Latest F1 news in brief

  • HRT denies fighting for F1 survival
  • FIA sets maximum laptime for quali slow laps
  • Hamilton hits back at 'calm down' advice
  • Sauber baffled by constant driver rumors
  • Another brake problem for Red Bull in Monaco
  • HRT's Yamamoto to drive on Friday in Turkey
  • Renault wants to 'build team around' Kubica
  • Renault eyes another F1 engine deal
  • Dark clouds above Monaco on Saturday
  • Alonso crashes Ferrari in final practice
  • Alonso out of qualifying, rain on way to Monaco

HRT denies fighting for F1 survival
(GMM) HRT has denied reports it is fighting for survival.

At Monaco, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said in an interview with a British newspaper that he was working to help the struggling Spanish outfit make it through its debut season.

But team owner Jose Ramon Carabante responded: "For sure it (the comments) is not about us, maybe he is talking about other teams that do not have sponsors.

"We have no financial problems and we are already thinking about 2011," he told the Spanish sports newspaper Diario AS in Monaco.

However, given the collapse of the team's relationship with its car designer Dallara, Finland's Turun Sanomat predicts that HRT will run out of spare parts by June's Canadian grand prix.

It has already been suggested that the lack of spare parts explains why Bruno Senna's car has not been repaired since a problem at the rear developed in Spain a week ago.

The situation means the Brazilian rookie would have been only tenth on the GP2 practice timesheets on Thursday.

Nicolas Todt hinted in Monaco that his GP2 team ART has much higher ambitions should the FIA, led by his father Jean, grant the team the 13th team place for 2011.

"We do not want to be seven seconds behind. If we did not have the budget, we would not be doing it," the Frenchman told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

FIA sets maximum laptime for quali slow laps
(GMM) The FIA has told drivers to keep driving quickly when they are not on flying laps this weekend in Monaco.

The news is reportedly a response to fears the 24-car field, including six very slow cars, will lead to traffic chaos in the initial 20-minute Q1 qualifying session.

Brazil's Globo reports that the FIA has based the new maximum warm-up and slow-down laptime on the pace of the struggling HRTs.

Drivers will have to travel between the first and last corner no slower than 1 minute 22 seconds – about 7 seconds off the ultimate pace this weekend – to avoid stewards penalties.

However, 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg has admitted a lack of patience with all the complaining about likely qualifying traffic this weekend.

"Gimme a break!" he is quoted as saying by The Independent.

"There used to be 26 drivers out there in the old days, and half of them were slow, not just half a dozen!"

Hamilton hits back at 'calm down' advice
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has hit back at claims it is his aggressive driving style that causes his tires to so often deflate.

Joan Villadelprat, a F1 veteran who is bidding to bring his Spanish-based Le Mans team Epsilon Euskadi onto the grid next year, said after the Briton's crash in Barcelona that Hamilton "needs to calm down".

The tire deflation was one of several in Hamilton's career so far, but McLaren has clarified that it was caused by a loose wheel nut leading to a failed rim.

Asked in Monaco about comments like Villadelprat's, the 2008 world champion said without smiling: "It makes me laugh to be honest.

"Everyone always talks about my aggressive style," the 25-year-old is quoted by the Daily Telegraph.

"Before they even knew what the issue was last week, they said 'he needs to calm down, he needs to look after his tires, he needs to do this, he needs to do that', which is absolute rubbish.

"In actual fact the way I look after my tires, you know, I have grown a lot over the past couple of years. In the last race the tires were sweet, really sweet," added Hamilton.

He denied he is sensitive about the issue due to the widespread belief that his teammate Jenson Button – who has won two races this year – is particularly good at looking after his tires.

"I'm not really sensitive about it because it (the opinions) doesn't really have any impact on me as such. I know how to use my tires," Hamilton insisted.

Sauber baffled by constant driver rumors
(GMM) Peter Sauber has denied recent rumors and reports suggesting the seats of his Swiss team's drivers are in doubt.

With Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi failing to score a single point so far in 2010, it was rumored Sauber could replace them with drivers who at least bring sponsorship to the mostly blank-liveried car.

But team founder and boss Sauber, 66, is quoted in Monaco by the EFE news agency: "I do not understand why this (claim) is repeated again and again.

"The Spanish grand prix was the first time we were able to give the drivers a competitive car, which is very important for their confidence."

After a dismal start to the season, the Swiss believes Sauber's fortunes are now beginning to turn.

"I think that in Spain we made significant progress and took two steps forward; something that was necessary," he said.

Sauber also revealed that, after several steps of development, the C29's F-duct system is now "working well".

Another brake problem for Red Bull in Monaco
(GMM) Mark Webber reportedly suffered a brake disc failure during Thursday's practice at Monaco.

The reliability of the otherwise dominant Red Bull car continues to be an issue, after Sebastian Vettel almost had to retire in Spain a week ago with a split brake disc.

"It was quite bizarre as basically the brake on the left hand side stopped working completely and the disc effectively split in half, straight down the middle of the spline," revealed team boss Christian Horner in Monaco.

Vettel said in the Principality that although the precise cause of his Barcelona failure is not known, the team has implemented "a fix" for Monaco.

But although it missed the attention of the rest of the F1 world, Webber suffered a similar problem on Thursday, Finland's Turun Sanomat reports.

HRT's Yamamoto to drive on Friday in Turkey
(GMM) Sakon Yamamoto will get a turn at the wheel of HRT's 2010 car in Turkey in two weeks.

The struggling Spanish team's other test and reserve driver Christian Klien drove the F110 during Friday practice in Barcelona last week.

And according to sources in the Monaco paddock this weekend, 27-year-old Yamamoto will be at the wheel of Bruno Senna's car for morning practice on the Friday of the forthcoming grand prix in Istanbul.

The Japanese contested 14 grands prix with Super Aguri and Spyker in 2006 and 2007.

"I hope I will be able to gather useful data whenever possible on Friday for the race drivers," he said recently.

Renault wants to 'build team around' Kubica
(GMM) Renault wants to build its team around Robert Kubica.

That is the claim of the team's new majority owner Gerard Lopez, amid rising speculation that Pole Kubica is being lined up for a 2011 switch to Ferrari.

In the wake of the French carmaker's part-withdrawal from F1 at the end of 2009, Kubica has been widely credited for Renault's solid season so far this year.

The 25-year-old looks particularly impressive on the streets of Monaco, where Lopez admitted that Renault is willing to fully embrace Kubica's presence into the future.

"He is in a unique position, as a racer, to have a team built around him now and we see it that way," Lopez, who announced he has sold a share of the team to oil company PetroSaudi CEO and friend Tarek Obaid, is quoted by the AFP news agency.

Kubica declined to comment about his future in Monaco.

Renault eyes another F1 engine deal
(GMM) Renault could supply its V8 engines to another team in 2011.

Currently, the French marque powers not only the team that bears its name, but also the sport's dominant Red Bull Racing.

Confirming its bid to debut in F1 next year, GP2 team ART's co-founder Frederic Vasseur admitted he has "good relationships with Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault".

And Renault's head of engine operations Remi Taffin told Auto Hebdo: "Today, nothing has been done but it is quite possible that Renault will power another team next season."

It is possible that the new deal will replace Red Bull, whose owner Dietrich Mateschitz said in an interview mere days ago that he thinks the Renault is "30 to 40 horse power" less powerful than Mercedes' engine.

But Taffin suggested that the new deal could be in addition to Red Bull and Enstone-based Renault.

"It would not be a problem: we have the capacity both in terms of technology and production."

Dark clouds above Monaco on Saturday
(GMM) Dark clouds are hanging above the Monaco street circuit on Saturday morning.

Some weather reports are predicting the possibility of showers, while others believe that any rain will hold off until after the practice and qualifying sessions.

The uncertainty is a major worry for the F1 teams, because the 'parc ferme' rules means that prior to qualifying, car setup is essentially locked in for the rest of the weekend.

"You have got to have a bit of a crystal ball," agreed Red Bull's Christian Horner, "because the only variable you've got for the race is your front wing.

"I'm sure that basically the weather conditions on Saturday will principally dictate what setups people are going to end up on Sunday with," he added.

Alonso crashes Ferrari in final practice
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Saturday morning badly damaged his Ferrari in the last practice session before qualifying.

The Spaniard, who had been fastest in Thursday's two preceding practice sessions, smashed into the barriers at Massenet, causing both right wheels to break off.

On his return to the paddock on foot, Alonso admitted to BBC radio that the accident was his mistake.

Also on the edge of an accident in the 60-minute session, which finished with just two hours to go before qualifying, was the sister Ferrari, even though Felipe Massa clocked the second fastest time.

The Brazilian almost hit the wall at least twice; once exiting the Swimming Pool chicane, and also when he ran wide at the Loews hairpin.

Adrian Sutil's Force India needs a new rear wing after he spun into the barriers at Casino Square, while Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov had to hit reverse gear after running into escape roads.

Robert Kubica emerged from the session with the fastest time.

"Anything can happen, especially here in Monaco, and things change very quickly in Monaco," he said after also impressing on Thursday.

Alonso out of qualifying, rain on way to Monaco
(GMM) Fernando Alonso will not take part in qualifying for the Monaco grand prix.

The Spaniard crashed during the Saturday morning practice session, and the impact resulted in unrepairable damage to the monocoque.

It means he must sit out qualifying and then start the race with a new car from the pitlane.

A Ferrari spokesman confirmed the news.

It has also emerged that heavy rain is very likely to fall in the minutes before qualifying.

And a McLaren spokeswoman confirmed reports that a new sponsor – Chicago-based risk management company Aon – has joined the team.

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