Berger: Webber “took out Rosberg”

Gerhard Berger, former F1 driver and team co-owner, has made some astonishing remarks regarding Mark Webbers retirement from last weekend’s Korean Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was unable to finish the weather disrupted race at the new Yeongam circuit after running wide at turn 12 on lap 17, losing control of his car and subsequently veering into the opposite crash barrier. Following the initial impact, the Australian’s car rolled back across the track, collecting Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg. The damage to Rosberg’s car was severe enough to also warrant his retirement.

Berger believes that Webber’s car should not have continued across the track. “He could have hit the brakes and stopped the car,” he told Austrian television station Servus TV.

Gerhard went on to suggest that Webber’s intentions may have been sinister. “He took out Rosberg, but it was the wrong one. I think in his mind he would have preferred Alonso or Hamilton. It’s very obvious – you can see his wheels aren’t locked up. Perhaps he had a brake problem but I don’t think so.”

Immediately following the race Nico Rosberg tweeted on his Twitter account that he also felt Webber could have avoided him. “Sucks!Don’t understand why webber didn’t hit the brakes.Was crazy(evidently)2 roll back over the track.”

GB Quotes from ESPN

Korean GP: as it happened

Hello, good morning and welcome to forumula1.com’s live coverage of the Korean Grand Prix.

The big news this morning is that it is massively wet in Yeongam, and the start has been delayed by ten minutes. The track was slippery at the best of times and the standing water has made it extremely tricky to navigate.

The Red Bulls at the front want the race started behind a safety car, and the more rain comes down the more likely that looks. McLaren, unsurprisingly, don’t want that.

6.57am (GMT) The race will now start behind a safety car. Red Bull will be happy with that, although the uncertainty of the conditions is more bothersome for them than for anyone else. If it had been dry they might have just scampered off for a one-two, so the rain’s good for the spectacle, at least.

7.02am Sebastian Vettel’s race engineer Rocky lets him know that the forecast is that the rain will reduce in intensity in the near future.

Fernando Alonso’s support from Felipe Massa may come into play as well in these conditions.

7.10am The race has started behind the Safety Car. Fernando Alonso says thatover the team radio that these are “the worst conditions he ever drove”. Martin Brundle explains on the BBC that he is probably referring to the amount of grip available rather than the amount of water on the track.

7.14am They have now red-flagged the race. Jenson Button said that he cannot see the front tyres of his own car.

7.17am So they’re now sitting on the grid. There must be a real sensation of frustration amongst the fans who are watching this both at the track and on early morning TV, because there doesn’t seem to be any promise that the rain will stop. Red Bull’s system says 40 minutes. But no one has any idea.

7.23am The word is now that 75% race distance is the most likely option, because there “it’s just not possible to see anything” on track at the moment according to Timo Glock.

7.25am Red Bull’s Christian Horner has been speaking to the BBC, discussing the possibility that the race won’t start at all, and that some complicated type of calculation would have to be employed to allocate the points.

7.28am Charlie Whiting is under pressure here. There’s an expectant crowd of nearly 100 000, a global TV audience, a sodden and treacherous racetrack and a race to run. Does he risk it? It’s a big call. Jonathan Legard helpfully adds that the crowd are “puzzled”. No they’re not, you patronising wally.

7.32am Mark Webber says that everybody is just going to have to “wait and see”.

7.35am Martin Whitmarsh reminds us all that full points will only be awarded if 75% race distance is completed. He also says that we are “running out of time”, owing to the daylight fading.

7.41am Nothing is happening now. Maddening for a lot of people, but the drivers’ safety has to be paramount.

7.45am The rain seems to have lessened a bit, although that might just be wishful thinking from millions of fans who have to listen to Jonathan Legard telling us that the sport is more complex than it looks. Dear God, please give him something to talk about.

7.48am Michael Schumacher says that what worries him is “the lack of possibility of escape” if someone were to have an accident. He’s right. There would be nowhere to go and there would be carnage. Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Safety Car driver Bernd Maylander and Christian Horner are in earnest discussion at the front of the grid.

7.53am The race will be restarted at five past the hour. Behind the Safety Car again. But they have to get it going. The track, according to Eddie Jordan, is “too new.” He’s saying that all the new resin has risen to the surface, and made it effectively an ice rink.

7.57am Lewis Hamilton is happy with the edict to start the competition. He sticks two thumbs-up to the camera, mouthing what looks like “let’s race!” The Medical Car is going round.

8am The drivers are back in the cars now.

8.05am They are back under way again, behind the Safety Car. It does look less wet. “It’s a little bit better than before,” says Sebastian Vettel. But you get the distinct impression he would prefer not to race at the moment.

8.07am So what we have now is an exhibition of extremely fast cars behind a normal one, going extremely slowly. It’s now Lap 6, and this all counts. Martin Brundle would have started the race if he was in charge.

Lap 7 Still they potter round. Rubens Barrichello is being told that the rain will last for another 20 minutes, and then that will be it. Vettel says that the water is less now on the straight than it was. Michael Schumacher takes an off-track excursion. He is seeing where the grip is, the wise old head.

Lap 8 Lewis Hamilton memorably describes conditions as “good”.

Lap 10 Lewis then asks his team to maximise fuel consumption for his car. This is clever thinking by the Englishman. He knows the race is unlikely to be a full one, so his car will be lighter if he can burn some fuel off.

Lap 12 Mark Webber doesn’t think the conditions are getting better. But the consensus is the cars will be better able to cope with the adverse weather at racing speed, where they actually have some downforce. Martin Brundle wonders whether this will set a precedent – that every time the track is wet and there’s standing water, the Safety Car will lead them out. Delaying the race may be a ploy, the unwritten insinuation is, from Ferrari and Red Bull who have a lot to lose from an unpredictable race.

Lap 13 It has also been pointed out that no one has fallen off the road yet, so how bad can the conditions really be? If I were in charge I’d give it a go, and see how many people fell off at racing speed. You could always red flag it and delay it again.

Lap 14 David Coulthard, at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, says that Lewis’ engineers are telling him that not every driver “has the same enthusiasm” for racing on water as he does.

Lap 16 Lewis points out, in jest or not, that he thinks “it’s almost intermediates”. He’s right to make a point. They should get on with it now, frankly.

Lap 17 There it is. Safety Car in this lap.

Lap 18. They’re racing! Schumacher passes Kubica into Turn One, and Hamilton is passed by Rosberg too! Rosberg into fourth, but otherwise the order remains the same. It’s Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Schumacher, Kubica.

Lap 19 For all Hamilton’s enthusiasm, he has lost a place at the restart.

Lap 19 Mark Webber drops it! A bit wide on a right hander – he spins and collects Nico Rosberg on his way back across the track. They are both out of the race. That was a massive impact as Rosberg tonked Webber.

Lap 20 The Safety Car is out again. Hamilton up to third.

Lap 21 Vettel must be chuffed, although Alonso is by no means out of this race. None of the front runners has pitted yet.

Lap 22 Jenson Button is going to have to overtake somebody if he wants to keep his championship alive and profit from Webber’s retirement. Webber, of course, will be praying now for more rain so that full points are not awarded and the damage to his championship aspirations is minimised.

Lap 23 The big question now is whether and when they go for intermediates.

Lap 24 They are racing again, it’s been green-flagged. McLaren have to make their supposed wet weather superiority pay here. Senna and Trulli collide, and Trulli’s front wing now sits in the middle of the track. Everyone out here wants to race to 42 laps, the magic number which represents full points, so they don’t want another safety car.

Lap 26 Vettel is flying. He’s stretching a gap to Alonso, and Alonso is not slouching either. Hamilton is being left behind a bit by the two in front.

Lap 27 Those on inters, and there aren’t many, are really not as fast as those on wets. Schumacher passes Button with a great move! Meanwhile, Lucas di Grassi drops it trying to overtake Sakon Yamamoto and puts it in the wall.

Lap 28 It’s Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Schumacher, Button, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Barrichello, Sutil, Liuzzi, Alguersuari, Glock, Petrov, Buemi.

Lap 29 McLaren are putting inters on Jenson Button after seeing Nick Heidfeld set a reasonable time on the medium tyre. Button comes out behind a world of traffic, the poor sod.

Lap 30 Vettel is told that there’s more rain to come, so he’s not going to change.

Lap 31 Webber accepts “it was totally my fault.” Ouch! Buemi hits Glock after forgetting where the brake pedal is. Big crash. Safety Car out. Massa, Hamilton, Schumacher, and half the grid into the pits. Hamilton and Massa are back out on track in what seems like a flash.

Lap 32 Race leader Vettel pits. Alonso also pits, but has a problem with his right front…and Hamilton’s through! Vettel and Hamilton now, first and second. He’s right up there now thanks to the Safety Car. This could be entertaining. Turned out Alonso’s issue was a faulty wheel nut. Pesky.

Lap 34 Lewis is not happy with his tyres, and as they get under way it looks as though he’ll be defending….and Alonso’s already through, and Massa’s threatening! Hamilton went massively deep into Turn One, and lost out immediately to his great rival.

Lap 35 Heikki Kovalainen was speeding in the pit lane, and is punished accordingly with a drive through. Jenson Button is having a torrid time down in the field. Adrian Sutil takes him, and Button goes off, and he’s now down in 15th. He cannot afford to finish there.

Lap 36 It’s Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Schumacher, Barrichello, Petrov, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Liuzzi, Kobayashi, Sutil, Heidfeld, Alguersuari, Button, Kovalainen, Senna, Yamamoto.

Lap 38 Sutil goes off, trying to overtake Kobayashi. All his hard work undone.

Lap 39 Alonso is told to conserve his tyres. Hamilton, meanwhile, has just set the fastest lap. This isn’t over, and unhappily for Webber, it looks almost definite that full points will be won now.

Lap 41 Vitaly Petrov has had a massive crash at the final corner. A big slide that ends up with a big impact in the tyre wall. He is ok, and out the car, but it was another mistake in slippery conditions from the Russian rookie.

Lap 42 There doesn’t seem to be any sign of the Safety Car as a result of Petrov’s crash.

Lap 43 Alonso could really threaten Vettel here as we approach the final part of the race. They are not a million miles away from each other, the front three, and with half an hour of racing left and tyres falling off in a big way, it could yet be wheel-to-wheel.

Lap 44 “I cannot see anything in Turn One,” says Seb Vettel. He wouldn’t. What he wants is the race to end now, methinks. It is getting dark though, to be fair. I’m not sure we’ll get much more now.

Lap 46 Vettel’s engine blows! Great drama! Fernando Alonso takes the lead…what terrible luck for Red Bull and the German. Hamilton into second. Attritional stuff here.

Lap 47 Sutil. who has been combative all afternoon, spins trying to overtake Kobayashi and hits him. He’s out, although it looks like Kobayashi can continue.

Lap 48 Button is still trapped behind Toro Rossos and Saubers. It hasn’t been a great afternoon for the Englishman – evidence about what happens when tyre gambles don’t go so well.

Lap 49 Vettel walks disconsolately back to the pits. His mechanical failures have really cost him this season. Helmut Marko, the big boss, hugs Vettel as they meet in the pit lane.

Lap 50 We may well get 55 laps here, which is nice. The race has finally settled down after non-stop drama. Hamilton is losing buckets of time to leader Alonso, but as long as he gets to the end it won’t be a problem.

Lap 52 Hulkenberg pits. There is no grip out there. Button spins. Hamilton is fighting the car. The no-drama period didn’t last long. Alonso is still pushing, because quite rightly, he thinks that going quicker is paradoxically safer. Temperatures are kept up, etc. It is basically dark now, with three laps left.

Lap 54 Alguersuari and Hulkenberg are fighting like dogs over a bone over tenth place, the final point.

Lap 55 FERNANDO ALONSO WINS THE KOREAN GRAND PRIX

A superb effort from Alonso, who profited from the Red Bulls’ problems but nevertheless drove wonderfully to conserve his rubber in difficult conditions.

Hamilton comes in second, with Massa third. Michael Schumacher is a creditable fourth, with Kubica fifth, Liuzzi sixth, Barrichello seventh, Kobayashi eighth, Heidfeld ninth, Hulkenberg for the final point, Alguersuari 11th, Button 12th, Kovalainen 13th, Senna 14th, and Yamamoto the last of the finishers.

This leaves the championship beautifully poised, with Alonso leading it from Webber. No one is out of it yet, which is great.

That’s it from me, thanks for following.

Korean GP: Vettel takes pole after thrilling qualifying

Sebastian Vettel this morning pipped his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to pole position for tomorrow’s Korean Grand Prix at the Yeongam circuit.

The German left his charge very late, and as the track got progressively quicker his decision was vindicated.

He was less than a tenth quicker than Webber’s best time, demonstrating that although the Red Bulls may lose straightline time in the first fast sector at the track, they more than make up for it in the twisty second and third sectors.

Fernando Alonso looked to be in the running for pole until the dying seconds but will start third for the race. Lewis Hamilton, who endured a minor off during the final Q3 session, will be fourth alongside the Ferrari man.

Final championship contender Jenson Button will be seventh on the grid, following Felipe Massa in sixth slot and an impressive Nico Rosberg fifth.

The top ten was completed by Renault’s Robert Kubica, Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in the Williams.

Elsewhere, business was more or less as usual as the form went as expected.

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:37.123 1:36.074 1:35.585
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:37.373 1:36.039 1:35.659
3. Alonso Ferrari 1:37.144 1:36.287 1:35.766
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.113 1:36.197 1:36.062
5. Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.708 1:36.791 1:36.535
6. Massa Ferrari 1:37.515 1:36.169 1:36.571
7. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.123 1:37.064 1:36.731
8. Kubica Renault 1:37.703 1:37.179 1:36.824
9. Schumacher Mercedes 1:37.980 1:37.077 1:36.950
10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.257 1:37.511 1:36.998
11. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.115 1:37.620
12. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.429 1:37.643
13. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.171 1:37.715
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.572 1:37.783
15. Petrov Renault 1:38.174 1:37.799 *
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.583 1:37.853
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.621 1:38.594
18. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.955
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.521
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:40.748
21. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:41.768
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.325
23. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:42.444
24. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:43.283

Check back tomorrow for a minute-by-minute race report!

Webber Positive After Friday Practice

Mark Webber is optimistic about his chances of adding another win to his tally this weekend, after setting the fastest time in Friday Practice at the new Korean International Circuit. Coincidentally, his lap time of 1:37.942 was two-tenths faster than that of his nearest rival in the championship, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, whose time of 1:38.132 was enough to see the Spaniard finish second at the close of the session.

Webber’s review of first day on the Yeongam circuit was enough to quell many onlooker’s concerns, with the track only passing its final inspection just eleven days ago. “It was a positive day and car ran well,” said the Australian. “There was a lot of information to gather and we’ve done that pretty successfully.” It was also a positive day for the race organisers, with Webber speaking highly of the circuit. “It’s enjoyable to drive here; there are a couple of unique sections…the pit entry and exit is a bit marginal to get on and off the track but, apart from that, they’ve done a remarkable job and I’m clutching at straws to criticise anything.”

The issue of the pit entry and exit was one expressed by few drivers, with most teams more concerned with coming to grips with the new circuit, quite literally. Hamilton (3rd 1:38.279) expressed his original concerns of a slippery track, but dramatic track evolution soon laid enough rubber to get the track times flowing, and add a bit more grip to the circuit.

Alonso expressed his concern of rapid tire wear for this grand prix. “At the moment there is nothing particularly to flag up, apart from the fact that the tyres wear rapidly, as in fact one could predict on a completely new track surface. It’s not worth worrying about it, because the situation will have improved by Sunday and also, we are more or less all in the same situation.”

Kubica and his Renault were fourth quickest, with the Pole confessing that his team were aiming to “try and extract a bit more from the car.” Button finished fifth, despite experiencing overheating issues with his car, which cost him some time. Felipe Massa tested both a standard and a blown rear wing during his session, admitting that the blown rear wing was a necessity for use on Yeongam’s straights. The Brazillian finished a comfortable sixth, with a lap time of 1:38.820.

The other Red Bull driver, Sebastian Vettel, could only finish 7th in a session marred with a puncture early in P2. He also expressed concern with the pit entry and exits. Petrov and Rosberg were 8th and 9th respectively, with Kobayashi rounding out the top 10.

Germans Heidfeld and Schumacher were 11th and 12th respectively, with the latter admitting he was pleasantly surprised with the circuit.” Barrichello was 14th, with the two Force Indias of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil following immediately behind.

Hulkenberg was 16th the young German claiming he had a better set up in the first session, although he was still happy with his performance. The rest of the order had no surprises, with Alguersuari and Buemi next following. Kovalainen was faster than his team-mate, with Trulli coming in 20th despite issues with his gearbox. Glock, Di Grassi, and Yamamoto followed. Bruno Senna completed the order with a lap-time over 8.7 seconds behind Webber, with the Brazilian Driver experiencing some technical glitches which he hopes will soon be rectified.

All in all, it was a positive day for Mark Webber, who might have just asserted himself a little, after recognising that he needs to win one more race in order to put one hand on the trophy. The race organisers and fans are left feeling relieved and excited about the prospect of a fantastic Grand Prix later this weekend….

Korean GP: Webber tops second Friday practice

Mark Webber today posted the fastest time in the second free practice session for Sunday’s inaugural Korean Grand Prix.

The Red Bull man ended up topping the timesheets after a session in which times decreased gradually as drivers got themselves used to the slippery nature of the new surface.

The margin between the five championship front runners was promisingly small, though, with all five contenders showing real pace at different times of the session.

It was Fernando Alonso who ended up with the second fastest time, with Lewis Hamilton following up his fastest FP1 time with third.

Jenson Button recovered from a small fire at the rear of his car to post a competitive fifth place.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:37.942 23
2. Alonso Ferrari 1:38.132 + 0.190 30
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.279 + 0.337 29
4. Kubica Renault 1:38.718 + 0.776 29
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.726 + 0.784 19
6. Massa Ferrari 1:38.820 + 0.878 32
7. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:39.204 + 1.262 22
8. Petrov Renault 1:39.267 + 1.325 28
9. Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.268 + 1.326 29
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.564 + 1.622 26
11. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.588 + 1.646 25
12. Schumacher Mercedes 1:39.598 + 1.656 26
13. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:39.812 + 1.870 35
14. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:39.881 + 1.939 27
15. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:39.971 + 2.029 22
16. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:40.478 + 2.536 30
17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:40.578 + 2.636 29
18. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:40.896 + 2.954 32
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:42.773 + 4.831 29
20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:42.801 + 4.859 19
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:43.115 + 5.173 26
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:44.039 + 6.097 29
23. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:45.166 + 7.224 19
24. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:46.649 + 8.707 3

Drivers happy with Korea track

Several drivers have said they are more than satisfied with the design and nature of the Yeong-am track in Korea which hosts the country’s first grand prix this weekend.

Concerns had been aired recently because of the late completion of the track, but a number of drivers said their first impressions were very good.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa said: “It looks pretty interesting this track. As I could see yesterday going around the track you have every type of corner that you can see at many other different tracks.

“There are slow corners, strong braking points, long straights, very quick corners and medium speed corners where you need 3rd/4th gear. I think you have a bit of everything so it looks really interesting.”

Lewis Hamilton said: “They deserve a pat on the backs for getting this place ready, and it looks like it can put on a good show.”

Nick Heidfeld said: “The circuit looks really nice. The layout looks great and not everything is finished but it is better than what I expected after what I heard over the last few weeks.”

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel said: “Walking the circuit this morning it looks interesting and there are lots of grandstands, so hopefully we have lots of people coming this weekend.

“The circuit itself we will see how grippy it will be, but given the fact that there was a lot of concern and talking about not racing here, lately they did a very good job. Most of the things are finished so it should be alright for us to go out.”

Rosberg: I’m very happy to have beaten my team mate

Nico Rosberg has said that his dominance over illustrious team mate Michael Schumacher is the side of this season that has given him the most pleasure.

The German has outqualified his seven-time championship-winning rival by a margin of 12 to 3, and generally been a stronger contender in races as well.

“It’s a two-faced season. On one side there is the comparison with my team-mate, and under this aspect I am very happy,” Rosberg told Autosprint magazine.

“When I signed I had thought my team-mate would be Button, and that was fine by me. When I learned that Jenson was leaving the team I had hoped that a strong, experienced driver would join the team.

“So, after learning of Schumacher’s arrival, I was happy under this point of view. However, I didn’t know what to expect from other points of view. First of all I didn’t know Michael in person, and then I knew about his long friendship with Ross Brawn, and I didn’t know whether this would have had an impact on my situation. Instead, everything has gone for the best.”

But Rosberg stressed that he had wanted more competitive machinery at the ex-Brawn squad, and that the results had left him disappointed.

“However, if we look at the absolute results, I must say that I had hoped for something more.”

Tilke promises low-grip entertainment in Korea

Yeong-am circuit designer Hermann Tilke has predicted that the inaugural Korean Grand Prix this weekend will be an entertaining one because of lack of grip.

The recently-completed track surface is set to yield little purchase for the drivers, and may make set-up complicated.

“The only problem it [the new surface] will cause and to me that is not actually a problem is in terms of grip,” explained Tilke.

He went on to throw down the gauntlet to drivers to deal with the slippery track.

“A lack of grip should not be a problem because we have the best drivers in the world here. Plus, it will be the same conditions for everybody. There will not a problem that the track will break-up.

“I think on Friday the track surface will be very, very slippery because it is brand new. That means you will probably see some spinning. And, it will not be easy to find the set-up for Saturday and Sunday because the track will change a lot.

“That means some drivers will make the wrong set-up choice, because you are going to have to second guess what is the right way to go.”

Red Bull are the only team to have any experience of the track, as Karun Chandhok recently tested one of their cars there as a dry run.

Ecclestone has no intention of retiring

FOM Chairman Bernie Ecclestone has admitted today that he has no intention of retiring, despite his advanced years.

In a far-reaching interview with the Guardian newspaper, Ecclestone covered a range of topics, including the number of races on the calendar. But he insisted that in spite of his hectic schedule, he was not thinking of calling it a day.

“Absolutely. What else would I do? People retire to die,” he said, when asked if he could see himself still running the sport in the future.

“The way I feel at the moment, why stop? I do it because I enjoy it. And yesterday is gone. I don’t care what happened yesterday.”

The Englishman also hinted that the Turkish Grand Prix might be dropped in order to accommodate new races such as planned events in Texas and Russia.

“Maybe someone will decide they need a rest because it’s not working for them commercially. A good example is probably Turkey. They’ve built an incredible circuit and it might even be the best but there’s not much enthusiasm from the public. I don’t know why.”

Renault fighting an ‘uphill struggle’ – Boullier

Renault boss Eric Boullier has said that his team face an ‘uphill struggle’ to finish ahead of Mercedes in the constructors’ standings this season.

The Anglo-French team lie 43 points behind their Anglo-German rivals, which, although not insurmountable, will be difficult according to the man in charge.

”With three races to go, it’s now very much an uphill struggle – but this is F1, and anything can still happen,” Boullier told Autosport.

“We have a huge amount of respect for Mercedes as competitors, they are the reigning world champion team, and they have had a strong second half of the season where they made the most of their opportunities.”

He went on to praise the team’s efforts this year, particularly with reference to their dire recent seasons.

“Even if we don’t overhaul them in the standings, we can be very proud of our achievements this year,” he said.

“From a low point twelve months ago, we are the most improved team of 2010 and, in the second half of the season, we have been taking the fight to the teams at the front of the grid.

“That’s a real tribute to the quality of the people we have at Enstone and a very promising sign for the future.”