- Vettel 'too young' for Ferrari switch - Ecclestone
- Schumacher, Raikkonen could be F1's eighth winner
- Lotus drivers safe, Vergne and Kobayashi not - report
- Alonso 'like Schumacher' except salary - Domenicali
- No 'emotion' in talks over 2013 deal - Schumacher
- Ferrari now working on three F1 cars - report
- McLaren and Red Bull fastest in qualifying, race in 2012
Vettel 'too young' for Ferrari switch - Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he thinks Sebastian Vettel is "too young" to switch to Ferrari.
The F1 chief executive is famously close to Red Bull's 24-year-old double world champion Vettel, who according to recent speculation could move to Ferrari in 2014.
"Not now. He's too young. Normally you finish your career with Ferrari," 81-year-old Ecclestone said in a joint interview in Germany's Sport Bild with Stefano Domenicali.
Should Vettel make the switch, however, Ecclestone said he doubts the young German would clash with Ferrari's beloved number one, Fernando Alonso.
"There shouldn't be a problem," said the Briton. "Both of them are racers who are constantly looking for new challenges.
"Both of them would think he could beat the other, because they're both very confident," added Ecclestone.
The 'F1 supremo' also mused about his sport's rules, sympathising with those who are accused of skirting too close to the boundaries of legality.
"If I were a team boss," said the former Brabham owner, "I would definitely try as best as I could to exploit the rules as well as I could."
He also threw a barb at F1's governing body.
"I really understand hardly any of the FIA's decisions," said Ecclestone. "I think the technical rules should be written so that even someone like me can understand them."
Ferrari team boss Domenicali agreed: "The fans do not understand why a car is legal today and illegal the next, which for the sport is a problem for the credibility."
Schumacher, Raikkonen could be F1's eighth winner
Michael Schumacher did not become F1's seventh winner of 2012 in Canada, but his boss Ross Brawn is hoping Valencia is a case of 'lucky eight' for the seven time world champion.
Brawn, Mercedes' team principal, admitted it is possible the sport's unprecedented run of new and different winners this season could continue on Spanish streets this weekend.
"I'm thinking of Michael in our car," said the Briton, "but the Lotus is good and they haven't won, while Sauber have put in some great results too."
Pirelli has been either credited or blamed for the results 'lottery' so far this year, and the tyre marque's Paul Hembery also tipped Schumacher as the potential eighth winner.
"He probably would have won at Monaco, so why not here?" the Pirelli motor sport director is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport ahead of the European grand prix.
Another hot favourite is Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, although his teammate Romain Grosjean has been at least as impressive as the 2007 world champion.
"I've never won in Valencia," said Finn Raikkonen, "so it's a good target."
Fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen agreed that a bet on Lotus would be well placed.
"Yes, Lotus have been in good shape but so far they just haven't quite put everything together," the Caterham driver told the broadcaster MTV3.
"Romain Grosjean has driven well so he is definitely putting up a good fight to Kimi," added Kovalainen.
He also tipped Schumacher as a potential 2012 race winner.
"He has been quite fast in many places, but very unlucky on the technical side -- he has had six or seven different problems," noted Kovalainen.
The great German is therefore surely out of the running for the title, but there remains a swathe of candidates within a handful of points or a victory or two of true contention.
"This championship is going to be won on consistency and it's easily possible that the world champion will only have one or two race wins," admitted Sam Michael, the sporting director at title leader Lewis Hamilton's McLaren team.
"You won't need to win five or six grands prix to win this year's world championship," he is quoted by Sky Sports.
Boss Martin Whitmarsh agrees: "Whereas in previous years there was an emphasis on the 'big' results, this year it seems that minor points placings could provide a decisive edge in the title battle."
Lotus drivers safe, Vergne and Kobayashi not - report
Lotus' driver duo looks set to survive beyond the 2012 season, but Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Kamui Kobayashi at Sauber could be in trouble.
At Lotus, Romain Grosjean has looked quick on his return to F1 following his abortive 2009 debut, but the reigning GP2 champion has also faced criticism for getting involved in too many incidents.
Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, initially impressed in 2012 after two years off the grid, but more recently he has struggled, is reportedly at odds with his engineers over the E20's steering, and according to Jacques Villeneuve even risks being "dropped".
But team owner Gerard Lopez is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: "We have the perfect pair of drivers."
Meanwhile, the same German publication said Japanese Kobayashi has been inconsistent in 2012 while his teammate Sergio Perez has been on the podium twice so far.
When asked by Switzerland's Blick if the spectacular Kobayashi has been a weak point in 2012, team boss Peter Sauber admitted: "A difficult question.
"Kobayashi is a great guy. I love his attitude and he will have success with us."
Nevertheless, Auto Motor und Sport named Heikki Kovalainen and Nico Hulkenberg as potential replacements for the 25-year-old.
Also potentially in trouble for 2013 is the French rookie Jean-Eric Vergne, who was drafted in this year after Toro Rosso ousted Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari at the end of last season.
Vergne has been outqualified by his only-slightly-more-experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo six times out of seven attempts so far in 2012, while his mistakes have earned a rebuke by Red Bull's driver supremo Dr Helmut Marko.
"Vergne is too wild. There's nothing wrong with aggressiveness, but in his case we need to drive out the wildness," said the Austrian.
With even worse qualifying records than Vergne so far in 2012, however, are Ferrari's Felipe Massa, McLaren's Jenson Button and HRT's Narain Karthikeyan, who have not even once outqualified their teammates this year.
Vitaly Petrov, meanwhile, has been outqualified by Caterham's Kovalainen 6 times out of 7.
Alonso 'like Schumacher' except salary - Domenicali
Stefano Domenicali has likened the contribution of Fernando Alonso at Ferrari to that of Michael Schumacher's in the past, but slammed suggestions their earning power is also comparable.
"He is flawless and accurate in working with his engineers, and a reference for the whole team," the Maranello marque's team boss, referring to Spaniard Alonso, told EFE news agency.
"He has much in common with Michael from the professional point of view. He is very, very good," Domenicali insisted.
"We cannot ask for more. His level of competition is fantastic, like his attitude."
Domenicali admitted he was instrumental in bringing Alonso to Ferrari from Renault at the end of 2009, when Kimi Raikkonen was ousted.
"Yes, absolutely," the Italian said.
As for reports Alonso earns upwards of EUR 30 million, however, Domenicali's mood changed.
In Ferrari's ultra-successful past, the famous marque paid similarly staggering sums to Schumacher, but Domenicali insisted those days are over.
"I read about Fernando's salary and (the report) was utterly ridiculous and wrong. It in no way corresponds with the level of investment by Ferrari in the sport.
"It's easy to talk about money, but people can be very misleading and sometimes it's on purpose," he said.
Domenicali's obvious anger on the subject comes as Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo recently called on the FIA to impose immediate and drastic measures to reduce costs amid the worsening European crisis.
"The president's plea," wrote Kevin Eason in the Times newspaper, "will be greeted with a certain amount of scepticism in the paddock".
The journalist said Ferrari is set to be the "biggest winner" in the new Concorde Agreement because it is "in line for the lion's share of payments".
And the bosses of struggling smaller teams, Eason argued, "will take the entreaty by the president of a team that has spent hundreds of millions of pounds to win championships over the past 20 years with a pinch of salt".
No 'emotion' in talks over 2013 deal - Schumacher
Mercedes has tweaked the design of its rear wing 'DRS' system following Michael Schumacher's latest technical glitch in Canada.
Team boss Ross Brawn revealed that the redesign was done despite the fact it was a one-off failure on a "very well proven part".
Regarding Schumacher's mysterious run of technical problems, the German squad is under immense pressure at a sensitive time, as the seven time world champion's contract is expiring.
"I don't believe in fate, but it has been peculiar," Brawn admitted.
The situation surrounding Schumacher's race seat is also intriguing, given that the cockpit is regarded as perhaps the only realistic alternative for Lewis Hamilton, who is still arguing about money with McLaren.
But 43-year-old Schumacher insisted the technical problems will not influence his talks with Mercedes about 2013.
"I will certainly not be driven by emotion regarding my future in formula one," he told the Swiss magazine Motorsport Aktuell.
"That applies in both the negative and positive sense."
He joked that at times in 2012 he has felt like Mercedes' "test driver", but insisted he maintains his faith in the Brackley based team and "will not just give up".
Schumacher has just 2 points on the board in 2012 but he thinks his performance in a silver car has never been better.
"Since mid 2011 I have been on a par with Nico (Rosberg) in the race and now and then even better," he insisted.
But the great German also confirmed that his future is unclear.
"If the team and I believe that all the important factors are in order, we will be talking about a further cooperation," he said.
Boss Norbert Haug insisted: "There is no time pressure and we will talk with Michael first of all."
Ferrari now working on three F1 cars - report
Even Ferrari's huge resources are being tested in 2012, as the famous Italian team reportedly works on three different cars simultaneously.
That is the claim of the Spanish sports daily Marca, amid news the once-struggling F2012 car will enjoy yet another significant upgrade for the streets of Valencia this weekend.
The report said Ferrari will use a new front wing and floor at the European grand prix, whilst also rolling out upgrades to the rear wing and exhausts.
"It's been intense over the past few months resulting in a big improvement in car performance," said chief designer Nikolas Tombazis.
"We have worked with determination to deal with all the negative points we picked up right from the first test in the winter."
At the same time, Marca reported, Ferrari has started work not only on an evolutionary project for 2013, but on the "fundamentals" of a radically-different chassis to complement the new V6 engine in 2014.
"The 2013 model is an evolution and the improvements we put into this (current) car will be useful for next year, but there is a small group of people working on fundamentals and mechanical components that are a step up from this year," said Tombazis.
As for 2014, "We have a lot of people working on the new engine already and another small group looking at other features of the car, which is going to be completely new", he also revealed.
McLaren and Red Bull fastest in qualifying, race in 2012
2012 has been described as 'topsy-turvy' and a 'lottery' that has ended the domination of formula one's usual greats.
But according to a detailed analysis by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, F1's old guard is still at the very top of the timesheets.
The analysis shows that McLaren and Red Bull, respectively, have been the best teams overall when it comes to pace in the all-out 'Q2' qualifying segment, and the actual grands prix.
The second best team in qualifying, however, has been Mercedes, whose average Q2 laptime is less than two hundredths of a second slower than the leading MP4-27.
Another few hundredths back, the third best average Q2 laptime belongs to Lotus, followed by 2011 qualifying dominator, Red Bull.
Fifth, sixth and seventh in the Q2 analysis are Ferrari, Williams and Sauber, with all of the top seven teams separated by a mere four tenths.
Red Bull has been more than a tenth adrift in qualifying, but according to Auto Motor und Sport's analysis, the reigning champions have had the best overall race pace.
The second-best team on race pace has been Sauber, with a cumulative average laptime over the seven grands prix so far less than a tenth slower than the leading Red Bull.
Lotus trails by a couple of tenths in third place.
The major surprise of the race-pace analysis is Toro Rosso: only half a second adrift big-brother Red Bull and ahead even of the 'qualifying champions' McLaren.
The result is in stark contrast to the Faenza based team's qualifying performances, with the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso better only than the bottom-three stragglers on Saturdays.
Another big surprise in terms of race-pace is Mercedes, who despite Shanghai winner Nico Rosberg's claim that the W03 is the very fastest car in 2012, ranks only ahead of Caterham, Marussia and HRT in the grands prix.
"Not even traffic and Michael Schumacher's many problems can explain" Mercedes' almost one second per lap deficit, the analysis written by journalist Michael Schmidt said.
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