- 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
F1's sixth winner shapes up for Monaco
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
Ferrari has played down rumours it is close to 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 rumours - 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 GP, 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
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 said.
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
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 chequered 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
It is possible F1 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 favour," 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 favour 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.
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