Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Michael Schumacher

    Karthikeyan not guaranteed full season at HRT

  • McLaren reacts after pitstop problems
  • Lauda tips Schumacher to win in 2012
  • Montreal must improve track or lose F1 race
  • Toro Rosso plays down drivers' race to Red Bull
  • Barrichello reveals Ferrari 'threat' of 2002
  • Ecclestone quotes high price to Magny Cours
  • Maldonado pins hopes on Williams updates
  • Stewart: di Resta should replace Massa
  • Red Bull Racing goes Spectacular with Pachleitner
  • Kristensen named as Barcelona steward

Karthikeyan not guaranteed full season at HRT
(GMM) Narain Karthikeyan is not guaranteed his HRT seat for the whole of the 2012 season.

Following what the reporter referred to as a 'chat' with the Indian driver, the Times of India claimed Karthikeyan is "a million euros" short of a contract that will see him definitely race through November's Brazil finale.

The 35-year-old also began the 2011 season for the struggling Spanish team, but was replaced by the Red Bull-funded Daniel Ricciardo mid-season.

The Times of India said securing the extra million in sponsorship is proving "difficult" for Karthikeyan.

"Sponsors are happy to give him money but not to the team, as obviously they do not want to be associated with a struggling outfit," the report said.

The good news for Karthikeyan, according to the journalist Harish Samtani, is that his sponsorship deal with Tata brings to HRT the Williams gearbox, valued at about EUR 5 million.

The report said the link between Karthikeyan and Williams is the British team's joint venture with Jaguar, which is owned by the driver's sponsor Tata.

McLaren reacts after pitstop problems
(GMM) McLaren has made changes to its pit crew and processes, following recurring problems at recent grands prix.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh launched a full internal investigation after Bahrain, where problems with the fitting of wheels during crucial stops resurfaced.

"We have to try and make sure we pick up on them (the problems) for the next race because we can't afford to lose points like we did," said Lewis Hamilton.

One wheel-gun operator got the lion's share of the blame, but Whitmarsh insisted that McLaren would also "look at the equipment, the process, the approach".

He told reporters on Wednesday: "We have looked at what we are doing and have made some changes to the team and the process and we'll see them on Sunday in Barcelona."

Despite the heat felt by the deposed wheel-gun operator, Whitmarsh reveals he was "astounded" by the number of McLaren mechanics who put their hands up to replace him.

"It reflects well on the spirit of the team. There's been a reasonable amount of practice and we'll see at the weekend. I believe we'll have good stops," he concluded.

Lauda tips Schumacher to win in 2012
(GMM) Niki Lauda is sure Michael Schumacher will return to the top step of the podium this year.

As Mercedes took a step forwards with its new W03 car in 2012, it was the famous seven time world champion's teammate Nico Rosberg who tasted success first, securing pole and victory in China last month.

But triple world champion Lauda told Germany's Bild newspaper: "Michael Schumacher will win this year.

"Finally Mercedes are good enough to be able to attack the best."

Schumacher, 43, has not been on the podium since he returned to F1 in 2010.

The German has also played down the team's chances on the demanding Circuit de Catalunya this weekend, even though Mercedes is debuting a new ultra-light carbon gearbox in Barcelona.

Lauda, meanwhile, played down Schumacher's widely-reported criticisms of this year's Pirelli tires, which have seen him labeled either a sore loser or a spoil-sport amid the exciting 2012 season.

"Schumi can't spoil formula one," laughed the Austrian legend. "He has been in the business so many years — he knows how it works.

"I see Rosberg's success as spurring him on rather than frustrating him. He will fight through it," predicted Lauda.

Montreal must improve track or lose F1 race
(GMM) Montreal has been warned to spend around $15 million on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve or risk losing the Canadian grand prix.

La Presse reports that Bernie Ecclestone has said only a major redevelopment of the circuit will lead to talks about a new contract beyond 2014.

The report said that, in light of the F1 chief executive's warning, Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay has appealed to higher levels of government for the necessary money.

"Negotiations are underway between the three levels of government and the bodies of formula one", the report said.

Race promoter Francois Dumontier told RDS: "It's premature to talk about this.

"There are still two years to go on the current contract. We have started talking, but that it's out now I find excessive. Honestly, I don't know where it's come from."

He added: "Given that the permanent installations of the circuit, including the control tower and the garages, are nearly 25 years old, it is likely that their repair is an important element in the negotiations for an extension to the current agreement.

"But it seems to me to be premature to talk specific sums."

Toro Rosso plays down drivers' race to Red Bull
(GMM) It is too early to name a frontrunner for a seat at Red Bull's premier team.

That is the claim of Franz Tost, the boss of the energy drink company's junior team Toro Rosso.

Following the ousting of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, the Faenza based outfit has two new Red Bull youngsters to groom in 2012.

Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are therefore at the front of the queue to potentially replace Mark Webber at the senior team, even though Red Bull chiefs have appeared to indicate that Australian Webber is staying put for now.

So when asked by Austria's Laola1 whether Ricciardo or Vergne are winning the race to Red Bull Racing so far, Tost insisted: "We have no thoughts about that.

"The important thing is that they continue to develop in every area."

So far, Frenchman Vergne has four points compared with Ricciardo's two.

"Jean-Eric is willing to take more risks," Tost admitted, "while Daniel has a grasp of the car overall with his extra experience."

Barrichello reveals Ferrari 'threat' of 2002
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello has alleged that Ferrari made a threat that might have ended his motor racing career during the infamous 2002 Austrian grand prix.

Ten years ago, the Brazilian led the race at the A1-Ring but eventually, at the very last corner, succumbed to team orders that allowed number one teammate Michael Schumacher to pass him.

Subsequent video footage has depicted then Ferrari team boss Jean Todt asking Barrichello on the radio to simply "let Michael pass for the championship, please".

But Barrichello, having left F1 at the end of 2011 for a seat in IndyCar, says it was not quite as simple as that.

"It was eight laps of war," he is quoted by Brazil's Globo.

"It's very rare that I lose my temper, but I was screaming on the radio. I kept going right to the end, saying I would not let him pass.

"That's when they said something about something much broader. It was not about the contract.

"I cannot tell you what they said, but it was a form of threat that made me think about re-thinking my life, because the great joy for me was driving," said the 39-year-old.

Ecclestone quotes high price to Magny Cours
(GMM) Magny Cours is still in the race to host France's return to formula one.

But according to RMC, the race's former host – having run the French grand prix between 1991 and 2008 – has been handed a much higher price-tag than Paul Ricard.

Just before Nicolas Sarkozy lost the recent presidential election, the basis of an agreement to annually alternate a French GP with Belgium's Spa Francorchamps was agreed.

The 2013 host would be Paul Ricard, the Bernie Ecclestone-owned circuit, and the race fee EUR 22 million.

Politics, it seems, have intervened.

Francois Hollande, France's new president, is not a supporter of the grand prix, and vowed to re-evaluate the sport's return to the country.

RMC reports that officials at Magny Cours have used the opportunity to "repeatedly" contact F1 chief executive Ecclestone in recent days.

The Nievre region is politically aligned with the new administration, but Ecclestone is reportedly "asking EUR 10 million more" for a race at Magny Cours.

Politics, however, could also be on Paul Ricard's side, with Citroen's former world rally boss Olivier Quesnel reportedly lined up to lead the F1 project.

Quesnel is reportedly close to FIA president Jean Todt, and the pair apparently met earlier this week.

Maldonado pins hopes on Williams updates
Pastor Maldonado hopes to add to Williams’ points tally with several new updates, as F1 returns to Spain for the start of the European leg. So far, the Venezuelan has scored just four points after retiring from strong positions in Australia and Malaysia.

The team has covered plenty of mileage in Barcelona from pre-season testing; something Maldonado hopes will be an advantage.

“We have done a lot of running here pre-season so hopefully that experience will help this weekend," he explains. “It is also difficult to set the car up here because there are high, medium and slow-speed corners.

“We have been working hard since the last race and hopefully the updates we bring will lead to some good points."

After three points finishes, the team currently stand seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, one point ahead of Force India.

Stewart: di Resta should replace Massa
Former triple world champion, Jackie Stewart, believes that Force India’s Paul di Resta is the right man to replace Felipe Massa, alongside Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.

The legend of the race tracks is adamant that the fellow Scotsman is showing clear signs of becoming a top driver and thinks di Resta could make a valuable team mate to Fernando Alonso.

“Alonso is almost at his peak and to have a young driver such as Di Resta be an understudy to Alonso is something I’d consider if I was at Ferrari.

Asked if di Resta would one day be champion, the 72 year-old replied:

“It’s difficult to know. He has got an enormous amount of talent. I hope Scotland doesn’t ask too much too soon from him. You’ve got to be with a top-class team in order to win, you can’t do that with a second-rate team.

“Force India are trying hard to be a first-rate team but they’re not there yet. Paul has been leading that team to better results. I think he’s got every chance. We’ve got a great history of drivers, for a small country we are punching above our weight and Paul di Resta is the present generation of that."

For the time being, Paul di Resta is committed to Force India and has racked up 15 points so far in the season. His best result is 6th in Bahrain.

Red Bull Racing goes Spectacular with Pachleitner
Red Bull Racing has joined forces with the Michael Pachleitner Group to create a Red Bull Racing Eyewear collection, which will be available in 70 countries from the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix onwards.

Combining style with Formula One related materials that are high-quality, lightweight and robust, the collection includes branded sunglasses, frames, functional sports glasses, goggles and lenses.

For those attending the Spanish Grand Prix, the full range can be viewed in the Red Bull Racing Energy Station on Friday 11 May, or alternatively you can see them being worn by the Red Bull Racing Team, including drivers World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at every round of the 2012 season. The collection can also be seen at .

The collection includes sunglasses from the premium range, NXT and Carbon, as well as from the merchandising collection, Racing and Sports. The eyewear will be sold at exclusive opticians and authorized sports retail stores with prices ranging between EUR 80 and EUR 400.

Based in Graz, the Michael Pachleitner Group has been involved with the design, production, sales and international distribution of eyewear, along with the marketing of international licenses, for more than 50 years.

Dr. Michael Pachleitner, CEO of the Michael Pachleitner Group said: “It was our ambition to develop an international sports and frames collection to fit with the Red Bull brand. It was important for us to consider the attributes that Red Bull stands for in the field of sports, adventure and competition and capture this in the Red Bull Racing Eyewear range."

Kristensen named as Barcelona steward
Eight-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Tom Kristensen will join the FIA stewarding panel for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, offering a driver's perspective on events.

The ex Minardi, BAR, Williams and Jaguar F1 tester, who hails from Denmark, first took up the role at Albert Park in 2010, before returning at the Nürburgring last year.

Johnny Herbert and Emanuele Pirro shared the opening four races as stewards.

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