Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Webber unsure over Red Bull future – Ecclestone
  • Ferrari are the bad losers – Horner
  • Pirelli issues F1 quit threat
  • Ecclestone tells Raikkonen to ditch Hunt tribute
  • Toro Rosso pair not ready for Red Bull – Berger
  • Williams reverts to 2012 nose, wing in Monaco
  • Sauber bosses missing in Monaco – report
  • Bernie dogged over engine fears

Webber unsure over Red Bull future – Ecclestone
(GMM) Mark Webber's future at Red Bull is clouded, according to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

It is believed the world champion team is considering replacing the veteran Australian next year with Kimi Raikkonen, or the top youngster from the development squad Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo.

In the end, however, the decision could be 36-year-old Webber's.

"At the relevant time, we will sit down with Mark and see what he wants to do, what his plans are for the future," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said in Monaco on Thursday.

Ecclestone, who is known for keeping his finger at the pulse of all the major deals in F1, also hinted that Webber will have a say as to whether or not he stays.

"I don't think Webber knows if he will stay at Red Bull," the 82-year-old told Formula Money editor Christian Sylt.

Sylt had also asked Ecclestone about the longer term future at Red Bull, and whether boss Horner might be given a share of the team, along the lines of Monisha Kaltenborn at Sauber.

"If Didi (Mateschitz) was going to sell I think he would look after Christian," said Ecclestone. "Christian and Adrian Newey have got long term contracts."

Ferrari are the bad losers – Horner
(GMM) Christian Horner has issued a feisty counter-punch, after Fernando Alonso suggested Red Bull were bad losers.

Ferrari's Alonso had been asked in Monaco about Red Bull's consistent complaints about the 2013 Pirelli tires.

"When you win in an easy way for a few years, you can forget how to lose," the Spaniard had said.

But Briton Horner, the Red Bull team boss, insisted Ferrari also has a few lessons to learn about how to lose.

Asked if Red Bull are bad losers, Horner told Catalunya Radio: "No I don't think so, in sport you have to win and lose.

"And when you lose, you have to work harder and not complain about yellow flags."

'Yellow flags' is undoubtedly a reference to the 2012 season finale in Brazil, after Ferrari questioned whether Sebastian Vettel overtook illegally en route to last year's title.

Pirelli issues F1 quit threat
(GMM) Pirelli has for the first time indicated it could quit formula one.

On the one hand, the Italian tire company is pushing hard for a new contract, in order to continue supplying the F1 grid beyond its initial three-year deal.

But there are also signs of frustration, not just because of the widespread criticism of its 2013 tires, and of the lack of a representative test car and warm-weather winter testing, but also because the teams are resisting the push for mid-season changes.

Asked what Pirelli's greatest challenge is in 2013, Paul Hembery exclaimed on Thursday: "A contract!"

He also indicated that Pirelli is growing tired of its spot in the glaring spotlight of media criticism.

Referring to 2014, motor sport director Hembery said: "It's probably a year where we will probably step back, be cautious — zero degradation, no pitstops and they (the teams) can do all the talking!"

Hembery then revealed a September 1 deadline for needing to supply teams with all the specifications of the 2014 Pirelli tire — which will have to be markedly different due to the new V6 engine rules.

"You can imagine how ludicrous that (deadline) is when we have not got contracts in place. Maybe we won't be here," he is quoted as saying.

"Clearly time is already getting too late. Things are getting extremely serious.

"There comes a time where we will not have time to do the job anymore."

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said F1 will not have many alternative suppliers to turn to, should Pirelli walk away.

Correspondent Michael Schmidt said F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has Cooper Avon as a back-up option.

Ecclestone tells Raikkonen to ditch Hunt tribute
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has reportedly been told to remove the depiction of 1976 world champion James Hunt from the top of his Monaco-spec helmet.

An unabashed fan of the wild, drinking, smoking, womanizing British driver, Finn Raikkonen went one step further a year ago in the Principality, wearing the late Hunt's iconic black helmet livery.

This year, the Lotus driver's tribute to Hunt is a stylish picture on the top of his helmet, bearing the words 'James Hunt, 1976 world champion'.

And on the back of the helmet, above Raikkonen's 'iceman' logo, it reads: "Kimi on the Hunt'.

But according to reports, including in Speed Week and Finland's Turun Sanomat, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has told Raikkonen to either cover the tribute or revert to his original helmet for the rest of the weekend.

Reportedly, Ecclestone objects either to the positioning of the tribute in full view of the overhead onboard camera, or believes it is an unauthorized advertisement of the forthcoming feature film about Hunt and Niki Lauda's 1976 title battle ('Rush').

When asked about the reported run-in with Ecclestone, Raikkonen told Speed Week: "I know nothing about it.

"As far as I know, I will wear the helmet all weekend."

Meanwhile, when asked about his admission he has "two options" on the table for the 2014 season, Raikkonen clarified that one of them is a return to retirement.

It had been reported that one of the options for the Lotus driver might be a switch to Red Bull.

"There is always the option that I will not drive (at all). It's always possible," the 2007 world champion is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez agreed that F1 should take that possibility seriously.

"Knowing Kimi well, outside of the track too, he could just as well announce that he's stopping altogether," he said on Thursday.

"I wouldn't take any bets whatsoever," he added.

Toro Rosso pair not ready for Red Bull – Berger
(GMM) Former team co-owner Gerhard Berger does not think Toro Rosso's current race drivers are ready to make the step up to Red Bull next year.

It is strongly rumored that Sebastian Vettel's long-time teammate Mark Webber, 36, will not stay at the world champion team for an eighth consecutive season in 2014.

Reportedly at the front of the grid to replace him are Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo, although Jean-Eric Vergne also cannot be ruled out.

"I expect from both of the (Toro Rosso) drivers a very competitive second half of the season," said Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost, referring to the similarly 23-year-old Ricciardo and Vergne.

"Then we will see how the future will be."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner also said he is keeping an eye on the young duo.

"They're both young, talented drivers, both developing very well. It's good to see," he said in Monaco on Thursday.

"For sure they're two guys we have a watchful eye over."

But Berger, who in 2007 oversaw Vettel's ultra-successful transition from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, thinks it could be too soon for Australian Ricciardo or Frenchman Vergne.

"Red Bull needs two absolutely winning drivers," he told APA news agency.

"Whether one of both of these boys have it, we will see in the second half of the season. But now it's still too early to judge.

"I think they may need another year of development at Toro Rosso."

Asked about the Raikkonen speculation, fellow former McLaren and Ferrari driver Berger answered: "Kimi would definitely be a very good option (for Red Bull)."

Williams reverts to 2012 nose, wing in Monaco
(GMM) Williams is stepping back in time in a bid to cure the problems with its 2013 car.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the British team was already using the floor and exhaust of last year's car in Barcelona recently.

And on Thursday in Monaco, Pastor Maldonado's car was fitted with the 2012-spec nose – featuring the old and unseemly 'step' – and front wing.

However, the Venezuelan will have to revert to the 2013 parts for qualifying and the race, because the old front wing does not pass the more stringent 2013 flexibility tests.

"It's not going to improve in one day or one week," Valtteri Bottas, when asked about Williams' problems this season, said on Thursday.

"It will take time," the Finnish rookie is quoted by The National. "I really hope that by the second half of the season, we can get consistently into the top ten.

"That has to be the aim."

Sauber bosses missing in Monaco – report
(GMM) Both of Sauber's main team figures were missing in action on Thursday as Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez practiced in Monaco.

Roger Benoit, the very well connected correspondent for Swiss newspaper Blick, said it is "very rare" that neither Peter Sauber and team boss Monisha Kaltenborn are present at a grand prix circuit.

"They are somewhere in eastern Europe," he said, "on the sponsor search."

The search for new money is increasingly important this year, as midfield teams prepare for the much more expensive turbo V6 engine rules of 2014.

"It's hellishly expensive," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admitted on Thursday, referring to the 2014 rules.

"The timing (of the rule change) probably isn't ideal for some of the teams further down the grid."

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez agrees: "The timing is … I don't know if it's well-chosen. It's certainly odd."

Bernie dogged over engine fears
It may be a done deal but that hasn't stopped Bernie Ecclestone from voicing his concerns about next year's V6 engines.

In the biggest technical overhaul in years, at the end of this season F1 will do away with the current 2.4-litre V8 engines, instead swapping to 1.6-litre turbocharged V6s.

Ecclestone has long been critical of the change, fearing that the quieter sound could ruin the sport's image.

However, that's not his only concern as the F1 supremo admits he's worried about what could happen if one of the engine manufacturers; Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault; gets it wrong.

"The danger is if one of those three get it wrong, whoever they are, it's going to cost a fortune to catch up," he told Reuters.

"And as they are catching up, the other people are going forward. At the moment, everything's fine. There's very little anyone can do now.

"The danger is all three think they've got the right engine. When reality sets in, then it will be too late."

Another concern is the cost of the engines with Renault reportedly the most expensive and Ferrari the cheapest.

"Some costs are costs. Nothing you can do about it. But this is unnecessary cost because what we had was perfect," said the 82-year-old billionaire.

"What's going on now, everybody's happy – happy with the Formula One noise, happy with the costs, happy with everything.

"They (the manufacturers) could produce these (current) engines and still make a profit at 25 percent less than they are going to charge for these other engines." Planet F1

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