Despite there being only two days until Christmas, the Formula One gossip column continues apace.
Amongst today’s topics, Bernie Ecclestone remains as controversial as ever with his wish to add more double points races, Lotus owner Gerard Lopez insists his team deserves more respect and Fernando Alonso chooses his new car number.
Ecclestone admits the double points rule could be scrapped
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has risked making more enemies after saying he would like more races to be worth double points.
The highly controversial ruling to award double points for the final race of the 2014 season was announced earlier in the month and met with widespread criticism. World champion Sebastian Vettel labelled the ruling as “absurd.”
However, Ecclestone told The Telegraph that his preference would be for double points in the final three races, although he also admitted the rule could be scrapped next month.
Personally my preference would be for the final three races to be worth double points. But it may well be that the rule is cancelled altogether at the next [Strategy Group] meeting in January. I think it should be the final three races or nothing.
The final three races would mean the championship is kept interesting for everyone - fans, press and television - right until the end.
Lotus majority shareholder Gerard Lopez thinks his team have not been given the respect they deserve for their performances this season.
The team finished fourth in the constructors’ standings thanks to a strong end to the season from driver Romain Grosjean, while the outgoing Kimi Raikkonen also delivered strong results during the year.
With Lotus’ well-publicised financial difficulties, Lopez told Autosport that he finds it disrespectful when people write or comment about the team’s troubles.
We were fighting for third place but the reality is that F1 being what it is, we are not being treated that way financially speaking. And what is true for us is true for other teams. We are running the 100 metres, but we actually start at the 200 metre mark.
We find it a bit disrespectful when people start writing about our woes, or when other people comment on them. If I got the same amount of money [as the other top teams] I would just shut my mouth and focus on my job, I wouldn't comment on it. That is the part we find a bit ridiculous.
I am looking for people to have respect and realise this is not corporate money being spent. We are beating people who have way more money and get way more money. To have a bit of respect is fair - not for us [the owners], [but] certainly for the people at the team. We want to live and succeed in F1. If it is just about surviving I don't know if our motivation is the same.
That is the only reason why we opened up discussions to investors. We know we have probably one of the best teams in F1, and we know for sure we have pound-for-pound the best team in F1. We are trying to preserve that.
Paul Hembery (centre) chats to Christian Horner and Adrian Newey
Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery has admitted that the criticism it received from runaway champions Red Bull during the 2013 season was hurtful.
Pirelli’s controversial fast-wearing rubber came under the spotlight in many races during 2013, most noticeably at Silverstone, where a series of catastrophic tyre failures almost led to the cancellation of the race.
Many teams and drivers voiced their concerns about the tyres during the season, but Hembery told Autosport it was disappointing coming from Red Bull considering how they dominated the championship.
That was clearly disappointing because everybody has the same challenge, and that is one thing that was true. That then opened up what then became a battle between different teams of what we were allowed to do and what we weren't allowed to do, and we got caught up in that battle between teams.
That was very disappointing as they had clearly dominated and won the championship so convincingly - that was really the opening up of a lot of comment and debate that really shouldn't happen.
We are a partner and competitor, we always said if all the teams, or the sport itself, tells us to make a change we will do it, but being put under media pressure was very disappointing.
Fernando Alonso has become the latest driver to express a preference for his driver number for the 2014 season.
Another new ruling for next year sees drivers having a more personal number on their cars and helmets to help fans identify the cars on the track more easily as well as to maximise merchandising opportunities.
The No. 1 is reserved for the world champion, should he wish to use it, with Alonso saying he will use the No. 14.
According to Eurosport, he told reporters in Madrid:
I will use 14. It has been my lucky number since 1996, when, while I was 14, on July 14 and with kart number 14 I won the world championship. Since then I have always used 14. Hopefully it will be lucky next year.
Several other drivers have also submitted their number preferences, with new teammate Kimi Raikkonen choosing No. 7, Felipe Massa No. 19 and Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas No. 77.
Sergio Perez has opted for No. 11, Nico Rosberg No. 5, No. 6 or No. 8, and Jean-Eric Vergne No. 21, No. 25 or No. 27.