Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Customer Cars, Alonso to Mclaren and More
Could Fernando Alonso be heading to McLaren in 2015? Is Formula One edging closer to becoming a customer car formula? Will "works" engine teams Mercedes and Ferrari dominate next season?
These are just some of the questions and stories making their way around the internet at the moment.
Of course, with the season rapidly coming to its conclusion, the whispers inevitably develop into roars, though how accurate they are is anybody's guess.
Here is a look through the major topics stoking F1 debate at present.
Alonso to McLaren in 2015?
Just when you thought it was safe to poke your head out from under the covers, the "Fernando Alonso to return to McLaren" rumours emerge again.
This time, though, there's a twist.
Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet has, according to GrandPrix247.com, reported that the Spaniard could team up with McLaren junior Kevin Magnussen (who wrapped up the Formula Renault 3.5 title last weekend) in 2015.
We doubt the credibility of this, largely because it appears to be based on circumstantial evidence.
Magnussen could make his Grand Prix debut next year with Marussia, which benefits from McLaren technical support. McLaren has admitted the Dane is a long-term option for the team, but was too risky to put in as a rookie.
Going further than that, GP247 also states the Bild am Sonntag newspaper as being adamant "there is more to the Alonso-to-McLaren story than mere reports".
Again, no quotes. Circumstantial it may be, but it's not overly farcical...is it?
F1's Customer Car Future
The debate around F1 and customer cars has raged for some time now. Remember the outrage a few years back with Williams?
But there has been a new twist; the argument is no longer about current teams getting chassis' on the cheap and technical support.
Now, the concern is among smaller teams, chiefly whether or not they are being deliberately shut out by leading F1 figures to make way for an easy transition to a customer car formula.
According to Autosport, Force India deputy team principal Bob Fearnley believes smaller teams share a "total burden" of the costs, and the sport is well on the way to financially breaking the grid's minnows. This, he believes, opens the door for a customer car future.
One would have to say – what is the agenda? On one hand, you have got four teams that are totally protected against all the rising costs because of the extra money that they have got. And the teams that have been disenfranchised are totally burdened with all the costs. So, the question is why is that happening? One would assume because it is to influence a different route for F1 in the future.
You cannot bring customer cars in unless you force teams out of business... and we are going in the right direction to do that. Am I saying that is right or wrong? That I am not sure about. But what I am sure about is that there is obviously clear evidence of a move, not only to disenfranchise teams, but to burden them with costs on a continual basis. I would assume the reason for that is to [make them] fail, which would allow the customer cars to come in.
Maldonado Insists His Seat Is Safe
Pastor Maldonado is adamant he will be on the F1 grid next year with Williams, despite rumours to the contrary.
There was talk at one stage of Maldonado potentially switching to Lotus, but then came suggestions that state-backed Venezuelans racers were having their funding frozen after allegations of corruption, per FOX News Latino.
The (state-owned oil company) PDVSA-backed Maldonado is not concerned, though.
He tweeted on Sunday: "I will be in F1 next season proudly representing Venezuela. Hopefully good news soon. There is a good relationship (between) driver and team, we have been working day and night to improve our performance and results."
2014: Advantage Mercedes, Ferrari...and Red Bull?
F1 works teams will have an advantage over their rivals when the sport introduces the new turbocharged V6 powerplants next season.
That's according to Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, who says customer teams (including McLaren) will be disadvantaged by their lack of control and input into the new, even more complex engines.
The rules require only one engine specification, which means the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari will tailor their engine/car packages to suit one another, while customers will have to bite the bullet and get on with the engine spec that is decided upon by the manufacturer.
Of course, Renault lacks an out-and-out works team, but the world champion Red Bull outfit is near-as-dammit going to get preference over Lotus, for example.
In quotes from Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, picked up by grandprix.com, Brawn said:
We will work together as one team at Brackley and Brixworth to get the best result from the complete car. Engine and chassis. We will help our customers as far as we can, in terms of information. But if I'm honest, they won't have a big say. We have developed a solution for us, so the others will have to adapt.
Honda Releases 2015 Engine Audio
Honda has released the first audio clip of its new V6 turbo Formula 1 engine that will power the McLaren cars from the 2015 season.
To give it a listen, click the video above.
B/R will be running through the engine noises of 2014 in a special analysis tomorrow.