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TMR Team | Aug, 26 2013 | 2 Comments

A mischievous Mark Webber on Sunday gave away the name of his successor at Red Bull.

While the frenzied 'silly season' rumour-mongers wonder if Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button or even Fernando Alonso might still be in the running, Australian Webber said it is his younger compatriot who has secured the plum 2014 seat.

Team boss Christian Horner has insisted all weekend that a decision has not been made, and that an announcement is not due at least until Monza in two weeks.

But the Le Mans-bound Webber said at Spa-Francorchamps: "The decision's made. We all know who it is. I'm happy with that decision.

"It's good for him and good for Australia," he told Channel 10.

(GMM)

 

Lopez tips Raikkonen to agree new deal 'quickly'

Team owner Gerard Lopez is hopeful Kimi Raikkonen will soon sign a new deal to stay at Lotus in 2014.

As a weekend of fever-pitch speculation nears an end, the Finnish driver's manager Steve Robertson has now clearly denied rumours Raikkonen has inked a Ferrari contract.

"It's a load of rubbish," he told the broadcaster MTV3.

"We are in the same place as we were a month ago in Hungary -- we do not have an agreement," Robertson insisted.

MTV3 claims Raikkonen staying at Lotus next year is backed by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who wants as many top drivers as possible spread across all the top teams.

So if Raikkonen stays put, Ecclestone thinks McLaren with Jenson Button, Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari with Fernando Alonso and Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel is an ideal situation for the sport.

Raikkonen hinted on Friday that one pertinent issue is the fact Lotus has often been late to pay wages.

But according to another rumour in Belgium, also crucial to Raikkonen staying next year could be a deal that brings engine supplier Renault - marginalised at Red Bull due to the Infiniti deal - closer to Lotus.

That would tie into speculation Raikkonen has demanded certain 'guarantees' about Lotus' competitiveness in 2014.

"We do not need to give any guarantees," Lopez insists. "We are very competitive.

"Rather, the question is about next season. We are very close to reaching an agreement with Renault.

"I believe that we have very good chances. We've done a good job to give Kimi what he wants."

And, ultimately, he thinks that when the time is right, sitting down with a new contract and Raikkonen will be a straightforward matter.

"We already talk a lot," said Lopez. "As long as we are able to give him what he wants and we can react calmly, I believe we can reach an agreement quickly."

(GMM)

 

Ecclestone confirms Michelin eyeing F1 return

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed reports from Spa-Francorchamps this week that Michelin wants to return to formula one.

"They do want to get back in," the F1 chief executive is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, "but we have had contracts with Pirelli for some time."

Ecclestone is referring to commercial arrangements that have already been made with the sport's existing supplier.

But there is no such contract between Pirelli and F1's governing FIA beyond 2013.

That has ramped up the pressure on the already-frustrated Italian company, who said moves to change F1's supplier now would be "farcical".

"If Michelin wanted to return why didn't they come out and say so last September?" motor sport boss Paul Hembery told the Telegraph.

He was speaking at Spa-Francorchamps, where after Friday's punctures for Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, he had to show photographs to journalists to prove the problems had been simply caused by debris.

"We can't even get a flat tyre now?" Hembery is quoted by Autosprint.

(GMM)

 

Mercedes won't 'compromise' 2014 car focus

Mercedes says it will not "compromise" its preparations for 2014 by focusing too hard on this year's world championship race.

Many insiders now regard Lewis Hamilton as the most likely challenger to Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's title lead.

But team director Toto Wolff has reportedly said the team should be more focused now on the huge challenge of the radical new rules for 2014.

"I think there's several different people that have different opinions about it," Briton Hamilton said on Saturday, after capturing his fourth consecutive pole.

It seems, however, that team boss Ross Brawn in fact has the same opinion as Wolff.

"We're not thinking in terms of winning a championship (in 2013)," he is quoted by Sky.

Brawn said it would be "unusual" if Vettel can not take his healthy points lead all the way to November's season finale.

"Obviously I don't want that to sound like we don't want to win the championship, of course we do, but we're not compromising our 2014 programme," he added.

So, Brawn said Mercedes will only do "a small amount of things" in terms of developing the W04 for the rest of this season.

(GMM)

 
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