Sebastian Vettel on Wednesday said he agrees that Mercedes is the favourite heading into the Monaco grand prix weekend.
Barcelona winner Fernando Alonso was the first to tip the German team for a win in the Principality, despite Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton having struggled so much with Pirelli tyre wear at recent races.
"I can understand why people are saying Mercedes is the favourite," German Vettel told Brazil's Totalrace in Monaco on Wednesday.
"They have had a great speed in qualifying in the last few races, and we all know that it's so important to qualify up the front in Monaco.
"But it's difficult to know if the tyres will be as important here. The question is will they last.
"Perhaps pole won't be everything, but overtaking here is very difficult," the Red Bull driver added.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa, however, thinks that even if Mercedes does run into tyre trouble in Monaco, Hamilton or Rosberg might still be able to win.
"I believe they will suffer in the race," said the Brazilian, "because they suffer in all the races.
"But even if you do suffer here, you can hold your position," added Massa. "This could be the best track for them."
Rosberg on course for Monaco win - Wurz
May 23 (GMM) Mercedes is right on course for victory in Monaco this weekend.
That is the view of Alex Wurz, who agrees with many paddock voices who have singled out the silver-clad team as the favourites in the Principality.
Nico Rosberg was fastest in both practice sessions on Thursday, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton was second best in the afternoon.
"In the past few years Nico was always very good here," Austrian Wurz told German broadcaster Sky on Thursday.
"Lewis too, but he has made a few mistakes.
"But I think with Rosberg and Hamilton maybe they (Mercedes) even have the best Monaco drivers.
"Then they have the best qualifying car, and a circuit that is not so hard on the rear tyres, which is good news for Mercedes.
"It's exciting. Maybe they can win the race," added former Benetton and Williams driver Wurz, 39.
Vettel denies claims Monaco too unsafe for F1
May 23 (GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel has hit back at claims Monaco holds only a dubious place on the formula one calendar.
Earlier this week, former driver Ralf Schumacher reportedly criticised the fabled street circuit in the Principality, insisting it is not safe enough for modern F1 standards.
"Well, I see it this way," said Red Bull's Vettel, when asked about Schumacher's comments.
"There is always a certain risk that you can't get away from," he told Bild newspaper.
"But in recent years a tremendous amount has been done in the name of safety. I don't feel unsafe at Monaco."
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg - a Monaco resident who was fastest in first practice on Thursday - added: "Sure, Monaco is one of the most dangerous tracks.
"But it's so traditional that you have to make some compromises. It's simply a must -- there's nothing to discuss."
Red Bull move for Raikkonen 'logical' - Hakkinen
May 23 (GMM) Red Bull would be a "logical" move for Kimi Raikkonen, according to fellow Finnish driver Mika Hakkinen.
This week, Lotus' Raikkonen effectively confirmed rumours Red Bull has made him an offer for 2014, admitting he has "two options" for his next F1 contract.
Hakkinen, a former double world champion, said Red Bull would be a wise move for his countryman.
"We can see that Red Bull's situation is quite a lot stronger," the 44-year-old is quoted by Finnish broadcaster MTV3.
"If there is a place open there, then yes, I think it would be quite logical," added Hakkinen.
But as Raikkonen pointed out, even moving to the team that has won the last three drivers' and constructors' championships on the trot is not a simple calculation.
"Of course, they have won a number of years in a row, but next year the rules are changing," he told MTV3.
"It's a bit of a lottery who will make a good car and who will not."
Pirelli to only change rear tyres for Canada
May 23 (GMM) The 'T-word' was still the big topic of conversation as the F1 world congregated in Monaco on Wednesday.
But the big paddock whisper is that changes to Pirelli's 2013 tyres will be only minor in Montreal next month and beyond.
According to the strong and widespread rumour, the only minor change will be to the rear tyres -- which is good news for Ferrari and Lotus, and not-so-good for Mercedes and Red Bull.
"Anything else would be unfair," Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
"You can't change everything just because some teams can't cope with the tyres.
"We can live with the idea of stronger rear tyres. I think that will help everybody."
The Finn is also quoted by MTV3 broadcaster: "The fairest thing would be to continue with the current tyres, but I know there is a lot of pressure to change something."
It is believed teams will learn more about the rear tyre tweak on Thursday.
In the meantime, the issue continues to divide the paddock. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said Red Bull's complaining is just sour grapes.
"It sometimes happens when you win too easily for some years, it's difficult to lose some races after," he told English-language reporters.
In his native Spanish tongue, however, Alonso was even more blunt.
"I believe this year we are seeing that they (Red Bull) are not all angels. We saw it in Malaysia and now with these statements.
"When you win in an easy way for a few years, you can forget how to lose," the Spaniard added.
At the very same time, Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel continued to boldly criticise the Pirelli situation.
He is quoted by SID news agency: "It's like a professional skier having to change for the following season to wooden skis.
"I don't want to speak ill of people," added Vettel, "but in this context they (Pirelli) need to do a better job.
"We have seen repeatedly that the surface of the tyre comes off. This is because they are not good enough."
He is quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "None of us want our tread to come off in the tunnel."
However, Vettel rejects the idea that Red Bull is complaining more than any other team.
"I think you (journalists) would rather quote us than Marussia for example.
"But in the driver meetings I even hear Lotus complain that they have the same problem as us, but less extremely. So we're not the only ones complaining," the German added.
McLaren wants to be only Honda-powered team in 2015
May 23 (GMM) McLaren looks set to be the only Honda-powered team in 2015.
The great British team is already signed up to be Japanese carmaker's 'works' partner, but it had been reported that Lotus, Sauber and Williams had enquired about becoming customers of Honda's turbo V6 engine.
Indeed, it was believed that - under FIA rules - Honda was actually obliged to make available its engines to one or more customer teams when it returns to F1.
But German-language reports, in Speed Week and by the SID news agency, quote Martin Whitmarsh as suggesting Honda is in fact not obliged to have customers.
"To my knowledge there is nothing in the regulations forcing an engine supplier to supply several teams," he reportedly told The Racer's Edge.
"So we look forward to an exclusive collaboration with Honda," the McLaren boss added.
Whitmarsh also seemed to play down reports linking Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi with a possible return to F1 in McLaren's new Honda era.
"If we did that (signed a Japanese driver), it would be a driver that we have helped to develop," he said.
Mercedes clarifies Hamilton jet-ski incident
May 23 (GMM) Mercedes on Thursday hit back at reports Lewis Hamilton racked up a huge damage bill after a jet-skiing stunt in Monaco.
A Swiss newspaper had said the 2008 world champion performed an extra-tight turn in front of a boat of photographers on Wednesday, deliberately soaking and damaging photo and TV cameras and mobile phones.
Blick journalist Roger Benoit said Mercedes had apologised and vowed to pay the $150,000 repair bill.
But a Mercedes source on Thursday insisted that the story was not the classic case of a celebrity lashing out at paparazzi.
Rather, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were performing on jet-skis for a television film crew.
And the claims about the cost of the damage to equipment was also wrong, the source said.
"The TV equipment is fine, as Sky themselves confirmed to journalists asking questions yesterday," said the source.
"One photographer who failed to protect his camera equipment got some water inside it. But not specifically from something Lewis did.
"As he is a freelancer, we will make the goodwill gesture of helping to repair/replace the equipment," he added.
Williams could switch to Mercedes power - report
May 23 (GMM) Williams could switch to Mercedes power, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport is reporting.
Currently, the British team is powered by customer Renault engines, but the French marque is reportedly charging EUR 5 million more than its next most-affordable competitor for the turbo V6 units of 2014.
"Williams could change," said correspondent Michael Schmidt, "because the contract is expiring." Caterham is reportedly also concerned about the high quoted price of the 2014 Renault.
Even more engine changes are afoot.
An announcement about Toro Rosso's switch from Ferrari to Renault is imminent, and Ferrari has already found a replacement -- Marussia.
"Announcement soon," said Schmidt.
Meanwhile, a rumour in the Monaco paddock is that Honda could fast-forward its return to formula one from 2015 to 2014.
"Right now this is no more than a rumour," said Schmidt.
But there is great concern at Mercedes about 2014; when McLaren will use Mercedes engines, whilst 2015 partner Honda is at the very same time preparing its V6 design for the following season.
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda said: "We will give McLaren only the information about our engine that they desperately need."
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