- Lauda tips Schumacher to win in 2012
- China victory was 'difficult day' for Schumacher
- Barrichello reveals Ferrari 'threat' of 2002
- Montreal must improve track or lose F1 race
- Toro Rosso plays down drivers' race to Red Bull
- McLaren reacts after pitstop problems
Lauda tips Schumacher to win in 2012
Niki Lauda is sure Michael Schumacher will return to the top step of the podium this year.
As Mercedes took a step forwards with its new W03 car in 2012, it was the famous seven-time world champion's teammate Nico Rosberg who tasted success first, securing pole and victory in China last month.
But triple world champion Lauda told Germany's Bild newspaper: "Michael Schumacher will win this year.
"Finally Mercedes are good enough to be able to attack the best."
Schumacher, 43, has not been on the podium since he returned to F1 in 2010.
The German has also played down the team's chances on the demanding Circuit de Catalunya this weekend, even though Mercedes is debuting a new ultra-light carbon gearbox in Barcelona.
Lauda, meanwhile, played down Schumacher's widely-reported criticisms of this year's Pirelli tyres, which have seen him labelled either a sore loser or a spoil-sport.
"Schumi can't spoil Formula One," said the Austrian legend. "He has been in the business so many years - he knows how it works.
"I see Rosberg's success as spurring him on rather than frustrating him. He will fight through it," predicted Lauda.
China victory was 'difficult day' for Schumacher
It was a breakthrough for Mercedes and Nico Rosberg, but the Chinese Grand Prix was a "difficult day" for Michael Schumacher.
That is the admission of Shanghai winner Rosberg, whose first race win after more than 100 attempts also delivered German marque Mercedes' first works victory for more than half a century.
"I felt he was very happy for me," Rosberg told Auto Bild Motorsport, when asked what seven time world champion Schumacher's reaction was.
Since returning to F1 more than two years ago, 43-year-old Schumacher - although stepping up his pace in 2012 - is yet to finish a single GP on the podium.
Nonetheless, he offered his congratulations "very, very warmly" after China, Rosberg revealed.
"At the same time I know that it was, of course, a difficult day (for him)," he admitted.
Norbert Haug, the team's motor sport director, recently sounded inclined to keep Rosberg and Schumacher together beyond 2012, despite the fact the older and more famous German's contract is ending.
He insisted there is "nothing negative" about their relationship.
As for ongoing rumours that Schumacher still enjoys number one status, Haug called that idea "absolute nonsense".
"Do you know what Nico said to me, before Michael came? He said 'If you can get Michael (on the team), then try everything for it'."
Rosberg has not changed his tune.
"There was never a situation in which Michael got anything before I did," he confirmed.
Barrichello reveals Ferrari 'threat' of 2002
Rubens Barrichello has alleged that Ferrari made a threat that might have ended his motor racing career during the infamous 2002 Austrian GP.
Ten years ago, the Brazilian led the race at the A1-Ring but eventually, at the very last corner, succumbed to team orders that allowed number one teammate Michael Schumacher to pass him.
Subsequent video footage has depicted then Ferrari team boss Jean Todt asking Barrichello on the radio to simply "let Michael pass for the championship, please".
But Barrichello, having left F1 at the end of 2011 for a seat in Indycar, says it was not quite as simple as that.
"It was eight laps of war," he is quoted by Brazil's Globo.
"It's very rare that I lose my temper, but I was screaming on the radio. I kept going right to the end, saying I would not let him pass.
"That's when they said something about something much broader. It was not about the contract.
"I cannot tell you what they said, but it was a form of threat that made me think about re-thinking my life, because the great joy for me was driving," said the 39-year-old.
Montreal must improve track or lose F1 race
Montreal has been warned to spend around $15 million on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve or risk losing the Canadian GP.
La Presse reports that Bernie Ecclestone has said only a major redevelopment of the circuit will lead to talks about a new contract beyond 2014.
The report said that, in light of the F1 chief executive's warning, Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay has appealed to higher levels of government for the necessary money.
"Negotiations are underway between the three levels of government and the bodies of Formula One", the report said.
Race promoter Francois Dumontier told RDS: "It's premature to talk about this.
"There are still two years to go on the current contract. We have started talking, but that it's out now I find excessive. Honestly, I don't know where it's come from."
He added: "Given that the permanent installations of the circuit, including the control tower and the garages, are nearly 25 years old, it is likely that their repair is an important element in the negotiations for an extension to the current agreement.
"But it seems to me to be premature to talk specific sums."
Toro Rosso plays down drivers' race to Red Bull
It is too early to name a frontrunner for a seat at Red Bull's premier team.
That is the claim of Franz Tost, the boss of the energy drink company's junior team Toro Rosso.
Following the ousting of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, the Faenza based outfit has two new Red Bull youngsters to groom in 2012.
Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are therefore at the front of the queue to potentially replace Mark Webber at the senior team, even though Red Bull chiefs have appeared to indicate that Australian Webber is staying put for now.
So when asked by Austria's Laola1 whether Ricciardo or Vergne are winning the race to Red Bull Racing so far, Tost insisted: "We have no thoughts about that.
"The important thing is that they continue to develop in every area."
So far, Frenchman Vergne has four points compared with Ricciardo's two.
"Jean-Eric is willing to take more risks," Tost admitted, "while Daniel has a grasp of the car overall with his extra experience."
McLaren reacts after pitstop problems
McLaren has made changes to its pit crew and processes, following recurring problems at recent Grands Prix.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh launched a full internal investigation after Bahrain, where problems with the fitting of wheels during crucial stops resurfaced.
"We have to try and make sure we pick up on them (the problems) for the next race because we can't afford to lose points like we did," said Lewis Hamilton.
One wheel-gun operator got the lion's share of the blame, but Whitmarsh insisted that McLaren would also "look at the equipment, the process, the approach".
He told reporters on Wednesday: "We have looked at what we are doing and have made some changes to the team and the process and we'll see them on Sunday in Barcelona."
Despite the heat felt by the deposed wheel-gun operator, Whitmarsh reveals he was "astounded" by the number of McLaren mechanics who put their hands up to replace him.
"It reflects well on the spirit of the team. There's been a reasonable amount of practice and we'll see at the weekend. I believe we'll have good stops," he concluded.
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