Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Button won last year in Canada after a last lap duel with Vettel

    Canada GP calls off events amid security threat

  • McLaren plays down 'wild' Hamilton quit rumors
  • Floor ruling won't hurt Red Bull – Marko
  • Massa admits Ferrari future unclear
  • Extended Schumacher comeback 'good for F1' – Whitmarsh
  • F1 should be 'careful' amid topsy-turvy 2012
  • F1 could power Le Mans in 2014 – report
  • Montreal reduced to just one DRS zone

Canada GP calls off events amid security threat
(GMM) Organizers of this weekend's Canadian grand prix have called off a scheduled "open house" day.

The promoters of the Montreal race had planned to allow spectators to attend the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and tour the F1 pitlane for free on Thursday.

La Presse newspaper said the open day has taken place since the early 90s, with 12,000 taking advantage last year.

But according to the Canadian Press, it has been called off in 2012 due to "security concerns", amid threats made by protesting university students and internet terrorists.

"Considering the various disruption threats made public recently, the free admission and the naturally open character of the open house day revealed some risks that we could not ignore," said promoter Francois Dumontier.

"We wish to express our sincere apologies to the F1 fans and, among them, a good share of our spectators who appreciate this annual gathering with the world championship teams," he added.

Despite the cancellation, Dumontier insisted Montreal is safe for race-goers.

"We cannot deny that something is happening in Montreal," he told La Presse, "but what is conveyed in the foreign media is always the same — stunning images of petrol bombs and clashes with police.

"I am trying to reassure people who are asking me questions about it. There are F1 people who arrived a few days ago and they have said nothing to me about the situation."

He admitted to having ramped up security.

"We will not divulge any details," Dumontier is quoted by the Times, "but we already have a rather elaborate plan.

"We increased security, reviewed certain points that might have been more vulnerable and, over several weeks, have been working closely with the police. We're ready for several contingencies."

McLaren plays down 'wild' Hamilton quit rumors
(GMM) McLaren moved to play down rumors Lewis Hamilton might quit the team even before his contract expires at the end of this year.

Reports late last week said that despite McLaren offering the 2008 over $30 million per year to stay in 2013 and beyond, sources are hinting 27-year-old Hamilton has already decided to leave due to repeated team errors and a mysterious lack of pace.

At the same time, it has emerged there has been "serious contact" between McLaren and Paul di Resta, who ironically is managed by Hamilton's manager Anthony.

Writing in the Times, correspondent Kevin Eason dismissed the reports as "wild rumors" that McLaren have also felt the need to "react to".

"Hamilton has no desire to leave McLaren," he insisted, "a team that has provided at least two victories in every season of his career.

"Hamilton has repeatedly said that he was happy to stay with McLaren, even on Sunday night, after a disappointing Monaco grand prix", Eason added.

The journalist, however, conceded that Hamilton's management – led by XIX Entertainment's Simon Fuller – "are known to have contacted rivals", even though "no other approaches" with the exception of Red Bull have been made.

McLaren quoted Hamilton as saying last Friday: "Even though everything hasn't gone right for us, I'm confident that myself and the team are doing everything we can to ensure we're in the best possible position to challenge for victory each and every weekend."

Floor ruling won't hurt Red Bull – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull has denied claims the 'floor hole' saga will hurt the team's performance in Canada this weekend.

Despite team boss Christian Horner insisting the RB8 was fully legal when Mark Webber won the recent Monaco grand prix, the FIA has ruled that the holes in the floor ahead of the rear wheels were in fact not compliant with the rules.

"There are other cars running in similar situations," Horner was quoted by the Mirror.

"As I say, we're totally comfortable with the car, that it complies with the regulations and we're not going to change it."

He said that, however, before Charlie Whiting wrote to the teams late last week, clarifying that any car with offending holes in the floor will have to be modified ahead of Montreal.

Gary Anderson, a former F1 technical boss who is now a pundit for British television BBC, said that prior to the clarification, the governing body was simply wrong to tell Red Bull its solution was legal.

"I think there has been a system breakdown at the FIA over the issue," he said.

"It's not Red Bull's fault, nor that of the other teams."

Dr Helmut Marko, who reports directly to Red Bull's team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, denied the saga has dented Webber and Sebastian Vettel's chances of performing well this weekend in Canada.

"We had not planned to use this floor in Montreal anyway," he is quoted by "Therefore we do not need to modify the cars in Canada."

And according to Spain's Marca, the rule clarification will apply to "other teams as well", Marko added.

Massa admits Ferrari future unclear
(GMM) Felipe Massa has revealed he understands well that his results in the second half of the 2012 season will decide his future.

After a shot of better form for the Brazilian in Monaco, and team president Luca di Montezemolo saying Sergio Perez is too inexperienced to replace him, 31-year-old Massa's hopes of staying at Ferrari have been boosted.

"I'm sure that, because we are improving our car, the car will be less difficult to drive," Montezemolo told Reuters late last week.

"And I expect from Felipe better performances as I have already seen in Monte Carlo, because in Monte Carlo he was among the five quickest drivers on the track and in the qualifiers.

"So I hope he will continue like this. At the moment we are not taking any decision yet for the future, because it is too early."

Fernando Alonso is also backing his teammate to bounce back.

"The results he had (earlier in 2012) were not normal for Felipe," the Spaniard insisted.

"He has my full support, and the support of the team, to change the situation.

"In Monaco things seemed to have changed, so hopefully from now on it will be good for him," said Alonso.

And according to Germany's Auto Bild, Massa also sees "an opportunity to stay at Ferrari" in 2013.

He admits, however, that he needs to keep his foot down.

"Everything depends on the results that I get from now on," said Massa.

He insisted he is making no plans.

"At the moment I have no idea what I'm doing next year. My future is the next race.

"All I want is to stay in formula one in a good team. If I cannot do that, but would have to switch to a small team, I don't know if I would keep going at all."

Extended Schumacher comeback 'good for F1' – Whitmarsh
(GMM) Whether or not Michael Schumacher stays in formula one beyond 2012 is a hot topic.

The seven time world champion has been more competitive in 2012 compared with the first two seasons of his comeback, culminating in pole at Monaco recently.

But luck has not been on his side, and he has only 2 points to show for his efforts.

Not only that, the 43-year-old's name has been a regular topic of conversation in the stewards room so far in 2012, with some rumors hinting officials are questioning the great German's age, vision and reflexes.

And he has been vocal about not enjoying the new emphasis on the heavily-degrading and difficult-to-understand Pirelli tires.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone hopes he will stay.

"He's still a big name," the 81-year-old told Germany's Auto Bild, "even though we'd all rather have a successful Schumacher than an unsuccessful one."

Another supporter is McLaren's Jenson Button.

"Michael's come in for a lot of criticism over the last couple of years since he's been back," the 2009 world champion is quoted by AFP news agency.

"Sometimes it takes time to feel comfortable with a car and comfortable with the people you're working with, but I think he put a great lap together in Monaco, didn't make any mistakes and he obviously deserved it very much.

"It proved a few things too didn't it?" added Button.

Button's boss Martin Whitmarsh has also admitted he would like to see Schumacher back at the top.

"I am firmly convinced that Michael is going to win a race this year," the McLaren team principal told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

"Particularly after the past weekend (in Monaco), anyone who underestimates him would be a fool.

"He demonstrated once again, especially to his critics, that he is far from being too old," said Whitmarsh.

And the Briton said any discussion about whether Schumacher was ever a great driver is "absurd".

"He is one of the best we have ever seen," Whitmarsh insisted.

As for a new contract for the Mercedes driver, Whitmarsh said: "Of course it would be good for our sport. He is a world renowned brand that people know in every corner of the globe."

Speaking to Kleine Zeitung newspaper, Schumacher's brother Ralf also insists that Schumacher's comeback has been good for "the whole of formula one".

F1 should be 'careful' amid topsy-turvy 2012
(GMM) F1 should be careful not to race away from its image as the ultimate form of motor racing.

"We know formula one as the sprint racing in which man and machine is constantly pushed to the limit," McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"We have to be careful we don't lose that because the tires wear out too quickly," he said.

It is a classic struggle between the sport's 'purists' and those who have enjoyed the topsy-turvy spectacle of the 2012 season so far, with six different winners from the opening six grands prix.

"On the one hand it's been very interesting," former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

"On the other side it's been very difficult to understand."

The former Williams race winner admitted that the analysis of the results so far has been a tiresome discussion about "tires, tires, tires".

"I think it would be good," Whitmarsh said, "if the tires were less decisive in terms of the outcome. That there were again other things that are just as important."

Mark Webber, despite being F1's most recent winner, also rues the old days.

"Personally, I enjoyed the sprint races and the refuelling, probably all of the drivers did, but the racing was not super-exciting," said the Red Bull driver.

Others in the pitlane, however, are more than content.

"Especially the top teams do not seem very happy," Peter Sauber wrote in his Sonntagsblick column.

His Swiss team has been a benefactor of the 2012 situation, with the tires leveling the playing field for those without a mammoth budget.

Sergio Perez almost won the Malaysian grand prix, and recently in Monaco the Mexican was the fastest driver in the race.

"I think Pirelli has done a very good job," said Sauber. "The tires are a substantial reason for the amount of overtaking and the exciting situation in the world championship.

"They are the same for all the teams, and we all had the same time in the winter testing period to adjust.

"Of course it may be frustrating for the engineers when the tires are not what they had expected, but we must not forget that the races should please the fans, not only us," he insisted.

F1 could power Le Mans in 2014 – report
(GMM) Formula one power could be on the Le Mans grid in the near future.

According to technology magazine Racecar Engineering, the sports car organizing body Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) will in 2014 allow Le Mans prototypes to be fitted with F1 engines and gearboxes.

In 2014, formula one is scheduled to switch over to all-new engine regulations, with turbo V6s replacing the current normally aspirated V8s.

But when asked if F1 engine supplier Renault will use the opportunity to move into Le Mans, Jean-Francois Caubet said in Monaco recently: "I don't think so."

Indeed, there has been a push recently to have F1's 2014 regulations delayed, with the small teams concerned that the manufacturers' higher than expected research and development costs look to have increased the engine lease fees.

"I think we are very clear," Caubet insisted.

"We have already delayed the engine once, from four cylinder to go to six cylinders. I think it cost us around ten or 15 million, probably the same for Mercedes and Ferrari.

"So we have blown nearly 50 million for nothing. If you delay one (more) year, we think it (the V6 debut) will be never.

"As for the cost, I don't think the cost of the new engine will be a drama," he said.

Montreal reduced to just one DRS zone
Montreal will feature just one DRS detection zone this weekend, instead of the two it had for the 2011 event won by Jenson Button.

The zone will become active after Turn 10 and will begin 600 meters before the braking zone for Turn 13. It has also been shortened by 50 meters since last year and is now a total of 600m long.

It was reduced in length after it was considered too easy to overtake through the section in last year's race.

The second DRS zone on the start-finish line has now been dropped.

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