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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • FIA says Red Bull 'engine trick' not illegal
  • Alonso 'more complete' than Schumacher - de la Rosa
  • Button impressed with new Sauber
  • Raikkonen admits 'minor doubts' about return
  • Glock happy fans still rate ability
  • Sauber battered after Melbourne fall
  • HRT car 'dangerous' in Australia - de la Rosa
  • Red Bull car 'a construction site' in Australia - Vettel
  • Race contract key to Singapore floatation - report
  • Sauber denies Ferrari moving to poach Perez
  • Grosjean hoping for long stay at Lotus
  • Senna to lose practice seat to Bottas in 2012

FIA says Red Bull 'engine trick' not illegal
(GMM)  F1's governing body has cleared Red Bull and Renault following accusations they are deploying an 'illegal engine trick'.

Reports suggested Mercedes, having analyzed sound recordings of the Red Bull RB8 in Melbourne, suspected the 'trick' of cutting more than the allowed four cylinders in corners was not legal.

"As far as we are concerned, it's legal," said the FIA's Charlie Whiting in Malaysia.

There was some good news for Mercedes at Sepang, however, as its W03 passed pre-race scrutineering despite Red Bull and Lotus continuing to argue that its 'W-duct' system is not legal.

"The car got the green light again," competition boss Norbert Haug told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

Some suspect that the innovation could give Mercedes such a top-speed advantage on Sepang's long straights this weekend that pole position is already in the bag.

"I think some get a little bit too excited," smiled Michael Schumacher.

Alonso 'more complete' than Schumacher - de la Rosa
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso is F1's 'driver of the decade', according to Pedro de la Rosa.

The HRT driver said that, in his opinion, his Spanish countryman has been even better in F1's modern history than Michael Schumacher, who won every world championship between 2000 and 2004.

Alonso, now at Ferrari, won his titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

De la Rosa told Mundo Deportivo: "I think Fernando was the best of the decade, over Michael.

"Why?  Because no matter what the rules, he was always on top; with grooved tires, with slicks, with blown diffusers, with double diffusers, with Pirelli, Bridgestone, Michelin ...

"If you look at it, he is the most complete."

As for the 2012 contest, however, de la Rosa has another favorite.  Asked to pick this season's champion, he hesitated before answering: "I think (Lewis) Hamilton."

Button impressed with new Sauber
(GMM)  Championship leader Jenson Button has admitted he is impressed with Sauber.

Button's McLaren team is the dominant force of 2012 so far, ahead of Red Bull.

But not far behind the leading pack, the Briton argues, is the former BMW outfit from Hinwil, Switzerland.

"They have definitely impressed me," Button is quoted by Die Welt newspaper.  "They are very, very fast."

Team boss Peter Sauber agrees: "We went into the season with great expectations.  Now we know that we have a fast car."

Raikkonen admits 'minor doubts' about return
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has admitted he travelled to Australia recently unsure if he would be immediately back up to speed in formula one.

The 2007 world champion spent the last two years rallying, after Ferrari ended his last F1 contract a season early.

"I always felt I could make a return to grand prix racing," said the Finn ahead of his second race of 2012 with Lotus.

"But, I can confess now, I got some good answers (in Australia) to my own minor doubts how quickly you can adapt the racing rhythm after being away for some time.  The speed is there," added Raikkonen.

The 32-year-old has previously won the Malaysian grand prix with McLaren and Ferrari.

Glock happy fans still rate ability
(GMM)  Timo Glock has revealed he is happy to know F1 spectators still rate his talents.

2012 is the 30-year-old's third consecutive season with backmarkers Marussia (formerly Virgin), after an impressive earlier career at Toyota.

But a recent online poll in Germany showed that a majority of his countrymen think he would be a worthy successor at Mercedes for Michael Schumacher, should the seven time world champion return to retirement.

"It's very positive that the fans who follow the races on TV are still able to say 'Glock could still do it if he had a fast car," he is quoted by Auto Bild.

But for now, he will have to wait even for an improved car, with the first real fruits of Marussia's tie-up with McLaren not expected until the European race season.

"Our current car was still built just with CFD," Glock told Auto Motor und Sport.  "The first concept of the car was already done when we went for the first time into the McLaren wind tunnel."

Sauber battered after Melbourne fall
(GMM)  Peter Sauber is sporting some bumps and bruises this weekend following a fall in Melbourne.

Switzerland's Blick newspaper reports that the 68-year-old team owner and boss fell at the paddock entrance at Albert Park last Sunday, taking the brunt of the impact with his elbow and wrist.

"It still hurts," he admitted.  "All I could think of at the time was to protect my face."

Sauber was treated by McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa, who said Sauber was lucky not to have injured himself more badly.

HRT car 'dangerous' in Australia - de la Rosa
(GMM)  HRT was not ready to race last weekend in Australia, Pedro de la Rosa has admitted.

Ultimately, the Spaniard and his teammate Narain Karthikeyan failed to satisfy the sport's 107 per cent qualifying rule, and therefore sat out the 2012 opener.

The hurriedly-compiled F112 car did not feature a functioning 'DRS' rear wing system, and de la Rosa has also revealed that it didn't have power steering.

"It's essential to fix that," he is quoted by Marca newspaper, "as it can be very dangerous to try to make corrections without the (steering) assistance."

Team boss Luis Perez Sala admitted that fixing power steering at a circuit is not ideal.

"Really it should be at the factory in almost laboratory conditions," he said, "but we have no choice."

As for whether he will qualify this time in Malaysia, de la Rosa is not sure: "I think so, I hope so," he said.

Red Bull car 'a construction site' in Australia - Vettel
(GMM)  Red Bull is convinced it will put up a stronger fight to Melbourne winners McLaren this weekend in Malaysia.

"In Australia we had basically a construction site, while McLaren's house was finished long ago," world champion Sebastian Vettel said by way of analogy to Germany's Auto Bild.

"So second place (in Melbourne) was not too bad."

Team advisor Dr Helmut Marko agrees: "Vettel spent most of the last day of the testing in Barcelona in the pits.

"Our car is not yet mature," he added, referring to the Renault-powered RB8.

Team boss Christian Horner said the team brought out "only 60 per cent" of the car's potential in Australia.

Race contract key to Singapore floatation - report
(GMM)  Singapore's street race could be the key to the stock market floatation of formula one.

The Business Times reports that with the sport apparently wanting to float on Singapore's exchange, the first step will be a new contract for the Asian city-state's annual night street race.

The current race contract expires this year.

"Negotiations are underway but it is understood that one sticking point is the sanction fee," the report said.

The Business Times said the Singapore government currently pays about $40 million for its race every year; a figure "roughly twice" the amount paid by Malaysia.

"The Singapore government wants formula one to be listed here and for that to happen, it knows the race has to remain here," an unnamed banker said.

"But at the same time, it doesn't want to pay top dollar again.  So the bargaining should continue for some time."

The banker added that F1 chief executive Ecclestone also holds a strong negotiating hand.

"(He) knows Singapore needs him because the SGX (exchange) hasn't had any big names in recent years.  Being the shrewd businessman that he is, he will play hardball."

Sauber denies Ferrari moving to poach Perez
(GMM)  Peter Sauber has added his own denial to rumors Sergio Perez could be imminently headed to Ferrari.

The Mexican driver played down the speculation at Sepang on Thursday, as did Ferrari, amid reports the famous Italian team is contemplating replacing the struggling Massa with its development driver.

But a flaw in the rumors is that Perez, 22, is under contract to Sauber for 2012.

"No one has spoken to us," team boss Sauber, when asked about the Perez/Massa switch, told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

All eyes will be on Massa this weekend in Malaysia, after Ferrari agreed to change his chassis following a dire performance a week ago in Melbourne.

Michael Schumacher backed his former Ferrari teammate.

"If you look at all the winter testing I think it was very clear that the two drivers (Massa and Fernando) were very close together," he said.

"So to see the big difference that we saw in Melbourne, I can only assume there must have been something not right for him."

Grosjean hoping for long stay at Lotus
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean is hoping for a long stay with the Lotus team.

Then known as Renault, the Frenchman made his troubled F1 debut with the Enstone based team in 2009 but has returned on much better form this year as the reigning GP2 champion.

The E20 car was a standout of the winter season but Grosjean, 25, told Auto Motor und Sport that Lotus' target for 2012 is "fourth place" in the constructors' championship.

"We want to go for the world title in 2015," he added.  "I hope I'm still on board."

Grosjean's promising return to F1 last weekend in Australia was left in the gravel when he clashed with Pastor Maldonado.

He says he has not met to discuss the incident with the Williams driver.

"Talking doesn't make the result come back," said Grosjean.

Venezuelan Maldonado insists it wasn't his fault.

"The suspension on the Lotus doesn't seem to be very strong," he said.  "The contact was not intentional.  I'm sorry for Romain, but that's racing."

Senna to lose practice seat to Bottas in 2012
(GMM)  Bruno Senna will give up his race car to Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas on fourteen more occasions in 2012.

It has emerged that, every time young Finn Bottas takes to the track on a Friday this season, it will be at the wheel of Senna's Renault-powered FW34.

"Pastor Maldonado will keep his car in every session," Turun Sanomat correspondent Heikki Kulta reported.

Brazilian Senna confirmed the news to British Sky television whilst he sat out Friday's initial running in Malaysia.

Bottas, 22, was just quicker than the British team's number one driver Maldonado on Friday.

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