Norbert Haug has been swift to play down recent claims that Mercedes Grand Prix has its eye on reigning F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel for the 2012 campaign – insisting that the team is 100 per cent happy with its current line-up.
Red Bull's famously outspoken and controversial motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko stated earlier this week that both Mercedes and Ferrari are keen to attract Vettel's attention with regard to next year. The Austrian told Kleine Zeitung
that 'knowing Sebastian has a contract with us, Mercedes expresses quite an interest in him' and added that the 23-year-old – who in Abu Dhabi in November, became the youngest title-winner in the sport's six-decade history – would not 'swap to Ferrari as long as Fernando Alonso is there...otherwise he would be stupid'.
Vettel's present agreement with Red Bull Racing expires at the end of 2011, although there is an option for 2012, and Marko – who has similarly pointed the finger at Ferrari for allegedly trying to poach some of the energy drinks-backed outfit's highest-ranked employees – assures that 'for the time after , we are already talking'.
However, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Haug has reacted angrily to the suggestion that the Stuttgart manufacturer has designs on the young German, conceding that it is 'no secret' that he shares a good personal relationship with Vettel but stressing that it is 'absolutely wrong' to read anything more into that.
“We have not made Sebastian Vettel an offer,” the 58-year-old told German Press Agency dpa
. “We have exactly the drivers we wanted in Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.”
The German did, though, warn RBR that should it fail to continue to provide its driver with the best car, then he would likely assess his options, and record-breaking multiple MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi has hinted that Mercedes might do well to do likewise, predicting that it will be 'almost impossible' for Schumacher to triumph again in 2011.
“Michael is still going [with his comeback] and hopes to get the results he wants,” the Italian told news agency SID
during the traditional Ducati/Ferrari 'Wrooom' media event at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in the Italian Dolomites this week, “but it will be very difficult.”