Mark Webber will not necessarily leave Red Bull at the end of 2011, his team boss Christian Horner has declared.
After a season of success and also turmoil in 2010, the 34-year-old Australian driver has signed only a one-year contract for this season, saying he wants to gauge his motivation before committing further.
But although the team and Webber were often at odds last year whilst he was locked in battle for the title with his teammate Sebastian Vettel, Horner said on Wednesday that a longer future together cannot be ruled out.
"Mark isn't approaching this year like this is his final year," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.
"We both agreed to keep his contract on a yearly basis at this stage in his career because it's important for us to see he's got the speed, motivation, hunger and commitment.
"All of those things look undiminished at the moment, if anything, burning brighter than ever.
"So we'll see how this season develops and obviously as we head towards the latter part of the summer then we'll start to talk about the following season," added Horner.
The Briton said Webber is "leaner, lighter and extremely motivated" for the 2011 season, which is scheduled to begin in Bahrain next month.
Williams Denies Running Underweight Car At Jerez
Williams has rubbished claims it set the fastest time of last week's Jerez test by running an underweight car.
Rubens Barrichello's best lap was comfortably faster than any of his 23 rival drivers, moving one unnamed competitor to declare he 'didn't believe' he had witnessed genuine performance.
Rumours suggested the Brazilian's new FW33 car was running low fuel, super soft tyres and an underweight car after its KERS unit was removed, mere days before 27 percent of the Oxfordshire based team's shares are offered on the stock market.
"Absolute nonsense," Williams' technical director Sam Michael told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. "The time is real. Anyone who knows our team knows that we don't run underweight.
"The time is down to Rubens using the super-soft tyres, and of course he had a little less fuel in the tank.
"But the KERS elements were all on board; we only cut the connection from the generator to the engine because we had had a problem with the cooling," the Australian insisted.
Michael said Barrichello's time, half-a-second quicker than his nearest rival Michael Schumacher, could have been another few tenths quicker had the KERS been working.
As for why the FW33 was suddenly so competitive after days in the midfield, he explained: "This is because we had only used the medium tyres and always with a relatively large amount of fuel on board.
"We never got the medium tyre to work and we still don't know why," Michael said.
At the same time, Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn dismissed reports that Michael Schumacher's second-best time at Jerez last week was a 'glory run' to ease pressure off the marque.
"There is little point to wasting precious track time on low-fuel 'glory' runs when there is far more important work to complete," he told F1's official website.
Hamilton's brother to begin race career in 2011
Lewis Hamilton's younger brother is set to kick off his own motor racing career.
19-year-old Nicolas Hamilton, who has cerebral palsy, has reportedly gained a National B licence and, with initial tests having already taken place, will start the Renault Clio Cup with a race at Brands Hatch in April.
The series is a support event for the British Touring Car Championship.
"I have loved motor sport from a young age and watching my brother achieve so much has given me inspiration to make my own racing debut," said Nicolas, who is a well-known face in the F1 paddock.
"I know this will not be an easy task, but I hope my doing this will give inspiration to others who have challenges in their life," he added.
Overtaking In F1 'Should Be Difficult': Vettel
New World Champion Sebastian Vettel has admitted he is no supporter of F1's mandatory adjustable rear wings in 2011.
At the Jerez test last week, having already experimented with the systems earlier, teams for the first time trialled the FIA-coded software that will govern when the rear wings can be triggered on track this year to aid overtaking.
Fernando Alonso commented that he believes the current specification, with wings to only be triggered in the last 600 metres of a straight, will not make overtaking much easier.
"Overtaking in F1 has always been difficult," German Vettel told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Whoever manages to get past gets the same sort of admiration as a goal scorer in football."
He therefore thinks F1's new overtaking system, in combination with boost-button KERS units, is a "risk".
"There is a risk that the public thinks overtaking will now be too easy," insisted Vettel.
The Red Bull driver admits he is an admirer of F1's purer days.
"The drivers should be driving, not playing with all sorts of different buttons and systems," he said.
"Last year there was the F-duct, now its the rear wing and KERS. I'm not totally convinced that this is all a good thing," Vettel said.