Mike Stevens | Jan 25, 2011

Mark Webber should never have revealed that he drove the last races of the 2010 World Championship with a shoulder injury, his manager has admitted.

After his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel won the title, Webber revealed in a book that he had contested the decisive final four races with a fractured shoulder caused by a cycling fall before Suzuka in October.

Webber, who did not even tell his team about the fall, insisted his injured shoulder did not affect his performance.

But Italian Briatore, who still heads Webber's management in F1, said: "It would have been better to leave it with no excuses at all, or to have said it when it happened.

"The truth is that Mark lost the championship only because of the mistake in Korea. Otherwise, he would be champion," Finland's Turun Sanomat quotes Briatore as having told the Italian media.

The famous Italian also manages 2010 Championship runner-up Fernando Alonso, and Briatore backed the Spaniard to be even stronger this year.

"Fernando is very motivated and Ferrari have promised to give him a car that he deserves which is in front of the others," Briatore reportedly told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"In addition to that, the organisation changes made are a sign of Ferrari's trust in their driver," he added.

(GMM)

Sporting a new look for 2011, Nico Rosberg has declared he has no fear of F1's world champions.

"Where (Sebastian) Vettel is now? I'll get there," the Mercedes driver, referring to his German countryman and F1's new reigning champion, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Rosberg was speaking with a new short haircut and a stubble beard.

"No one recognises me!" enthused the 25-year-old, whose long blonde hair of previous seasons earned him the nickname 'Britney'.

As for emulating Vettel's success in 2011, Rosberg is determined. "He has a good team around him in Red Bull, but myself and the whole team at Mercedes are working like crazy to catch up," he said at the Berlin Fashion Week.

In 2011, Rosberg saw off the challenge of F1's returning seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, and he insisted he still does not fear his famous teammate.

"It may be close between us, and maybe he will beat me, but there's no way he's going to put me in the shade," he insisted.

"There is no reason why I would be worse than last year - on the contrary, I will be better!"

In an interview with DPA news agency, Rosberg scoffed at Fernando Alonso's recent claim that Schumacher will be his biggest rival this year.

"It doesn't really interest me, but I found it a little strange that you wouldn't say Red Bull is your nearest rival. That seems pretty obvious," he said.

(GMM)

 

'Honest' Sutil is among best in F1 - Szafnauer

With an announcement believed to be imminent, it is expected that Adrian Sutil is definitely staying with Force India in 2011.

The Silverstone based team's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has admitted that while Sutil is sometimes outspoken, he is among F1's very best drivers.

"He is sometimes almost too honest," Szafnauer, referring to the team's ever-present German racer, told Auto Motor und Sport.

"In terms of driving, he sits directly behind Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Kubica among the category of the top drivers in Formula One," he insisted.

Force India's team boss and owner Vijay Mallya told the same German publication that he is also happy with 28-year-old Sutil.

"He has grown with the team and contributed to our improvements," said the Indian billionaire.

"He is also developing personally and I expect this upwards trend to continue."

On an outing near his Swiss home with a German reporter and Sutil's TechArt Porsche GT2, the 71-Grand Prix veteran confirmed Force India's progress of the past years.

"The organisation is better, Mercedes and McLaren have helped us and our design department is working professionally," he said.

And after the team's top form of 2009, Sutil admitted he is hoping to get another chance at securing a place on the podium.

"We were down in the pack and then so suddenly in it to win, and I was so excited and surprised that I didn't manage a perfect lap in qualifying."

(GMM)

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