F1: Mateschitz Not Ruling Out Webber For 2013 Contract

Mike Stevens | Feb 16, 2012
  • Mateschitz not ruling out Webber for 2013 contract
  • Ecclestone, FIA, circuit say Bahrain GP still on
  • Schumacher will be first to test new Mercedes
  • McLaren signs former driver Magnussen's son
  • Clos 'trusts' HRT to deliver Friday promises
  • Sutil to 'fight' for 2012 F1 seat - manager

Mateschitz not ruling out Webber for 2013 contract

Dietrich Mateschitz has left open the door to Mark Webber receiving a new contract to keep racing with Red Bull beyond 2012.

The Australian is the only significant member of the championship-winning team who is not yet already signed up for the 2013 season.

But billionaire team owner Mateschitz this week backed Webber, 35, to return to Sebastian Vettel's pace this year, insisting the pair will receive no more or less than equality in 2012.

At the same time, however, Webber was utterly dominated by Vettel last season, causing some experts to predict that Red Bull will replace him for 2013.

Indeed, Mateschitz said at the Jerez test last week that "Our primary goal is to put one of our juniors in the car".

He told the German-language Speed Week magazine: "That's one reason why we changed the drivers at Toro Rosso.

"Both (Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne) are highly talented and have great potential, but the question will only arise if, for example, Webber stops at the end of 2012."

(GMM)

Ecclestone, FIA, circuit say Bahrain GP still on

Bernie Ecclestone has played down the latest reports about violence in Bahrain, insisting April's 2012 race is still scheduled to go ahead.

On the one-year anniversary of the 'Day of Rage' unrest, international media agencies claimed violent clashes took place, with youths throwing rocks and petrol bombs and police hitting back with tear-gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

"The only message I got was that there were some kids in trouble with the police," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told the Telegraph.

"We are planning to go. People there seem confident that a race two months away will be alright."

At the Jerez test last week, it was suggested teams were expressing concerns about Bahrain.

But Ecclestone insists: "The teams are not the slightest bit concerned. They seem happy that things will go ahead without problems.

"Last year was a more clear-cut decision not to go but things have changed a lot since then."

In recent days, however, F1 has been the subject of a high profile row about the event, with influential figures and political parties publicly debating whether the sport is right or wrong to return to Bahrain.

"We've always been non-political," said Ecclestone, 81. "Any decision will be made on grounds of safety."

But an FIA spokesman said the "staging of a grand prix would be beneficial in bridging some of the difficulties Bahrain is experiencing".

And a spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit told CNN: "We are entirely confident that the race can be and will be an excellent event.

"The FIA has said that there is no reason why the grand prix should not go ahead."

The unnamed spokesman also compared Bahrain's problems of the last twelve months with London's riots last August.

"There's no doubt that (in Bahrain) there have been some small riots, nothing like on the scale that we saw in London," he insisted.

"When it comes to being in and around the track, the drivers and the teams will be extremely safe. Absolutely, totally confident about that."

(GMM)

Schumacher will be first to test new Mercedes

Michael Schumacher will beat Nico Rosberg to the wheel of Mercedes' 2012 car.

After the major teams unveiled and ran their new cars at Jerez last week, Mercedes' W03 will be launched and debuted early next week at Barcelona, at the second of three pre-season tests.

The Brackley based team has announced that seven time world champion Schumacher, who last year finished 13 points behind his teammate Rosberg, will be at the wheel throughout the first day of testing on 21 February.

The 43-year-old said recently he doubts the W03 will be a title contender, despite strong pace with the 2011 car at Jerez last week.

And Rosberg said: "You can't really compare the lap times with other teams, but it was interesting to learn a lot with our 2011 car.

"Now I'm really looking forward to the two Barcelona tests with our new silver arrow."

(GMM)

McLaren signs former driver Magnussen's son

McLaren has signed up the son of a former team driver to test its 2012 formula one car later this year.

In 1995, Denmark's Jan Magnussen - also a former McLaren test driver - made his formula one race debut with a one-off McLaren seat.

He moved on to contest 24 grands prix with Stewart until he was stepped down for poor performances in 1998.

Now, the 38-year-old's son Kevin, who is 19, has been signed up for McLaren's young driver programme, which will include a seat at the young driver test later this year.

Like Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey, Magnussen will also work in McLaren's state-of-the-art simulator.

He first caught McLaren's attention in 2010, and last year finished runner-up in the British F3 championship with eight poles and seven wins.

This year, he will contest the Renault World Series.

"The team has shown great faith in me so far and I feel that this is an important step in my career," said Magnussen.

(GMM)

Clos 'trusts' HRT to deliver Friday promises

Dani Clos insists he is delighted with his new role as HRT tester, despite some seeing him as little more than a 'pay driver'.

A reporter for Spain's Diario AS newspaper admitted to the 23-year-old from Barcelona that when he read the news about his Clos' new role, he surmised that the driver must have some lucrative backers.

"That's definitely not why I'm here," Clos insisted.

He admitted however that he is also "looking at some options" to split his time between HRT and another race series this season.

"There are offers but I'm happy with HRT. Some people would give their right arm to be here."

Clos conceded, however, that if he had lots more money to spend on formula one, he might have been appointed as Pedro de la Rosa's teammate in the place of Narain Karthikeyan.

"It's obvious that if you contribute more then you have more options," he said, "but for me this is my place now, and where I have to be right now."

He revealed that the role will include running on Friday mornings at grands prix, rather than the symbolic role played by many 'test drivers' nowadays.

"Yes, yes, I'll do Fridays," said Clos. "I will not be one of those who are there just to be there."

He also denied that his new deal could fall apart the way countryman Andy Soucek's did at Virgin in 2010, when the Spaniard was promised track time that never materialised.

"I have no fear in that regard," insisted Clos. "I trust the team."

(GMM)

Sutil to 'fight' for 2012 F1 seat - manager

At the very end of last season, Adrian Sutil had four options to stay in formula one in 2012.

That is the claim of the German driver's manager Manfred Zimmermann, who has so far failed to secure Sutil a race seat for the forthcoming season after his five consecutive years with Force India.

"We will fight to stay in formula one and we're still hoping to get a seat for 2012 -- even if it is in the course of the season," he told the Sport Bild magazine.

He played down the impact of the 29-year-old's grievous bodily harm conviction, insisting there has been "encouragement and support from all sides".

Zimmermann said that at the very end of last season, Sutil was juggling four concrete options for 2012 that ultimately "slipped like soap" through their fingers.

"Unfortunately in formula one, money is always important," he explained. "It simply didn't work out in the end."

As for the role the assault charge played, Zimmermann conceded: "I can't really judge."

However, for Sutil's career, all is not lost.

"We have had enquiries in the past days from several series such as Indycar and touring cars. In America Adrian is a very highly regarded driver."

(GMM)

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Filed under: f1, Racing, mark webber, News, enthusiast

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