Mike Stevens | Sep 22, 2011

Red Bull insists the champagne is not yet on ice, but the team's owner has already decided what present he will be giving Sebastian Vettel for winning the 2011 world championship.

"The same as last year," Dietrich Mateschitz said in an interview this week with the German news agency DPA. "His championship-winning car."

In 2010, when German Vettel became F1's youngest ever title winner, Mateschitz delivered the Adrian Newey-inked RB6 to his home in Switzerland.

Red Bull's team management are coy over the 24-year-old's chances of wrapping up a second consecutive championship in Singapore this weekend, but billionaire Mateschitz is more honest.

"We anticipate that, once again, we will achieve both of the titles this year," said the famously low-profile Austrian, 67.

He has high praise for Vettel, who enters this weekend's Singapore night race with a lead so big that his only championship rivals have already given up the fight.

"The fact that Sebastian is highly capable, we knew," said Mateschitz. "That he would be able to deliver it so consistently over a long time has surprised many people."

Bild newspaper said Vettel's championship present, the RB7 chassis that he has unofficially dubbed 'Kinky Kylie' - but minus a EUR 200,000 Renault engine - is worth almost a million euros.

"Slowly, his garage in Switzerland is becoming too small," confirmed Red Bull driver manager Dr Helmut Marko.

So what does Vettel think about his championship present?

"I am not thinking about that because I haven't won anything yet," said the driver at Zurich airport before boarding a flight to Singapore.

Vettel told the German-language Eurosport that he is not counting on celebrating his second title this weekend.

"When it happens does not matter. As long as we are still first after the final race, that will be ok," he said.

The RB7's designer Newey insisted that Vettel will not be playing a points-counting game under the Singapore lights.

"Seb doesn't want to cruise to the world championship, he really wants to earn it," the Briton told The Sun newspaper.

(GMM)

 

Murdoch has lost interest in F1 - Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone thinks News Corp has lost interest in buying Formula One.

Before the phone-hacking scandal stepped into a high gear earlier this year, the Rupert Murdoch-led media conglomerate and the Ferrari-linked Exor company announced they were looking at "formulating a long-term plan for the development of Formula One".

But F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who was never supportive of News/Exor's apparent interest in buying the commercial rights currently owned by CVC, has now revealed that the consortium "has not made a return visit" since then.

However, the 80-year-old Briton said CVC might be interested in selling to someone else.

"I have no doubt in my mind that if somebody came along with a respectable, sensible offer they would probably say let's have a chat," Ecclestone told LondonlovesBusiness.

"I think one or two people have come along with an offer they probably thought was sensible but CVC didn't," he added.

It has even been rumoured that Ecclestone might be interested in buying back the sport.

"It isn't likely that I would buy F1 back and I can't imagine taking back majority control," he insisted. "CVC would want what it is worth and I wouldn't want to pay what it is worth.

"Not that it is not worth it but it would be a lot of money. It's a big thing to hang around your neck at my age," said Ecclestone.

(GMM)

 

Force India is Hulkenberg's only chance for 2012 seat

Force India is Nico Hulkenberg's only chance to return to the F1 grid in 2012.

Last year's impressive Williams rookie had to settle for the reserve role at Force India in 2011, including the opportunity to practice on most Friday mornings.

With current race lineup Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta also in the running for next season, team owner and boss Vijay Mallya has said he will not make a decision about 2012 until mid December.

German Hulkenberg, 24, therefore said on Twitter this week that he is "not sure yet" if he will be able to call himself a F1 race driver once again next year.

"I hope I can race with Force India but the team will decide not before December, so I must wait," he added.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Hulkenberg must be hoping that his countryman Sutil cannot hold out until December and therefore decides to market his experience and personal sponsors Medion and Capri-Sonne elsewhere.

Mallya's December deadline means that the options in his drivers' contracts will by then have expired, but Sutil manager Manfred Zimmermann insisted recently: "We still have our destiny in our own hands".

28-year-old Sutil has already visited Williams' Grove headquarters but Zimmermann insisted on Monday that Force India is the first choice.

Auto Motor und Sport however said Sutil "has also been seen in the paddock in conversation with (Williams) team boss Adam Parr".

For Hulkenberg, the only option is Silverstone based Force India.

He told the German magazine: "Everyone from Renault down wants to see money (from its drivers)."

He is referring not only to Renault and Williams but also F1's newest teams including Virgin and HRT.

(GMM)

 

Audit shows 'discrepancies' in Red Bull F1 budget

An audit by a company called Capgemini has found "discrepancies" in relation to Red Bull's budget in the context of last year's resource restriction agreement.

That is the claim of Italian magazine Autosprint, as Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel travels to Singapore where he can wrap up his second consecutive championship this weekend.

Earlier this year, boss Christian Horner denied claims the team flouted the FOTA-governed cost savings agreement by as much as EUR 60 million in 2010.

Autosprint said the suspicion is that Red Bull broke the agreement by filing contentious information about its structure and workforce.

The magazine cited "sources" in claiming Red Bull figures have attempted to stop the Capgemini audit because it is an "invasion of privacy" requiring the release of "sensitive data".

The report said the teams association FOTA, headed by McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh, wants a "clarification" at a meeting this week even though "at the moment there is no mention of any penalties".

Autosprint also questioned the timing of the emergence of the Capgemini story, given that Red Bull is on the cusp of securing both the drivers' and constructors' world championships for the second season running.

(GMM)

 

Progress at India GP venue 'alarming' - report

New photos reportedly depict an "alarming situation" at India's Buddh circuit just over a month before the inaugural Indian grand prix is scheduled to be held.

Spain's Marca sports newspaper published the photos that were reportedly taken days ago by a fan by the name of Parth Doshi.

The report said "the circuit is not only not complete but very far from it", with the situation "reminiscent of the one that occurred last year in Korea".

The photos show things like mounds of dirt sitting in the pitlane, unfinished main grandstands, un-asphalted sections of the pitlane and land around the circuit buildings, paddock and track verges that appear completely undeveloped.

Nevertheless, the FIA's Charlie Whiting visited the Delhi venue earlier this month and expressed "confidence that the inaugural Indian grand prix will be a huge success".

(GMM)

 

No F1 return for Raikkonen says Finnish newspaper

Kimi Raikkonen's plans for 2012 do not include F1, according to the Finnish evening daily Ilta-Sanomat.

The report follows speculation the 2007 world champion - who left the sport at the end of 2009 to begin his forays in world rallying, NASCAR and Le Mans sportscars - recently visited the headquarters of famous British team Williams.

"Yes, Kimi Raikkonen visited the Williams factory", Ilta-Sanomat confirmed, "but that (a return to F1) is not the way forward" for the 31-year-old Finn.

The report said 18-time Grand Prix winner Raikkonen, who between 2002 and 2009 drove for frontrunners McLaren and Ferrari, is "convinced that his time at the pinnacle of motor sport came to an end when he left Ferrari".

Ilta-Sanomat said Raikkonen "wants to be in world rally, the legendary Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, and the 24 hours of Le Mans" next year.

(GMM)

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