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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Red Bull bosses Dietrich Mateschitz (R) and Dr. Helmut Marko
    Raikkonen 'a candidate' for Red Bull seat - Mateschitz
  • Rivals expect to push Red Bull in 2013
  • Pirelli to 'review' tires after Bahrain
  • FIA tells top teams to change 'splitters' - reports
  • Alonso, Hamilton would also ignore orders - Horner
  • Vergne: China should give clearer picture

Raikkonen 'a candidate' for Red Bull seat - Mateschitz
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen is "a candidate" to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz has admitted.

In the wake of the 'Multi-21' team orders affair, Red Bull denied speculation Webber's role as teammate to world champion Sebastian Vettel is now untenable.

But even billionaire Mateschitz, a known strong supporter of 36-year-old Webber, agrees that the Australian could leave at the end of his 2013 contract.

"Whether he retires, only he will choose," Austrian Mateschitz told Speed Week.

"(But) Mark is definitely a candidate for 2014.

"He is always welcome with us.  So too would be a quick junior like Vergne or Ricciardo from the Toro Rosso team," he added.

"Sorry, I know it's a diplomatic answer which leaves everything open, but that's how it is.  Everything else is pure speculation."

Fascinatingly, Mateschitz also mentioned Finn Raikkonen - a close friend of Vettel's - as also potentially in the running for a 2014 seat.

Often mentioning the 2007 world champion in interviews, Mateschitz is an open admirer of Raikkonen's, having sponsored the 33-year-old's two year rallying foray in 2010 and 2011.

Contradicting April Fool rumors that Raikkonen has announced his impending retirement, Mateschitz said: "Kimi is cool and fast and always a candidate."

Germany's Bild newspaper reported that Webber has "already been in contact" with Porsche officials, regarding a new 2014 prototype team for the famous marque at Le Mans.

Rivals expect to push Red Bull in 2013
(GMM)  Ferrari, Mercedes and even McLaren -- they all claim they can push reigning champions Red Bull in 2013.

Some have already written off McLaren on the basis that not evolving the winning 2012 car in favor of a radical machine for this season was a grave mistake that has netted the famous British team just 4 points so far this season.

Jenson Button, however, told the Mirror he thinks a title tilt is still "definitely" on.

"It's a massive turnaround for us," he said, referring to the progress made in mere days between Australia and Malaysia.

"Most of the race in Sepang we were quicker than the Lotus.  Most of the race we were quicker than Ferrari," he said.

"I have gone from being pretty down in Melbourne to being a lot more positive."

And team boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by Speed Week: "I would be very disappointed if we did not make a further step in China."

Already competitive is Ferrari, where Felipe Massa is now right back on the pace after a lean period of form, and Fernando Alonso was a favorite for victory in Malaysia until his first-lap dramas.

"Red Bull, in my opinion, is still the strongest team at the moment," team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted by Corriere della Sport.

"Mercedes has made progress, Lotus is very competitive.  The season will be interesting and challenging, but no doubt we will be there among the best."

Also confident is Lewis Hamilton, having switched from McLaren over the winter and already collecting 25 points compared to championship leader Sebastian Vettel's 40.

In Malaysia, he put his Mercedes on the podium, behind the warring Red Bulls.

But, referring to the Sepang race, Hamilton insisted: "For a time I was able to drive on the pace of the Red Bulls and it felt great."

Ultimately, he had to drop his pace to save fuel, but if not for that issue, "the situation would have been different.  I am sure," the Briton is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat.

"If we continue on this path, we will be able to win at some point in the season," added Hamilton.

Pirelli to 'review' tires after Bahrain
(GMM)  Pirelli will "review" its approach to the 2013 season after Bahrain, the tire supplier's Paul Hembery has now admitted.

Earlier, after Mercedes and Red Bull complained loudly about this year's controversial tires, team figures Toto Wolff and Helmut Marko hinted Pirelli has agreed to make changes in the near future.

Motor sport director Hembery, however, appeared to rule that out by warning that if any changes favor "one team, we could have the championship over by Monza".

But he is now quoted by Spain's Marca sports newspaper: "It's still early, but after the fourth race, Bahrain, we will review the compounds."

FIA tells top teams to change 'splitters' - reports
(GMM)  F1's governing body has warned three top teams to make changes to their cars ahead of the next race in China, it has emerged.

Italian reports, including in the pages of Italiaracing and Omnicorse, claim the FIA has reacted after scrutineers flagged controversial solutions in the area of the underbody presented in Malaysia by Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes.

The reports say the cars' 'splitters' are too flexible, with the teams told to make changes for Shanghai to avoid sanction.

Alonso, Hamilton would also ignore orders - Horner
(GMM)  Christian Horner has defended Sebastian Vettel, arguing that Mark Webber has also ignored team orders and that champions do not succeed by being "submissive".

Now more than a week after the 'Multi-21' team orders affair of Malaysia, Red Bull is still dealing with the fallout of the now apparently broken relationship between its race drivers.

After the Sepang race, furious Australian Webber was heard saying little to his German teammate except 'Multi-21' -- a code apparently meaning 'hold station'.

Team boss Horner told Sky: "Multi-21 means car 2 ahead of car 1; Multi-12 means car 1 ahead of car 2.

"It's not that difficult to translate but both our drivers in the last three races have failed to understand both of those messages.

"I think we're going to give up on that code.  We need to probably try something else," he said.

Vettel has reportedly apologized not only to Webber but to every member of Red Bull's 600-strong staff.

But Horner insisted: "You don't win as much as he has by being submissive.

"If Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton were in that position, they would do the same," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"If Mark Webber was in that position, he would as well.  So let's not talk about it like it's only Sebastian."

Vergne: China should give clearer picture
Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne reckons the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix holds the potential to yield a much clearer picture of the Formula 1 pecking order, with rainfall affecting the opening two race weekends in Australia and Malaysia.

The Frenchman, who recorded his team's maiden points finish of 2013 at Sepang, says there are still questions to be answered in terms of outright car performance.

"A lot of people were saying Malaysia, being the first purpose-built track of the year would give an indication of the pecking order but, honestly, with the rain and the heat and everything I still think it’s way too early to tell," 22-year-old Vergne explained during his blog on the official Toro Rosso website. "If it’s warm in China we might get a clearer picture, but last year it was freezing cold, so who knows."

Vergne added that he has been encouraged by the pace of the STR8 chassis so far this season, but admits qualifying must be improved to exploit its full potential.

"What I do think is that the pace of the car is encouraging," he explained. "I had the fourth fastest time in Malaysia. Yes, it was set on fresh Options and light tanks but it’s the same for everyone at that stage, so the performance is definitely in the car.

"I think we don’t necessarily maximize the performance on Fridays or in qualifying, so that’s where the improvements need to come. However, the race pace is good and that’s encouraging as we go forwards."

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