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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Bernie Ecclestone
    Ecclestone doing his 'best' to save German GP
  • Webber to give 2013 Red Bull track debut
  • Wolff to keep Williams link 'for the moment'
  • Wolff hopes angry Brawn doesn't quit
  • Heidfeld backs Hulkenberg's team switch
  • Mateschitz not ruling out Austria GP return
  • Massa completes seat fitting in 2013 Ferrari
  • Hamilton facing career at Mercedes without Ross Brawn 

Ecclestone doing his 'best' to save German GP
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has not given up on F1's scheduled return to the Nurburgring in 2013.

The financially-embattled venue is scheduled to host the July race, but it is also possible Hockenheim could step in at the last minute.

"I am doing my best to make sure we do not lose formula one in Germany," Ecclestone, 82, is quoted by the Allgemeine Zeitung.

The newspaper said it knows negotiations are still taking place between Ecclestone and Nurburgring officials, but that a deal is not yet signed.

"Whether he (Ecclestone) will sign in the coming days, he did not say," the media report explained.

Nurburgring official Karl-Heinz Steinkuhler would not comment.

Webber to give 2013 Red Bull track debut
(GMM) Mark Webber will give Red Bull's 2013 car, the RB9, its track debut at Jerez early next month.

Although his teammate Sebastian Vettel has won the past three drivers' titles for the Austrian team, it will be Australian Webber first at the wheel as the 2013 pre-season begins in southern Spain on February 5 and 6.

Brazil's Totalrace added that German Vettel will drive on day three.

Webber, 36, also debuted Red Bull's championship winning 2012 car.

"I think - especially in the race - Vettel will still have his nose in front this year, but maybe in qualifying Webber can be there," former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld told Speed Week.

"The team probably put more into Vettel, as they know now very well that he can deliver the title, and also it's likely that Sebastian is going to stay longer than Webber," he added.

Wolff to keep Williams link 'for the moment'
(GMM) As Toto Wolff gets down to work at Mercedes, the situation at Williams remains unclear.

When the Austrian's team switch was announced, Williams made clear that Wolff "will retain his shareholding".

It is believed the 41-year-old's Williams stake is worth up to EUR 40 million.

Sources have said Wolff owning shares in competing F1 teams - he has bought 30 per cent of Brackley based Mercedes - is legitimate, but it remains to be seen if the situation will change.

"For the moment I'm going to keep those (Williams) shares," he said on Tuesday.

"I have a responsibility as a shareholder. I can't let everybody else down. I'm going to look at the situation in the next couple of weeks or months.

"I am working 100 per cent for Mercedes, as a director of Mercedes and trying to be successful with Mercedes.

"But I've had a long interest in Williams and you can't kill an emotion just by resigning from a directorship."

It is rumored there could be a silver lining for Williams, with suggestions Wolff's new Mercedes link could deliver a change of customer engine supplier for the currently Renault-powered Grove team.

"No discussions have been held," Wolff said.

Wolff hopes angry Brawn doesn't quit
(GMM) Toto Wolff says he hopes Ross Brawn stays at Mercedes.

With Wolff buying 30 per cent of the German team and becoming executive director, it is strongly rumored that he has wooed McLaren's Paddy Lowe to join him.

That would appear a direct undermining of team principal and technical expert Brawn's position, with Daily Express journalist Bob McKenzie reporting that the 58-year-old is therefore "close to quitting".

Wolff said: "It's all speculation. Ross is here as part of the leading team and I hope he is going to stay."

Pressed, he added: "I have had conversations with Ross and I admire what Ross has done but I need to understand the structure."

McLaren has declined to comment, but if he does leave, 51-year-old Lowe would almost certainly have to serve some 'gardening leave'.

Like Brawn, the position of Mercedes' Nick Fry is reportedly also in serious doubt.

"There are many intelligent people there (at Brackley)," Wolff insisted, "and I'd like to meet them, speak to them and analyze and then make my conclusions.

"There is an organization in place and I'd like to work with it."

As for Wolff's new role, he said he will be mainly devoted to F1, attending all the grands prix and the major events on the DTM calendar.

Among his first duties will be keeping tabs on injured F1 driver Robert Kubica's test this week in a Mercedes DTM car.

But Wolff played down the prospect of a return to formula one for the Pole in the short term.

"If the DTM test goes well and we see that he is doing well in a proper race car with downforce, I think there are still some physical constraints to drive a monocoque chassis with his elbow and arm," he said.

"I think we all would love to see Robert doing well in a formula one car in the future but that is definitely too early at this stage."

Heidfeld backs Hulkenberg's team switch
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld, a former long-time Sauber driver, has backed countryman Nico Hulkenberg's move from Force India to the Swiss team for 2013.

Some have criticized the 25-year-old's move on the basis that Sauber might not be seen as a vastly superior team to Silverstone based Force India.

Asked if he thinks Hulkenberg's move makes sense, Heidfeld told Speed Week: "When you're not going directly to one of the top teams, it is difficult to know whether you're making the right decision.

"Of course, in 2012 Sauber had the faster car, and they have excellent facilities at Hinwil. But they are now doing without designer James Key, who has gone to Toro Rosso.

"It's always difficult to judge if you've picked the right car, but I can understand Hulkenberg's decision.

"He has been able to assert himself against the established and - in my opinion - the slightly overrated Paul di Resta, and now with this change he will get even more attention.

"It can be difficult to have a brand new driver to formula one as your teammate, but Esteban Gutierrez in my view was quite convincing in GP2," Heidfeld added.

Mateschitz not ruling out Austria GP return
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz, the billionaire owner of the energy drink Red Bull, is not ruling out a future on the F1 calendar for his native Austria.

Earlier, the former Austrian grand prix venue A1-Ring - now refurbished and renamed 'Red Bull Ring' - was touted for the twentieth race date on the 2013 schedule.

But Bernie Ecclestone ruled out the venue in Spielberg, a city with a population of about 5,000, on the basis that the local hotel infrastructure would not be able to cope.

But Mateschitz is quoted by Speed Week: "There is much in favor of a grand prix in Spielberg.

"Many conditions and factors could justify it," he added, "but whether it will ever happen again falls into the realm of speculation, and that's something this company doesn't do."

The Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso team owner, however, sounds serious about his grand prix aspirations, insisting that if he ever agrees a deal, it would have to be for "at least three to five years".

Massa completes seat fitting in 2013 Ferrari
Felipe Massa had his seat fitting in Ferrari's 2013 chassis on Monday, having paid a visit to staff members in Maranello. The Italian outfit's latest design will be presented on Friday 1 February, four days before the opening pre-season test begins at Jerez.

Massa, who was making his first factory visit in over a month, spent time discussing the new car with engineers, before molding his seat for the upcoming season. In the afternoon, the 31-year-old took part in a forty-minute video chat with Ferrari.com users.

Hamilton facing career at Mercedes without Ross Brawn
Lewis Hamilton's dream of working with one of grand prix racing’s most revered figures hinged last night on talks back at his old team, McLaren.

Ross Brawn, a power behind championship success at Williams, the definitive figure in winning titles at Benetton and unforgettably at Ferrari through the five-title Michael Schumacher era, and one of only five eponymous title-winning bosses in the sport’s history, when Jenson Button triumphed at the Brawn team four years ago, waited cruelly on his fate.

So did Hamilton at his home in Monaco.

Brawn, 58, appears to have no future at Mercedes if the German team exercise their will by bringing in Paddy Lowe, the 50-year-old technical director from McLaren.

Lowe is sought by Niki Lauda, the three-time world champion who is head of Mercedes’ motor racing board and charged with turning around the operation, to replace team principal Brawn as the team’s engineering leader.

McLaren do not want Lowe to go.

Not only is their pint-sized boffin respected for his work, but he is now the pawn in a Formula One power struggle: McLaren v Mercedes.

So much so that the McLaren chairman, Ron Dennis, yesterday opened up the famous company checkbook — the one that kept his then brilliant designer Adrian Newey out of Lauda’s, and Jaguar’s, clutches 12 years ago.

A $10million-a-year deal (now worth £6.5m) and a four-day week was Newey’s reward for staying.

Sportsmail understands that the figures in this instance are far less.

Lowe earns around £600,000 a year at McLaren and could expect £900,000 at Mercedes.

Dennis has offered Lowe a rise but not so much that it gravely distorts the company’s pay structure.

The argument was put to him that he might prefer to stick to purely engineering matters rather than involve himself in a wider role of hiring and firing and balancing budgets.

Lowe had not made his mind up as of last night. The irony is that if he leaves he would be reunited with Hamilton, who only this autumn left the team at which Lowe was a key figure.

Lowe would form a double act at Mercedes with 41-year-old Austrian, Toto Wolff.

He was named this week as Mercedes’ executive director, with responsibility for the commercial and political half of Brawn’s team principal’s job.

Wolff, it can be revealed, will move to the team’s base in Brackley, Northamptonshire.

His presence itself will cast a shadow over Brawn, a multi- millionaire who may decide it is time to spend more time indulging his love of fishing.

Lauda believes that Brawn (left) has failed to deliver anything approaching enough success during his tenure at Mercedes — one race win in three years.

But for Hamilton, who cited Brawn as a reason for joining Mercedes, his departure would be a massive blow before he has even turned the wheel of a Mercedes in anger.

Lauda’s overtures to Lowe follow a second failed attempt to bring in Newey, the architect of Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel’s domination of F1 for the last three seasons. Mail Online

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