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Thursday 5 January at 08:35
Ecclestone defends Vettel amid criticism
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Thursday 5 January at 08:35 : Jan.5 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has jumped to the defence of Sebastian Vettel, amid criticism of the Ferrari driver's performance and frustration in 2016.

"It's not his fault that he's not winning," the F1 supremo told Sport Bild, referring to the German driver.

"It's about the car and the team," Ecclestone insisted.

"Ferrari has fallen back into the time before Schumacher and Todt," he explained. "There are too many Italians working there.

"Nothing against Italy, but running a team successfully is not in their DNA. Ferrari needs fresh blood," Ecclestone said. "But I'm sure Sebastian is doing everything he can to succeed."

F1's 86-year-old chief executive also played down rumours Vettel might be looking to jump ship to Mercedes for 2018.

"Sebastian's mission is called Ferrari, because I know that he wants to succeed there first," said Ecclestone.

However, he doubts that either Ferrari or Red Bull will be able to stop Mercedes' dominance this year.

"I don't think so," Ecclestone said. "Their engine will still be the best, giving them a huge advantage.

"Equalising the situation can only be done with new engine regulations, so we need to do that as soon as possible."
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NEXT RACE 26 March 2017
Grand Prix of Australia (5,303 m)
Melbourne, Albert Park Circuit
Last Winner: Nico Rosberg
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Friday - practice 1

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STANDINGS 2016
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1.Hamilton70
2.Vettel66
3.Raikkonen48
Constructors championship
1.Ferrari114
2.Mercedes110
3.Red Bull55
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