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F1: Webber Denies Giving Up, Vettel Success Hurting - Marko Photo:
Mike Stevens | Oct, 06 2011 | 1 Comment

Mark Webber has denied claims he has given up on ever winning the world championship despite being signed up with Red Bull for 2012.

An interview with the Australian, which took place in Singapore recently, emerged on Wednesday in which Webber admitted last year "was my last chance at being world champion".

He suggested the team's "100 percent" focus is with Sebastian Vettel, his teammate and the 2010 and likely 2011 title winner.

"Looking at the start we actually got (in 2011), it's clear where the support needs to go and I respect that in some way," said Webber, 35.

Well-known F1 blogger and Financial Times correspondent James Allen said Webber's honesty in the interview was "very refreshing and very unusual".

"It should come as no surprise therefore to see these comments," said Allen, "but you will be waiting a while to see a driver make comments of this kind again."

Indeed, Webber denies he made them at all.

"I'm hearing about a misquote about my plans to fight for the title next year, (it's) always possible to miss or add a few words for a good story," he wrote on Twitter from Japan.

To be fair, in the same Yahoo Singapore interview, Webber said he expects to be stronger next year.

"You can expect a stronger me next season and I hope to get a smooth start like we did in 2010," he said.


Vettel's success hurting Webber - Marko

Mark Webber's struggles in 2011 are about Pirelli tyres but also his teammate Sebastian Vettel.

That is the claim of Red Bull driver manager Helmut Marko, when asked about the difficult season suffered by the team's Australian driver in 2011.

Last year Webber finished just a handful of points behind Vettel's championship win, but in 2011 he has failed to win a single race compared with his soon-to-be double world champion teammate's nine so far.

"Webber is suffering with the successes of Vettel," Marko told Austrian television Servus TV this week.

"But if they did not have each other then neither would be where they are now, as they push each other to excel. This is also the principle of our team."

Another factor has been the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli tyres, as Vettel "has been better to adapt" according to Marko.

It has been suggested that Webber is unhappy with the inconsistency of the Pirellis off the grid, which has contributed to his run of poor starts.

"Mark has had some problems this year with the starts, which is a very complex process. But he is aware of it and he is working on it with his engineers and in the simulator," said team boss Christian Horner.

Both Horner and Marko tipped him to solve the problem in the next couple of races, but according to Yahoo Singapore, Webber thinks he lost his only chance of becoming world champion last year.

"Yes of course, I do think that last year was my last chance at being world champion," he is quoted as saying.

"To win the championship you need 100 percent from the team. I think it's difficult for the team to give 100 percent to both drivers as we are both demanding."



Marko eyes Vettel contract extension to 2016

Red Bull has expressed the wish to extend Sebastian Vettel's contract for a further two years.

The reigning world champion, and likely back-to-back 2011 title winner, already has a deal with the dominant team to the end of 2014.

But Dr Helmut Marko has revealed to Sport Bild that he wants to add a further two seasons to the contract.

"We made a contract with Sebastian to 2014 because both sides assumed that we would have two years together under the new engine rules. That has now changed," said the Austrian.

Marko is referring to the fact that, subsequent to the signing of Vettel's 2014 deal, F1 decided to delay the debut of the new engine regulations from 2013 to 2014.

"That is why we have also extended the agreement with our engine supplier Renault to 2016," he explained.

Vettel has expressed the desire to one day switch to Ferrari or Mercedes, but Sport Bild quotes him as sounding open to extending his Red Bull stay beyond 2014.

"I feel very, very comfortable where I am at the moment and there is no reason to change. We're like a family," said the German.



2012 Red Bull to 'surprise' F1 paddock - Newey

Red Bull's 2012 car will "surprise" the F1 paddock, its famous designer Adrian Newey has been quoted as saying by a Finnish newspaper.

Already this week, Ferrari's chief designer Nikolas Tombazis has revealed that next year's single seater is "fairly different" to the current 150 Italia and could provoke a "wow factor" when it is launched.

But the same is also true of Newey's RB8, according to Turun Sanomat newspaper, despite the current Red Bull being an evolution of the 2009 concept.

Blown diffusers aside, the rules are staying essentially the same in 2012 but Newey has "revealed that next year's RB8 will amaze everyone", correspondent Heikki Kulta wrote.

"When he was asked what about it is so surprising, he replied that if he revealed that now then it would no longer be a surprise."

Even team boss Christian Horner apparently knows very little about the 2012 Red Bull.

"So far he (Newey) has only told me that it's going to be blue," he joked, according to Die Presse.

Dr Helmut Marko said on the Servus TV channel this week that the 2011 car will feature some new parts in Japan this weekend.

"What we learn can be used for the new car in 2012," said the team advisor. "We want to come back with a clear lead for the first race of the season."

But before the full focus turns to 2012, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel need to mathematically conclude their 2011 title triumphs, and Newey insists there is no celebrating yet.

"We still have not won anything," the Briton said ahead of Suzuka, where Vettel needs only a single point to secure his second drivers' title.

Horner however insists the team will not be on 'cruise and collect' in Japan.

"We are not looking at the one point but the (maximum) 43," Kleine Zeitung quotes him saying.

As for the future, Horner insists he can live with the constant sniping about Red Bull's approach to F1 rules and financial agreements.

"We take it as a compliment," he said. "We have shown that what we have achieved was no fluke.

"Ferrari and McLaren were sworn enemies for twenty years, yet now they are united against us."



Ecclestone sure India GP to run without problems

Bernie Ecclestone is certain the inaugural Indian Grand Prix will run without a hitch late this month.

There have been concerns the Buddh circuit is not complete, that teams and drivers will be heavily taxed, and that angry local farmers as well as regional terrorists may pose security threats.

"I don't think we can see anywhere in the world where there isn't a bit of uncertainty these days," the sport's chief executive told the Deccan Herald newspaper.

"I don't think there is the slightest bit of concern, though."

On the tax issue, Ecclestone admitted: "I don't think people have understood the structure. People haven't quite understood the right way to go about it. It's all pretty clear, there is no real problem."

And he dismissed suggestions the Buddh circuit will not be ready to host the F1 world in a few weeks.

"Some super reports are coming in," insisted the 80-year-old. "People are all there and they are doing a fabulous job.

"All these new events are really a learning curve. We are making good progress on the track, and even if we had come in 2012, we would have been in the same position."

Race organisers Jaypee, meanwhile, dismissed the latest reports about local farmers threatening "protest marches and sit-ins" around the track if they do not receive better compensation.

"People should not be taking these threats seriously," an unnamed official told the AFP news agency.

"We have spent $400 million dollars and we will spend a few million more if needed to have adequate security in place. We will do whatever it takes to have a wonderful event."



Button signs new 'multi year' McLaren contract

McLaren and Jenson Button on Wednesday ended weeks of uncertainty by announcing a new "multi-year contract" for 2012 and beyond.

The team said in a media statement that the move "will strengthen (McLaren's) long-term stability".

"I've never felt more at home at a team than I do (here)," added Button, 31.

And team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: "I can safely say that he's one of the most capable and respected drivers we've ever had".



Hamilton's father plays down management criticism

Anthony Hamilton has tempered his recent criticism of his son's management team.

After Lewis Hamilton returned to the headlines for the wrong reasons after Singapore, his former manager and father said F1 drivers need a proper "driver-manager" rather than "people from a company".

It was a jibe directed at Hamilton's entertainment agent Simon Fuller, whose XIX company also handles the careers of Spice Girls Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham, and singer and actor Jennifer Lopez.

Anthony Hamilton has now justified his criticism by admitting he is still "very passionate" about his son's career even though he is no longer professionally involved.

"I spoke with Lewis during the week after the (Singapore) race," he is quoted by the Independent.

"He told me that he's happy with the job that his management and Simon Fuller are doing - and as long as Lewis is happy, then I'm happy."

Hamilton now manages Force India driver Paul di Resta, as well as the reigning kart world champion Nyck de Vries.


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