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F1: New Webber Deal 'Very, Very Likely' - Horner Photo:
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Mike Stevens | Jun, 30 2011 | 1 Comment

Christian Horner has revealed it is "very, very likely" Mark Webber will be signed up to stay at Red Bull in 2012.

Australian Webber, one of the only key members of the Austrian team not already contracted for the foreseeable future, has struggled this season alongside Sebastian Vettel.

Speculation has linked Lewis Hamilton with a high-profile switch from McLaren, but team boss Christian Horner told Servus TV that the most likely outcome is a new deal for Webber.

"Well, that's very, very likely," said the Briton. "We have agreed to sit down a bit later and then focus on next year," Horner told the Red Bull-linked Austrian broadcaster.

As for the Hamilton rumours, Horner smiled: "I really don't think blue is his colour. For Red Bull, the most important thing is the harmony."

But according to former F1 winner Johnny Herbert, Red Bull should think hard about its driver choice for 2012.

"He (Webber) is showing none of the fire that he showed last season, which helped him fight Vettel and make the championship so exciting. Until he finds it again I do not see him competing for wins," he wrote in a column for The National.



Red Bull set for Renault engine deal extension

Red Bull appears likely to extend its engine supply agreement with Renault Sport F1 through to the end of the current V8 regulations.

The sport looks likely to adopt turbocharged V6 engines for 2014 and beyond, and in the meantime Red Bull is enjoying a significant sponsorship deal with the Renault-linked Nissan brand's Infiniti label.

Italian magazine Autosprint's auto.it website said Red Bull is therefore looking to extend its current Renault deal "at least until 2013".

Red Bull's technical boss Adrian Newey admitted this week that he is relieved he will not be working with a four-cylinder engine in 2013.

The AAP news agency quotes the Briton as revealing that F1 pushed ahead with the four-cylinder plan to help brands like Volkswagen enter the sport.

"They subsequently decided that no, they won't bother after all thank you very much, and we were lumbered with a four-cylinder turbo," he said.

Newey also revealed that the V6 rules will feature a higher rev limit than the 12,000rpm proposed for the inline-fours.

But whether it is high enough to appease angry circuit promoters, who want the current 18,000 limit to remain in place, is unknown.

"The revs are still being debated," admitted Newey, "but it looks as if it will probably be around 14,000 or 16,000."



The pros predict Vettel to win title by Suzuka

Despite Lewis Hamilton no longer thinking the 2011 title fight is effectively over, not everyone in the F1 paddock agrees with him.

Renault's departing team manager Steve Nielsen told Brazilian O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio that he thinks Sebastian Vettel will wrap up his second championship long before the 2011 season has ended.

"I believe the points gap will grow and that will Vettel will do it by Suzuka," he said, referring to the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

After Suzuka, there are still four Grands Prix left to run, and Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary admits he is also worried.

"We are entering dangerous territory here; slow death by asphyxiation," he wrote after Valencia. "Not since Michael Schumacher bored everyone into submission in 2004 have fans been forced to contemplate hegemony on this scale."

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said before leaving Valencia last Sunday that Vettel is "sure to be champion" in 2011.

Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore told Radio Monte Carlo that he reckons Vettel will have won by Monza, two races before Suzuka, but Rubens Barrichello thinks that is unlikely.

"To win at Suzuka he needs to increase his gap to 100 points, which at this rate is very possible," said the Brazilian.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali is reserving his judgement until after Silverstone, where the off-throttle blown exhaust clampdown takes effect.

"There may be a change in what we have seen so far, even if I recognise that Sebastian has a considerable advantage."



Track says Barcelona axe reports 'invented'

Officials have played down reports Valencia is set to be the only Spanish host of Formula One.

Currently, both the port city as well as Barcelona host annual grands prix, but Bernie Ecclestone said recently that each country should have only a single race.

On Tuesday, Cadena SER and Radio Valencia reported that Valencia will be the only Spanish race from 2012.

It is believed representatives of the Circuit de Catalunya attended last weekend's Valencia event and told Ecclestone they want to pay a lower annual race fee in future.

At the same time, the Spanish radio reports said Valencia is willing to pay EUR 20 million per year and wants an earlier date in the European race season.

"At the last World Motor Sport Council the 2012 calendar was ratified and Barcelona was assigned a date," Spanish motor racing president Carlos Gracia said.

"I think the two races can coexist perfectly."

Circuit de Catalunya director Salvador Servia, meanwhile, told Marca sports newspaper that the latest reports about Barcelona losing its place are "invented".

"Spain has just held two successful grands prix. Everything else I would hope are just rumours," he said on Onda Cero radio.

"I think someone has said 'I want this to happen' and so somebody else said 'This is going to happen'. For next year they have already set the dates," added Servia.



US GP looking healthier ahead of Wednesday vote

The health of the 2012 US Grand Prix project looked better on Wednesday, ahead of a crucial council vote on the Circuit of the Americas' state funding.

According to the Austin American Statesman, one of the council's concerns when a vote was postponed last week was the lack of an environmental agreement between the Texan capital and the F1 project.

But it has now been announced that an agreement, boasting the "strongest environmental sustainability standards for any event in Austin history", has been reached.

The council will meet to vote on its ratification, and the release of the state funding for the grand prix venue, later on Wednesday.


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