A 2012 F1 contract will "probably" be Mark Webber's last - in a Red Bull car, at least.
That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull's driver manager and consultant to team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
The Austrian is known to be closer to fellow German-speaker Sebastian Vettel's side of the garage, and he stunned F1's Australian contingent on Sunday by effectively announcing 34-year-old Webber's impending retirement.
Marko told broadcaster One's coverage of the Hungarian Grand Prix that Webber is "probably going to retire" next year.
He said Red Bull therefore "would need to find one of our juniors who can replace Mark Webber".
Ironically, a leading candidate is Webber's countryman Daniel Ricciardo, who has been slotted in at HRT alongside Italian veteran Vitantonio Liuzzi.
"First of all, he has to beat his teammate, and he has to progress," said Marko.
"He (Ricciardo) is losing too much in the pitstops, and losing too much when he is being lapped so he must get the feeling. And we want him to fight with the people who are around him."
Red Bull to test new diffuser at Spa
A long-awaited summer break, including mandatory factory shutdowns, lies ahead for F1 team members.
But the previously dominant Red Bull, beaten by Ferrari and McLaren at the last three Grands Prix, is planning a significant upgrade for the RB7 to debut at Spa-Francorchamps later this month.
"McLaren have made the biggest leap in the blown diffuser (area)," team boss Christian Horner told Der Spiegel in Hungary, adding that there is still developmental "potential" in Red Bull's car.
The report said a new floor and diffuser, to be tested in Friday practice in Belgium, should make the Red Bull three-tenths per lap faster.
Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio said it is a myth that F1's smartest chiefs will simply lie on beaches in the next few weeks.
"Who really believes that, as McLaren and Ferrari move ahead, Adrian Newey for example says to his guys tomorrow at Milton Keynes: 'Ok guys, see you in two weeks!'"
Actually, more than 100 points ahead in the constructors' and 88 points clear of the first non-Red Bull in the drivers' chase, Red Bull are not panicking.
"We are on a par with McLaren. And we have a head start," consultant Dr Helmut Marko told Kleine Zeitung with eight races left to run in 2011.
He also confirmed that development of the RB7 is moving ahead.
"We will continue to make the car better," said the Austrian.
Die Welt headlined after Sunday's result that second place was "The perfect defeat" for German Sebastian Vettel, whose championship lead actually extended due to Jenson Button winning.
"I definitely can live with P2," he said.
"Perhaps we don't have the strongest car at the moment, but we can still achieve good points."
No team orders as McLaren drivers diced in Hungary
Sunday in Hungary proved McLaren does not use team orders, according to Jenson Button.
Prior to winning his 200th Grand Prix, the 31-year-old engaged in a wheel-to-wheel, place-swapping duel with his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Button said a few days ago that McLaren "does not have team orders".
"Other teams will use them, but not us," he added, apparently referring to Red Bull's order that Mark Webber hold position behind Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone.
After Sunday's race, Button said it was no surprise the McLaren pitwall kept out of the battle.
"No, I wasn't surprised they let us fight," he said. "We wouldn't have listened anyway. If they had said 'back off and sit behind your teammate', it wouldn't have happened."
McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale confirmed the desire to sometimes protect a good team result.
But he insisted: "You have to let them go sometimes. We can get it wrong but when you have a race like that, you know you are right."
Briatore involved in Ecclestone bribe affair: report
Banned former F1 chief Flavio Briatore has been named as being also involved in the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery affair.
The Italian, a friend and business partner of Bernie Ecclestone, was reportedly involved in the F1 chief executive's payment of millions to jailed German banker Gribkowsky.
The Seddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said Briatore, as well as a Swiss lawyer, helped Ecclestone get the money to Gribkowsky via a web of shell companies and fake consultancy contracts.
And the report said four of Ecclestone's lawyers - three in Geneva and one in London - have been subject to searches by prosecutors.
The 80-year-old has said he was effectively blackmailed by Gribkowsky and argued that the amount paid to the former BayernLB risk manager was much less than $44m.
APA news agency said the prosecutors have declined to comment on the latest reports.
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