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Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
  • Kovalainen suggests Virgin needs wind tunnel
  • Alguersuari not yet ready for F1 'war'
  • Di Resta not yet making Sutil 'nervous'
  • McLaren to tweak overall colors throughout 2011
  • Hamilton says 'who knows' on future beyond 2012
  • F1 must work to win over new markets - Whitmarsh

Kovalainen suggests Virgin needs wind tunnel
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen has told Virgin to abandon its policy of developing formula one cars with only computer-simulation technology.

After a difficult 2010 debut, the British team has fallen even further off the pace this season and in China was almost matched by the struggling HRT.

Car designer Nick Wirth heads Wirth Research, a company claiming to "pioneer the use of advanced virtual engineering technologies" which "reduces the need for costly and wasteful development models and prototype manufacture".

But Virgin's 2010 rival Lotus is pulling away this year and that team's Finnish driver Kovalainen told Auto Motor und Sport: "If Adrian Newey works with a wind tunnel, then all the others must do the same."

Virgin's situation has buoyed the spirits of HRT, whose Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi both failed to qualify in Australia, where it was announced that the Spanish team is now renting one of Mercedes' unused tunnels.

"Qualifying shouldn't be an issue any more," Indian Karthikeyan said in Shanghai.  "Our target is now to get closer to Virgin."

Alguersuari not yet ready for F1 'war'
(GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has played down suggestions he and Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Buemi are locked in a battle to replace the struggling Mark Webber at Red Bull.

"No, nothing like that," the Spaniard is quoted by AS newspaper.

Shanghai was the first time in 2011 that Alguersuari has outqualified Swiss Buemi, amid boss Franz Tost's claim that if one of the pair disappoints, Daniel Ricciardo is poised to pounce on their race seat.

But Alguersuari, 21, said he is not worried about the politics, and confessed he was "surprised" to be ahead of Buemi in China and thanked some "luck".

"All I want to do at the moment is get 100 per cent with the car and the tires, and when I do that, as in the final races of last year, then I'll be at war with someone or other.

"But for now, no," he added.

Buemi, meanwhile - who it has been suggested is the most likely to be dropped by Toro Rosso - admitted he was "angry" after being outqualified by Alguersuari on Saturday.

"I have congratulated my teammate," he told Sonntagsblick newspaper, "but that di Resta has got between us as well is really annoying."

Speed Week quotes Buemi, just four hundredths of a second slower than Alguersuari as the pair both made Q3, adding: "I am happy for the team, less happy with myself."

He has admitted previously to working harder than even in preparation for 2011, arguably the most important season of his career.

"Everyone who gets to F1 is very talented," he told Swiss television TSR, "but that's not enough.

"Apart from Raikkonen a few years ago, it's not enough to just turn up and sit in the car," added Buemi.

Di Resta not yet making Sutil 'nervous'
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil has denied that his rookie teammate Paul di Resta's impressive form so far in 2011 is making him "nervous".

"It's too early to say that," the veteran German, who has been with Force India since its Spyker days and has rarely been troubled by a teammate, told Auto Motor und Sport in China.

Shanghai is the third consecutive race at which reigning DTM champion di Resta has outqualified Sutil.

The 28-year-old suggested he is still adjusting to the "many new things in F1".

"You would only worry if you did not know what the problem is," added Sutil.

As for impressive Scotsman di Resta's stirring early form, he answered: "Paul is doing very well and has made no mistakes."

Di Resta, 25 and still with close ties to Mercedes, is quoted as saying: "Adrian should have no fear of me.  He has a lot of experience in F1 and generally I'm very happy with my performance.

"I'm very critical of myself but if it continues like this, I'm happy."

McLaren to tweak overall colors throughout 2011
(GMM)  Observers had to double-take on Saturday when McLaren's race regulars appeared to have made an overnight switch to Ferrari.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton qualified in Shanghai wearing all-red overalls that resembled the ones also worn by the similarly Santander-sponsored Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

It turns out the British team, whose Hamilton raced in Malaysia two weeks ago with a tiger pattern on the back of his standard grey suit, is marking the 30-year anniversary of its tie-up with sponsor Hugo Boss.

McLaren confirmed that the black dragon on the rear of the Shanghai-spec red overalls is there because "in the Chinese culture red symbolizes good fortune and joy and the dragon is also a symbol of strength and good luck".

There will reportedly be a different overall design for every qualifying day in 2011.

"I quite like these," said Button as he looked down at his red suit on Saturday.  "I think they're pretty flash."

Other observers told Hamilton the red overalls and yellow helmet reminded them of his favorite F1 legend, to which the Briton replied: "But Senna would have been on pole."

Hamilton says 'who knows' on future beyond 2012
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton adopted a new tactic on Saturday as speculation about his future threatens to race out of control.

Earlier in Shanghai, the media interpreted some of the 2008 world champion's comments as a warning to McLaren that he is on the hunt for a new team.

Hamilton hastily corrected the record, and then had a humorous answer ready when he sat down for an interview with Italy's La Stampa.

Asked if Ferrari might be his potential future employer, the 26-year-old said: "Anything is possible.  I could change my earrings, grow my hair long, or start dressing like Schumacher.

"Who knows?" the Briton added.

Hamilton confirmed that his current contract with McLaren expires at the "end of 2012".

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said in China that he would like to keep Hamilton paired with Jenson Button through 2017.

"My heart tells me to stay here," answered Hamilton.  "I first came to McLaren when I was 11.  I want to be the most successful driver with this team and I'm glad they want to keep me."

As for how he has changed since 2007, when he threw away the title in the slippery Shanghai pit entry, Hamilton said: "I make fewer mistakes and stupid decisions now, relying on experience rather than just instinct."

F1 must work to win over new markets - Whitmarsh
(GMM)  The Chinese grand prix is a good reminder of the work F1 needs to do to promote itself in new markets.

That is the claim of Martin Whitmarsh, not only the McLaren team principal but also in charge of the teams organization FOTA.

He was speaking in Shanghai, where small crowds having paid high ticket prices have gathered at the imposing F1 circuit, and a lack of local knowledge and enthusiasm away from the venue is obvious.

"We have fantastic worldwide TV audiences but we have to work harder at the circuits," Briton Whitmarsh is quoted by the Associated Press.

"It's a similar story in Istanbul, which is where we go next.  Go around Istanbul and tell me how many billboards or advertisements you see," he added.

Whitmarsh said the issue is important, particularly a year ahead of formula one's return to America at a circuit currently under construction in Texas.

"We need to learn that lesson before we go back into the US market," he insisted.  "We can't just plonk ourselves down and believe that America will reignite any enthusiasm for F1."

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