F1 Notes | Trulli, Toyota have a troublesome weekend

- The Associated Press
Sunday, Mar. 29, 2009

MELBOURNE, Australia - Jarno Trulli capped off his terrible weekend at the Australian Grand Prix by being stripped of his third-place finish Sunday at the season-opening Formula One race.

Trulli was pondering what might have been when he earned a podium finish after starting the race at the back of the grid from pit lane with Toyota teammate Timo Glock.

That disappointment turned to dejection when race stewards ruled that he had illegally overtaken McLaren's Lewis Hamilton while the safety car was on the track within the last five laps.

The Italian was penalized with 25 seconds added to his race time, relegating him to 12th and elevating reigning world champion Hamilton from fourth place to third.

Glock and Trulli qualified sixth and eighth respectively on Saturday, but were sent to the back of the grid after stewards ruled the rear wings on their cars were too flexible.

Trulli, whose only Grand Prix win came in 2004 at Belgium with Renault, had expressed mixed emotions even when he believed he'd secured third place.

"Many things happened this weekend. Plenty of emotion, some high and some low," he said immediately after the race. "It's very difficult to say if I'm happy at the moment. I'm not completely happy for myself because I could have done better, but if you look at the result we have all done a great job after the disappointment of yesterday."

ABORTED PROTEST: The Williams team launched a protest against its Ferrari and Red Bull rivals late Saturday, before thinking better of the move and withdrawing the action.

"Williams confirmed that following today's qualifying session, it submitted protests against two competitor teams under the 2009 Technical Regulations," Williams said in a statement. "After further detailed consideration, Williams has withdrawn both protests in the interests of the sport. Williams recognizes the possibility that in this area there could be more than one interpretation of the rules and, therefore, does not feel it appropriate to continue with the protests."

It was unclear as to the exact nature of the protest.

Williams was racing under appeal in Australia along with Brawn GP and Toyota after Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault challenged the legality of the diffusers used on their cars. A hearing into the matter will be held in Paris following next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Williams technical director Sam Michael told media Sunday he still hopes the sport's governing body FIA will look into the Red Bull and Ferrari designs.

"We will leave it now for the FIA and the TWG (Technical Working Group) to decide what to do. The FIA will deal with it," Michael was quoted as saying.

TOYOTA'S TROUBLES: Toyota will review the methods used to test its car components after both its drivers were forced to start the Australian GP from pit lane.

Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli started from pit lane, despite qualifying sixth and eighth, after stewards ruled the rear wings on their cars were too flexible.

"The design has passed our own internal test procedures, which are designed to reproduce twice the proscribed official load tests," an official team statement said. "In light of this decision, it is clear (that) we must review these procedures to ensure there is no repeat of this situation. We will also review our production processes to ensure there is no variation between parts."

The team worked overnight Saturday to ensure its race cars were legal to start Sunday's race.

ROCKING F1: Recording company Universal Music Group International has signed an agreement with F1 organizers to stage a series of special concerts and television programs in conjunction with F1 races.

Dubbed F1 ROCKS, it will coordinate music events at Formula 1 race locations, which will then be made into television shows and be available for download from the Internet.

"I have always said that we are in the entertainment business and this deal marks a new dimension for Formula 1," F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said in a statement Sunday. "It is the result of many months of discussions with Lucian (Grainge, Universal chairman) and I am very pleased we are now ready to go."

Details of concerts or artists involved were not released.

"The combination of music, megastars and motor sport will create a groundbreaking, all-new entertainment spectacular, channeled through the multiple platforms open to our two global brands," Universal CEO Lucian Grainge said. "I'm very much looking forward to working with Bernie. He had the imagination to see the potential in F1 Rocks from the very beginning, and we want to make it a huge success on a global scale."

Australian GP organizers have already established something of a tradition of combining major music artists with F1, last year featuring a post-race concert by American band Kiss and this year including British group The Who.