Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • British GP winner Webber back with Red Bull for '13

    Still no new Singapore GP deal

  • Webber expects equal status for 2012 battle
  • Hamilton 'ready' for Lotus amid McLaren crisis
  • De Villota could return to Spain this week
  • Red Bull to decide driver lineup 'in August' – Marko
  • Red Bull Racing Confirms Webber for 2013 New
  • Q&A with Mark Webber New
  • Aussie F1 legend backs Webber to claim title New

Still no new Singapore GP deal
(GMM) Singapore is yet to ink a contract to continue hosting formula one beyond 2012.

We reported earlier this year that, despite Bernie Ecclestone hand-picking the city-state as the location of the sport's public floatation, Singapore officials are no longer willing to pay "top dollar" for the race.

The reports said the government has been paying a sanctioning fee of about $40 million per year — "roughly twice" the amount paid by another Asian race, Malaysia.

Now, Channel NewsAsia is reporting that the government has told the street circuit's promoter Singapore GP that it will only extend the deal if a new contract is "economically viable".

"We hope to see a mutually agreeable outcome soon," said trade minister S Iswaran.

With a five-year contract, Singapore hosted its first grand prix – the first for F1 under floodlights – in 2008.

Webber expects equal status for 2012 battle
(GMM) Mark Webber insists he is not worried Red Bull will ignore his bid for the 2012 world championship.

With two wins to his name now, the Australian is Fernando Alonso's closest challenger for the title, and a full 16 points ahead of Red Bull's reigning double world champion Sebastian Vettel.

But in 2010, the 35-year-old sensed he was not racing on a level playing field, famously declaring his Silverstone win was "not bad for a number two driver" and earlier slamming his glass on the table after answering a question about driver equality.

Webber, however, insists things will be different in 2012.

"They (Red Bull) know that this year's championship is so open that we don't have the luxury of maybe just seeing how the season might unfold if you put the energy and the focus on one car," he is quoted by the Melbourne newspaper The Age.

Asked if he thinks he will enjoy equal number one status with Vettel, Webber added: "Yes, I believe that, for sure."

Team consultant Dr Helmut Marko told Sport Bild: "There will be no team orders; the drivers can race freely."

And boss Christian Horner added: "Having both drivers competing for the title is a good headache to have."

But it's uncharted waters for Vettel, as he pushes to restore his old status as the Red Bull favorite.

Bild newspaper said after the British grand prix that the 25-year-old German is current "nothing more than the number two".

Vettel insisted: "It's too early to start counting up points."

Hamilton 'ready' for Lotus amid McLaren crisis
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton "is ready" to open talks with Lotus, according to a report in the British tabloid the Daily Mail.

But Enstone based Lotus' is just the latest name in the pot as uncertainty continues to surround the 2008 world champion's future at McLaren.

Hamilton's lucrative contract runs out this year, and while he is expected to ultimately sign a new deal, he is reportedly at loggerheads over the level of his pay and other details, such as the right to keep his trophies.

Hamilton has also expressed concerns about McLaren's faltering 2012 campaign, after seeing his championship deficit grow to 37 points after a poor weekend at Silverstone.

Asked if he is worried the Briton is close to jumping ship after McLaren's British grand prix struggle, team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: "No, I think he's smarter than that.

"He's got to want to stay in this team, which I believe he does," he added.

Whether Hamilton stays or goes, McLaren's normal post-race technical debriefing at Woking on Tuesday is being billed by the British media as a "crisis summit".

Teammate Jenson Button predicted it will be a "somber" affair.

"I'm not desperate but I am worried," admitted Whitmarsh, when asked about McLaren's current situation.

And Button's next comment could be interpreted as a warning to Whitmarsh that McLaren needs to work hard to keep its drivers happy.

"I wonder what would happen if you put another driver in it?" said the 2009 world champion, referring to the ailing MP4-27.

"I bet they would get a real shock," added Button.

De Villota could return to Spain this week
(GMM) Maria de Villota could leave Addenbrook's hospital in Cambridge (UK) and return to her native Spain by the end of the week, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports.

Marussia's 32-year-old female test driver has been in the hospital since losing her right eye after the horror accident at Duxford airfield early last week.

De Villota's sister Isabel said on Monday that Maria has moved out of the intensive care unit, after Marussia chief John Booth revealed she had emerged from an artificial coma to speak to her family.

Auto Motor und Sport reported: "Except for the blindness in her right eye, the chances are good that there is no (other) permanent damage."

De Villota has had two operations at Addenbrook's, and the German publication added: "If there are no further complications, de Villota could return to her native Spain late this week."

Red Bull to decide driver lineup 'in August' – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull is planning to settle the matter of its 2013 driver lineup "in August", team consultant Dr Helmut Marko has revealed.

Without a contract for next season, Monaco and Silverstone winner Mark Webber is now Fernando Alonso's closest challenger for the 2012 title and rumored to be considering teaming up alongside the Spaniard in 2013.

Asked to contemplate sharing the famous Italian team with Webber, Alonso said on Sunday: "I don't know. I think it's just imaginary pictures."

The speculation, however, is real, as 35-year-old Webber indicated that, after the British grand prix, he has a choice to make.

"I'm not far off my decision," he is quoted by Melbourne newspaper The Age. "I've had discussions with people close to me and we had more discussions over the weekend, so getting closer."

But while there has been total silence on the Webber issue from boss Stefano Domenicali, Red Bull chiefs have made it clear they would like to keep the tall Australian alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

Marko said the matter will get his full attention in F1's summer break.

"In August we will resolve the 2013 driver issue," he is quoted by Sport Bild.

Australia's last world champion, Alan Jones, earlier advised Webber to jump ship to Ferrari, but he now thinks he should stay at Red Bull.

"A couple of months ago I would've said maybe look at Ferrari for a fresh start and, getting towards the end of his career rather than the beginning of it, it's always good to get on your CV that you're an ex-Ferrari driver," he told AAP news agency.

But given Webber's new form and Red Bull's return to the top, Jones added: "Red Bull would be silly to let him go and he'd be wise to stay where he is.

"I think he's just put himself in a far better bargaining position after the weekend."

Red Bull Racing Confirms Webber for 2013
We’re delighted to announce that Mark Webber’s contract has been extended for another year, meaning the Australian, who won the British Grand Prix on Sunday for a second time, will continue to drive for the Team in 2013.

Mark Webber said: “I’ve been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and have achieved nine grand prix wins during that time. I’m high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. I know the Team well and I’m very comfortable here; we have grown together over the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for another season. The Team is constantly working hard to improve in all areas and we’ve shown that together we can win races. It’s great to be able to make this announcement off the back of the win in Silverstone at the weekend and I’m looking forward to competing on the edge and pushing myself in every race again next season."

Christian Horner said: “Mark has driven very well in the first nine races of this season and his performance has been impressive. Much of his Formula One success has been during his time with Red Bull Racing and together we have achieved 10 poles, nine wins and 31 podiums. As there was a strong desire from both sides to continue the partnership, it was a logical decision to extend our relationship and it is with great pleasure that we confirm Mark will drive for us in 2013."

As Sebastian Vettel is already contracted to Red Bull Racing, this confirms the Team’s 2013 driver line-up.


Was signing with Red Bull Racing for 2013 an easy decision?
: In the end, yes it was. It’s been an interesting few months, but overall the continuity and desire for me to continue at Red Bull Racing was very strong. My main focus is on this year’s Championship, which is very important. In addition it’s an amazing bunch of guys and girls at Red Bull Racing and I really, really like working with them. That has a huge effect on me and how I perform in the car and it helped me in my decision.

You mention the people, what else is it that you like about the Team and Red Bull?
: Well, we have gone through plenty together here. We went from the days when Red Bull had not long owned the team to what it is now. The team really changed when we started to get successful, in terms of getting the balance right between being extremely professional on all fronts to still keeping that laid back and approachable attitude that the team still has within reason. It is just one nice big family now in many ways and we have grown so much. We’ve come a long way and I think it’s clear that I fit well here and that’s what I really like about it.

Were you tempted to think about moving elsewhere?
There were discussions with Ferrari, but my decision was to stay here.

What’s the benefit of staying with Red Bull Racing?
: I virtually know everyone’s shoe size! I know everyone’s names, I know how everyone ticks and I know all the departments which is very, very important for a driver. There’s a whole raft of factors.

And how is working with the Team and with Sebastian (Vettel)?
: Very good. Obviously with Seb, we’ve worked very, very close together for a long period of time now. I think no-one would really have envisaged how long we have worked together, so that’s probably been a bit of a surprise. There are not many team-mates staying together for that long in Formula One, but it’s proved to be a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with the key technical members of the team. It’s been a potent operation. We’re still competitive when we hit the track, no question about it, especially in 2010 and this year. Last year there wasn’t much racing between Sebastian and I, but in 2009, 2010 and this year, there have been some great battles. That’s been enjoyable for the team, sometimes stressful too as it’s not easy for both of us to be at the front and I can understand that, as both of us are thinking about ourselves sometimes, but ultimately we know that we need to get the cars home and get the best results for us and the team.

Does it help to have contracts sorted earlier in the season?
: Yes it does and that’s another reason to just get it to bed. I’ve been hearing different rumors and reasons for a long time now. At the end of the day I know everything that has been going on. You want to make sure your focus is clearly on driving the car and the guys that you’re working with. It’s important the team knows you’re 100% with them, which, of course, I am.

Will 2013 be your last season in F1?
: I’ve been asked this question for the past four years and my answer remains the same. It’s a results-based sport at the front of the grid so the future lies in my own hands. It’s down to me to deliver the on-track results.

Aussie F1 legend backs Webber to claim title
Mark Webber can go all the way and win this year's Formula One world championship, according to Australian motorsport great Alan Jones.

Webber claimed his second win of the season at Silverstone on the weekend to move within 13 points of championship leader Fernando Alonso, and 1980 F1 champion Jones says there's no reason why the 35-year-old can't go on to claim the title.

"I think Mark's bounced back really well," Jones told AAP on Tuesday.

"Everybody thought he'd had his chance a couple of years ago and he'd missed the boat.

"I think he's in with a chance with it this year. It looks like Red Bull and Ferrari are the ones that are making the progress and Red Bull more so than Ferrari."

Jones said speculation over Webber's future at Red Bull, with team boss Christian Horner saying in the wake of the Australian's British Grand Prix win that there was no rush to seal a new deal.

Webber has been linked with a move to Ferrari but Jones believes he'll stay with the English-based Red Bull team, especially after victories at Monaco and Silverstone have propelled him ahead of teammate and defending world champion Sebastian Vettel in the championship standings.

"A couple of months ago, depending on his progress, I would've said maybe look at Ferrari because a fresh start and, getting towards the end of his career rather than the beginning of it, it's always good to get on your CV that you're an ex-Ferrari driver," Jones said.

"I think Red Bull have made some ground. They're getting back to where they were last year in terms of dominance.

"Red Bull would be silly to let him go and he'd be wise to stay where he is. They look to be making some progress now, he's got a much better understanding of the tires and I think he's getting more out of the car.

"I think he's just put himself in a far better bargaining position after the weekend."

Jones also believes Webber can continue on past 2013 despite constant speculation over when he might retire.

"How old's Schumacher now? 40-odd," Jones said.

"Mark's as fit, if not fitter, than any driver out there. It's all a mind game really. If he's got the drive and he's got the hunger? He's certainly got the speed and the fitness, so there's no reason he can't go on for quite a while yet."

Leave a Reply