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Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Paddock News from 2014 German Grand Prix

Neil JamesFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Paddock News from 2014 German Grand Prix

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    The German Grand Prix marks the midway point of the 2014 Formula One season.

    After a week dominated by talk of FRIC suspension, all the teams have removed the system from their cars.

    But the sporting world in general has not been paying too much attention to F1 over the last seven days. Football has been the main topic of discussion.

    The World Cup final on Sunday saw Germany claim their fourth tournament win, and Nico Rosbergwho is of course Germanwanted to celebrate with a special one-off helmet.

    Football's governing body FIFA had other ideas, and his new lid needed a rapid re-design.

    Elsewhere, Lewis Hamilton says he isn't playing mind games, Kimi Raikkonen has fully recovered from his heavy Silverstone crash and Fernando Alonso insists he has not spoken to any other teams about a potential move away from Ferrari.

    Read on for a full round-up of the latest news heading into the weekend.

No Discussions with Other Teams for Fernando Alonso

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    "Then I left Ferrari, and suddenly I qualified on pole!" "Shut up."
    "Then I left Ferrari, and suddenly I qualified on pole!" "Shut up."Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Despite question marks over his future with Ferrari, Fernando Alonso has not spoken to any other team.

    The Spaniard has been the subject of persistent rumours linking him to McLaren. Sky Sports reported last year they wanted him for this season, and in May this year the Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy reported on rumours the two sides had held meetings with a view to him joining in 2015.

    But when asked during a pre-race press briefing if he had held talks with anyone other than Ferrari, the two-time world champion said:

    Every year now I get asked this question in July, maybe since I started in 2003. I haven’t talked with any other team and it’s not my priority. We have to score some good points this weekend and get some good results this year.

    Whether his management have spoken to anyone else might be another story entirely.

    Given their struggles over the last two years, McLaren would be a risk. But with Honda engines and new personnel in key positions, it might be a risk worth taking.

    That is, if he can get out of his Ferrari contract, which doesn't expire until the end of 2016.

All Cars FRIC-Free for Germany

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    Dan Istitene/Getty Images

    All the teams will run without their FRIC (front-rear interconnected) suspension systems at the German Grand Prix.

    Sky Sports reported that before the Silverstone test last week, the FIA wrote to the teams informing them it believed the systems breached Article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations, which deals with moveable aerodynamic devices.

    It is believed some teams had taken the systemwhich uses hydraulics to increase the car's stability during braking and corneringtoo far, which prompted the FIA to act.

    There was a (albeit very small) risk that some teams may keep their systems and run the risk of the cars being protested by rivals, but that has now gone away.

    Autosport reports that everyone is FRIC-free, quoting FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer as saying, "I can confirm that no car is fitted with a front to rear linked suspension systems of any sort."

    Because some teams had more advanced systems than others, the ban on FRIC will not hurt everyone the same. We'll have to wait until Sunday to see whether it will have any significant impact on the running order.

FIFA and Hyundai Step in to Ruin Nico Rosberg's Helmet Party

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    F1 has long been established as the benchmark for zealous enforcement of intellectual property rights, but a new challenger is coming up on the inside.

    For the German Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg had planned to use a specially designed helmet commemorating Germany's triumph in last weekend's World Cup final.

    The top panel of the helmet was to feature the colours of the German flag with a large image of the World Cup Trophy and four stars, one for each of his country's tournament wins.

    But football's governing body FIFA was displeased at its intellectual property (the image of the trophy) being used, and Rosberg has been forced to alter the design. In a statement to The Independent, a FIFA spokesman said:

    FIFA is obliged to take action against any unauthorised reproduction of its intellectual property in a commercial context.

    If FIFA would not follow up on any potential infringements of its intellectual property, it would risk losing its legal right and title to such works, thereby endangering the foundation of its commercial programme which is driven primarily by the access to and usage of our brand marks, including the FIFA World Cup Trophy.

    We appreciate Nico Rosberg’s desire to congratulate the German team and have therefore been in discussions with the Rosberg team to attempt to find a solution, whereby he is still able to show his support for Germany without using FIFA intellectual property in a commercial context.

    FIFA were so unhappy about it, they even went so far as to have the image removed from Rosberg's original "here's my new helmet" tweet.

    But they might have let it go entirely, had it not been for the extremely lucrative sponsorship agreement between FIFA and Hyundai. Per IEG, the Korean car-maker pays an annual fee of between $24 and $44 million for its status as a top-tier partner.

    It goes without saying they wouldn't exactly be ecstatic to see rival Mercedes grab some free association with the World Cup, and German publication Auto Motor Und Sport (h/t grandprix.com) reported they were behind the complaint.

Lewis Hamilton Isn't Playing Mind Games

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Lewis Hamilton says he has not employed any sort of mind games in his title fight with Nico Rosberg.

    The British title contender has shown a remarkable aptitude for providing journalists with useful quotes this year. Before the Monaco Grand Prix, he spoke to Formula1.com (h/t BBC Sport) and compared his own humble upbringing with Rosberg's more comfortable early years in the Principality.

    Then after the British Grand Prix, he was quoted by The Guardian as saying Rosberg was "not really German." Though not meant in the way it was reported, it still made a few waves in the F1 world.

    Both sets of remarks came after Jenson Button told the Daily Mail in May that he expected mind games would be a feature of Hamilton's approach. Button added that he had been on the receiving end of some himself when the two were together at McLaren.

    But speaking at Hockenheim on Thursday, he told media including crash.net:

    I'd like to think that it's just focused on the track really. I'm not trying to play mind games with Nico; he's a very intelligent driver.

    You talk about mind games but I'm not really playing mind games. Every time you go faster it naturally has an effect on the mind, so inevitably you might say something and people may interpret that as playing mind games.

    We're obviously fierce competitors, we're going to be head-to-head hopefully for the rest of the year and who can keep their head most will probably come out on top.

    Both men have made mistakes under pressure so far this year, with Hamilton suffering the most from his.

    They could prove crucial at the end of the year.

Kimi Raikkonen Fit and Ready for Hockenheim

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Kimi Raikkonen has fully recovered from his heavy crash on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix.

    The Finn missed the two-day test at the circuit last week due to light injuries sustained, with Jules Bianchi filling in.

    But all is now well. At the official pre-race press conference on Thursday, he was asked if he was feeling any after-effects. He replied, "Well, I crashed, I guess you saw it. No, I had some pain but it's all fine."

    He went on to reveal the pain was not in his legs as previously thoughtand as Ferrari had stated on their websitebut in his ribs.

    Raikkonen has finished only four of the 10 German Grands Prix he has started, experiencing some of the worst crashes of his career along the way.

    In 2003 he was pushed off at the start and suffered a heavy impact with the tyres. The following year his rear wing flew off, pitching him into a spin and another heavy crash.

    And in 2005 his suspension failed in spectacular fashion on the final lap, costing him the race win.

    No doubt he'll be hoping for a little more luck this time around.

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