Formula 1's Latest Rumours & Talk: Raikkonen to Sauber, New Pirelli Deal & More
Kimi Raikkonen returning to 2001, Formula One agreeing a new deal with Pirelli and teams struggling to make their new 2014 cars in time.
These are just three of the rumours swirling around the internet at the moment.
After the breathlessness of back-to-back races in India and Abu Dhabi, fans are facing the prospect of an uneventful weekend.
We bring you the round-up of rumours that suggest those at the centre of the sport do not have the same luxury.
Raikkonen to Sauber?
If you believe the word of GMM (Global Motorsport Media), there is a chance Kimi Raikkonen might be racing a Sauber in the final two grands prix.
That’s according to quotes attributed to ex-F1 racer Mika Salo, who believes his fellow Finn has had enough of his pay dispute with Lotus (despite reports from both party to the contrary).
Salo, as reported by Motorsport.com, reportedly told MTV3 that the Ferrari-bound Raikkonen might be switching to what is in effect the Scuderia’s satellite team (and current home to Raikkonen’s likely Lotus replacement Nico Hulkenberg):
Let's see if Kimi is in Austin, and in what car. It's probably the most anticipated thing about the whole American Grand Prix weekend. There have been rumours Kimi will drive a Sauber instead of a Lotus. For now it's just a rumour. Kimi loves to drive, but the atmosphere at Lotus is no longer good for him. Sauber is also short of money and has not paid for Nico Hulkenberg.
Teams "On the Limit" for 2014
Leading Formula One figures believe teams face an even tougher race against time than usual to get their cars to the first pre-season test at Jerez.
That’s according to Autosport’s Jonathan Noble, who reports that senior figures at McLaren and Renault believe the challenge of making it to Spain “will be on the limit.”
While some teams have indeed opted to skip the first test in the past, for what Noble describes as “extra time for wind tunnel development,” it is not an option most will take up this year.
Sam Michael, McLaren sporting director, said:
It will be on the limit. These days we have simulations, stress analysis and dynos that are much more sophisticated than when we had the last big rule changes, but you are still upsetting your systems that are quite methodical and procedural. Teams now have operational procedures to make sure they don't make mistakes, and almost all of those will go in the bin [for 2014] and we will have to start again. That is why you will see variations next year. All teams at all ends of the grid will have problems getting to grips with the new systems. I personally think you don't want to miss those tests. You want to be out there all the time.
Renault ambassador and four-time F1 champion Alain Prost agrees:
Last year at this stage of the year people were concentrated on the season - and not many people knew what was going on with the engine because they were focused on the racing. Then, when they realised, it's a wake-up. When you start to work on it, you can see the complexity of the situation on the engine on one side, and then the chassis/engine combination on the other. So it is absolutely normal that at this stage of the year people start to be concerned. Even the three engine manufacturers, if they are realistic and even if they have a lot of experience, they cannot be optimistic. But slowly it will go on as normal and there will not be a problem.
Pirelli "Close" to New Contract
Despite a controversial 2013 season, Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli looks set to finally confirm an extension to its existing contract.
In a season littered with high-profile blowouts and refusals from the teams to help with testing, there were concerns the manufacturer would walk out of the sport and leave it in a precarious state so close to the start of the 2014 campaign.
Pirelli had individually agreed to terms with the existing 11 teams, but its future was shrouded in doubt after the FIA repeatedly failed to make it official.
According to gpupdate.net, company president Marco Tronchetti Provera told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport that they were close to sorting the deal.
We are close to finalising an agreement. We asked for an exclusive agreement for three years. There is no pressure, but we are collaborating very closely with the FIA.
Teams Split over Strategy Group
Leading Formula One figures are split over whether the sport’s new Strategy Group is good for its future.
There are concerns that the SG, which has been set up to help steer the direction of the sport on technical and sporting issues but only incorporates six of the current 11 teams, is to the detriment of its minnows (Toro Rosso, Sauber, Force India, Caterham and Marussia).
F1Fanatic.co.uk has compiled a superb list of quotes from personnel from every single team.
Caterham doesn’t understand why not everyone is represented—Lotus is sympathetic to their frustration while Ferrari and Mercedes insist they will provide equal representation.
You can read the full list here.
Fans to Choose New Award
The FIA will introduce a new award at its end-of-season gala that will be picked by fans on its Facebook page.
As the sport’s world governing body looks to increase its social media interaction with fans, it will induct a new “Moment of the Year” award into its showpiece event.
Fans will get to choose from one of 12 “moments,” which will be selected by a panel including ex-F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi. They will be from a variety of FIA championships, such as F1, the World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championship.
There will also be a media-chosen award, the “Personality of the Year” honour. Permanently accredited members of the press will select that.