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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Everyone chasing the latest Adrian Newey Red Bull
    Todt suggests F1 teams' cost agreement in doubt
  • Five teams could win in Melbourne - Lauda
  • Raikkonen denies racing only for money
  • Maldonado no longer certain Venezuela backing will flow
  • No F1 comeback any time soon - Kubica
  • No extra testing for V6 rules debut - Whiting
  • Grosjean admits to 'fatigue' after 2012 season
  • 'Something wasn't right' at McLaren - Hamilton
  • Boss 'worried' about pace of new McLaren

Todt suggests F1 teams' cost agreement in doubt
Mar.15 (GMM)  The future of the so-called 'resource restriction agreement' - a gentleman's pact among teams to control costs - has moved under a dark cloud.

The controversial agreement has been a subject of discussion behind closed motor home doors for some time, with many teams wanting the FIA to get involved to expand and enshrine the arrangement in the actual rules.

But FIA president Jean Todt, who arrived in Melbourne on Friday afternoon, has cast serious doubt not only on the latter possibility, but even on the future of the gentleman's pact.

"I think F1 does cost too much," he acknowledged to the Financial Times.

He added, however, that "A lot of teams prefer to have the privilege of competition rather than reduce costs".

"I hope that a sensible approach from teams will be reducing costs.  But it's not something we all have to agree together," said Todt.

"We are the regulator.  If they don't want to reduce costs, that's it.  It's not our responsibility to do things that teams do not want."

Todt sounded happier about the state of the FIA's financial situation, in the context of a new agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, and higher entry fees from the teams.

The agreement "will be good" for the Paris-based federation, the Frenchman said.

But the governing body has not got off to a good start in Australia, after the white shirts bearing the FIA logo for the race stewards to wear got lost in the mail from Place de la Concorde, according to a report in Speed Week.

Five teams could win in Melbourne - Lauda
(GMM)  Triple world champion Niki Lauda thinks "at least five teams" could be in the running to win the opening grand prix of 2013.

"So the best structured (ones)," said the famous Austrian, "Red Bull, us (Mercedes), Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus.

"After what we saw in winter testing, I would say that any of them could win at Albert Park," he told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper in Melbourne.

Lauda, whilst still a television pundit for German television, is a new shareholder of the Mercedes team, and the board chairman.

Many believe Red Bull are the ultimate favorites - and Sebastian Vettel was quicker than the two Ferraris in opening practice - but there have also been suggestions the reigning world champions are struggling.

"There is no panic," Dr Helmut Marko told Bild newspaper.  "A place on the podium in Melbourne would be a good result.  The field is much closer together."

The two Ferraris were just off Vettel's pace early on Friday, but test driver Marc Gene was quoted by EFE news agency: "I think Vettel and Red Bull will be the ones to beat in the first races."

Raikkonen denies racing only for money
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has hit back at claims only money motivates him to keep racing in formula one.

After a two-year hiatus in world rallying in the wake of his Ferrari career, the phlegmatic Finn returned to the grid with Lotus last year, winning in Abu Dhabi and finishing a surprise third in the world championship.

He also made a lot of money, raking in millions after agreeing a modest retainer with lucrative bonuses for the swathe of points he ultimately scored.

"I've been paid well for my work," Raikkonen is quoted as saying by Finland's Turun Sanomat.

"It has sometimes been a lot, sometimes not so much, but if money was the only motivation, I would not be in formula one.

"Although it has become safer, there are also high risks."

Maldonado no longer certain Venezuela backing will flow
(GMM)  Pastor Maldonado has admitted he cannot be certain his F1 career will continue long after the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Sponsoring Williams via the state-controlled PDVSA oil company, Chavez died of cancer last week and Maldonado rushed back to his native country before Australia for his funeral.

Asked if the death will affect his career, Maldonado admitted in Melbourne: "Politically, I don't know.

"I think many of you in the media have said everything is gone for me, but here I am.  We'll see."

The 28-year-old backed Chavez's controversial approach to plowing state money into sports, Maldonado noting that, previously, "people only knew Venezuela for the oil and the girls".

"I think it changed a lot with Chavez and now it can be worse.  We've started and now we need to carry on."

Meanwhile, technical boss Mike Coughlan is leading the Williams team in Melbourne, with team boss Frank Williams and his daughter Claire back in the UK in the wake of the death of wife and mother Ginny.

"We obviously have to move on, but I hope we do well this weekend in Ginny's memory," said Coughlan.

No F1 comeback any time soon - Kubica
(GMM)  Robert Kubica is not willing to give up on a future return to formula one, despite acknowledging he will not be ready for a comeback for some time.

The Pole, whose right arm was almost severed in an early 2011 rallying crash, is returning to full-time action this year with a program in the second-tier world rally championship.

But he said he would "give everything" to be able to return to his first love; circuit racing.

Kubica, 28, told the Associated Press there are "tiny lights in the tunnel suggesting that - not in a year or two - but I will be able to race in F1 at a good pace".

No extra testing for V6 rules debut - Whiting
(GMM)  F1 teams will make do with a normal test program early next year, despite the introduction of radical new engine regulations.

Some of the engine suppliers reportedly want either an earlier or an extended winter test period ahead of the 2014 season, as F1 switches from V8 to turbo V6 engines.

But the FIA's Charlie Whiting is quoted in Melbourne by Russia's f1news.ru: "We have been talking with the teams, and they do not want to increase the number of test days."

Meanwhile, the German-language Spox quotes Briton Whiting as saying he is not expecting the outbreak of any new technical controversies, in the wake of the Renault engine mapping and Williams exhaust stories.

But "In the course of a year, you never know what is going to happen," he smiled.

Grosjean admits to 'fatigue' after 2012 season
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean has admitted the 2012 season took its toll.

Banned in Monza and written off as F1's 'first lap nutcase' by Mark Webber, Grosjean admits he was relieved at the end of December, when Lotus decided he should be given another chance for 2013.

With a 2013 seat secured, Frenchman Grosjean went on holiday.

"I think it was good to have a break, it did me good," he told RMC Sport.

"I was much more tired than I thought.  It's about realizing just how much fatigue has accumulated, and knowing really what a full season of formula one is about, and that it is not so simple," added Grosjean.

'Something wasn't right' at McLaren - Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has admitted he decided to leave McLaren at the end of last year because "something didn't feel right".

The 2008 world champion had been groomed by the Woking based team for F1 stardom from his McLaren-sponsored days in karting, but 2012 was his sixth consecutive season on the grid with the same outfit.

Last year, he finished just fourth in the drivers' standings, despite having what many believed was the very best car in the field at season's end.

"I was thankful that I had a car in which I was able to compete with Sebastian (Vettel) and co," he said in an interview with Germany's Sport Bild.

"But maybe I had just been with McLaren for too long.

"Anyway, I realized that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life there.  At Mercedes, everything is new, also the challenge -- which is huge.

"And I'm fine with that.  I just needed a change of scenery."

McLaren team worried?
Boss 'worried' about pace of new McLaren
(GMM)  McLaren on Friday admitted it is now "worried" about the pace of the new MP4-28 car.

Jenson Button was just ninth in opening practice in Melbourne, before lagging more than two seconds off the pace in the second ninety minute session.

Team newcomer Sergio Perez was consistently even slower.

"I think we should be worried about the pace," team boss Martin Whitmarsh told British broadcaster Sky.

"It is a tough day in the office for everyone at the moment, we are lacking grip and there is a lot of head scratching at the moment," he said.

While most top teams - notably continuing pacesetters Red Bull - simply evolved their 2012 cars for the final season of V8 regulations, McLaren unveiled a radical new car for this year, including novel pull-rod front suspension.

"I think we are still learning and there is a lot we still need to learn about this car," Whitmarsh added, "but we have struggled frankly to quite understand how it is performing."

Sporting director Sam Michael likened McLaren's new struggles to Ferrari's of early last year, when Fernando Alonso would ultimately go on to challenge for the title.

"By the fourth or fifth race they were there," he said.

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