Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Canada's longterm future not secured

    Future of Canada GP still hangs in balance

  • Testing to return during 21-race 2014 calendar
  • Vergne joins race for Webber's Red Bull seat
  • F1 marshal killed after Canadian GP
  • Three words halted Vettel's last-lap quest – report
  • Force India scuffle followed di Resta's criticism
  • Massa set to keep Ferrari race seat in 2014 – boss
  • McLaren 'clutching at straws' – Button
  • McLaren winless after three straight
  • Sutil hits out at 'inconsistent' penalties

Future of Canada GP still hangs in balance
(GMM) Quebec premier Pauline Marois met with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday and vowed to work hard to safeguard the future of the Canadian grand prix.

Reports have indicated the historic race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on Montreal's Ile Notre Dame, could be in doubt beyond 2014 due to the lack of a tripartite funding agreement between the various levels of government.

But Marois was quoted by Canadian Press news agency after her brief meeting with Ecclestone: "I said to him 'We have to conclude a win-win agreement'. I think he agrees with me."

It has been reported the race requires additional funding for a new contract due to Ecclestone's demands for the ageing circuit facilities to be updated.

"I remain optimistic," promoter Francois Dumontier said. "Negotiations are moving forward between all parties and the tone is favorable."

Ecclestone, however, indicated during an interview with Radio-Canada that he is prepared to play hardball.

"I like Montreal but as far as the race is concerned it's not desperate, it's not the only race in the world," he said.

Testing to return during 21-race 2014 calendar
(GMM) Post-grand prix testing will take place next season at key European circuits like Silverstone, Barcelona, Spa and Hockenheim, it emerged from the Montreal paddock on Sunday.

Tight testing limits have been in place for several years, but teams like Ferrari and also tire supplier Pirelli have been pushing hard for compromise more recently.

Following initial talks in Monaco, it emerged this weekend in Canada that the majority of teams voted on Sunday to stage four two-day test sessions next year, to be run on the Tuesday and Wednesday after some European races.

The Daily Mail newspaper said costs will be controlled by trading the new testing with reduced wind tunnel hours, promotional days and straight-line aerodynamic testing, and the axing of the young drivers' test.

Even though Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Force India, Toro Rosso and Caterham voted against the return of testing, the agreement is expected to be ratified by the FIA's world motor sport council at Goodwood on June 28.

It also emerged in the Montreal paddock on Sunday that Bahrain, not Australia, will likely kick off the 2014 world championship, which could feature an unprecedented 21 grands prix.

The new season of winter testing will also kick off earlier than usual, in mid January, while the first race will take place in early March, following a warm-weather test in the Middle East.

"2014 looks like being the longest and busiest season in formula one history," said Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary.

But, with the debut of new races in Russia and New Jersey next year, McLaren and FOTA chief Martin Whitmarsh is not so sure the 2014 calendar will actually have 21 dates.

"Whether all the other dates on the calendar survive I don't know but 21 races is a lot, that is for sure," he said.

Vergne joins race for Webber's Red Bull seat
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne has joined the race to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull next year, after putting in eye-catching performances for the energy drink company's junior team Toro Rosso in Monaco and Canada.

Previously, it was believed the Frenchman's teammate Daniel Ricciardo was the more likely of the duo to be in the running to partner world champion Sebastian Vettel next year.

But in Canada, 23-year-old Vergne finished sixth, and he was quick to point out that it was Toro Rosso's best result since Vettel's feats at the Faenza based team in 2008.

"Jean-Eric Vergne impressed with his performance in Monaco and here in Montreal he was even better," agreed Red Bull's influential driver manager, Dr Helmut Marko.

"The result was even better than we had expected, and I hope he can continue that way," he is quoted by Speed Week.

Marko is also quoted by France's RMC: "It was not just a good race, he (Vergne) was very quick all weekend.

"In qualifying he made no mistakes in the rain and during the race I saw him fight with talented drivers."

Asked about Vergne's future, Marko answered: "This is his second year in formula one, and for the second year it's really impressive.

"But what we are looking for is drivers who can win grands prix. For the moment, he is on the right track."

F1 marshal killed after Canadian GP
(GMM) The F1 world is mourning its first fatality in over a decade, after a track marshal was killed in the wake of Sunday's Canadian grand prix.

Photographs depict the marshal, whose identity has not been revealed, holding the rear wheel of Esteban Gutierrez's car steady as a recovery vehicle returned the Sauber to the pits.

"The worker dropped his radio and attempted to pick it up," read a statement issued by the governing FIA.

"As he did this, he stumbled and was hit and run over by the recovery vehicle."

The marshal was airlifted to hospital but he died shortly afterwards.

"It's terrible," race promoter Francois Dumontier is quoted by AP news agency.

"It tarnishes the superb weekend that we had. I am devastated to learn this. I don't have any other words."

F1's last fatality, in Melbourne in 2001, was also the death of a trackside marshal.

Three words halted Vettel's last-lap quest – report
(GMM) Red Bull pulled Sebastian Vettel back into line with three simple words on the very last lap of the Canadian grand prix.

The reigning world champion is famous for not only wanting to win races, but also secure the fastest lap of the grand prix.

So, at the start of his final tour of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve en route to victory on Sunday, Vettel began his quest with the fastest – or 'purple' – first sector of the entire race.

"I wasn't surprised," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, "but I told his race engineer to bring him under control."

In the past, engineer Guillaume 'Rocky' Roquelin's instructions to Vettel about giving up the pointless quest for fastest laps have gone mostly unheeded.

So 'Rocky' tried a different strategy in Canada. Three words: "Monaco, 1988, Senna".

Like many in F1, Vettel knows well the tale of how legend Ayrton Senna threw away certain victory at Monaco 25 years ago when he lost focus and crashed.

Vettel, duly backing off for a safer cruise to the checkered flag, replied to his engineer: "Ok, ok — I'm just kidding."

Perhaps the 25-year-old thought in that moment about the state of the world championship, where in his quest for an ultra-rare fourth consecutive drivers' title he stood to push his points lead to Fernando Alonso out to 36 points.

Ferrari's Alonso, however, said afterwards that he's not panicking yet.

Asked what points deficit will make him worry, the Spaniard answered on Sunday: "I think (when) we are 80 or 85 points behind.

"(That) will be a very critical situation, which is (a points gap of) more than three races."

Force India scuffle followed di Resta's criticism
(GMM) Rumors of a pit garage fight have marred Force India's 100th grand prix weekend celebrations.

In Monaco, angry with the Silverstone based team's qualifying strategy, Paul di Resta said publicly: "I'm not going to say much because I'll say something I probably shouldn't."

But two weeks later, on Saturday in the wake of qualifying in Montreal, the 27-year-old Scot allowed his frustration to spill over.

He said Force India's handling of the session that left him 17th on the grid was "clearly not acceptable", accusing his team of leaving him stranded in the pits with a minor problem when the track was at its driest.

A day later, rumors were swirling in the paddock of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve of fisticuffs in the Force India garage, the daily Mail reporting that it might have been between di Resta's trainer and a team mechanic.

Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary said Force India "admitted that a disagreement had occurred", but denied it was related to di Resta's criticisms.

Massa set to keep Ferrari race seat in 2014 – boss
(GMM) Felipe Massa is likely to keep his seat at Ferrari beyond the end of his expiring 2013 contract.

That is the news of the famous Italian team's boss Stefano Domenicali, following speculation about 32-year-old Brazilian Massa's future in the wake of three high-speed crashes in Monaco and Canada.

Domenicali, however, told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper that Massa's return to speed in recent months is the real key to his future.

"If Felipe keeps going as he has been, I do not see any problem for the future," he said, following speculation Ferrari may be eyeing Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.

"As far as our drivers go for 2014, I'm calm," Domenicali added.

Told, however, that driver choice for 2014 could be more important than ever as F1 prepares for the radical new engine rules, he laughed: "This (the driver lineup) is one of the easiest decisions to be taken for next season.

"What is complex is the technical challenge we face with so many changes.

"We will arrive early next year with so many unknowns and only three tests before the start of the season, so there's no guarantee we will understand everything.

"This is a theme for deep reflections. About the drivers, everybody knows that Fernando (Alonso) has a long-term contract and Felipe, despite all that is said, is still with us."

Asked to say specifically that Massa will still be with Ferrari in 2014, Domenicali obliged: "Absolutely."

Meanwhile, following his third-placed qualifying effort in Montreal, it appears the future of Williams rookie Valtteri Bottas is also safe for now.

"I am convinced," team deputy principal Claire Williams is quoted by Kolner Express newspaper, "that we have a future world champion on our hands."

McLaren 'clutching at straws' – Button
(GMM) McLaren's woes have only deepened, despondent lead driver Jenson Button said after the Canadian grand prix.

Before Montreal, team figures sounded confident the great Woking based outfit was making slow progress towards bringing the uncompetitive MP4-28 to the front of the field.

Then came Canada, where even McLaren's long streak of mere points finishes came to an end.

"We're clutching at straws," 2009 world champion Button said after a weekend of qualifying 14th, and finishing twelfth.

"I've never been so pleased to get out of a car," he admitted. "It was quite painful out there. It (the gap to the front) is massive. We got lapped — easily lapped.

"It was like we were in a different category.

"It's really difficult at the moment to know where to look (for improvements). It's a big gap."

Nonetheless, Button saw some reason to be upbeat ahead of his and the British team's home race at Silverstone in three weeks.

"Are we going to be quicker there? Yes," he asked and answered rhetorically.

"We're not going to be on the podium I don't think, but getting into high points has got to be our aim."

McLaren winless for first time in three years
Having won the Canadian Grand Prix for the past three campaigns, McLaren failed to register a single point at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Sunday afternoon, with drivers Sergio Perez and Jenson Button finishing 11th and 12th respectively.

The result also marks the first time the Woking-based outfit has been unable to score a point since the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, during which Lewis Hamilton retired with a brake issue and Heikki Kovalainen crossed the line in 11th position.

"This wasn’t the best race for us as a team," explained Button. "It’s particularly tough because this circuit is usually very good to us. With hindsight, I think we’d have been better off starting on the Prime tire, rather than the Option. During my first stint, all the two-stoppers pitted ahead of me, then came back to overtake me, so it was tricky."

"Our car tends to work better on fast and flowing circuits – such as Malaysia or China – so I’m looking forward to my home race at Silverstone at the end of the month. We tried some new parts this weekend, but they weren’t really suited for this type of circuit – they should work better at Silverstone, so I’m feeling positive about the future."

Perez added: "This wasn’t the race we were hoping to have. We tried our best to try and score a few points, but it was impossible to do any better than we did out there today. It’s a pity, because the car felt quite good during our installation laps. But the car didn’t work that well on the Option tire, and we struggled to find enough grip."

Sutil hits out at 'inconsistent' penalties
Adrian Sutil will approach FIA race director Charlie Whiting about what he feels is an inconsistent application of Formula 1's blue flag rules.

Sutil was given a drive-through penalty for disregarding blue flags when the drivers battling for second place came up to lap him.

But the German vehemently disagreed with the officials' call.

"I can't understand it and I'm not accepting this," Sutil said.

"I think I let them by within one lap. They lost maybe one second, which is absolutely normal for what you lose when you lap a car.

"I've brought it up many times in the drivers' meetings. I was stuck behind the slow backmarkers, the Marussias, the Caterhams, and they wouldn't move and you had to overtake them into a corner. No penalty.

"I don't think Lewis [Hamilton] lost a position because I was holding him up. That all happened in the next few laps.

"It's really a shame but I was eighth and fighting hard for this position, and they took it away like that.

"I just want a real clear clarification. What do you do when you're in front and someone is lapping you? How many corners do you have to let them by?

"Charlie says normally that you have to find a way through if you're behind lapped cars.

"I had no clear instruction and it's really, really disappointing that they're inconsistent in their decisions."

Asked by AUTOSPORT if he wanted to take the matter further, Sutil confirmed that he would seek talks with Whiting before the next race at Silverstone and raise it in the drivers' briefing there.

"I'd just like clear rules," he said.

"We have 1000 different rules here but on this kind of thing there is no clear clarification.

"When they see it on TV, they give a penalty. When they don't see it, they don't give a penalty."

Despite the penalty, and spinning when trying to pass Valtteri Bottas then being hit by Pastor Maldonado shortly afterwards, Sutil still finished 10th in Montreal. Yahoo Eurosport

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