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GP Week : Issue 103
EX-RENAULT boss Flavio Briatore has described Red Bull's failure to prioritize Mark Webber in the driver's championship as "incomprehensible." The Italian, who has been Webber's manager for several years, feels that with only four races remaining Red Bull need to throw their weight behind the championship leader: "I don't understand many things. Vettel has taken points away from Webber in Singapore, thus giving a present to Ferrari," he said, adding that Webber's performances in 2010 were just reward for his determination. "A great man, a fair sportsman, a fine racing driver," he said of the 34-year old Australian. "No matter how it ends up, the surprise of the year is him. No one put him among the favourites, but I did, as I've known his qualities and tenacity for years. "He's made good use of every chance. Despite the fact that Mark was not on the ball in the last race and even fumbled the start, I find what's happening incomprehensible. Unless Red Bull, who has a big points gap, is aiming for the Constructors' Championship only." Briatore also suggested Fernando Alonso was best-placed to derail Webber's title charge, and ruled out the McLaren threat from Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. "He's the strongest, someone who knows how to take the team in the right direction. Without him Renault would not have taken two titles," he said of the 28-year old Spaniard. "Alonso is the world class racing driver we know, and Ferrari has demonstrated to be a great team in the last two races (in Italy and Singapore)." Briatore's view on Hamilton was typically forthright: "Hamilton did it all by himself, his overtaking attempt on Webber at Singapore couldn't end up any other way," he said. "Two retirements in two races are heavy: it's not conceivable to throw away a season in this way. It's the second time it happens, because he also made decisive mistakes in 2007. Had he kept calm and waited, he'd still be in the fight now. Button? I can't see how he can get back in the fight.” Flavio backs Webber to make his mark n Former Team Lotus manager Peter Warr suffered a fatal heart attack last Monday at his home in the south west France. He was 72. He joined Lotus Cars in 1958 as a salesman, racing at the weekends. In 1963 he won the first non- championship Japanese Grand Prix. In 1970 he became manager of Lotus’ F1 team and lplayed a key role in their successful 1970 and ’72 campaigns. In 1982 he took over complete control, following Colin Chapman’s death, and stayed until 1989. Bernie Ecclestone praised the contribution his friend had made to the sport. “ When Peter was in Formula One he helped me to build it to what it is today. Thank you Peter.” n After being confirmed as a Sauber driver this week, Sergio Perez is set to join Ferrari's young driver programme, the Ferrari Driver Academy. The scheme is overseen by former team strategist Luca Baldisserri and concentrates on driver ability as well as their personal and professional development. Other members of the programme include promising GP2 and GP3 talents Jules Bianchi and Mirko Bortolotti, and Ferrari's links with Sauber mean that Perez will be allowed access to the Scuderia's detailed development programme. n Felipe Massa has accused Bild of misquoting him last week, after the German tabloid reported Massa saying “for sure I am not Ferrari’s second Rubens Barrichello”. Barrichello told reporters he was sure his friend and countryman would not have made disrespectful comments, while Massa said he had received an apology from the journalist and that “the question was 'would you accept being a second driver' and I said 'no because I race to win'." n Jenson Button has laughed off being mistaken for Coldplay’s Chris Martin at Heathrow recently. An American approached him and said what a huge fan they were. "I said 'Wicked, thank you so much. I didn't think Formula One was that big in America’,” said Button. "And she said 'Yeah, we've got all your records, all your albums.' I was, like 'Fantastic. You think I'm Chris Martin don't you?'” Short Straights 10