Formula 1's Latest Rumours & Talk: Vettel Reaction, Maldonado's Future & More
While the now four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel deservedly took centre stage throughout the Indian Grand Prix, plenty of other stories were bubbling away below the surface.
Several drivers, past and present, paid tribute to the remarkable 26-year-old, but although Vettel’s future looks as promising as his present, there are still question marks surrounding others in F1, both on and off the grid.
Does Pastor Maldonado hold the key to the driver market? Will F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone win his High Court case? And has Marussia secured its immediate future in the sport?
Here is a look at the biggest stories doing the rounds on the internet at the moment, but first, a tribute to Red Bull's world champion.
F1's Champion Lauded
What do Alain Prost, Felipe Massa and Adrian Newey have in common?
Along with erstwhile 2013 title hopefuls Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (per F1 Fanatic)—the last man to win the world championship who wasn’t a young German driving a Red Bull—they have all been quick to lavish praise on F1’s 26-year-old superstar.
Vettel was rightly on the receiving end of a lot of positive comments in India. These are the pick of the bunch:
Adrian Newey, Red Bull technical director:
You could occasionally . . . criticise him for making slightly ill-judged moves and therefore having accidents. You could criticise him for possibly not being able to overtake. You can't make those criticisms anymore. It's difficult to see a chink in his armour. (BBC Sport)
Felipe Massa, 2008 runner-up:
Today, he signed his name as one of the best Formula 1 drivers in history together with Senna, together with Schumacher, together with other drivers who are all the time at the top. I'm very happy for him [as after] everything he did in his career he deserved it. He is a fantastic driver. (Autosport)
Alain Prost, four-time world champion:
You can see he is methodical in his approach, builds a strong team around him that is 100% motivated for success and is entirely focused on the end result. He is a great champion and I don't think this title will be his last. (ESPN)
Maldonado to Quit Williams
Pastor Maldonado will leave Williams at the end of 2013, Autosport has revealed, sparking the 2014 driver market back into life.
His backers, the Venezuelan, state-owned oil company PDVSA, will compensate the team for his early exit after initially agreeing a deal to 2015.
Maldonado’s departure comes after weeks of speculation about his future, and it will allow outgoing Ferrari driver Felipe Massa to fill his vacant seat.
Massa brings his own financial backing from Brazil, meaning the 2008 runner-up will remain on the Grand Prix grid and keep Williams stable despite it’s longer-term loss of PDVSA’s $20m/year budget.
Autosport says Maldonado has been in talks with Lotus, Sauber and Force India over a 2014 drive, with Lotus the likeliest option should it not tie up its long-mooted investment deal with Quantum Motorsports.
Should that happen, it would mean Sauber’s highly-rated Nico Hulkenberg would miss out.
Maldonado had previously told Autosport:
I really need a good car to enjoy it, and this year I'm not enjoying it. I'm living a really bad moment and I need some motivation to keep doing my best. I want something more. I'm here for something more.
Ecclestone's Court Case
Bernie Ecclestone’s High Court trial begins tomorrow as F1’s chief executive’s future hangs in the balance.
The Daily Telegraph reports on how Ecclestone, 83 today, is charged with paying a $44m (£27m) bribe to the former chief risk officer of German bank BayernLB, Gerhard Gribkowsky, to engineer the sale of F1 to CVC in 2006.
Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison last year for receiving the alleged bribe, which helped push through the sale of its 47.2 percent stake in F1 and was the catalyst for this court case.
Ecclestone is also waiting to discover whether or not German authorities will bring him to trial over a separate alleged bribery charge, though that decision is due to be made next year.
Marussia Finalises Commercial Deal
Marussia has confirmed it has agreed a new commercial deal that safeguards the small team’s immediately financial future.
The team was the last to agree the seven-year deal with Bernie Ecclestone after arrangements had been made with the other 10 outfits upon the signing of the new Concorde Agreement.
This is a major boost to the outfit, which would otherwise receive nothing from F1’s commercial moneypot and would have relied almost entirely on individual investment if it failed to finish in the top 10 of the constructors’ standings.
The team recently suffered record F1 losses for the last financial year.
Marussia president Graeme Lowdon told Sky Sports it was important to look to the future now, and not focus on the team’s previous problems.
It has taken a long time but there's not a lot of point dwelling on that. The main thing is that agreement has been reached and that allows us to move forward. I think as well it also changes how the team's perceived externally. We kind of were in a position where we were the only team that hadn't signed and now every team has signed individual agreements. It's less relief, it's more just a case of drawing a line under that and moving forward.
Perez Likely to Remain with McLaren
Sergio Perez's fine drive to fifth in India looks to have rewarded the Mexican with a stay of execution at McLaren.
While one drive will not ultimately secure his long-term future, Perez looks set to remain alongside Jenson Button in 2014.
The 23-year-old has been in better form of late after a difficult first few races in McLaren's troubled 2013 charger.
Motorsport.com reports sporting director Sam Michael as admitting that "it's been a difficult year and a lot of that has been inflicted by ourselves because the car hasn't been quick enough".
Michael said McLaren is "really happy" with both Button and Perez, and repeated the statement that keeping the duo for 2014 is "most likely".
Perez, when asked about a potential decision, replied: "I think it's made, you can ask [Sam Michael, standing next to him at the time]. I am confident I will stay here. I haven't seen the need to go after any other team. I expect to come back with this team."