Mike Stevens | Mar 22, 2011

Dietrich Mateschitz on Monday said he expects a Red Bull to be at the front of the grid in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel is the reigning champion in the new pace-setting RB7, and Austrian billionaire Mateschitz told Austrian news agency APA he expects more of the same success.

"If we are not on pole position, at least we will be on the front row," he said.

He is critical of the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli, explaining that the change is "less a revolution and more a diaster".

On Mark Webber, Mateschitz said the Australian is in charge of his destiny, but warned that Red Bull is likely to choose from its own pool of young talent if the 34-year-old moves on.

"Should we need to, we have enough talent in our Red Bull junior drivers to fill our cockpits.

"But I estimate Mark Webber to be one of the very best and strongest in the field today," he added.

Mateschitz also said he is planning for Red Bull to be a long-term presence in F1.

(GMM)

 

Whitmarsh Hopes Risky Last-minute Upgrade Pays Off

Martin Whitmarsh is hoping a last-minute upgrade for McLaren's struggling MP4-26 will bring the 2011 car onto the pace this weekend in Australia.

Lewis Hamilton recently admitted the car is at least a second too slow, but on Monday team boss Whitmarsh said some radical changes have been implemented based on the disappointing results from winter testing.

He described the changes as "dramatic", following reports McLaren has accepted its ultra-radical exhaust system was too complicated.

Whitmarsh said the MP4-26 will also have a new floor in Melbourne.

"I think we in particular had a very extreme (exhaust) solution but it was not, in my opinion, delivering sufficient benefit for its complexity," he told reporters during a media teleconference.

"Frankly, some of our solutions weren't (reliable) and that's why I think we had to go back a little bit," added Whitmarsh.

He said he is hopeful the changes will make the car more than a second faster than in recent tests.

"There's some risk, but I think it was the right thing to do and we're hopeful the risk comes off and the car is a lot more competitive in Australia," said the Briton.

(GMM)

 

Alonso Wants Vettel Title 'Rematch' In 2011

As the 2011 pre-season enters its final week, Fernando Alonso has stepped up his rhetoric and vowed revenge on new World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

It is widely acknowledged that only a bad strategy blunder cost the Spaniard his third drivers' crown in 2010, and Alonso's new Ferrari is believed to again be Red Bull's closest rival for honours this season.

"In 2011 I want a rematch of last year," Alonso told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"I want the world title to be mine at the end of the year, and also in 2012, 2013 and every subsequent year. There is no other goal," he added.

Alonso admitted that losing the championship at the final hurdle in Abu Dhabi last November took "two or three days" to get over.

"But then we had to do the testing of the tyres and I was forced to go back to reality," he said.

And he backtracked on his recent claim that winning is not obligatory, even at the wheel of the famous red car.

When asked about the obligation to win for Ferrari, Alonso agreed: "It's like an unwritten law. For Ferrari and for myself."

In another interview, with Italy's Corriere della Sera, the bullish 29-year-old said Ferrari's objective over the winter was to "come to Australia ahead of everyone".

"We are starting from a stronger position than last year," he admitted. "We will see if it is enough.

"I know how hard it is to win a world championship and I'm in the best place to try it."

(GMM)

 

More Money From Branson 'Would Be Nice' - Glock

Timo Glock has admitted "it would be nice" if Sir Richard Branson ploughed some more money into the team that bears his famous company's name.

F1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone has been a critic of Virgin Racing following its difficult debut in 2010, denouncing it recently as "a nickel and dime operation".

Virgin is admittedly running on a small budget and has vowed to design its cars without a wind tunnel, and currently the MVR-02 car looks destined for the rear of the grid.

Glock, who revealed recently that the 2011 car has an aero problem and is a second off the pace of nearest rival Lotus, was asked by Frankfurter Rundschau if a comparison between fellow billionaires Branson and Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz is fair.

"Red Bull has been in Formula One a few years more," answered the German, "and I don't know what Mateschitz invested in the second year of his team.

"The name of Richard Branson is attractive for sponsors," continued Glock, "and of course it would be nice if he would invest some more in the team.

"But he has his plan," added the 28-year-old.

Glock does approve of the latest development at Virgin Racing; the return of banned 'crashgate conspirator' Pat Symonds to F1 in a consultancy role.

He said the veteran Briton is "one of the most experienced people in F1", but famous triple-World Champion Niki Lauda is not convinced about Virgin's potential.

"It didn't work for them as recently as 2010, so why should it be better now?" he told Speed Week.

"It's a pity for Timo Glock, who is a good man who deserves a good team," Lauda added.

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