Mark Webber speaks up for ousted Flavio Briatore

Sep 24, 2009 - 11:22 AM By CHRIS LINES AP Auto Racing Writer

SINGAPORE(AP) -- Red Bull driver Mark Webber plans to go without a manager for the rest of his Formula One career if the lifetime ban on his long-term representative Flavio Briatore is upheld.

Briatore, who resigned as team principal of Renault, was banned from being a driver agent due to his part in arranging for Nelson Piquet Jr. to deliberately crash in last year's Singapore Grand Prix to help teammate Fernando Alonso.

Webber had been managed by Briatore throughout his F1 career, and spoke up Thursday on the Italian's behalf.

"He was a very good character for our sport, and I'm sure a lot of other people would agree," Webber said ahead of this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix. "I've had Flavio looking after me for 11 years I have never looked at the contract from the day I signed it, and there's not many other people in the paddock you could say that about.

"I won't work with anyone else in the future if I can't work with him."

Webber is contracted to Red Bull next season, so he has no immediate need for an agent to negotiate a deal. However, McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen had also been managed by Briatore and is considered likely to be looking for a new team in 2010.

Despite his support of Briatore, Webber was dismayed at yet another scandal damaging the reputation of F1.

"I don't think its ideal for our sport," Webber said. "Its a shame that we are not reporting about activities we should be reporting about, but that's been the case for a few years.

"I'm running out of patience sticking up for the sport and I am sure other people are as well."

Meanwhile, the Australian was downbeat about his chances, or those of his team, in renewing a title challenge to Brawn GP in 2009.

"The drivers' championship is very difficult," Webber said. "Jenson (Button) only has to get four, five points on us at this event and its all over."

While the twisty nature of the Singapore circuit negated Red Bull's speed disadvantage to Brawn, the other Mercedes-powered teams and Ferrari, Webber noted the team had struggled in the previous street-circuit races this season in Monaco and Valencia.

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