Webber angry at ‘illegal’ Bull barb

Mark Webber on Thursday bristled when a reporter suggested he won the recent Monaco grand prix with an “illegal” car.

“I’m happy to be called lots of things,” said the plain-speaking Australian, “and I’m happy to have criticism about my driving and lots of stuff. But I will not take criticism in that respect. It completely pisses me off to be honest, because the car has passed every single technical regulation after the race.”

Indeed, despite rumours in Monaco of a post-race protest lodged by Red Bull’s rivals Ferrari and McLaren, the FIA’s clarification about the holes in the floor of the RB8 came only days ago.

“The car passed the test after Bahrain, the car passed the test after Monaco and now there has been a clarification on the rule, and the rule now is different,” Webber insisted.

His teammate Sebastian Vettel admitted it had been “surprising” to learn that while the car was legal in Monaco, the FIA changed its mind afterwards.

“In reality I don’t think that it makes a huge difference on the track, it is just a bit distracting that first it is illegal, then legal, and then illegal again,” the German is quoted by F1’s official website. “What I mean is that in the future people should make a final decision, and spare us this back and forth.”

Reigning world champion Vettel also played down suggestions that, after dominating Webber in 2011, the Australian is – like in 2010 – once again breathing down his neck.

“We are speaking about one race (Monaco) only,” Vettel insisted. “This is a different weekend and a new chance, so let’s see what develops over the next three days,” he said in Canada.

Webber, meanwhile, acknowledged that his form could re-fire the tension in the Red Bull garage.

“It’s a good problem to have,” he smiled.

Source:GMM

Massa to use Monaco setup in Canada

Although the complete opposite of Monaco, Felipe Massa on Tuesday was bound for Canada with his mind still firmly on the famous Principality.

Trapped in a worsening slump since the start of the 2012 season, Massa’s tumbling form had triggered speculation the Brazilian was fighting for his career in Monaco. But on those fabled streets, he appeared to turn the corner.

“I really liked the car there,” the 31-year-old said on Tuesday, “and it was working in the right direction to suit my style and I hope this positive trend can continue, starting with the race in Canada and then through to the end of the championship.”

Indeed, Monaco was apparently such a turning point that his engineering team, led by Briton Rob Smedley, intend to use Massa’s Monaco car setup as the foundation for this weekend, in spite of the diametrically opposed lines of Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Massa admitted that “the setup required for Monaco is very different to that at other tracks”, but “even if the street circuit is unique, we can at least follow the direction we took there and make it work at other tracks”.

“It might not be a normal situation, but maybe it is the best direction to go in to make the F2012 work for me,” he added.

Source:GMM

Glock back in game after season slump

Still at the back of the grid, Timo Glock is nonetheless heading towards the middle of the 2012 season in a better mood.

Earlier this year, still struggling for the third consecutive year to pull Marussia from the back of the pack, the highly rated German appeared out of sorts. He was at war with his Cosworth-powered car, and being genuinely outpaced by his rookie teammate Charles Pic.

“It was oversteering brutally,” Glock told Auto Motor und Sport, “and after only a few laps the tyres were done.”

The German suspected there was something fundamentally wrong with his chassis; a feeling confirmed when, at the Mugello test, he drove Pic’s race car. Modifications were made for Barcelona, but Glock’s problems persisted.

“I even started to wonder if I had forgotten how to drive,” Glock shrugged.

Eventually, the mystery was solved, and a flaw in the rear suspension wishbone mountings fixed. At Monaco, he looked back in the game — once again dominating young Frenchman Pic in qualifying, and lacking just half a second to the nearest Caterham. And Glock’s fastest race lap was just three tenths from a Caterham.

The next big step is Silverstone, where the 2012 Marussia will enjoy a substantial upgrade.

“If the data is right, then this is a really big step,” said Glock.

Source:GMM

Steering issue creating Lotus-Raikkonen rift

The mere issue of ‘steering’ risks creating a rift between Lotus and its star driver Kimi Raikkonen.

The 2007 world champion has complained about the steering system aboard the black and gold E20 from his very first lap this season. For Monaco, the team debuted a special system tailored to the Finn’s needs, but it lasted just a single out-lap on Thursday morning.

“He was asked to consider running the session with it as it was (but) he refused and took no further part”, Sky Sports’ technical expert Mark Hughes reported.

That has triggered speculation Lotus is close to “giving up” on fixing the issue for the famously laid-back Raikkonen, who might have to simply adapt instead.

“By no means are we ‘giving up’ on fine tuning the development of the steering system according to Kimi’s exact preferences,” a Lotus team source is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

But the Enstone based team also appears to have highlighted the impact of Raikkonen’s refusal to practice on Thursday.

Monaco, according to a report on Lotus’ official website, showed “the importance of getting the steering system exactly as he likes it, whilst also underlining the fact that even an experienced challenger can be affected by missing running time at such a technical circuit”.

Source:GMM

Surprise favourites ramp up pressure on drivers

Within memory of him delivering the beleaguered team’s first victory for more than seven years, Williams has expressed disappointment in Pastor Maldonado.

After soaring from pole to victory in Barcelona, breakthrough winner Maldonado suffered an horror Monaco grand prix two weeks later. The Venezuelan was pushed ten places down the grid for apparently colliding deliberately with Sergio Perez in practice, and at the start of the race got caught up in the first lap chaos.

“The car was good enough for a P4 or P5 qualifying position and our race pace was also good so it is disappointing not to have come away from this event with a decent haul of points,” said Williams’ chief engineer Mark Gillan.

When asked about Maldonado’s crash with Perez, he insisted: “I think that the incident was avoidable and therefore disappointing and that the penalty was therefore understandable.”

And even in light of Maldonado’s Barcelona triumph, the Oxfordshire based team’s disappointment is also understandable, given the competitiveness of the Renault-powered FW34.

German magazine Auto Motor und Sport cited “GPS” evidence in claiming that the Williams and the Sauber are the best cars in the 2012 field when it comes to aerodynamics, based on data from Barcelona’s demanding turns 3 and 9. And at Monaco, Sauber’s Perez recorded not only the fastest lap of the race, but “for long periods he was the fastest driver on the track”.

“This clearly shows what we can achieve if everything goes right for us,” said the Swiss team’s boss. “Now it is up to the entire team to turn our opportunities into success.”

Journalist Michael Schmidt said: “With Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton in the cockpit, Williams or Sauber would probably be leading the championship.”

The pressure is high, therefore, on the surprise favourites’ drivers.

“The team (Williams) are looking forward to Montreal as we believe that we should be strong again, but we need to deliver in both qualifying and the race,” Gillan insisted.

Source:GMM/em>

Webber denies ‘backing up’ rivals for Vettel

Mark Webber has dismissed claims he ‘backed up’ his rivals in Monaco so that Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel could catch up.

Australian Webber won Sunday’s race in the Principality with the other podium challengers, Nico Rosberg, both within a chasing gap of less than a single second. Next up was reigning back to back world champion Vettel.

But when contemplating the ‘backing up’ theory, Webber insisted in his BBC column: “That is absolute rubbish. You always get bitten on the bum when you get fancy. So you just don’t try.”

Source:GMM

F1 headwear triggers rumours at Monaco

F1’s excitable rumour-mill went into overdrive in Monaco simply because Michael Schumacher appeared without his cap. The seven time world champion spoke at the FIA press conference on Wednesday without his usual brand-laden cap, sparking suggestions he had split with his personal sponsor.

“The reason was quite simple: he had just forgotten it and no one could get it to him in time,” said Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

Headwear was also a bone of contention for Fernando Alonso in Monaco, according to the German magazine. When a journalist asked the Ferrari driver about his special gold helmet livery, Alonso hissed: “It’s on my website.”

When asked if he was in a bad mood, the Spaniard bit again: “No, but you’re not prepared. And we’re here to talk about the race, not about my helmet.”

Source:GMM

Sauber unhappy with Grosjean

Romain Grosjean would not be the most welcome face in the Sauber motor home. Recently after the Spanish grand prix, Swiss newspaper Blick quoted Sergio Perez as cursing “f***ing French!” after a collision with Lotus’ Grosjean.

Then, at Monaco, Kamui Kobayashi had to retire with suspension damage after his spectacular high-flying crash at the first corner.

“Unfortunately it was Grosjean again,” Peter Sauber thundered. “First Perez was the victim, now Kobayashi.”

And those tangles were not reigning GP2 champion Grosjean’s only mistakes so far in 2012, despite demonstrating otherwise strong pace in his second season since his abortive 2009 debut. Team boss Eric Boullier insists he is being patient with the 26-year-old.

“He is still early in his career and therefore has the right to make mistakes,” the Frenchman is quoted by L’Equipe sports newspaper. “This is no excuse, but all the drivers around him have done thousands of kilometres of testing and many races. He is still in his first year and I think has done a pretty amazing job for a rookie.”

Source:GMM

Monaco ‘a fresh start’ for struggling Massa

Felipe Massa moved to rescue his crumbling career with a strong performance in Monaco. Already on notice even before the 2012 opener began, the struggling Brazilian has had a nightmare start to this year’s campaign, triggering rumours Monaco was his very last chance to shine. He then qualified within a tenth of his on-form teammate Fernando Alonso in the Principality, and in the race finished in the ‘train’ within sight of winner Mark Webber.

“Felipe delivered a brilliant and feisty performance all weekend long,” said team boss Stefano Domenicali. “I am particularly happy for Felipe, who needed a positive result,” he added. “I’m sure this weekend really represents a fresh start to the season for him.”

Source:GMM

Lucrative 13 ‘best feeling’ for Caterham chief

Sunday’s Monaco grand prix was potentially a lucrative result for the Caterham team. With actual points still a distant goal for the three backmarker teams, Caterham, Marussia and HRT are instead in a race for the highest classified finish.

Until Monaco, it was Marussia leading the non-points race, thanks to the fourteenth place recorded by Timo Glock in Australia. The German driver did it again in Monaco, but it was Caterham who burst back into lucrative tenth place in the world championship thanks to Heikki Kovalainen’s thirteenth-place finish.

At the end of the season, tenth place is the cut-off for ‘column 1’ teams under the Concorde Agreement, an achievement that last year was reportedly worth almost $30 million to Caterham.

“It’s significant. It’s critical,” said team boss Tony Fernandes.

Not only that, Kovalainen did it in style in Monaco, holding Melbourne winner Jenson Button at bay until the Melbourne winner’s battle ended with a crash.

“Simply great. It was the best feeling I’ve had in these three years in formula one,” Fernandes told the Finnish newspaper.

In contrast, Button was unimpressed, joking that he was relieved when he crashed because the “pain” of battling a defiant backmarker was over.

“There has to be a balance when you’re fighting for twelfth place and I don’t think he had it right, but there you go, that’s racing,” he said.

Source:GMM