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F1 news in brief - Thursday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Will Vettel win a 4th straight title?
    Ecclestone wants Red Bull domination to end
  • Schu not sure he would have won in car designed for Vettel
  • Marko not expecting Webber to beat Vettel in 2013
  • Hamilton wants to help Mercedes become top team
  • Money 'a factor' in Mercedes' failure - Schumacher
  • Now de la Rosa admits dream over for HRT
  • Lauda leaves Air Berlin to focus on Mercedes
  • Lauda admires Red Bull's Marko New
  • Sauber to lunch on Feb 2nd New

Ecclestone wants Red Bull domination to end
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he would be happy if Red Bull's recent domination ends in 2013.

With his friend Sebastian Vettel at the wheel, the energy drink-owned team has secured every drivers' and constructors' title for the past three seasons.

"It wouldn't be too bad a thing if we were to have a change at the top of the sport, perhaps with Ferrari leading the way again," the F1 chief executive told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

As for his relationship with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, which after a recent spat appeared irreparably damaged, Ecclestone insisted: "Montezemolo is still a friend and I'm convinced that he didn't really intend to say the things he said about me.

"I'm happy -- it's just role-playing!" he exclaimed.

Ecclestone denies he has made a strategic decision to side politically with Red Bull over Ferrari.

"All I said was that they (Red Bull) deserved to win the titles again and that I didn't agree with the stance Ferrari were taking with the appeal against the alleged rule infringement by Vettel at Interlagos," he said.

As for Red Bull, "They have done a lot for the reputation of our sport," Ecclestone insisted.

Meanwhile, Ecclestone admitted recently that, if he is charged by German prosecutors over the Gribkowsky bribery affair, he could be forced to step down.

But he now insists: "I would be (worried) if I was guilty!

"Are they trying to entrap me?  I don't know and I don't care.  All I know is that people try anything when money is involved."

Ecclestone denied he fears formula one would fall apart if he is no longer in charge.

"I have said that formula one would have been different without me.  I don't think it would be better," he said.

"Is there a new Ecclestone on the horizon?  No, I don't see one," added the 82-year-old Briton.

He concluded by saying that his 'dream team' in F1 would feature Vettel and Lewis Hamilton as teammates.

Schu not sure he would have won in car designed for Vettel
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's comeback would have been successful at the wheel of a top car, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

"If he had had a Red Bull or a Ferrari, Michael would have won again," the F1 chief executive told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"He should have demanded more guarantees, because it was his (Mercedes) car (to blame) and now his reputation has been tainted," added Ecclestone.

In a new interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Schumacher - who turns 44 on Thursday - didn't want to say he would have definitely won races in a Red Bull.

The seven time world champion said: "I would agree that if I was in a car like that, I would be running with those (top) guys.

"Whether I would win races in the current Red Bull or McLaren is a good question," said Schumacher, who won a record 91 races in his ultra-successful first career.

"You don't just get in a car and win immediately.  Could I go as fast in a custom Vettel car as I could in a custom Schumacher car?  Probably not," he admitted.

Marko not expecting Webber to beat Vettel in 2013
(GMM)  There is pressure on Mark Webber to perform in 2013, Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko insists.

"Mark knows what we expect of him," Austrian Marko - the main link between team owner Dietrich Mateschitz and the Christian Horner-led F1 team in Milton-Keynes - told Germany's Sport Bild.

Australian Webber, who openly admits that Marko is closer to Sebastian Vettel, has only a one-year contract with Red Bull Racing.

Now 36, he has been with Red Bull since 2007.

"For four years Vettel and Webber have driven together in our team," Marko said.  "Sebastian was runner-up once and champion three times.

"The statistic speaks for itself.  There is no reason to think the balance of power will change," he added.

If Webber is not retained beyond 2013, he could retire.

He says finding the right time to go is important.

"I haven't been there yet but it is going to be a very difficult moment, no question about it," Webber is quoted by GP International magazine.

"Now I have a lot of wisdom it's about dropping that into your whole skill set and performing better.

"But there comes a point where even that's not enough to keep you at the front.  And that's when you need to stop," he said.

Hamilton wants to help Mercedes become top team
(GMM)  With his new Mercedes tenure having now officially begun, Lewis Hamilton says he wants to turn the Brackley based team into a F1 frontrunner.

After six years with McLaren, the 2008 world champion has joined the famous German marque in legend Michael Schumacher's place.

"Doing better than Schumi?" he is quoted by the Italian broadcaster Mediaset.

"I don't look at it that way.  He is a legend, unattainable.  Looking to the future, I would be very happy if I can help Mercedes to compete with the top teams," said Hamilton.

The 27-year-old Briton has had an up-and-down F1 career so far: acknowledged as among the very best, but often embroiled in personality scandals.

"Each of us has a personality," said Hamilton, "and so you have to be yourself and ignore what people say.

"The important thing is to be consistent," he added.  "Sometimes you worry, sometimes you don't.  What I'm looking for now is stability in my life."

As for on-track exploits, Hamilton said: "The pass I like the most is Hakkinen on Schumacher at the end of the straight at Spa (in 2000).  But I've also done some that I'm proud of," he smiled.

Money 'a factor' in Mercedes' failure - Schumacher
(GMM)  Money was "a factor" in Mercedes' failure to succeed during his three-year comeback, Michael Schumacher insists.

The German marque openly admits that it does not spend as much on its Brackley based works team than top teams like Red Bull and Ferrari.

Schumacher told Auto Motor und Sport: "It's a factor.

"Over the years Red Bull built an infrastructure and has a budget giving them the possibility to respond to anything in the best possible way.

"It is nothing more or less than what we had at Ferrari," said the 44-year-old, who won five titles for the Maranello based team last decade.

Mercedes, never higher than fourth in the constructors' championship since the Brawn buyout in 2010, has denied it is now pumping in more funding for 2013 and beyond.

It has, however, replaced Schumacher with 27-year-old Lewis Hamilton.

Briton Hamilton has said he wants to turn Mercedes into a top team.

"I know that deep in his heart he wants to win all the time," team boss Ross Brawn is quoted by Germany's Die Welt, "but he must also understand the course of development we are on at the moment."

Niki Lauda, the new non-executive chairman, agrees: "I prefer a sober analysis of the situation rather than promising something we cannot deliver."

But Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg insists that, although car development appeared to stall in the second half of 2012, Mercedes is making progress.

"If you walked through the factory today, you would see a massive improvement compared to three years ago," said the German, who is six months younger than Hamilton.

Now de la Rosa admits dream over for HRT
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa, HRT's lead driver in 2012, has joined boss Luis Perez-Sala in admitting that the Spanish team has folded.

Spaniard de la Rosa, who was contracted to keep racing this year, has already said he is on the lookout for a new role elsewhere as test or reserve driver.

"There has been no official announcement," the 41-year-old told the Spanish sports daily Marca, "but we all feel that the project will end.

"The sad thing," de la Rosa continued, "is that there was never a Spanish team before and now I think we will not see one again.

"It was an historic occasion.  With a great champion like Fernando (Alonso), it was a good time and an excellent backdrop for the national interest.

"I think it will be very difficult to have these circumstances again," he added.

As for HRT's demise, de la Rosa admitted: "If the project failed, we're all a little responsible."

Lauda leaves Air Berlin to focus on Mercedes
Air Berlin reports Niki Lauda has left their board of directors so he can devote more time to his new role as Mercedes GP non-exec chairman.

Lauda admires Red Bull's Marko
(GMM)  Niki Lauda has admitted he admires his Austrian compatriot Dr Helmut Marko.

Triple world champion Lauda is Mercedes' new non-executive chairman.

The German business newspaper Handelsblatt on Thursday reported that he is stepping down from the board of the airline Air Berlin.

"The 63-year-old wants to dedicate his future to his role in the formula one team Mercedes," the report said, adding that Air Berlin has confirmed the news.

Lauda's task is to steer Mercedes in the right direction after the three-year period of Michael Schumacher's unsuccessful return to F1.

He sees Red Bull's Marko - the outspoken, brusque character who like Lauda is the link between the main company and the F1 team - as a role model.

"He's the tough dog," Lauda told Austrian television Servus TV, "holding everything together and ensuring no one works against the other.

"When you have this harmonious effect from the smallest mechanic to the head designer all pulling together, you can have this outstanding result," he said, referring to Red Bull's three year domination of the sport.

"This applies to many companies in the world," Lauda continued.  "If all worked as Red Bull do in formula one, then they would all be much more successful."

Sauber to lunch on Feb 2nd
There are only weeks to go before the start of the FIA Formula One World Championship 2013. The Sauber F1 Team have built on the strong foundations laid down during the 2012 season and, following a winter of hard work, they are nearly ready to present their new car in Hinwil, which will see Nico Hülkenberg (GER) and Esteban Gutiérrez (MEX) pull back the covers on the Sauber C32-Ferrari.

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