Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
- Ecclestone tips 'hungry' Webber for 2010 title
- Di Grassi disappointed to miss Singapore practice
- Webber, Kubica, Massa deny team movement rumors
- Surgery means Webber to miss first Pirelli test
- Singapore GP sold out - organizers
- Vettel not ruling out future McLaren switch
- BMW not coming back for F1's 2013 engine era - Theissen
- Pirelli tires not far off Bridgestone's pace
- Ill Yamamoto replaced by Klien for Singapore
Ecclestone tips 'hungry' Webber for 2010 title
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has tipped Mark Webber to hold on to his championship lead until November's checkered flag in Abu Dhabi.
"I am a big fan of Sebastian Vettel," the F1 chief executive is quoted by Express newspaper in Singapore, "but Mark has done brilliantly well and at his age he is so hungry for it."
Australian Webber, 34, holds a five-point lead over four other title contenders all within a points margin of a single race victory.
"He knows this might be the best chance of his career, maybe the only one, and that makes him very dangerous," added Ecclestone.
Fernando Alonso is also singling out Webber as a major title contender.
"Mark has surprised everyone," the Spaniard told Bild newspaper. "He has been the most consistent of all of us and deserves his lead."
After the two power circuits at Spa and Monza, Red Bull's RB6 should be back to top form on the tighter streets of Singapore.
But some figures, notably those at McLaren, are expecting Red Bull's dominance to have been numbed by the new flexible bodywork tests.
"I know from experience of testing the parts that they had, doing things they were doing, it was worth a lot of time," said Lewis Hamilton.
"If they have stopped doing it then they will have lost a lot of time."
But team consultant Helmut Marko warns that the RB6 could actually be faster than ever this weekend.
"We have come with an upgrade package that should make us two tenths faster," he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
But Webber cannot yet count on the support of his teammate Vettel.
Asked if he is now happy to back the Australian's championship challenge, the German said in Singapore: "Things can change quickly. There are no guarantees.
"Mark is in top position now but who knows in a few races' time."
Di Grassi disappointed to miss Singapore practice
(GMM) Lucas di Grassi is disappointed to be sitting out Friday evening's initial practice session on the streets of Singapore.
For the next four initial Friday sessions in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil, the Brazilian rookie must give up his Virgin cockpit to the team's new test driver Jerome d'Ambrosio.
Di Grassi is quoted by the Brazilian outlet Agencia Estado as admitting that missing practice in Singapore is a particular disadvantage.
"This is my first time in Singapore. It's a pity I am missing the first session as the circuit is one of the most difficult in the entire calendar," he said.
"But it was a team decision based on a financial issue and I must respect it," added the 26-year-old.
"It's going to affect my adaptation to the track conditions and also the balance of the car," di Grassi warned. "But I will do everything I can to make up for the lost time in the second practice.
"As a competitor, it's a frustrating situation, but it's a challenge that will not stop me from trying to do my best throughout the weekend," he added.
If Belgian d'Ambrosio can amass EUR 5 million in sponsorship, it is believed Virgin is considering signing him to be Timo Glock's 2011 teammate.
Webber, Kubica, Massa deny team movement rumors
(GMM) Mark Webber, Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa have played down wild paddock rumors about possible movement in the 2011 driver market.
All three drivers are under contract with their existing teams for next year, but that has not stopped rumors that Webber or Kubica could be heading to Ferrari, while Massa is ousted from the Italian team to possibly find refuge at Sauber.
"I have a contract with Red Bull and I'm a man of honor," Australian Webber is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper.
"I'd be very surprised if I'm not here next year.
"Moving to another team is something I'm not interested in. It doesn't seem to make sense to go and learn to work with another 500 people," he said.
Asked if he would enjoy having Fernando Alonso as a teammate, Webber answered with a smile: "I doubt he is coming to Red Bull."
Brazilian Massa also responded to the rumors.
"Every year we talk about who is going to replace me; I'm used to it," the Brazilian is quoted by El Periodico.
"It has been Rossi, Kubica, Vettel -- Alonso!" Massa smiled. "I have signed a contract renewal for two seasons so this kind of thing makes me laugh."
And Pole Kubica, currently at Renault for the foreseeable future, answered: "Of course I'm aware of the rumors.
"I don't know where they come from. All I can say is that I am with Renault."
Surgery means Webber to miss first Pirelli test
(GMM) Mark Webber will reportedly miss the first group Pirelli test in Abu Dhabi in November.
Turun Sanomat newspaper claims the Australian driver will leave the Yas Marina circuit immediately after the 2010 world championship finale.
After the Abu Dhabi race, the F1 teams will get their first taste of new official supplier Pirelli's 2011 tire.
But Webber, 34, will not be present due to scheduling an operation; a remnant of his leg injury sustained in the 2009 pre-season.
Singapore GP sold out - organizers
(GMM) The 2010 Singapore grand prix will be a sell-out, organizer Singapore GP has announced.
Just over 81,000 tickets for each of the three days of the official event were available, and only a few hundred are now available at the gates.
Vettel not ruling out future McLaren switch
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has refused to rule out one day driving in formula one for McLaren.
The British team's boss Martin Whitmarsh said recently he is still interested in securing the young German's services, despite recently slamming him as a "crash kid" after his collision at Spa with Jenson Button.
Whitmarsh admitted he tried to sign Vettel as Fernando Alonso's replacement at the end of 2007, but found the rookie tightly under contract to Red Bull.
He is now signed up with Red Bull Racing until 2012.
"Now is 2010 so you never know what will be in 2012," Vettel, 23, told the Singapore newspaper Today.
"Sure. I think teams that are at the top are always very interesting because ultimately, my target is to win races. McLaren has been up there for a long time so who knows," he added.
BMW not coming back for F1's 2013 engine era - Theissen
(GMM) Even with greener and more road relevant engine rules on their way for formula one, BMW is not expected to return any time soon.
That is the view of Dr Mario Theissen, the German carmaker's motor sport director and former BMW-Sauber team principal.
BMW pulled out of formula one at the end of last year, insisting that its focus will instead be directed towards "sustainability and environmental compatibility".
In 2013, F1 will install a new engine formula, featuring small turbo 4-cylinder units with an emphasis on energy-recovery KERS technology.
But when asked by 422race.com if it will entice BMW back onto the grid, Theissen answered: "Don't expect that."
Instead, BMW is focusing on Le Mans-style sports car programs and probably the German DTM series.
"When we pulled out, this was a decision for many years, because it takes many years to put something together like this," added Theissen.
"And the main reason was that we wanted to focus on production car racing instead of formula car racing."
Pirelli tires not far off Bridgestone's pace
(GMM) Pirelli's 2011 tires are currently only about one second off the pace of the sport's existing supplier Bridgestone.
The Italian marque, arriving in F1 next year to replace the departing Bridgestone, is currently embarking on a track testing program with a 2009 Toyota.
Anecdotal reports after the recent Monza outing, with Nick Heidfeld at the wheel, indicated that the white car was about 3 seconds slower than the lap times recorded during the Italian grand prix two weeks ago.
"So far our results are very encouraging," said Pirelli chief executive Francesco Gori, according to motorline.cc.
"We have already done more than 4000 kilometers with very good results.
"If you consider that we are using a car from 2009 and therefore not as developed as the current cars, we are currently only a second off the lap times with the current tires," he added.
Heidfeld, now returning to racing with Sauber and replaced at Pirelli by Romain Grosjean and Pedro de la Rosa, said in Singapore: "I believe it will be a good tire that we will see next year.
"So far they have been reliable, no technical problems whatsoever. The grip level is within the range, so it looks positive for now," added the German.
Ill Yamamoto replaced by Klien for Singapore
(GMM) Sakon Yamamoto will not be driving in Singapore this weekend because he has food poisoning, HRT team boss Colin Kolles said before Friday's initial evening practice.
The Japanese driver, who due to his powerful Japanese sponsors replaced team regular Karun Chandhok earlier this season, will be replaced by Christian Klien.
Austrian Klien, 27, a former Honda and BMW test driver, is the struggling Spanish team's reserve driver, with almost 50 grands prix of experience with Jaguar and Red Bull.
Despite saying he thinks Yamamoto has food poisoning, Kolles said he cannot guarantee the 28-year-old will be recovered by his home race in Japan in two weeks.