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DATE News (chronologically)
03/25/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
  • McLaren's eyes on 'fun turn one' at Sepang
  • Webber's back, but without winning car yet
  • Costa says Ferrari lacked 'style' over sacking
  • Now Ferrari joins 'anti W-duct' war
  • Force India to push on with new F1 spy saga
  • Red Bull 'has signed new Concorde' - Marko
  • Ferrari approached Sauber amid Massa rumors

McLaren's eyes on 'fun turn one' at Sepang
(GMM)  After a second consecutive front row lockout of 2012, spectators may be watching a McLaren-only duel at Sepang on Sunday.

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, so downbeat after his Melbourne defeat, said the British press corps are doing their best to cast him as "the villain" to Jenson Button's "James Bond".

Those reporters would enjoy a first-corner thriller.

"We both want to get into turn one first, though it's not just about turn one.  It's a very long, tough race," said Button.

Hamilton was also keen to steer away from the sensationalism, which was powered this week by former McLaren driver David Coulthard's claim that Button's Melbourne win had crushed him psychologically.

"I don't feel that way at all," the 2008 world champion insisted.  "It may have happened for him (Coulthard) back in the day but not for me."

At the same time, Button had to fend off claims he has been up to "mind games" since Melbourne by suggesting that he could have lapped Albert Park even quicker.

"That was just me saying that I could have gone a tenth quicker in qualifying," said the Briton.  "If Lewis would have heard that he would say 'Well, you didn't".

"It's definitely not mind games."

For now at least, it's a friendly rivalry, with Hamilton smilingly determined not to be beaten to the first corner again on Sunday.

He said he has asked his engineer to do what he can to make his start at Sepang a good one.

Button joked: "I've already paid him off."

And there is another possibility: the silver car leading into turn one might not be a McLaren.

"The Mercedes is renowned, especially Michael (Schumacher), for getting good starts," said Button, referring to the seven time world champion who starts the race from third.

"It's going to be a fun turn one I think."

Webber's back, but without winning car yet
(GMM)  After a demoralizing 2011, Mark Webber is back.

Unfortunately for the Australian, however, the new Red Bull is not yet a McLaren-beater.

Teammate Sebastian Vettel scored back to back titles in the RB8's two predecessors but in Australia and Malaysia was out-qualified by Webber.

German commentator Christian Danner said Webber's boost of form is "significant".

Triple world champion Niki Lauda added on German television RTL that the 35-year-old Australian seems to be dealing better than Vettel with the new generation of Pirelli.

And while behind the McLarens and a Mercedes, and identical in pace to Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus on Saturday, the Adrian Newey-penned car in Webber's hands in Malaysia is not sluggish.

"Mark is just two tenths from pole position, so we are not hopeless," Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

But they're not winning yet, either.

"I think the race can go a little better for us here," said Vettel after qualifying sixth on Saturday, "but I think you can see that we don't have an easy car to drive.

"We are aware of it and we are working hard," he is quoted by Spain's Marca newspaper.

Costa says Ferrari lacked 'style' over sacking
(GMM)  Aldo Costa has revealed he is unhappy with Ferrari's comments in the wake of his departure last year.

The Italian was stepped down as the famous team's technical director, and he switched to Mercedes before the German marque made a significant step forwards with its 2012 car.

He has remained quiet about his treatment by Ferrari until now, telling Autosprint magazine that the Maranello marque lacked "style and professionalism" as it handled its restructuring.

Asked for more information, he said Ferrari explained "things that not only myself but also the whole world of formula one knows is not the truth".

Costa confirmed that he was referring to Ferrari's suggestion that he lacked "creativity".

Still, he said he is not happy to see his old team struggling to make it into Q3 with the aggressive F2012.

"I still have so many friends in Maranello, but now I want to be 100 per cent engaged on succeeding with Mercedes."

He said the Ross Brawn-led team has a "different" approach to Ferrari's "that makes it easier to do things".

Now Ferrari joins 'anti W-duct' war
(GMM)  A third major team has joined the crusade against Mercedes' so-nicknamed 'W-duct' innovation.

Until now, only Red Bull and Lotus were pushing hard for the FIA to ban the drag-reducing system that Britain's Sky television is calling 'Super-dooper DRS'.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that Ferrari has now joined the anti W-duct group, providing a new argument about why a driver is not permitted to activate a separate system by pressing the 'DRS' button on the steering wheel.

"So far I have heard nothing that convinces us that it is illegal," the FIA's Charlie Whiting is quoted as saying.

He is not, however, ruling out an eventual change of heart.

"As we understood more about how the mass damper worked and as more arguments came onto the table, eventually we could no longer turn a blind eye," said the Briton.

Still, Whiting is not expecting a post-race protest in Malaysia.

"I think everyone understands that that is not good for the sport," he said.

So far, McLaren is staying out of the fight, with Auto Motor und Sport believing that Martin Whitmarsh "will not wage war against his engine supplier".

Nonetheless, Mercedes boss Ross Brawn is more than unimpressed with the warring trio.

"There are a massive amount of things we do with DRS, so to pick on one thing and say 'We don't like that very much as we haven't thought about it', is wrong," the Briton charged.

Force India to push on with new F1 spy saga
(GMM)  Years after F1's 'spygate' sagas, the issue could be set to return to the very top of the governing body's agenda.

Force India claims Caterham and their common former wind tunnel partner Aerolab were this week "found liable" by a British court of using Force India data for the Team Lotus car of early 2010.

Vijay Mallya's Silverstone based team said the ruling has been "referred for the consideration" of the FIA.

But Aerolab has hit back, insisting the judge "entirely rejected" Force India's charge of "systematic copying".

"On the contrary, such misuse as I have found to have occurred mainly consisted of opportunistic copying of CAD files by CAD designers in order to take a short cut," the wind tunnel company quoted judge Justice Arnold as saying.

Nonetheless, Caterham was ordered to pay EUR 25,000 to Force India, but not the 18 million requested by the team.

"We were deeply disappointed with the damages award," Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley told the Guardian.

He said Caterham/Aerolab did not make a simple "short cut" in copying the CAD files, but copied "front and rear break duct systems, the front wing, the rear wing, the barge boards, the vortex generators and the diffuser".

"The judge might say it's not systematic but in my view it's pretty extensive," added Fernley. 

Force India is expected to appeal.

And if the FIA intervenes and charges Caterham with theft, "it would cost Caterham tens of millions for the money they received for finishing tenth in the world championship for the past two years", wrote Guardian correspondent Paul Weaver.

"And that is before any fine."

Red Bull 'has signed new Concorde' - Marko
(GMM)  Red Bull has signed the 2013 Concorde Agreement, Dr Helmut Marko has confirmed.

Bernie Ecclestone announced on Saturday that he has reached agreement with most F1 teams "about the terms" for the next Concorde.

But with major teams including Mercedes and Williams yet to agree, the F1 chief executive's short statement left many questions unanswered.

Was it simply a ploy to coax the other teams into also agreeing?  Have Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and at least four other teams actually signed anything?

Red Bull's motor sport consultant Marko has revealed to the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper: "We have signed the new Concorde Agreement."

A McLaren spokesman, meanwhile, said the team is "in broad agreement" with Ecclestone.

Ferrari approached Sauber amid Massa rumors
(GMM)  Amid speculation regarding Felipe Massa's immediate future, Sergio Perez's father has revealed that Ferrari approached Sauber.

Earlier, Sauber driver Perez played down the rumors about Massa's future, including the suggestion he was at the very top of Ferrari's replacement list.

"Sergio is focused one hundred per cent on (performing in) Malaysia," the 22-year-old Mexican's father Antonio is quoted by the Spanish-language Medio Tiempo.

Perez snr's son is the cream of Ferrari's development driver 'academy' program.

"Since last year, Ferrari has had three drivers: Alonso, Massa and Perez," he said.

"'Checo' has a great relationship with the team but I can say today that Perez is signed only with Peter Sauber."

Nonetheless, it has been suggested Ferrari made an approach to Sauber recently, amid Massa's performance slump.

"Yes, Monisha (Kaltenborn), who is the chief executive of Sauber, confirmed that Ferrari people approached her to talk about Sergio," said his father Antonio.

At the very least, Perez is a candidate for Massa's seat next year.

"That would be a good package," the Mexican answered when asked about the potential pairing of his son with Fernando Alonso.

"I see it only as a matter of time.  We have to wait and be patient rather than distract Checo from what he is doing now.

"Sergio was not even aware of the statements made by Ferrari: he was training and focused on his fitness," added Perez snr.

Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari's president, urged calm over the famous team's current situation, including the calls for Massa's scalp.

"I understand that the fans are disappointed," he is quoted by Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper, "but I ask them to remain calm.

"We must remain calm and focused."

Still, the rumor mill waits for nobody, and even Ferrari's official 'Tweet' about the "reasonable job" done by Massa on Saturday did not go unnoticed.

"I take that to mean, 'You're useless!' German RTL commentator Christian Danner joked.

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