Mike Stevens | Apr 29, 2011

While Daniel Ricciardo has conceded there is a chance he could make his F1 debut in 2011, Sebastien Buemi insists he is not losing sleep.

"Compared to my teammate I've never done badly," Swiss Buemi, referring to Jaime Alguersuari, is quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Sun.

The pair have both been told to "up their game" if they want to keep their seats at Toro Rosso this year, but rumours suggest it is 22-year-old Buemi who is first in the firing line.

Australian Ricciardo now appears in the Ferrari-powered STR6 each Friday morning at Grands Prix, with Buemi well aware of his presence.

"Red Bull gives young drivers a chance to get into F1, so you always know that besides you there are other guys that try to show their abilities and aim to drive for the team.

"If you give up, it's over for you," said Buemi.

Ricciardo, 21, was asked by motorline.cc about the rumours a race seat could open up before the end of this season.

"That would be great," he admitted, "but my focus is on the Formula Renault 3.5, and for the rest we will see.

"I want a fixed place in Formula One in 2012," the Australian clarified.

Another young Red Bull-backed charger close to his F1 debut is Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who denied the next step for him after 2011 is a season in GP2.

"Definitely not," he insisted. "I want to do a good job in Formula Renault 3.5 this year and have an F1 cockpit for 2012. At the moment, for me, that's the only goal."

Another way for Buemi and Alguersuari to look at the situation is that if Ricciardo does arrive at Toro Rosso in 2012, and Mark Webber moves on, they might be staring at the vacancy at Red Bull's senior team.

"From my point of view I know that if I do my maximum and get important results, then my value can increase and I can have a chance," Buemi said.

"I focus on this. The rest is just gossip."

(GMM)

 

Mitsubishi Keen On F1-style Electric Car Series

Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi has revealed its interest in F1 governing body the FIA's plans to create a global racing series for electric cars.

Recent reports said FIA president Jean Todt, who thinks the new category can be set up for 2013 and be run on formula one circuits, has been asked to create the series by the European Commission.

There is some resistance within F1 to the sport's own greener initiatives including smaller engines and hybrid technology, but Japan Today quoted president Osamu Masuko as saying Mitsubishi Motors is "very interested" in the electric series.

"Our employees are saying that we should definitely do it," he added.

"The development costs for electric vehicles seem much lower than for gasoline cars and it would also contribute to the technological development of cars that are already on the market," said Masuko.

Mitsubishi's motor sport heritage has been predominantly in rallying, but it withdrew from its main focus - the off-road Dakar rally - two years ago.

Said Masuko: "I'm said to be unenthusiastic about motor sports but with electric vehicles, I want to promote them."

(GMM)

 

Lauda Ponders F1 Future For Webber, Massa

The occupants of two key seats at top Formula One teams may be under pressure, but finding alternatives is the real issue.

That is the view of outspoken former triple world champion Niki Lauda, who was asked in a German-language interview with spox.com about the looming fates of Felipe Massa and Mark Webber.

Both have had tumultuous recent periods - Massa throughout 2010 at Ferrari and Red Bull's Mark Webber at the opening races of 2011 - although the pair's most recent outings marked notable improvements.

"I want to tell you that I'm happy to be alongside you," Massa's teammate Fernando Alonso wrote in a recent 30th birthday message to the Brazilian.

Australian Webber, meanwhile, emerged from his championship challenge of last year into a difficult start in 2011, with his team boss Christian Horner saying his pace and motivation will be the key to a new deal for next season.

The 34-year-old driver then suggested his relationship with Sebastian Vettel is still not right by admitting it was "good" the German was beaten in China two weeks ago.

"That was quite a normal reaction," Austrian legend Lauda said, defending Webber.

"If Vettel had won again, his lead would have grown even more, and Webber wants to be world champion as well. Of course you're in a team, but if you want to be successful, you also have to be selfish," he added.

But also true is that if Webber and Massa are once again beaten by their respective teammates in 2011, their teams might need to look at their options.

"On a consistent basis, Webber and Massa can not go on the level of Vettel and Alonso," said Lauda.

"But for the two of them to be replaced, they (the teams) would first have to find two who are better," he added.

(GMM)

 

Schumacher Committed To Full Three-year Contract

Michael Schumacher has dismissed the latest rumblings about his commitment to his three-year F1 return.

After a disappointing comeback in 2010, it was rumoured the seven-time world champion's commitment to completing the contract depended on his form this year.

And in the wake of the opening three Grands Prix of 2011, speculation is now re-emerging about 42-year-old German Schumacher returning to retirement at the end of this season -- perhaps to make room for Mercedes' impressive protege Paul di Resta.

But Schumacher has told the German weekly Bunte that he is still planning to fulfil the three years of his original contract.

Schumacher said he feels he is "on a mission" to take Mercedes back to the top of the podium, even though he admits "chasing for tenth place is not fun".

He insisted however that he expects to be in a much better position soon. "That's why I'm fighting with Mercedes," he said.

Observers, however, have noticed key differences with the Schumacher of the past, and even the winner of 91 grands prix admits that "42 (years old) is not the same as 25".

But he insisted: "I will fulfil my three year contract with Mercedes and afterwards work as a representative of the brand."

In an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, 25-year-old Nico Rosberg defended his famous teammate.

"Michael performs at a high level, he is strong," he said. "His current results do not reflect how good he is.

"To beat him I have to get everything right -- he's closer than last year," added Rosberg.

(GMM)

Follow Mike Stevens on Google+