Ecclestone defends Vettel’s Malaysian GP behaviour

Bernie Ecclestone has defended Vettel’s Malaysian Grand Prix behaviour and has said that he doesn’t think Red Bull will suspend the German driver for the Chinese Grand Prix.

“If I was Sebastian Vettel, having won three world championships with the team, and somebody came on the radio to me and started giving me instructions I’d probably do exactly the same as Kimi Raikkonen did when he came back when they gave him some instructions the other day and say “I know what I’m doing”,” Ecclestone told Sky Sports News.

“I don’t think he’s undermined Christian’s authority at all because Christian knows exactly what should have happened and didn’t happen. Put yourself in Christian’s position. What should he now do? Did he give orders in the first place and if he did how could he then give more orders?

“I think what you have to do is think very carefully and I always say “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”. Sebastian is not a loser. Sebastian is a winner.

With John Watson having recently said that he believes Vettel should be suspended by Red Bull for a race, Ecclestone was asked what he thought of the idea.

“Leave Sebastian out?” he said. “No, I don’t think I’d give that any consideration.

“I’d say to Sebastian, just don’t make me look like an idiot.”

Watson: Red Bull should suspend Vettel for one race

Former McLaren driver John Watson believes that Sebastian Vettel should be suspended by his team for a race for disobeying team orders at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

With 13 laps left, Sebastian Vettel overtook his team-mate Mark Webber at the Malaysian Grand Prix and went on to take the top step on the podium. This was despite orders from his team to stay behind Webber. Webber was clearly unhappy with the race result and there was a definite iciness between the two drivers at the podium ceremony.

“The only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say ‘you will stand out one race’,” Watson told BBC Radio 4. “I know that if other drivers in other teams disobeyed a team order they would be suspended or even fired.

“If Christian Horner doesn’t reassert his authority in the team – because he has been totally subjugated by Sebastian Vettel – then his position in the team is not exactly the role it is designed to be.

“The only conclusion I can reach is that Vettel should be suspended for the next grand prix. You can’t take the points away from him and give them to Mark Webber – that’s now history and Sebastian has the benefit of those seven additional points.

“You can’t really fine him. It is almost irrelevant to fine to him.

“So the only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say, ‘you will stand out one race’.”

Vettel ignored team orders during Malaysian GP?

Sebastian Vettel may have won the Malaysian Grand Prix but it appears that he has some explaining to do.

Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber led most of the race however the German driver overtook his team-mate late on. According to Webber after the last pit stop, he was told by the team that the race was over and he just needed to bring the car home. However it appears that his team-mate chose to continue to fight for the race win.

“After the last pit stop the team told me that they race was over and we turn the engines down and we go to the end,” Webber explained. “I won the race as well but in the end the team made a decision – we always say before the race, ‘Look after the tyres and get the car to the end’.

“In the end, Seb made his own decisions today. He will have protection as usual and that’s the way it goes,” Webber added.

A radio message to Vettel at the end of the race said, “You looked like you wanted it bad enough but there will be some explaining to do.”

Vettel happy with third place at Australian GP

Sebastian Vettel is happy with third place at today’s Australian Grand Prix.

“We can be happy with today,” Vettel said. “Clearly we wanted more, when you start from pole you want to win. I am not worried – we have to admit sometimes that other people are faster.

“We were the third fastest car in the race today.

“After a good start and first two-three laps the tyres were falling apart – we couldn’t go as long as other people.

“I knew Fernando passed us at the stop. I didn’t know where the other car had come from. I never saw him so it was a little bit of a surprise.

“We have to be happy today. We have good points. It was good fun, tricky with tyres, but I’m happy to be on the podium.”

Lauda: Vettel’s Red Bull contract ‘long term’

Sebastian Vettel is locked into a “long term” contract with Red Bull, according to Niki Lauda.

Triple world champion Lauda, now the Mercedes team’s chairman, revealed he is aware of the precise term of the reigning world champion’s current deal.

“I know Sebastian’s contract with Red Bull and it’s long term,” the famous Austrian told Italian television Griglia di Partenza. “That’s why we didn’t try to take him under contract at Mercedes,” added Lauda.

At the same time, Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport daily that Vettel is committed until the end of 2014.

“Anything else was never in question,” said the billionaire.

But what about 2015 and beyond? Would Red Bull consider signing Fernando Alonso, should German Vettel be wooed to Ferrari, who have ruled out putting the two together?

“If he (Alonso) is still racing, then why not?” Mateschitz said.

The publicity-shy Mateschitz also steered away from right-hand man Marko’s recent criticism of Mark Webber, saying one of Red Bull’s strengths has been its “perfect drivers”.

“Webber is both a strong and charismatic character and an exceptional driver,” he insisted.

Mateschitz, however, acknowledged that many in formula one would like to see Red Bull finally beaten in 2013.

“It’s an understandable desire, but it’s also understandable that we are going to try to prevent it,” he said.

Mateschitz said “sports” like formula one will “always be an important part” of the energy drink Red Bull’s budget, and is not ruling out entering the world of two wheels.

“MotoGP is a fantastic sport that has always fascinating me,” he said, admitting a foray for Red Bull is “certainly conceivable”.


Schumi not sure he would have won in Vettel’s car

Michael Schumacher’s comeback would have been successful at the wheel of a top car, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

“If he had had a Red Bull or a Ferrari, Michael would have won again,” the F1 chief executive told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“He should have demanded more guarantees, because it was his (Mercedes) car (to blame) and now his reputation has been tainted,” added Ecclestone.

In a new interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Schumacher – who turns 44 on Thursday – didn’t want to say he would have definitely won races in a Red Bull.

The seven time world champion said: “I would agree that if I was in a car like that, I would be running with those (top) guys.

“Whether I would win races in the current Red Bull or McLaren is a good question,” said Schumacher, who won a record 91 races in his ultra-successful first career.

“You don’t just get in a car and win immediately. Could I go as fast in a custom Vettel car as I could in a custom Schumacher car? Probably not,” he admitted.


Montezemolo: Vettel next in line for ‘number 1’ Ferrari seat

Luca di Montezemolo on Thursday admitted reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel is next in line for Ferrari’s ‘number 1’ race seat.

“If, tomorrow, Fernando would withdraw for any reason – let’s say he moves to Hawaii with his girlfriend – then I would want Vettel,” laughed the fabled Maranello based team’s president, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

Spaniard Alonso, however, is tied up contractually for years — and Ferrari is more than happy with him.

“I’m incredibly happy with him,” Montezemolo agreed. “He is more than just a driver.”

Referring to Ferrari’s influential past drivers Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher, Montezemolo said Alonso is “a bit of both”. But he also doesn’t spare his praise of German Vettel, who while contracted to Red Bull has been the subject of long speculation his future could be in red.

“He’s young,” Montezemolo started, “he has his feet on the floor, and he has an indomitable will to win. “Schumacher made me aware of him years ago because he knew him from his karting years. I must say, Michael was right.”

Montezemolo admitted Vettel, 25, is higher on Ferrari’s wish list than is Lewis Hamilton.

“Because he is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton’s third team. And if you’ve reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.”

Indeed, Montezemolo said he doesn’t even mind that Vettel accused Ferrari of playing “dirty tricks” in a bid to beat him to the 2012 title.

“In the heat of battle,” said the Italian, “you can always say something emotional.”

Montezemolo, however, appeared to rule out pairing Alonso with Vettel, saying that sort of star-studded lineup would be “difficult”.

For now, that keeps Felipe Massa in a job, even though Montezemolo hinted he is keeping his eye on the next generation of potential Ferrari drivers.

He suggested he will be watching Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean very closely.

“Next year, we have two and a half new driving pairings: Perez at McLaren, Hamilton at Mercedes, and the half is the ‘new’ Massa with us.

“I am very curious to see how Hulkenberg goes with our engine at Sauber, and also the young man who on the first laps this year was sometimes a little too fast,” Montezemolo smiled, undoubtedly referring to Frenchman Grosjean.


Vettel wants F1 return for Austria

Sebastian Vettel has revealed he hopes Red Bull can celebrate a “home grand prix” in Austria.

Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who co-founded the highly popular energy drink, not only owns Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, but also the former Austrian grand prix venue A1-Ring. After a complete refurbishment, the circuit in Spielberg – which last hosted formula one in 2003 – is now called the Red Bull Ring.

Red Bull’s triple consecutive world champion Vettel said: “I was at the inauguration and had the chance to drive there.

“The track is completely Formula One-compatible,” the German is quoted by Austria’s “I don’t know why we (F1) don’t go there. For us (Red Bull) it would be great for it to be our home grand prix,” he said at an event in Graz, Austria.


Are Ferrari contemplating a Vettel protest?

If the rumours are true, Ferrari are currently investigating whether or not they can lodge a protest that could overturn the 2012 world championship results.

Ferrari are said to be looking at on-board footage from Sebastian Vettel’s car which appears to show the German driver passing the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne under a yellow flag during the Brazilian Grand Prix. Should Ferrari protest and be successful, 20 seconds would be added to Vettel’s time. This would demote him to eighth place and mean Fernando Alonso would end up being world champion by a single point.

At present, the FIA have refused to confirm whether they are investigating the issue or not.

Alonso has posted a crpytic message on his Twitter account which implies that Ferrari will possibly be protesting. Writing in Spanish he said, “I do not believe in miracles, I make my miracles through the right rules.”

The incident footage was not shown on the main F1 feed however it was shown on extra channels which show in-car footage of the race. Several eagle-eyed viewers recorded the footage and uploaded it to YouTube where it has garnered much interest.

The footage cleared shows Vettel passing a flashing yellow light at Turns 2 and 3, after which he overtakes Vergne before a green flag is shown just before Turn 4. During this manoeveur, Vettel’s yellow flag indicator is on in the cockpit. However this does not automatically mean that Vettel has done anything wrong – if the marshal was waving a green flag at the start of the yellow zone – and the marshal cannot be seen from the in-car footage – the pass on Vergne would be legal.

According to the international sporting code, the FIA have until 30 November to resolve the situation.

Vettel responds to charisma claim by swearing again

Despite the FIA’s swearing ban, Sebastian Vettel on Thursday responded to claims he lacks charisma by suggesting Bernie Ecclestone was “taking the piss”.

“Sorry,” said the reigning world champion after clasping his hand to his mouth. “Maybe he was just taking the ‘mickey’ out of the newspaper.”

It was just a light-hearted moment ahead of the Brazilian grand prix, but with a championship to be decided on Sunday, it’s always more serious in Formula One. For instance, reporters noted that, as German Vettel cracked his customary jokes with the media in the FIA press conference, title challenger Fernando Alonso was the only one not smiling.

With a 13-point deficit and an inferior car, Ferrari’s Spaniard is deploying every weapon. When asked about Ferrari’s sabotage of Felipe Massa’s gearbox in Austin, Alonso said he was “proud” of the decision. And he hinted Red Bull was guilty of hypocrisy.

“We don’t need to go too far back this year where we have had some doubts about teams and which position they will start from, depending on limits they were finding in the regulations,” said Alonso.

Vettel however insisted Red Bull takes a “different approach” to the sort of questionable tactics deployed by Ferrari. And the German also hit back against claims he has been on a title-collecting cruise since 2010 with a superior Red Bull.

“As far as I can remember,” he is quoted by France’s, “there has never been a particularly successful driver with a very bad car.”