Australian Grand Prix 2010: Friday News Round-Up

Heidfeld for GPDA presidency; Sauber not to run F-duct in Australian Race;Virgin woes; Hamilton aims for victory and apologises for road incident

It has been announced that the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) has chosen Nick Heidfeld as their new president for the 2010 season.

The decision means that the Mercedes GP reserve driver will take over from Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa, who has previously expressed his desire to step down from his position and concentrate on his racing return.

In a report by Autosport it is also revealed that GPDA directors Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber would also step down from their positions to make way for Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel.

Meanwhile, outgoing president de la Rosa believes that Sauber needs more time to develop its F-duct system if it is gain any advantage. The Swiss team has introduced a similar design to McLaren’s vent, but has no plans to utilize the device on Sunday.

“The driver has to activate the system,” de la Rosa told reporters in Australia about the system. “You can do it with the knee, you can do it with your hand. You just have to make sure you activate the system. The whole purpose is to gain top speed.

“We are learning with it, and that’s the reason why we took if off for the second session. We are just learning and trying to make it work for the next few races, because in the next races most teams will run it, so the earlier you start the more you learn. It’s not an easy system to make it work properly.”

Virgin Racing’s woes continued on Friday following the news that the team will have to change the size of its fuel tank after finding that it cannot hold enough petrol to complete a full race distance.  That aside, the team continued to be hindered by reliability problems, with Timo Glock only managed 17 laps  after being hit by a gearbox oil leak and Lucas di Grassi missing the second session.

“With Lucas this morning we had a good session,” said technical director Nick Wirth. “The target was to test the car and give Lucas plenty of acclimatisation laps – which we achieved successfully. This afternoon he had a problem with a gearbox oil line which delayed us at the start of the session.

“Once he got going again he was further delayed by a failed real-time telemetry sensor, and as it isn’t possible to run the car without it, we had to change it. We tried to get out again before the end of the session, but unfortunately just missed out.

“For Timo the morning was unfortunately dominated by a problem with the gearbox oil system. We managed to solve our issues over the lunch break, but it required a lot of work and caused a delay to the start of his second session. He went out towards the end of the afternoon and was quite happy with the car, considering his lack of running.

“Obviously today was not as smooth as we would have liked but we’ve made progress since Bahrain so the team will stay focused on the positives.”

Finally Lewis Hamilton is confident of McLaren’s chances in Melbourne, after topping the second free practice session.

“I think this is a season where we have to highlight where we are losing bits of time.” Hamilton said in an interview with the Official Formula 1 Website. “In the race, when the car is heavier it feels much more balanced – at least mine is.”

“I think it is also a question of how you use your tyres. Overall I would say that our race pace is pretty good. Clearly the most important part is to get the qualifying right tomorrow – to understand how to get the most out of the car in that single lap – as the qualifying position has even more of an impact than it did in the past.

“Both Jenson and I are thrilled with our pace, even though we still don’t know what everybody else is doing… The aim is to win, as always. So fingers crossed that we will be in a good position for that.”

Hamilton’s weekend has not went entirely to plan, however, with the Brit being charged on summons with improper use of a vehicle after completing a burnout and a fishtail in a Mercedes car along Lakeside Drive in Melbourne.

“This evening, I was driving in an over-exuberant manner and, as a result, was stopped by the police,” he said in a statement.

“What I did was silly, and I want to apologise for it.”