Red Bull happy with Webber and Vettel

Red Bull’s team boss has moved to ease speculation Mark Webber could be set to change teams at the end of 2012.

The 35-year-old Australian is now on only a one-year contract, triggering reports he has been lined up by Ferrari as a potential successor to the struggling Felipe Massa. But subsequent speculation said Red Bull is in fact close to offering to extend Webber’s deal. Team boss Christian Horner ridiculed the Ferrari rumours.

“I think it’s inevitable,” he is quoted by France’s L’Equipe. “Almost every driver in the paddock is supposed to be joining Fernando Alonso next season. We’re staying focused on ourselves. Mark is happy to be here, and we are happy to have him with us,” said Horner.

“When the time comes later this year, we will sit down and discuss the future with him, as we have done in previous seasons. Speculation like this is part of the business,” he insisted.

“Mark has driven very well in these first few races, finishing fourth four times. Of course we would like to see him on the podium but he has scored some very important points. He can do great things this year. I think with Sebastian (Vettel), they push each other — it’s also thanks to him (Webber) that Sebastian gives the very best of himself.

“There is a good dynamic between them and that’s exactly what we want,” Horner said.


Webber hits back at Petrov’s Mugello jibe

Mark Webber has hit out at F1 rival Vitaly Petrov. Last week, as the sport tested at Mugello, Russian driver Petrov suggested the high speed Ferrari-owned layout is too dangerous for modern grand prix cars.

“You get very close to the walls and it’s maybe a bit small for the cars now,” said the Caterham driver.

Australian Webber, however, had raved about Mugello, likening 10 laps there as akin to 1000 tours of Abu Dhabi’s heavily-criticised Yas Marina layout. Posting a photo on Twitter of Jim Clark driving unprotected past houses at the Aintree circuit in 1962, Webber remarked: “I wonder if V Petrov was there”.


Red Bull ready to re-sign Webber?

Mark Webber’s future in F1 seems secure, after reports this week linked him to two top teams for the 2013 season.

First, Spanish specialist reports said Ferrari is interested in the experienced Australian to replace struggling Felipe Massa next season. And now, the Australian Sydney Morning Herald newspaper claims Red Bull, 35-year-old Webber’s current team, is “all but ready” to extend his contract through 2013.

That would give junior team Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, tipped to eventually replace Webber, “a further season to adjust to the category and prove themselves worthy of the top drive”, the report added.

Whatever top team he is in, Webber confirmed he is not ready to retire.

“I’m really enjoying my driving and clearly I’m off to a really good start this year,” he said. “I feel completely reinvigorated and am just really enjoying it, which has been reflected in my driving and my results.

“So I’ll keep pressing on. Retirement isn’t even on my radar at the moment. The results are there and when they are there I keep driving,” added Webber.


Webber denies 2013 Ferrari deal

Mark Webber has denied signing with the Ferrari team for 2013.

Spanish media reports, indicating that a letter of intent may already have been written, said Fernando Alonso favours Australian Webber to replace the struggling Felipe Massa. The reports also said Webber, 35 and with an expiring Red Bull contract, could be signed for a single season ahead of Sergio Perez joining in 2014.

“Sergio was flavour of the month last week for the Ferrari drive; now it’s me,” Webber said at the Mugello test on Tuesday. I’m focusing 100 per cent on this season and doing the best job for myself and Red Bull Racing. I’m not putting any energy into anything else.”

Italian-language reporters also quote Webber as saying: “There’s a whole season ahead of us before we need to think about the future.

“One day the talk is about Jenson (Button joining Ferrari), then it’s Sergio, now it’s me. I haven’t signed anything. My focus is on this team (Red Bull); we’ve had a good start to the season, we’re only four races down and the road is very, very, very long before we start talking about the future.”

As for the closely-contested 2012 championship, Webber added: “The grid is very close together. Sebastian (Vettel) had a weekend without problems in Bahrain and won but he didn’t dominate, and that’s the same for everyone.

“No one will be dominant in the first half of the season, so to be third at the start of the European season is not bad,” he said.


Another report links Ferrari with Webber

More reports are suggesting Mark Webber could be Ferrari-bound. One of Spain’s leading F1 correspondents, Raymond Blancafort, wrote in El Mundo Deportivo that “there may be a pre-contract” between the Maranello based team and Red Bull’s experienced Australian driver. Webber, 35, was also linked with Ferrari last year, before Red Bull decided to sign him up for another single season alongside Sebastian Vettel.

He is now touted as Felipe Massa’s 2013 replacement, not only because of his “experience (and) the consistency of his results” but because “he gets along” with number one driver Fernando Alonso, Blancafort said.

Flavio Briatore also manages both Alonso and Webber.

Following Blancafort’s claims, Spain’s El Confidencial is now reporting similarly. The publication said Webber has been earmarked as Alonso’s ideal teammate for 2013, perhaps pre-dating Sergio Perez’s move to the team in 2014 when the young Mexican has gathered another season of experience.

That may mean yet another single-season deal for Webber, but it might be better than what he is offered by Red Bull, given the energy drink-owned team’s grooming of youngsters Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso.

El Confidencial said Webber is also Spaniard Alonso’s first choice, with a source saying a deal has been “already reached but not signed”, possibly therefore in the form of a letter of intent.


Webber linked with Ferrari?

Mark Webber might have signed a pre-contractual agreement with Ferrari, one of Spain’s leading F1 correspondents has revealed.

Raymond Blancafort, writing for El Mundo Deportivo, referred to widespread speculation in the paddock about Sergio Perez’s likely future alongside Fernando Alonso.

“There may be a pre-contract,” he said, “but between Ferrari and Webber.”

Australian Webber was also linked with Ferrari last year, before Red Bull decided to sign him up for another single season. The 35-year-old was overshadowed by his teammate Sebastian Vettel last year, but he has begun the 2012 season more strongly.

And Webber warned before the 2012 season began that if Red Bull didn’t re-sign him for 2013, “I’d need something (else) competitive (to drive)”.

“Being at the front, is certainly a big, big factor of me staying very hungry and motivated.”

Ferrari may be looking to replace Alonso’s current teammate, the struggling team veteran Felipe Massa, for 2013.

“They (Ferrari) would be able to take advantage of his (Webber’s) experience, the consistency of his results and the fact that he gets along with Alonso. Interestingly, Webber is also still involved with Flavio Briatore”, as is Alonso, Blancafort noted.


Webber’s back, but without winning car yet

After a demoralising 2011, Mark Webber is back. Unfortunately for the Australian, however, the new Red Bull is not yet a McLaren-beater.

Teammate Sebastian Vettel scored back to back titles in the RB8’s two predecessors but in Australia and Malaysia was out-qualified by Webber. German commentator Christian Danner said Webber’s boost of form is “significant”.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda added on German television RTL that the 35-year-old Australian seems to be dealing better than Vettel with the new generation of Pirelli.

And while behind the McLarens and a Mercedes, and identical in pace to Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus on Saturday, the Adrian Newey-penned car in Webber’s hands in Malaysia is not sluggish.

“Mark is just two tenths from pole position, so we are not hopeless,” Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

But they’re not winning yet, either.

“I think the race can go a little better for us here,” said Vettel after qualifying sixth on Saturday, “but I think you can see that we don’t have an easy car to drive.

“We are aware of it and we are working hard,” he is quoted by Spain’s Marca newspaper.


Webber leads charge on Red Bull sisters

Webber MonzaWebber takes fight to STR, but can’t stop Vettel

A late qualifying effort against the grain of worsening conditions, vaulted Mark Webber onto the second row of the grid in Monza giving the Red Bull family further cause for celebration ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

The Aussie ace, who was last at the sharp-end of the grid in Great Britain when he hustled his RB4 into P2, found himself locked in a fierce battle with his Red Bull sisters for the front row after rain in Q2 claimed the scalp of its usual occupiers.

For a moment it looked as though the Red Bull driver would take up his usual place in eighth or ninth after almost losing control at the Ascari chicane on his first flying lap, but a last ditch effort in the dying seconds, as the rain fell even harder, saw him catapult up alongside Sebastien Bourdais in third, albeit behind future team-mate and pole sitter Sebastian Vettel.

“I didn’t have a very good run on my first lap in Q3 and thought I’d messed up the session, as I was told it was going to rain again,” confessed the 31-year-old.

“It was difficult to get the at the end with the conditions as they were, but I knew I had to do it. It was crucial to get both of the chicanes right and I really had to focus on the Ascari Chicane because it was like running on rail tracks.”

“I drilled that though and it helped me to get my lap time. It should be a pretty interesting race tomorrow if the conditions are like this again! Toro Rosso have been fast in the last couple of races and they did very well today.”

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner was delighted with the result, if not slightly disappointed to see David Coulthard get caught out by the conditions.

“A very exciting three qualifying sessions with the varying amounts of rain. Both drivers progressed comfortably into Q2 and Mark made it into Q3, with David ending up in an unlucky 13th position,” he said.

“It was a great drive from Mark to qualify third. It’s been a great day for Red Bull and congratulations to Sebastian Vettel on his first pole position. Three Red Bull chassis in the first four is a fantastic result.”

Renault’s Fabrice Lom added: “For Red Bull Renault, it was a good qualifying result today. Mark is third on a track that we hope will be good for us tomorrow.”

“It will be a bit more difficult for David in 13th, but the conditions were changing during Q2 and he had some bad luck as the rain was stronger for him when he went out.”

“It was the same for Raikkonen and Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel is on pole position, so well done to him and Toro Rosso.”

Glock penalised; Webber promoted to eighth place

Toyota driver Timo Glock has been stripped of the final point in the Belgian Grand Prix after race stewards decided to award him a retrospective 25 second penalty for overtaking under yellow flag conditions. It is believed that the overtake occurred when Glock overtook Webber towards the end of the race when yellow flags were being waved for Kimi Raikkonen s crashed Ferrari.

The penalty means that the German driver has been relegated to ninth place, with Red Bull s Mark Webber promoted to eighth and picking up the final point of the race. The result gives Red Bull their first points finish since June.

Vettel to test for Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing have confirmed that Sebastien Vettel, who has already been confirmed as one of their 2009 drivers, will be testing for the team in Jerez, Spain, later in the month.

It will be the first time the German driver has tested the RB4 since his race-seat confirmation, although it won’t be his first time in the Red Bull car – Vettel tested the RB4 at Barcelona in February when David Coulthard had to take time off through injury.

Mark Webber, who will be Vettel’s team-mate next season, is excited at the prospect of having him at the team, paricularly as Vettel has had some strong performances this season.

“You talk about short memories in F1,” Webber said to Autosport. “He had how many first lap shunts at the start of the season? Two or three good races and here we are. That is the reality of it.

“It is good, really good, and he is a very experienced youngster. There are not many of them around. Red Bull finally have the fruits of their (young driver) programme, which is great for Red Bull Racing.

“But it (the real comparisons) will start in February next year. Next year is so different and I am concentrating on myself – we have enough things to do and I am trying to get as many points as I can before the end of the year.”