F1: Vettel 'Will Miss' Webber rivalry, Massa In Talks With Lotus And McLaren Photo:
TMR Team | Sep, 18 2013 | 2 Comments

Sebastian Vettel has admitted he will miss his teammate Mark Webber.

The pair, teamed together at Red Bull since 2009, have had an often fraught relationship that arguably broke down completely after this year's 'multi-21' affair.

"You can say what you want about our relationship," triple world champion Vettel told the Austrian magazine Sportwoche, "but in the end we pushed each other very hard."

"I will miss that," said the German, referring to Australian Webber's impending departure for Le Mans-style prototype racing with Porsche.

Webber admitted to the latest edition of F1 Racing magazine that he decided to call time on his grand prix career due to flagging motivation.

"I've been on the edge with F1, motivation-wise, for the past couple of years," he said.

Indeed, since they went head-to-head for the title in 2010, this season Vettel has clearly had the edge on 37-year-old Webber, who is now almost 100 points behind the championship leader.

But Vettel insists Webber still pushes him hard.

"There has always been two or three corners where Mark has me biting my lip," he said. "You try to figure out what he is doing, which keeps you busy enough."

The pair have often clashed in the personality stakes, but Vettel insists that "Even if it is perceived differently from the outside, it was important that I was always hungry".



Massa has edge on Hulkenberg for Lotus seat

Lotus is weighing up between Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa to complete its 2014 driver lineup.

Asked recently if - in the interests of continuity - Romain Grosjean will definitely be retained next year if Kimi Raikkonen departs, team boss Eric Boullier answered simply: "Yes."

So that leaves only the cockpit currently occupied by the Ferrari-bound Finn Raikkonen to fill.

The candidates are Hulkenberg - the impressive German who after moving from Force India last year is now seeking to jump from struggling Sauber - and the experienced Ferrari refugee Massa.

Brazilian Massa, 32, might have the edge.

According to O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, Frenchman Boullier said recently that, "In 2014, experience will be more important than speed".

He is referring to the move from the current engine rules to next year's regulations surrounding the turbo V6s, which according to most of the sport's technical insiders is perhaps the biggest shift in the history of F1.

That is why, on the face of it, while the younger but hugely promising Hulkenberg perhaps should be the favourite, Massa's vast wealth of experience might have him in pole position for the seat.

A source close to Boullier told Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio: "The chances are 50 per cent apiece for Hulkenberg and Massa."

Oricchio said the prize on offer is a two-year contract with options.

And there may be another factor counting in Massa's favour -- money.

While definitely not a traditional 'pay driver', Massa would bring some weighty support to Lotus in the form of his well-connected manager, Nicolas Todt.

The son of FIA president Jean Todt, Nicolas has - according to Italy's Autosprint - already brought a sponsor to Lotus in the form of Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille.

Massa's continuity in F1 is also backed strongly by Bernie Ecclestone, who fears the absence of a single Brazilian on the grid could affect the success of the crucial Brazilian market, and the popular Brazilian grand prix.

"It would be surprising if (Ecclestone) has not talked to Boullier and (Gerard) Lopez about his preference regarding the choice between Hulkenberg and Massa," said Oricchio.

Massa told Brazil's O Globo broadcaster this week: "We are negotiating (with Lotus).

"The Lotus is a very competitive car, which is what I want. It's a team that has a very important story with Brazil as well.

"They've had a hard time financially, so we are having many conversations to try to find a way not only for me to have a good car, but for Lotus as well."

Meanwhile, when asked about Massa's claim there has also been contact with McLaren, a spokesman for the British team told us: "We don't comment on media speculation with regard to rumoured driver movements."



Massa 'in contact with McLaren'

Sep.16 (GMM) Felipe Massa has revealed he also has an eye on a race seat at McLaren.

The Brazilian told the broadcaster O Globo that he will not be playing a supportive role for Ferrari 'number 1' Fernando Alonso for the balance of his career with the fabled Italian team.

"No, I won't be doing that," said the 32-year-old, who has been told he is being replaced by former teammate Kimi Raikkonen after November's 2013 finale.

"I'm going to attack," Massa promised.

He is hoping that attack is the springboard to another top car, having already ruled out continuing his career with a back-of-the-grid team.

"We're negotiating with Lotus and it's going well," said Massa. "They have a competitive car, which is what I want.

"We are also in contact with McLaren, but this is more difficult to judge," he added, referring to the British team that is yet to announce its current drivers, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, are definitely staying put in 2014.

One driver not clinging onto his similarly-long F1 career is Mark Webber, who is swapping his Red Bull cockpit for a Porsche prototype for 2014.

The 37-year-old Australian told F1 Racing magazine that finding the right time to stop is a difficult task for any sportsman.

"I'm probably leaving F1 a year too soon but with the (regulation) changes next season and the opportunity to join Porsche, it's the best move for me," said Webber.



Red Bull rejects Sauber cost proposal

Red Bull has rejected a proposal that might have levelled the playing field for F1's struggling teams.

Next year, in-season testing will once again be allowed, but midfield teams Sauber and Force India admitted during a recent team managers' meeting that they probably cannot afford to attend every test day.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Sauber proposed that, instead, they be allowed to substitute a test day for a day of wind tunnel testing with the actual race car.

"This was flatly rejected by Red Bull," said correspondent Michael Schmidt.

"The argument (made by Red Bull) is that they (Sauber) could learn more than on the track, and so they (Red Bull) would be forced to build a 1:1 model. Additionally, they (Red Bull) do not have a suitable wind tunnel."

Schmidt insisted, however, that Red Bull is not the only powerful team that is strenuously resisting the push for major cost cutting in formula one.

"The big teams protest so loudly that it's reminiscent of the orchestra that kept playing on the Titanic as it sunk," he said.

Finally, having resisted pressure to get on board until now, FIA president Jean Todt has reportedly signaled has intention to get to work on cost cutting.

"It seems the presidential election campaign also has its positive side effects," said Schmidt.



On-again, off-again New Jersey race back on again

F1's on-again, off-again New Jersey race appears back on again.

Bernie Ecclestone said in August a 2014 street race amid the Manhattan skyline is "not on the cards", and indeed the event was not listed on the draft calendar that recently appeared in the paddock.

But a race spokesman hit back, insisting preparations are "on track", and then F1 chief executive agreed: "If they comply with the contract, the race will take place."

Race promoter Leo Hindery jr on Tuesday said the issue is the simple matter of a fee that is not payable to the US sanctioning body until this week.

It means New Jersey simply missed the cut for the draft calendar.

"We never had any expectation of being on a preliminary schedule," Hindery is quoted by sportinglife.com.

"Bernie told us if we stayed consistent with the rules and applications then he would expect there to be a New Jersey race," he added.

If so, the race would be added to the official FIA calendar, to be ratified and released by the sport's governing body at the World Council meeting in Serbia later this month.

Hindery acknowledged however that the New Jersey project has been "the toughest challenge of my career".

"Were it not for some great partners and some folks in the sport who want us to succeed then it would have been abandoned," he admitted.


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