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May 8 (GMM) A curt Lewis Hamilton told reporters on Friday he remains downbeat about McLaren's chances of taking a step forward in Barcelona. After the silver cars were more than a second off the pace in practice, the world champion was asked how effectively the latest modifications to the MP4-24 had worked. "They didn't," he answered. Asked if the car is at all better in Spain compared to two weeks ago, the Briton added: "Nope."

- Red Bull designer Adrian Newey revealed it will be "touch and go" whether a double diffuser solution will adorn the RB5 at Monaco in two weeks. "It's very tight for us, I must say," he admitted in the Circuit de Catalunya paddock, "but we're hoping to have it there." Newey also admitted that it is possible Red Bull will not use a KERS system at any point this season.

- Lewis Hamilton unveiled a plaque bearing his name on Friday: a tribute by the circuit that was the scene of racist taunts against him last winter. The Briton said it was "great to know that I'm welcome here", but it must be pointed out that the ceremony took place outside Bernie Ecclestone's motor home in the paddock sanctum, not in the public 'Champion's Avenue' near the grandstands that will be the plaque's resting place.

- Only a minute chance of rain, between 5 and 10 per cent, exists for qualifying day in Spain. The chance of Sunday rain is higher.

- 17,500 spectators attended the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, before 35,000 walked through the turnstiles on Friday. Both tallies are significantly lower than one year ago, perhaps the result of the economic downturn and the fear of swine flu.

- Diffusers remain a hot topic in Barcelona. While Renault is using its second iteration of the controversial technology this weekend, Ferrari has fitted the concept to its F60 for the first time, although at first glance it does not resemble the 'double deckers' of teams like Brawn, Williams and Toyota. "We are learning now but still it is our first attempt and I am sure we have got quite a lot to learn still," said Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa.

- Another conversation topic has been weight, with Nico Rosberg remarking that the trend for ever-thinner drivers is becoming a safety issue. The FIA has raised the car-driver weight from 605 to 620kg for 2010, but this is also because next year's cars will be inherently heavier due to the need for bigger fuel tanks and bans on expensive lightweight materials. One floated solution to the issue is that a separate minimum weight for drivers be introduced - say, 80kg - and that featherweights like Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld carry ballast in their seats.
Ross Brawn is not unconvinced. "I don't think you will get total equality," he said. "A big driver should be stronger, he should have more stamina, he should be able to drive the car over a longer period more consistently."

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