Formula 1 Latest Rumours and Talk: Lewis Hamilton 'Spotted at Ferrari' and More
If there were any doubts following Ferrari's failed attempt to sign Adrian Newey last month, silly season is in full swing.
The latest rumour doing the rounds concerns the future of Lewis Hamilton, who was reportedly seen at Ferrari's base in Maranello, Italy, earlier this week.
Speculation has also surrounded the future of the Caterham team, although the outfit's owner has maintained that their short-term health is more than good enough to allow them to take part in next weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the ban of refuelling is not enough for Formula One to halt its search for improvements in fire safety, with a revolutionary technology set to take grand prix garages to the next level.
On the subject of safety, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez were considered lucky to emerge unscathed from their dramatic last-lap tangle in Montreal last weekend.
The sheer violence of the shunts led to some heated words being exchanged in the aftermath of the Canadian Grand Prix, with a popular Williams employee finding himself criticised by a legend of the team this week.
Finally, Red Bull have acknowledged that they still have some way to go to catch the pace-setting Mercedes team despite Daniel Ricciardo's maiden grand prix victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Lewis Hamilton Spotted at Ferrari's Factory?
Lewis Hamilton was reportedly spotted at Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello, Italy, this week.
But rather than putting pen to paper on a contract to join the Prancing Horse, the 2008 world champion was merely adding to his collection of super cars, as a report by La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Motorsport.com) implied.
The source, however, did appear to suggest that Hamilton's trip to Italy may be interpreted as a reaction to recent events at Mercedes, which saw suspicion creep into the team at Monaco after Nico Rosberg secured a controversial pole position before Hamilton retired from the Canadian Grand Prix a fortnight later.
Motorsport.com quoted F1 journalist Roberto Chinchero as stating that the 29-year-old's visit might have been "a political manoeuvre" designed to remind his Mercedes superiors that he would have no problems finding alternative employment.
Caterham Dismiss Rumours of Austrian Grand Prix No-Show
Caterham have rubbished claims that the team will not take part in the Austrian Grand Prix next week.
Speculation has surrounded the future of the Leafield-based team after it was suggested last month that the outfit was up for sale—something that Tony Fernandes, the team's owner, denied in a statement on the team's official website.
That statement, however, did confirm that the team were "searching for additional investment as it seeks to fulfill ambitious plans to develop."
A report published by Speed Week (via Motorsport.com) suggested that Caterham were on the verge of collapse, with "budget problems" deemed the biggest threat to the team's existence.
It was also suggested that talks had taken place with Colin Kolles, the former HRT boss who is currently heading the Forza Rossa project, over the potential sale of the team.
And although Fernandes did not clarify that, the Malaysian did confirm via Twitter that Caterham will take part in the grand prix weekend at the Red Bull Ring next week.
Formula 1 to Make Leap in Fire Safety
F1 is set for a big leap in fire safety to prevent a repeat of the incident that saw the Williams pit garage burst into flames following the Spanish Grand Prix of 2012.
According to Jonathan Noble of Autosport, the FIA have been closely involved with the Oscar Nelson Group with the target of introducing a new decking system known as MADMAT to enhance safety.
The MADMAT design, which was originally created for military use to help with fuel fires on aircraft carriers, is laid under areas where fuel can get spilled.
It helps suffocate flames, reduce temperature and minimise smoke in the event of a spillage getting ignited.
The idea of bringing MADMAT to F1 was first suggested to the FIA after several Williams mechanics were injured in a fire inside the team's garage after the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.
The system has had to be adapted for petrol use, but following a successful demonstration in front of teams and F1 race director Charlie Whiting at this year's Spanish Grand Prix, a final version is close to being given the green light to go into production.
Noble has quoted Whiting as stating:
If you had it within the garage areas of teams where they store their fuel, like Williams had [in 2012], it simply would not have burned like that.
The teams are all quite keen on this, extremely keen on it, and the possibilities are quite endless because it is good not only for F1.
We could make it mandatory, although we are not sure if we will yet or not, but I think the teams are keen enough to do it anyway.
It has massive possibilities for motor racing. If F1 adopts it, then I think it is a very good sign—as there is no reason why it could not filter down [to lower formulae].
Williams Stalwart Patrick Head Rebukes Rob Smedley After Canada Comments
After the last-lap crash between Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez in the Canadian Grand Prix, a war of words broke out between the Williams and Force India teams.
Rob Smedley, Williams' head of vehicle performance and a long-term friend of Massa, was quoted by Ben Anderson and Dieter Rekcken of Autosport as stating:
Perez braked very, very early. Either he jinked his car to the left, or because of brake problems it jinked to the left, I don't know.
I think it was lap 67, [he was] talking about having no rear brakes. So they told him to carry on if he could, and if you can't then to pit, which seems to me to be a fairly f-----g terminal problem to be honest.
Why you leave a car out when you've got that sort of problem is beyond me.
You saw two teams, one of which was ours, knowing when to call it quits—with Valtteri [Bottas, Massa's Williams teammate] we had to tell him to back off and save his brakes and engine, but more critically brakes because it can be dangerous, and we lost points. That's life.
Lewis Hamilton, because of his problems—brakes again—has to stop the car. That's a guy fighting for the world championship and he stops.
I'm a bit peeved to say the least that this has happened. We were very lucky not to have someone seriously hurt.
Force India responded with a series of tweets, defending their stance.
And, somewhat surprisingly, the Silverstone-based team have been supported by Patrick Head, co-founder of the Williams outfit.
Head, who no longer holds a place on the Williams board but maintains strong links to the organisation, told Sky Sports' F1 Midweek Report programme:
Any team that starts fourth and fifth on the grid, if you finish with one car seventh you are going to be very disappointed.
I saw that Rob Smedley, the operations manager, had criticised Force India, which I think was a bit out of order. But it told me that he was massively disappointed after the race, and I think they would be and should be.
Williams have really not achieved what the car is capable of this year, and they know that. Here was another event where that happened. It's something I'm sure they will put right, but you want to walk away with a lot of points and those are missing a bit at the moment.
Red Bull Under No Illusions Despite Daniel Ricciardo Win
Despite Daniel Ricciardo becoming the first non-Mercedes driver to win a race this season in last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull have admitted that they still have a long way to go before they can challenge for victories on a regular basis.
Power-related problems hindered the pace of Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the halfway stage in Montreal, causing the latter to retire with rear-brake failure after 46 laps.
And although Rosberg's car survived the loss of its MGU-K unit to allow the German finish second behind Ricciardo, it did so with a significant loss of horsepower.
Despite Red Bull's breakthrough win, team principal Christian Horner has insisted that his team will not get carried away.
He told Autosport's Jonathan Noble:
Let's not beat about the bush—Mercedes were the quickest car.
They ran into their issues, whatever they were, and we have had issues at other points of the season. They were very, very strong.
We still have a lot to do. We were 12-15 km/h slower compared to a Force India or Williams on the straight, and that is where we need to improve.
You guys [the media] were asking at one point if Mercedes can win all the races. I said theoretically they could but in all probability they wouldn't.
What we have managed to do is keep chipping away.
We have managed to improve the car, managed to improve the engine and we were there to capitalise on some misfortune for Mercedes.
But we have to keep pushing and keep closing that gap down because it is still significant.
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