Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen and More

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen and More

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    This weekend's British Grand Prix will be one of the most emotional races of Jenson Button's life, with Silverstone's grandstands set to become a sea of pink to honour the 2009 world champion's late father, John.

    The Silverstone event could also prove to be among the most pivotal weekends of Button's 15-season Formula One career, with the 34-year-old's boss at McLaren, Ron Dennis, demanding more from Button in his interteam battle with rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen.

    While one world champion is taking criticism from his boss, another is still in the process of welcoming his.

    Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 title winner, has commented on Marco Mattiacci's impact on Ferrari, with the Finn suggesting that the Italian's lack of experience in F1 could have a positive effect on the team's fortunes.

    Williams' Rob Smedley, in contrast, believes experience is all-important if a team is to challenge at the very front of the grid. 

    Smedley is one of a number of battle-hardened figures signed by Williams over the last 12 months, and the former Ferrari employee wants winning to become second nature to his colleagues.

    One man who has been fighting toward the front in recent races is Sergio Perez, who has explained why Force India have been competitive at almost every event this year.

    Closing this week's roundup is Kamui Kobayashi, who has been discussing how he is handling the question marks over Caterham's F1 future.

McLaren Boss Ron Dennis Warns Jenson Button Ahead of British Grand Prix

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    Ahead of what could be his final F1 race on home soil, Button has been ordered to improve his performances by Dennis.

    Button, since inheriting a third-place finish in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix after the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo, has struggled to get on top of McLaren's troublesome MP4-29 car.

    Despite having a 14-point advantage over teammate Magnussen in the drivers' standings, the British driver was outperformed by the Dane in the Austrian Grand Prix—and Dennis has challenged Button to rise to the challenge presented by Magnussen.

    Dennis told Sky Sports:

    I'm happy with the drivers in the sense that I think they are giving their best. I'm sure Kevin is giving a big wake-up call to Jenson, and in some ways you say, "Great, we've made a great choice with Kevin," and in other ways you say, "Come on Jenson, you are a world champion and absolutely one thing you can do on a consistent basis—and you should be doing it—is beating your teammate."

    Do I want him to try harder? Of course I do—he's a highly-paid grand prix driver. Yes, we are not giving him the best car and, yes, it would challenging for him to win in it, to say the least, but he could do his bit and Kevin has to make it as difficult for him as possible.

Kimi Raikkonen Pleased with Marco Mattiacci Effect on Ferrari

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    Raikkonen has praised Mattiacci's impact on Ferrari, despite the team's disappointing 2014 campaign.

    Mattiacci replaced Stefano Domenicali as the Prancing Horse's team principal in April, and the appointment appeared to have an immediate impact, with Fernando Alonso claiming the team's first podium of the season with a third-place finish in the Chinese Grand Prix.

    That result, however, has not been matched since, but Raikkonen—who has achieved a season-best finish of seventh on two occasions this year—believes Mattiacci's influence will soon become apparent, despite the Italian's lack of experience in F1.

    The 2007 world champion told ESPN F1:

    I think it's very early days for Marco, and when he started he didn't have as much knowledge as Stefano about Formula One, but he's a very nice guy and he wants to really make a difference and know the sport. These are good signs.

    He's doing a lot of work behind the scenes that people don't see and I think he's doing a very good job. 

    I had a very close relationship with Stefano, but it's just a change for all of us and I think sometimes that's a good thing. People who come from outside of F1 have a different view of things and it can help us. It's been good so far and I'm expecting that he can do a very good job.

Rob Smedley: Williams Must Relearn the Art of Winning

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    Smedley believes Williams must readjust to being a front-running team if they are to maximise opportunities to win races.

    Felipe Massa became the first non-Mercedes driver to take pole position this season in the Austrian Grand Prix, with teammate Valtteri Bottas completing an all-Williams front row.

    Massa then led the first stint of the grand prix before a conservative strategy dropped the pole man to fourth, with Bottas relegated to third, on a day when Williams had a fighting chance of taking their first victory since Pastor Maldonado won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. 

    And Smedley believes the nature of the team's performance at the Red Bull Ring was a common symptom of a team unused to fighting at the front.

    He told Autosport's Ben Anderson:

    I think we have to look inwardly at ourselves and understand how we improve in every single tiny detail, because it's in the details, there's no magic bullet.

    We were racing against a very professional outfit [Mercedes] with a quicker car, but very well organised. And why are they so well organised? Because they've got such a depth of experience racing at that end of the field.

    From racing last year, as Williams were, in 13th, 14th, 15th position, to racing in first, second, third, fourth position is a completely different thing. Believe me, because I've done both ends.

    We have to learn. That's what I'm here for, so yes, end of school report: must do better.

Sergio Perez Keen to Continue Strong Form at Silverstone

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    Perez is hoping to replicate the form he showed in Canada and Austria at Silverstone this weekend.

    After retiring on the first lap of the Monaco Grand Prix, Perez challenged for victory for a period at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve until a dramatic last-lap crash with Massa. He finished sixth from 15th on the grid at the Red Bull Ring.

    And the Mexican has revealed that Force India's comfort with playing the long game has paid off, with Perez telling the team's official website:

    The approach we take is to think about how we can be competitive over a 70 lap race. In the last few events I've done really well, apart from Monaco, where we didn't have the opportunity. We're getting there, but it's just unfortunate that we've been unlucky. In Montreal, for example, we were close to winning the race. I'm sure we can get some good results in the second half of the season.

    Perez has a credible record at the British Grand Prix, scoring points in two of the three F1 races he has started at Silverstone.

    The 24-year-old, however, believes Force India will find it harder to make an impression this weekend, despite the team having the dominant Mercedes power unit to their advantage.

    Perez added, "I think Silverstone will be a bit more of a challenge compared to the last few races, but I am sure we can still do a good job. It's a track I enjoy and I usually go well there."

Kamui Kobayashi Hoping for Caterham Resolution

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    Kobayashi, the Caterham driver, is hopeful that the team's future is resolved sooner rather than later—but is refusing to let the uncertainty affect his driving.

    The future of the outfit has been in doubt for some time, with Caterham Group releasing a statement via their official website in May, dismissing speculation that the company was for sale but confirming their search for "additional investment."

    Caterham's owner, Tony Fernandes, has in recent years devoted his time to his football interest, Queens Park Rangers, which last month returned to the Premier League, English football's top division, after a one-year absence.

    And the Malaysian dropped the biggest hint yet that he is set to leave F1, according to Andrew Benson of BBC Sport, when—shortly before closing his Twitter account last week—he posted the message: "F1 hasn't worked, but love Caterham Cars."

    This was followed by the news, as reported by Jonathan Noble of Autosport, that Fernandes' sale of the team is imminent.

    But all of this is background noise to Kobayashi, who despite sharing concerns over the future of his employers, is solely concentrating on his efforts to regain 10th spot in the constructors' championship from Marussia, the team's closest rivals.

    The Japanese, formerly of Toyota and Sauber, told Mike Wise of Sky Sports:

    I’m not really looking at that [the team's future]. Of course, I’m not wishing these stories. I’m here for driving—me, I can’t change anything, you know? I cannot bring any money or stuff.

    Financially, I think we’re in a very difficult situation but I cannot do anything so I just focus on my job. That’s part of my job actually: I’ll just try for a better result as much as I can.

    I just hope that somebody can help this team. This is the only thing I can say.