Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Germans upset by F1 flag gaffe in Montreal
  • De la Rosa told of Sauber possibility before Canada
  • Teams angry as FIA pushes ahead with exhaust ban
  • Domenicali denies contact with Rosberg about 2012
  • Trulli beats Kovalainen for first time in 2011
  • Webber not confident of having KERS for race
  • Wet Canada to be 'unknown journey' for F1
  • Vettel jokes amid Webber contract rumors
  • Schumacher sends mixed messages about F1 future

Germans upset by F1 flag gaffe in Montreal
(GMM) Some figures among F1's large German contingent are reportedly unhappy about a gaffe by organizers of the Canadian grand prix.

The current world champion and championship leader is German, as are several other drivers, and there is a German team, race and engine supplier in F1.

"But the German flag is apparently unknown in Montreal," read a report by the German sports news agency SID.

The report said the supposedly German flags above the pit garages, and also on banners on the way into the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, are in fact Belgian.

The German and Belgian flags are both black, red and yellow tricolor, but the Belgian colors are arranged vertically rather than horizontally and in a different order.

De la Rosa told of Sauber possibility before Canada
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa knew before travelling to Canada that there was a chance he could be racing the Sauber this weekend.

The veteran Spaniard admitted earlier that he found out for sure just minutes before second practice, when regular Sergio Perez reported unwell.

But the news that Sauber tentatively arranged his loan from McLaren some days ago is a further blow to the team's official Mexican reserve Esteban Gutierrez, who is reportedly unhappy about missing out on the drive and is not even in Canada.

"It was before I went to Canada," de la Rosa told Mundo Deportivo newspaper when asked when the prospect of replacing Perez was first raised.

"Martin Whitmarsh told me that Sauber had contacted him to see if it would be possible to replace Sergio if necessary.

"But I didn't really think about it and forgot about it when I saw Perez doing the first session," he explained.

The report said Sauber did not want rookie Gutierrez, 19, learning the hopes in formula one on the treacherous Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

De la Rosa, 40, told Sonntagsblick newspaper that even he struggled at the wheel of the unfamiliar C30, despite racing its predecessor a year ago.

"I constantly pressed the wrong buttons. There was just not enough time to learn the steering wheel," he said.

Spanish sports newspaper Marca reports that his unfamiliarity was a factor in his crash before qualifying, after pressing the 'DRS' button instead of deploying KERS.

And in a message to Perez, de la Rosa said: "I'm sorry you were unwell but I'm sure you'll come back stronger. My long career is ending and yours is just beginning."

Teams angry as FIA pushes ahead with exhaust ban
(GMM) Red Bull and Renault are angry after it emerged in Canada the FIA is pressing ahead with its clampdown on off-throttle exhaust blowing.

It had earlier been reported that the governing body might be wavering due to some teams weakening their opposition to the technology, and engine manufacturers revealing they are worried the ban will affect reliability.

But FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting has written to the teams in Montreal confirming that there will be limits on the innovations applying from next month's British grand prix, and a total ban in 2012.

Whiting will discuss his plans with the teams at the technical working group meeting next week.

"Unless the teams can show a definite major problem with the approach that means it's not feasible, it will go ahead," Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn told the BBC.

Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo quoted Red Bull technical boss Adrian Newey as admitting he is angry.

"I agree with rule changes in the middle of a championship for good reason, like safety," he said. "But this is not the case. It's absurd."

FIA president Jean Todt said last week he is resolute because sophisticated 'hot' exhaust blowing is a "needless waste of fuel".

Said Eric Boullier, whose team is like Red Bull powered by the Renault engine: "We designed our car for this principle and already last year it was being used by some teams.

"We passed the technical inspection at the beginning of the championship. To give it up now would probably compromise our ability to achieve good results this year," added the Renault team boss.

Domenicali denies contact with Rosberg about 2012
(GMM) The spotlight is growing brighter on Stefano Domenicali and Felipe Massa as Ferrari looks to put a title-winning team together for 2012.

Technical boss Aldo Costa has already paid the price for the 150 Italia car's difficult start to this season, but the Maranello based team this week slammed rumors Flavio Briatore could now be brought in replace boss Domenicali.

Asked if he is worried about his job, Domenicali told the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper in Montreal: "No. Honestly I have no fear."

But he answered "we'll see" when asked if Ferrari is planning more changes.

Ferrari and also Felipe Massa have had a better weekend with low downforce and soft Pirelli tires in Canada, with the Brazilian driver in the top three after qualifying.

But Domenicali said Massa's problem is "self confidence".

"This year is crucial to his career," said the Italian amid rumors other drivers are clamoring for the drive in 2012 despite the existence of a contract.

"Felipe wants to do much more than he has been doing, but we are talking a lot and are always together," insisted Domenicali. "What happens is that Felipe is more sensitive with these cars without high grip.

"It's important people understand that there is not pressure on him, but total support. We know he can be faster — in certain circumstances, faster than Fernando. But it takes confidence.

"Ferrari is always loyal and has patience. Now, Felipe must get back his confidence for his career."

Asked what will happen if Massa does not improve, Domenicali again answered "we'll see", prompting Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni to intervene and remind the journalist that Luca di Montezemolo has confirmed the 30-year-old will be driving alongside Fernando Alonso next season.

Authoritative Italian magazine Autosprint, however, has linked Nico Rosberg with Massa's 2012 seat.

"I read it. I can guarantee you 100 per cent there has been no contact," insisted Domenicali.

Trulli beats Kovalainen for first time in 2011
(GMM) For the first time this season, Jarno Trulli on Saturday outqualified his teammate Heikki Kovalainen.

Italian veteran Trulli has been struggling all year with the power steering characteristics of Team Lotus' T128 car.

Asked if he is disappointed to have been marginally pipped by Trulli in Montreal, Kovalainen told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat: "Not really.

"Jarno did a good job," he insisted.

Webber not confident of having KERS for race
(GMM) While Sebastian Vettel soared to yet another pole position, Mark Webber experienced yet more problems with his KERS unit aboard the sister Red Bull.

"It's hard knowing you're losing time on every straight," said the Australian, four tenths down in qualifying after missing the entire third practice session with the failure.

Earlier, it emerged in Montreal that Red Bull's KERS in 2011 is deliberately designed to be smaller and therefore less powerful than the leading systems, in order not to compromise Adrian Newey's aerodynamic design requirements.

But it has caused problems, and Australian Webber is expecting more of them on Sunday.

Asked if his mechanics will be able to fix the unit before the Canadian grand prix, he told Auto Motor und Sport: "It will be tight. The boys will do whatever they can.

"It's totally unpredictable. Sometimes it's very good and we have it under control, then we don't. It's a big challenge for us and costs us a lot of (lap) time when there are problems."

Wet Canada to be 'unknown journey' for F1
(GMM) Paul Hembery insists Pirelli is ready for the rain in Canada.

Weather forecasters are predicting very likely rain for Sunday's grand prix, which will be the first wet race tackled by F1's new tire supplier.

"We've done five or six test days in the wet," insisted motor sport director Hembery to Auto Motor und Sport, "and then we had a rainy practice in Turkey.

"We're ready."

But that is more than some drivers are saying. "I've never driven with Pirelli in the rain," revealed Jenson Button. "In Turkey I decided not to go out because we wanted to save the tires in case it was wet all weekend."

Added his teammate Lewis Hamilton: "I did a few laps at the Barcelona test", while McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted rain on Sunday will be a "journey into the unknown".

Meanwhile, it has emerged that McLaren's higher downforce than some key rivals on Saturday was not necessarily a clever gamble on the prospect of wet weather.

Auto Motor und Sport reveals that the team simply didn't prioritize much time developing a Canada-specific low downforce rear wing.

"When I look at the lap time (in qualifying) it was perhaps a mistake," admitted Whitmarsh.

In the meantime, all eyes are on the skies as many drivers contemplate their first real action on the Pirelli wets.

"What will be important will be coming around the circuit without making mistakes," said Virgin driver Timo Glock.

Vettel jokes amid Webber contract rumors
(GMM) Amid rumors Mark Webber is close to agreeing a new deal for 2012, Sebastian Vettel cracked a joke in Canada when asked who his ideal Red Bull teammate would be.

The reigning world champion humorously plumped for Dirk Nowitzki, the German basketball player who is seven feet tall and tips the scales well above 100 kilograms.

"He wouldn't even fit in the car," Vettel laughed to Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "So then I'd have one opponent less."

More seriously, Vettel said his only requirement for a teammate is "respect and honesty", and answered "why not?" if he could imagine sharing a garage with Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso.

Schumacher sends mixed messages about F1 future
(GMM) Michael Schumacher has sent out a confusing message amid reports he is set to extend his Mercedes contract for two more years.

The seven time world champion's current deal runs out next year, but he said earlier in Montreal that he needs more time to bring success to the Brackley based team.

"Red Bull needed four or five years. With Ferrari that period lasted for five years. We can not play with some magic," he reportedly said.

That triggered widespread reports that Schumacher is preparing to commit until at least the end of 2014.

But the Cologne newspaper Express quotes him as saying: "I will fulfill my three-year contract and then become a brand ambassador for Mercedes."

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