F1: Horner Plays Down Webber Retirement Reports, Ricciardo Promotion Planned

Mike Stevens | Aug 3, 2011

Team boss Christian Horner has played down reports Red Bull's Mark Webber could be set to retire next year.

Team consultant Helmut Marko in Hungary told Channel 10's sport and entertainment channel One that 2012 will "probably" be 35-year-old Webber's last in formula one.

He said Red Bull is therefore looking at "one of our juniors" to replace the Australian for 2013.

Horner however insists Austrian Marko was quoted out of context as he was being interviewed about Webber's countryman, the Red Bull junior and HRT driver Daniel Ricciardo.

"I think Helmut was probably focusing more on Ricciardo, and these things can obviously get lost in translation," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

"Mark could have another two, three or four years in F1. That's down to him because he is still very competitive, very hungry."

Reports prior to Hungary had indicated that a new contract for Webber in 2012 was now a mere formality.

"We're talking about Mark for next year, and I'm expecting him to be here," confirmed Horner.

"Both sides are keen to continue, so during the next few weeks we will take the opportunity to sit down, and with this break in the championship look at next year."

(GMM)

Webber to meet with Mateschitz this week

Mark Webber's plans for 2012 could be decided this week, but it might not be public knowledge for "months", the Aussie driver suggested on Tuesday.

Dr Helmut Marko stirred the pot in Hungary but team boss Christian Horner played down Marko's comments, suggesting that a new deal for Webber for 2012 is likely.

"I am having fun," Webber said on Austrian television Servus TV on Tuesday, "and on Thursday will have a good conversation with Dietrich Mateschitz.

"During the summer break we will discuss it one way or the other, then we will know in the next few months."

Webber has had a less than satisfying 2011 campaign so far, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel ran away with an arguably unassailable title lead.

But Webber thinks he is improving.

"The next victory will come when I least expect it. Just as with my first one," he said.

"I have the feeling that I am getting stronger all the time. It's going in the right direction."

Webber insisted that he has not decided what to do in 2012.

"Whether I'm here depends ultimately on my motivation and whether I can race at the top level. At the moment it looks as though I will keep going.

"Naturally I'm speaking to the people who are close to me and who have supported me and I will make my decision when I need to. Soon," he said.

(GMM)

Red Bull 'intention' to promote Ricciardo - Marko

f1 red bull hrt daniel ricciardo 00

It is Red Bull's "intention" to promote Daniel Ricciardo through the energy drink company's F1 ranks.

That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, the outfit's driver manager who in Hungary revealed that Mark Webber will "probably" retire and be replaced by "one of our juniors" beyond 2012.

The other candidates are Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, amid reports Ricciardo travelled recently to Faenza for a seat fitting.

Asked by Australian sport and entertainment channel One if HRT newcomer Ricciardo is a candidate for one of the seats next year, Marko admitted: "If he is doing well, the intention is there, yes."

Budapest was 22-year-old Ricciardo's third Grand Prix, and he was closer to the pace of his teammate, the formerly Red Bull-backed Vitantonio Liuzzi.

"I hope there is a bit more to come because I'm close to Tonio on raw pace in qualifying but still not close enough, and definitely not a bit ahead, which of course is where I'd like to be," he said.

(GMM)

F1 rivals copy Red Bull 'rake' - report

After failing to win a race in July, Sebastian Vettel had a keen look around parc ferme at the Hungaroring.

"I can see some very familiar things on the other cars," the Red Bull driver is quoted by Der Spiegel.

The Adrian Newey-inked blown exhaust has been the most obvious example of F1 rival copy-catting in 2011, but journalist Ralf Bach wrote that the RB7's so-called 'rake' is also being emulated.

The aggressive 'rake' - the car's attitude from front to rear - is the most likely reason the Red Bull has generated additional downforce amid the mystery previously attributed to flexing front wings.

Der Spiegel said Force India and Ferrari are the latest examples of teams emulating Red Bull's high rear end, with the result that the front of the cars is lower.

"You can see clearly that the Red Bull sits higher at the rear," an unnamed FIA official is quoted as saying.

Mercedes' Ross Brawn, however, doubts that simply copying Red Bull is the answer: "A copy is never as good as the original," he said.

(GMM)

Kovalainen happy Trulli up to speed at Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen says he is happy his teammate Jarno Trulli is back up to speed.

Italian veteran Trulli struggled with Team Lotus' power steering system in the first half of the season and actually sat out the Nurburgring before updated technology was added to the green T128 in Hungary.

Trulli was duly delighted with the new system at the Hungaroring, and his Finnish teammate Kovalainen admits it was also a relief for him after sharing the garage with Indian Karun Chandhok a week earlier.

"The fact that the new steering is better for him is positive for the whole team, and me as well," he told motorline.cc.

"When you're on your own, you don't know if you're doing your job well or not. You need a good comparison.

"Karun did a respectable performance (in Germany) but Jarno has much more experience and that's exactly what we need in our team at the moment.

"I can say that the stronger my teammate is and the better he feels in the car, the better it is for me, because I am driven so much more to the limit," added Kovalainen.

(GMM)

Ecclestone slams call for 2012 calendar rethink

Bernie Ecclestone has slammed suggestions the F1 teams will negotiate changes to the 2012 grand prix calendar.

A revised version of the provisional schedule for next year shows seven 'flyaway' races within a ten week period on four separate continents, causing figures including deputy FOTA chairman Eric Boullier to call for "a rethink".

"We have a thought between us (the teams) already and we would like to suggest a couple of ideas," added the Renault boss.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone, however, baulked at the suggestion he will re-jig the order of the races at the teams' behest.

"It is not the teams who make the calendar, it's me," the Briton is quoted by German-language reports including SID news agency and sport1.de.

"They cannot come to me now with their proposals, it's my decision. If someone's going to do something, it's going to be me," added Ecclestone.

(GMM)

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Filed under: f1, Racing, mark webber, daniel ricciardo, red bull f1, Heikki Kovalainen, News, enthusiast

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