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Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Jacques Villeneuve was helped up the ladder in racing riding on his famous father Gilles' coattails.  Now he calls today's young drivers 'Daddy Boys' which is in some ways like the pot calling the kettle black
    No Montreal sellout amid F1 disruption threats
  • Villeneuve no fan of today's 'daddy's boys' drivers
  • Spanish hosts agree GP share scheme through 2019
  • Ecclestone inks split broadcasting deal for Italy
  • Brawn 'optimistic' over Ecclestone row solution
  • Rosberg 'assuming' Schumacher to stay in 2013

No Montreal sellout amid F1 disruption threats
(GMM)  Threats to disrupt this weekend's Canadian grand prix will affect attendance, promoter Francois Dumontier has revealed.

"They said they wanted to disrupt the grand prix," Dumontier said, referring to protesting students and internet terrorists.

"They already have," he told the Montreal Gazette.

He said ticket sales began to decline precisely when the threats became international news.

Organizers have already cancelled the traditional 'open day' on Thursday, which traditionally involves free-of-charge access for spectators including the F1 pitlane.

"I can't remember the last time we didn't sell out.  It's been that long," Dumontier said.

He defended the decision to cancel the open day.

"I didn't want to jeopardize the entire weekend," Dumontier said.

"Imagine if someone with bad intentions was standing in front of a driver, or an open garage?

"The teams have told me they understand the decision to cancel, but they say it's a shame because they enjoyed it.  I took no pleasure in cancelling it."

Villeneuve no fan of today's 'daddy's boys' drivers
(GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve has prefaced this weekend's Canadian grand prix by admitting he is no big fan of today's formula one.

The 1997 world champion will be attending this weekend's race, held in Montreal at the circuit named in honor of his late father.

Race organizers intend to mark the 30th anniversary of legendary Gilles Villeneuve's death.

"There's something planned, but I would like to keep it a surprise," promoter Francois Dumontier told the Montreal Gazette.

Villeneuve, 41, recently marked the anniversary by driving one of his father's old Ferraris at the Italian marque's Fiorano test track.

He will be at his home race this weekend as a guest pundit for British television Sky.

But he has kicked off his involvement by slamming the 2012 spectacle, including the Pirelli tire lottery and "daddy's boy" drivers.

Comparing today's crop with his father's era, Villeneuve said: "They weren't racers at 12 years old, the financing there in place for them to race.

"They had to sweat for it, they weren't little daddy's boys like you have now basically.  They are driving F1 and they are still children, they are still babies and they are kept like that," said the former Williams, BAR, Renault and BMW driver.

The winner of 11 grands prix also admitted he is not particularly enjoying the big impact of Pirelli's heavily-degrading and difficult to understand control tire.

"I am not a huge, huge fan right now," said the French Canadian.

"There is very little the drivers can do, the tires just suddenly disappear and that doesn't seem to be to the level that F1 should be at."

Villeneuve said he does not agree it is a good thing that 'underdogs' like Pastor Maldonado are considered perennial contenders for race wins.

"It is always fun to see an underdog beat the establishment but it is something that happens once in a while.  Now it seems to be almost a constant," he said.

"It is not logical, the best should win," Villeneuve insisted.

He also slammed F1's new generation for not taking the risks of formula one seriously enough.

"When you see Bruno Senna in Barcelona, he is not in the same race, he is going appallingly slow and he is blocking guys who are fighting for the points," he said, referring to the Brazilian's crash with Michael Schumacher.

"That is just not intelligent driving for starters.  But secondly, when you do a little twitch down the straight, that is just wrong."

Spanish hosts agree GP share scheme through 2019
(GMM)  Spain's formula one race hosts have finally agreed to annually alternate a single grand prix date.

Spanish sports newspapers Marca and Diario Sport said the respective organizers and supporting governments of the Barcelona and Valencia races have now agreed that the country should host only one grand prix per year.

Presidents Artur Mas (Catalonia) and Alberto Fabra (Valencia) have agreed the arrangement should remain in place through 2019.

But they must now await the "approval" of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who has previously said that an alternating scheme is the best solution for the calendar and for crisis-struck Spain.

Marca said the idea is that Barcelona will host the Spanish grand prix in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, with Valencia's street circuit returning to the calendar in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

A clause in Valencia's existing contract, for the annual European grand prix, allows the race to be called the Spanish grand prix if Barcelona is not hosting F1 on the same calendar.

Ecclestone inks split broadcasting deal for Italy
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has inked a television deal for Italy that mirrors the controversial split-broadcasting arrangement in Britain.

For 2012, the F1 chief executive ended free-to-air live coverage of the grand prix weekends within Britain by agreeing a deal with pay-channel Sky.

Free-to-air viewers in Britain can now only watch a limited amount of races live, with the others restricted to delayed highlights packages.

Ecclestone has signed a near-identical arrangement for Italy.

The live broadcasting rights for the entire 2013 calendar have been secured by Italy's pay-channel Sky.

Assuming a 20-race calendar, free-to-air viewers in Italy will see 9 grands prix live, with the other eleven to be shown in the form of a delayed broadcast.

One of the free-to-air live races will be the Italian grand prix at Monza, publications including La Gazzetta dello Sport and Autosprint said.

"We have worked with Sky Italia in the past and I have no doubts about their standards of production," Ecclestone is quoted as saying.

"We have a similar arrangement in England that is working very well, increasing the quality and breadth of coverage and ensuring at the same time that events can be seen for free."

Brawn 'optimistic' over Ecclestone row solution
(GMM)  Ross Brawn has revealed he feels "optimistic" Mercedes will reach a deal with Bernie Ecclestone for the new Concorde Agreement.

Earlier, the German carmaker had threatened to quit formula one because rival top teams including Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull had agreed much better deals for the new agreement beyond 2012.

"You'll have to wait to see," F1 chief executive Ecclestone said recently in Monaco, "but I'm confident everything with Mercedes will be fine."

Briton Brawn, the Brackley based Mercedes team's principal, is now sounding similarly hopeful.

"We have finally made good progress in the negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone," he is quoted by Germany's Sport Bild.

"That's why I am optimistic that we will find a solution," added Brawn.

Rosberg 'assuming' Schumacher to stay in 2013
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg on Thursday revealed he expects Michael Schumacher will still be his Mercedes teammate in 2013.

German Rosberg is already signed up beyond this season, but the uncertain future of his seven time world champion teammate is a hot topic at present.

"Right now I'm assuming that Michael is my (2013) teammate," Rosberg, 26, told Germany's Bild newspaper.

"I see no reason why he should stop."

43-year-old Schumacher, however, has only 2 points on the board so far in 2012, after a spate of car failures, incidents and penalties.

"Michael will handle the situation," Rosberg insisted.  "He is driving at a very high level and better days lie ahead for him."

Force India's Paul di Resta has been named in media reports as a possible 'plan B' in the event Schumacher and Mercedes do not stay together for 2013.

"Before we think about other drivers," insisted team boss Ross Brawn, "we will decide together with Michael about his future.

"Michael is a great driver, he contributes a lot to the development of the team and is an icon of motor sports," the Briton told Germany's Sport Bild.

As for Rosberg, Brawn said the Shanghai winner - who is 17 points off the championship lead at present - is a genuine challenger for the 2012 title.

"I see no reason why not," he insisted.

"He has the skills, the composure and the right approach, and we will develop the car intensively.

"He lacks nothing," added Brawn.

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