Formula 1's Latest Rumours & Talk: Alonso's Future, Button on Hamilton and More
Fernando Alonso has hinted that he will remain at Ferrari for the foreseeable future, despite being frequently linked with a departure from the Prancing Horse.
The two-time world champion has rarely made an effort to disguise his discontent with the team's lack of performance, but he has revealed that his personal ambitions are secondary to his desire to improve Ferrari's fortunes for not only the rest of this season, but 2015 and 2016 too.
Alonso, of course, has been most strongly courted by McLaren, whose current lead driver, Jenson Button, has been discussing the dynamics between the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton and giving the latter his backing in this season's title battle.
One man who thought he would be involved in the 2014 championship fight is Sebastian Vettel, but a series of retirements has led to the reigning world champion becoming a distant figure this season.
His failure to record a single victory this campaign—the longest he has waited for a first win of a season since 2008, the year of his breakthrough triumph at Monza—means Vettel will approach his home race at Hockenheim this weekend with the prime target of entertaining the German crowd.
Nico Hulkenberg, in contrast, will arrive at the German Grand Prix with slightly more optimism, with the Hockenheimring set to play into the hands of his Force India team.
Closing this week's roundup is transfer news surrounding Caterham, who could be preparing to replace one of the most popular drivers on the grid with a young upstart.
Fernando Alonso Not Thinking About His Ferrari Future
Fernando Alonso has claimed that he is relaxed about his future with Ferrari despite a disappointing 2014 campaign.
The two-time world champion has recorded only one podium finish in nine grands prix this year, with Ferrari's lack of performance preventing the Spaniard from displaying his true skills behind the wheel.
The Prancing Horse's failure to provide Alonso with a competitive car has led to speculation that a move to McLaren may be on the cards, with The Telegraph's Daniel Johnson reporting that the Woking-based team would be open to the return of the 32-year-old, who left the outfit in acrimonious circumstances in 2007.
Alonso, however, has dropped the biggest hint yet that he will honour his current contract with Ferrari, which expires at the end of the 2016 season.
He was quoted by Autosport's Ben Anderson as stating:
I'm not thinking too much on longer term because there are bigger priorities at the moment.
I want to help the team and I want to score as many points as possible.
We need maximum effort, and maximum concentration and team work to improve the car for next year.
The future after 2016 is something that at the moment is not the main priority, but we will try to see what is the best solution.
Jenson Button Believes Lewis Hamilton Can Be Clever Too
Jenson Button believes that the widespread view that Lewis Hamilton is not a thinking driver might not be strictly true in the 2008 world champion's title battle with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
The 2014 championship protagonists are thought to use different styles to achieve success, with Hamilton using his raw pace to get the edge over his rivals while Rosberg relies more on his tactical nous to gain an advantage.
Button is arguably the most qualified person to judge Hamilton's credentials, with the pair having spent three seasons together at McLaren between 2010 and 2012—the longest period Hamilton has spent with a teammate in Formula One.
And Button, who was also viewed as the intelligent driver alongside Hamilton, has suggested that his former teammate, with five grand prix wins to his name already this season, will be hard to stop in the title race if he maintains the momentum he gained at last weekend's British Grand Prix.
The 2009 world champion was quoted by Anton Stanley as telling talkSPORT's Weekend Sports Breakfast:
People say Lewis Hamilton is quicker but Nico Rosberg is more intelligent, I don’t know though.
I know how quick Lewis is and if his head is in the right place he will be unbeatable.
Sebastian Vettel Hopes to Thank Fans at German Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel won his first German Grand Prix in six attempts at the Nurburgring last year, which helped to set up his record-breaking run of nine consecutive victories on his way to the 2013 crown.
The chances of a repeat at this season's event at Hockenheim, however, are remote.
The four-time world champion has retired from three of the nine races so far this season, recording only two podium finishes in Malaysia and Canada as Renault, Red Bull's power-unit partner, struggle to extract the most from their engine.
Vettel accepts that he will not take his second consecutive victory on home soil unless the dominant Mercedes cars of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton suffer reliability issues, and will instead focus on putting in a spirited performance for his supporters.
The 27-year-old told the official Formula One website:
I always enjoy the atmosphere at the Hockenheimring. When you arrive at track in the morning the circuit's already filled with fans and when you're in the car you can see lots of German flags in the grandstands. It's those little things I really enjoy about Hockenheim. We get a lot of encouragement. Of course, you want to give as much as possible back to the fans, but sometimes it's not in your hands. However we will attack at the weekend and give everything.
Nico Hulkenberg Hopes Force India Return to Form in German Grand Prix
Nico Hulkenberg remains one of only two drivers to score points in every race this season, but his recent results at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone have been poor by his standards.
The Force India driver has scored a total of only six points in the last two races, finishing ninth in Austria before crossing the line in eighth at Silverstone—despite qualifying fourth the previous day.
Despite being far from disastrous, Hulkenberg has made a habit of fighting for solid-points positions this season, finishing in the top five on four occasions.
And the German believes the return of Pirelli's softer compound tyres will be a major factor in Force India's return to form at this weekend's race at Hockenheim.
Hulkenberg told Force India's official website:
Even on tracks where we have been struggling slightly, we have managed to score points. For example, in Silverstone the car balance was not ideal, but we still came away with four points. I'm feeling more positive about our performance in Germany, especially with the return of the soft and supersoft tyres.
It's going to be a very big week and I'm looking forward to it.
Kamui Kobayashi Future Under Threat as Carlos Sainz Jr. Targets Caterham Seat
Carlos Sainz Jr. has admitted that he has held talk with the new management structure at Caterham over a race seat later this season.
And any agreement is likely to see Kamui Kobayashi, the popular Japanese driver, lose his place on the F1 grid.
Sainz Jr., a member of Red Bull's young-driver program, could follow the route of Daniel Ricciardo, who made his debut with HRT, a backmarker team, in the middle of 2011 before being promoted to Toro Rosso, Red Bull's "B-team," the following season.
And Sainz Jr., who currently leads the Formula Renault 3.5 standings, has been quoted by ESPN F1 as telling Spanish newspaper AS:
It is true that there have been talks and that we have spoken to them, but nothing is confirmed. My goal remains the same: to be at Toro Rosso in the future, but if, to do that, I have to go to Caterham beforehand then I will happily go there.
The Spaniard, however, added that he would not entertain the prospect of missing out on the Formula Renault 3.5 title, stating:
I have an amazing opportunity to win the Formula Renault 3.5 series and I am excited to be the first Red Bull driver to get this. I want to finish this season whatever happens.