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Saturday, March 28, 2009

New team Brawn GP takes F1 pole in Australia

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Brawn GP became the first Formula One team in 39 years to take the pole position in its debut race when Jenson Button secured the spot for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Button's time of 1 minute, 26.202 seconds Saturday edged teammate Rubens Barrichello by three tenths of a second, giving the F1 newcomers both positions on the front row.

It was the fourth pole of Button's career and completed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the England-based team, which was threatened with extinction when former owner Honda pulled out of the sport after the 2008 season.

Before former Ferrari strategist and Honda team principal Ross Brawn took over the team from the Japanese automaker, Button and Barrichello faced the prospect of looking for new jobs and watching this weekend's action on television.

"Going from not having a drive and no future in racing to putting it on pole here is just amazing," Button said. "This is a great moment, not the most important of the weekend, but a great start."

"This is where we deserve to be, after the difficult times we have had," the 29-year-old British driver added. "Roll on the season, I am so excited about this year."

The Brawn performance may be a welcome taste of novelty for F1 fans, but rival teams were less enthusiastic. The team is racing under appeal, with a protest over the design of its rear diffuser to be heard by the sport's governing body FIA after the Malaysian Grand Prix, jeopardizing any points gained in the season's first two GP races. Williams and Toyota are also subject to the appeal.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel will start from third on the grid at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit, ahead of BMW's Robert Kubica and Williams' Nico Rosberg. Toyota pair Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli qualified sixth and eighth respectively, but were sent to the back of the grid after stewards ruled the rear wings on their cars were too flexible.

Virgin Chairman Branson sits in the Brawn GP Formula One team area during a practice session at Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ferrari F450 Test Mule Spied Up Close During Winter Testing

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Further spy images of the forthcoming Ferrari F450 have emerged. The test mule was shot while testing in Sweden in conditions which are not ideal for a rear-wheel-driven Ferrari. Nevertheless, ice-cold circumstances are part of the development process if reliability under any kind of weather is to be claimed.

Boasting over 500hp the F450 is even rumoured to have a higher power output than the 520hp F430 Scuderia. Ferrari will use the same double-clutch gearbox from the California for the F450 to double-up with the envisaged 4.5-litre V8. How the global financial difficulty has affected the scarlet marque will be seen in the F450 through possible technologies like a road car version of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems).

The mule in these pictures may be disguised as an F430 but the differences are easy to spot; wider fenders, the air scoops and that centrally-mounted exhaust pipe give the guessing game away.

Ferrari has apparently codenamed the car F142 and it is expected to make its first public showing at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009. Deliveries would then commence just over a year from now.

Next Generation Audi A8 Coming in 2010

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German car news outlet Automobilwoche claims Audi has confirmed a 2010 release for the new Audi A8. This validates rumors about the A8 that have been around for a while.

An Audi spokesman told the Automobilwoche, "Our new flagship will come next year."

WCF previously reported that the Audi A8 will be released with two diesel and two petrol engines. The two engine displacements available will include a 3.0-liter and 4.2-liter V8. It does not appear that Audi will release a hybrid version of the car, unlike the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes S-Class. However, Audi will likely improve A8 fuel consumption with a start-stop automatic. An Audi S8 could see the benefit of a 620 hp 5.0-liter V10 FSI.

It is also looking more likely that the Audi A8 will use the ASF II, the second generation of the company's Aluminum Space Frame. It uses an aluminum passenger cell, with steel and foam built in to reinforce vulnerable areas.

No word yet on the debut location of the new 2010 Audi A8. An introduction at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September seems to be a distinct possibility.