Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
Red Bull equality for 2012 is 'good question' - Webber
|Webber still looking for excuses why his teammate beats him almost all the time|
- Massa admits 2013 Ferrari exit possible
- New Nurburgring boss 'positive' about future
- Pundit, Theissen hail F1 'star' Newey
- Heidfeld to test Red Bull-like exhaust on Friday
- Vettel rivals must hope for mistakes, problems - Lauda
- Alguersuari hoping for more bad weather in Germany
- Kovalainen denies risk of sitting out races
- Di Resta not sure of future at Force India
- McLaren drivers rubbish Whitmarsh axe reports
- Ecclestone says he paid Gribkowsky after threats
Red Bull equality for 2012 is 'good question' - Webber
(GMM) Mark Webber has hinted his latest talks with Red Bull are about guaranteeing equal status for 2012.
The Australian admits to ignoring team orders towards the end of the British grand prix, but revealed at the Nurburgring that he has cleared the air with boss Christian Horner.
Asked what he will be doing next season, Webber told reporters: "I should still be driving in F1, (and) not just the road car to get the groceries."
As for whether his talks with Red Bull are about ensuring he does not slip into a number 2 role to Sebastian Vettel, he admitted: "That's a very good question."
Last year, owner Dietrich Mateschitz indicated that team orders are not part of the Red Bull philosophy, but Webber hinted there has been a slight change.
"We are still free to race -- most of the time," said the 34-year-old.
"There are some questions that you guys need to ask Christian, which I cannot answer," added Webber.
One of those questions, however, is not whether Webber is already the number 2.
"He (Horner) guaranteed me it would have been the same situation the other way around, if Seb was closing in on me, he would have still shut the race down," he said.
Webber insists the Silverstone saga has had "zero impact" on his chances of staying next year. As for whether he wants to stay, he said: "I would say the answer is yes."
Massa admits 2013 Ferrari exit possible
(GMM) Felipe Massa is not sure he will still be driving a Ferrari in 2013.
Earlier this week, the famous marque's president Luca di Montezemolo confirmed that Brazilian Massa's contract for next season will be honored.
"After that, we will see and there is still some time before we have to think about what happens," said 30-year-old Massa at the Nurburgring.
"Maybe I stay here, maybe I don't," he told reporters.
New Nurburgring boss 'positive' about future
(GMM) The new boss of the Nurburgring has expressed confidence about the famous venue staying on the calendar beyond 2011.
The new coalition Rhineland-Palatinate government has announced that state funding will end after Sunday's race.
Track operator Jorg Lindner said this week that the Nurburgring's future therefore depends on a new contract with Bernie Ecclestone featuring "economically and politically acceptable conditions".
A new arrival to the Nurburgring management team is Karl-Josef Schmidt, who according to Bild newspaper successfully negotiated a lower race fee and ticket-revenue sharing deal whilst in charge of Hockenheim, Germany's other F1 venue.
As for the Nurburgring's current situation, Schmidt said: "This is the last race of the old contract. We are in negotiations and it looks positive."
Pundit, Theissen hail F1 'star' Newey
(GMM) McLaren is the only outfit in F1 with a "great" technical team, but it lacks F1's brightest "star" Adrian Newey.
That is the view of pundit Marc Surer as well as Mario Theissen, who recently ended his long career as BMW's motor sport director before the former F1 squad enters DTM next season.
In a retirement interview with Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell, the German defended not trying to poach Newey whilst he was building up the now-defunct BMW-Sauber collaboration.
"I had the impression that Adrian very strongly based his technical team around himself, to his way of working.
"I was convinced that we needed our design and aerodynamic side to have a structure that was not about one person.
"When I see today the way that Red Bull has gone, I must say: this person (Newey) is obviously so good that he beats the others no matter their methods. So hats off to him."
Former driver and pundit Surer agrees.
"For your car design you have two choices: either a great team of designers or a very strong individual. In my view the only great collaborative team is McLaren.
"All the others try to do it with individual stars, but none of them have a star like Adrian Newey," he said.
Heidfeld to test Red Bull-like exhaust on Friday
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld's Renault will be fitted with an experimental Red Bull-style rearward facing exhaust on Friday at the Nurburgring.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, the sister R31 driven by Vitaly Petrov will still be featuring the team's innovative front-exiting exhausts, which have been used by the Renault drivers throughout 2011 so far.
The report said the team's split approach is for two reasons.
"First, Renault can make comparisons with the old layout, and secondly because there are still problems with the weight (of the new solution)," said Auto Motor und Sport.
The report said that if the new system was fitted to Petrov's car, the sizeable Russian would tip the scales above the minimum 640kg car-plus-driver weight.
"We have had some problems over the last couple of races," said German Heidfeld, who is 15 kilograms lighter than Petrov, at the Nurburgring.
"We are trying to beat Mercedes. They just overtook us at the last race and that's what we are targeting."
Vettel rivals must hope for mistakes, problems - Lauda
(GMM) Ferrari had winning pace at Silverstone two weeks ago but Fernando Alonso and Niki Lauda insist Red Bull is still the overwhelming favorite for the title.
Mark Webber, runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel's teammate, told Auto Motor und Sport that Ferrari's winning pace in Britain was "no fluke".
"We can assume that this was not the only Ferrari victory for the year," said the Australian.
"We can't make excuses for Silverstone -- even our KERS worked flawlessly," admitted Webber.
Spaniard Alonso is bullish about the recent improvements to his Ferrari and is not completely writing off his chances.
"If we manage to put Red Bull under pressure they can make mistakes," he is quoted by Speed Week, "and then anything is possible."
But Spanish and Italian reports quote him as adding: "To talk about the world championship with this (points) gap would be to not understand formula one."
Alonso said his strategy is therefore simple.
"You have to risk in every qualifying and every race and hope for Red Bull to make mistakes. If it was my advantage I would play more cautiously, but now I can only attack."
Triple world champion Niki Lauda agrees that it would be wrong for Ferrari to give up and switch is full focus to 2012.
"Absolutely, it's still too early," the great Austrian told Die Welt.
But when asked what Ferrari and the other pursuers must hope for from Red Bull and Vettel, Lauda said clearly: "Mistakes and technical problems. But why should that happen?
"No matter what happens now, I predict Sebastian will win the title three races before the end of the season."
Alguersuari hoping for more bad weather in Germany
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari has admitted he is hoping the grey weather at the Nurburgring so far stays around until Sunday.
"We're expecting a wet race," the Toro Rosso driver told El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.
"We have more to gain than to lose if it is (wet)," Spaniard Alguersuari, 21, added.
"If you can't activate the DRS system (on a wet track) that benefits us more than the others. But points are possible in the wet or in the dry."
Kovalainen denies risk of sitting out races
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen insists there is no chance he might be the next Team Lotus driver asked to step aside.
Italy's Autosprint argues that Jarno Trulli so readily agreed to vacate his T128 for Karun Chandhok at the Nurburgring on the promise of a new deal for 2012.
Trulli's regular teammate Kovalainen, however, insists there is no chance he will also have to move aside at some point this season.
"It is not an option," the Finn told Turun Sanomat newspaper. "There is no such agreement and I will not accept that my car is given to someone else."
Kovalainen, 29, explained that occasionally vacating his green car for a practice session is a different matter.
"I accept that even though I don't really like it," he said. "If next year we are driving for points then I think we should do all of the seasons, but right now if you miss a practice it's not so critical."
Italian Trulli is expected to return to his green cockpit in Hungary next weekend, but Chandhok said he isn't sure if he will be back when his native India hosts its inaugural race in October.
"You will have to ask Tony Fernandes," he said. "I will definitely be there, but I don't know yet know what my role for that weekend will be."
Chandhok denied that his only goal for the weekend is to appear better than Trulli, who has struggled in 2011 with the car's power steering system.
"It's not about that, it's about building for the future," he insisted.
"I assume they want to see how we work together as a team. I admire Fernandes' vision to build a team of Asian people, drivers and engineers and he seems very committed to the objective."
Di Resta not sure of future at Force India
(GMM) Paul di Resta has admitted he isn't sure he will still be with the Force India team in 2012.
Team boss Vijay Mallya said recently he has "clear options" to retain the impressive Scottish rookie - who maintains strong links with Mercedes-Benz - beyond this season.
But di Resta told Press Association Sport at the Nurburgring: "There are many things you hear, but you don't know. I really don't know where I am next year.
"Of course, I'd like to stay here if this is an opportunity. I came in here with a long term view."
But there have also been suggestions that Mercedes would like to run reigning DTM champion di Resta at its works team, despite indications Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are both staying on board for 2012.
"Naturally, I'd love to be with a bigger team battling up at the front, that's my ambition, but Force India is an up-and-coming team," he said.
"This year has been more difficult than we thought. We've not picked up from where we left off last year.
"But sometimes things go down before they go up, and you take one step back to go two steps forward.
"So I certainly hope we can build a future in F1. That's always been the intention," added di Resta.
McLaren drivers rubbish Whitmarsh axe reports
(GMM) McLaren's race drivers have rubbished speculation they might soon have a new team boss.
The Woking based team's managing director Jonathan Neale this week said rumors Martin Whitmarsh might lose his job was "part of the media circus" of a disappointing home performance at Silverstone recently.
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have now also publicly backed Whitmarsh amid rumors Ron Dennis might be looking to return to his post at the helm of the famous British team.
"There's no chance of that," Hamilton told the Daily Star when asked about reports of Whitmarsh's possible demise.
"There is a better atmosphere within the team than there ever has been, it is constantly growing.
"I am certain there are no plans for him to go anywhere."
Teammate Button agrees: "It was said people are unsure of his (Whitmarsh's) position within the team, the engineers and mechanics. That's absolute rubbish."
Ecclestone says he paid Gribkowsky after threats
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has finally confirmed reports he paid $40 million to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.
But the F1 chief executive, who was officially named in the Munich prosecutors' charges against Gribkowsky this week, denies it was a bribe, hinting instead that he was effectively blackmailed.
Ecclestone, 80, told the Daily Telegraph he was "threatened" by Gribkowsky who was warning of tax trouble for the diminutive Briton.
He said Gribkowsky was alleging irregularities with Ecclestone's offshore family trust Bambino and "threatened that he was going to say that I was running it".
Ecclestone added: "The taxation people in England at the time were in the middle of settling everything with the trust and the last thing you need is for them to start thinking something different.
"He (Gribkowsky) was shaking me down and I didn't want to take a risk."
Ecclestone said he asked his lawyers for advice about how to deal with Gribkowsky's alleged threat.
"They said 'I tell you what would happen, the (inland) Revenue would assess you and you would have to defend it, because you could defend it, and you would be three years in court and it would cost you a fortune. Better pay'," said the F1 chief executive.
Ecclestone said he paid Gribkowsky through Mauritius and British Virgin Islands-based companies because "he wanted to be paid so it didn't look like it came from me and didn't look like it had come from England".
And he said he has consistently denied making the payment at all until now because "the prosecutor had asked me not to say anything".
Gribkowsky's legal representative declined to comment.