F1: Schumacher Still As Good As Webber - Berger Photo:
Mike Stevens | Sep, 06 2011 | 0 Comments

Michael Schumacher is not as good as Sebastian Vettel or Nico Rosberg, but he's still up to speed with Mark Webber.

That is the view of former ten-time race winner Gerhard Berger, who until 1997 shared the circuits with F1's only seven-time world champion.

Der Spiegel quotes the Austrian as saying Schumacher, while once the fastest driver in the sport, no longer holds that mantle.

The case in point is qualifying, where Rosberg has utterly dominated Schumacher this year at Mercedes.

"In my opinion Rosberg is on the same level as Vettel; in the right car he could win races and titles," said Berger.

"Schumacher can no longer beat them, but he is still as good as - for example - Mark Webber."

Berger is therefore highly critical of the apparent place-swapping between Rosberg and Schumacher at Spa recently, with the younger German dropping behind to save fuel while Schumacher drove ahead on the 20th anniversary of his debut.

Norbert Haug denies Mercedes imposed team orders, also insisting that Schumacher "would not accept such gifts".

But given the safety car period in Belgium, the German team's claim about Rosberg running out of fuel has been ridiculed.

Former Sauber driver Karl Wendlinger told Servus TV: "Without the safety car you would have to believe that Rosberg would have run out of gas with ten laps to go."

Added Ferrari engineer Dieter Gundel: "It is possible to make an error in calculating the fuel level before a race, but you then have to wonder why Mercedes made the error only with one car."



Former boss doubts Williams will win again

Williams' former marketing boss has said he doubts the famous British team will ever again win in F1.

With its 7 drivers' and 9 constructors' championships, Oxfordshire based Williams is one of F1's most successful teams but the outfit has not won a single race since 2004.

Not only that, the team is ahead only of the three backmarker teams Team Lotus, Virgin and HRT in this year's constructors' standings and the Daily Telegraph reports that its share price on the Frankfurt exchange is crashing.

Williams floated 24 per cent of its shares in March at EUR 24.38, but the current price (EUR 15) represents a 40 per cent decline in six months.

Former marketing chief Scott Garrett, now vice president of brands at Heinz, admitted he does not believe Williams "will ever have the budget" to win again in F1.

"The sorry state of the WF1 equity price indicates a team that is more desperate than confident, and confidence is critical when presenting oneself to sponsors and asking them for money," he said.

Williams is reportedly considering replacing its highly experienced lead driver Rubens Barrichello for 2012 with another driver able to bring sponsorship dollars to the team.

Rookie Pastor Maldonado's place is considered safe due to his lucrative backing by the Venezuelan state owned oil company PDVSA.

"My feeling right now is unless Williams have money problems, they should stick with what they have right now", the news agency AFP quotes Barrichello, 39, as saying.

"To have two kids for next year is the wrong thing to have," added the Brazilian.



Ecclestone 'tempted' to buy Renault team in 2009

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he was "very tempted" to buy Renault's Formula One team when the French carmaker pulled out as an owner.

Actually, the Enstone based team was bought by its current owners Genii Capital, but there are reports of financial trouble and rumours a group involving David Richards might step up to take over.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph he was interested in buying Renault two years ago but was talked out of it by Donald Mackenzie.

Mackenzie, the CVC director in charge of the F1 ownership, is the newly appointed chairman of the formula one holding company.

Referring to his interest in buying Renault, Ecclestone said: "Donald said to me, we just can't. If we owned a team it would cause us trouble.

"Every time that team was on TV people would say we were favouring it."



McLaren has own 'crash kid' now - Marko

F1 has a new "crash kid", according to Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko.

After Sebastian Vettel crashed into Jenson Button at Spa last year, McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said the young German "is a crash kid".

"It is not what you would expect to see in Formula One," he added.

A year on, it is McLaren's own Lewis Hamilton who is attracting the headlines for his on-track incidents, while Red Bull's Vettel cruises to his second title.

"'Crash kid' was a McLaren media construct," the energy drink company's driver manager Marko is quoted by Auto Bild Motorsport.

Referring now to Hamilton, who crashed twice over the recent Belgian grand prix weekend, the Austrian added: "Now they have a crash kid in their own team."

Another Austrian, the outspoken triple world champion Niki Lauda, agrees that Hamilton might now learn from the unflappable Vettel.

"You can't win championships if you are crashing," he told the Sunday Express. "Look at Sebastian Vettel, he is not making any mistakes or crashing, and that is why he is going to win the title again this year."



Thailand to bid for Grand Prix

Thailand has become the latest country bidding to join the ever-expanding F1 calendar.

The Bangkok Post said media reports have been confirmed by Thailand's official promotion arm the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.

The agency's president Akapol Sorasuchart said businesses have called on Thailand to organise major events in order to enhance its reputation.

He said experts will be called in to study the proposal.

"Building an F1 circuit is very costly but it would be useful after the races end," said Mr Akapol.

"(And) I think that street racing is interesting for Thailand because it involves lower investment."

He said a street layout would likely include the capital city Bangkok's Ratchadamnoen road, built in 1899 to link the royal palaces during King Rama's reign.



Button open to managing fellow F1 driver

A new management company involving Jenson Button would consider handling the career of another F1 driver.

That is the claim of the McLaren driver's manager Richard Goddard, who has set up London-based Sports Partnership in collaboration with 31-year-old Button.

Goddard told the Gulf News that Button would have no problem being involved in the management of a fellow F1 driver.

"Absolutely," he said. "Of course Jenson wouldn't want a business relationship with a direct rival - but he would enjoy working with a young guy, somebody who has just come into F1 or who is on the brink."

2009 world champion Button, who is likely to stay at McLaren in 2012, thinks his involvement could help the career of a fellow athlete.

"I fully understand the pressures of being a high profile international sports star and I have learned how to operate with the media and sponsors," said the Briton.


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