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F1: 2011 Could Be Melbourne's Last Blast: Ecclestone Photo:
 
 
Mike Stevens | Mar, 21 2011 | 1 Comment

After the niceties of last week, Bernie Ecclestone has now hinted Australia might be dropped from the F1 calendar as soon as next year.

The Melbourne race has a contract through 2015, but F1's Chief Executive has latched onto a rising local rhetoric about the escalating cost of the annual event to Victorian state taxpayers.

Ecclestone, 80, revealed to the UK Express newspaper that next Sunday's 2011 season opener could be the last blast at Albert Park.

Despite saying last week that Australia is important to F1, he now says the current calendar is stretched to the limit and one or two races therefore need to be dropped.

"We are probably going to have to drop two races to fit in Austin and Russia," said Ecclestone, referring to the 2012 calendar.

"Australia are saying they don't want a race. If they want to go, they can go and the next one (to go) is maybe one of the races in Spain," he added.

"We are alternating in Germany so maybe that's what we will do in Spain," said the British billionaire.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman Ron Walker acknowledged the risk that the cost-conscious Victorian government might pull the plug.

"We could be priced out of the market in 2015, and that's what the government is saying," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

(GMM)

 

Webber Keen To Extend F1 Career Beyond 2011

Mark Webber on Saturday sounded reluctant to call time on his F1 career any time soon.

After Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Newey and 50 other staff were re-signed by Red Bull through 2014, team boss Christian Horner said he needs to gauge 34-year-old Webber's motivation and pace at a later date if he is to be retained beyond 2011.

The driver, already in Australia ahead of next weekend's season opener, said on Saturday that he is feeling "sensational" about his future.

"I thought: 'I could see myself doing this a bit longer'," Webber told the Sun-Herald. "I was really hungry for it again.

"It's not like I'd been struggling for motivation, don't get me wrong, but it was a long year last year," he added.

Asked if he was already planning for 2012, Webber answered: "If I can be hungry and have the desire, still want to compete, and turn up and take these guys on week in, week out -- yeah."

(GMM)

 

Hamilton Must Consider McLaren Exit

Lewis Hamilton might have to leave McLaren if he is to achieve his ambitions in F1, according to British press reports on Sunday.

A report in the Sunday Observer newspaper said the 2008 world champion "won't achieve" his target of becoming a multiple world champion with the Woking based team.

The outfit's MP4-26 car has been unreliable and uncompetitive in pre-season testing and McLaren now faces "a desperate struggle" to keep 26-year-old Hamilton on-board, the report said.

"I am not here to race 10 years and only win one or two world championships," Hamilton is quoted as saying, amid reports pacesetting Red Bull could be the ideal alternative team.

"I can't say right now that people can say 'He was clearly the best in the world'. I have only been here for four years so I have got a lot more to do," he added.

The 2008 world champion, however, defended his current team, even though the Daily Mail also interpreted the comments as Hamilton "spelling it out to McLaren".

"I want to be one of the most successful formula one drivers of this generation, so I think you have to continue winning and prove yourself time after time for people to know you are the best," added Hamilton.

The Daily Mail said: "The reality is that he will not abandon the team unless this season is a total disaster and there is a vacancy in a rival competitive team."

The newspaper also said Red Bull is a viable option for Hamilton in 2012, even though that team might risk destabilisation by ousting Mark Webber.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: "Seb (Vettel) has never made any request, or claim, as to who he partners. He has a complete inner-confidence in himself."

(GMM)

 

Vettel Can Leave Red Bull Before Contract Ends

Sebastian Vettel can leave Red Bull before 2015 if he wants to, according to team owner Dietrich Mateshitz.

The new world champion has signed a new long-term deal with the pacesetting team but he also recently coveted moves to Ferrari or Mercedes.

Austrian billionaire Mateschitz said an exit-clause is a "formality, but it is hardly necessary".

"If we cannot give Sebastian Vettel what he needs and he asks us - despite his contract - to let him go, I can not imagine that we would not agree," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeiting on Sunday.

Mateschitz also denied that Vettel's new deal is particularly sweet, for example with regards to the demands for PR appearances.

"His PR appointments have been within limits already in the past, so it will not change in the future," he said.

Mateschitz said he is not worried about losing Vettel any time soon.

"There is probably no top team from whom Sebastian has not received any offer, so it is wrong to think he wants to go and only we want to keep him," he insisted.

(GMM)

 
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