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F1: Webber Penalised For Catching A Ride, Raikkonen May Skip Korean GP Photo:
 
 
TMR Team | Sep, 24 2013 | 0 Comments

Mark Webber will slide ten places down the Korea grid next weekend, after hitching a ride on the sidepod of friend Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in Singapore.

Retiring Australian Webber's Red Bull broke down on the last lap of Sunday's floodlit race, and video footage shows him running out of an escape road and across the track to jump on Alonso's car for a lift back to the pits.

The footage also shows that Spaniard Alonso, who was similarly reprimanded by the stewards, stopped on the racing line, causing two cars including Lewis Hamilton to take evasive action.

As it was Webber's third official reprimand this season, the penalty carries a ten-place grid demotion for the next race.

The 38-year-old said the penalty is "tough to take".

"Just spoke with Mark Webber," Sky commentator Martin Brundle wrote on Twitter. "You have no idea how pissed off he is".

Red Bull boss Christian Horner also disagrees with the penalty, insisting the sight of a stricken hero getting a lift back to the pits is "good TV".

Hamilton also thinks it was a good spectacle, but the Briton admitted he was "shocked" when he turned a corner on the slowing down lap and found Alonso stationary on the racing line.

"f Mark had been walking across where I went then I would have run him over," he said.

"It's good for the fans to see and, as long as it's done in a safe manner - you don't stop on the racing line - then maybe it should be allowed for the future."

But veteran F1 correspondent Roger Benoit, writing for Switzerland's Blick newspaper, said that after reviewing the video footage, Alonso and Webber had been clearly "reckless", behaving in a "potentially life-threatening" manner.

Defending the penalty, Swiss steward Paul Gutjahr insisted: "We could not do otherwise."

(GMM)

 

Raikkonen not ruling out missing Korea GP

Kimi Raikkonen has not ruled out skipping next weekend's Korean grand prix.

Although mounting the podium after starting just 13th, the Finn struggled with back pain throughout the Singapore weekend, almost having to sit out qualifying.

Many paddock cynics made a link between the 'injury' and the driver's now tense relationship with Lotus, after Raikkonen announced he is leaving for Ferrari next year because he hasn't been paid.

But McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa, who like Raikkonen is Finnish, confirmed to Turun Sanomat newspaper that he treated the 2007 world champion in Singapore.

Hintsa said he injected Raikkonen with cortisone.

"I am glad we were able to get him in a condition so that he could drive," he said.

Hintsa said Raikkonen has a damaged joint between a rib and the spine, causing "a lot of pain".

Raikkonen refused to say if he will definitely be ready for Korea in two weeks.

"Not for sure," he was quoted by AFP when asked if he will be recovered. "We have to see."

As ever in F1, however, the cynics and the rumour-writers are connecting the dots, recalling that earlier in Singapore, Raikkonen had hinted he is technically free to sit out the rest of 2013 due to Lotus' contractual breach.

"I like to race, obviously that's the only reason why I'm here," he had said.

Undoubtedly, the tension between Raikkonen and Lotus is building.

After the Ferrari-bound Raikkonen finished third, chief engineer Alan Permane said: "Of course it's good for the team and good for Kimi.

"But without Romain (Grosjean)'s problem, he would have beaten him (Raikkonen). So that's good for us to know," he told Turun Sanomat newspaper.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Raikkonen is now only communicating with his bosses via text message.

And team owner Gerard Lopez said Lotus "didn't deserve" Raikkonen's revelation about his unpaid salary.

"I like Kimi," he told Spain's Marca newspaper, "as a driver he's brilliant, but if he's really only going to Ferrari for the pasta, I think it's Ferrari who need to be asked the questions, not us."

If Lopez sounds a little sensitive, it's because Raikkonen's comments coincide with rumours Lotus is in severe financial distress.

Lopez told Auto Motor und Sport that reports dozens of similarly unpaid engineers are also on the market are simply wrong.

"Five have gone, but we are also getting Nicolas Hennel from Ferrari, and a few more as well," he said.

"We are the only team that built a longer-wheelbase car, which is basically half a new car costing a seven-figure sum. We showed to Kimi that we are serious.

"We gave him a good car and a good environment, so the fact that he says these things now, neither us nor he deserves," added Lopez.

(GMM)

 

Ferrari turns to 2014 as Vettel reality bites

Sebastian Vettel's fourth consecutive title win moved a step closer to certainty on Sunday as he pulled 60 points clear of his nearest title rival.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso can mathematically close the gap to the dominant Red Bull by November's Brazil finale, but he now admits it is more than unlikely.

"We don't need luck in Korea; we need luck in Korea, in Japan, in India, in Abu Dhabi ... if we are one second off the pace, we need a lot of luck," said the Spaniard.

Indeed, while Vettel cannot mathematically secure the title in Korea next weekend, from Suzuka onwards - five races to the end - it starts to become a possibility.

Undoubtedly, with reality now biting hard, it makes no sense to keep pushing the development of the 2013 car when Red Bull and Vettel are so far clear and superior.

And the huge challenge of the 2014 regulations is yet another argument in favour of downing tools on this campaign.

"Well, we start from zero next year so it's our best opportunity to close the gap," said Alonso. "Really we will put all our effort and hopes into 2014."

Boss Stefano Domenicali also confirmed that "99 per cent" of Ferrari's focus is now on 2014. Alonso suggests the focus actually switched some time ago.

"When they (Pirelli) changed the tyres, we said bye-bye," he said.

Also theoretically still in the hunt is Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, but he admitted on Sunday that he is not even dreaming about tracking down a 100 point gap.

"We'll just try and catch Fernando somehow," said the Briton.

The fact the title is all but done-and-dusted with six races left to run might explain why Vettel was booed yet again on the podium on Sunday.

The championship leader blamed the Ferrari fans. "If you look at the grandstand, most of them are dressed in red," said the German.

Vettel laughed off the Singapore crowd's reaction, but Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggested the 26-year-old was actually hurt.

"He's only human," he told Bild newspaper.

But Felipe Massa, a Ferrari driver for six more races, said F1 should expect more of the same as the 2013 season rolls on.

"We are seeing an end of the championship with nobody developing the current cars, so it (the results) will probably look something like this," he said in Singapore.

(GMM)

 

'Two or three teams' in financial strife - Ecclestone

'Two or three' teams are facing financial strife, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has admitted.

Told by veteran Swiss correspondent Roger Benoit that 'half the field' is struggling to survive amid the economic crisis and spiralling costs, Ecclestone answered: "That's not quite right.

"We are talking about two vulnerable teams at the moment," the 82-year-old told Blick newspaper.

"Perhaps there's a third with a question mark," added Ecclestone.

Asked, however, if he is confident the 'vulnerable' teams will be on the 2014 grid, the Briton insisted: "If you had asked me a year ago, the answer would be no.

"But now, suddenly, most of the teams find money somehow from somewhere. I don't know how they do that," added Ecclestone.

He would not name the 'vulnerable' teams, or even admit that the one at the top of the list is surely Sauber.

"We've known each other long enough that you know I have nothing to say!" Ecclestone told Benoit.

He ruled out intervening with personal loans, after admitting to the New York Times at the weekend that Sir Frank Williams regularly used to borrow money.

"I'm not allowed to do that anymore," said Ecclestone. "We have an agreement with the teams that it would be unfair to the others.

"They're the ones who wanted it (the agreement)!" he told Blick.

Ecclestone has, however, reached new financial deals with the big teams that give them more income than their smaller, struggling rivals.

Surely that's not fair?

"It's because the big teams have promised that they are staying until 2020 -- they've given us a bank guarantee," Ecclestone revealed.

"The distribution was always the same -- the only difference these days is that we distribute a lot more money," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Meanwhile, Ecclestone insisted he is sleeping well despite the fact prosecutors in Munich are considering sending him to trial over bribery.

He rejects their main argument.

"First, I had no shares to sell, so I had no personal interest," said Ecclestone.

"My job was not in danger -- no matter who the shares were sold to, the FIA had to agree.

"But the FIA wanted to ensure that I still ran the business; because they're familiar with me and know how I work," he insisted.

(GMM)

 
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