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Glock threatened after Brazilian GP

TIMO Glock was a victim of personal threats after Lewis Hamilton passed him in the closing stages of last year's Brazilian Grand Prix to secure the Formula One drivers' title, the German said yesterday.

Briton Hamilton overtook Glock, who had stayed on dry-weather tires, a few hundred meters from the finish to grab fifth place in the race.

"This was not a pretty way to end the season," Glock told the Darmstaedter Echo newspaper as he prepared for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

"The reactions from many German fans were very bad. It seems there are many racist people who did not like seeing Hamilton become world champion.

"The reactions ranged from 'we know where your parents live' to 'you belong in the gas chamber,"' added the Toyota driver.

McLaren driver Hamilton, the sport's first black champion, has occasionally been the target for racial abuse and last November his father Anthony said the taunting had made him doubt whether his son should be competing in Formula One.

"I did think maybe this is not the place for my family," Hamilton senior told the Daily Express newspaper. "I have never said it to Lewis, you just go home and think 'I didn't think the world was like this.'"

Meanwhile, Formula One newcomer Brawn GP, heirs to departed Honda, has been dropped to the bottom of the paddock pecking order in a revised championship entry list.

Honda finished ninth of the 10 teams last season but Mercedes-powered Brawn GP has become the last ranked team after the governing International Automobile Federation decided last week that it was in effect a new entry.

Brawn's British driver Jenson Button and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello will now race with the numbers 20 and 21, respectively, while the team garages will be at the far end of the pit lane. The team's mechanics have already arrived in Melbourne for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Force India, which failed to score a point last year but now also has Mercedes engines, becomes the ninth ranked team with Germany's Adrian Sutil and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella taking the numbers 18 and 19.

The FIA said it had also approved a request from Ferrari for Brazilian Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen to change their numbers. Massa, runner-up last year, will now be 3 and his Finnish teammate 4.

The Toro Rosso drivers Sebastien Bourdais of France and Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi also switched to 11 and 12 respectively.

Earlier Massa said he expected Brawn GP to be Ferrari's biggest challenger in the coming season - not McLaren.

Brawn GP impressed in offseason testing, while McLaren appeared to struggle with the new regulation changes for 2009.

"Looking at the latest test sessions, for sure Brawn GP is the main opponent," Massa said. "We saw Brawn GP rising from the ashes, running a second faster than everyone else."

Brawn GP began testing later than most teams but became the biggest surprise on the track. The team seemed the most adjusted to the new changes, which include the reintroduction of slick tires, the addition of the KERS energy system and drastic aerodynamic modifications.

Massa reiterated that he was surprised by the apparent problems of McLaren. "A lot of people say that the tests are not as important as a race weekend, which is true, but when you are always running behind it shows that you are not doing well," Massa said.

The Brazilian said he is satisfied with Ferrari's performance this year and is optimistic.

"The car is competitive, it's quick and it's constant," Massa said.


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