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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hamilton lucky to win Monaco with puncture
  • Improved Massa can win 2008 title
  • Too early to write off 'shocking' Coulthard
  • New street tracks can be safe - Niki Lauda
  • Schu to race motorcycle this weekend
  • Facelift for famous Montreal curbs

Hamilton lucky to win Monaco with puncture
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa has confirmed reports that his McLaren colleague Lewis Hamilton was lucky to win last Sunday's Monaco grand prix.

After the 23-year-old Briton delightedly took the checkered flag in the Principality, it was rumored that one of his tires was flat shortly after it returned to parc ferme.

It was suggested that he sustained the slow right-rear puncture late in the race, probably by running over the debris of Nico Rosberg's crash.

"It is true that he finished the race with a slow puncture," de la Rosa, the British team's Spanish test driver, confirmed to the Spanish press at a Madrid motor show this week.

Improved Massa can win 2008 title
(GMM)  Ferrari's Felipe Massa has turned around his disappointing early form to emerge as a true candidate for the 2008 title.

That is the admission of rival team Renault's sporting director Steve Nielsen, who said the Brazilian driver started the season looking like he couldn't cope with the ban on traction control.

With his driver errors recently ironed out, however, Massa has outqualified his highly rated teammate Kimi Raikkonen on five out of six occasions this year, winning two races, and is now only one point behind the reigning world champion in the drivers' standings.

Nielsen told Renault's post-Monaco podcast that following his abysmal opening races, 27-year-old Massa "looks like a different guy and you have to say there is a real possibility he might do it.".

"He is certainly in the mix and fighting for it," Nielsen added.

Too early to write off 'shocking' Coulthard
(GMM)  By the veteran Scot's own admission at Monaco, 2008 has been a "shocking" season so far for David Coulthard.

"To be six races in, without any points and with so much accident damage, is really disappointing," he said after crashing out of the grand prix at Monte Carlo.

Rumors that suggest the 37-year-old's race seat at Red Bull may in danger within weeks, however, are perhaps wide of the mark, sister team Toro Rosso's co-owner Gerhard Berger insists.

Should Coulthard be replaced, it is no secret that Red Bull's favored candidate would be Sebastian Vettel, who drives for Toro Rosso but is under direct contract with the energy drink outfit.

"For Sebastian, the step (to Red Bull) would be much too early," Berger is quoted as insisting to Auto Motor und Sport.

Coulthard's manager, fellow Briton and former F1 driver Martin Brundle, thinks his charge only needs a couple of good results to get the monkey off his back.

"Unfortunately, all the bad luck at the moment is concentrated on him," Brundle said.

It is well known that Coulthard's on-form teammate Mark Webber, who has scored every one of Red Bull's 15 points so far this season, has already commenced talks to stay in 2009.

But Brundle suggested that it is too early to be thinking about next year.

"To be doing something now would be like answering a question that has not been put," he said.

New street tracks can be safe - Niki Lauda
(GMM)  Niki Lauda is calm about the addition of two more city circuits to the 2008 formula one calendar, despite suggestions that the development is a step backwards for driver safety.

The former triple world champion was quoted last weekend at F1's famous street circuit, Monaco, as insisting that car and track improvements mean that the venue can no longer be regarded as really dangerous.

In August and September respectively, Valencia and Singapore will host their inaugural formula one races on similar street tracks.

Lauda noted: "New city courses are designed to the current safety standards.

"They will have, for example, much more run-off than in Monte Carlo," he added.

The 59-year-old legend also sees no problem with simulations that predict the new circuits will boast top speeds in excess of 300kph.

"Yes, but this is not the problem," the Austrian insisted in an interview with motorline.cc.

"To run quickly next to a wall is not in itself dangerous.  The real questions are, 'what is in front?', and 'how fast can I slow down?'

"These cars are always potentially dangerous," Lauda acknowledged, "but it is about the risk.  And of course today it is much lower than in my time."

It emerged this week that the FIA's Charlie Whiting inspected and approved works at the Valencia site.

McLaren test driver and GPDA chairman Pedro de la Rosa is quoted as saying by Spain's El Mundo newspaper: "We do not want more circuits like Monaco, and the information I have is that this circuit will satisfy all the safety measures."

Schu to race motorcycle this weekend
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's next motorcycle race outing will be at the Nurburgring in Germany, organizers confirmed.

Earlier this month, the retired former seven time world champion made his debut in the professional IDM - the German superbike series - at the Oschersleben circuit.

And although the 39-year-old finished one of those races in 28th place and had a fall in the other, it seems he has not been put off his hobby.

"Perhaps I will race from time to time, but always as a guest runner and without ambitions for another career," the German said.

IDM organizers confirmed on Friday that Schumacher will race a Honda at the Nurburgring this weekend.

Facelift for famous Montreal curbs
(GMM)  The Montreal circuit's famous curbs have been changed ahead of the Canadian grand prix there next weekend.

Previously, it emerged that organizers of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve event would modify the wall adjacent to the left-hand kink prior to the hairpin, in response to Robert Kubica's huge crash in 2007.

The changes are among $4.5million in improvements at Montreal this year, including better paddock facilities and several resurfaced corners.

It has now also emerged that several of Montreal's famous corner curbs - including the one preceding the so-nicknamed 'Champions Wall' at the last corner - have been made significantly less harsh for the 2008 running.

The high curbs at the Montreal layout, located on the man made Notre Dame island within sight of the city, were previously famous for their difficult characteristics.

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