Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Valencia to alternate years with Barcelona

    Talks on to organize Spanish race alternation – Valencia

  • Schumacher keeps podium after stewards inquiry
  • Shame victory chance slipped for Grosjean – Tambay
  • Sam Michael under fire amid McLaren problems
  • Marko admits safety car conspiracy theory
  • Massa takes step towards 2013 contract
  • F1 TV Ratings in Germany Recover With No Euro 2012 Competition
  • Vettel hit by same problem as Grosjean

Talks on to organize Spanish race alternation – Valencia
(GMM) Valencia president Alberto Fabra on Sunday sounded confident the Spanish port city will return to the F1 calendar in the future.

Amid Spain's harsh economic crisis and the strong protests of angry residents, the circuit – despite showcasing a thrilling race on Sunday – struggled this weekend to fill its vastly-culled capacity.

But Fabra insisted it is not too late to rescue the event.

"We are negotiating, and hopefully not before too long we can realize this potential alternation and set new conditions," he said on Sunday, according to El Pais newspaper.

He is referring to his talks on Sunday with Bernie Ecclestone, and the proposal that Valencia and Barcelona from now on share a single annual grand prix race date.

Asked if the F1 chief executive will also agree to reduce Valencia's race sanctioning fee, Fabra answered: "Everything is being negotiated.

"All this is happening, of course, because there is little money, but the negotiations continue and there is a willingness on both sides."

Schumacher keeps podium after stewards inquiry
(GMM) Michael Schumacher has kept hold of his first podium in over 2000 days, following a stewards' inquiry in Valencia late on Sunday.

Red Bull had pressed the case that the Mercedes driver should have his trophy stripped away, after Mark Webber spotted Schumacher deploying his 'DRS' overtaking system amid waving yellow flags.

"For the same offense Vettel was penalized in Barcelona with a drive through penalty," the team's Dr Helmut Marko told Bild newspaper.

Schumacher answered: "I assume that there will be no penalty.

"It can be seen in the data that I slowed down for the yellow flags."

Webber hit back: "I'm sorry, but a rule is a rule."

The FIA stewards including former Sauber driver Mika Salo, however, ruled that Schumacher did indeed slow down for the yellow flags, despite his wing flap being open.

"This incident differs substantially from that in round 5", the stewards' report added, referring to Vettel in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Williams' Pastor Maldonado was handed a 20-second post-race time penalty for his late crash on Sunday with Lewis Hamilton.

Maldonado had slammed an overly "aggressive" Hamilton, but former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari pinned the blame on the Venezuelan.

"He was entirely outside the limits of the track and, honestly, there was no room to overtake at that point," the Spaniard told Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi will move five places down the grid at Silverstone next month for crashing into Felipe Massa on Sunday, while the stewards came down even harder on Jean-Eric Vergne.

The Frenchman was seen to jink to the right before crashing with Heikki Kovalainen, and so a rare double-penalty was imposed.

Not only will Vergne have to pay a EUR 25,000 fine, he faces a ten-position grid penalty for Silverstone after stewards took a dim view of the "serious nature of the incident".

Asked about Toro Rosso's struggles since dumping both of its established drivers at the end of last year, Alguersuari said only: "Thankfully it's not my problem."

Shame victory chance slipped for Grosjean – Tambay
(GMM) Romain Grosjean on Sunday lost his chance to become F1's eighth different winner.

The Frenchman was running comfortably behind eventual winner Fernando Alonso at Valencia when his Renault alternator failed — the same component that halted Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull charge.

"We need to hold our hands up and apologize," said Renault's Remi Taffin.

Former F1 driver Patrick Tambay told France's RMC: "It's a shame, because the opportunities for victory are rare and you can't let them pass.

"Today it passed for Romain but it wasn't his fault," he insisted. "Until then his race was truly remarkable; his pass on Hamilton, the wisdom of his duel with Alonso in the heat.

"There are many positive things to take away for Romain.

"Unfortunately the next race will be more difficult because of the cold in England, which does not really suit Romain's Lotus.

"But I think that in Budapest we can really count on him again," added Tambay.

Grosjean's Lotus teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished second on Sunday.

"Lotus continues to demonstrate its ability in 2012 with a car that has great grip and little tire degradation," Jaime Alguersuari said in Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

"Both Grosjean and Raikkonen are potentially the eighth winner of this season. For them it's about time," the former Toro Rosso driver added.

Sam Michael under fire amid McLaren problems
(GMM) Sam Michael is in the spotlight as McLaren continues to struggle in the pits in 2012.

Williams' former technical director had to leave Williams at the end of last year as the beleaguered team restructured, and so he switched to McLaren to be sporting director.

But his new tenure got off to a difficult start in 2012 amid recurring problems particularly during crucial pitstops — one of Michael's responsibilities.

The latest problem struck in Valencia on Sunday, with a failed front jack arguably costing Lewis Hamilton a shot at victory.

"Can somebody please tell me how Sam Michael still has a job at McLaren?" asked race fan Wes Howes on Twitter.

Telegraph journalist Tom Cary agreed that Michael, 41, "is coming under sustained fire" for McLaren's problems this season.

Grandprix diary noted on Twitter: "McLaren were brilliant and Williams were rubbish. Then Sam Michael changed teams."

Pitflaps added: "When I see Sam Michael at McLaren I conjure up a picture of Frank Williams stroking a white cat, chuckling to himself."

Marko admits safety car conspiracy theory
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has confirmed Red Bull's suspicion that the safety car was called onto the Valencia circuit on Sunday to aid 'the show'.

After retiring from a comfortable lead with a broken Red Bull on Sunday, an angry Sebastian Vettel said he thought the safety car period was called not just to clear debris but also "to break our neck".

Indeed, the neutralization of the race allowed Romain Grosjean to catch up and thereby breathed life into the contest, and it also may have contributed to Vettel's terminal car problem.

"It just went to sh**," Vettel shrugged. "I think it was clear to see that (until then) we were pulling away without problems."

Red Bull's motor sport consultant Marko backed Vettel's theory.

"Vettel was too far ahead and so the field was brought back together," the Austrian is quoted as saying on German television, "just as they do in American racing."

German Sky television pundit Marc Surer, however, doubted Red Bull's conspiracy theory is true.

"I don't think it was intentional against Vettel," said the Swiss, insisting it was right to give marshals the cover of the safety car to clear the track of crash debris.

"But I am sure it is going to be discussed," he added.

Surer also played down the new controversy about the legality of the RB8's latest developments; namely the 'double floor' that was credited for Vettel's pole gap and winning pace in Spain.

"It is being discussed," said Surer, "but I remember that Toro Rosso had a false floor like this and no one said anything."

Massa takes step towards 2013 contract
(GMM) Felipe Massa has received strong backing from Ferrari despite a bad race for the Brazilian on Sunday.

The 31-year-old struggled so markedly early this season that some believed it impossible he is a contender to retain his race cockpit for 2013.

But the last few races have been much better for Massa, including in Valencia, where he was right on eventual winner Fernando Alonso's pace in qualifying.

Then came Sunday.

"I am very sorry for Felipe," said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, "who was really unlucky.

"He was going very well and I'm sure he could have brought home a good result if not for all the problems he had."

Indeed, Massa's pace was struck early on by rear end damage, his strategy was ruined by the safety car, and Kamui Kobayashi crashed into him.

Otherwise, "He started in fine style and had everything in hand to get a really good result," team boss Stefano Domenicali insisted.

So is Ferrari still on the market to replace Massa for 2013?

"This is not the moment to talk about contracts," Montezemolo said.

F1 TV Ratings in Germany Recover With No Euro 2012 Competition
German free-to-air TV station RTL could increase its F1 ratings after struggling to compete with Euro 2012, according to Manuel Nunez of

A total of 1.65 million viewers watched RTL's broadcast of the qualifying session for the European F1 Grand Prix on Saturday at 2pm CEST. That is "market share" of 18.4%.

In comparison, 1.67 million people watched the qualifying session for the Canadian F1 Grand Prix on June 9 at 7pm CEST.

Despite the slightly higher number of viewers the market share was only 7.4%, due to Euro 2012 pre-game coverage for the group match between Germany and Portugal, which attracted more than 10 million viewers.

Vettel hit by same problem as Grosjean
Sebastian Vettel's retirement from the lead of Sunday’s European Grand Prix. The problem, diagnosed by engine supplier Renault Sport F1, was the same issue that took out second placed Romain Grosjean while challenging Fernando Alonso for the lead later in the race.

Vettel pulled over on the Lap 34 restart which followed the Safety Car appearance, having previously held a huge leading advantage of over 20 seconds.

“It was a bitterly disappointing race for Sebastian, who had done everything right," said gutted Team Principal Christian Horner. “He looked to be in comfortable control until unfortunately, during the Safety Car period, we had a suspected issue with the alternator which caused him to retire. We need to get the car back to fully understand the failure which we will work through with Renault, as it looked similar to the one that Grosjean had."

Renault’s Cyril Dumont admits that the causes of the Vettel and Grosjean retirements are likely to be the same.

“The alternator overheated, stopped supplying electrical power and the engine shut down," he bluntly explained of Vettel. “We’re not sure exactly why – it could be a number of things – but it’s definitely something we’ll look at when we get back to Viry."

Vettel’s last retirement from the lead was also an engine issue; coincidentally, that also gifted victory to Alonso, when the Renault unit blew up at the 2010 Korean Grand Prix.

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