- 'Everybody or nobody' to race in Bahrain
- No pole for Hamilton after gearbox change
- FIA rejects 'double-DRS' protest
- Red Bull to run split setup strategy in China
- Hamilton must resist 'VIP' pitfalls - Lauda
- Ferrari still 'one step below' leaders - Alguersuari
- Short news: Lost in China, protest, Red Bull and McLaren
'Everybody or nobody' to race in Bahrain
The vast majority of the 12 F1 teams have declined to comment on the sport's deepening Bahrain crisis.
With uncertainty surrounding the staging of next week's race at Sakhir by the controversial Bahraini government, CNN contacted every one of the competing teams.
Nine declined to comment, but world champions Red Bull said the decision about whether or not teams attend belongs to the governing FIA.
"It's not up to the teams to pick and choose which races we take part in," said a spokesman.
Red Bull's other team, Toro Rosso, left open the possibility of an eleventh-hour cancellation.
"I certainly don't think it will be a case of some teams going and some not going," said a spokesman.
"It will be everybody or nobody."
Some media outlets, including the BBC as well as London's Daily Telegraph, are now reporting that most F1 teams are expecting the race to be called off.
And the Telegraph has quoted Bernie Ecclestone as admitting he is now "unsure" if it will go ahead.
But in the UK Express newspaper, the F1 chief executive said: "I have my people out there and they are walking around enjoying life just as they would here in London."
The latest reports in the mainstream press, however, do not bode well, with AFP news agency claiming protesters "wielding knives and sticks" attacked villagers on Wednesday.
Oksana Kosachenko, who is Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov's manager, said the F1 teams have "divided into two camps" over the Bahrain issue.
"If Bernie Ecclestone guarantees us safety and tranquility and promises the race won't become an instrument of any political manipulations, we will come," she told the Ria Novosti news agency.
She added that "extra security of the teams is necessary in the hotels, and the spectators should be guarded as well."
Typically for the current FIA president, Jean Todt has been conspicuously silent on the Bahrain issue, but the Guardian newspaper said the Frenchman will tell the teams this weekend in China that the race is going ahead.
And during the same scheduled meeting in China, Ecclestone will deliver a similar message, the British newspaper added.
But even Barack Obama has waded into the Bahrain situation, issuing a statement revealing the United States' "deep concern" about violence in the Arab state.
"I think I don't know more than you know," world champion Sebastian Vettel told reporters in Shanghai.
No pole for Hamilton after gearbox change
Lewis Hamilton's perfect qualifying score in 2012 is over.
It has emerged that the highest the McLaren driver can start Sunday's Chinese grand prix is sixth, due a five-place grid penalty.
"Just spoken to Lewis Hamilton," The Times correspondent Kevin Eason wrote on Twitter, "who discovered 30 minutes ago that (he) has been penalised five grid places for (a) gearbox change."
Briton Hamilton won last year's Shanghai race.
"I'll be heading to China looking to win," he said this week, "but it's just as important to pick up some good points if, for whatever reason, a win isn't on the cards."
FIA rejects 'double-DRS' protest
The FIA has thrown out Lotus' official protest against Mercedes' so-called 'double-DRS' innovation.
Despite the governing body having consistently declared the system legal in Australia and Malaysia, Lotus lodged the appeal in China on Thursday.
The parties, including the stewards, met for a hearing just after 5pm local.
"Having examined the evidence presented, the stewards decide unanimously that the protest is dismissed," the FIA ruling read.
The decision is subject to appeal, but Lotus has confirmed that it will accept the FIA's ruling.
Red Bull to run split setup strategy in China
Red Bull will split in two directions this weekend in China, as the defending champions seek to return to the pace.
After a less than satisfying start to the 2012 season for the previously dominant energy drink owned team, Dr Helmut Marko said this week that Red Bull has "a plan" for how to get back on track in Shanghai and beyond.
"Mark (Webber) will test an evolution of the setup used in Malaysia," RB8 designer Adrian Newey is quoted by the Portuguese language corridadeformula1.com, "while Sebastian (Vettel) will run with a specification from the preseason.
"Then we will compare the results," revealed the Briton.
Vettel, just sixth in the drivers' standings at present, admitted this week that McLaren is the "team to beat" so far in 2012.
"I still don't think the pecking order has settled down yet," insisted Lewis Hamilton on Thursday in China.
Vettel agrees: "The first two races it looked extremely tight and I think it's not yet clear what is the right order," said the German.
Hamilton must resist 'VIP' pitfalls - Lauda
Lewis Hamilton can match Sebastian Vettel's achievements, if he learns to resist the "VIP bullsh*t".
That is the typically blunt assessment of legendary triple world champion Niki Lauda, who hailed reigning double champion Vettel as a "very balanced person".
"His head is not disturbed by all this VIP bullsh*t," he is quoted by the Sun. "He is not disturbed at all."
In contrast, Hamilton - now at the wheel of arguably the best car for the 2012 season - had a dire campaign last season as his professional and personal lives collided and steered off-track.
"Lewis is as good as Sebastian in terms of pure speed and talent," agreed Lauda, "but sometimes (Hamilton) gets disturbed through his different lifestyle.
"If he gets his head in order again and is not disturbed, then he will be a strong competitor."
Arguably a bigger threat this year will be Jenson Button, the cool-headed 2011 runner-up who last year beat Hamilton in an identical McLaren.
"Jenson was the number two driver in the team but he has done a perfect job," said Lauda.
"He has stayed stable and improved and today it is interesting to see the battle between him and Lewis because that is the strongest lineup in F1."
But if they get a sniff of the championship, their personalities could collide and result in an all-out Alonso-Hamilton style war, warns former F1 driver Johnny Herbert.
"It has the recipe for that to happen," said the former Sauber and Jaguar driver.
Ferrari still 'one step below' leaders - Alguersuari
McLaren and Red Bull are the teams to bet money on after the early phase of the 2012 season.
That is the view of Jaime Alguersuari, the former Toro Rosso driver who is now a commentator for British radio as well as Pirelli's new test driver.
The Spaniard told Europa Press news agency that Ferrari, whose Fernando Alonso won the rain-marred Malaysian grand prix three weeks ago, remains "one step below" the current pacesetters.
"If it (Sepang) had been a normal race, the (Ferrari) car would not have been at the level of a McLaren or Red Bull," said Alguersuari.
At the same time, however, the 22-year-old insists that the 2012 title race remains "very open".
"Alonso was only the winner (in Malaysia) because he did a great job in choosing and managing the tyres," said Alguersuari.
"But Ferrari have the potential to develop the car in a short space of time because the top teams are capable of gaining a second, a second and a half, which is what I think they're lacking.
"And I think what happens in the end is what matters to Fernando Alonso," he added, also explaining that the 2012 field is tightly bunched together.
"The FIA has done a great job with the regulations and I think we should be grateful," said Alguersuari.
"Now we can see a Sauber that really can be ahead, and that's because there is much less difference between the first and the fifth (best) car."
Short news: Lost in China, protest, Red Bull and McLaren
There was a face missing in the vast Shanghai paddock on Thursday -- Kimi Raikkonen's.
"We have lost him somewhere in China," a spokesman for the Lotus team grinned to SID news agency, adding that the 2007 world champion was stuck in heavy traffic and therefore could not appear for a press conference.
PROTEST TO APPEAL
Actually, Lotus was frying bigger fish, as rumours were confirmed that the Enstone based team has lodged an official protest against Mercedes' 'double-DRS' system.
"That's spiced up the weekend before we even get going," British commentator Martin Brundle wrote on Twitter.
The FIA has consistently said the controversial aerodynamic layout is fully legal, moving Germany's Auto Motor und Sport to surmise that Lotus is angling to have the case moved to the International Court of Appeal.
It was earlier rumoured that Red Bull might join the Lotus protest, but the reigning champions have bigger problems.
It has emerged that, as Adrian Newey grapples to unlock the pace of his RB8, Sebastian Vettel will be driving in China with the initial pre-season specification of the car's exhaust layout.
At the final Barcelona test, Red Bull switched at the last minute to the Sauber-esque specification, which will continue to be driven in China by Mark Webber.
McLaren is expected to have the best package this weekend, but Lewis Hamilton is not smiling -- a problem means his gearbox needs to be changed out of sequence, resulting in a five-grid penalty.
Clearly in the favourite's seat now, then, is Jenson Button.
"On the one hand," he said on Thursday, "you could say my job is easier with Lewis behind, provided I'm on the front row or something.
"But there is also the uncertainty that he could go for a different strategy, which could turn out to be the right one," Auto Motor und Sport quotes the 2009 world champion as saying.