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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
  • Webber contract signed weeks ago
  • Ecclestone skips wedding day-three for Belgian GP
  • Tost confirms Toro Rosso role for Vergne
  • Gachot recalls Jordan winning from Schu debut
  • Mercedes investigating lost wheel on Schu anniversary

Webber contract signed weeks ago
(GMM)  Mark Webber had already signed his new contract for 2012 before the summer speculation stepped into its highest gear.

Throughout the August shutdown, it was not certain whether the Australian would be staying alongside Sebastian Vettel next year, or giving way to a youngster like Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.

In fact, Blick newspaper said Swiss Buemi was "disappointed" with Saturday's official news because he had "secretly expected" Webber's seat.

But birthday boy Webber, 35, said he has known about 2012 for weeks.

"(It was) signed not long ago, I think it was the last race (Hungary), actually, on the Sunday," he said after qualifying third at Spa.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insisted Webber is once again guaranteed equality with Vettel in the new deal.

Webber, meanwhile, was asked whether it is his preference to always sign one-year deals, or the team's.

"Little bit of both, I think," he answered.  "The one year extensions are not too bad for me, and also I think it suits them as well.  Bit of 50-50."

Ecclestone skips wedding day-three for Belgian GP
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone will be trackside on Sunday for the Belgian grand prix.

So far this weekend, the F1 chief executive has been in Rome where he has bankrolled his daughter Petra's $2 million wedding, which took place on Saturday.

Ecclestone, 80, said the event has actually taken place over three days, but he intends to skip the final lunch installment in deference to his commitments at Spa-Francorchamps.

"As I said to (new son-in-law) James (Stunt), I shall be there for the practice on Friday and the qualifying on Saturday," he joked to the Express newspaper.

Tost confirms Toro Rosso role for Vergne
(GMM)  Franz Tost has confirmed reports that French youngster Jean-Eric Vergne is set to rev up his formula one career with Toro Rosso.

It emerged earlier this weekend that the 21-year-old is set to drive the STR6 on Friday mornings once the Renault World Series wraps up in October.

Alongside Daniel Ricciardo, Vergne is the new cream of Red Bull's driver development program, putting pressure on the current Toro Rosso lineup comprising Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.

The second Red Bull team's boss Tost confirmed Vergne's forthcoming Friday program to autohebdo.fr.

"It's a chance for him to come on board to develop his experience of F1, to know our team, to work with the press, gain knowledge of the technical aspects -- everything he needs to know about being a formula one driver," said the Austrian.

Red Bull will not decide Toro Rosso's 2012 driver lineup until after the current season.

"We will only decide who is driving with Toro Rosso next year after this season," confirmed consultant Dr Helmut Marko to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean on Saturday moved another step towards his return to formula one by sealing the GP2 title at Spa-Francorchamps.

"Now that we are champions, I will have a look at what is going on upstairs (F1), but at the moment, my main concern is to find a good contract for 2012 and nothing else," he said.

Gachot recalls Jordan winning from Schu debut
(GMM)  To many in F1 circles, Bertrand Gachot is arguably best known for vacating his Jordan seat in 1991 for a then unknown youngster by the name of Michael Schumacher.

Just before Schumacher's meteoric F1 debut 20 years ago, Gachot was jailed in England for spraying a taxi driver with CS gas some eight months earlier.

"The taxi thing happened in December (1990)," Gachot, who now manages his energy drink company Hype, told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

"Eight months later, in August 1991, I was summoned to court.  The lawyers told me it's a small thing."

It was the week before the Spa-Francorchamps race, but the judge refused to release the French-Belgian driver even on a multi-million pound bond.

"I was a danger to the English population," he marveled.  "Eight months later!

"I was sentenced to two years in prison and I had to serve two months.  And because the gas was considered a weapon, they put me in a cell with a murderer."

It was, however, good news for Eddie Jordan, who had already collected from Gachot's sponsors in 1991 and was now receiving $160,000 from Mercedes for the one-off Schumacher debut.

Gachot doesn't directly accuse Jordan of pushing the CS gas case to court in order to collect more sponsorship money.

"I don't want to put that name in my mouth.  I don't mean Michael, who is a great guy, a great racer.  My bad luck was his good fortune.  His career might have been very different if I had not gone to prison."

Mercedes investigating lost wheel on Schu anniversary
(GMM)  Mercedes is investigating how a rear wheel fell off Michael Schumacher's car during qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.

Wearing a special golden helmet to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his F1 debut, the famous German will start the race last because he crashed during his outlap in Q1.

"How embarrassing for Mercedes, to destroy his anniversary race because the wheel fell off," Sky commentator Marc Surer is quoted as saying by Bild newspaper.

20 years ago, Schumacher's first-ever F1 race ended within half a kilometer because the clutch in his Jordan failed.

And in 2011?  "We've looked at the data.  It happened suddenly, within a second," Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn said.

"We are still looking into it.  There is a locking mechanism and we had a few problems last year but not with the new system this year.

"We have developed the system with our DTM team.  There must be an explanation and I'm sure we will find it."

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