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Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday
  • Webber has fresh engine for Korea
  • Renault confirms no Lotus engine deal yet
  • Alonso doubts Rossi to become Ferrari teammate
  • Whitmarsh, Button, aim mind games at Red Bull
  • Red Bull 'has been against Webber' in 2010 - Villeneuve
  • Brawn admits days numbered if 2011 car also bad
  • Briatore 'to help F1 put on show' - Ecclestone
  • Ecclestone advocates hands-off approach for Todt

Webber has fresh engine for Korea
(GMM)  As Mark Webber bids to further extend his points lead this weekend, the Australian is set to benefit from the freshest engine among his championship rivals.

Before travelling to Korea, the other main contenders had already begun using their final and eighth engine of the season.

But Webber's last Renault V8 was only fitted to his Red Bull before the last practice session on Saturday morning.

At the other end of the scale is Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who has been managing the usage of his range of eight engines for quite some races.

The Italian team has been playing down the situation recently, but boss Stefano Domenicali now admits that it is a significant issue.

"If we do (have more problems) it will be tremendously difficult to try to fight to the end," he said in Korea.

Renault confirms no Lotus engine deal yet
(GMM)  Renault is yet to formally agree to supply its V8 engine to the Lotus team for 2011.

It is an open secret that, having ended its contract with Cosworth and signed to use the Renault-friendly Red Bull gearbox, Lotus has also settled on using the Renault engine next year.

But the deal is being delayed by the team's name situation, with Renault not wanting to conclude a contract whilst one of its carmaker peers - Group Lotus owner Proton - is locked in the legal dispute.

"If we haven't announced anything yet it means we have not signed anything yet," Renault team boss Boullier confirmed.

Without naming Lotus, however, he admitted that it is Renault's "wish to supply another team".

Alonso doubts Rossi to become Ferrari teammate
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has revealed he would be happy to be Valentino Rossi's teammate at Ferrari.

But despite rumors of trouble for his current teammate Felipe Massa, the Spaniard admitted it is not likely to happen.

"Of course, why not?" Alonso told GQ magazine when asked if he would be happy to share the Maranello based team with Italian Rossi, the multiple champion of MotoGP.

"Valentino is a great champion, but I don't think such a thing is going to happen," he added, in an interview yet to be published in print.

Ferrari and Massa regularly dismiss the speculation about the Brazilian losing his seat at the end of the 2010 season.

The latest denial was made by the 29-year-old in Korea.

"Every year people are coming in my place," Massa told the BBC.  "Alonso has raced for three years already in my seat, Sebastian Vettel came for my position and Rossi again.

"So, it's no problem.  Every year is the same and I'm still here," he added.

Whitmarsh, Button, aim mind games at Red Bull
(GMM)  Red Bull is nervous about not throwing away the 2010 world championship, and McLaren will be there to pick up the pieces.

That is the gist of the mind games being played in the media by McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

"I think it would be tough to take for Red Bull to lose the championship now," he is quoted by the Guardian newspaper, nearing the end of a season marked by the difficult off-track relationship between the two British-based teams.

Whitmarsh said he hopes the title-charging inexperience of Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, and the championships already in the bags of McLaren and its two drivers, will show up in the run to the Abu Dhabi finale.

"I hope it's massively important and decisive.  Both our guys know what it's like - even if you're leading a championship - when the pressure comes.  It's very easy to get defensive and tight," said the Briton.

Whitmarsh also said Red Bull "can be disappointed" that their championship lead is relatively small despite having easily the fastest qualifying car for much of 2010.

"That will be weighing on their minds as we get into the championship finale.  I'm sure they feel some sense of frustration," he said.

Reigning world champion Jenson Button admitted in Korea that he too has been attempting to out-psyche Red Bull's Webber.

"Everybody plays mind games," he said.  "It was fun because I have been in his position.  They did it to me last year.

"It's the little things, like me saying, Are you feeling the pressure, mate?  You always get a reaction, even if they say, Nah I am not feeling it," added Button.

Red Bull 'has been against Webber' in 2010 - Villeneuve
(GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve has admitted he wants Mark Webber to beat his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel to the 2010 title.

The 1997 world champion, in Australia for a touring car race, said the Australian driver has been "amazing" in the face of difficult conditions.

"He's been very strong mentally, it's the best he's ever driven, and the team has been against him as well," said Villeneuve, referring to Webber's struggle for status alongside the rising star Vettel in 2010.

Earlier this week, French Canadian Villeneuve said he thinks Webber has a mental advantage over Vettel, who he denounced as "spoilt" by Red Bull.

The German newspaper Die Welt said Villeneuve's opinion is widespread within the driver camp, its headline announcing that Vettel is "unpopular among his colleagues".

Rubens Barrichello said the ill-feeling can be traced back to Silverstone, where Webber triumphed despite publicly declaring he felt like a "number 2 driver".

Red Bull has pledged equality, at least for the three-race run to the Abu Dhabi finale, but team boss Christian Horner thinks the team has bigger problems.

"We are going to have to reckon with tactical games," said the Briton, referring to Ferrari's clear system of preference as Felipe Massa supports Fernando Alonso's title charge.

"Our philosophy," added Horner, "is different."

Brawn admits days numbered if 2011 car also bad
(GMM)  Ross Brawn has admitted his days as Mercedes team boss are numbered if he cannot power the German marque's name to the top of formula one.

With the Brackley based team failing to live up to its billing as the reigning world champions with Michael Schumacher in the starring role, there have been widespread rumors about team harmony falling apart.

Brawn insists Schumacher is staying put and denies he is at odds with the German manager Norbert Haug, but acknowledges that he needs to deliver a much better silver car for 2011.

"Fourth position in the championship - and forget 2008 because that was the year I came to Honda and I couldn't do anything about that - is probably the worst result I have had since I have been in senior management," he told the Telegraph.

"And if the team continues running at a mediocre level then I probably won't be running a team for much longer.  But the important thing is that I believe I know where we have gone wrong," added Brawn.

He has explained this year's problems as due to fighting in 2009 for the team's survival as Brawn GP last year, whilst also pushing Jenson Button to the title.

"This business is all about spinning plates on the end of sticks.  And if you stop spinning them they fall off.  A few of our plates fell off last year.  Now we have put them back and we are spinning them," he said.

Team figures are not hiding the fact that a major restructuring is about to take place, with one example being the rumored drafting-in of Nico Rosberg's former Williams engineer Tony Ross.

"My lips are sealed," the German driver, who is currently engineered by Jock Clear, is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"Anyway, we are moving in the right direction and nobody is being kicked out," Rosberg insisted.

Ecclestone advocates hands-off approach for Todt
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has applauded a hands-off approach for the governing FIA's new president.

After Max Mosley's controversial 16-year reign, former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt took over for 2010 and has had a low-profile on formula one matters so far.

"He's got on with the other things that needed looking after," said F1 chief executive Ecclestone, after giving Todt a tour of the Korea track on a rare visit to a grand prix for the Frenchman.

"It's good for us and good for him I think," the Briton is quoted by the Reuters news agency.

Other media reports insist there are definite political rumblings in the background, with Mosley and Ecclestone reportedly unhappy about Todt's moves to change statutes and preparing a power coup.

"Our sources ... are close to the FIA and completely trustable," said the Italian website 422race.com.

Asked more specifically about Todt's influence so far, Ecclestone answered on Saturday: "I don't know because he's done a lot of visiting so it's difficult to know what the result is going to be."

The 79-year-old openly scolded one of Todt's chief deputies, after FIA senate president Nick Craw this week said the governing body should reinforce the 90-day inspection rule for new venues.

"When Nick Craw runs the races, he can do what he likes," said Ecclestone.

"The trouble is that people don't know what they are doing and what they are talking about half the time," he added.

Briatore 'to help F1 put on show' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore is preparing to put aside the crashgate scandal and return to formula one for the benefit of the sport.

That is the claim of Bernie Ecclestone, who is not only F1's chief executive but also a close personal friend of the 60-year-old Italian.

Briatore was forced out of the paddock last year when the FIA found that he, as Renault team boss, ordered Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash in Singapore 2008.

But he has been back at several races this year, confirming that he wants to return in a new "business" role in 2013.

"What happened with Flavio was awful and very wrong and he deserved to be punished, maybe not as severely as he has been," Ecclestone, who owns the London football club Queens Park Rangers with Briatore, said in an interview with Gulf News.

"But we, and he, will overcome the setbacks and get on with the job of putting on a fabulous show for the fans worldwide and living our lives," the Briton added.

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