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F1: Alonso Would Have Challenged Vettel - Barrichello Photo:

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TMR Team | Apr, 23 2013 | 1 Comment
  • Alonso would have challenged Vettel - Barrichello
  • Next teammate feud erupts in Bahrain
  • Allergy almost sidelined Raikkonen in Bahrain
  • McLaren tells Perez to keep 'spark' firing
  • Failing tyres 'too much' says Massa
  • Teams to get harder set of tyres from Spain
  • Rosberg questions Brawn departure reports
  • Prost wrong about 'emotional' diagnosis - Grosjean

Alonso would have challenged Vettel - Barrichello

Fernando Alonso would have fought for victory in Bahrain, according to veteran former driver Rubens Barrichello.

Before the race began, Mercedes' Niki Lauda was asked to name the likely winner.

"Fernando Alonso," he answered, despite the fact Mercedes' own Nico Rosberg was starting from pole. "We have to be realistic," the Austrian legend added.

The Spaniard's charge, however, was thwarted by a failing DRS rear wing flap, which had to be manually closed by Ferrari's mechanics during a pitstop.

It then flipped open again, forcing yet another pitstop and ruining his victory chances.

"If Alonso had not had the problem with the DRS, I'm sure he would have fought with (Sebastian) Vettel for the victory," Barrichello, in Bahrain as a co-commentator for Brazilian television Globo, said.

Earlier in the weekend, the Brazilian had watched the action from the middle of the Sakhir layout, and named the Ferrari as among the very best cars in 2013.

"It is a wealth of data that leads me to say that Alonso would have fought with Vettel," the 40-year-old said.

"The Ferrari is a great car, even with the DRS open, when Alonso lost just a second per lap," he added.



Next teammate feud erupts in Bahrain

Just as the 'Multi-21' affair began to simmer, the next teammate feud broke out in formula one.

This time, the animosity was taking place a bit further down the field; with McLaren pushing to improve its 2013 car, and Sergio Perez now feeling the pressure to up his game.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh had complained recently that the British team's new Mexican recruit was being "too polite" this year, and urged him to use his "elbows".

The 23-year-old obliged on Sunday in Bahrain, but the subject of his aggression was Jenson Button, in the sister MP4-28.

"Emotions were running high," said Button afterwards, excusing his radio anger.

Indeed, the 2009 world champion pleaded with his team to "Calm him (Perez) down!), adding after yet another exchange of bodywork: "Come on guys!"

Button told the BBC: "I would say exactly the same again. The racing was great out there. The only person that wasn't was Checo (Perez).

"He was too aggressive, I would say. It was a bit of a surprise, and I'm probably not the only one that feels like that."

Button was probably referring to the duo's boss, Whitmarsh, who agreed on British Sky television that he had already spoken to Perez and told him his behaviour was "over the limit" versus Button.

"That's not what we expect," he added.

Even Perez agreed that his and Button's aggression was "too much" on Sunday.

"I guess I was a little aggressive on track today; banging wheels with Jenson was perhaps a little too risky, a little too hard," he admitted, according to a media statement.

At the front of the field, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel raced to a 10-point championship lead by easily winning.

Race favourite Fernando Alonso's challenge faded with a recurring DRS rear wing problem, while Kimi Raikkonen could finish only second following his poor qualifying.

Spaniard Alonso, despite winning in China a week ago, is now 30 points behind Vettel after just four races.

"We're in a good position in the championship," the reigning triple world champion admitted on Sunday. "It was a very straightforward race."



Allergy almost sidelined Raikkonen in Bahrain

He ultimately finished second, but Kimi Raikkonen was almost not well enough to contest Sunday's Bahrain grand prix.

Finnish sources MTV3 and Turun Sanomat reported that the Lotus driver was late for the pre-race driver parade because he was suffering from an allergic reaction.

"He gets it 3 or 4 times a year," the 2007 world champion's trainer Mark Arnall admitted.

"We have no idea where it came from just before the race, but it affects mainly his skin, and not so much his eyes."

Arnall said Raikkonen was treated with antihistamines.

Lotus engineer Alan Permane said: "Considering he (Raikkonen) was suffering before he started the race, it was a very impressive performance indeed."



McLaren tells Perez to keep 'spark' firing

McLaren has urged Sergio Perez to keep up his fighting spirit, despite rebuking the Mexican for pushing "over the limit" in his battle with teammate Jenson Button in Bahrain.

Reports say team boss Martin Whitmarsh had firm words with the 23-year-old after the Bahrain race, following Button's depiction of their clashes as "dangerous" and "dirty".

But just a week ago, in China, Whitmarsh had accused struggling Perez of being "too polite" in wheel-to-wheel duels, urging him to use his "elbows" in future.

"I don't want to curb Checo's passion and spark, because that's what got him past Alonso and Webber," Whitmarsh said.

"And even if he knows that he pissed off his teammate, I don't suppose that will keep him awake tonight."

Earlier, Perez admitted the early pressure of being a McLaren driver in the spotlight, versus racing with Sauber in 2011 and 2012, was palpable.

His predecessor at the great British team, Lewis Hamilton, admitted he has noticed the strain on Perez.

"There is a lot of pressure when you are in such a strong and powerful team like that," said Hamilton. "It's not easy.

"Just as it is here (at Mercedes). The team relies heavily on you, on just those two drivers to pull those results out and if you don't you feel it.

"He looks like an individual who feels it," he added.



Failing tyres 'too much' says Massa

A new problem could be emerging for Pirelli, as the mere safety of its already controversial 2013 tyres is now called into question.

The occurrence of tyre failures - or delaminations - appears to be on the rise this season, amid already widespread criticism of the heavily-degrading Pirellis.

"I've never had two problems (failures) with tyres in one race. I don't know what it is, but it's too much," Ferrari's Felipe Massa is quoted as saying by Sky Italia after the Bahrain race.

"Maybe there was debris on the track, but I didn't feel any contact," he added.

Pirelli chief Paul Hembery said the Italian marque's engineers had identified "cuts" on the failed tyre, "and we're currently trying to find out what caused those cuts".

But Massa told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that his first problem was caused "probably by delamination of the tread, like (Lewis) Hamilton in practice".

One theory doing the rounds is that Pirelli's extreme, 'show'-approach to degradation in 2013 has compromised the basic safety of the tyres.

"It's hard to say," Massa responded, "it hasn't happened to me before, and we've already had a few races this year, so no.

"But we do need to understand what happened and then make sure we are putting any complaining in the right direction."



Teams to get harder set of tyres from Spain

F1 teams will get an extra set of tyres in Barcelona and beyond to spice up the early practice action on Fridays.

The original idea, designed to spice up the often quiet running at the start of a race weekend, was to allow the teams to get the harder and therefore more durable tyres only if they pledged to run a rookie or reserve driver.

The top teams, however, did not agree.

"Yes, extra set on Friday, but not only for rookies but for everyone," said Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali earlier this weekend.

Agreed Lotus' Eric Boullier: "I have to say I do share that opinion -- an extra set of tyres, yes, we need to just make sure that we could maybe run it for everybody and not only for rookie drivers."

Pirelli's Paul Hembery hinted in Bahrain on Sunday that an alternate agreement will indeed be reached.

"I think the common agreement will probably end up being that they (the teams) have to run this (extra) set within FP1 (first practice), within the first 30 minutes, which is good for the fans and television," he told Reuters.



Rosberg questions Brawn departure reports

Nico Rosberg has played down suggestions Ross Brawn is on the road to the exit door at Mercedes.

Earlier, it was believed Paddy Lowe's McLaren 'gardening leave' was because he was shaping up to replace Brawn as Mercedes' team boss, probably in 2014.

But in the wake of better results for the Brackley based team, and strong backing by new driver Lewis Hamilton, it has been rumoured 58-year-old Briton Brawn's job now appears safer.

Nico Rosberg had a tough race in Bahrain, finishing just ninth, but 24 hours earlier he was grinning ear-to-ear after qualifying on pole.

A week earlier, it was Hamilton on pole and the podium in China.

Asked if the atmosphere in the team is strained now that Brawn appears destined to leave, German Rosberg told Die Welt newspaper: "That's what you say.

"I know nothing about that," added the German, who was also asked about Lowe's certain appointment.

"So why should I assume that he (Brawn) will not be here anymore after the season?" said Rosberg.

The 27-year-old did admit, however, that "the joy of the pole is gone" after a race struggling with Pirelli tyre wear in Bahrain.

"On our own power, we are, I believe, not yet capable of winning," said Rosberg. "But all of us believe that we will get there."



Prost wrong about 'emotional' diagnosis - Grosjean

Romain Grosjean has hit back at Alain Prost, after the quadruple world champion said the Lotus driver's lack of pace in 2013 was due to his "emotionally difficult situation".

"I haven't seen him (Prost) this year," Grosjean said, after putting his early-season troubles behind him with a podium in Bahrain.

"I have a deep respect for what he did but I think it's easy to speak when you are not here," the 27-year-old added.

Grosjean struggled with a mysterious problem in Australia, Malaysia and China, leading Lotus to wipe the slate clean with a brand new chassis for the Swiss-born Frenchman in Bahrain.

"We have realised what was wrong," he told France's RMC Sport. "There was nothing mechanically broken.

"Honestly, I can't tell you what it was because it's confidential, but I said on the radio on Saturday morning 'This is day and night -- this is the car I love'.

"I had asked myself whether it was me, or the tyres, or the car, but in the end it was neither one nor the other, but a combination very difficult to detect."

Team boss Eric Boullier backed Grosjean's explanation.

"Well, we found a lot of details that had not been working well in Romain's car," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"It's nice to see him smiling again."

Finally, Grosjean dismissed Prost's diagnosis that his recent struggles had a psychological cause.

"I think that the fact that you're able to come back from a very difficult situation proves that I think he was wrong," he said.


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