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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Michael Schumacher
    Schumacher hits back at comeback criticism
  • Sutil wants 'amicable' solution to Lux affair
  • Red Bull keeps exhaust updates quiet
  • Safe to race at post-Schumacher Ferrari - Barrichello
  • Too many pitstops in Turkey admits Pirelli
  • Webber hopes to stay on top in Barcelona
  • Hamilton and Schumacher in favor of Monaco DRS

Schumacher hits back at comeback criticism
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher arrived in Barcelona on Thursday insisting he is not about to hit reverse on his formula one comeback.

A barrage of criticism has been thrown at the 42-year-old German after a fraught race in Turkey, where he said "the big joy" of F1 is missing at present.

"I can understand the disappointment of my fans," he told Bild newspaper.  "And I can promise them that we are not giving up on working flat out to race at the front."

As for his apparently flagging enthusiasm, Schumacher insisted: "The motivation is still there.  After every storm the sun comes out again."

Auto Motor und Sport quotes him saying: "Nothing has changed.  Of course, you don't like criticism, but it's something I've experienced many times.

"Actually, I am a little bit proud," he smiled, according to the SID news agency.  "I feel honored that I am still so interesting to the media."

Schumacher told Spanish newspaper El Pais: "Obviously, I prefer to be flattered."

His friend and countryman, the championship leader Sebastian Vettel, told F1's official website: "Of course for him it is not easy to see that the public and media is trying to write him off.

"Then again Michael has the biggest experience of all drivers in the paddock, so I am very sure that he can deal with this situation."

Sutil wants 'amicable' solution to Lux affair
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil's manager has admitted he is seeking an "amicable" solution with Eric Lux amid a scandal that could cost the Force India driver his formula one career or even his freedom.

Lux, chief executive of the Renault team owner Genii Capital, said this week he is planning filing criminal charges after he was cut on the neck with a broken glass at a post-race nightclub party in China last month.

But Manfred Zimmermann, 28-year-old Sutil's German manager, told reporters in Barcelona on Thursday that Lux has not actually filed those charges yet.

"We are still looking for an amicable solution between ourselves," he is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport.

A successful charge of "physical assault and grievous bodily harm" - the complaints mentioned by Eric Lux's Swiss lawyer - could result in a jail term for Sutil.

And Force India has only committed to honoring the German driver's contract for the Spanish grand prix this weekend, despite Monaco taking place just a week later.

Another potentially explosive element is the possible involvement of Sutil's friend Lewis Hamilton.

The McLaren driver was whisked away from the M1nt nightclub by his bodyguards shortly after Lux fled with wounds that required more than a dozen stitches at a nearby Chinese hospital.

Lux's lawyer had warned that he might take action against "other persons involved in this matter", but on Thursday Hamilton was not talking about Shanghai.

"I've been advised not to say anything," the Briton is quoted by the Mirror.

Red Bull keeps exhaust updates quiet
(GMM)  Red Bull is keeping a key update for the already dominant RB7 car close to its chest ahead of the Spanish grand prix.

Auto Motor und Sport reported earlier this week that the team ran the significant blown exhaust development on Sebastian Vettel's car on Friday in Turkey, but the German crashed just a few laps in.

But when asked what is new here in Barcelona, teammate Mark Webber answered evasively: "Nothing.  Spark plugs, new spark plugs."

Team consultant Helmut Marko told laola1.at: "Of course we have updates, but of course I cannot tell you what."

Also with updates in the crucial development area of exhausts this weekend is Ferrari, but Fernando Alonso is not sure the 150 Italia is ready to take on Red Bull.

"It is difficult to beat them in the race - it is nearly impossible to beat them in qualifying - but this is something that we want to change and we want to change starting here in Barcelona," said the Spaniard.

Safe to race at post-Schumacher Ferrari - Barrichello
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello thinks his countryman Felipe Massa is safe to stay at Ferrari.

Veteran Barrichello left the famous Italian team after the 2005 season, at the end of a period of playing the role of undisputed number two to Michael Schumacher.

His memories are therefore bittersweet, but as it emerged on Thursday that Fernando Alonso has extended his contract through 2016, Barrichello admitted Massa might be advised to also push for a new deal.

"I don't know if Ferrari still operates today as it did ten years ago when I was with Schumacher," the 38-year-old told radio Jovem Pan.

"If it is the same as then, I would advise him to get out, but I believe Ferrari is quite different today, so I can't express an opinion.

"There are things that were bad for me and apparently better for him (Massa)," he added.

"Without Schumacher there, Ferrari is a team that is worthwhile going to.  They always have a competitive car," admitted Barrichello.

Alonso's new five-year extension surprised the F1 paddock in Barcelona, but Barrichello is sure it includes exit clauses.

"The contract shouldn't be blindly analyzed by the press," said the Williams driver.  "For sure he has signed up to 2016, but there must be ways out.

"Such a long contract shows that the team wants to keep Alonso very much, and if I was a leader at Ferrari I would try to do the same thing," admitted Barrichello.

"But such a long contract can bring benefits as well as harms to a driver."

When asked about Alonso's new deal on Thursday, Massa told reporters: "It is not yet contract renewal time for myself and I am in no hurry to see what my long term future will be."

Too many pitstops in Turkey admits Pirelli
(GMM)  As F1 celebrates the end of processional and predictable races, Pirelli has acknowledged that Turkey two weeks ago was one step too far.

The sport's new official tire partner is supplying a more durable hard compound to teams in Spain this weekend, after drivers had to make four pitstops on average at Istanbul Park.

Some commentators have applauded the spectacle of the new formula, whilst acknowledging that Turkey - as a motor race - was nearly impossible for spectators to follow.

"We have gone from one extreme to the other," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

Agreed Pirelli's Paul Hembery: "We were caught by surprise in Turkey.  Four pitstops is a lot.  We are working on two or three."

Even if the right balance is found, not everyone is a fan of today's F1.

"I miss not being able to squeeze everything out of the car without having to look after the tires," admitted Mark Webber.

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, however, said it is here to stay.

"Most teams are already working on their cars for next season based on what (regulations) we have today," he revealed.

Webber hopes to stay on top in Barcelona
(GMM)  Mark Webber is hoping to turn his season around with a back-to-back Barcelona win this weekend.

The Australian won the Spain-Monaco double header a year ago and on Friday morning at the Circuit de Catalunya got off to a fast start by lapping clearly quicker than any rival.

"Seems to be a good circuit for me, yeah," he confirmed.

Webber, 34, has had to witness his teammate Sebastian Vettel roar into a clear championship lead in 2011 and himself finish fifth, fourth, third and second in the opening four races of the season.

"I will try to keep that going and have a clean weekend and try to go one step further than the last few races and do what I did last year," he said in Spain.

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey said this week that Vettel has adapted better to life on Pirelli tires this year, and Webber agrees.

"What's absolutely clear is that we were very, very, very even on the Bridgestone tires, and it's not quite like that on the Pirellis so far, particularly on new tires," said the Australian.

"That's not an excuse, I'm just answering your question.  That's the only thing that's changed.  Seb's doing a good job and clearly it's up to me to do better."

Hamilton and Schumacher in favor of Monaco DRS
Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher insist that DRS should be used at next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, amid general safety concerns that the overtake-aiding tool could cause accidents in the tight confines of the Principality.

Rubens Barrichello – head of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) – noted that only Schumacher disagreed with the idea of not using DRS next weekend.

“It was every driver, apart from Michael, that saw the thing the same way as I did,” Barrichello is quoted as saying by Reuters. Charlie (Whiting, FIA Race Director) said, ‘So everybody agrees that it is not a good thing?’ and then Michael said he didn't agree. He must have something on the car that is technically very good.”

Former team-mate Schumacher shared his side of the story:

“I don't think it’s too dangerous to push a couple of buttons. I’m pretty sure the FIA is able and capable of finding spots where you can activate them without any danger. I'm sorry if I may have a different opinion to the others, and I don't think I’m alone in that, but that's my opinion.”

The feelings of the seven-time World Champion have been backed up by 2008 title winner Lewis Hamilton.

“I am excited to use it,” the Englishman said of DRS in Monte-Carlo. “I was the only one in the drivers' briefing that was for it, so Michael wasn’t the only one to disagree; when I mentioned it, he did come back and say, 'We could use it at the exit of the tunnel for 100 meters. He was the only one to come out with a positive comment on that but, generally, no-one else was very positive.”

The FIA has confirmed that there will be no outlawing of DRS for Monaco, with first practice beginning on Thursday morning.

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