In today’s latest gossip from around the Formula One paddock there are contrasting opinions as to Daniel Ricciardo’s role at Red Bull, news of his replacement at Toro Rosso, a driver set to leave Sauber and Fernando Alonso moving into cycling.
Ricciardo allowed to challenge Vettel. Or maybe not...
Following the announcement that Daniel Ricciardo will partner Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull for the 2014 season, there are conflicting reports as to whether or not the team will enforce a strict team leader policy next year.
Team boss Christian Horner is, of course, toeing the company line and sitting on the fence, saying that both drivers will receive equal treatment and equal machinery for the new season as quoted by ESPN F1:
The decision to take a junior driver doesn't mean anything changes. Both drivers will get the same opportunity and the same equipment, but inevitably there will be a natural pecking order determined by the driver who is in front on track. Sebastian has won a lot of races and is a multiple world champion, so with that comes a lot of expectation. But the reality is that both drivers, as has always been the case, will get identical opportunity and equipment.
And yet BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson takes an entirely different view, stating that the team is built around Vettel and that after the difficult times with Mark Webber, the last thing they want is for Ricciardo to beat Vettel:
Vettel, Horner says, "wants competition, wants someone to push him". What he and the team clearly do not want - judging by the history of the German's relationship with Webber over the past few years - is someone to beat him.Red Bull are built around Vettel. Understandably so, given the level of his performance over the last few years. But Ricciardo faces an uphill battle if his ambition - as it surely must be - is to usurp him eventually.
Felix da Costa to replace Ricciardo?
Ricciardo’s departure of course means that a seat has become available at sister team Toro Rosso. And according to ESPN F1, Red Bull junior driver Felix da Costa is in the box seat to get that job with Jean-Eric Vergne set to stay for another season although team principal Franz Tost remains tight lipped.
"As to who will replace Daniel at Toro Rosso in 2014, we will now look at all our options and make a decision at a later date, as there is no immediate need to rush."
Frijns to leave Sauber
One driver who won’t be in Formula One next season, at least not with Sauber, is reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijns.
Frijns told Autosport that Sauber have decided to release him from his current contract as the team's test and reserve driver:
I don't know what happens now. All I know is I'm sitting at home and everybody is in Monza. I'm a free agent. I don't blame Sauber, they have to keep themselves alive as a team, and I understand that. Of course they have a great history with young drivers and giving them a chance in Formula 1. But they also have a financial situation that everyone knows about, and that is something that is out of my hands.
McLaren counting on Pirelli staying
BBC Sport recently revealed that the FIA is in talks with Michelin about becoming a tyre supplier for the 2014 season following Pirelli’s struggles this year.
Should situations develop that Michelin are involved in 2014, it would send shock waves through the sport, not least because the FOA have agreed to extend the sponsorship signage deal with Pirelli but also because it’s far too late in the day for the FIA to put the supply deal out to tender.
According to ESPNF1, McLaren sporting director Sam Michael is banking on Pirelli being kept on board because they are already designing next year’s chassis around those tyres:
It's not really an issue for us at this point because we're assuming it will be Pirelli and engaging with them technically. If that changes, then like anything in F1 you would adapt, because F1 is all about change management. Right now, we are fully down the road of designing our car around Pirelli tyres, assuming that is what it is going to be. There are some main areas that it affects and the first order is the wind tunnel because it affects the tyre profile in both CFD and the wind tunnel. But also it affects suspension geometry and set-up as well. It affects us very little at the moment because we are assuming its Pirelli.
Alonso peddling a new deal?
According to Spanish website elperiodico.com (via Autosport), Fernando Alonso has bought a cycling team after purchasing Euskaltel-Euskadi's WorldTour licence.
Alonso is a keen follower of the sport and can often be seen cycling the circuits on the lead-up to Grand Prix weekends and let slip on Twitter that he will soon be a team owner:
“I have important news coming these days ... Stay tuned here on Twitter and on the web!”
A statement from team Euskaltel-Euskadi's website also confirmed that the deal has been done:
Euskaltel wants to thank the double Formula One champion for reaching an agreement and would like to emphasise the respect, understanding and love that Fernando Alonso has shown for the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, its professionals, its historical legacy and his hobby.