Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Marko to watch Buemi race 'with interest'
  • Rivals eye Red Bull's KERS, flex, dominance
  • F1 'laughing' at struggling HRT – reports
  • Vettel buys custom motorbike to celebrate title
  • Relief but 'no joy' after Virgin survived 107pc rule
  • Button wants permission for Japan charity visit
  • Webber had chassis problem in Australia – Marko
  • Red Bull will use KERS at some tracks – Marko

Marko to watch Buemi race 'with interest'
(GMM) Helmut Marko has indicated Sebastien Buemi's place at Toro Rosso may not be secure.

Red Bull's famously-brusque driver manager Marko was openly disappointed with the young Swiss after 2010, with the appointment of Daniel Ricciardo as Friday driver adding even more pressure now.

But Buemi, 22, was impressive on Saturday, out-qualifying his teammate Jaime Alguersuari and securing the Red Bull junior team's first Q3 appearance since 2009.

"Sebastien has withstood the pressure and I congratulate him," Marko told Blick newspaper in Melbourne. "But now he has to confirm it in the race.

"We await that with interest," he added.

Buemi was also happy with his performance but aware that he can not relax yet. "I will push in the race like there's no tomorrow," he is quoted as saying.

Spaniard Alguersuari is also feeling the pressure and told Spain's AS newspaper he felt "slightly uneasy" when Australian Ricciardo was in his car early on Friday.

"For now, they are both treating me well," Ricciardo is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo. "But I don't know how it going to be if I am faster than them."

But Alguersuari insists Ricciardo's presence is not a problem.

"It isn't creating any discomfort," he said. "Daniel is quick but he still has a lot to learn in formula one. It's not enough to just be quick.

"My war is with Buemi, not Daniel," he added.

Rivals eye Red Bull's KERS, flex, dominance
(GMM) On race day in Australia, the buzzword is 'mini-KERS'.

After it emerged that runaway pole sitter Sebastian Vettel nor Mark Webber used the energy-recovery system in qualifying, reports emerged that Red Bull's KERS is ultra-compact and light for use only at the start.

Vettel stirred the pot by joking he "couldn't find" his KERS button whilst dominating qualifying on Saturday.

"Never heard such a ridiculous story," said the FIA's Charlie Whiting at Albert Park on Sunday, according to Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary.

The BBC asked team boss Christian Horner if the RB7 has a mini-KERS.

"All I will tell you is our system is not the same as (the) others but it's at its most beneficial at the start," he said.

Webber told Spain's Marca newspaper that he "cannot reveal" the secret of Red Bull's KERS, and when asked if the system will be in use during the race, Horner answered: "You'll have to see on TV."

It is also obvious that the Red Bull's front wing – as in 2010 – is flexing, with a Williams official revealing Vettel is a staggering 17kph faster through one particular corner than the rest of the field.

"My car feels fantastic, so I can't even imagine what his (Vettel's) feels like," said McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Michael Schumacher, disappointed with Mercedes' pace in Australia, described Vettel's performance as "a wake-up call to everyone", while Niki Lauda told Speed Week that the title is as good as decided.

"The competition can't really expect to make up a gap like that," the blunt Austrian said.

F1 'laughing' at struggling HRT
(GMM) The media centre fell into sarcastic applause on Saturday when an HRT completed a flying lap.

Germany's Bild newspaper claims the entire paddock "is laughing at Hispania", whose cobbled-together F111 car failed to qualify in Melbourne and was refused special dispensation to race by the stewards.

Vitantonio Liuzzi told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper that parts have been arriving at Albert Park "every hour" this weekend, amid reports the Spanish team had to adapt last year's front wing to the car because the new one failed the crash test.

But the Italian driver said HRT is not to be laughed at.

"It depends on your point of view," he insisted. "If you compare us with Red Bull or Ferrari, who spend $400 million per year, our situation is very negative.

"But if you consider that our guys have been almost completely without sleep, it is more positive and even something to be proud of," added the Italian.

An unnamed team member admitted HRT's problems are financial.

"As we paid the suppliers, the parts began to appear," he said.

Some had to be taken to Australia by team members in suitcases, including team boss Colin Kolles whose own suitcase was rejected by the airline because it weighed too much.

So former F1 driver and German commentator Christian Danner put some of the parts in his own luggage.

"I had a little sympathy," he smiled to Bild newspaper.

Not everyone feels the same, however, including Spanish AS correspondent Raul Romojaro who has been highly critical of HRT.

"Just because I ride a bike with my friends on a Sunday doesn't mean I think I can ride in the next Tour on Contador's wheel," he wrote.

"I would be ridiculed for not understanding the magnitude of the challenge."

Vettel buys custom motorbike to celebrate title
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel's secret title-indulgence has been revealed.

Earlier, we reported that the German had bought himself an elaborate gift to celebrate his 2010 triumph.

"All I can say is; I have it ordered but it hasn't arrived yet. So you'll have to work a bit harder," said the reigning world champion.

Germany's Bild newspaper has discovered that – on friend Kimi Raikkonen's advice – Vettel has ordered a EUR 100,000 custom Hardcore motorcycle built by Marcus Walz.

The basis of the bike is the 120 horse power Avalanche model, and it will be ready in September.

Relief but 'no joy' after Virgin survived 107pc rule
(GMM) Team boss John Booth admitted to relief on Sunday after his Virgin drivers managed to qualify for the Australian grand prix.

Based on practice pace in Melbourne, it was feared the MVR02 would fall foul of the new 107pc qualifying rule.

Booth told the Daily Mail he would have been "bloody embarrassed" to have to pack up before the race, adding that he would have had "to grow a moustache before I dare go to the toilet".

"Although there's a sense of relief, there's not joy because we are such a long way off the pace," said the Briton.

The hapless HRT, of course, did fail to qualify, with Lotus again proving the best of the three stragglers.

But Team Lotus had hoped to move into the midfield with its Renault engine and Red Bull rear end, and Heikki Kovalainen admitted he was disappointed.

"The pace has been sluggish throughout the weekend, but we have clearly had problems getting the tires to the right temperature," he told Turun Sanomat newspaper.

Button wants permission for Japan charity visit
(GMM) Jenson Button is hoping McLaren lets him fly into disaster-ravaged Japan.

The 2009 world champion, a long-time Honda driver with a Japanese girlfriend, is raising money for the country's anguished citizens following the recent and unfolding earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

"It (raising money) is going well but we are two people out of millions that are trying to do something," Button told the UK Express newspaper in Melbourne.

"Hopefully, I will be in Japan after China if I am allowed to," he added.

There will be a one-minute silence on the grid before Sunday's grand prix.

Webber had chassis problem in Australia – Marko
(GMM) Helmut Marko has suggested Mark Webber suffered with a chassis problem in Melbourne.

The Australian was almost nine tenths off dominant teammate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying, before finishing almost 40 seconds down in Sunday's 2011 season opener.

"Mark had some problems with the chassis," Red Bull's motor sport director Marko said on German television RTL.

"With him, neither the hard nor the soft tires really worked. His tire wear was also significantly greater than Sebastian's," he added.

Red Bull will use KERS at some tracks – Marko
(GMM) There will be other grands prix at which Red Bull does not use KERS this season, Helmut Marko has revealed.

After all the talk about 'mini-KERS', it emerged on Sunday that the reigning champions had actually removed the energy recovery systems from both cars before Sebastian Vettel dominated qualifying and the Australian grand prix.

"I guess that we will use it (KERS) at tracks that have a long straight," Red Bull motor sport boss Marko said on German television RTL.

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