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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Webber angry at 'illegal' Bull barb
  • Montreal upgrades for Ferrari, Williams and McLaren
  • 2012 title 'possible' for Rosberg - Schumacher
  • Grosjean denies 'crash-prone' charge
  • Peter Sauber cuts head in Montreal
  • Webber admits other teams 'interested' for 2013
  • Police arrest protesters at Ecclestone event
  • CORRECTED: F1 on free TV could end in Britain - Ecclestone

Webber angry at 'illegal' Bull barb
(GMM)  Mark Webber on Thursday bristled when a reporter suggested he won the recent Monaco grand prix with an "illegal" car.

"I'm happy to be called lots of things," said the plain-speaking Australian, "and I'm happy to have criticism about my driving and lots of stuff.

"But I will not take criticism in that respect.  It completely pisses me off to be honest, because the car has passed every single technical regulation after the race."

Indeed, despite rumors in Monaco of a post-race protest lodged by Red Bull's rivals Ferrari and McLaren, the FIA's clarification about the holes in the floor of the RB8 came only days ago.

"The car passed the test after Bahrain, the car passed the test after Monaco and now there has been a clarification on the rule, and the rule now is different," Webber insisted.

His teammate Sebastian Vettel admitted it had been "surprising" to learn that while the car was legal in Monaco, the FIA changed its mind afterwards.

"In reality I don't think that it makes a huge difference on the track, it is just a bit distracting that first it is illegal, then legal, and then illegal again," the German is quoted by F1's official website.

"What I mean is that in the future people should make a final decision, and spare us this back and forth."

Reigning world champion Vettel also played down suggestions that, after dominating Webber in 2011, the Australian is - like in 2010 - once again breathing down his neck.

"We are speaking about one race (Monaco) only," Vettel insisted.

"This is a different weekend and a new chance, so let's see what develops over the next three days," he said in Canada.

Webber, meanwhile, acknowledged that his form could re-fire the tension in the Red Bull garage.

"It's a good problem to have," he smiled.

Montreal upgrades for Ferrari, Williams and McLaren
(GMM)  Lots of new and shiny upgrades could be seen in the Montreal paddock on Thursday.

Spanish sports daily Marca said the new exhaust on Ferrari's car is a refined version of what the Italian team intended to debut on the F2012 at the start of the season.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said it is similar to McLaren's solution.

"How much better (it is) is difficult to say, we just need to try it," said Felipe Massa, who will back-to-back test the configuration alongside Fernando Alonso on Friday.

Over at Barcelona winner Williams' garage, a reportedly radical rear wing is ready to run.

"Especially in the activated DRS position," said Auto Motor und Sport, "it will bring more top speed."

McLaren's Montreal upgrade is comparatively minor, but it is designed to cut out troublesome pitstop errors.

It is the Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari-style 'nut-in-the-wheel' solution, which made its debut in the McLaren pit area only on the rear wheels in Monaco.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday he thinks F1's top teams will soon stop the 'lottery' that has been seen so far in 2012.

"Perhaps Lewis Hamilton or even Michael Schumacher will win a race now," said the Red Bull driver, admitting an unprecedented seventh different winner could win the seventh race of 2012.

But he added: "I think the 'lottery' will stop here, or at the latest in Valencia.  I don't think we are going to see 20 different winners," smiled Vettel.

2012 title 'possible' for Rosberg - Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher thinks his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg is a contender for the 2012 world championship.

"I said before the season that it is too early for the title for us," said the seven time world champion with Ferrari and Benetton.

"I have to correct myself," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.  "At least for Nico it is possible."

Rosberg is just 17 points off Fernando Alonso's title lead after six races, while Schumacher has just 2 points on the board.

"Someone told me they have calculated that I could still win the championship," Schumacher smiled.  "I admit there would be a few too many 'ifs' for that.

"But apart from China, I have always been on Nico's pace," he insisted.

In his ultra-successful first career, Schumacher won at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve no fewer than seven times.

"In my comeback I am closer than ever to victory," he insisted.

"I don't know why I've won here so much -- actually it's not my type of track.

"But Monte Carlo showed that we can be quick on this type of circuit," he admitted.

Schumacher, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, insisted his recent technical failures have not got him down.

"I've been around for too long to get upset about it.  These prototypes are built in seven months, not seven years, but still they are incredibly reliable."

Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg has now sped past his father Keke's tally of grand prix starts.

Is he now ready to match his Finnish dad's title tally as well?

"I don't think about beating him, I am proud of what my father did," the German is quoted by La Presse newspaper.

"I don't compare myself to him and I'm not thinking about the world championship.  Right now I'm thinking about this race, after that we will see."

Grosjean denies 'crash-prone' charge
(GMM)  The word 'Grosjean' still ignites emotion in the Sauber garage.

Sergio Perez was furious with the Frenchman after a collision in Barcelona, and then Kamui Kobayashi had to retire with suspension damage after the first corner in Monaco.

"He deserved a penalty (for Monaco)," team manager Beat Zehnder is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"He drove into two cars.  If Schumacher is punished in Barcelona, why not Grosjean (at Monaco)?"

Team boss Peter Sauber added: "The guy has both of our drivers on his conscience."

Grosjean, having returned with Lotus this year after his abortive 2009 debut, denied he is crash-prone.

"In Australia (with Pastor Maldonado), I couldn't really do anything about it," he is quoted by France's Auto Hebdo.

"In Malaysia (with Michael Schumacher) it is true that it was my fault.

"And Monaco?  What could I do?" said the 26-year-old.

"Trying to get a scooter and a bus through Ste Devote is difficult enough, let alone four formula one cars.

"It's part of the game.  The start is a crucial moment in the race but I don't think I've been overly aggressive with the others, just unlucky.

"I don't think I've ever done something crazy," insisted Grosjean.

Peter Sauber cuts head in Montreal
(GMM)  Peter Sauber is in the wars again.

In Melbourne, the Hinwil based team's 68-year-old majority owner and founder tripped and fell at the paddock entrance, hurting his elbow and wrist.

Now, in Montreal on Thursday, the Swiss hurt himself again.

In the carpark near the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Sauber struck the top of his bald head on the hook of his hire car's rear trunk.

The four centimeter cut was treated by team physio Josef Leberer, according to veteran Blick newspaper correspondent Roger Benoit.

Sauber confirmed on Thursday that even his Melbourne injuries are not yet fully healed.

"But an operation would be too complicated," he said.

He hopes the Montreal incident is the last bout of bad luck for now.

"It's frustrating," said Sauber.  "We have the best car in my 20 years in formula one and we are almost always giving away the results."

Webber admits other teams 'interested' for 2013
(GMM)  Mark Webber has admitted his return to form in 2012 has triggered the interest of rival F1 teams.

The Australian struggled alongside reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel last year, but two weeks ago in Monaco he returned to the top step of the podium.

Webber, 35, is now equal on points with his younger teammate, and just three points from Fernando Alonso's title lead.

"It was a long season last year," he told French Canadian newspaper La Presse in Montreal.

"But this year is very similar to 2010 for me: I started strong and I fought for the championship until the end," said Webber.

It is a timely boost of Webber's form amid rumors of talks with Ferrari, as his Red Bull contract runs out at the end of the season.

"This is a results-based industry," said Webber.  "This season is going well for me.

"To see that some other teams are interested in my services is nice," he admitted in Montreal.

"But I am very, very happy at Red Bull.  We've done a lot together.

"It's just rumors for now, but it makes me a bit more comfortable," said Webber.  "That I am having good results makes the other teams realize that I am doing better than an average job," he insisted.

Police arrest protesters at Ecclestone event
(GMM)  Protesters attempted to disrupt an event attended by Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday.

The F1 chief executive - as well as other F1 dignitaries including 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve - was at a cocktail gala for this weekend's formula one race in Montreal when riot police moved in on a group of masked protesters.

About 20 were arrested, the Canadian Press reported.

Asked what message he had for protesting university students, former Williams and Sauber driver Villeneuve answered: "Go back to school.

"It's time for people to wake up and stop loafing about.  It's lasted long enough," he blasted.

"They spoke, we heard, and now it's time to go back to school."

Ecclestone said he hoped the protesters would not attempt to disrupt the actual track action this weekend.

"It would be terrible if somebody got killed like that, you know, running across the track," said the 81-year-old.

Usually the most vocal driver on political matters is the plain-speaking Australian Mark Webber.

"I'm not completely up to speed with what's going on," the Monaco winner said on Thursday.

"I'm not saying it's a minority, but sometimes when there's a little bit of tension then some other people can lose out.

"I'm sure the weekend will go well," Webber added.

CORRECTED: F1 on free TV could end in Britain - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Free-to-air television coverage of formula one could end in Britain, chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has hinted.

His comments follow the announcement that Rupert Murdoch's pay-channel Sky Italia will broadcast the sport in Italy in 2013.

A similar arrangement is already in place in Britain, where Sky shares the rights with the BBC's now limited free-to-air coverage until 2018.

The next step for Britain, Ecclestone suggested to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, could be Sky getting the rights exclusively.

"We will never move all countries to pay-per-view only though it wouldn't make any difference here in the UK," Ecclestone told the Guardian.

The 81-year-old said Sky already reaches about 10 million of Britain's 25 million households.

"We don't get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m," said Ecclestone.

"The thing that TV stations want to buy most is live sport.  People don't want to watch delayed stuff because nowadays it's hard not to know the result if you don't want to."

He said Sky has done "a super job" so far, adding that the BBC had become complacent.

"The Beeb were sure we wouldn't be able to go anywhere else," said Ecclestone.

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