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Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday
  • Ecclestone wants Singapore GP unchanged 'for 20 years'
  • Vettel suspected secret team orders during Monza race
  • Boullier seeks to know Raikkonen's 'motivation' for F1 return
  • Button admits Hamilton has been faster in 2010
  • Heidfeld sympathizes after ousting friend de la Rosa
  • Villeneuve likely to switch sights to NASCAR

Ecclestone wants Singapore GP unchanged 'for 20 years'
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone says he would be happy if Singapore emulated the success of its night race with an unchanged format "for 20 years".

The F1 chief executive expressed his delight with the sold out event in the Asian city-state late on Friday at the opening of a Hublot watch boutique near the Marina Bay venue.

According to the local Straits Times newspaper, Ecclestone wants the Singapore race to stay the same until 2030 "and then see what needs to be changed".

The 79-year-old Briton said the race is a jewel in F1's crown and "keeps getting polished".

He did not mention two criticisms of the event.

After practice, having seen his friend Adrian Sutil's Force India launched spectacularly, Lewis Hamilton slammed the re-profiled turn 10 chicane as "ridiculous" and "the worst corner I've ever driven in formula one".

And reigning world champion Jenson Button pointed to track drainage as a problem, explaining that long after the rain had stopped, there was "a lot of water coming up through the circuit".

As has become the trend in Singapore this week, it has been raining once again on Saturday afternoon, prior to the evening practice session on qualifying day.

The F1 circus is generally very happy with the event, however, despite Nico Rosberg arriving back at his Pan Pacific hotel at 2pm on Friday night to find the kitchen had stopped serving dinner.

The German told AFP news agency: "The atmosphere is incredible and the concept of a night race works really well once you get into the routine of staying on European time."

Vettel suspected secret team orders during Monza race
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel briefly suspected he was the victim of clandestine team orders during the recent Italian grand prix.

According to a report in the British newspaper The Telegraph, the German's instinctive suspicions were raised at Monza when he sensed a problem with his RB6 whilst running ahead of his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.

Australian Webber is leading the drivers' world champion, but publicly the Austrian team insists he is not now being favored over his younger teammate.

The media report revealed that Vettel, 23, screamed "Are you ------- with me guys?" over the radio when he noticed a temporary problem - which ultimately turned out to be a brake issue - that allowed Webber to pass him.

"I am emotional," he is quoted as explaining in Singapore.

"At that moment you are fighting on the limit and I thought that maybe ... but I think everything I have done I can be totally honest and straight.

"At the time I believed it was the right decision.  I have no regrets," said Vettel.

Some commentators believe the difference between highly rated Vettel and the experienced Webber this year is their contrasting abilities to cope with pressure.

"Do I believe the pressure has got to me?  No," Vettel said rhetorically.

"Do I believe the criticism is right?  That I am a pole kid who can't win races?  No.  Why?  Because I know the reasons why I haven't performed.

"How many mistakes have I made this year?  Probably two.  And if I make a mistake you can be sure I am harder on myself than anyone else," he added.

Boullier seeks to know Raikkonen's 'motivation' for F1 return
(GMM)  Eric Boullier has dropped some big hints about the possible identity of Robert Kubica's teammate at Renault in 2011.

The team is weighing up whether to keep Vitaly Petrov, the Russian rookie who is substantially financed, or push ahead with initial discussions with potential replacements.

The highest profile potential successor is Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who agreed to leave Ferrari at the end of last year and has since been driving full time in the world rally championship.

"Yes, Kimi has been in contact with us, but we're not yet in discussion," Boullier is quoted by Auto Hebdo in the Singapore paddock.

"It could be a scenario if we decide not to keep Vitaly.

"What is certain is that if we decide to go back into talks with Raikkonen, I want to meet him to really assess the true motivation for his return," added Boullier, amid reports the 30-year-old Finn is primarily looking to replace his Ferrari income that is soon to end.

"Whether it's Kimi Raikkonen or someone else, I want him to be super-motivated to race with us.  Whether he's Finnish, Chinese or French-Swiss, he has to prove he is motivated," said Boullier.

The nationalities cited by Boullier almost certainly refer to Renault reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung (Chinese) and the newly Gravity-managed Romain Grosjean (French-Swiss).

Also linked with Renault have been Adrian Sutil, and Spain's AS newspaper reports that Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari has also been in contact with the Enstone based team.

Peter Sauber, Raikkonen's first team boss in 2001, told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat: "Personally, I'd be glad if Kimi came back.  He is so different and talented."

Nick Heidfeld added: "He would be able to come back without the slightest problem.  I have not been driving for a long time and yet I feel I have come back with exactly the same feeling."

And Kubica, Raikkonen's potential teammate, commented: "If I was in Kimi's position, I might stay in rallying.

"But I'm not saying that because I want him to stay there," added the Pole, who like Raikkonen is a rallying aficionado.

Button admits Hamilton has been faster in 2010
(GMM)  McLaren newcomer and reigning world champion Jenson Button has admitted that he has not been as fast as his teammate Lewis Hamilton in 2010.

The 30-year-old, who has won two grands prix compared with Hamilton's three so far this season, said his countryman has been better at the wheel of an unbalanced car, and over a single qualifying lap.

"I need a car that is more stable than he does.  In that respect Lewis is very strong," Button said in an interview with The Independent.

But the Briton insists he has not been destroyed this year by 25-year-old Hamilton, who was groomed by McLaren since he was a boy.

"Overall I think it's been very close with Lewis.  But I am behind him, not in front.  So qualifying is something that I still need to work on," Button acknowledged.

Some figures in the paddock believe that Button was effectively ousted by Brawn at the end of last year as the re-branded Mercedes GP wanted to pair the seven time world champion with the already-contracted Nico Rosberg.

But Button insists it was his "decision" to switch to McLaren, despite having had no input into the initial development of the MP4-25.

"I have made a lot of wrong decisions but I'm really happy with the one to move to McLaren," he said.

Heidfeld sympathizes after ousting friend de la Rosa
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has admitted he feels some sympathy for Pedro de la Rosa, the regular Sauber driver who was ousted before this weekend's Singapore grand prix.

German Heidfeld, who is now sitting in de la Rosa's cockpit after serving most of 2010 as test driver for Mercedes and latterly Pirelli, made a solid return to F1 on Friday by getting within a tenth of the pace of his new teammate Kamui Kobayashi.

Asked if he feels slightly bad about making his return by sending de la Rosa home, the 33-year-old answered: "Of course.

"I'm friends with Pedro," Heidfeld said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"We meet from time to time -- we live close to each other.  I have spoken with him.  He understands my situation.

"He knows I had to take the chance and couldn't say 'Pedro is a nice guy, so I'll go without'," added the veteran of 170 grands prix.

Villeneuve likely to switch sights to NASCAR
(GMM)  With one swift retort, Colin Kolles extinguished rumors that the Jacques Villeneuve/Durango venture might be rescued by struggling F1 team HRT.

After the alliance missed out on the 13th team entry for 2011, 1997 world champion Villeneuve said another potential route onto next year's grid was to buy an existing outfit.

The most affordable would most certainly be Hispania Racing, slowest on the 2010 grid and reportedly struggling for survival.

"To be honest, I'm really speechless that you believe this speculation," said team boss Kolles, when also asked in Singapore about speculation linking HRT with Stefan GP.

"Why should I answer you if you mention the name Durango and the people you just mentioned before?  I cannot make any comment because I never spoke to these people," he added.

Villeneuve also responded to the speculation on Friday, in conversation with the French Canadian publication Rue Frontenac.

"We have not yet made a formal bid for an F1 team at all," said the 39-year-old.

"As the deadlines are less pressing than those imposed by the FIA, we are evaluating all our options before making a final decision," added Villeneuve.

He admitted that turning his attention to NASCAR is perhaps now the most likely outcome.

"We are looking at how the funds that would have been for the F1 side can be transferred to North America to develop a program in NASCAR," said the Canadian.

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