F1 No Longer A Sprint In 2011 Photo:

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Mike Stevens | Apr, 20 2011 | 0 Comments

Last year's refuelling ban combined with the crumbling Pirelli tyres of 2011 have transformed grands prix from sprints into Le Mans-style endurance events.

"It's no longer enough to have the fastest car or the best driver, you have to get to the end of the races in a position to keep fighting or defend your position," veteran engineer Joan Villadelprat wrote in his latest column for El Pais.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton broke championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's stranglehold in China by concentrating all weekend on conserving tyres for the race and devising the best pit strategy.

"It took the experience of the last race to be able to do what I did," said the Briton, referring also to Sepang, where he grappled miserably to the chequered flag having damaged a crucial set of tyres in qualifying the day before.

China was a breakthrough for McLaren but Hamilton knows his team has work to do to beat Red Bull's RB7 on outright pace.

"We are definitely the second quickest team," he said. "For now, because we are not as fast as them on pure speed, it's about trying to outsmart them elsewhere."

Many observers are now applauding the excitement and surprises of Sunday afternoons, but the purists are questioning whether F1 has changed for the better.

"As a category it's changed a lot," Mark Webber, one such purist who scythed through the field to the podium in Shanghai having started 18th, told Reuters.

"In terms of the pace, there certainly is an element now of endurance mentality. People like to watch cars being driven on the limit so we should still try to get that balance right," he added.



State Funding For 2012 US GP In Doubt: Report

More than $25 million in state funding for F1's new US grand prix in Austin is in doubt.

The Texas State Senate's finance committee has voted 10-4 to pull the package to assist the development of the under-construction Circuit of the Americas, local KXAN news reports.

"At a time when people are stressed about their schools, stressed about their jobs, stressed about health care and nursing homes, for us to check off $25 million for race cars, I think we make people say where are their priorities," senator Dan Patrick said.

"That $25 million would pay for 500 teacher salaries," he added. "How can we explain to people we're spending that money on race cars?"

But the amendment is only to the senate version of the forthcoming state budget, not the version in the House of Representatives.

The media report said it is likely "most if not all of the incentives" will ultimately be restored.



Alonso Still Happy With Ferrari: Briatore

Flavio Briatore has defended Fernando Alonso amid Ferrari's current slump.

After Shanghai, where the Spaniard bluntly assessed the "slow" 2011 car after being outperformed by his teammate Felipe Massa, La Stampa newspaper accused Alonso of being "unmotivated".

"There was no trace of the fighter (in China)," said the Italian newspaper.

Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio added: "Alonso, the most complete driver, in my view, showed signs of being a bad loser."

Even Adrian Campos, a former manager of Alonso, told Spain's SER radio: "In China had gave the impression of being very conservative, like he had said to himself just to bring the car home."

But the 29-year-old's current manager Briatore told Italian television Sky Sport: "The driver is important but the car even more so. The problem with Ferrari is the car."

He denied Alonso is losing his motivation.

"Fernando wanted to be with Ferrari at any cost. He is more than satisfied and will do everything he can to get a more competitive Ferrari," Briatore insisted.

The flamboyant Italian said Maranello based Ferrari has the "equipment and resources" to improve its situation and is simply "missing a little creativity".

But Campos, who founded the struggling HRT, said of Ferrari: "They seem to be lost, lacking in ideas. Once they were the reference but clearly no longer."



Politics Threaten F1 Race At Nurburgring

A political alliance in Germany is reportedly endangering the future of the formula one race at the Nurburgring.

Elections in the western Rhineland-Palatinate state were recently held and the ruling SPD party lost its absolute majority.

The green party, meanwhile, tripled its vote meaning that a ruling coalition has been formed, and according to DPA news agency this endangers state funding for the Nurburgring's F1 contract.

"I have nothing against car racing in the Eifel," said the green (Grunen) state party chief Daniel Kobler.

"I just have a problem if tax money is needed to ensure that more millions and billions are reaped in profits (by F1)," he added.

"In the negotiations with the SPD, we will work to permanently remove the subsidies for the 'Ring in the foreseeable future," said Kobler.


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