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Ecclestone: Some F1 drivers are windbags

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. Credit: PA

Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has taken aim at the sport's revolting drivers by comparing them to "windbags".

Last week, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, led by Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel, took the step of writing an open letter in which they blasted the "obsolete" and "ill-structured" governance of the sport.

But speaking on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Ecclestone issued his own retort, claiming they were put up to the outburst by their teams.

Asked if the drivers were "windbags", Ecclestone replied: "Some of them". Pressed on which drivers he was referring to, the 85-year-old said: "The ones that are".

Ecclestone continued: "They [the drivers] can say what they like can't they? They can't do anything. They can give an opinion. Everyone has got an opinion.

"So really their discussion is with their team and the team has got a voice. They are only saying what the team have told them to say."

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Alonso ruled out of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Alonso won't race in Bahrain. Credit: PA

Fernando Alonso has been ruled out of the Bahrain Grand Prix amid concerns he could suffer a punctured lung.

The 34-year-old - who sustained fractured ribs at last weekend's Australian Grand Prix in one of the most spectacular Formula One smashes in recent times - failed a medical test at Bahrain's Sakhir Circuit on Thursday, and his participation at the next race in China in a fortnight's time is also under threat.

Belgian's Stoffel Vandoorne, the untested McLaren reserve driver, has jetted in from Japan to deputise for the two-time world champion.

Fernando Alonso thankful to walk away from 'scary' Australian GP crash

Fernando Alonso says he is fortunate to be alive after surviving one of the most spectacular crashes in recent Formula One memory.

Fernando Alonso walks away from the biggest F1 crash in years. Credit: PA

While Nico Rosberg finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel to win the opening race of an incident-packed Australian Grand Prix, the season-opener will be remembered for Alonso's terrifying 200mph smash.

After he careered into the back of Esteban Gutierrez under braking for turn three, Alonso was merely a passenger as he slammed into the wall before barrel-rolling through the air twice.

When Alonso's car finally came to a standstill, the Spaniard was upside down, missing all four tyres and much of his McLaren bodywork littered the circuit. Miraculously, the two-time world champion crawled out of his car before limping away from the wreckage.

"I am lucky to be here and thankful to be here," said Alonso. "It was a scary moment and a scary crash.

"When I stopped I saw a little space to get out of the car and I went out quickly just to make sure that my mum, who was watching the race on TV at home, could see that I was okay."

F1 scraps new qualifying system after Australian GP farce

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff. Credit: PA

Formula One's new qualifying format lasted just one race after it was ditched by red-faced team bosses.

The sport will now revert back to last year's system following a meeting of team principals and race director Charlie Whiting in Melbourne on Sunday. Their decision was unanimous, and the change will come into place for the next race in Bahrain in a fortnight's time.

Saturday's new elimination-style qualifying session, which sees a driver knocked out every 90 seconds, was mired in farce.

With six minutes of the final of three timed sessions remaining, Ferrari decided to save their tyres for the race, and after seeing their rivals remain in their garage, Mercedes decided to follow suit.

Hamilton and Rosberg were called back into the pits, and with four minutes left of qualifying, millions of fans were left staring at an empty track.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: "It is pretty embarrassing. We are a global sport, millions of spectators, and we have changed the rules in an erratic way, which we shouldn't have done.''

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Hamilton unhappy with changes to F1 qualifying

Lewis Hamilton has taken aim at Formula One's powerbrokers in the wake of proposed changes designed to usher in a new era for the sport.

A new qualifying format, which is set to be introduced for the season-opening race in Melbourne next month, as well as changes to the technical make-up for the sport, have been proposed.

Hamilton isn't happy with the changes Credit: PA

The changes mean that the slowest drivers eliminated every 90 seconds after a timed period - rather than at the end of the three sessions - in hope of providing greater unpredictability.

But reflecting on the decisions, Hamilton, the triple world champion, said: "I don't agree with the changes that are made, and have been made for many, many years, so you just live with it.

"I think the drivers should be consulted - I am sure they have been involved more in recent decisions, maybe not the ones that have just been done - but we do have a feeling in the car, we do have some ideas of what could be better, and we know what is not good in the car.

"Some of the drivers have been driving 10 to 15 years and have been through all the different rule changes and know which ones work, and which ones didn't."

Lewis Hamilton admits 'attention was elsewhere' after wrapping up F1 title last season

Lewis Hamilton has revealed his "attention was elsewhere" after he won last year's Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton - in action for the first winter test in Barcelona on Monday - sealed his third title with three races left on the calendar, but Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg dominated the final rounds.

Hamilton will bid to become the first Briton to win four F1 titles Credit: PA

"I'm not really too fussed about what happened in the final few races of 2015 as it didn't affect my championship", said Hamilton.

"Of course, I love winning and that's always the goal - but to be honest my attention was elsewhere at that point.

Hamilton will be bidding to become the first British driver to win four titles and the 31-year-old says his winless streak at the back end of last season will act as his motivation heading into the new campaign.

"If anything, it motivated me. It made me think 'okay, next year Nico is going to be super quick and super strong, so I've got to make sure I raise the bar again'.

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