Mike Stevens | Nov 23, 2010

Dietrich Mateschitz has invited Sebastian Vettel to sign a long-term contract guaranteeing him a competitive car each season.

New world champion Vettel remains under contract only to the end of next year, and last week he nominated Ferrari and Mercedes as "the past, present and certainly the future of formula one".

"But this (move) is still a long way away," he wrote in a column for Bild newspaper.

Red Bull mogul Mateschitz thinks Red Bull is safe so long as it continues to deliver the young German a top car.

"If not, we would let him go even if he had a contract," he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

And Mateschitz told the Cologne tabloid Express: "Seb wants to drive for Ferrari some day. We will make it as difficult a decision for him as possible."

Dr Helmut Marko stood on the podium with Vettel in Abu Dhabi, and even he admits that the lure of Ferrari for a F1 driver is strong.

But the Austrian does not think the Italian team will want to "hurt" Fernando Alonso by pitting the Spaniard against Vettel any time soon.

"We all know the political sensitivities at Ferrari. And he (Vettel) has seen with us that he has a comfort factor.

"He needs a team that doesn't throw a knife in your back at the sign of trouble," said Marko, Red Bull's motor racing consultant.

"Let's be clear: there is not going to be a ten-year contract, because we are not able to guarantee we will have a competitive car for that long. And Sebastian cannot guarantee that he will always be comfortable with us.

"But in the medium term, the next three or four years, we are firmly planning to be with him," he revealed.

(GMM)

 

Massa, Schumacher Happy After Pirelli Test

A month before Christmas, F1 teams and drivers have retired to consider the impact of the sport's new sole tyre supplier.

The 2010 grid got its first taste of new partner Pirelli's recent development efforts with a two-day test in Abu Dhabi.

Paying particular attention were drivers like Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher, who notably struggled with departed Bridgestone's tyres this year.

Schumacher's Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg raised alarm bells when, asked to compare Pirelli with Bridgestone after his running on Friday, he used words like "worse", "weaker" and "slower".

Massa, however, set Friday's best time and said he was happy, while Schumacher was cautious.

"We were using the 2010 car," he said on Saturday after almost matching pacesetter Fernando Alonso's best time, "and it will be all about how these tyres suit our 2011 car."

But Brazil's Agencia Estado quoted him as sounding more positive.

"These are not the final tyres but the ones I used today seemed to suit my style a bit more, especially the fronts," said Schumacher.

Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi also noticed some key differences compared with Bridgestone.

"We did our best start of the year!" the Swiss enthused to Auto Hebdo when talking about his first impression of the Pirellis.

"You can also brake very hard and very late. On acceleration, the traction is poor and you lose a lot of grip, and the wear also seems higher.

"And on a long run the soft tyres wore much less than the hard tyres. In my opinion, they (Pirelli) made a mistake and they've already said they'll change it.

"The front tyres are good. They respond well," added Buemi.

To Agencia Estado, Williams' Rubens Barrichello concurred: "The front of the car grips a little more than the rear."

Said Pirelli's Paul Hembery: "According to what we have learned in Abu Dhabi, we will change the compounds, but not the construction."

And he added: "The drivers especially enjoyed the performance of our front tyre, which is an area that we have worked on considerably."

[Top image: Clive Mason / Getty Images]

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