Mike Stevens | Jul 23, 2010

Sebastian Vettel has urged his German fans to show support for teammate Mark Webber this weekend at Hockenheim.

After their Istanbul crash and the Silverstone front wing furore, the pair are sharing a tense relationship at present.

But German Vettel, 23, told Cologne's Express tabloid that he would not like to see his Australian teammate heckled by partisan spectators.

"I hope that at Hockenheim all the drivers are welcomed with respect," said the Red Bull driver.

"I know that I will never lose respect for other people. We are all sportsmen and should be treated in such a way," added Vettel.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, acknowledging that his McLaren is not as fast as the RB6, said he hopes the discord at Red Bull works to his advantage.

"They have the best car and Hockenheim should suit them," the Briton told Bild newspaper. "But they also have a problem with their drivers, which can only be good for us."

(GMM)

 

Smaller Teams Opposed To Easing F1 Test Ban

Half of F1's competing teams are opposed to proposals to relax the current ban on in-season testing.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that while the opposition of low-budget newcomers Lotus, Virgin and HRT was expected, also Force India, Sauber and Williams want the current restrictions to remain in place.

"We would have to re-establish a separate test team," said Peter Sauber, "which is an unnecessary expense."

Williams' technical director Sam Michael added: "The current system guarantees equality of opportunity."

And Force India's Otmar Szafnauer confirmed: "We are opposed to changing the current test rules."

He said the F-duct and the blown diffuser are examples of the test restrictions equalising the race for development in today's formula one.

"Formerly the test teams would have run frantically and within two races been on the same level as the teams that invented the technology.

"Now, the season is half gone and Ferrari and Red Bull are still not as good as McLaren with the F-duct.

"But our system works at least as well as the others. This was possible only because there is virtually no opportunity for testing. It's about the quality of the engineers," added Szafnauer, Force India's chief operating officer.

He denied the big teams' claims that the ban has simply shifted resources from the test track to expensive simulation technology.

"They (simulators) are tools that you either have or you can survive without. Everyone has a wind tunnel, CFD and chassis test benches."

And Szafnauer also rejects the big teams' argument that more testing is needed for the development of young drivers.

"Whoever wants to test young drivers can do the same as Force India," he said, referring to the use of Scottish rookie Paul di Resta in some Friday practice sessions.

"Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren could also sacrifice Friday practice as we do, if it is so important to them to give opportunities to young drivers," added Szafnauer.

Mercedes' Ross Brawn said he is not in favour of a return to the days of endless testing.

"We have to find a good balance," said the Briton. "For example, we should not go back to having extra teams for testing."

(GMM)

 

Briatore's Ferrari Visit Triggers Rumours

Flavio Briatore made a visit to Ferrari's Maranello headquarters last week.

The news, revealed by Italian sources including Autosprint and La Gazzetta dello Sport, has unleashed a flood of rumours about the reason for the disgraced former Renault boss' visit.

Briatore reportedly met with team boss Stefano Domenicali as well as Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

The 60-year-old is banned from having a direct operational role in formula one until 2013, but he remains Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso's manager.

He also manages Mark Webber, rekindling suggestions that the disgruntled Australian driver might be eyeing a move to Ferrari, even though both he and Felipe Massa are under contract for 2011.

A sporting and commercial consultancy role with Ferrari is also rumoured, but more likely is a link with Briatore's reported closeness to a role alongside F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Also possible is that Briatore is sitting on the other side of the fence, having last year so stridently argued for leading teams to abandon Ecclestone and the FIA and set up a breakaway championship.

Amid Ecclestone's burgeoning stance against the FOTA group, talks with F1's most influential and famous team would therefore be a good place for Briatore to re-commence his campaign.

It is also possible that he was representing Ecclestone as talks for the 2013 Concorde Agreement commence, or that he was invited by Ferrari for his insight on the plans of the F1 supremo.

Autosprint also claims that Briatore is looking for a house in Bologna, less than an hour's drive from Maranello.

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