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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • F1 no longer a sprint in 2011
  • Alonso still happy with Ferrari - Briatore
  • Ferrari working to fix wind tunnel problem

F1 no longer a sprint in 2011
(GMM)  Last year's refueling ban combined with the crumbling Pirelli tires of 2011 have transformed grands prix from sprints into Le Mans-style endurance events.

"It's no longer enough to have the fastest car or the best driver, you have to get to the end of the races in a position to keep fighting or defend your position," veteran engineer Joan Villadelprat wrote in his latest column for El Pais.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton broke championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's stranglehold in China by concentrating all weekend on conserving tires for the race and devising the best pit strategy.

"It took the experience of the last race to be able to do what I did," said the Briton, referring also to Sepang, where he grappled miserably to the checkered flag having damaged a crucial set of tires in qualifying the day before.

China was a breakthrough for McLaren but Hamilton knows his team has work to do to beat Red Bull's RB7 on outright pace.

"We are definitely the second quickest team," he said.  "For now, because we are not as fast as them on pure speed, it's about trying to outsmart them elsewhere."

Many observers are now applauding the excitement and surprises of Sunday afternoons, but the purists are questioning whether F1 has changed for the better.

"As a category it's changed a lot," Mark Webber, one such purist who scythed through the field to the podium in Shanghai having started 18th, told Reuters.

"In terms of the pace, there certainly is an element now of endurance mentality.  People like to watch cars being driven on the limit so we should still try to get that balance right," he added.

Alonso still happy with Ferrari - Briatore
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore has defended Fernando Alonso amid Ferrari's current slump.

After Shanghai, where the Spaniard bluntly assessed the "slow" 2011 car after being outperformed by his teammate Felipe Massa, La Stampa newspaper accused Alonso of being "unmotivated".

"There was no trace of the fighter (in China)," said the Italian newspaper.

Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio added: "Alonso, the most complete driver, in my view, showed signs of being a bad loser."

Even Adrian Campos, a former manager of Alonso, told Spain's SER radio: "In China had gave the impression of being very conservative, like he had said to himself just to bring the car home."

But the 29-year-old's current manager Briatore told Italian television Sky Sport: "The driver is important but the car even more so.  The problem with Ferrari is the car."

He denied Alonso is losing his motivation.

"Fernando wanted to be with Ferrari at any cost.  He is more than satisfied and will do everything he can to get a more competitive Ferrari," Briatore insisted.

The flamboyant Italian said Maranello based Ferrari has the "equipment and resources" to improve its situation and is simply "missing a little creativity".

But Campos, who founded the struggling HRT, said of Ferrari: "They seem to be lost, lacking in ideas.  Once they were the reference but clearly no longer."

Ferrari working to fix wind tunnel problem
(GMM)  Ferrari is working to fix a problem with its Maranello wind tunnel that has thwarted development of the 2011 car.

President Luca di Montezemolo's public message after Shanghai is that the famous marque "cannot and must not" keep turning out the same performances this season.

A deeper analysis is that the 150 Italia is lagging aerodynamically due a problem with the calibration of Ferrari's wind tunnel.

"We have a structural problem with the tunnel," team boss Stefano Domenicali confirmed to Italy's Autosprint.  "We are working to fix it."

He revealed that the tunnel has been churning out data that conflicts with the values seen when the car is running on a real circuit.

Recalibration of a wind tunnel is not the task of a moment, and therefore it is rumored that Ferrari is set to rely more heavily in the near future on the superb facility at Cologne which is now leased to clients by Toyota Motorsport.

"We started an investigation so we are doing correlation between the track and the wind tunnel, trying to understand why that (problem) should be," confirmed technical director Aldo Costa.

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