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Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Hamilton/Rosberg, Dictators and More

Neil JamesFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Hamilton/Rosberg, Dictators and More

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    Lewis Hamilton remains convinced Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg deliberately sabotaged his final qualifying run at the Monaco Grand Prix.

    Niki Lauda is hoping to play peacemaker in the feud.

    Elsewhere, James Allison thinks he has found the cause of Ferrari's recent struggles, Flavio Briatore wants another Bernie Ecclestone and Magny-Cours is unlikely to return in 2015.

    Away from the F1 race track, Fernando Alonso will be at Le Mans next month to start the famed 24-hour race.

    Read on for a run-down of the biggest news of the past few days.

Flavio Briatore: F1 Needs a Dictator

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    Flavio Briatore with his wife, Elisabetta Gregoraci.
    Flavio Briatore with his wife, Elisabetta Gregoraci.Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    With Bernie Ecclestone facing bribery charges in Germany and the possibility of being permanently removed from his position as F1 chief, the search for a successor is quietly going on.

    Former Benetton and Renault boss Flavio Briatore believes a man in the mould of Ecclestone is the best option.

    Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport (h/t motorsport.com for the translation from German), he said:

    What Formula One needs is a dictator. He makes the rules and the teams have to follow. If you don't want to, look for another job.

    Formula One is a strong brand. Bernie took 30 years to build it, but without him, it could be that it is destroyed in two or three. What is needed now is a man who has a clear plan for the Formula One of the future.

    There's a strong argument that the teams should be at least partially in charge but maybe a single primary decision-maker would be better, providing the FIA and teams were not afraid to stand up to him.

    But hopefully, it'll be someone whose interests lie more in ensuring the future success of the sport and less in increasing his own personal power and wealth.

Ferrari Environment Stifles Creativity, Says James Allison

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    "Fernando is faster than me? I think you got the wrong number."
    "Fernando is faster than me? I think you got the wrong number."Andrew Hone/Getty Images

    Ferrari technical director James Allison has claimed the team's lack of success in recent years is down to design staff not being allowed enough creative freedom.

    The Italians have won only 12 races since the end of 2008; rivals McLaren and Red Bull have claimed 20 and 47 victories, respectively.

    Lead driver Fernando Alonso appears to be losing patience with the team's repeated failure to provide him with a championship-challenging car and last month team principal Stefano Domenicali resigned after the 2014 F14 T proved to be another dud.

    Now Allison, who joined the team from Lotus last year, thinks he has identified the problem, per BBC Sport:

    There is a wealth of talent at Ferrari, the experience and quality of the people on the technical side is a match for any team. It is a question of giving them the encouragement to actually go off and do more unusual things and then have the time to look at them and know that if they fail it's OK because there's still time to put a back-up plan in place and for that to work.

    Creativity and originality will only come if you set out to allow the engineers in your organisation the space and the time to do that.

    If you force them to operate with their back against the wall, up against deadlines that are very tight, then there is no time for them to think about how they might approach something differently.

    Is that a criticism of Domenicali's approach, or a sly jab at his ultimate boss, Luca di Montezemolo?

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg Row Rumbles on

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Lewis Hamilton still believes Nico Rosberg deliberately brought out yellow flags during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

    Hamilton said on Sunday night, per The Guardian: "I wish you could have seen the data. I saw something late on last night and all I could do was smile.”

    He added that he would be able to put the situation right (right to him, anyway) because he is faster than his team-mate.

    Meanwhile, Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda confirmed things are still not well between the two men. He told Autosport:

    I understand all the comments and I have to wait two or three days, but before it goes to Canada it will be solved. I will speak to them like I always do. They always call me when they have problems, so I think it will sort itself out.

    There are certain limits and these certain limits I can reintroduce because I speak their language, the drivers' language, and they do understand me, they like me and there is no issue.

    Lauda added in a separate interview with Sky F1 that he felt Hamilton had more natural talent, but Rosberg was better on the engineering and technical side.

    Rosberg was cleared of wrongdoing after the stewards studied the incident and telemetry, but that hasn't stopped fans and observers debating whether the move was intentional. Even Kimi Raikkonen thought the event worthy of more than five seconds of his time, saying to BBC Sport:

    I saw he locked the wheel and ran wide but obviously I am not here to judge anybody and say what was true and what was not. He knows himself. Obviously it is hard to say was it a mistake or not. Everybody will have their own opinion about this.

    As any police officer will tell you, there's a world of difference between knowing a person did something and being able to prove it to the relevant authorities. Guilty people are often found innocent.

    But then, so are innocent people.

    Whatever the truth, both men will head to Canada with an extra incentive to do well.

No Return to Magny-Cours in 2015

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    Felipe Massa won the last French Grand Prix, in 2008.
    Felipe Massa won the last French Grand Prix, in 2008.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Last week, Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours chief Serge Saulnier claimed the circuit was closing in on a return to the F1 calendar in 2015.

    The largely unloved circuit, which tends to receive more government attention and backing when socialists are in power (as is currently the case in France), last held a race in 2008.

    Saulnier told French TV station Infosport (h/t Auto123.com for the translation):

    If the will of a number of people is confirmed in the coming weeks, we are very close. We are still in negotiations with FOM. We are a candidate for a date in 2015, but for now nothing is signed.

    I am hoping. We have been working on it for more than three years, it has built slowly but surely, and I feel that the time has arrived to sign this agreement. I hope and I would like it to be done before the summer.

    But in Monaco, Bernie Ecclestone shot down Saulnier's hopes with a typically brief dismissal to Reuters, saying: "No. They'll knock at the door but I don't think we can do anything."

    The 2015 calendar is already looking very crowded, with the 19 current races set to be joined by a new grand prix in Azerbaijan, while Mexico and India are hoping to return.

    Maybe Bernie would give it more support if the venue was somewhere other than Magny-Cours.

    Paul Ricard, perhaps?

Fernando Alonso to Start 24 Hours of Le Mans

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    Claude Paris/Associated Press

    Ferrari's two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is heading to Le Mansbut only to wave a flag.

    Alonso has been invited to serve as the honorary starter of the famed 24-hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe. On June 14, he will wave the French flag (the traditional Le Mans "starting flag") from the gantry above the line as the cars complete their formation lap and start the race proper.

    His boss, Luca di Montezemolo, did the honours in 2009, and FIA President Jean Todt was starter in 2011.

    Speaking on the Ferrari website, Alonso said:

    I am very happy to have been chosen to start this race, because it is one of a handful of races that has defined the history of motor sport.

    I’m keen to check out the details on this type of car. In Formula One, we have also entered the hybrid era and I am curious to find out more about the working methods and technology involved in this series.

    He added it will be good to catch up with his good friend Mark Webber, who currently plies his trade with Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

    Alonso didn't mention if he'd ever like to take part in the race himself, but Webber has made a successful transition, so it might happen one day.

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