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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Mark Webber calls for stepped up drug testing
    Webber calls for better drug testing in F1
  • Technical trouble is Alonso's last hope - Lauda
  • Red Bull can clinch teams' title in Abu Dhabi
  • Raikkonen happy with one-year contracts
  • Di Resta says Hulkenberg's Sauber switch a surprise
  • 2013 Mercedes role still open - Schumacher
  • Hamilton not worried about Mercedes slump
  • Senna reveals sponsors committed beyond 2012
  • Massa 'understands' Ferrari's focus on Alonso
  • Grosjean sees 'no reason' for Lotus exit
  • Chilton's sponsors ready to fund 2013 debut
  • Domenicali: No point crying 

Webber calls for better drug testing in F1
(GMM)  Mark Webber has called on F1's governing body to step up its drug testing, after a motorcycle racer was banned.

Fellow Australian Anthony West, who races in the second-tier Moto2 category, was on Thursday banned for a month after testing positive for the stimulant Methylhexaneamine, the AAP news agency reports.

Red Bull driver Webber welcomed motorcycling's push to ensure the sport is drug-free, and called on the FIA to follow suit, in order to ensure "clarity".

"I've always been championing the idea to do more of it, but the FIA have never really been that strong on it," he said.

"The other drivers have never been super strong on it, so it's never really been a huge issue.

"You know, with what's at stake, the money involved and all that type of stuff, people do things," Webber insisted.

"It's extremely unlikely but you never say never."

Technical trouble is Alonso's last hope - Lauda
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso's last hope to rescue his flagging championship charge in 2012 is a spate of technical problems for Red Bull.

That is the view of F1 great Niki Lauda, who told Germany's Sport1: "Alonso cannot stop Vettel, unless Vettel suddenly gets technical problems.

"But with just his driving skills, Alonso can't stop him now, because Red Bull's progress has been too good."

Another weapon deployed by Spaniard Alonso in recent days, however, has been the 'psychological game'.

When he said recently his title fight is actually not with Vettel but with Red Bull designer Adrian Newey, many interpreted that as an attack on his German rival.

But Lauda insisted: "Every car needs a good driver.  What good is Newey if the driver can't drive it?"

Indeed, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said criticism is just part of the game, particularly in light of Vettel's meteoric success over the past few years.

"It is uncomfortable the success that Sebastian has had, and uncomfortable for some the success that Red Bull has had.  That's not our fault," he insisted.

But Alonso has also been fending off an attack, after the Italian newspaper La Stampa claimed the Spaniard had a heated row with Ferrari's technical boss Pat Fry in India.

"Normally, when you're in the fight for the title, it is the press of other countries that tries to destabilize you," Alonso told Spanish reporters on Thursday.

"This time the destabilization has come from Italy."

Vettel, however, said he has no intention of entering the fray.  "I have no desire for psychological games," he is quoted by Bild newspaper.

"We should concentrate on the driving instead."

And, anyway, he said he respects Alonso.

"Sometimes things are dragged out of context," Vettel insisted, "but the respect is there and that's what counts."

Red Bull can clinch teams' title in Abu Dhabi
(GMM)  With two races still to run after this weekend in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull is on the cusp of imminently wrapping up the 2012 constructors' championship.

The teams' title, which could be secured on Sunday, would be the energy drink-owned outfit's third in succession.

"It's something that would be far and away above our biggest achievement," team boss Christian Horner said on Thursday.

Sebastian Vettel, who cannot win the drivers' championship this weekend, admitted he was surprised when he realized how close Red Bull was to the teams' title.

"I didn't know until Mark (Webber) told me on the way back from India," said the German.

"We just spoke very shortly about the constructors' because we were both on the same plane and Mark said 'It would be quite bad for the constructors' if this plane went down'," smiled Vettel.

Raikkonen happy with one-year contracts
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has admitted he is happy to take his return to F1 one step at a time.

The 2007 world champion returned to the sport in 2012 after a two-year rallying foray, and has just signed a contract extension with Lotus for 2013.

Earlier this week, he refused to rule out a return one day to his former teams McLaren or Ferrari.

"I'm happy to do year by year and see what happens," he said in Abu Dhabi.

"It makes life more easy for me, and I don't see a reason why I should make long-term contracts.

"If you want to decide to go somewhere and do something else it's less hassle and less problems," added the 33-year-old.

Di Resta says Hulkenberg's Sauber switch a surprise
(GMM)  Paul di Resta was surprised when he heard his 2012 teammate Nico Hulkenberg had decided to move to Sauber next year.

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert has described the German's switch as a "sideways" step, while Hulkenberg on Thursday denied he is making the move to be closer to Ferrari.

"I was surprised that Nico left this team, to be fair, for an immediate competitor," Scot di Resta is quoted by the PTI news agency in Abu Dhabi.

"I don't see it as being a step up, to be perfectly honest.  I see it (Sauber) as an equal kind of status," he added.

"Next year may be different," di Resta is quoted as saying by AFP, "and I don't know the full reasons why Nico has gone there."

The 26-year-old, who earlier admitted he was disappointed to miss out on the grandee McLaren or Ferrari seats, said he is "content" to stay at Force India for 2013.

He is less content, however, with the current dip in his 2012 campaign.

Di Resta, admitting he is frustrated to have fallen behind Hulkenberg recently, is quoted by the Scotsman as saying the season has "petered off" in the last few races.

"The way things have turned with Nico is frustrating because I was in front," he said.

2013 Mercedes role still open - Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has admitted he is still weighing up an offer to stay with Mercedes in 2013 in a non-driving role.

The seven time world champion's race cockpit next year and beyond will be filled by Lewis Hamilton.

Schumacher is quoted by Sport Bild: "There is certainly the option to continue working with Mercedes.

"After the season, we will sit down and discuss whether it makes sense for both sides," added the 43-year-old.

Hamilton not worried about Mercedes slump
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton insists he is not worried Mercedes' performance slump could slide into 2013.

Despite the Brackley based team's Shanghai breakthrough and Michael Schumacher's Monaco pole, Nico Rosberg's best result more recently was a fifth in Singapore, while the W03 is still a regular non-finisher.

Hamilton will leave F1 grandee McLaren to join Mercedes on January 1.

"I'm very happy with the decision I made," the Briton said in Abu Dhabi when asked about Mercedes' troubles.

"What is happening to them (Mercedes) doesn't have any impact on that," he is quoted by the Times.

"People do sometimes lose their way.  Even we (McLaren) have struggled in the past and not scored points."

Hamilton insisted he is not only now realizing the size of the challenge he will face when he starts work at Mercedes.

"I already knew how big it was going to be," he said.

Senna reveals sponsors committed beyond 2012
(GMM)  Although his future at Williams remains clouded, Bruno Senna has revealed that his sponsors are still prepared to back him.

In Abu Dhabi for this weekend's third-last race of 2012, the Brazilian admitted he is still waiting for Williams to decide its lineup for next season.

"Whenever you're not confirmed by the end of the championship it gets more difficult," he told Totalrace, "because the further you get, the fewer options there are."

Senna insisted that, if Williams wants to keep him, his sponsors are still backing him.

"Each team has different priorities, but my Brazilian sponsors are very pleased with this year's results in all aspects and understand that this is not a project for just one year," he said.

He would not be drawn on rumors Force India could be an alternative for him in 2013.

"That they say that is obvious," said Senna, "because it's one of the only teams that has a seat, so it's easy to say.

"We are focused on staying in Williams," he insisted.

Massa 'understands' Ferrari's focus on Alonso
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has revealed he can "understand" why he has not always been driving a car in the same specification as teammate Fernando Alonso at recent races.

It emerged in India last weekend that Brazilian Massa's Ferrari was a specification behind championship contender Alonso's, and it is believed the same will be true in Abu Dhabi as well.

"We have more (new parts) for me here and more for Alonso too," Massa is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"Let's see if it works, that's the important thing, but we may not have the same car again," he admitted.

Massa, however, insisted he is not complaining about Ferrari focusing its development efforts on Alonso's title push.

"Throughout the year I don't remember it happening," he said.

"It's a rush inside the team to try new parts and have at least one (version) ready, which you can understand," said Massa.

"Looking at how the championship is, it's understandable.

"But of course it's not sensational to know that a piece is working on the other car and you don't have it," acknowledged Massa.

Grosjean sees 'no reason' for Lotus exit
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean has revealed he is confident he will be staying at Lotus in 2013, even though the Enstone based team is yet to confirm the news.

Lotus this week announced that Kimi Raikkonen is staying at the team beyond this month's Interlagos finale, but that has only intensified speculation about Frenchman Grosjean's future.

The 26-year-old's place at Lotus has been in doubt amid his tumultuous 2012 season, including the Monza race ban, but team boss Eric Boullier has hinted recently that Grosjean is staying.

"I think the team and I are happy together," Grosjean told the French language sport24.com.

"They have put a lot of trust and faith in me, even in difficult times.  I see no reason why it will go wrong for the future," he added in Abu Dhabi.

In another interview with Russia's f1news.ru, however, Grosjean admitted: "I cannot tell how events will develop.  It's better if you ask Eric."

Chilton's sponsors ready to fund 2013 debut
(GMM)  Max Chilton is on the cusp of securing a deal to make his formula one debut next year.

The GP2 driver and Briton will on Friday drive Marussia's 2012 car during initial practice in Abu Dhabi.

Beyond that, he is tipped to move into the race seat for 2013.

The son of a high-ranking official for the insurance giant Aon, 21-year-old Chilton revealed on Thursday that his sponsors are now ready to fund his F1 debut.

"I've managed to get two sponsors together for next year to get the whole budget together, if the seat is available, which means as a family we don't have to put a penny in," he said.

Domenicali: No point crying 
Stefano Domenicali says there's no point crying over Red Bull's pace, rather Ferrari need to up their own.

As the 2012 Championship fight draws to its conclusion, it is Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel who have emerged as the favorites.

The German's season has gained momentum when it is most needed and, heading to the Yas Marina circuit for this weekend's Abu Dhabi GP, he has led 205 consecutive laps on his way to four wins in a row.

As such Vettel is now leading the Championship by 13 points over Alonso, who last won a grand prix back in July when he took the checkered flag in Germany.

"It is clear at the moment that Red Bull have a better car," Domenicali told AFP. "But what can we say? We cannot cry. We need to work hard. Full stop.

"By saying that they are stronger, we don't have to change the approach we keep in-house. I have said to my team, 'listen, in 1982 at the World Cup of football, Italy was not the strongest, but we won the title'.

"We have the luxury of having Fernando with us, who is the number one driver, so it is something we will do and fight up until the end."

The Ferrari team boss also reiterated his optimism that Ferrari can now come from behind to win the Drivers' Championship title.

"I am always optimistic. In life it doesn't change to be negative, it doesn't give you points. If you have the right approach with the guys, we can maximize what we have. This is what I have told my people.

"When you are fighting you have to be brave to use the things you have in the best way you can. There are also the others who are fighting, and we have to respect them. But their life will not be easy until the end.

"If I say something it doesn't change what we can do. What I say to my people is try to do the best and we see if what we can do is enough to make sure we improve the car."

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