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Red Bull boss says Vettel could quit

2014-03-13 13:09

WILL HE STAY? Red Bull's team advisor Helmut Marko says if driver Sebastian Vettel (above) decides to quit due to the team's engine crisis, he won't be surprised. Image: AFP

MELBOURNE, Australia - Red Bull needs to up its game or risk losing Sebastian Vettel.

That's the admission of the team's always blunt Helmut Marko as quadruple F1 champion Vettel prepares to either retire or finish outside the points as the 2014 season kicks off this weekend in Melbourne.

Marko admitted to Germany's Bild newspaper: "If our disastrous state does not change soon I could not blame him for thinking about a change."

Vettel, 26, sat down with his mechanics in Melbourne on Tuesday for his traditional pre-season dinner, where he named his uncompetitive RB10 car an unspectacular 'Suzie'.

NEW SOFTWARE

Marko told Sport Bild magazine: "After the test in Bahrain, we would be happy if we finish in the points in Australia. We know we have a good car but we'll only know if the engine is good if we get it to work properly.

"The decisive factor is the new software our engineers wrote for Renault."

The undoubted favourite for the Albert Park opener is Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to win the title, but 1996 champion Damon Hill told the UK's Daily Mail: "I would warn Lewis not to underestimate Nico (Rosberg)."

Indeed, Hamilton is often the Mercedes driver on everybody's lips, but Rosberg told DPA news agency he didn't mind. Rosberg said: "I do feel the fans appreciate me and I'm grateful for their support."

Team chairman Niki Lauda said opinions about Mercedes' drivers were often formed because of Hamilton's "brutal force of talent" but told Austrian broadcaster ORF: "Nico is characterised in that he thinks in a very technical way - almost like Vettel.

"The two (Hamilton and Rosberg) complement each other very well."

Rosberg said: "I have a feeling that this could be our year and that's very exciting."

Still, the 28-year-old and the UK-based team are cautious.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper: "To say now that we will become champions because of the good tests would be wrong and premature."

And a forecast of rain for Melbourne is making Lauda nervous. Lauda said: "We have never driven with these turbo engines in the rain. It is possible that even more problems could turn up."
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