Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 March 14, 2006

Massa 'lost control' in Alonso incident
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) With Ferrari saying it would investigate an incident that nearly wiped Fernando Alonso out of the Bahrain race, principal Jean Todt reports that team debutant Felipe Massa 'lost control' of his car.

''But, overall, I think he did a very good job,'' said the Frenchman.

''Felipe was able to match Michael (Schumacher) in qualifying, even though he lost control of the car when he was driving behind Alonso in the race.

''He also lost a lot of time in the pits, but afterwards lapped at the pace of the leaders.''

Williams looking 'strong' - Todt
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) Jean Todt has counted Williams into the reckoning after the Grove based team's impressive start in Bahrain.

Although his team, Renault, Honda and McLaren all looked like potential winners in the desert opener, Todt - the Ferrari principal - made special mention of Nico Rosberg's fastest lap of the race.

''He was really impressive,'' said the Frenchman, ''and (Mark) Webber was also very, very fast.

''Maybe they are not right up there with the level of the best teams, but they are still really strong.''

Williams might no longer have the financial muscle of the 'big four', but independent engine maker Cosworth has arguably churned out the best V8 of the field.

''Perhaps,'' team co-owner Patrick Head said in Bahrain, ''you could say that.''

Meanwhile, marveling at his son's brilliant F1 debut, the team's champion of 1982 aptly summarized the paddock's perspective of Williams in an interview with the 'SID' agency.

''The car is better than expected,'' said Keke Rosberg, ''the tires are better than expected, and maybe the driver (Nico Rosberg) is better than expected!''

Todt scoffs at illegal wing chatter
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) Jean Todt has scoffed at pitlane rumblings that Ferrari's allegedly 'flexible' new rear wing is illegal.

The Italian team's principal suggested that the timing of the complaint - with Ferrari again a force in formula one after a year in the doldrums - is probably no coincidence.

Todt said: ''I take it as a positive point that people are again interested in Ferrari! I am not aware of a problem.

''If the FIA come to us and say otherwise, then that is another matter, but at the moment they do not appear to have a problem (with the wing).''

Williams to race 'aggressive' upgrade
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) The team may be thousands of kilometres from Grove HQ (England), but Williams plan to race 'several upgrades' on the promising FW28 package at the Malaysian grand prix.

Revised sidepods and chimney winglets will appear on Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber's Cosworth powered racers, after their pair clocked the fastest and fourth-fastest race laps in Bahrain.

A team document said: ''The cars will also run with several revised mechanical components.''

Technical director Sam Michael vowed an 'aggressive' assault on '06's round two at Sepang.

''We are going to Malaysia aggressively after the excellent performance of the FW28 at the last race,'' said the Australian, ''and ... we intend to deliver.''

Toyota set for another struggle
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) Jarno Trulli expects Toyota to deliver another dire performance in the heat of Malaysia this weekend.

After discovering the Cologne based team in a crisis of grip at last Sunday's season opener, the Italian driver admitted that - with only a week separating the first two grands prix - 'not much' will be different about Sepang near Kuala Lumpur.

''But hopefully we can keep up the learning process,'' said Jarno, ''with the aim of moving up over the next few races.''

The problem is almost certainly the relationship between the TF106 car and Toyota's new tire supplier Bridgestone, with engine technical director Luca Marmorini confirming that Sepang has come 'a bit soon' to stage a radical recovery.

Hinting that Melbourne might also be a write-off, Marmorini added: ''But we have at least collected data from Bahrain that should help us.''

Kimi-Alonso duo would be 'nice' - McLaren
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) Ron Dennis has indicated that he will not beg Kimi Raikkonen to avert his likely Ferrari switch, by suggesting that both current McLaren drivers 'can leave' if they desire.

''Likewise, if I think McLaren can be better suited by signing someone else, then I could sign a new driver tomorrow,'' he told 'AFP'.

The Briton, however, admitted that reliability drama in 2005 - plus a similarly troubled season opener in Bahrain - had made the monosyllabic Finn 'think about' his future.

The silver team's 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh, however, pedaled a softer line, admitting that it would 'be nice' to pair 26-year-old Kimi alongside 2007 arrival Fernando Alonso.

But it's not a story you'll often hear repeated out of McLaren, at least early this year. Suggesting that Kimi and Alonso make the ideal lineup would totally alienate the hot-tempered incumbent, Juan Pablo Montoya.

But Whitmarsh persisted to Autosport: ''Kimi and his management will do what they feel is right.''

More violence in Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) More violence coincided with the grand prix in Bahrain, with a crowd of 150 reported to have brawled after a 'F1 party'.

In a hotel car park, the fight - chiefly involving rival gangs made up of Bahrainis - kicked off at 2am on Sunday, with at least one visiting tourist injured with broken teeth.

''There were as many as 10 attacking one (person) in some cases,'' said a witness.

''Some were holding others up, while others punched and kicked them.''

'I could've won' - Kimi
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) Despite McLaren's unpleasant winter period, Kimi Raikkonen thinks he may be able to challenge for the 2006 world championship.

After grappling with poor reliability on Friday and Saturday in Bahrain, last year's runner-up stormed through the field from last on the grid on race day to finish third behind Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).

The 26-year-old reported that his McLaren performed encouragingly well.

''If I had started up front, I would have had a chance to win, for sure.

''We didn't really know where we were after testing,'' Raikkonen said, ''and people said we weren't very good. But during the last month we really improved our position and when we came to Bahrain the car was pretty good.

''It's nice to see that we are strong.''

Very little, too, is lost in the drivers' title, with Kimi just two and four championship points respectively behind Schumacher and Alonso.

He admitted: ''There are many races to go and we seem to have good speed, so maybe we can see what we can do.''

DC aims fire at 'unfair' FIA penalty
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) David Coulthard has aimed fire at the FIA's ten-position grid penalty, after his Ferrari engine blew on the warm-down lap in Bahrain.

Because Red Bull must now change the 2.4 liter V8 before it has completed two race weekends, the Scot will be docked ten places on Sunday's Malaysian grid.

But DC, 34, says the rule is harder on small teams than F1's big hitters.

''The penalty, fair enough, everyone understands why,'' he was quoted as saying, ''but it's not the same for all.''

Coulthard is annoyed that, for a pole sitter, the penalty would result in a paltry tenth on the grid.

But for a team like Red Bull, likely to qualify in the midfield in Sepang, the ten-grid penalty is effectively a push to the very back.

Montoya struggled in Bahrain - Haug
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) Kimi Raikkonen thinks it's a winner, but his McLaren teammate Juan Pablo Montoya struggled to get the best out of the new MP4-21 McLaren car.

That is the revelation of Mercedes' competition director Norbert Haug, who told German 'Premiere' TV that the Colombian grappled with the setup and his 2.4 liter V8 engine at the Bahrain race.

Indeed, as the silver team set up in Malaysia, team sources explain that McLaren engineers are busy looking into whether the 30-year-old encountered an engine problem at the '06 opener.

''Juan Pablo was not happy with his car or the performance of his engine,'' Haug confirmed, ''and, together with his engineers, he did not get totally on top of the setup.''

However, looking at the constructors' championship, McLaren chiefs will not be overly concerned about the race outcome in Bahrain.

Renault and Ferrari might have taken the plaudits, but McLaren is equal on points with Renault, and actually ahead of the scarlet team.

Lauda hails grand start to F1 '06
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.14) Niki Lauda has hailed a grand start to formula one's 2006 racing season.

The ex-triple world champion and Austrian, today a television commentator, told 'Blick' that F1 has 'finally' stumbled upon an exciting qualifying format.

''And there was more overtaking in Bahrain than in the entire 2005 championship,'' he marveled.

57-year-old Lauda, however, couldn't resist taking a cheeky dig at old F1 rival Keke Rosberg, when hailing the Finn's rookie son.

''I didn't know Keke has such genes in him,'' the great driver grinned, referring to the debut performance of 20-year-old Nico Rosberg.

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