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F1: Webber Eyes 'Few More Years' On Grid, Alonso Must Chase Vettel Down Photo:
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TMR Team | Apr, 24 2013 | 1 Comment
  • Webber eyes 'few more years' on grid
  • Alonso must chase down Vettel in 2013 - press
  • Whitmarsh resisted urge to issue team orders
  • Kubica testing in Mercedes' F1 simulator - report
  • Teams should not expect major changes - Pirelli
  • Stewards told to be lenient in 'secret' F1 meeting
 

Webber eyes 'few more years' on grid

Mark Webber has cooled speculation he is on the verge of quitting formula one by insisting he is still "hungry" for success.

Amid rumours his team is lining up Kimi Raikkonen to replace him in 2014, the 36-year-old Australian flew straight from Bahrain to Austria to appear on a Red Bull-owned Servus TV broadcast.

"I'm still hungry, I still want to do well," German-language reports quote him saying. "I think I still have a few years left in me.

"As long as I'm fit, the performance is still there and the job is fun ... that's actually the most important thing, that it's fun," said Webber.

"How it's going to go exactly, I don't know," he added, following reports Porsche is keen to finalise a long-term agreement with him for its Le Mans prototype project.

"I have never decided what I'm doing for the next year in April, and I'm not going to start now," said Webber.

Webber's comments are unlikely to calm the speculation about his future.

Asked after the Bahrain grand prix if Red Bull is still interested in Raikkonen, Dr Helmut Marko admitted: "We have always admitted that we are looking at him.

"And, for the umpteenth time, Red Bull traditionally looks at its driver issues only in the summer," he is quoted by Speed Week.

Webber sat out Red Bull's post-race victory team photograph following teammate Sebastian Vettel's second win of the season last Sunday.

(GMM)

 

Alonso must chase down Vettel in 2013 - press

The Italian press hailed Sebastian Vettel's return to top form in Bahrain, whilst lamenting the bad luck that prevented Fernando Alonso from challenging.

"Although his car broke, he miraculously captured eighth place," Tuttosport, referring to Spaniard Alonso's mere points haul after a recurring DRS rear flap failure, wrote.

"But Vettel is on the run," added the Italian daily.

"He built his success on his ability to stand alone at the front, without having to compete with his opponents.

"If he can run away like a hare, he is matchless, and this time Alonso was out of action and Lotus too far away."

Corriere dello Sport lamented Ferrari's bad luck, including the twice-failing DRS on Alonso's red car, and two separate tyre problems for Felipe Massa.

"Rarely has a team been the victim of such bad luck as Ferrari in Bahrain," wrote the national sports newspaper.

La Repubblica, Italy's largest-circulation general interest newspaper, hailed Vettel's command from the front, mere weeks after the damaging 'Multi-21' affair.

"The more his rivals berate him, trying to destroy him psychologically, the harder he strikes back," read the editorial.

"He wins with an incredible ease."

But the Milan daily Corriere della Sera concluded: "Alonso's eighth place amid adversity, although disappointing, testifies that Ferrari has huge potential."

According to Germany's Die Welt, Alonso agreed: "Without these problems I would have finished first or second, because the car is the best I've had in the last four years."

(GMM)

 

Whitmarsh resisted urge to issue team orders

McLaren resisted the urge to call off the on-track spat between teammates Jenson Button and Sergio Perez in Bahrain, boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed.

Button could be heard angrily remonstrating on the radio for the British team to "calm" Mexican newcomer Perez's wheel-to-wheel charge.

Afterwards, the 23-year-old was rebuked by Whitmarsh because "endplate to rear tyre could have punctured Jenson and broken his (Perez's) front wing".

But McLaren, he says, prides itself on not issuing the kinds of team orders that Red Bull and Mercedes controversially imposed in Malaysia recently.

"I had a lot of noise in my ear from people suggesting I should stop them racing. We didn't," Whitmarsh said.

"I think it was the right thing in the long term for both drivers to know they are racing each other and be competitive.

"We've seen it a couple of times this year, and the driver behind is always going to believe he was quicker, he's always going to be aggrieved."

Whitmarsh said breaking with a long-standing policy of strict driver equality would not have been the right choice.

"Those guys are out there fighting and you can't suddenly decide halfway through a race 'Oh, by the way, I didn't mean it. Don't fight because it looks uncomfortable for me'."

Lewis Hamilton, the former long-time McLaren driver who in Malaysia was protected from new Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg's charge, backed Whitmarsh's stance.

"That's the good thing about Martin," the 2008 world champion told the Telegraph.

"He allows his drivers to race. He doesn't change. We are there to race -- as long as it is effective, and with respect with each other."

F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello, however, has a slightly different view.

Having analysed Sunday's race for Brazilian television Globo, he said: "I think McLaren was trying different strategies to separate its drivers because they were fighting.

"Five laps later they were fighting again," he told Brazil's Totalrace. "Sometimes different strategies have the same result."

Button, meanwhile, declared the 'team war' with Perez to be over, because the Mexican had apologised.

"Checo has apologised," the 2009 world champion is quoted by the Sun. "We had a good discussion."

(GMM)

 

Kubica testing in Mercedes' F1 simulator - report

Robert Kubica has been conducting secret formula one tests at the wheel of Mercedes' sophisticated driver simulator, German newspaper Bild reports.

The Pole tested the German marque's DTM car over the winter, but ultimately signed up with Citroen for the second-tier world rally championship in 2014 as he continues his return to full speed in the wake of his near-fatal crash two years ago.

But 28-year-old Kubica, who raced for BMW and Renault in F1 until the end of 2010, has never hidden that - notwithstanding his still injured right arm - his main priority is to get back on the grand prix grid.

Bild said the 2008 Canadian grand prix winner has been testing in Mercedes' F1 driver simulator "for a few weeks".

A figure for a rival F1 team "spotted the Pole at the airport in London", correspondent Frank Schneider wrote.

"His destination was Brackley, Mercedes' headquarters, even though nobody at the Silver Arrows wants to comment," he added.

(GMM)

 

Teams should not expect major changes - Pirelli

Pirelli has all but confirmed reports it will make only minor changes to its controversial 2013 tyres for next month's Spanish grand prix and beyond.

It was thought Sebastian Vettel's dominance in Bahrain last weekend might calm Red Bull's loud criticism of this year's heavily degrading Pirelli tyres.

But team boss Christian Horner was quoted by AFP news agency after the race: "I think the tyres are still too on an edge."

Earlier, we reported that most teams are in fact pushing for the status quo, moving Pirelli to decide simply to tweak the operating ranges for the 'hard' and 'soft' compounds only.

"The final decision will be made on Tuesday in Milan," wrote Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli's motor sport director, confirmed the Milan meeting.

"The teams should not expect anything fundamentally new," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"In the end, nothing has changed -- a year ago the complaining was just as great, but the teams learned over time how to deal with the tyres.

"The criticism got quieter until eventually it stopped."

Hans-Joachim Stuck, the former F1 driver and now German motor racing federation chief, said Red Bull is probably quietly happy about Pirelli's decision.

"Clearly, Vettel and his team know now how to make the tyres work. Or at least they have understood it better," he said.

Auto Motor und Sport's theory, however, is that the particularly high temperatures in Bahrain simply suited the correlation between the RB9 and the Pirelli tyres.

(GMM)

 

Stewards told to be lenient in 'secret' F1 meeting

In a 'secret' meeting over the winter, it was agreed that stewards should impose less penalties in 2013 in order to spice up the action.

That is the claim on Tuesday of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, reporting that the meeting with FIA president Jean Todt was attended by drivers including world champion Sebastian Vettel, team managers, Charlie Whiting and stewards.

"Has it been noticed?" wrote correspondent Michael Schmidt. "The drivers are being punished much less."

He said the outcome of the pre-season meeting was that stewards should be more lenient when it comes to applying penalties for on-track scraps, in order to entice the drivers to take more risks in the heat of exciting wheel-to-wheel battles.

Schmidt said it is undeniable that there have been "surprisingly few" drive through and grid penalties so far in 2013 as the result of obvious incidents.

"It has made the racing better," he wrote.

"You can feel that the drivers have more confidence. Rarely have we seen as much die-hard, wheel-to-wheel battles as we saw in Bahrain," added Schmidt.

(GMM)

 
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