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DATE News (chronologically)
09/26/10
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday  
  • McLaren eyes Vettel but Button wants to stay
  • Alonso's face turns red after Vettel 'crashgate' joke
  • Singapore defends turn 10 safety after Hamilton complaint
  • Still no number 1 status for Webber at Red Bull
  • Sauber 'expected too much' of Heidfeld return
  • Drivers eye skies hours before Singapore race
  • Haug insists 'no cracks' in Mercedes team harmony
  • Korea GP cancellation rumors 'rubbish' - Ecclestone

McLaren eyes Vettel but Button wants to stay
(GMM)  Amid reports McLaren would sign Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button has pledged the rest of his formula one career to the British team.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said recently he tried to sign the young German at the end of 2007, and will try again once his Red Bull contract expires in 2012.

"I know Ferrari and Mercedes, too, would have him," Red Bull's Christian Horner said in Singapore.

"But we want him for the long term.  He is the future."

Reigning world champion Button joined Woking based McLaren this season and admitted this weekend that his teammate Lewis Hamilton has been better at the wheel of the MP4-25.

But he said on Saturday: "I can see myself finishing my career at McLaren.

"I want to be in a team that gives me a chance of fighting for a championship and that is exactly what McLaren have done this year.

"I know I will always get a fair crack of the whip here," added the 30-year-old.

Alonso's face turns red after Vettel 'crashgate' joke
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso was the only one not amused when Sebastian Vettel cracked a joke during Saturday night's post-qualifying press conference.

Vettel qualified behind Ferrari's pole sitting Alonso on the Singapore street circuit, but said he still rated his chances of driving his Red Bull to the top of the podium.

"The further up you are the more it helps but obviously the race can still change a couple of things.  I think Fernando started here from 15th on the grid two years ago and won the race," said the 23-year-old German.

He smiled as he paused; the reporters laughing as they realized Vettel was referring to the famous 2008 race, when Nelson Piquet crashed deliberately to trigger an opportune safety car period for his Spanish teammate.

"Alonso's face matched the hue of his Ferrari overalls," wrote David Tremayne in The Independent.

Singapore defends turn 10 safety after Hamilton complaint
(GMM)  Organizers of the Singapore grand prix have defended the safety standards of the Marina Bay street circuit.

Lewis Hamilton slammed the reprofiled turn 10 chicane earlier this weekend, describing it as "ridiculous" and the worst corner in formula one.

The slow and tight triple-apex chicane, delineated by high curbs, comes after a high speed section of the circuit.

Force India's Adrian Sutil broke his suspension after becoming airborne over the curbs on Friday, and Hamilton said disaster could strike if a car lost its brakes on the approach.

"Last year, we had a Red Bull brake failure into turn one," said the 2008 world champion on Saturday.  "If that had happened at turn 10, he would be way over the fence.

"It is important all of us make a point as we are the ones putting our lives at risk," added Hamilton.

A spokesman for race organizers Singapore GP defended the layout.

"The circuit is licensed each year by the FIA," he said.

"As safety is of paramount importance, it (the FIA) would not have approved the track for racing including the turn 10 configuration if it was a cause for concern," the spokesman told Singapore's local Sunday Times.

Still no number 1 status for Webber at Red Bull
(GMM)  With only four races to run after Sunday's Singapore grand prix, Red Bull appears no closer to making championship leader Mark Webber its number 1 bet for the world championship.

The Australian, 24 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel, has struggled relative to his front row-sitting teammate in Singapore, qualifying three paces behind the sister RB6.

"We have two drivers competing for the world championship and we will continue supporting them until for one of them it is not mathematically and practically possible for them to win the championship," team boss Christian Horner said in Singapore.

But Webber, 34, answered "yes" after a long pause when asked by British television BBC if he would accept preferred status for the balance of the season.

"For me it's an unique opportunity that I might never get again," he also said in an interview with Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.

"But I can't yet say 'Hey Seb, let me have this opportunity because you might have the chance for another ten years or more'," added Webber.

At the same time, he concedes that - despite some earlier ructions within the Austrian camp - Red Bull would be happy if he wins the title.

"It was rumored that Helmut (Marko) would prefer Vettel, because they might have a closer relationship.  But he would be very happy if I won the world championship today," the Australian insisted.

"If we did it, everyone would have a headache from the party, no matter which of us is champion.  The team situation is completely neutral," added Webber.

He also played down rumors he is disaffected at Red Bull, revealing that when he decides to stop driving, he will probably continue to work with the energy drinks company.

"What Red Bull did when I broke my leg was impressive and I'll never forget it," he said.

"They backed me when I was totally in the shit.  Yes, maybe we can continue to do something together," added Webber, who is under contract only until the end of 2011.

Sauber 'expected too much' of Heidfeld return
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld shouldn't feel down after being comprehensively outpaced by his teammate on his return to formula one, according to team boss Peter Sauber.

The German, who has been test driver with Mercedes and then Pirelli for most of 2010, was disappointed in Singapore on Saturday to significantly trail the pace of the Swiss team's regular rookie Kamui Kobayashi.

Heidfeld, 33, was particularly unhappy with Saturday night's result, having looked a match for Kobayashi under the artificial lights until the decisive knockout session.

But Sauber told Auto Motor und Sport: "We expected too much of him, and he expected too much from himself.

"He has been out for a year and didn't know the car or the tires, and Singapore is an extremely difficult track.  That explains the gap to Kamui, even if it is a second," added Sauber's founder and boss.

Heidfeld has also joined the ranks of drivers who do not instinctively enjoy Bridgestone's 2011 generation of tires.

"My first impression is that I got along better with last year's tires," he said.

Sauber is quoted in Singapore by Germany's Speed Week: "This weekend is for him to settle in so I will not judge him yet."

Drivers eye skies hours before Singapore race
(GMM)  As afternoon becomes evening in Singapore, the storm clouds are gathering above the city street circuit.

As the experience of the past week has shown, any significant rain from now until the race-start at 8pm is likely to guarantee a wet track for the grand prix.

"The track dries incredibly slowly," observed Red Bull's Mark Webber.  "It's something I haven't seen in my entire career."

Until late afternoon on Sunday, the sun had been shining in the Asian city-state's Marina Bay area.

But with three hours to go until race time, the skies have darkened, the wind is picking up, and there has been the odd drop of rain.

There is rain showing on the longer distance radar, but most paddock sources believe the race should be dry.

"If it does rain, the track will never dry out.  It takes so long," agreed McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Haug insists 'no cracks' in Mercedes team harmony
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has once again played down rumors of discord within the Mercedes GP camp.

Two weeks ago at Monza, speculation swept the Italian paddock that Michael Schumacher could follow team boss Ross Brawn out of the team at the end of 2010.

The rumors, hinting that the initial indications are that Mercedes could have another difficult season in 2011, claimed that Brawn and carmaker Mercedes-Benz's motor sport chief Haug are at odds over the direction of the Brackley based team.

"We have full confidence in Ross," Haug insisted in Singapore, according to Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"Work for the future is going well," added the German.  "It is normal that rumors come and go.

"I've heard rumors about Michael, about me and about Ross.  When I say no, I mean no, and when I say yes, I mean yes.

"My answer is no; there are no cracks in the relationship," insisted Haug.

He also insisted that the commitment of Mercedes-Benz and its parent Daimler is not wavering.

"The automotive industry has gone through a crisis, and several other manufacturers have left F1," said Haug.

"Mercedes is committed to the future of this sport.  We do not yet have a winning team, but we are putting in the work to become a winning team," he added.

Korea GP cancellation rumors 'rubbish' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday insisted next month's Korean grand prix will go ahead.

It has emerged that despite September 21 being the originally belated date for the Yeongam circuit's final inspection, the FIA is not now expected to sign off the track until next week or even later.

A South Korean delegation is in Singapore this weekend, triggering the latest round of paddock rumors about whether the race will take place -- including talk of a looming typhoon.

"We're happy with the circuit at the moment," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told the Korea Herald newspaper from Singapore.

He played down the rumors that the track will not be ready.

"I don't take a lot of notice of rumors," said the Briton, explaining the reasons for the delayed inspection.

"We waited for an obvious reason, because the weather's been bad.  The federation (FIA) seems very happy with what's happened, with everything that will happen," he added.

Ecclestone also denied suggestions that FIA rules will prevent Korea from holding a race in 2011 if the inspection does not go well.

"We signed a contract," he said.  "I can't discuss this (outcome), because it's going to happen."

Ecclestone admitted that he does not expect a big crowd for October's inaugural event.

"People are reading complete rubbish in papers that it is not going to happen, so I don't estimate a big, big crowd," explained the 79-year-old.

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