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F1: Webber Coy On Red Bull Strength, Volkswagen Passes On F1 Entry Photo:
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Mike Stevens | Mar, 14 2011 | 1 Comment

The hide-and-seek continued in Barcelona on Thursday as F1 observers try to decipher the hierarchy for the start of the 2011 season.

Accused of sandbagging, Red Bull's Mark Webber told Autosprint: "We have no time for that. We already have enough to do."

He also towed the line about it being impossible to rank the strength of the 2011 field, but at the same time mused that he thinks the Ferrari is the best car.

"I point to Red Bull," Ferrari's Felipe Massa shot back. "They won the titles last year but I hope Mark Webber is right."

Italian reports say Ferrari has never unveiled so many pre-season developments as have been seen on the 150 Italia car in Spain this week.

"No one knows today how scary Red Bull are going to be," said the Italian team's Spanish test driver Marc Gene on La Sexta television.



Volkswagen Says No To F1 Foray

Volkswagen has delivered a fresh blow to speculation the German giant is eyeing a foray in F1.

The dominant Red Bull Racing had positioned as an ideal carmaker partner for the Wolfsburg-based group, but Ulrich Hackenberg ruled out F1 as well as NASCAR.

"Nothing for us," the brand's head of technical development is quoted by Reuters, referring to both premier motor racing classes.

"I should know what I am talking about, since it would come out of my budget."

It is rumoured however that VW could announce an entry in the World Rally Championship at the Dakar rally celebrations later this month.



Drivers Want Rear Wing And Rain Tyre Changes

Proposed amendments to the new adjustable rear wing rules were not adopted during a meeting this week in Barcelona.

Finland's Turun Sanomat said the Grand Prix Drivers' Association expressed great concern during the meeting with technical bosses and team chiefs.

"But the amendments did not receive unanimous support," read the report.

The report said one proposed amendment was that the rear wings can only be adjusted during the races, with drivers therefore able to concentrate solely on driving in practice and qualifying.

Turun Sanomat said Red Bull was in favour of that change, but Ferrari was not.

"We see a chance to do something now so that we don't just talk about something (an incident) after it has happened," Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen said.

Another concern raised by the drivers was the performance of Pirelli's rain tyres.

"Most drivers agree that we have to improve the grip," Felipe Massa is quoted by El Mundo.

"Because if we have a grand prix like last year in Korea, it would be difficult to do the race," said the Ferrari driver.



Red Bull set to sign Vettel through 2014

Sebastian Vettel is close to agreeing a contract extension with Red Bull.

That is the claim of Germany's Sport Bild, reporting that the reigning World Champion will sign up through 2014.

Currently, the 23-year-old's deal is set to expire at the end of this season, even though an 'option' is expected to also keep him with the Milton Keynes based team in 2012.

But team boss Christian Horner and owner Dietrich Mateschitz - although binding Mark Webber for the 2011 season only - have expressed eagerness to keep Vettel for a much longer term.

The 2010 title winner has recently been musing a future switch to Ferrari or Mercedes, but Sport Bild said Red Bull is offering him a new retainer of EUR10 million per year.

Other reports put the figure is closer to 12m per year.

The report also said Vettel will be given more free time, for example by limiting his PR appearances.

Sport Bild said the deal could be announced mid next week.

Dr Helmut Marko confirmed the talks: "We are in the talking phase and nothing is signed yet. It's going to take some time yet."

It is also expected that Adrian Newey will stay at Red Bull until at least 2014.

"We have bound until and including 2014 all of our most important pillars," Marko added.

Meanwhile in Barcelona, the last test day of the 2011 pre-season for Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Mercedes is close to a complete wash-out.

It has rained too much even for meaningful wet-tyre testing "and there is no sign of improvement on the horizon", said Ferrari.


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