Mike Stevens | Sep 1, 2010

It has been reported that discussions about additional pre-race testing in Bahrain before the first race of the 2011 season took place at Spa-Francorchamps at a team managers' meeting on Friday last week.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said 15 days of winter testing, with four of them occurring in Bahrain in the days before the March 13 season opener, were on the table.

But FOTA Chairman and McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that there will actually be six full tests in the off-season, including one in Bahrain.

"It (Bahrain) hasn't been quite agreed yet," he said. "We want to make sure that it's cost effective for the small teams."

A more contentious issue for the small teams is their bigger rivals' desire for proper in-season testing, with the only non-race running allowed at present being straight-line tests and demonstrations.

"I personally would like to see more testing but I am respectful of the fact that there are teams still hurting," Whitmarsh said.

"We've now got at least six tests in the winter so that's a step further forward. What we haven't got at the moment is agreement to test during the season."

(GMM)

 

Vettel Penalty 'Was Disproportionate'

Sebastian Vettel should not have been penalised for losing control at Spa-Francorchamps: that's the opinion of an unlikely supporter of the 23-year-old Red Bull driver: Marc Gene.

Spaniard Gene is Ferrari's occasional test driver, who said the drive-through penalty after Vettel crashed into Jenson Button on Sunday "was totally disproportionate".

"It is true that he was too aggressive, but for there to be a penalty ... he did nothing wrong, it was an incident of the race," Gene wrote in his El Mundo newspaper column.

Niki Lauda's is a harsher critique, predicting that one more mistake for the young German will end his 2010 title chances.

"You're an absolute super-talent but you've taken excessive risks," the former triple World Champion wrote in Bild newspaper.

"One more mistake and your world championship will be over. Then you will have to drive for your teammate, which would be the ultimate penalty," said Lauda.

He thinks Vettel is struggling with the pressure.

"You're in the fastest car," Lauda said, addressing Vettel personally. "The pressure can be paralysing, because everyone expects you to be in front and everything else is a disappointment."

Lewis Hamilton, who according to British commentator Martin Brundle is driving better today than in his championship year in 2008, said Vettel's lack of experience is showing.

"The older I get, the more I understand about experience. Mark (Webber) is a very mature man and that definitely helps," the McLaren driver said.

David Coulthard advises his Red Bull successor Vettel to get used to the criticism, observing that "the knives seem to be out for him" now.

"I want to make it clear I am not trying to excuse Sebastian's recent high-profile errors," he wrote in the Telegraph.

"I see a young man who is suffering from his first spell of growing pains," added the veteran of almost 250 races.

"I am not excusing them (the mistakes) - as I have said before, F1 is no finishing school - I'm just saying they are understandable," Coulthard said.

(GMM)

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