Is Kimi Raikkonen's motivation for 2013 on the wane?
With only a day to go before the Indian Grand Prix weekend gets underway, the F1 paddock rumour mill is once again in full swing.
Amongst the rumours doing the rounds this Thursday are questions over Kimi Raikkonen’s motivation going into the final few races, who will fill the Finn’s seat at Lotus and the future of the Indian Grand Prix itself.
Kubica could have been a Ferrari driver
Ferrari has admitted the team was interested in signing Polish driver Robert Kubica to partner Fernando Alonso at the team before his serious rally accident.
Speaking in a revealing interview with fans on the official Ferrari website, team boss Stefano Domenicali said that they were keeping a close eye on the Pole but now doubts he will ever return to F1.
Yes, we were keeping an eye on him. Unfortunately, I don't think he will be back, because with his physical problem, he would struggle in certain limited situations which require reactivity. It's a shame.
The driver that Lotus opted to replace Kubica with following his rally accident was none other than Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen lies third in the championship standings but a recent slump in form has raised the question that he is already looking towards 2014.
Speaking to Autosport, however, team boss Eric Boullier denies the Finn has lost interest in the current campaign.
Not at all. I don't think so. I think it is more about Romain, who came back in the game. If you remember last year, Romain was very much up to speed but, if I may say this, then his spirit went down and he lost ground a little bit. But Romain is now back.
Toro Rosso raised more than a few eyebrows on Tuesday when the team announced that 19-year-old Russian Daniil Kvyat would be joining the team to partner Jean-Eric Vergne for 2014.
Another young Russian hopeful of a 2014 drive is Sauber prospect Sergey Sirotkin, who told Autosport he is ready to make the step up from Formula Renault 3.5 to F1.
I am learning a lot. Since this whole Formula 1 story started I feel much stronger now. I don't know if people can see it from the outside but I am much stronger and I think some of my performances have shown this. I feel more experienced, and I already have more understanding of how it works at the top level.
This weekend should see Sebastian Vettel crowned world champion for a fourth consecutive season at the Indian Grand Prix.
However, with the race not on next year’s calendar, the future of the Indian Grand Prix remains unclear—it could even be the last, according to the president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, Vicky Chandhok, in an interview with The Guardian.
If it doesn't come back in 2015, it may never come back at all. That is my concern. Once you lose a race it can be gone forever. That is why I am calling on everyone in India to make this Sunday's race an event to remember, so everyone in Formula One will realise that it needs the Indian Grand Prix. If we lose it, I would be very disappointed, because it took us 10 years to get the race in the first place. It was in 1999 that Bernie Ecclestone [the sport's commercial rights holder] first had talks with organisers and sponsors in India.
The race has been penciled in for an earlier slot on the calendar in 2015, which is one of the reasons for the break in 2014, given the logistics of organizing two events in the space of five months.
Basically there were two reasons. First, Bernie [Ecclestone] wanted to switch the race to March but there was no way we could stage two races in five months. Second, everything has become a lot more expensive.
Is Hulkenberg feeling the pressure?
Whilst the future of the Indian Grand Prix remains uncertain, a driver who faces an anxious wait over his own future is Nico Hulkenberg.
The in-demand German has impressed with a string of strong drives for Sauber in 2013 and has been strongly linked with a move to Lotus with Force India another option.
However, with the move dependent on Lotus securing a financial deal with Quantum Motorsports added to concerns about next year’s weight regulations, Hulkenberg told Autosport he is now under pressure.
There are opportunities out there and I'm sleeping OK. I wouldn't like to wait until the end of the season, that's for sure. I said in Korea that before the end of the month I would like to do what I'm doing. It's coming close so I have to hurry up. I'm under pressure now to do something. These things take time sometimes and you are negotiating and it's how things go.