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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Hamilton happy to prove critics wrong
  • Alonso, Lauda agree - Red Bull still fastest
  • F1 tire situation 'fundamentally wrong' - Lauda
  • Vettel quiet as contract extension reports gain speed
  • ECU glitches could be Red Bull's fault - Whitmarsh

Hamilton happy to prove critics wrong
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has admitted he is happy to have "proved people wrong" after leaving McLaren.

Many critics rounded on the 2008 world champion when he announced his decision to leave McLaren, an established top team, for the recently underperforming Mercedes in 2013 and beyond.

But Hamilton's new W04 looked competitive in winter testing and then in Melbourne last weekend, while the 2013 McLaren is struggling.

"Lewis Hamilton recently acquired a dog and so, it seems, has (Jenson) Button; only Button is driving his," wrote Guardian correspondent Paul Weaver.

Hamilton cannot hide his joy at the situation, aiming fire at his critics including Sirs Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart: "They don't know what they're talking about.

"It's nice to prove people wrong," admitted the 28-year-old after touching down in Malaysia.  "It has been everyone (criticizing), particularly all the ex-drivers commenting that it was the worst decision ever.

"The team (Mercedes) have done well, I'm really proud of my team.  I'm proud of my decision as well," added Hamilton.

Alonso, Lauda agree - Red Bull still fastest
(GMM)  Italy's super-critical press has declared itself happy with the outcome of the 2013 season opener.

"Everyone had bet on Vettel winning in Australia, but the attacker become the defender," said La Gazzetta dello Sport, the influential sports daily.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finished second in Melbourne, ahead of chief rival Sebastian Vettel, the triple consecutive world champion for Red Bull.

Surprisingly winning in Albert Park was Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen.

"Ferrari is ok, only Raikkonen was faster.  The season has started off well," said Corriere dello Sport.

Clearly, notwithstanding Raikkonen's win, Ferrari still regards Red Bull as its biggest rival in 2013.

"I see Red Bull and Vettel in particular as our biggest rival," confirmed Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

The Italian has christened the new F138 car 'Speranzosa', meaning 'The hopeful'.

But Alonso warned: "The Red Bull is clearly the fastest car in the field."

Niki Lauda, the triple world champion and Mercedes team figure, agrees: "Vettel doesn't need to worry too much.

"It (Melbourne) was just too cold for them, while the next race (Malaysia) is hot.  Red Bull will be back at the front," he said on German television RTL.

Alonso added: "They (Red Bull) saw a little bit of (tire) degradation (in Melbourne) but that doesn't mean they are not the fastest."

F1 tire situation 'fundamentally wrong' - Lauda
(GMM)  Niki Lauda has slammed the tire situation in formula one, accusing Pirelli and the FIA of confusing the fans.

"The situation with the tires is absolutely stupid," the forthright triple world champion, broadcaster and Mercedes team chairman and shareholder said.

"Artificially creating more and more pitstops is wrong," Lauda told German newspaper Bild.

"Pirelli can't really help it as they are only doing what the FIA ordered them to do, but 90 per cent of the time no one understands what is happening in the races now."

Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel finished the 2013 season opener third on Sunday, while Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen did one fewer pitstop and surprisingly won for Lotus from seventh on the grid.

Lauda said the current situation, with the tires more influential than ever before, is confusing for the fans.

"My advantage is that I can ask our (Mercedes) engineers.  The fans cannot.  But even our people are confused.

"When the tires are so soft, it's bad for formula one.  The fans don't understand if there are more than two pitstops.  (For F1) it's a fundamentally wrong path."

Pirelli's Paul Hembery hit back: "Many fans have told us they think the racing is more exciting now."

Vettel quiet as contract extension reports gain speed
(GMM)  Yet another Austrian newspaper is reporting that Sebastian Vettel has extended his contract with Red Bull through 2016.

From Melbourne last week, the Kleine Zeitung newspaper claimed the German driver had agreed to extend his current deal from 2014 to 2015, including an 'option' for the following season as well.

The Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper, usually the publication of choice when Red Bull's Austrian billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz gives a rare interview, is now reporting the same.

Vettel, 25, is quoted as saying: "I never have anything to say about contracts.

"All I can say is that I feel very good and comfortable in the Red Bull family, and am wasting no thoughts on going somewhere else."

ECU glitches could be Red Bull's fault - Whitmarsh
(GMM)  McLaren has hit back at arch-rival Red Bull's claims that the British team was responsible for Mark Webber's troubles in Melbourne.

After Webber had a terrible start and then KERS trouble during Sunday's season opener, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: "You need to ask McLaren why the ECU didn't work".

McLaren subsidiary MES (McLaren Electronic Systems) mandatorily supplies electronic control units to every team in F1.

A new unit for 2013, in preparation for the radical new V6 engine rules next year, caused several problems in recent winter testing.

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, told PA Sport he was "distressed" when he heard about Horner's criticism.

"We'll put our hands up if it's a fault that's derived from the hardware or the Bios," he said.

"You can also inflict ECU problems on yourself by how you set it up, but I will look into it.

"I'll be disappointed if it is our fault because in F1, Nascar and IndyCar, we've not yet stopped a car, and we're very proud of that record."

Meanwhile, as McLaren grapples with its uncompetitive new MP4-28, Horner admitted his surprise that the British team scrapped the successful 2012 car in favor of a radical design.

"I think McLaren had a very good car last year," he said.

"Arguably for large parts of the season they had the fastest car, so they will know their own reasons why they have chosen to go the route they have."

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