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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Mark Webber
    Horner plays down Webber retirement reports
  • Red Bull 'intention' to promote Ricciardo - Marko
  • Kovalainen happy Trulli up to speed at Lotus
  • Sullen Vettel can enjoy summer 'in peace' - analysis
  • F1 rivals copy Red Bull 'rake' - report
  • Ecclestone slams call for 2012 calendar rethink
  • F1 should become less technical - Briatore
  • Ferrari works to meet vacation deadline

Horner plays down Webber retirement reports
(GMM)  Team boss Christian Horner has played down reports Red Bull's Mark Webber could be set to retire next year.

Team consultant Helmut Marko in Hungary told the Australian broadcaster One that 2012 will "probably" be 35-year-old Webber's last in formula one.

He said Red Bull is therefore looking at "one of our juniors" to replace the Australian for 2013.

Horner however insists Austrian Marko was quoted out of context as he was being interviewed about Webber's countryman, the Red Bull junior and HRT driver Daniel Ricciardo.

"I think Helmut was probably focusing more on Ricciardo, and these things can obviously get lost in translation," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

"Mark could have another two, three or four years in F1.  That's down to him because he is still very competitive, very hungry."

Reports prior to Hungary had indicated that a new contract for Webber in 2012 was now a mere formality.

"We're talking about Mark for next year, and I'm expecting him to be here," confirmed Horner.

"Both sides are keen to continue, so during the next few weeks we will take the opportunity to sit down, and with this break in the championship look at next year."

Red Bull 'intention' to promote Ricciardo - Marko
(GMM)  It is Red Bull's "intention" to promote Daniel Ricciardo through the energy drink company's F1 ranks.

That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, the outfit's driver manager who in Hungary revealed that Mark Webber will "probably" retire and be replaced by "one of our juniors" beyond 2012.

The other candidates are Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, amid reports Ricciardo travelled recently to Faenza for a seat fitting.

Asked by Australian broadcaster One if HRT newcomer Ricciardo is a candidate for one of the seats next year, Marko admitted: "If he is doing well, the intention is there, yes."

Budapest was 22-year-old Ricciardo's third grand prix, and he was closer to the pace of his teammate, the formerly Red Bull-backed Vitantonio Liuzzi.

"I hope there is a bit more to come because I'm close to Tonio on raw pace in qualifying but still not close enough, and definitely not a bit ahead, which of course is where I'd like to be," he said.

Kovalainen happy Trulli up to speed at Lotus
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen says he is happy his teammate Jarno Trulli is back up to speed.

Italian veteran Trulli struggled with Team Lotus' power steering system in the first half of the season and actually sat out the Nurburgring before updated technology was added to the green T128 in Hungary.

Trulli was duly delighted with the new system at the Hungaroring, and his Finnish teammate Kovalainen admits it was also a relief for him after sharing the garage with Indian Karun Chandhok a week earlier.

"The fact that the new steering is better for him is positive for the whole team, and me as well," he told motorline.cc.

"When you're on your own, you don't know if you're doing your job well or not.  You need a good comparison.

"Karun did a respectable performance (in Germany) but Jarno has much more experience and that's exactly what we need in our team at the moment.

"I can say that the stronger my teammate is and the better he feels in the car, the better it is for me, because I am driven so much more to the limit," added Kovalainen.

Sullen Vettel can enjoy summer 'in peace' - analysis
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel should not be worried about his 2011 championship running off track.

That is the view of the Red Bull driver's rivals as well as pundits and journalists despite a third consecutive defeat for Vettel in Hungary last weekend.

German newsmagazine Focus observed that while Budapest winner Jenson Button "laughed" on the podium, it was the sullen Vettel who had "scored" by actually pulling out his championship lead to a huge 85 points.

"It is really beginning to look like it is a case of when, and not if, he will seal his second world title," former driver Johnny Herbert wrote in his latest column for The National.

Some pundits believe Vettel needs to worry, however, given that McLaren and also Ferrari look to have caught up with his previously-dominant RB7 car.

"But," Herbert insisted, "Vettel's lead is so vast that just finishing in the top four or five regularly should be enough to see him home."

Also pessimistic is Marc Gene, Ferrari's test driver who writes a column for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

"Our resurgence has been outstanding," he said, "but unfortunately the championship situation is not changing much."

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport said the remaining races this season will be closely contested by Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari, but likened the actual championship battle to a runaway leader in the Giro d'Italia bike race.

"It's too late for the championship as the pink jersey is far ahead," said the sports newspaper.

"Vettel no longer has a performance advantage but now he can use his head more than his foot, while behind him the protagonists take points off each other."

Former Renault boss Flavio Briatore told Onda Cero radio on Monday that the world championship "is over" unless "something tragic happens".

Agreed Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, who called the Hungarian grand prix with German Sky television: "That (Vettel's second place) is how he will become world champion."

For instance, Button - then with Brawn GP - won the title in 2009 with a smaller mid-season points advantage, a smaller and less financially-powerful team, and more pressure given that he was charging for his first title.

"If I had the lead he's got, I wouldn't be feeling any pressure at all," the Briton told The Independent.

Button headed to Hawaii this week to begin F1's summer break, and Bild newspaper reports that Vettel is Mallorca-bound.

"I need a bit of energy from the sun," the 24-year-old German is quoted by Die Welt.

Said Italy's Tuttosport: "Vettel can enjoy his holiday in peace."

F1 rivals copy Red Bull 'rake' - report
(GMM)  After failing to win a race in July, Sebastian Vettel had a keen look around parc ferme at the Hungaroring.

"I can see some very familiar things on the other cars," the Red Bull driver is quoted by Der Spiegel.

The Adrian Newey-inked blown exhaust has been the most obvious example of F1 rival copy-catting in 2011, but journalist Ralf Bach wrote that the RB7's so-called 'rake' is also being emulated.

The aggressive 'rake' - the car's attitude from front to rear - is the most likely reason the Red Bull has generated additional downforce amid the mystery previously attributed to flexing front wings.

Der Spiegel said Force India and Ferrari are the latest examples of teams emulating Red Bull's high rear end, with the result that the front of the cars is lower.

"You can see clearly that the Red Bull sits higher at the rear," an unnamed FIA official is quoted as saying.

Mercedes' Ross Brawn, however, doubts that simply copying Red Bull is the answer: "A copy is never as good as the original," he said.

Ecclestone slams call for 2012 calendar rethink
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has slammed suggestions the F1 teams will negotiate changes to the 2012 grand prix calendar.

A revised version of the provisional schedule for next year shows seven 'flyaway' races within a ten week period on four separate continents, causing figures including deputy FOTA chairman Eric Boullier to call for "a rethink".

"We have a thought between us (the teams) already and we would like to suggest a couple of ideas," added the Renault boss.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone, however, baulked at the suggestion he will re-jig the order of the races at the teams' behest.

"It is not the teams who make the calendar, it's me," the Briton is quoted by German-language reports including SID news agency and sport1.de.

"They cannot come to me now with their proposals, it's my decision.  If someone's going to do something, it's going to be me," added Ecclestone.

F1 should become less technical - Briatore
(GMM)  Formula one needs to be taken from the engineers and given back to the drivers, according to former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.

"We need to lower the costs but also the technology because right now the drivers are clicking a thousand buttons to the right and to the left," said the Italian, who cannot return to F1 until 2013 due to the 'crashgate' scandal.

"The engineers have taken control," Briatore told Onda Cero radio, "with regulations that are difficult to interpret.

"We saw what happened (at Silverstone), with rules on a Friday and different ones on a Monday.  The spectators aren't interested in that, they just want to see the drivers fight.

"We need to return to a more normal F1, as in the days of Senna, Prost and Mansell, and Alonso at the beginning.  In the last five or six years it has become way too technical," he insisted.

Ferrari works to beat vacation deadline
Ferrari is placing particular pressure on its production department next week before the Italian team moves into its fortnight-long summer break. At present, the Scuderia continues to advance with plans to attack Sebastian Vettel for the 2011 Drivers’ crown.

“The time has now come to analyze this section of the season and as (Team Principal Stefano) Domenicali himself said at the Hungaroring, there are no plans to throw in the towel,” reads a post-Hungarian Grand Prix report from Ferrari.

“Clearly, the situation in the championship has not undergone a radical change and no-one is under any illusions at Maranello, but it’s a fact that the Scuderia has been back on form and, from Monaco onwards, has been capable of fighting for the wins at every race.

“One department that is going to be under a lot of pressure in the next few days is production which, since the recent reorganization, is led by Corrado Lanzone; the aim is to produce all the planned updates from the development program, especially in terms of the car’s aerodynamic package, in time for the next race.

“The engineering group will also have plenty to do as they push forward on parts aimed at improving the pit-stop process – and all of this taking place as work on defining the concepts that will shape the 2012 car gets underway.”

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