Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Will Monaco produce yet another first-time winner in 2012?

    F1's sixth winner shapes up for Monaco

  • Ferrari say Massa contender for 2013 race seat
  • Maldonado a future champ, not 'pay driver' – Williams
  • Germans tip Schumacher to retire in 2012
  • 2013 F1 budget cap possible – report
  • Russian Helicopters Becomes Official Partner Of Caterham F1 Team
  • Kobayashi: “Definitely a step forward“
  • Button worried about lack of pace

F1's sixth winner shapes up for Monaco
(GMM) F1's next winner could be at the wheel of a black and gold car.

"I think Kimi (Raikkonen) will be the sixth different winner in the sixth race," said Finnish commentator and former driver Mika Salo, to the MTV3 broadcaster.

Although the results in 2012 have proved impossible to predict so far, many paddock pundits expected Lotus' E20 to be the car to beat last weekend in Barcelona.

"The big surprise was when Kimi didn't win," admitted former Ferrari driver Salo, referring to Pastor Maldonado's victory for Williams.

Also confident about Lotus' potential is Raikkonen's teammate, Romain Grosjean, who finished behind the 2007 world champion last weekend.

"It's good to be a little disappointed with third and fourth," he told the French language RMC Sport. "It shows that as a team we are convinced we can win."

According to the reigning world champion team Red Bull's drivers, however, there is a downside to this year's impossible-to-predict F1 landscape.

"Maybe we will see an HRT or a Marussia on pole in Monaco," world champion Sebastian Vettel said, unenthusiastically and half-seriously.

Mark Webber insists that what has been described as the Pirelli 'lottery' might not be a good thing for the sport.

"I don't know if they (the fans) will get sick of seeing so many different winners," the Australian told Fox Sports.

"It's nice to have different winners but also we want rivals."

Ferrari say Massa contender for 2013 race seat
(GMM) Ferrari has played down rumors it is close to immediately ousting Felipe Massa, insisting it is possible the struggling Brazilian will still be in a red car next year.

On Twitter, the famous Italian team said the latest rumors – including a claim that former Virgin driver Jerome d'Ambrosio is a candidate to replace Massa in 2012 – are "funny".

But it was Ferrari itself who fuelled the speculation, publishing a statement on its website that read like a warning to Massa.

"It was a very carefully-worded statement, wasn't it?" said Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary.

"The way this crazy season is going, I really would not be massively shocked if they ditched him mid-season."

The Swiss newspaper Blick said Monaco next weekend could be the 30-year-old's last chance to up his game.

And the candidates are lining up.

"Ferrari knows that I'm ready. If they need me or they want me, then they will call me," Adrian Sutil, who accompanied his manager to last weekend's Spanish grand prix, said.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo said some paddock pundits believe "the only reason" Massa still has its seat is because the "name Todt" – a reference not only to Massa's manager Nicolas but to the FIA president – has a "protective arm" around him.

Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper this week: "Felipe has the full confidence of the team, starting with our president.

"We have not decided who will be our driver in 2013 but Felipe is not ruled out," he insisted.

Indeed, while some believe Ferrari has hung a sword of Damocles above Massa's head, others think the Maranello based team have been patient since the Paulista's recovery from his near-fatal head injuries of 2009.

"We have no evidence that makes us think that Felipe has slowed down because of the accident. Zero," Colajanni said.

F1 doctor Gary Hartstein agreed: "An experience like that (Hungary 2009) changes you, but you can't say that's why Felipe has not won again."

Maldonado a future champ, not 'pay driver' – Williams
(GMM) Last Sunday proved that Pastor Maldonado is no mere 'pay driver'.

"If he was a fool, he would not be with us, no matter how much money he brings," Sir Frank Williams is quoted by Brazil's Globo Esporte.

Venezuelan Maldonado, whose links to the state owned oil company PDVSA and president Hugo Chavez controversially deliver many millions to Williams' Oxfordshire based team, became F1's fifth different winner of 2012 last weekend in Spain.

It has helped him to shake off the 'pay driver' insult, Williams insisting he is now a potential world champion instead.

"Without a doubt. He is very fast and makes no mistakes," the newly 70-year-old Briton said.

Williams does, however, acknowledge that Maldonado's money was a key factor in the decision to sign him.

"Yes, it was to some extent," he said. "I don't deny that. But he's also a real driver. He fully deserves to be on the team, with or without money.

"The truth is that if you don't have money, you don't get to be in formula one," added Williams.

Team shareholder Toto Wolff agrees: "If you want to race in GP2, you need a few million pounds. So, the drivers need not only to be fast and talented, but able to attract the sponsors.

"So let's forget this thing about 'pay drivers'," he insisted.

Triple world champion Nelson Piquet, however, has some lingering doubts.

He ran Maldonado in his own GP2 team some years ago, and this week recalled a driver who was often "too aggressive" and made too many mistakes.

"We're not talking about a guy who shone in his youth, like Nico Rosberg," said the famous Brazilian, "or someone like Lewis Hamilton, who always had everything he needed thanks to Ron Dennis.

"In GP2, when you don't stand out in your second year, you begin to be doubted. In Maldonado's case, he only shone in his fourth year.

"Perhaps because of this he only made it to formula one as a paying driver, without having anything special, apparently. He was perceived as just a good pilot, but clearly no Alonso.

"Now he was at the right place at the right time but he still managed to beat Alonso in Spain as well as another world champion, Kimi (Raikkonen). So hats off to him."

Germans tip Schumacher to retire in 2012
(GMM) More than half of Michael Schumacher's German compatriots think the seven time world champion will return to retirement at the end of this year.

After three years of retirement, the 43-year-old returned to F1 in 2010 on a three-year Mercedes contract, which runs out in 2012.

SID news agency commissioned the German market research company Promit to carry out a survey as to whether respondents think Schumacher will quit at the end of this year.

55.4 per cent answered yes, while only 26.2 per cent said they think Schumacher should sign on for at least another season.

The winner of a record 91 grands prix has failed to see the checkered flag in three of the five races so far this year, finishing just tenth in both Malaysia and Bahrain.

In contrast, teammate Nico Rosberg's three top-seven finishes in 2012 included pole and victory in China, netting him 41 points compared with Schumacher's 2 overall.

"I don't think we can write him (Schumacher) off yet," insisted Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary this week.

"His pace hasn't been bad and he started the season very well. (He) was unlucky in quite a few races, his wheel fell off when he was running second in China and could have had a big haul of points.

"He is making mistakes in wheel-to-wheel racing though. But if he gets a few decent finishes or even wins a race then we could see him continue (in 2013)," added Cary.

2013 F1 budget cap possible – report
(GMM) It is possible formula one teams will be limited to a budget cap in 2013, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The budget cap idea saw the sport almost implode amid the bitter political war of 2009, when proposed by controversial former FIA president Max Mosley.

But it is back on the agenda in 2012, and according to new rules – where a majority of teams can now push through a change – it could be imposed next season.

"Ten of the 12 teams are in favor," Auto Motor und Sport said, referring to the push to have cost-cutting moved from the FOTA gentleman's agreement to the actual sporting regulations.

It means that the two dissenting teams, the Red Bull-owned Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, will have no say.

"The cost to be competitive in formula one at present is too high," the boss of the energy drink company's premier team, Christian Horner, said recently. "I don't think anybody will dispute that.

"The debate is how we achieve it."

Not only that, the German report said nine teams are in favor of Mosley's old budget cap idea, with annual expenditure limited initially to EUR 170 million and then diminishing to 100 million over a few seasons.

Russian Helicopters Becomes Official Partner Of Caterham F1 Team
Russian Helicopters, one of the global leaders in the helicopter industry, is glad to announce an official partnership with Caterham F1 Team, one of the 12 participants in the FIA Formula One World Championship. From the Monaco Grand Prix, the Russian Helicopters logos will be seen on the Caterham F1 Team cars and in future the drivers’ overalls and the team’s race garages.

Russian Helicopters is a subsidiary of United Industrial Corporation Oboronprom. It is one of the global leaders in helicopter development and production with a number of special, innovative and widespread models, both civilian and military. Russian Helicopters is dominant in the Russian and CIS markets and is the leading player in the fast growing Indian and Chinese markets. The company is also rapidly increasing its presence in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.

As a global market leader Russian Helicopters leads the field in the use of innovative technological methods. This provides the perfect synergy between its high-tech business and the high-tech world of Formula 1. The global business interests of Russian Helicopters takes the company into markets worldwide, and now, through its partnership with Caterham F1 Team, Russian Helicopters will also be represented at Grands Prix all over the globe.

Tony Fernandes, Team Principal of Caterham F1 Team, commented on the deal: "I am absolutely delighted to welcome Russian Helicopters into Caterham F1 Team. It is a sign of the increasingly strong relationships we are growing in Russia that we can attract partners of this caliber and we look forward to repaying their faith in us and Vitaly on and off track."

Dmitry Petrov, General Director of JSC Russian Helicopters: “Russian Helicopters are delighted to announce the start of our partnership program with Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham F1 Team. It is important for Russian businesses to support projects which positively raise the profile of Russian interests worldwide and as Russian Helicopters is a global high-tech company it is a natural step for us to support Vitaly, as Caterham F1 Team’s Russian driver, in his role in a high-tech sport which is enormously popular all over the world. Our helicopters are actively marketed internationally and I am sure that our involvement in Formula 1, a sport that is popular worldwide and is at the pinnacle of modern technology, will help us to strengthen the international image of Russian Helicopters, as well as contribute to the growth of investment in the Russian economy."

Russian Helicopters is a subsidiary of UIC Oboronprom, which in turn is a part of Russian Technologies State Corporation. It is one of the global leaders in helicopter production and the only helicopter design and production powerhouse in Russia. Russian Helicopters is headquartered in Moscow. The company comprises five helicopter production facilities, two design bureaus, a spare parts production and repair facility, as well as an aftersale service branch responsible for maintenance and repair in Russia and all over the world. Its helicopters are popular among Russian ministries and state authorities (Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Emergency Control Ministry), operators (Gazpromavia, UTair) and major Russian corporations. Over 8000 helicopters of Soviet/Russian make are operated in 110 countries worldwide. Traditionally the demand is highest in the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Russia, and CIS countries. Russian Helicopters was established in 2007. In 2011 its IFRS revenues increased 27.8% to RUB 103.9 billion and deliveries reached 262 helicopters.

Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi: “Definitely a step forward“
At the Spanish Grand Prix last Sunday Sauber F1 Team driver Kamui Kobayashi managed to equal what was up to then his best race result in his Formula One career. The Japanese came fifth at the Circuit de Catalunya, just as he had done at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2011.

Kamui, once again you have managed to score ten points for the team. What are your thoughts looking back at the race?

Kamui Kobayashi: “The most important thing for us was to have confirmation that our new aero package was working well. It is definitely a step forward. After I had a difficult qualifying because of an hydraulic problem, I had to start ninth. I think the race performance as such was better than my fifth place suggests. Traffic in the race makes it more difficult to handle the tires. If you looked at Lewis Hamilton, who was fastest in qualifying, you could also see it wasn’t an easy job for him to improve positions in the race traffic after he was forced to start last on the grid. Overall I am very happy and proud of what a great job the guys back in the factory did to further develop the car and, of course, what the crew at the race track did."

Does the Sauber C31-Ferrari’s new aero package deliver what you expected?

Kamui Kobayashi: “Yes, I think we have improved in the areas we wanted to. The car is better balanced through the corners now. In terms of stability I would say it is about the same, but stability always depends a lot on the track conditions."

You had two super overtaking maneuvers in Spain. Have you regained confidence in the car?

Kamui Kobayashi: “I think so, I definitely had confidence in the car in Barcelona when overtaking. I also feel with the update we can now handle the tire management better during the race. We had been a bit weak on that side before."

How do you think the car can perform on the narrow street circuit of Monaco?

Kamui Kobayashi: “It obviously provides an entirely different challenge than that of the Circuit de Catalunya. In Monaco the car is bouncing on bumps, you have understeer and oversteer when you are driving on the limit and the track doesn’t forgive any mistakes. I think our car will be better in Monaco than it was last year because it has improved in slow corners. In 2011 I finished fifth, so the target should be to finish higher up this year. However, even if you are given the best car in Monaco, in the end a lot is down to the driver to get the ultimate tenths of a second out of it."

You will be attending the Champions League final of Chelsea FC versus Bayern Munich on Saturday. Have you ever been in a football stadium before for such a big match?

Kamui Kobayashi: “No, I have never seen a match of that level. I only attended some games of lower leagues in Italy. Normally I am not a big fan of watching other sports, as I would rather concentrate on my own training. But now after I have decided to be a supporter of Chelsea FC I am very much looking forward to seeing them play in the stadium. This is professional sport at the highest level and I am getting very excited about going to Munich on Saturday!"

What are your targets for the forthcoming races?

Kamui Kobayashi: “We have seen five different winners in five races. So you could say almost everything is possible this year. I believe we have a good car and good chances for good results. The final outcome always depends on a lot of factors. But what you have to do for success is to get every small thing perfectly right over the entire weekend. And this is what I’m aiming at."

Button worried about pace as of late

Button worried about lack of pace
Jenson Button has admitted to being more concerned about his lack of pace at present than the raft of errors being made by McLaren.

Button could only finish ninth in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, a place and seven seconds behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had started 14 positions back at the rear of the grid.

Hamilton was punished for a fuel irregularity in qualifying after the 27-year-old had thought he was again starting on pole at the Circuit de Catalunya, only for his times to be discounted.

It was the latest mistake from McLaren to undermine one of their drivers during a grand prix weekend as a considerable amount of points have been lost from strong positions.

In Button's case in Barcelona, however, he simply could not find any speed in his car, and that is now a major worry.

Button said: "It was a tough weekend, especially on Sunday.

"The most important thing is to understand why I didn't have any pace over the weekend on low and high fuel.

"Even if qualifying doesn't go well, normally we can get some good points in the race, but I couldn't look after my tires and I didn't have any pace. It's something that's a concern.

"Yes, Lewis did a fantastic job in qualifying, and the team did well to produce a car like that.

"In the race you can say Lewis again did a good job by finishing eighth, which he should be happy with, but still the pace isn't there.

"It was a worse weekend for me, but if you look at Lewis' pace in the race, I still don't think it's where you would expect us to be.

"My fastest lap of the race was 2.6secs slower than the quickest overall, which is just strange, and I don't understand why that is.

"And it wasn't one end of the car I struggled with, it was both. I've never been in a position like that. It was very extreme." Sporting Life

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