the Maranello based team, Fernando Alonso said the 150 Italia car is handling quite well at Sepang.
"What we lack in comparison to Red Bull and McLaren is speed," said the Spaniard.
"We'll see how we go but we have not been fast and we expect no miracles," Alonso is quoted by Spanish newspapers.
He said the Malaysian weather could intervene to give Ferrari a boost, and F1's other Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari agrees.
"The chances of rain are quite high," the Toro Rosso driver told AS newspaper. "It rains every day here between 4 and 6pm."
F1 drivers back moves to change Interlagos corner
(GMM) GPDA president Rubens Barrichello has backed efforts for a change to the Curva do Cafe corner at Brazilian grand prix venue Interlagos.
A stock car driver died after bouncing off the barriers onto the racing line there in 2007, and at Sepang Felipe Massa is wearing a sticker on his helmet to pay tribute to Gustavo Sondermann, after his Brazilian countryman died in a near-identical crash last Sunday.
"If they (track officials) need the (F1) drivers to talk with the FIA to change the corner, we will," said Barrichello in Malaysia.
Also to O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, Massa agreed: "There has not been only one death, we have to improve that corner."
Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso had horror accidents at the Curva do Cafe some years ago.
"The problem is that whoever is coming along can only see what's going on ahead when he's almost there," said the Australian.
"It's curved, uphill and in the cockpit we're right on the ground," Webber added. "We go through there in fifth, sixth gear at 220kph."
FIA official Charlie Whiting said at Sepang that Brazil's racing federation CBA will submit a report about the accident before he comments.
Petrov, Perez say 'shut up!' to pay-driver talk
(GMM) F1 commentators have been told to "shut up" before denouncing newcomers to the sport as mere "pay-drivers".
It has been said that Vitaly Petrov only kept his Renault seat this year thanks to his Russian millions, while Sergio Perez has brought the backing of Mexican giant Telmex to the Sauber team in 2011.
Both performed spectacularly in Melbourne last weekend, with Petrov achieving his first ever podium and rookie Perez the only driver in the field to manage a one-stopper on the new Pirelli tires.
"I know why I'm in F1 and why some people call me that (a pay-driver)," Perez is quoted in a French-language AFP report.
"I've always had confidence in myself but it feels good to shut the mouths of those who have not stopped telling me I'm here because I paid for my seat."
Petrov has a similar attitude about being called a pay-driver.
"If someone says this, I say 'Shut up! I don't want to listen to this'," said the Russian.
"I don't want people to think that we are here just because of money," Petrov told The Independent.
"My father wanted to blow all the money the family has and the business," he said sarcastically, "but after a few races in F1 you can see that I am not here just because of money."
Coulthard tells flex rivals to 'put up or shut up'
(GMM) David Coulthard has told Red Bull's critics to "put up or shut up" as the new flexible front wing saga continues to grip the Sepang paddock.
In a repeat of the identical 2010 controversy, some rivals - notably Coulthard's former employer McLaren - say the front wing of the RB7 is flexing too much even though it passes FIA scrutineering tests.
The Scot, now a commentator for British television as well as an advisor to his last F1 team Red Bull, wrote in the Telegraph that he is suspicious of the complaints.
"Anyone who complains repeatedly about something but does not lodge a protest is either scaremongering, trying to devalue someone else's achievements or has serious doubts about the solidity of their argument," said Coulthard.
He added that Red Bull's rivals "either need to copy it (the wing) - if they can - or challenge it if they think it is illegal. Put up or shut up".
Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn said the frustration of some of Red Bull's rivals is because the FIA flexibility tests were further strengthened over the winter.
"It's fair to say that probably, over the winter, a lot of teams assumed with the new test that the situation was going to change and it hasn't," said the Briton.
F1 overtaking obsession 'silly' - Newey
(GMM) The obsession of some F1 observers about overtaking is "silly", the sport's top car designer Adrian Newey insists.
With KERS returning in 2011 and the controversial moveable rear wings now also being used in races, the Briton was asked what he would say to Bernie Ecclestone if the F1 chief executive asked him how to make passing even easier.
"I would tell him to stop saying silly things," Newey is quoted by Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung.
"If overtaking is too easy, it's not exciting," he insisted.
"Overtaking in formula one really never was easy and honestly I don't see a big problem," added Newey.
Di Grassi to do next Pirelli tire test
(GMM) Lucas di Grassi will do the driving when F1 tire supplier Pirelli resumes its private track testing program.
We reported in January that the former Virgin driver could be set to replace Pedro de la Rosa, who later announced he has returned to McLaren as third driver.
Spaniard de la Rosa was however given permission to drive Pirelli's 2009 Toyota test car in Turkey last week, but also at the Istanbul track for a few laps was Brazilian di Grassi.
And the 26-year-old Sao Paulo native "will take over test driving duties at the next test in Barcelona, scheduled for May", Pirelli confirmed at Sepang.
"He is a nice guy, very intelligent and good enough for F1," Pirelli motor sport director Paul Hembery is quoted as saying by the Brazilian Totalrace website.
"We'll see what the rapport is," added the Briton, "how consistent he is and what feedback he gives. I'm hoping it's the right solution.
"We don't want to keep changing the driver all the time, but if Luca is as successful as the others, he will probably return to GP2 or formula one," predicted Hembery.
Pirelli's other F1 test drivers so far were Nick Heidfeld and Romain Grosjean.
India names F1 track after Buddha
(GMM) Organizers of the inaugural 2011 Indian grand prix have renamed the New Delhi circuit.
Currently under construction in the Uttar Pradesh state and scheduled to host its first race in October, the track was previously called the Jaypee International Race Circuit.
Jaypee is the name of the race's promoter, headed by chief executive Sameer Gaur, who is heading an Indian delegation at the Malaysian grand prix this weekend.
"We want to have an in-depth look at Malaysia's successful race," he is quoted by the Bernama news agency.
Gaur also took the opportunity of his Sepang visit to announce that the track has been officially renamed Buddh International Circuit.
"It is from the word Buddha to mean peace and calmness," he explained.