Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Horner says McLaren was almost all-new in Spain

    FIA confirms Monaco tunnel ban for DRS

  • McLaren brought 'B' car to Spain – Horner
  • Audi still not interested in F1 foray
  • Next few races crucial for Ferrari's 2011 campaign
  • Rosberg 'on par with Vettel' – Berger
  • F1 keeps eye on another Icelandic volcano

FIA confirms Monaco tunnel ban for DRS
(GMM) The FIA has banned drivers from using the 'DRS' overtaking wing in the Monaco tunnel this weekend.

The in-race overtaking zone spans just 300 meters on the start-finish straight, but the rear wing system can be used by drivers anywhere else on the twisty street circuit in practice and qualifying.

On safety grounds, however, the first exception of the season has been applied for the famous tunnel, which is technically not a straight but a fast right-hand bend.

The ban was confirmed by Charlie Whiting in a letter to Grand Prix Drivers' Association members, according to the Telegraph.

"We were made aware of drivers' concerns about using it and I've spoken to the drivers a few times about it, and it was quite clear the majority of them would prefer to not use it in Monaco," he told reporters last weekend in Spain.

Not everyone agrees with the drivers, however, including Renault team boss Eric Boullier.

"The driver has to judge where he can safely activate the DRS," said the Frenchman.

But former driver David Coulthard thinks the GPDA and the FIA are right in this case.

"That (a ban) seems like a sensible compromise. With the marbles that these tires are producing, to venture off the racing line in that confined space could prove catastrophic.

"Better not to have the temptation," the 13-time grand prix wrote in his column for the Telegraph.

McLaren brought 'B' car to Spain – Horner
(GMM) The McLaren seen in Barcelona last weekend was effectively a 'B' model, according to Christian Horner.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was run hard to the checkered flag in Barcelona by Lewis Hamilton, despite the McLaren driver expecting to be much more easily beaten in the Spanish grand prix.

"We knew it would be a close battle," Red Bull team boss Horner is quoted as saying by Finland's Turun Sanomat.

"It would be very presumptuous to believe we have a car that is one second per lap better. We just had a phenomenal qualifying.

"I stress that McLaren brought an enormous update to Spain — it's almost a B-model," he added.

Audi still not interested in F1 foray
(GMM) Audi motor racing chief Wolfgang Ullrich has reinforced the Volkswagen Group marque's decision to stay away from formula one.

As a debate rages about F1's 2013 rules, it had been hoped that the turbo 4-cylinder formula would entice new manufacturers – like VW – onto the grid.

But Ullrich told Car Magazine that Le Mans-style endurance racing is the better bet for Audi.

"There's a very good reason why we are not in F1," he said. "There's no relevance to the road.

"At Le Mans, one of our cars will cover 325 miles more than an F1 car will cover in an entire season, our average speed including pitstops will be 20mph higher than an F1 car and we will use 42 per cent less fuel.

"You cannot argue with those figures," he said.

Next few races crucial for Ferrari's 2011 campaign
(GMM) Ferrari might have more to say in the coming days about the banning of its innovative new high rear wing in Spain.

Before the Italian team's red cars were lapped during the Barcelona race, the FIA told them to revert to a conventional rear wing design because the one used in practice took an interpretation of the rules too far.

"I do not say anything," said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo afterwards from Italy, according to ANSA news agency, "but I want to comment on the matter in the coming days."

Fernando Alonso led the race early but insists the team took a backwards step relative to the opposition.

"We were too slow on soft tires and very slow on hard ones," he is quoted as saying by Finland's Turun Sanomat.

The Spaniard added that a lack downforce is the main issue but he is refusing to give up.

"We took a step forward but at the same time McLaren and Red Bull took two," he said.

"I have not given up but we need a better car. Let's see what happens at Valencia at the latest."

Team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted by La Stampa newspaper as saying Monaco, Montreal and Valencia will be crucial races to compare the performance in Spain due to the different tires that will be in use.

Spain's AS newspaper said Ferrari is coming under pressure from major sponsor Santander, whose boss Emilio Botin reportedly had some hard words with Domenicali at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"There is no doubt that in 2012 there will be new staff in key positions at Ferrari," wrote the authoritative Livio Oricchio in his Jornal da Tarde column.

And Alonso is quoted by O Estado do S.Paulo newspaper: "Let's have a very different car in Canada, and the next three races we have the soft tires with which we are faster."

Added Domenicali, according to Autosprint: "After these races, we will see where we are and what direction to take."

Rosberg 'on par with Vettel' – Berger
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is a brilliant driver and his countryman Nico Rosberg is in the same league.

That is the view of Gerhard Berger, who watched Vettel's first grand prix win in 2008 as the team co-owner on the Toro Rosso pitwall.

"He is a killer," the great Austrian told Bild newspaper, "and his great advantage is he doesn't look like it. He looks like a nice young man from your neighborhood."

Two years older than 23-year-old Vettel is fellow German Rosberg, who has not yet won a single race despite having almost two seasons more experience.

But the son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg has consistently beaten Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, prompting Berger to observe: "I see him on a par with Vettel.

"All he lacks is a fast car."

F1 keeps eye on another Icelandic volcano
(GMM) The F1 world is once again keeping a nervous eye on an ash cloud produced by an Icelandic volcano eruption.

Almost exactly a year ago, the sport's travelling circus ground to a halt when airports closed due to an unpronounceable Icelandic volcano.

On Saturday, another volcano – Grimsvotn – erupted in Iceland and the dangerous ash cloud is now en route to the UK, according to the Bloomberg news agency.

Some flights in the UK and other parts of Europe have already been affected, while other countries imposed rules about the air density of ash that would affect the safe operation of planes.

"The low-level winds are blowing strongly towards the UK," a spokesman for the Icelandic Meteorological Office is quoted as saying by AFP.

A spokeswoman for the European transport commissioner added: "There is at the moment a possibility of volcanic ash affecting the European airspace."

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